|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what evidence they have received regarding possible dangers to human health from contamination of water supplies through the use of the pesticides glyphosate and atrazine; and what action they propose to protect water supplies from contamination by such pesticides. [HL6738]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): It has not proved possible to respond to the noble, Lord, Lord Hylton, in the time available before Prorogation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will set out details of the research they are carrying out or have commissioned into the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on insect pollinators. [HL6786]
One of the nine projects being carried out under the Insect Pollinators Initiative (which is part-funded by government) is also looking at neonicotinoids:
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA434
To ask Her Majesty's Government which regulatory authority will be responsible for the helicopters and other aircraft to be employed by the civilian contractor to whom the United Kingdom air-sea rescue task is to be transferred in the near future.[HL6775]
Earl Attlee: The helicopters will be flown under an air operations certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. Day to day management of the contract will be undertaken by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Earl Attlee: Operations under the new contractor will commence during 2015, with bases being transitioned in to service on a phased basis to allow the gradual withdrawal of the military from search and rescue by March 2016. The new service will be fully operational by summer 2017, once the military drawdown is complete and the extant Maritime and Coastguard Agency helicopter contracts have expired.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what will be the country of registration of the helicopters and other aircraft to be employed by the civilian contractor to whom the United Kingdom air-sea rescue task is to be transferred in the near future.[HL6777]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether individuals involved in (1) the ownership of premises, and (2) the management of companies, who are in receipt of public funding from (a) HM Courts and Tribunals Service, (b) the National Offender Management Service, including (i) the National Probation Service, and (ii) HM Prison Service, (c) the Office of the Public Guardian, and (d) law enforcement agencies, are subject to due diligence checks or equivalent, with specific regard to the
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA435
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice (excluding law enforcement agencies) can confirm that it does not have any central records of contracts or commercial relationships with Transforming Choice Community Interest Company for rehabilitation or detoxification schemes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proportion of apprenticeship places that will be for (1) 12 months or less, (2) 12 to 24 months, (3) a minimum of 3 years, and (4) a minimum of 4 years; and what level of technical education and qualification it is anticipated that trainees will achieve at each level.[HL6564]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): As the Apprenticeship programme is demand led and dependent upon employers making jobs available, we are unable to forecast the number of apprenticeships that will be available.
Apprenticeships can take between one and four years to complete depending on the apprenticeship level and occupation. Prior learning is also taken into account. There are three levels of apprenticeships available:intermediate level apprenticeships-level 2, equivalent to five GCSE passes at A*-C;advanced level apprenticeships-level 3, equivalent to two A-level passes; andhigher apprenticeships-levels 4 and 5, equivalent to Higher Education Certificate or a Foundation Degree.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated value of United Kingdom-owned military equipment and vehicles (1) presently deployed in Afghanistan, and (2) planned to be repatriated to the United Kingdom or other operational centres of United Kingdom Forces as military operations in Afghanistan are drawn down.[HL6473]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): As we draw-down from Afghanistan, we continue to work on identifying which equipment should be returned to the UK and are therefore unable to provide an estimate of the overall value of the equipment that will be redeployed.
Equipment and materiel is redeployed from Afghanistan only once the department is content that it is no longer required for operations in theatre and where to do so represents the best value for money way to meet an enduring military requirement or to dispose of the equipment. A decision would be made for any equipment not redeployed on whether to gift, sell or destroy it locally. We want to ensure the value from the investment we have made in these operations, and we will be discussing carefully with the Treasury and the National Audit Office how we maximise the continuing return on this investment.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Asylum is not granted automatically nor can asylum claims be considered from abroad, particularly while the person remains within their country of origin, as set out in the Refugee Convention. Any asylum claim made in the UK will be considered on its individual merits and protection offered to those who are found to be at real risk of serious harm in Afghanistan.
The Government recognise the sensitivity of this issue and are currently looking very carefully at how we are going to make appropriate provision to support locally employed civilians as we draw down and eventually end our combat mission. We have a clear commitment to treat them fairly and appropriately, and to ensure their safety and security beyond the term of their employment with Her Majesty's Government.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The safety of our locally engaged staff, including interpreters, is of great importance to us. There is no evidence of widespread or systematic intimidation, although we keep the situation under constant review. We also take proactive steps to minimise the risk as much as possible, such as conducting our recruitment for Task Force Helmand outside of Helmand itself.
To date there have been only a very small number of cases where intimidation concerns have been raised. Under existing government policy we have a range of
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA437
To ask Her Majesty's Government what financial and technical support is available to United Nations agencies and humanitarian organisations providing assistance in Arakan State and for Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in Bangladesh.[HL6810]
Baroness Northover: The UK provides core contributions to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-the lead UN agency for displaced and refugee populations in Bangladesh and Rakhine (Arakan) State, Burma-and to the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) which has contributed $7.15 million to the UN humanitarian response in Rakhine state since 2012.
The UK has also provided £2 million in direct humanitarian funding to a consortium of non-government organisations in Rakhine State to provide water, sanitation and nutrition support to over 58,000 internally displaced persons and vulnerable people affected by the unrest there.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the forecast cost over the next five years of the announcement in the Budget that tier 1 capital issued by banks will be tax deductible; and why that concession has been limited to banks rather than extended to all industrial sectors. [HL6793]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): At Budget 2013 the Government announced that they will legislate to clarify that banks' Additional Tier 1 debt capital instruments, already in issue or yet to be issued, will be deductible for the purposes of a bank computing its profits for corporation tax purposes. Banks' Tier 1 equity capital will not be deductible for tax purposes.
The features of Additional Tier 1 debt capital instruments, which replace existing innovative capital instruments, will be set out in the fourth capital requirements directive (CRD IV). These features are part of the suite of changes to ensure that banks improve the quality and quantity of their capital base to absorb losses and protect depositors and the taxpayer.
The tax treatment of banks' additional tier 1 debt instruments is unclear under current law, which predates these new regulatory requirements. The Budget announcement clarifies that additional tier 1 debt instruments will be subject to the existing and longstanding
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA438
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have established their desired outcomes from the European Investment Bank's review of its energy sector lending policy; and if so, what are those desired outcomes.[HL6750]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): An energy sector lending review is currently being undertaken by the staff of the European Investment Bank, who will submit findings to the board of directors, consisting of directors and alternates nominated by member states and the Commission, for their consideration in due course.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) has contributed to a transformation of the bank funding environment, with banks now having access to significantly cheaper funding. On 24 April, the Bank of England and the Treasury announced an extension to the scheme.
Banks are now passing this cheaper funding on through improved credit availability and cheaper credit to the real economy, including to businesses. For example, banks are offering new and discounted businesses products. It is too early to observe the impacts on business loans in the data as yet as, unlike mortgages, these are not standardised.
However, the extension to the FLS provides greater incentives for banks to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises over 2013 and 2014. For every £1 of net lending to SMEs in 2014, banks will be able to draw £5 from the scheme in the extension period. And to encourage banks to lend to SMEs sooner rather than later, every £1 of net lending to SMEs during the remainder of 2013 will be worth £10 of initial borrowing allowance in 2014. Further details of the extension are available on the Bank of England's website1.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): For the period requested, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) holds data on lending to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) from a private BIS survey of the four major UK lenders. Approved loan and overdraft facilities for firms classed as SMEs by these lenders (typically under £25 million turnover), for the period were:
|Value of approved facilities for loans and overdrafts (£m)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what evidence they have received regarding the dangers to bees of the use of neonicotinoid insecticides; and what action they propose to take to protect bee populations. [HL6737]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): It has not proved possible to respond to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, in the time available before Prorogation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Statistics on fraud and error in the benefits system are published regularly and provide estimates of proportions of benefits expenditure over and underpaid. The latest national statistics on fraud and error in the benefits system were released on 29 November 2012.
Full statistics on this topic can be found here: http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd2/index.php?page=fraud_error.
|Table 1: Estimated overpayments due to fraud and error since 2002/03|
|Year||Estimated percentage of benefit expenditure overpaid|
|Central Estimate||Lower confidence limit||Upper confidence limit|
|Table 2: Estimated underpayments due to fraud and error since 2002-03|
|Year||Estimated percentage of benefit expenditure underpaid|
|Central Estimate||Lower confidence limit||Upper confidence limit|
The Income Related Benefits: Estimates of Take-up report covers Great Britain for the financial year 2009-10. It provides caseload and expenditure estimates of take-up for income support and employment and support allowance (income-related), pension credit, housing benefit (including local housing allowance), council tax benefit and jobseeker's allowance (income-based). The latest release updates the statistics previously released on 10 June 2010.
The latest national statistics on income related benefits: estimates of take-up produced by the Department for Work and Pensions were released on 23 February 2012. The figures are available online and can be found here: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=irb.
|Table 3: Percentage of potential benefit expenditure unclaimed in each financial year 2006-07-2009-10|
|Year||Lower range||Upper range|
Take-up figures for working tax credit, child tax credit and child benefit are produced by HMRC and are available here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-take-up.htm.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Department for Work and Pensions intends to advertise the availability to the public of short-term benefit advances to help bridge the period between making a new benefit claim and the first payment of that benefit, following the abolition of Social Fund crisis loans; and if not, why not.[HL6748]
Lord Freud: Short-term benefit advances are not a specific benefit or separate scheme like the Social Fund and the process reflects this. They are an advance of the claimant's benefit. Where the claimant tells us they are in financial need (either at the start of their claim or those who have had a change of circumstances resulting in a significant increase in their benefit) then DWP staff will consider a short-term benefit advance where appropriate. This will most commonly happen at the new claims stage when staff are discussing with the claimant what will happen next. DWP endeavours to pay any benefit due where possible, and in many cases this is happening.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 4 February (WA 4-5), whether they will deduct from future funding grants to the British Council an amount equal to the amount the Council generates from its activities; and what assessment they have made of the Council's financial and management arrangements, including internal financial and management records and information systems, for the economic, efficient and effective management and control of all its resources. [HL6797]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The British Council's capacity for growing its self-generated income is a factor in determining its Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) grant in aid monies. However, there is no automatic mechanism for reducing grant in aid by the amount that the British Council generates from its full cost recovery activities. Such an approach would not be appropriate, as most of the income that the British Council generates from its activities is used to cover
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA442
The FCO assesses the British Council's financial and management arrangements regularly in accordance with the requirements set out in the Management Statement and Financial Memorandum agreed between the FCO and the British Council. Copies of these reports are available on the British Council website at www.britishcouncil.org/about/corporate-reports-documents.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Human Rights Watch report "All You Can Do is Pray": Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma's Arakan State. [HL6806]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Human Rights Watch report published on 22 April contained a number of disturbing allegations. The chief of staff to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister visited Burma from 21 to 23 April and, together with our ambassador, pressed senior members of the Burmese Government to ensure that any allegations of complicity in violence by individuals within the police or the Nasaka Force in Rakhine state be thoroughly investigated.
The UK continues to be one of the most vocal members of the international community in calling for action in Rakhine state. We regularly raise specific allegations of human rights abuses with the Burmese Government at the most senior levels, pressing for adequate humanitarian provision and security to prevent any further violence. We are also clear that those responsible for acts of violence should be held to account, and ultimately the issue of citizenship for the Rohingya people must be resolved.
Most recently the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), and I made these points to a senior delegation of Burmese Ministers visiting London, including the Burmese Minister for the President's Office, during meetings on 15 and 16 April.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to European Union member states about speaking out publicly on progress on Rohingya rights in Burma; what representations they have made to the Government of Burma about such rights; and whether they have raised the issue in international forums. [HL6807]
Baroness Warsi: The Government meet regularly with EU member states to discuss the situation in Burma, most recently during EU Foreign Ministers'
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA443
At the UK's request, Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Burma, briefed the Security Council on the situation in Burma on 18 April 2013. The briefing followed his visit to Burma in late March and included his assessment of the humanitarian situation in Rakhine state which he found "deeply disturbing."
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), and I also met Aung Min, Minister for the Burmese President's office, and Khin Yi, Minister for Rakhine State, in meetings on 15 and 16 April. We made clear our concerns about the need for urgent co-ordination of humanitarian aid to Rakhine state and a resolution to the Rohingya's citizenship status which is consistent with helping them to achieve their human rights.
The UK will continue to be one of the most vocal and active members of the international community in supporting those calling for human rights and democracy in Burma, including in respect of the rights of the Rohingya community.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Burma about allowing the United Nations special rapporteur on Burma to conduct an independent investigation into alleged abuses in Arakan State; and what steps they are taking to promote an office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Burma with a full protection, promotion, and technical assistance mandate, and sub-offices in states around the country, including in Arakan State. [HL6808]
Baroness Warsi: We have not made a specific request for UN representatives to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Rakhine state. However, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Tomas Quintana visited Burma in February 2013. His report following his visit highlighted allegations of human rights violations in Kachin and Rakhine states.
Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Burma, briefed the Security Council on the situation in Burma on 18 April 2013. The briefing followed his visit to Burma in late March and included his assessment of the humanitarian situation in Rakhine state which he found "deeply disturbing."
We are clear that all those who are guilty of instigating, inciting or carrying out violence in Rakhine state need to be held accountable for these crimes. This should be done through a clear and transparent investigative and prosecutorial process.
During my meeting on 15 April I pressed Aung Min, Minister for the Burmese President's office, to follow up on the commitment made by President Thein Sein to open an office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA444
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Burma about permitting diplomatic missions in Burma to travel to areas affected by communal violence and ethnic tensions, including displaced person sites. [HL6809]
Baroness Warsi: Officials at our embassy in Rangoon have visited Rakhine state on many occasions since the outbreak of violence last June, including accompanying the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), in December 2012 when he was the first EU Minister to go to Rakhine following last year's violence, and visited five camps for internally displaced people.
Most recently on 8 April our chargé d'affaires joined representatives from the UN, EU, US and Australia on a visit to Rakhine state, and met the Burmese Minister with responsibility for Rakhine state, Khin Yi, to raise our concerns about the situation, including restrictions affecting non-governmental organisations. We will continue to follow up on this issue to ensure that the humanitarian effort is facilitated effectively.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support reconciliation efforts between the Arakan and Rohingya populations in Arakan State; and what representations they have made to the Government of Burma regarding (1) the reform of the 1982 Citizenship Law in order to bring it into line with international standards, and (2) discrimination against that country's ethnic minorities. [HL6811]
Baroness Warsi: The UK has been one of the most vocal members of the international community in calling for action in Rakhine state. We remain concerned about persecution of all minority religions in Burma, but in particular the situation in Rakhine state and the recent violence in central Burma, which points to a worrying trend of targeting Muslim communities. We have offered our support to help the Burmese Government to strengthen the rule of law, and we are funding work to promote interfaith dialogue.
We regularly raise ethnic reconciliation and allegations of human rights abuses with the Burmese Government at the most senior levels. Most recently, in meetings on 15 and 16 April with Aung Min, Minister for the Burmese President's office, and Khin Yi, Minister for Rakhine state, the Secretary of State for Foreign and
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA445
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the initiative taken by the Governments of Norway and Switzerland to create an international consortium on how best to help people displaced by sudden climatic shocks or slow onset ones such as drought or rising sea levels.[HL6764]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government are aware of this initiative and are considering their position.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Tankerness on 18 March (WA 95), what criteria they apply when deciding what details of public interest immunity applications it would be appropriate to make public.[HL6625]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): All Public Interest Immunity (PII) applications are made only in exceptional circumstances. If the prosecutor is satisfied that disclosure of the material will create a real risk of serious prejudice to an important public interest then a PII application will need to be made.
There are three classes of application. The first class of application requires the prosecutor to give notice to the defence of an application and indicate what type of material is held. In these cases there is an inter partes hearing in open court. With the second class of application, the prosecutor must again give notice to the defence but does not indicate what type of material is held, as to do so would inevitably disclose the sensitive information in question. The defence may make representations as to the procedure to be adopted but the application will be heard in their absence and not in public. Finally, the third class of application is one in which the defence are given no notice as to do so would have the effect of revealing the sensitive information. Neither the defence nor the public will be allowed access to such hearings. This third class of application is highly exceptional. It is
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA446
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): I refer my noble friend to the Answer I gave on 24 April (Official Report, col. WA426). The visit to Rwanda and DRC played an important part in the lead-up to the G8 meeting of Foreign Ministers in London on 11 April, and the adoption of a historic Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Lynne Featherstone, on 2 November 2012 (Official Report, Commons col. 431W), what evidence suggests that as a result of the millennium development goals more disabled children are able to access primary education.[HL6780]
Baroness Northover: Evidence suggests that progress on the education millennium development goals (MDGs) has contributed to the substantial drop in the number of children out of school, down from 108 million in 1999 to 61 million in 2010 (UNESCO 2012). There is, however, limited available data on disabled children accessing primary school. It is currently estimated that one third of the children out of school worldwide have a disability and in Africa fewer than 10% of disabled children are in school (UNESCO 2012). We do not, however, have reliable data on how this has changed over time.
Monitoring of the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals is highly dependent on comparable and reliable information. DfID is working with partners to ensure equitable access to learning for all, including those with disabilities. For example, the UK is working closely with the Global Partnership for Education, World Bank, UNICEF and Ausaid in supporting disability screening, data collection and
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA447
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Lynne Featherstone, on 2 November 2012 (Official Report, Commons, col. 431W), what contribution they intend to make to the United Nations High Level Panel meeting in September about the realisation of the millennium development goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities.[HL6781]
Baroness Northover: The UK Government recognise the importance of including disabled people in development programmes that aim to improve the lives of the poorest. Together with other parts of government, DfID is fully engaged in preparations for the high level panel meeting on disability and the millennium development goals in September. DfID officials have participated in the United Nation's initial consultations and will also attend the European Commission's first regional consultations to prepare for the September meeting.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for women and girls with disabilities to take advantage of the projects and plans announced by the Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, in her speech at Amnesty International on 4 March.[HL6782]
Baroness Northover: DfID is committed to working with the governments of developing countries to ensure that the issues faced by all vulnerable girls and women, including those with disabilities, are addressed in its programmes including those announced in the Secretary of State's speech.
DfID carries out country-level analysis and social impact appraisal of programmes to ensure that all UK-supported development programmes maximise impact and manage risks, including for the most marginalised people, including people with disabilities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 10 April (WA 280), whether they have any knowledge or evidence of Diego Garcia being used for rendition flights since 1 January 2010.[HL6733]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK has no knowledge or evidence of Diego Garcia being used for rendition flights since 1 January 2010.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer continues to believe that the work of Professors Reinhart and Rogoff offers "perhaps the most significant contribution to our understanding of the origins of the financial crisis". [HL6795]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The UK economy is recovering from the most damaging financial crisis in generations after a decade of growth built on unsustainable levels of debt. In 2010 the Government set out clear, credible and specific medium-term fiscal consolidation plans to return the public finances to a sustainable path. This has restored fiscal credibility, allowing activist monetary policy and the automatic stabilisers to support the economy, and is consistent with the approach recommended by international organisations and a broad range of research.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): It is rare for jobcentres to open on a Sunday but they have occasionally opened over weekends, under local discretion, as far back as any serving official can recall.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their definition of the term "zero-hours contract"; and whether such contracts count as employment for the purposes of referring benefit claimants from job centres or by agencies carrying out contracts under the Work Programme.[HL6759]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): I can confirm that jobseeker's allowance claimants are not required to apply for zero hours contract vacancies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated number of jobs created in the manufacture, construction and installation of the Round 3 offshore wind turbine programme, separated into jobs based in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.[HL6789]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Securing economic growth is a priority for this Government. We are working in partnership with industry to develop an offshore wind sector strategy. The strategy will set out how the industry and government will work together to deliver growth, including actions on supporting UK supply chain development.
The number of jobs created from Round 3 will be dependent upon a range of factors, and ultimately it will be for the industry to decide what projects are taken forward. One of the sector's trade associations, RenewableUK, estimated in its report Working for a Green Britain Volume 2 that under a medium-build scenario of 23 gigawatts, offshore wind could create up to 29,700 direct full-time employees by 2021.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is any industrial plant in a populated area in the United Kingdom that poses a risk of explosion similar to that which occurred at the West fertiliser plant in Texas.[HL6790]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): At this stage, there remains uncertainty about the cause of the explosion at the West fertiliser plant and the hazardous substance involved. There will be some industrial plants in the UK that store similar material and are located in populated areas. Such plants are subject to a strong legislative regime designed to help prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances and to limit the consequences should they occur.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): Following the decision to vacate our current site at Mowden Hall, the department
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA450
This produced an initial list of over 50 properties. The department subsequently produced a shortlist of suitable sites that met a series of search criteria. These criteria included a town or city location with easy access to a main line rail station, good quality work space for approximately 350 staff and desirable core facilities such as access to a restaurant or café. The criteria also included some parking availability for disabled staff, appropriate timing of availability and an EPC asset rating of 69(c) or better.
In addition, when selecting an alternative site in the north-east, the department will consider: business need, the cost to the taxpayer, the impact on staff, the impact of closure on local communities, and compliance with wider government policies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which Department for Transport officials shown on the department's February 2013 organisation chart also have consultancy contracts with external organisations. [HL6788]
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport does not hold the information requested centrally and could collect it only at disproportionate cost. All staff are bound by the Civil Service Code and the department's rules on activities outside official duties. If staff wish to take on consultancy contracts while working for the department, they must inform their manager so that any potential conflicts of interest can be assessed. An individual will not be allowed to take on an additional contract if there is a conflict of interest, or it could impact on their ability to perform their normal duties.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what engagements were undertaken by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister between January and March 2013 in the English regions of (1) the North West, (2) Yorkshire and Humber, and (3) the North East.[HL6700]
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford): A list of the Prime Minister's UK visits for the period January to March 2013 will be published in due course. The most recent published list of UK visits can be found under supporting documents through the following link: https://www.gov.uk/
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA451
Between January and March 2013, the Deputy Prime Minister visited Yorkshire and Humberside twice, and visited seven places on these days. He has also visited the West Midlands and the south-west in this timeframe, but did not visit the north-west and north-east. In 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister made four visits to Yorkshire and Humberside, three visits to the north-west and five visits to the north-east, as well as visits to other regions.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government remain committed to securing the release and return of Shaker Aamer to the UK, and will continue to raise his case with the US Government. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), raised Mr Aamer's case with former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and will continue to do so with Secretary John Kerry.
The Secretary of State for Defence, my right honourable friend the Member for Runnymeade and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), and the Foreign Secretary made representations to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in June 2012. The Defence Secretary then further raised Mr Aamer's case with Secretary Panetta in January 2013.
Most recently, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), raised this issue with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns during meetings in the US on 15 April. Discussions continue with senior officials within the US Administration.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many proposed local Healthwatch organisations had not been established by 1 April 2013; which areas are affected; and when they expect them to be established.[HL6778]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information requested is not collected centrally. However, information collected
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA452
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the estimate of £465 million in savings from the underoccupation housing benefit reduction was modelled; and what assumptions were made about variables such as the numbers moving between the private and social housing sectors, and about margins of error. [HL6753]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Total cash savings from the removal of the spare room subsidy in the social rented sector are estimated to be £490 million in Great Britain in 2013-14.
The savings were estimated using the DWP's policy simulation model, based on the 2009-10 family resources survey. Under the reform, claimants' eligible rent is reduced by 14% if the household underoccupies the accommodation by one bedroom, or by 25% if they underoccupy by two or more bedrooms. Savings have been calculated by applying the relevant percentage reduction to the eligible rent for affected claimants underoccupying their accommodation by one, or two or more bedrooms.
These central estimates do not incorporate assumptions about behavioural responses to the policy. However, the department describes in the impact assessment, paragraphs 45 to 47, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment data/file/138017/social-sector-housing-under-occupation-wr2011-ia.pdf.pdf, how a number of factors likely to influence housing benefit savings, including moves within and out of the social rented sector, have been systematically varied to enable DWP to estimate what the impact might be under a variety of different scenarios. Of the nearly 200 behavioural response scenarios tested using the range of assumptions set out in paragraph 45 of the impact assessment, about 60% resulted in savings within £10 million either side of the central estimate of savings, and all scenarios had savings within £30 million either side of the central estimate.
The Government made a commitment to end child detention for immigration purposes and has met that commitment by radically changing the system to ensure that the welfare of the child is at the heart of the decision and returns process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to include (1) Parliamentarians from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health, and (2) expert non-governmental organisations on the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), in its delegation to the ICPD Review for Europe in July 2013.[HL6766]
Baroness Northover: Her Majesty's Government representation at the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) regional conference on enabling choices: population priorities for the 21st century to be held in Geneva on 1 and 2 July 2013, has not yet been determined. The UK Government will certainly consider inviting representation from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health and from civil society.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The seven leaders of the Baha'i faith have now served almost five years of their 20-year sentences. Regrettably, there have been no signs to date that the Iranian authorities intend to release them. Meanwhile, the persecution of followers of the Baha'i faith in Iran continues at an alarming level. This and the continuing detention of the Baha'i leaders are matters of serious concern. We therefore call again on Iran to release all seven leaders and to cease its persecution of the Baha'is. Iran must meet its obligations under international law to respect its citizens' rights to freedom of religion and belief.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what work is conducted by the office of the Quartet in Jerusalem; and what role that office has in preventing violence by Israeli settlers and by Palestinian protesters. [HL6740]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) has a team of policy advisers based in Jerusalem. Its goal is to promote transformative economic change on the ground, underpinning the top-down political process, aiming to promote a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel. Its work is focused on particular areas, including private sector development, infrastructure development, Area C development, East Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority (PA) fiscal support, and the rule of law.
The OQR does not have a defined role in preventing violence, but it is working to help the Palestinian Authority build capacity in the rule of law sector. Recent work to promote the rule of law includes improvements in the Palestinian Authority justice sector, mapping current police presence and operations in Area B, and strengthening Palestinian-Israeli legal co-operation.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally):Generally, there is no ownership of a body or human remains, although there may be other rights or duties in relation to possession of a body or human remains depending upon the context. In this case, the Archaeological Services Department at the University of Leicester has responsibility for storing and caring for the remains of King Richard III until they are laid to rest at a suitable location under the licence issued by Ministry of Justice pursuant to powers under the Burial Act 1857.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what process they undertook, and what criteria they applied, in advance of the decision to allow the University of Leicester to determine the burial place of King Richard III.[HL6672]
Lord McNally: As in all cases, it is for those granted a licence to exhume buried remains to determine where they are subsequently re-interred. The Ministry of Justice applied the same process when considering the application by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services Department to exhume buried remains that could have been those of Richard III, as they would with any other licence granted to exhume buried remains for archaeological purposes.
Applications are considered on their individual merits, balancing, among other things, the case for the removal, examination and retention of the remains in the interests of archaeological research against any countervailing factors, such as any known concerns about the proposals or any risk to public confidence in the decent and respectful treatment of human remains in any particular instance. Having assessed the application form against these criteria, the Ministry of Justice granted the licence to the university.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord De Mauley on 12 December 2012 (WA 236), whether they still expect to receive by 30 April a report by the Lead Ammunition Group on the impacts of lead ammunition on wildlife and human health; whether they will set a timescale for when they expect to receive the Group's final report; and what steps they will take to avoid any further delays. [HL6804]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The Lead Ammunition Group is an independent strategic group whose members participate on a voluntary basis. Defra understands that the group will not deliver its report by 30 April 2013. Defra officials will meet with the chair of the group in May 2013 to discuss the progress that the group has made. Following this meeting, I will write to my noble friend to inform him of this progress and the timescale that the group is working towards.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the consultation document Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a More Credible and Efficient System, what were the total costs to the legal aid fund of each of the 515 cases in 2011-12 in which permission to apply for judicial review was refused and where no substantive benefit was recorded as being obtained by the applicant.[HL6722]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the consultation document Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a More Credible and Efficient System, what were the total costs of each of the 330 cases in
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA456
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We are concerned that legal aid is being used to fund a significant number of weak cases that are found by the court to be unarguable and have little effect other than to incur unnecessary cost for public authorities and the legal aid scheme. It is important that we take steps to address this issue in order to preserve valuable court and judicial time, drive greater efficiency, focus legal aid resources on cases that really require it and increase public confidence in the legal aid scheme. We therefore propose that providers should be paid for work carried out on application for permission only if permission is granted by the court. We estimate that there will be a saving of approximately £1 million per annum as a result of approximately 800 fewer cases being funded as a result of this proposal.
The total cost of the 845 cases in 2011-12 was £2.6 million. Of these cases the cost of the 330 cases was approximately £1 million, with £1.6 million used for the remaining 515 cases. The £2.6 million figure takes into account all the costs incurred on a case until it is closed including any work prior to the permission application to the court.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the consultation document Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a More Credible and Efficient System, what analysis they have conducted of the 515 cases in 2011-12, in which permission to apply for judicial review was refused and where no substantive benefit to the applicant was recorded, as to whether there were any material developments after issue of the application for permission but before determination of permission, such as an intervening judicial decision, that could have altered the basis on which the advice on the merits of the case was drafted by the provider.[HL6724]
Lord McNally: The Legal Aid Agency does not record whether there were any material developments in a case after the issue of the application for permission that may have altered its merits and we have therefore not conducted such an analysis of the aforementioned 515 cases.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the consultation document Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a More Credible and Efficient System, whether they propose to give the court a discretion, when refusing permission, to order departure from the proposed general rule that the costs of preparing an application for permission should be recovered if permission is refused, where appropriate on the facts of the case.[HL6725]
Lord McNally: Our proposal will mean that the provider will be paid for work carried out on an application for permission, including a request for
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA457
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they will make to the Government of the Maldives regarding reports that a 15 year-old girl has been charged with adultery and sentenced to receive 100 lashes and confinement under house arrest. [HL6726]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Following the sentence, officials at our High Commission in Colombo, which is also accredited for Maldives, spoke with the Maldivian Deputy Foreign Minister. They conveyed our concern at the sentencing of the 15 year-old sexual abuse victim.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), issued a statement on 1 March in which he stated that he was "appalled by reports from Maldives that a 15 year-old victim of sexual abuse had been sentenced to flogging and up to eight months house arrest for charges of pre-marital sex." We also welcomed the subsequent statement from the President's Office in Maldives, including the assertion that protecting the rights of the child is one of Maldives' top priorities.
We fully agree with the Maldives Government that this case has demonstrated a critical need to review existing mechanisms, including the legal framework, for protecting the rights of the child in Maldives. We very much hope that such a review will take place urgently and that the end result will be that the victim's rights are fully protected and that no similar prosecutions take place in the future. We understand that the Maldivian Government have recently extended a formal invitation to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Violence against Children to visit the Maldives in order to provide technical advice and expertise.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 25 February (WA 247), whether in their consideration of ways to "reduce the pull factors for migration to
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA458
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): I would like to thank the noble Lord for drawing my attention to the report by the Institute for the Study of Labor, entitled Unemployment Benefits and Immigration: Evidence from the EU, published in October 2011. As the Prime Minister said on 25 March, we are committed to ensuring that the brightest and best people with the skills and entrepreneurial talent to create jobs and growth continue to come to the UK. At the same time, we are keen to ensure that those who come to the UK do so for the right reasons-to contribute to the country-and are not drawn by the attractiveness of our benefits or by the opportunity to use our public services. The Prime Minister acknowledged the pressure of uncontrolled migration on public services; the need to ensure that our benefits system is not seen as a soft touch; and the range of government actions that are already under way to review and tighten access in areas such as benefits, healthcare, social housing, employment and financial services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they adopt in deciding for the purposes of Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union that negotiation and conclusion of an international agreement requires unanimity in the Council, because that agreement risks seriously disturbing the national organisation of health services and prejudicing the United Kingdom's responsibility to deliver them.[HL6770]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): European Union/third-country agreements frequently cover areas of EU competence as well as areas of member state and unexercised shared competence. For this reason, decisions in Council regarding the negotiating mandates and the conclusion of such negotiations are taken by consensus. Through the formal structures provided in the treaty to consult member states and through informal dialogue with Commission officials, the Government are continually assessing what the latest developments from ongoing negotiations might mean for the United Kingdom in practice.
The Government would not agree to a trade agreement that was damaging to the National Health Service. If it seemed that negotiations were heading in a direction that could disturb the NHS, the Government would seek the removal of the offending text. As a last resort, the Government would block the agreement through insisting the agreement be decided by unanimity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 14 March (WA 91), whether any North Korean citizens have been granted asylum in the United Kingdom since 2010 for reasons that included religious freedoms. [HL6570]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Published statistics shows that nine North Koreans were granted asylum within the requested period. However, we do not keep central records of the precise reasons asylum was granted by nationalities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they held their most recent discussions with the Governments of China and South Korea about recent developments in North Korea; and what conclusions were reached.[HL6706]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) spoke to his Korean opposite on 15 April. Our embassy in Seoul is in regular contact with the South Korean Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their objectives for the meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons taking place in Geneva; and in particular what are their objectives towards the fulfilment of the existing commitments of the five nuclear powers. [HL6805]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK's objectives for the 2013 preparatory committee are to maintain and nurture support for the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its three pillars-nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear technology-and to encourage implementation of the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan.
We are committed to making progress with our P5 partners on fulfilling our responsibilities under the NPT's Article VI (disarmament). At the recent P5
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA460
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much of the United Kingdom international aid budget has been given to the Benazir Income Support Programme since 1 January 2010; and whether that programme has been used to encourage support for President Asif Ali Zardari and his party.[HL6731]
Baroness Northover: Since January 2010, DfID has disbursed £36.25 million directly to the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). The Government of Pakistan remain the main funder of BISP, contributing approximately 90% of total funds, with DfID and the World Bank providing the remaining 10%.
The UK is politically impartial in Pakistan. Our development assistance is based solely on need and effectiveness. The BISP was unanimously approved by an Act of Parliament in 2010. The UK is funding BISP because it reaches the very poorest and most vulnerable people across Pakistan, regardless of political affiliation.
BISP uses an objective poverty scorecard to identify beneficiaries. DfID and the World Bank are working closely with BISP to ensure that the targeting of beneficiaries remains objective and apolitical.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 26 March (WA 228), whether they have assessed the impact on prison discipline of recent television programmes about HM Prison Aylesbury.[HL6592]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Incidents across the prison estate are continually monitored to identify trends which might support staff and managers in ensuring that prisons remain secure, decent and well ordered. If incidents can be attributed to a specific cause, the Prison Service will take what reasonable steps it can to mitigate their impact in the future. The department regularly receives requests for filming or broadcasts from within the prison estate. Each request is assessed to ensure that any such work agreed to is conducive to good order and portrays an accurate picture of prison life.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The public sector pay bill reached £166,926 million in 2011-12, a 0.6% fall on the previous year. The most recent pay data for the public sector can be found in Table 9 of the Expenditure on Services table1.
The comparable figures for the private sector are unavailable. However, the Office for National Statistics average weekly earnings data have shown that between 2011 and 2012 public sector pay (excluding financial services) has increased by 1.7% and private sector pay by 1.5%. There are a number of factors that could give rise to such differentials, including annual pay awards, changes to workforce composition and progression pay.
At Budget 2013 the Chancellor announced that public sector pay awards in 2015-16 will be limited to an average of up to 1%. The Government will also be seeking significant further savings through reform to progression pay in the 2015-16 spending round.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): Answers to Questions for Written Answers HL6126, HL6127 and HL6128, tabled on Monday 11 March and due for answer by Monday 25 March, were issued on Thursday 25 April 2013. The Secretary of State has taken steps to ensure that the department's performance in answering parliamentary Questions improves.
Earl Attlee: We recognise there is a good case to electrify the Gospel Oak to Barking line, but the estimated cost of £90 million is significant and strategic rail funding up to 2019 is fully committed. The
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA462
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase railway capacity to cater for the additional heavy freight expected to be handled by the London gateway port, so as to reduce to a minimum additional heavy lorry traffic on the roads in the area.[HL6783]
Earl Attlee: Freight routeing and network capacity are matters for Network Rail. Network Rail undertakes a programme of market and demand studies in order to understand the likely pattern of developing demand from the freight sector, including ports. It works closely with its customers, including the developers of London Gateway, to determine the extent to which demand can be accommodated within existing capacity or may require capacity enhancements. This process informs the prioritisation of Network Rail's investment in the strategic rail freight network.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 10 April (WA 332), what steps they are taking to ensure that sufficient rolling stock is available to those existing franchises being extended through negotiated long-term direct award contracts. [HL6784]
Earl Attlee: Rolling stock deployment is a matter for the train operators with the Government's role primarily focused on ensuring that this represents value for money when the taxpayer's interest is involved. It is therefore for franchise bidders to determine the rolling stock requirements for routes within the franchise area and to work with the rolling stock owning groups to make decisions on investment in both new and existing rolling stock.
The Department for Transport is currently investing in rolling stock for the Thameslink and Inter City Express programmes. These procurements will significantly increase the national fleet size, enabling the department's investment strategy requirements to be met.
Existing rolling stock procurement programmes (including Thameslink and InterCity Express), and potential cascades of trains to other lines will not be delayed by the franchise schedule announced in March 2013, including during periods of direct awards contracts. The department will be working with both the train operators and rolling stock owning companies to understand any further rolling stock needs identified by them during the direct award periods.
Earl Attlee: The Highways Agency is responsible for litter picking the A13 between the M25 and Wennington (about 4 kilometres). The next round of litter picking on this section of the A13 is currently scheduled to start by Friday 3 May 2013. The remaining stretch of the road is a matter for Transport for London.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what contributions they have made, or plan to make, to (1) the capital costs, and (2) the annual running costs, of each of the existing or proposed free schools in England.[HL6671]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): There are 81 existing free schools in England. Planned contributions to the capital costs of existing free schools are published on the Department for Education website when contracts have been finalised. The figures published to date are included in table HL6671, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The table also sets out the contributions that Her Majesty's Government have made to the annual running costs of each of these schools for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years. Planned contributions to the annual running costs of each of the existing free schools for the 2013-14 academic year will also be published by the Department for Education on its website when they have been finalised later in the year.
Around 100 free schools are currently working towards opening in September 2013. The Department for Education will publish on its website the contribution to the capital costs of each free school when the contracts for site acquisition and building work are finalised. Planned contributions to the annual running costs of each proposed free school in 2013-14 will be published by the Department for Education on its website after all the funding agreements have been signed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all comments on the new national curriculum, out for consultation until 16 April, are thoroughly taken into account for all disciplines, and especially for the key subjects, mathematics and English.[HL6126]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will ensure that the new national curriculum sets out, for all aspects of English, a clear year by year path of progression in the acquisition of skills and knowledge through key stages 1, 2 and 3.[HL6128]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): We recently published our proposals for the reform of the national curriculum for public consultation. We will review and analyse all responses received across all disciplines, including mathematics and English, before final decisions are made about the design and content of the new national curriculum. We will also publish a summary of the responses received.
The proposed draft programmes of study for English have been developed in consultation with subject experts and teachers, and build upon a robust evidence base. Our international research has focused on the curricula of high-performing education jurisdictions that have English as a mother tongue and where English is the medium of instruction. These have included Alberta, Australia, Hong Kong, Massachusetts, New Zealand, and Singapore. We have not looked specifically at the curricula for mother-tongue teaching in the German Länder.
The Government are legally required to set out curriculum content on a key stage basis and the draft programmes of study for English meet this requirement by setting out clear expectations for the acquisition of skills and knowledge through key stages 1, 2 and 3. A key intention of the primary curriculum is to ensure that pupils meet the expected standards of literacy and are equipped for progression to the secondary curriculum and beyond into the world of work.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they have about recent killings in Abyei; whether those killings occurred in close proximity to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) base; what actions UNISFA has taken under its mandate to protect civilian lives in Abyei; whether they have requested UNISFA to carry out an investigation; and whom they believe to have been responsible.[HL6771]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We are aware of allegations of two shootings in Abyei in recent days. We have raised these with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), both in New York and locally, and are awaiting further information. We would expect the results of any investigation to be
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA465
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Sure Start centres were in operation in each of the past five years; how many have opened and closed in each of those years; and in which local authorities were the closed centres located.[HL6761]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): Information about the total number of Sure Start children's centres since April 2009 is set out in the following table and is based on historical data provided by Together for Children (2009-11)1 and on information provided by local authorities.
|Year (April)||Total number of Sure Start children's centres|
Councils have merged others as they have sought to provide more efficient children's centre services, targeted at the poorest children. This means that, based on the information supplied by LAs, there has been a net decrease of 31 centres reported during March. The decrease was as a result of mergers and not outright closures. The total number of outright closures listed on the database since April 2010 remains unchanged at 30.
The department holds information provided by local authorities on children's centres opened and closed since May 2010. This shows that there have been three new centres opened in England and 30 outright closures since that date. Details of the closures are set out in the following table.
|LA Closures (outright)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, in conjunction with other Governments, to document the scale and nature of the alleged use of sexual violence as an instrument of war by the Government of Syria and other parties involved in the conflict in Syria. [HL6754]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has made rape and sexual violence in Syria a focus of his Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative. Because of the stigma and risk to survivors' safety in reporting sexual violence, data collection remains a significant challenge. We are supporting the work of the UN and training to document human rights violations in Syria. Through deployments of members of the UK team of experts on preventing sexual violence, we are training healthcare professionals in the effective documentation of cases, and we are leading the international community in asking for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
Baroness Warsi: No comprehensive quantitative data exist on the extent of the use of sexual violence as an instrument of war in Syria. However, anecdotal and qualitative reports from the UN and non-governmental organisations suggest high numbers of cases of sexual violence perpetrated as part of the ongoing conflict. The latest UN Commission of Inquiry of 18 February 2013 reports that sexual violence has been perpetrated against men, women and children, particularly in detention facilities and during house searches. The UK is determined to set a lead in providing support to survivors and working to hold perpetrators to account, as part of my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary's personal initiative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what resources they are providing, either unilaterally or as part of international action, to ensure that victims of sexual violence in Syria are provided with the necessary medical and trauma support. [HL6756]
Baroness Warsi: The UK is providing clinical care and counselling for 12,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan who have experienced trauma and sexual assault. In addition, as part of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), UK experts have been deployed with Physicians for Human Rights to train Syrian health professionals in how to respond to reports of sexual violence. This year we are carrying out further deployments to continue this work.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the report of the Public and Commercial Services Union, There is an Alternative: The Case against Cuts in Public Spending, what steps they will take to reduce revenue lost through tax evasion and tax avoidance.[HL6729]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): At Budget 2013, the Government announced a wide-ranging package of measures to tackle tax avoidance and offshore evasion that are forecast to raise over £4 billion over the next five years. These measures include the UK's first General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR), closure of 10 loopholes, and agreements with the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey to increase tax transparency and encourage offshore tax evaders to put their affairs on the right footing.
At the 2010 spending review, the Government reinvested £917 million in HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to tackle tax avoidance, evasion, criminal attack and debt; and invested a further £77 million in the Autumn Statement 2012. HMRC is spending this money on increasing the number of specialists working on compliance, improving their skills and investing in the data and technology that they use to identify and tackle tax avoidance and evasion. By the end of 2014-15, this investment will have contributed to delivering £22 billion a year in extra tax revenues.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Nash on 23 April (WA 401-2), why the answers to Questions for Written Answer HL6300 and HL6301 requesting separate information were identical.[HL6799]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): Both Questions asked whether the Government have plans to ensure that teacher training institutions are adequately staffed to produce competent teachers. Although the Questions referred to different aspects of the curriculum, the same Answer applies to both: it is the accredited provider's responsibility to ensure that it has sufficiently well qualified staff to deliver high-quality training. Quality of provision is inspected by Ofsted and accreditation is managed by the now National College of Teaching and Leadership, formerly the Teaching Agency.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Turkey about the sentencing of Fazil Say; and what responses they have received to those representations. [HL6763]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government are aware of the prosecution of Fazil Say under Section 216 of the Turkish Penal Code. While the UK has not made specific representations to the Turkish Authorities, the European Commission has, on behalf of the EU, underlined the importance for Turkey of fully respecting freedom of expression in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and case law of the European Court of Human Rights.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the warning provided by the Embassy of the United States in the Bahamas to tourists visiting the Turks and Caicos Islands; and what representations they have made to the Government of the United States in relation to the issue.[HL6734]
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands issued a statement on 13 March, noting that the islands benefit from one of the lowest levels of crime anywhere in the Caribbean but that the US had issued a notice in response to a very few serious incidents involving US citizens. The Governor also spoke to the US authorities on 13 March and highlighted the general low level of crime that exists in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force continues to take vigorous action to tackle crime. On 23 April the force initiated actions to address concern about gun crime and reduce the number of guns in circulation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 14 March (WA92), what qualifications are needed for each distinct type or level of a UK Border Agency case worker.[HL6543]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Civil Service Competency Framework (CSCF) is used when recruiting for roles across all grades below the Senior Civil Service. This is standard practice across the Home
25 Apr 2013 : Column WA470
The CSCF can be found here: http://www.civil service.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Civil-Service-Competency-Framework-July-2012.pdf.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): No statistical information is available showing the number of United Kingdom citizens who are resident outside the United Kingdom.
|Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|