15 July 2013 : Column WA75

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Written Answers

Monday 15 July 2013

Agriculture: Genetically Modified Crops

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether have made any assessment of the paper Sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest by Jack A Heinemann et al, published on-line in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability on 14 June; and, if so what assessment they have made of that paper’s analysis of the yields of genetically modified crops and their requirements for pesticides and herbicides.[HL1271]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): This paper needs to be considered alongside the other available evidence on the impact of GM crops. On yields, it should be recognised that the current GM herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant crops are intended to facilitate weed and pest control rather than confer an intrinsic yield benefit. However, a number of other studies point to GM insect-resistant crops increasing output by reducing levels of pest damage. That includes in respect of the only major experience so far with GM cultivation in the EU, where Spanish farmers growing GM maize have had better yields than their non-GM counterparts in areas of significant pest pressure. Other evidence also suggests that GM insect-resistant crops lower pesticide usage, and that GM glyphosate-tolerant crops have a lower environmental impact than the crops they replace, because glyphosate is less toxic and more biodegradable than other herbicides.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many of the 50 European Union-funded projects on the safety of genetically modified products have involved long-term feeding studies designed to establish genetically modified organism toxicity or safety. [HL1331]

Lord De Mauley: In his speech about GM technology at Rothamsted Research on 20 June, the Secretary of State noted that the EU has funded more than 50 projects on GM safety. None of these involved long-term animal feeding studies. As a minimum, the EU assessment of proposed GM food and feed products is based on repeated-dose 28-day oral toxicity studies in rodents to demonstrate the safety of newly expressed proteins. Recognised good practice for GM safety assessments envisages that in certain circumstances it may be necessary to conduct a 90-day feeding trial with the GM food, and the need for and extent of additional feeding trials is considered on a case-by-case basis. In April 2013 a standard requirement for a 90-day rodent feeding trial was introduced by the EU for many types of GM crop.

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Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether all plants genetically modified with Bacillus thuringiensis meet the World Health Organisation and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation criteria on the safety of potentially allergenic genetically modified crops are approved.[HL1459]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In line with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations World Health Organization internationally agreed guidelines for the safety assessment of genetically modified (GM) plants, a weight-of-evidence approach is recommended when assessing the potential allergenicity of a newly expressed protein, whether derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or any other organism. This takes into account all of the information obtained with various test methods, as no single experimental method yields decisive evidence for allergenicity.

GM crops are only approved in the European Union if they have been favourably assessed by the European Food Safety Authority, which carries out its assessments in accordance with Codex Alimentarius guidelines.

Agriculture: Herbicides

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their latest assessment of the use of Azulene; and what other herbicides they recommend to control bracken.[HL1517]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): An emergency authorisation was issued on 20 May 2013 for use of the product Asulox (active substance asulam) for bracken control in amenity vegetation, forest, grassland and moorland this year. Emergency authorisations are used to control a danger which cannot be contained by any other reasonable means and require an assessment of the risks to people and to the environment. In accordance with the authorisation, use of Asulox must end on 31 October 2013.

Other herbicides containing substances such as glyphosate may be used to control bracken where they are authorised for that purpose, but are not selective and will also kill non-target plants. Non-chemical methods of bracken control may also be possible in certain situations.

Agriculture: Wheat

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 2 December 2010 (WA 480–1), whether they will publish an updated table showing the average price of feed wheat in the United Kingdom each year since 1996, based on averages of weekly ex-farm prices provided by the Home Grown Cereals Authority.[HL1398]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The average annual prices of feed wheat for the calendar years 1996 to 2012 are shown in the table below. The prices are derived from corn return (ex-farm) price data reported to the Home Grown Cereals Authority on a weekly basis for first hand purchases of British grain direct from growers, and quarterly levy data.

YearFeed wheat price £/t

1996

111

1997

89

1998

75

1999

73

2000

66

2001

71

2002

67

2003

69

2004

78

2005

66

2006

72

2007

99

2008

127

2009

108

2010

113

2011

148

2012*

163

*

The 2012 price is provisional and may be subject to change.

These prices are reported in Agriculture in the United Kingdom which is available from the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affair/series/agriculture-in-the-united-kingdom#statistical-data-sets.

Banking

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government by which date United Kingdom banks must reach the 3 per cent capital to assets leverage requirement set by the Prudential Regulatory Authority.[HL1263]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The matters raised are for the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), whose day-to-day operations are independent from government control and influence.

Banking: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Deighton on 21 May (WA 42) on the use of Article 53(1) of the Lisbon Treaty as the legal basis for the Capital Requirements Directive IV, whether they have now concluded their assessment of the legal implications; if so, what are the results; and if not, when they expect to conclude their assessment.[HL1285]

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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The final text of the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD4) was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 27 June 2013. The Government has not yet concluded its assessment of the legal implications of the requirement to limit bonuses under CRD4. This will be concluded following detailed consideration of the final text over the Summer.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 3 July (WA 212–3), why the expected numbers and savings “are only available for Great Britain”; whether such data can be disaggregated to regional or local authority levels; and, if not, why not.[HL1390]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): DWP forecasts are produced at a Great Britain level. Forecasts are not produced below this level since the Office for Budget Responsibility economic forecasts on which DWP's claims forecasts are based are not available below this level. The waiting days costings will be particularly sensitive to changes in the distribution of new claims across regions.

Burma

Questions

Asked by Baroness Nye

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are planning to provide technical assistance and training to the Burmese military on specific measures to professionalise and reform its recruitment practices, with a view to preventing child recruitment.[HL1383]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): During his recent visit to Burma from 2-4 June, the Chief of Defence Staff met the Burmese Commander in Chief and other senior military figures in the first high level engagement between the British Government and the Burmese military. Our objective, as the Chief of Defence Staff explained to the Burmese, is to support the reform process by taking actions to facilitate the democratisation of the Burmese military, ensuring it is subservient to the civilian government and institutions. We plan to begin the provision of technical assistance later this year, focusing on this objective. Our current non resident Defence Attaché, and his resident successor who will follow in November, will explore options for further technical support, including the sharing of expertise on preventing child recruitment.

Asked by Baroness Nye

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are taking action to encourage the Burmese military to introduce and adopt measures which prevent the recruitment of underage soldiers, following the meeting

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of Hugo Swire MP, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with the Defence Minister of Burma in December 2012.[HL1384]

Baroness Warsi: During his meeting with the Burmese Defence Minister as part of his visit to Burma in December 2012, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), raised many of our concerns about issues relating to human rights and welcomed the Burmese government’s commitment to end the recruitment of child soldiers. However, progress on the release of child soldiers and the prevention of continuing recruitment has been slow. We are currently working on a resolution regarding Burma’s progress on its Action Plan with our partners on the UN Security Council Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict. We aim to ensure that this text can be used by the international community to facilitate stronger progress than to date by the Burmese military.

Asked by Baroness Nye

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are taking action to ensure that the United Nations Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict requires the government of Burma to implement effectively the action plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children by its armed forces, signed with the United Nations in June 2012, particularly in relation to the provision of access to all military sites and border guard forces in Burma.[HL1386]

Baroness Warsi: We are currently working on a resolution regarding Burma’s progress on its Action Plan with our partners on the UN Security Council Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict. The eventual resolution will be the result of negotiations between all members of the Security Council, and will require consensus. The British Government will push for a text that highlights the challenges remaining, of which the provision of access to key military sites is one of the most fundamental.

Businesses: Graduate Entrepreneurs

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what resources are available for graduate entrepreneurs for start-up businesses.[HL1298]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): We want more businesses to develop in the UK in order to drive economic growth and innovation. We are intervening early to drive ambition by encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset in young people through activities in schools, colleges and universities. The experience of enterprise through education helps give young people the knowledge and awareness of what it means to run a business.

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Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can also help to bridge the gap into the world of business. For example, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) provides £160m per annum through Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) to English HEIs to enable them to work with businesses and others. This can also be used to support student and academic enterprise, including start-ups and spin-outs. The latest Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction Survey (HE-BCI) indentified that, in 2011/12, 2,359 graduate start-ups were generated from English HEIs and 2,315 Graduate start ups were still active after at least three years.

We are also supporting other initiatives that help young people who are ready to start their own business. For example we have made available over £117.5 million of funding to boost enterprise amongst 18-30 year olds across England through the Start-Up Loan Scheme. On 5 June Government announced the scheme’s 5,000th loan at an event at Number 10 to pledge further support for small businesses.

There is also a wide range of advice and information for young people who want to start a business available at GOV.UK website and also the GREAT website, which links to sources of business support from Government and the private sector. Young people can also take advantage of Mentorsme.co.uk which provides a single point of access for those seeking a business mentor.

For young people who have innovative ideas there is the Technology Strategy Board which is the Government’s prime channel for supporting business-led technology innovation. It delivers a range of grant-based programmes in support of businesses undertaking research and development, including the Smart programme and Innovation Vouchers scheme. Smart supports pre-start ups, start-ups and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) with ‘Proof of Market', ‘Proof of Concept' and ‘Development of Prototype' activities.

Innovation Vouchers enable small businesses, including start-ups, to work with universities and other innovation advisers to help them gain new knowledge and help the businesses to innovate, develop and grow.

Finally, we are helping international students with a genuine and credible business and entrepreneurial skills to remain in the UK to establish a business. Those who graduate in the UK can be endorsed and supported by UK Higher Education Institutions, whilst UKTI is also seeking to attract the best entrepreneurial talent, from overseas universities, to the UK.

Children: Sexual Exploitation

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their timetable for signing and ratifying the Council of Europe Lanzarote Convention against Sexual Exploitation of Children.[HL1429]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The UK signed the Council of Europe's Convention on the Protection of

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Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse in May 2008. Officials are currently leading the work to examine what else needs to be done under domestic legislation and in terms of the practical arrangements before the UK can be assessed to be fully compliant. This work will confirm the timetable for ratification of the Convention.

Children: Sexually Explicit Material

Question

Asked by Baroness Benjamin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to prevent young children from watching highly sexualised music video content online.[HL1132]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: Currently under the Video Recordings Act 1984, music DVDs are exempt from any requirement to be age rated by the British Board of Film Classification and thus can be supplied to anyone of any age. Following a full public consultation on this issue, in May 2013 Government announced it would be bringing forward legislation to ensure that music DVDs—and DVDs in other exempt genres—are age rated by the BBFC in future if they are unsuitable for children younger than 12.

Government also announced that more would be done to help ensure parents can make informed decisions about the video content their children may wish to access online. We are asking industry to develop solutions by the end of the year so that more online videos, especially those such as music videos that may be popular with children, carry advice about their age-suitability and content. We want to make sure content labels are clear and easily understandable to British families and that age ratings can be tagged and incorporated into the meta data of the content file so that parental content control software can recognise them.

Council Tax

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are taking action to encourage those authorities that are charging former Council Tax Benefit recipients more than 8.5 per cent Council Tax in 2013–14 to make amendments to their local schemes in 2014–15.[HL1373]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The expectation continues to be that local authorities will be taking all possible steps to help hard-working families with their cost of living, keeping down pressure on council tax bills by sharing services and back office functions, cutting wasteful expenditure, and smarter procurement. In addition, it was announced in the Spending Round that funding would be available to freeze council tax for a further two years, covering 2014-15 and 2015-16.

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Councils have set up their own council tax support schemes and should have taken into account the impact on vulnerable people in designing their schemes. It is not in authorities' interests to design schemes which mean people cannot make payments nor lock people into a cycle of poverty and low aspiration.

Crime: Domestic Violence

Question

Asked by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what research evidence has been published since 2008 into the effectiveness of the domestic violence, stalking and honour-based crime risk assessment.[HL1471]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Home Office has not undertaken or published any research evidence into the effectiveness of the domestic violence, stalking and honour-based risk assessment.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were the reasons for the conclusion by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s review panel in their report Scientific review of the safety and methods to avoid mitochondrial disease through assisted conception: update, published in March, that ‘pronuclear transfer in a non-human primate model with the demonstration that the offspring derived are normal” was no longer a critical or mandatory experiment; and what was the evidence underlying the decision that mice should be used for such experiments instead of macaques.[HL1262]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the reasons and evidence to which the noble Lord refers, relating to the conclusions of the independent expert review panel, convened by the HFEA, in its report, Scientific review of the safety and methods to avoid mitochondrial disease through assistedconception: update, published in March, are outlined in the report and the minutes of the panel's meetings which are available on the HFEA's website at:

www.hfea.gov.uk/6372.html

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to publish the independent review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority that was submitted by Dr Justin McCracken to ministers in April; if so, when; and if not, why not.[HL1304]

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Earl Howe: We intend to publish the report of the independent review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority by Justin McCracken shortly. The Government response to the McCracken report will be published at the same time.

EU: Legislation

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which European Union transport legislation enacted during the last ten years has not been transposed into United Kingdom legislation by the due date.[HL1356]

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport tracks EU directives within its remit in a spreadsheet which, inter alia, notes both the original transposition deadline for the directive and any later agreed transposition date (for example, where an informal waiver has been given by the Commission). When transposition is complete, the Department notifies the European Commission via the National Execution Measures (“NEM”) website.

A table has been placed in the Libraries of the House which contains a list of directives from the past ten years, taken from our tracking spreadsheet – alongside their original transposition deadlines and any later agreed transposition date. This has been compared against the date on which we notified full transposition via the NEM website. We have included in this list all directives which were notified via NEM later than the original transposition date.

It should be noted that the UK notifies transposition of directives on behalf of Gibraltar, and transposition in the UK Member State cannot be marked as fully complete until Gibraltar has also fully transposed the directive. For the purposes of this answer, we have ignored Gibraltarian transposition and instead only looked at the UK itself.

Forced Marriage

Question

Asked by Baroness Uddin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the forthcoming proposed legislation on forced marriage, whether they will publish the list of women's organisations they have consulted and the evidence they have received from them.[HL1433]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): A list of the women's organisations the Government consulted with during the forced marriage consultation period is provided in the table below. A summary of the responses to the consultation was published in June 2013—this can be found on the GOV.UK website: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/157829/forced-marriage-response.pdf

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An-Nisa Society

Ann Craft Trust

Albert Kennedy Trust

Asha Project

Ashiana Project

Ashiana Sheffield

Birmingham Women's Aid

Eaves Housing

ECPAT UK

Forward

Freedom Charity

Henna Foundation

Imkaan

Independent Choices

Iranian & Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation

JAN Trust

Karma Nirvana

Kurdish & Middle Eastern Women's Organisation

Kiran Project

Liverpool Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence Steering Group

Local Solutions Organisation

Manchester Women's Aid

Muslim Women's Network

National Council of Women GB

Newham Asian Woman's Project

Odysseus Trust

Plan UK

Practical Solutions

Refuge

Resolution Organisation

Respond

Rights of Women

Roshni

Saheli Project

Save Your Rights

Soroptimist International

Southall Black Sisters

The Sky Project

West Mercia Women's Aid

Health: Cardiology

Question

Asked by Lord Colwyn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what specifications are in place for the specialised commissioning of implanted cardioverter defibrillator and cardiac resynchronisation therapy until October 2013, following the recent publication of the interim specifications for those treatments.[HL1284]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Specifications and policies relating to complex invasive cardiology have been published on the NHS England website. This includes a specification for cardiology implantable cardioverter defibrillators and cardiac resynchronisation therapies.

In anticipation of revised commissioning arrangements for prescribed specialised services from 1 April 2013, NHS England developed a range of new specifications and policies to describe the standards and range of services to be available to patients nationally, based on specialist clinical advice. These were subject to a period of public consultation, with feedback informing the final policy and specification documents subsequently published on NHS England's website.

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It was agreed that the policies would be adopted for implementation from 1 April 2013 since they describe the treatments that are, or are not, routinely funded and it felt important that eligibility for care was as equitable as possible from day one of NHS England's establishment as the single commissioner of specialised services.

It was agreed that for the new specifications, however, it would be reasonable that providers were given a period of six months to achieve the standards and pathways of care required, since in some cases this requires recruitment of staff, changes to physical infrastructure or changes in the way in which care is configured or provided. These specifications are therefore currently published with a watermark indicating that they are 'interim for adoption from 1 October 2013'.

Area Teams of NHS England are currently working with providers to identify any gaps in ‘convergence' with the national specification requirements and jointly agreeing and overseeing the delivery of action plans where further progress is required.

Health: Drugs Pricing

Questions

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 24 June (WA 93), what arrangements will be in place for patients to access cancer drugs previously considered but not recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and which are also not subject to a value-based pricing assessment. [HL1392]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In the context of developing the new pricing arrangements, we are exploring ways in which patients can continue to benefit from innovative cancer drugs at a cost that represents value to the National Health Service.

Where the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has not recommended a drug in its technology appraisal guidance, it is for the relevant NHS commissioner to make a decision on its funding. NHS commissioners are required to have in place clear and transparent arrangements for considering applications for funding, including on an exceptional basis.

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 24 June (WA 93), what involvement they envisage for clinicians in value-based pricing assessments of cancer drugs previously considered but not recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.[HL1393]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 24 June (WA 93), whether (1) cancer patients, and (2) groups representing cancer patients, will be involved in value-based pricing assessments of cancer drugs previously considered but not recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. [HL1394]

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Earl Howe: The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will be responsible for the full value assessment of new medicines as part of value-based pricing. We have given NICE Terms of Reference for this work and NICE will now take this forward to develop the value assessment methodology. As part of this process, there will be engagement opportunities for the full range of stakeholders, including clinicians, cancer patients and their representative groups, to feed in their views.

Our expectation is that, as with its current technology appraisal process, NICE will consult widely in developing its value assessments.

Health: Mitochondrial Disease

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government who composed the Press Release by the Department of Health and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority “Innovative genetic treatment to prevent mitochondrial disease”, issued on 28 June; what is the treatment referred to that “could save around 10 lives each year”; to which types of condition such treatment is expected to apply; and whether it is intended that the treatments and techniques involved should be applied to more cases each year.[HL1303]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The press release to which the noble Lord refers was prepared by the Department taking account of an estimate provided by the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research at the Newcastle University, from the research team working on the prevention of the transmission of mitochondrial DNA disorders from mother to child. The centre estimates that mitochondria replacement techniques could save the lives of up to 10 babies who are born every year with a severe form of the disease, such as those with high levels of mutations.

As specified in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, this technique may only be used to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial disease. The Government has announced that draft regulations, that would enable the clinical use of mitochondria replacement techniques in the United Kingdom, will be published for public consultation later in the year. Clinics wishing to use these techniques in treatment would need to apply to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority for a licence. The Government cannot give an estimate of the likely number of such applications.

Health: Monitor

Question

Asked by Lord Turnberg

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Monitor is challenging Torbay Health Trust for anti-competitive behaviour in seeking to integrate its services with those in the community; and, if so, why.[HL1475]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Monitor has not taken any investigative or enforcement action in relation to Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust.

Organisations in Torbay have submitted an expression of interest to become an integration pioneer. This expression of interest is currently being assessed as part of a process that includes input from Monitor and a range of other national organisations and experts. The final decision about selection will be made by the collaboration of national partners in the autumn.

Health: Neuromotor Immaturity

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the head of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in The Daily Telegraph on 1 July that, in children whom that organisation has assessed, neuromotor immaturity has increased over the past twenty years from 1 per cent to 10 per cent in children conceived by in vitro fertilisation.[HL1307]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that it is aware of the study to which the statement refers. The Authority has issued a statement about the study that can be found on its website at:

www.hfea.gov.uk/7909.html

The HFEA has also advised that it will take note of the study as part of its horizon scanning process.

Housing

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many units of council and former council housing have been sold in each local housing authority since the introduction of the Right to Buy scheme; what proportion of the total stock of council and former council housing in each authority that represents;

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and how many units in each authority that have been sold under the Right to Buy scheme are now in the privately rented sector.[HL1302]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Figures on sales of local authority owned dwellings in each local authority area since 2009/10 are available in Live Table 685, on the Department's website here—https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/200525/Table_685 _version_2_.xls

Figures on sales of former council housing at local authority level are not available.

Figures on sales as a proportion of stock in each authority are not available. However, it is possible to produce approximate estimates for 2009-10 and subsequent years by combining figures from Live Table 685 (as above) and Live Table 125; https://www.gov.uk/govemment/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_ data/file/192184/LiveTable125.xls

Figures on the number of sold units now in the privately rented sector are not available.

Under our reinvigorated Right to Buy scheme, the Government's aim is that for every additional property sold under Right to Buy, a new affordable home for rent will be built nationally. Therefore as a whole, this will increase home ownership, augment the overall housing stock, and boost construction, as an affordable home will be provided to someone who previously did not have one.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of United Kingdom housing stock was owner-occupied for each of the past ten years; what is their estimate of that figure for each of the next five years; whether they consider that owner-occupation is the best form of tenure for families and other settled households; and whether they have a policy target for the proportion of the housing stock that is owner-occupied.[HL1326]

Baroness Hanham: The table below shows the proportion of tenure type within dwellings in the United Kingdom, for the last 10 years.

(%)2002200320042005200620072008200920102011

Owner Occupied

69.3

68.6

69.2

69.1

68.4

68.0

67.2

66.2

65.6

64.9

The Department has not estimated the expected proportion of owner-occupied dwellings in the United Kingdom over the next five years.

Our aim is to help people achieve their aspiration to live in a home that gives them security to plan for their future. The Government is committed to seeing a major increase in the supply of new homes across all tenures. We do not have a target for the proportion of different tenures in the housing stock.

We are supporting those people who aspire to homeownership through our Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme which saw over 4,000 reservations in the first two months alone. For people who choose to remain in the rented sector we are currently piloting innovative new funding models through the Build to Rent fund and Housing Guarantees scheme to expand choice and availability in the sector. We have also delivered over 84,000 affordable homes in the first two years of our Affordable Homes Programme.

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I would observe that the number of first time buyers is now at its highest level since 2007 and affordability for first time buyers remains close to its most favourable level since 2003 (Halifax press release, 29 December 2012). But there is more to do to help people move onto and up the housing ladder.

Iran

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to restore a minimum level of diplomatic relations with Iran; and whether there are any preconditions for such a step on either side.[HL1337]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Diplomatic relations with Iran are already at the minimum level. Our respective Embassies are closed but arrangements are in place for Sweden to look after UK interests in Iran, and Oman to look after Iranian interests in the UK. Until we can be confident that Iran will abide by its obligations to protect our staff and allow them to carry out their functions, we will not have a diplomatic presence in Tehran.

Iraq

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect to sign and implement the agreement with Iraq for the transfer of convicted persons.[HL1430]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Negotiations between the United Kingdom and Iraq on a possible prisoner transfer agreement are ongoing. It is not possible to say when these negotiations will be concluded. However, we hope that the Agreement will be signed before the end of the year. Both countries will then need to complete their internal constitutional arrangements necessary to bring the Agreement into force.

Nepal

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the definition of citizenship currently being proposed by the Constituent Assembly in Nepal; and whether any children born to trafficked women are being excluded from citizenship in that country.[HL1379]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): A number of proposals on citizenship were made during the life of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly. The Assembly was dissolved in May 2012 without agreement on this provision.

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The current Interim Constitution of Nepal (2007), the Citizenship Act of 2006, and a 2011 Supreme Court decision all provide for citizenship if a child is born to a Nepali mother or a Nepali father. However, implementation of this provision has been poor, and it remains in practice difficult to secure citizenship by descent on the mother’s side in Nepal. Children born to trafficked Nepali women are therefore at risk of being unable to get citizenship in Nepal.

NHS: Accident and Emergency Departments

Questions

Asked by Baroness McDonagh

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many accident and emergency units it has been decided will close since June 2010; and what are their names.[HL1423]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many accident and emergency unit closures are currently under consultation; and what are their names.[HL1424]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many accident and emergency units are currently being considered for closure and are in the pre-consultation stage; and what are their names.[HL1425]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): This information is not collected centrally. Reconfiguration of NHS services is a matter for the local NHS.

Asked by Baroness McDonagh

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many NHS patients have waited longer than 4 hours for treatment in accident and emergency units in each quarter since January 2010.[HL1426]

Earl Howe: Information showing how many patients waited longer than four hours in accident and emergency (A&E) departments from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge in each quarter since January 2010 is shown in the following table.

A&E attendances > four hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge
YearQuarterTotal (all types)

2009-10

Q4: Jan - Mar

102,163

2010-11

Q1: April - June

86,672

-

Q2: July - Sept

106,799

-

Q3: Oct - Dec

184,263

-

Q4: Jan - Mar

179,380

2011-12

Ql: April - June

162,348

-

Q2: July - Sept

144,843

-

Q3: Oct - Dec

191,920

-

Q4: Jan - Mar

225,832

2012-13

Q1: April - June

187,752

-

Q2: July - Sept

167,921

-

Q3: Oct - Dec

231,969

-

Q4: Jan - Mar

313,769

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2013-14

Q1: April - June

241,144

Source:

NHS England

NHS: Migrant Access and Charges

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the estimate by Clare Gerada, Chair of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners, that the staff costs of charging migrants from outside the European Union a levy for making use of primary healthcare will amount to £500 million.[HL1402]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government has made no assessment of any estimate reportedly made by the Chair of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

The Government is consulting on proposals to amend the current rules and procedures for charging visitors and migrants for National Health Service care. These proposals include extending charges to primary care and identifying chargeable patients at the point that they first register with a general practitioner practice to allow the NHS to apply charges to them whenever they subsequently access hospital or other NHS services.

Views are also being sought on proposals to ensure temporary migrants from outside the European Economic Area make a financial contribution to the NHS, including the option of requiring those coming to stay for more than six months to pay a health levy to be collected by the Home Office alongside visa and immigration application fees.

Consultations published by the Department and the Home Office are examining the costs and benefits of these proposals to develop an impact assessment, whilst the Department has commissioned some independent professional research to better understand the extent of the use, and abuse, of the NHS by migrants and visitors, which will also inform the impact assessment.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what evidence they have about the impact of health tourism on the NHS budget.[HL1411]

Earl Howe: The Department is not able to make a reliable estimate of the impact on the National Health Service budget of providing NHS care to visitors and migrants who were not entitled to free treatment, including those known as health tourists, because the NHS does not currently have robust enough systems in place to identify every such patient.

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The Department has commissioned some independent professional research to better understand the extent of the use, and abuse, of the NHS by migrants and visitors and is currently consulting on proposals to change the rules of entitlement to free NHS care and to ensure the system is better able to identify chargeable patients and recover costs.

NHS: Waiting Lists

Questions

Asked by Baroness McDonagh

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many NHS patients were waiting for an elective procedure or operation at the end of (1) June 2010, (2) June 2011, (3) June 2012, and (4) June 2013.[HL1421]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many NHS patients had been waiting more than 18 weeks for their procedure or operation at the end of (1) June 2010, (2) December 2010, (3) June 2011, (4) December 2011, (5) June 2012, (6) December 2012, and (7) June 2013.[HL1422]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Information is not collected on how many patients are waiting for an elective procedure or operation. Information is collected on patients referred for non-emergency consultant-led treatment; these patients are on referral to treatment (RTT) pathways. Information is collected on how many patients on an RH pathway are still waiting to start treatment at the end of the month (incomplete pathways), and how many of these had been waiting for more than 18 weeks (incomplete pathways over 18 weeks). This includes patients who are waiting for an outpatient appointment, as well as those who are waiting for a procedure or operation. The available information is shown in the following table, which shows the number of patients on incomplete pathways and incomplete pathways over 18 weeks for the dates requested.

RH data for June 2013 will be published on 15 August 2013.

Table: RH: Patients waiting to start treatment at the end of the month.
Total Incomplete PathwaysNumber of Incomplete Pathways over 18 weeks

June 2010

2,569,098

221,588

December 2010

2,411,293

275,539

June 2011

2,550,720

226,427

December 2011

2,385,147

205,025

June 2012

2,635,475

154,449

December 2012

2,561,808

140,938

Source:

NHS England Referral to Treatment Waiting times monthly return www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/rtt-waiting times/

15 July 2013 : Column WA93

Nuclear Disarmament

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Ambassador Jo Adamson, United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, will be attending meetings of the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations.[HL1355]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK voted against the Resolution in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee that proposed the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG), has not attended past meetings of the OEWG, and does not intend to attend coming meetings.

The Government considers that the Conference on Disarmament, not the OEWG, provides the correct forum for taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.

The Government considers that a practical step by step approach is needed, using existing mechanisms such as the Non Proliferation Treaty and the Conference on Disarmament. The UK will continue to work with other nuclear weapons states (the P5) and non-nuclear weapons states to strengthen mutual confidence and further disarmament efforts.

Overseas Conflict: Sexual Violence

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to United Nations Resolution 2016 (2013); and whether funding will be available to take it forward through the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and the proposed renewed National Action Plan for women's rights organisations at grass roots level in conflict-affected countries.[HL1381]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK played a key role in delivering resolution 2106, which was adopted during a debate hosted by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), under the UK Presidency of the Security Council, on 24 June 2013. The Resolution will strengthen delivery of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for sexual violence in conflict, and provide a means for survivors’ needs to be better addressed. The resolution recognises the G8 Declaration, adopted by G8 Foreign Ministers in April 2013, and builds on a number of its commitments. We will continue to support the UN in ensuring a more consistent approach to this issue across the various Council mechanisms. The next step will be

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to take the political campaign to a wider UN audience at the UN General Assembly and where the UK will seek more concerted global action.

On 11 April, at the launch of the G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Foreign Secretary announced £5 million (over three years) of Foreign and Commonwealth Office funding to support grassroots and human rights projects on sexual violence in conflict, and wider projects to tackle violence against women and girls. These work streams are being taken forward as part of the Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and are co-ordinated with the UK National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325. The UK’s three year National Action Plan is currently being reviewed and a revised plan is due to issue in March 2014. It will reflect wider women, peace and security work including the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and support resolution 2106.

Planning

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations the Department of Communities and Local Government received from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in response to its consultation on the areas exempted from the new office to residential change of use permitted development rights.[HL1374]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government consulted on the relaxation of planning rules for change of use from commercial to residential in April 2011. In September 2012 we announced that we would introduce permitted development rights for change of use from offices to residential uses.

In January 2013 we invited applications from local planning authorities to request an exemption from the permitted development rights. The areas that have been exempt from the new permitted development rights, including those in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, are available to view on the Government's website at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/areas -exempt-from-office-to-residential-change-of-use-permitted-development-right-2013

Police: Prosecutions

Questions

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many police officers have been prosecuted in the past five years in cases involving criminal conduct against black and minority ethnic individuals.[HL1171]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many police officers in the past 20 years have been prosecuted for conduct associated with deaths in custody; and what were the outcomes of those prosecutions.[HL1174]

15 July 2013 : Column WA95

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice Court Proceedings Database holds information on defendants proceeded against, found guilty and sentenced for criminal offences in England and Wales. This database holds information on offences provided by the statutes under which proceedings are brought but not the specific circumstances of each case. This centrally held information does not include details of the occupations of defendants. As such, it is not possible to identify where a prosecution is brought against a serving police officer.

Police: Whistle-blowers

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they propose to improve the protection provided to whistle-blowers within the police service.[HL1453]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) currently operates a Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) telephone line and email address for the use of whistleblowers. Lord Justice Leveson in his report recommended that protection for whistleblowers should be enhanced, so the Government is working with both the IPCC and with the College of Policing to promote use of the PIDA line and build the confidence of those serving in police forces to raise concerns about individuals and practices.

Ports: Dredging

Questions

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what research they have undertaken into the recent dredging of the Yauntlet Channel in the Thames Estuary to assess whether there could be any impact on the river environment around or close to the SS Richard Montgomery now or in the future which could destabilise the vessel and its cargo; and which Department or Executive Agency is responsible for requesting such research and ensuring that it was undertaken.[HL1454]

Earl Attlee: The navigation channels of the Thames Estuary and the Medway are in continual use by a wide variety of ships of every size including large container ships sailing in and out of existing port facilities on both the Thames and the Medway.

The port authorities have responsibility for the maintenance and necessary dredging of river channels in their area. Should there be a material change, in the channel or to alter the size and frequency of the shipping traffic in those channels, the port authority would carry out the appropriate assessments, including risk assessments, before carrying out dredging or other activity to maintain the channel or to allow additional shipping activity.

15 July 2013 : Column WA96

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what research they have undertaken relating to the opening of the London Gateway port to assess any possible imminent or future impact on the river environment around or close to the SS Richard Montgomery which might destabilise the vessel and its cargo; and which Department or Executive Agency is responsible for requesting such research and for ensuring that it is undertaken.[HL1455]

Earl Attlee: The navigation channels of the Thames Estuary and the Medway are in continual use by a wide variety of ships of every size including large container ships sailing in and out of existing port facilities on both the Thames and the Medway.

The port authorities have responsibility for the maintenance and necessary dredging of river channels in their area. Should there be a material change, in the channel or to alter the size and frequency of the shipping traffic in those channels, the port authority would carry out the appropriate assessments, including risk assessments, before carrying out dredging or other activity to maintain the channel or to allow additional shipping activity.

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what research they have undertaken relating to the use of Ultra Large Container Ships in the River Thames to assess any possible impact those vessels could have on the river environment around or close to the SS Richard Montgomery which might destabilise the vessel and its cargo; and which Department or Executive Agency is responsible for requesting such research and for ensuring that it is undertaken.[HL1456]

Earl Attlee: The navigation channels of the Thames Estuary and the Medway are in continual use by a wide variety of ships of every size including large container ships sailing in and out of existing port facilities on both the Thames and the Medway.

The port authorities have responsibility for the maintenance and necessary dredging of river channels in their area. Should there be a material change, in the channel or to alter the size and frequency of the shipping traffic in those channels, the port authority would carry out the appropriate assessments, including risk assessments, before carrying out dredging or other activity to maintain the channel or to allow additional shipping activity.

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what research they have undertaken into the likely increase in the number and size of vessel movements on the River Thames and River Medway as a result of the London Gateway port in order to assess any possible impact on the river environment around or close to the SS Richard Montgomery which might destabilise the vessel and its cargo; and which Department or Executive Agency is responsible for requesting such research and for ensuring that it is undertaken. [HL1457]

15 July 2013 : Column WA97

Earl Attlee: The navigation channels of the Thames Estuary and the Medway are in continual use by a wide variety of ships of every size including large container ships sailing in and out of existing port facilities on both the Thames and the Medway.

The port authorities have responsibility for the maintenance and necessary dredging of river channels in their area. Should there be a material change, in the channel or to alter the size and frequency of the shipping traffic in those channels, the port authority would carry out the appropriate assessments, including risk assessments, before carrying out dredging or other activity to maintain the channel or to allow additional shipping activity.

Prisoners: Disabled Facilities

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to accommodate disabled prisoners currently in HMP Maidstone where they have access to ground floor cells and other adjusted facilities when that prison is converted to a prison for foreign national prisoners.[HL1155]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): All prisoners re-allocated from HM Prison Maidstone, as part of its change in function to a foreign national only prison, will be allocated to the appropriate prisons to meet their individual circumstances.

Staff at Maidstone have currently identified 21 prisoners from the remaining 183 who have particular requirements that need to be taken into consideration when making a decision about their transfer, following the change to the establishment’s function. This includes elderly as well as disabled prisoners and the staff have been proactive in identifying prisoners who fall into this group. Where such a need has been identified the staff have worked to identify prisons that can provide the appropriate facilities.

NOMS is committed to providing a safe and decent environment for all prisoners including those with disabilities.

Railways: Arriva Trains Wales

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Welsh Government may negotiate a rolling stock procurement contract with Arriva Trains Wales.[HL1476]

Earl Attlee: The Welsh Government is responsible for funding and managing the Wales and the Borders franchise, operated by Arriva Trains Wales, and this is a matter for the Welsh Government.

15 July 2013 : Column WA98

Railways: High Speed 2

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether HS2 has established a station choice panel; and, if so, who are the members.[HL1401]

Earl Attlee: The Government has not established a station choice panel for High Speed 2.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether United Nations observers would be ready to monitor a ceasefire in Syria as soon as it came into effect.[HL1335]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK is continuing intensive diplomatic efforts to make progress on a political transition. The G8 was vital in re-affirming our commitment to the creation of a transitional governing body with full executive powers. We also achieved a significant step forward in agreeing the need for the UN to plan for Syria’s transition, recovery and reconstruction. For any UN peacekeeping mission to be successful, it would need to be preceded by an enduring ceasefire that leads to a genuine process of political transition. We will continue to work closely with the UN to ensure the international community is ready to support a future Syrian authority rebuild stability and democracy.

Taxation: Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what work is being done to ensure that the United Kingdom overseas territories and Crown dependencies are committed to adopting any new standards of tax transparency agreed at the G8.[HL1294]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): All of the UK's Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories are committed to meeting the relevant standards in tax transparency. The Government works very closely with the Crown Dependencies and the Overseas Territories on an ongoing basis including as part of the G8 process over recent months. They have all agreed to automatically exchange information with the UK and others and, therefore, play an active role in the emerging new global standard for the automatic exchange of tax information. They have also committed to join the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters as rapidly as possible. The Crown Dependencies have all published Action Plans setting out concrete steps to

15 July 2013 : Column WA99

tackle misuse of companies and legal arrangements and all of the Overseas Territories have committed to do the same by the end of the year. The Government will continue to pursue greater transparency in taxation in all relevant international fora.

Wales and Scotland: Devolution

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Deighton on 1 July (WA 194), whether they will now answer the question as to whether they have received any requests from the Scottish Government or Welsh Government for devolution of any fiscal powers, and, if so, which powers.[HL1346]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): Further to my previous answer and, as was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions and correspondence.

Young Offender Institutions: Child Protection

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many staff working in (1) young offender institutions, (2) secure training centres, and (3) secure children's homes, have been (a) suspended following a child protection allegation, (b) disciplined following a child protection allegation, (c) dismissed following

15 July 2013 : Column WA100

a child protection allegation, and (d) convicted of sexual or violent offences against children, in the last five years.[HL1186]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We are committed to ensuring the safety and welfare needs of young people in custody and that there are robust systems in place to address any issues arising from child protection allegations. Staff members who are found to have relevant convictions would no longer be allowed to work within the youth secure estate and appropriate action would be taken to remove them from that post.

It is not possible to provide information on how many staff working in young offender institutions, secure training centres, and secure children’s homes, have been (a) suspended following a child protection allegation, (b) disciplined following a child protection allegation, (c) dismissed following a child protection allegation, and (d) convicted of sexual or violent offences against children, in the last five years because this information is not held centrally.

SCHs are operated by Local Authorities and follow their own disciplinary procedures. YJB are notified on a case by case basis of any issues but do not keep a central record.

STC providers do hold internal records of reasoning behind staff dismissals however the YJB do not have access to this.

NOMS HR Shared Service Centre provides improved centralised information in a number of areas, including the number of staff subject to disciplinary procedures. However it is not possible to filter the results to show the numbers of staff working in the young people’s estate at the time of their disciplinary award, nor the number of disciplinary investigations specifically triggered by complaints from young people.