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Written Answers

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Abortion

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have assessed their policy on access to safe abortions for war rape victims against the United Nations Security Resolution 2122 of 18 October, and in particular the section noting “the need for access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including regarding pregnancies resulting from rape, without discrimination”; and, if so, what is that assessment.[HL3228]

Baroness Northover (LD): The UK welcomes the Security Council’s focus on improving access to sexual and reproductive health. The UK funds partners to deliver these services and will be calling on other donors and partner agencies to provide more sexual and reproductive health services in humanitarian situations.

UK aid can be used to provide safe abortion care where necessary, and to the extent allowed by national laws. In conflict situations, where denial of abortion in accordance with a national law prohibition would threaten the woman’s or girl’s life or cause unbearable suffering, international humanitarian law principles may justify offering an abortion rather than perpetuating what amounts to inhumane treatment in the form of an act of cruel treatment or torture. Clearly this will depend on the woman's choice, her condition and the safety and security of the humanitarian staff, as well as other contextual factors.

Africa

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the International Democrat Union resolution of 31 October on democratisation in Africa. [HL3390]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The British Government considers a broad range of reports from a wide number of organisations focusing on democracy and governance in considering its policies on Africa. The Government fully supports democratisation and improved governance in Africa and has a programme of projects in support of the wider issues raised in the International Democrat Union’s resolution.

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Armed Forces: Defence Expenditure

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any of the expenditure authorised by Ministers at the Ministry of Defence in the three years prior to June 2010 was the subject of a Direction to the Accounting Officer.[HL3268]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): In the three years prior to June 2010 there were four Ministry of Defence (MOD) Ministerial Directions to the Accounting Officer authorising expenditure. They are identified in the following table:

DateDirectionCategory of Direction

15 September 2008

REMPLOY Procurement

Value for Money

29 June 2009

Repatriation Flights for UK Hostages in Iraq

Propriety

17 September 2009

Repatriation Flight for UK Hostages in Iraq.

Propriety

6 March 2010

Basra Memorial Wall Dedication Ceremony.

Value for Money

No MOD Ministerial Directions have been issued since March 2010.

Bangladesh

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the war crimes tribunal held in Bangladesh which has passed death sentences on British citizens and political opponents of the current government of that country; and whether they have made any representations to the government of Bangladesh about the tribunal.[HL3244]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK supports the principle of war crimes trials to hold to account those who may be guilty of crimes committed during the 1971 war. This must be done in a way that meets international legal standards. We made this point at Bangladesh’s 2nd Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council on 29 April.

But what we do not support is for those found guilty to face the death penalty. I raised our opposition, in all circumstances, with the Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr Dipu Moni, on 25 September. Our High Commissioner in Dhaka recently supported a local EU statement calling for the abolition of the death penalty to mark the World and EU Death Penalty Day on 10 October.

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BBC: World Service

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they provide to the BBC World Service.[HL3266]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the BBC World Service’s (BBCWS) sponsoring department and is providing £238.48 million for resource and capital spend as FCO Grant in Aid to support its activities in 2013-14.

Although the World Service moves to Licence Fee funding from April 2014, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), will continue to retain governance responsibilities, such as: agreeing the BBCWS’s Objectives, Targets and Priorities and the language services in which the BBCWS is provided.

The FCO will continue to work with the BBCWS to help ensure it continues to be recognised as the world’s most influential and respected international broadcaster.

British Council

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they provide to the British Council.[HL3265]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the British Council’s sponsoring department and is providing £161.4 million in Grant in Aid for resource and capital spend to support its activities around the world in 2013-14.

The FCO works in close co-operation with the British Council and its offices located in over 100 countries. The Council is also an important contributing partner in the Government's International Education Strategy.

Burma

Question

Asked by Baroness Jenkin of Kennington

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the government of Burma agreed to support the United Kingdom initiative on sexual violence in conflict when requested to do so by Hugo Swire, the United Kingdom Minister of State with responsibility for Burma, during his visit to that country in December 2012.[HL3264]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): During his visit in December 2012 to Burma, the Minister of State for

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Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), called for action to tackle sexual violence.

President Thein Sein welcomed the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) during his visit to London in July. Mr Swire pressed the Burmese Foreign Minister for his government to endorse the PSVI Declaration at the UN General Assembly in September. We will continue lobbying to strengthen accountability systems and eliminate impunity for rape in Burma.

At its outset, the Initiative identified countries, in consultation with the UN and other partners, for initial deployments. Over recent months the Initiative has extended to a number of other countries—including Burma. Our Embassy in Rangoon is looking to incorporate PSVI activities in to new and existing work—for example, funding a new project to improve access to justice for victims, develop community-based preventive mechanisms and promote wider legal and policy reforms.

Community Groups

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many services have begun to be delivered by community organisations and other groups under the Community Right to Challenge provisions.[HL3302]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): The Community Right to Challenge came into affect in June 2012. This information requested is not centrally held. My department has a general policy of seeking to reduce, rather than increase, data-reporting burdens on local government.

Government is providing support to community groups who want to bid to run local services or exercise the right to challenge. Since 2012, our support providers have given specialist support to 221 groups interested in delivering local services, including through the Community Right to Challenge.

Crime: Domestic Violence

Questions

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what training has been provided to police officers about responding effectively to domestic violence claims by individuals in same-sex relationships.[HL3247]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): All Police Officers complete the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) that provides them with the knowledge and skills to respond to and investigate all crimes effectively, irrespective of the sexual orientation of individuals concerned.

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This Programme and the training for Crime Investigators include modules relating to domestic abuse in same-sex relationships.

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on domestic violence claims of their proposed changes to legal aid. [HL3248]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The proposals consulted on in Transforming Legal Aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system are aimed at reducing the cost of and ensuring public confidence in the legal aid scheme.

As part of our consultation response we have updated our assessment of the impacts of the proposals. This can be found at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/transforming-legal-aid-next-steps/consult_view.

The proposals will not significantly alter the situation regarding domestic violence claims under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which came into effect from April this year.

Crime: Hate Crime

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether convictions have been obtained in the last one-year and two-year periods for hate crimes, including attacks on places of worship and religious premises; and if so, how many and which faiths were involved. [HL2790]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): We are aware that there have been convictions for attacks on places of worship, including the recent conviction relating to the planting of explosive devices near to Mosques in the West Midlands.

The number of offenders found guilty at all courts for Racially and Religiously Aggravated Offences and Stirring-Up of Hatred offences in England and Wales from 2011 to 2012 (latest available) is attached below.

The Court Proceedings Database does not hold information about whether the attack took place on places of worship or religious premises and the faiths.

Offenders found guilty at all courts for hate crime offences(1), England and Wales, 2011-2012(2)(3)
Outcome20112012

Found guilty

6,755

6,458

(1) Includes racially & religiously aggravated offences and offences intended or likely to stir up racial or religious hatred, under following legislation:

Offences against the Person Act 1861 as amended Crime & Disorder Act 1998, S.20, S.47 (in part)

Crime & Disorder Act 1998, S.29(1)(a) & (2), S.29(1)(b) & (2), S.29(1)(c) & (3), S.32(1)(a) & (4), S.32(1)(b) & (4), S.31(1)(b) & (4), S.31(1)(a) & (4), S.31(1)(c) & (4), S.30(1) & (2)

Protection from Harassment Act 1997, S.4, S.2,

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Criminal Damage Act 1971, S.1(1)

Public Order Act 1986 as amended by Crime & Disorder Act 1998, S.4A, S.4, S.5

Public Order Act 1986 added by Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, S.18, S.19, S.20, S.21, S.22, S.23, S.29B, S.29C & 29L(3), S.29D & 29L(3), S.29E & 29L(3), S.29F(1) & (2)(a) & 29L(3), S.29F(1) & (2)(b) & 29L(3), S.29F(1) & (2)(c) & 29L(3), S.29G & 29L(3)

Football Offences Act 1991, S.3

(2) The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

(3) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services - Ministry of Justice.

Ref: PQ HL 2790

Criminal Cases Review Commission

Question

Asked by Baroness O'Loan

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in how many cases each year since 1997 the Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred a conviction in England and Wales to the Court of Appeal, and in Northern Ireland to the Court of Appeal for Northern Ireland. [HL3189]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The Criminal Cases Review Commission publishes information about the cases that it refers to the appeal courts in its Annual Reports and on its part of justice.gov.uk. The numbers of conviction referrals (including conviction and sentence) are summarised below by year from 1997 to date and by the appeal court to which they were sent.

Financial yearNo. of conviction referrals England & WalesNo. of conviction referrals Northern Ireland

1997/98

10

0

1998/99

25

2

1999/00

31

2

2000/01

39

2

2001/02

33

3

2002/03

31

1

2003/04

23

3

2004/05

35

0

2005/06

34

2

2006/07

36

1

2007/08

19

2

2008/09

22

12

2009/10

21

3

2010/11

19

0

2011/12

17

3

2012/13

15

2

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1 Apr–1 Oct 13

17

1

Data Protection

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of draft European Union legislation on data protection on existing United Kingdom practices on data protection; and how they intend to implement it in the United Kingdom.[HL2856]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The European Commission’s Impact Assessment concluded that the proposed Data Protection Regulation would be beneficial for the EU economy because it reduces the administrative cost that arises from fragmentation of current law, and gives individuals greater confidence in using online services. The Commission’s IA concluded that the proposals would result in a net benefit of €2.3 billion per annum to the EU economy. The UK has carried out its own Impact Assessment of the costs and benefits of the proposals. While we agree that there would be some benefits from the Regulation, such as a reduction in legal fragmentation, the UK Impact Assessment concluded that these benefits would be outweighed by the costs of additional administrative and compliance measures that the Regulation would introduce. The Impact Assessment concluded that the Regulation as originally proposed by the Commission could have a net cost to the UK economy of £100 million to £360 million per annum (in 2012-13 earnings terms).

Drones

Questions

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is (1) the total number of drone attacks conducted by the British Army in Afghanistan in the last three years, and (2) the annual breakdown of that figure for each of the last three years; and how many civilians have been killed and injured in total by the use of British drones in Afghanistan.[HL3316]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): Reaper is the UK’s only armed Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). It is operated by highly-trained Royal Air Force pilots. The following table provides information on the number of weapons released by UK Reaper RPAS in Afghanistan between 01 November 2011 and 31 October 2013.

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DateNumber of weapons released

01 November 2010 - 31 Oct 2011

106

01 November 2011 - 31 Oct 2012

119

01 November 2012 - 31 Oct 2013

104

Total

329

There is only one incident where civilian casualties are known to have resulted from a UK Reaper RPAS strike. On 25 March 2011, an attack on two pick-up trucks resulted in the destruction of a significant quantity of explosives and the death of two insurgents, but, sadly, four Afghanistan civilians were also killed. In line with current International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) procedures, an ISAF investigation was conducted to establish if any lessons could be learned or if any errors in operational procedures could be identified. The report concluded that the actions of the Reaper crew had been in accordance with extant procedures and rules of engagement.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether British drones have been used in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan; and, if so, what is the total number of casualties caused by such drones in the last three years.[HL3317]

Lord Astor of Hever: Reaper is the UK’s only armed Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).

UK Reaper RPAS only operate in support of UK and International Security Assistance Force ground forces in Afghanistan.

Employment: Work Experience

Question

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of unpaid work experience on social mobility; and what measures they are taking to ensure that young people are given equal opportunity to enter and progress in employment.[HL3221]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Government has not made an assessment of the impact of the DWP work experience scheme on social mobility; however evaluation work has looked at some of positive impacts of this scheme. Analysis published on 17 April 2012 showed that work experience participants were 16% more likely to be off benefits 21 weeks after starting their placement than a matched group of non-participants. This finding relates to the first 3,490 young participants (aged 19-24) who started their work experience placement between January 2011 and May 2011.

The Department has also commissioned independent researchers to survey young people who have participated in the work experience scheme. Results will provide

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customer feedback on the benefits of participation (such as increase in skills, job prospects, confidence etc) to be published in early 2014.

The Government has a substantial menu of provision to help young people move into work. Jobcentre Plus advisers offer comprehensive job search, work experience and training provision tailored to the individual at the most appropriate point in their claim.

Energy: Carbon Monoxide

Questions

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much of Ofgem’s budget is ring-fenced for carbon monoxide awareness.[HL3253]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): Ofgem does not ring-fence any of its budget for carbon monoxide awareness.

In the previous Gas Distribution Price Control 2008-2013, Ofgem’s Discretionary Reward Scheme (DRS) rewarded Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs) for otherwise unfunded worthwhile initiatives. Gas safety related awards (which included Carbon Monoxide) totalled over £5m over 5 years.

Ofgem does however impose certain Licence Conditions which encourage activity on Carbon Monoxide awareness. Through the Gas Suppliers Standard Licence Condition 29 Ofgem requires suppliers annually to inform domestic customers of:

• the safe use of gas appliances and other gas fittings;• the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning;• the benefits of fitting an audible carbon monoxide alarm that complies with a relevant British or European safety standard;• the benefits of gas safety checks; and• where to seek advice if gas appliances are condemned as a result of a gas safety check.

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much of fossil fuel energy suppliers’ budgets Ofgem requires them to spend on carbon monoxide awareness. [HL3254]

Baroness Verma: Ofgem does not require energy suppliers to spend a specific proportion or amount of their budget on carbon monoxide awareness.

Ofgem does however impose certain Licence Conditions which encourage activity on Carbon Monoxide awareness. Through the Gas Suppliers Standard Licence Condition 29 Ofgem requires suppliers annually to inform domestic customers of:

• the safe use of gas appliances and other gas fittings;• the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning;• the benefits of fitting an audible carbon monoxide alarm that complies with a relevant British or European safety standard;

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• the benefits of gas safety checks; and• where to seek advice if gas appliances are condemned as a result of a gas safety check.

Encouraged by the All Party Parliamentary Gas Safety Group (APPGSG) Report’s Recommendation 12, and Ofgem’s intervention, the gas suppliers are now looking at how effective their messaging actually is.

Under the RIIO-GD1 price control (applicable between 2013 and 2021), Ofgem requires the Gas Distribution Network (GDN) operators for the first time to deliver an improvement in the public awareness of the risks of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, a key gas safety issue. Ofgem will publish an assessment of the GDNs' comparative performance. All GDNs have a variety of initiatives in place for raising CO awareness and ways of measuring the effectiveness of these initiatives.

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Ofgem has any obligation to ensure that fossil fuel energy suppliers support carbon monoxide poisoning victims’ charities in their work on carbon monoxide awareness and promotion of carbon monoxide alarms. [HL3255]

Baroness Verma: Ofgem does not have an obligation to ensure that suppliers support carbon monoxide poisoning victims’ charities in their work on carbon monoxide awareness and promotion of carbon monoxide alarms.

Ofgem does however impose certain Licence Conditions which encourage activity on Carbon Monoxide awareness. Through the Gas Suppliers Standard Licence Condition 29 Ofgem requires suppliers annually to inform domestic customers of:

• the safe use of gas appliances and other gas fittings;• the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning;• the benefits of fitting an audible carbon monoxide alarm that complies with a relevant British or European safety standard;• the benefits of gas safety checks; and• where to seek advice if gas appliances are condemned as a result of a gas safety check.

Under the RIIO-GD 1 price control (applicable between 2013 and 2021), Ofgem requires the Gas Distribution Network (GDN) operators for the first time to deliver an improvement in the public awareness of the risks of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, a key gas safety issue. Ofgem will publish an assessment of the GDNs’ comparative performance. All GDNs have a variety of initiatives in place for raising CO awareness and ways of measuring the effectiveness of these initiatives.

Energy: Coal Fired Power Stations

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what scope exists for reducing carbon and other emissions by including wood products in the fuel of coal-burning power stations.[HL3324]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): If sustainable biomass is used as a fuel to replace coal, significant greenhouse gas savings can be achieved. Life cycle emissions of electricity from wood used in the UK power stations, calculated using the methodology in the directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, are less than 280 kg CO2e/MWh delivered electricity, whereas the calculated1 average greenhouse gas emissions of electricity from coal in the UK are around 1060 kg CO2e/MWh delivered electricity.

1

Emissions calculated using 'direct' and 'indirect' greenhouse gas emissions associated with coal combustion from the 2012 Government conversion factors for company reporting, and the average UK fleet efficiency of coal power stations from the Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2012.

Energy: Suppliers

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance they give to help energy consumers to switch suppliers.[HL3310]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Government is providing legislative backing to Ofgem’s Retail Market Review measures which will simplify and standardise tariff structures and require suppliers to provide consumers with clearer and better quality information so that it will be far easier for consumers to compare tariffs.

The Government is providing extra help and advice to vulnerable consumers through the Big Energy Saving Network to help them engage with the energy market and to give them the confidence to switch.

The Government has also been instrumental in providing support to collective switching schemes. Earlier this year the Government kick-started a number of innovative projects through the £5 million Cheaper Energy Together competition. Money was awarded to 31 successful projects that all focused on engaging vulnerable consumers.

In addition, the Government has challenged the industry for their assessment of what needs to be done, and how quickly it can be done, to move to a switching period of 24 hours.

EU: Health Procurement

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the European Union Procurement Directives, to be implemented in the United Kingdom during 2014; and what plans have been made for consultation on the permitted light touch regime which will apply to health, social care and education.[HL3349]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Cabinet Office has considered the impact of the new European Union Procurement Directives, which are expected to be adopted by the EU in early 2014. The new rules are considered deregulatory and of net benefit to business and public bodies.

In the health sector, the Government has already put in place arrangements for the purchasing of clinical services (the NHS Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition Regulations) to drive improved quality and best value. These effectively put in place a light touch regime for clinical services. Existing EU requirements, for example to publish contract award notices, sit alongside the health sector requirements and this will continue to be the case when the light touch regime is in place.

A formal public consultation will take place on the implementation of the Directive, including the light touch regime, next year.

Food: Food Banks

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions, if any, they have had with the major providers of food banks.[HL3337]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): We have had some correspondence with the Trussell Trust but, as food banks are not a Government responsibility, we do not have regular discussions with major providers.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 have been turned down by the Department of Energy and Climate Change since May 2010; and how many of those requests have subsequently been upheld on appeal and fulfilled.[HL3401]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Ministry of Justice publishes annual statistical reports on the handling of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for central government. These reports include statistics on the outcomes of internal reviews and appeals to the Information Commissioner. These reports can be accessed on the following webpage: https://www.gov.uk/government/ collections/government-foi-statistics and the figures in this response are based on these. The dates of the published statistics do not coincide exactly with the time period in this question, but match them as closely as possible.

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For the period April 2010 to June 2013 the Department of Energy and Climate Change withheld information in response to 1,177 requests. These statistics are published quarterly, and this response does not include statistics after June 2013 as this pre-empts publication by MOJ.

In between January 2010 and December 2012 information was subsequently released on 25 occasions as the result of an appeal. These statistics are published annually, and this response does not include statistics for 2013 as this pre-empts publication by MOJ.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 have been turned down by the Ministry of Justice since May 2010; and how many of those requests have subsequently been upheld on appeal and fulfilled.[HL3402]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The Ministry of Justice publishes annual statistical reports on the handling of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. These reports include statistics on the outcomes of internal reviews and appeals to the Information Commissioner. These reports can be accessed on the following webpage:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/foi/implementation.

We do not hold statistics on the number of requests that have been upheld on appeal and fulfilled. To obtain this information we would need to review each appeal case individually. Therefore, it would only be possible to provide this information at disproportionate cost.

Health: Bounty

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have a contract with Bounty which allows that company to distribute packs with child benefit forms to new parents on NHS wards.[HL3163]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much they pay to Bounty to distribute packs with child benefit forms to new parents on NHS wards. [HL3164]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): HMRC use the services of Bounty to help distribute Child Benefit claim packs to new mothers in NHS hospitals. The contract for this service is held by HMRC’s Print Vendor Provider, Williams Lea. Using the Bounty pack as one channel for distributing Child Benefit forms has proved efficient and cost effective. The Child Benefit form can also be obtained through other channels, notably the HMRC website.

In 2012-13, HMRC paid £85,990.27 (ex VAT) for Bounty to distribute a total of 857,939 English and Welsh language claim forms.

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Health: Health Workers

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to compensate low- and middle-income countries whose health systems have lost large numbers of health workers to the National Health Service. [HL3153]

Baroness Northover (LD): The Department of Health has worked together with the DfID to produce a definitive list of developing countries, which should not be targeted for recruitment of healthcare professionals. The list is based on the economic status of the countries and how many healthcare professionals are available.  The UK has also signed the World Health Organisation Code of Practice (WHO CoP) on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel and NHS organisations are strongly advised to adhere to this in all matters concerning the international recruitment of healthcare professionals across all disciplines.

Health: Mesothelioma

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their latest estimate of the number of British citizens who will die from mesothelioma over the next 30 years.[HL3144]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): Based on the latest projections of annual mesothelioma deaths, the best estimate is that there will be around 60,000 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain over the 30-year period 2012-2041.

The statistical model suggests an uncertainty range of 55,000 to 65,000 deaths on that estimate. However, the true uncertainty range may be wider as longer-range predictions are reliant on assumptions about asbestos exposures that cannot currently be fully validated.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the recent University College London report The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the United Kingdom that recent immigrants to the UK make a net contribution to public finances.[HL3219]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The Government has not yet made any assessment of the report.

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Iran

Question

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what efforts they are making to restore diplomatic relations with Iran; and when they expect the Iranian embassy in London to re-open.[HL3229]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): On 11 November, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), announced the appointment of Mr Ajay Sharma as the UK’s non-resident Chargé d’Affaires to Iran. Iran has also appointed a non-resident Chargé d’Affaires. The two Chargés are tasked with taking forward the bilateral relationship, including interim steps on the way towards the re-opening of both our Embassies. At this stage it is too early to say when this might happen. Progress towards this needs to be on a step-by-step and reciprocal basis.

Israel

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel concerning the case of Osman Balasma. [HL3212]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have not made representations on this specific case.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the right to equal access to Jerusalem enjoyed by those of Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith.[HL3214]

Baroness Warsi: We have not made an assessment on the right to equal access to Jerusalem for the three Abrahamic faiths. However, we retain concerns that, notwithstanding Israel’s welcome temporary easing of restrictions during Ramadan, Israeli restrictions on movement and access and the Separation Barrier continue to limit severely access for Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel concerning the death of Ahmad Tazaz’a on 31 October in Qabatya village near Jenin. [HL3210]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have not made representations on this specific case. However the UK has repeatedly made clear to Israel our concerns over the manner in which the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) policies Palestinian protests, including the use of live fire, and over the frequent IDF incursions into Area A of the West Bank.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what responses they have received from the government of Israel concerning their representations on the deaths and injuries of Palestinian civilians.[HL3211]

Baroness Warsi: When officials at our Embassy in Tel Aviv have raised the issues of civilian deaths and injuries, the response they have received from the Israel authorities is that investigations have been opened but that the use of force was authorised in the face of a legitimate security threat. The Israeli authorities have stressed their commitment to protecting non-combatants with examples given of the extent to which they go to avoid civilian casualties.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much legal aid was paid towards the costs of the appellants in the recent cases at the Supreme Court involving (1) Chester and McGeoch, and (2) Hirst.[HL3095]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): Minister of State Lord McNally: We cannot close our eyes to the fact legal aid is costing too much and the Government’s legal aid reforms are intended to reduce the annual legal aid bill of around £2 billion. Our proposals include reforms to what we pay barristers and advocates, and would contribute to bearing down on the cost of cases and the legal aid bill as a whole.

The appeal in question, challenging the outcome of a Judicial Review relating to the voting rights of prisoners, involves Peter Chester and George McGeoch only. John Hirst is not an appellant in this case.

Any legal aid funding relating to George McGeoch, if granted, would be a devolved matter for the Scottish government. Legal aid costs paid in respect of Peter Chester in respect of the appeal in question to date total £14,937.

This includes VAT and disbursements, and covers appeals to both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Final costs may be subject to change following receipt of final bills.

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is legally bound to cover the costs of legal aid for eligible cases. The funding for Peter Chester's case was managed by a specialist team at the LAA to ensure costs were carefully controlled.

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA197

Legislation

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the comments by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, that 80 per cent of Swedish laws were in fact European laws, whether they are aware of any similar calculation having been carried out by the European Commission with regard to United Kingdom laws; if so, what is the relevant percentage; whether they have carried out any similar analysis; and if so, what is the result of that analysis.[HL3193]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): I am not aware of the evidential basis for the Commissioner’s statement, nor indeed of a European Commission calculation having been done with regard to the percentage of United Kingdom laws. Neither has this Government carried out any such analysis. It would in any case be extremely difficult to determine such a percentage—it would in part depend on the relative weight placed, for instance, on Acts of Parliament, Statutory Instruments whether implementing EU legislation or not, and directly effective EU legislation. The House of Commons Library Research Paper of 2010 entitled How much legislation comes from Europe? also stated that “there is no totally accurate, rational or useful way of calculating the percentage of national laws based on or influenced by the EU”. Such a calculation would also have a limited value as it would neither give an indication of the effect nor of the impact of the legislation in the UK. The Balance of Competences Review, currently underway, seeks to give an overview of the effect and impact of EU legislation. The first six reports can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/review-of-the-balance-of-competences#semester-1

Living Wage

Question

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the link between the living wage and economic growth.[HL3222]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The Government believes that a key part of delivering a sustained improvement in living standards is to tackle the economy’s problems head on and deliver a recovery. Alongside this, the Government supports businesses that choose to pay a living wage where it is affordable. However, decisions on what wages to set, above the national minimum wage, are for employers and workers.

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA198

National Offender Management Service: Conduct and Discipline

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 30 October (WA 267–8), whether they will publish the National Offender Management Service Conduct and Discipline Policy.[HL3108]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The National Offender Management Service Conduct and Discipline Policy has already been published and is available on the Ministry of Justice website: (http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/offenders/psipso/psi-2010/psi_2010_06_conduct _and_discipline.doc).

NHS Property Services Limited

Questions

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the working capital provided to NHS Property Services Ltd in 2013–14 was money that would otherwise have been available to the National Health Service in the current financial year.[HL3270]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The working capital provided to NHS Property Services Limited in 2013-14 was part of the Department's existing capital allocation and would not have been available for the National Health Service.

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether NHS Property Services Ltd is required to charge VAT on any of its output transactions; and, if so, which transactions.[HL3271]

Earl Howe: NHS Property Services Limited (NHS PS) is required to follow the normal VAT rules and charge VAT on relevant transactions.

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many meetings Department of Health Ministers have had with any non-executive members of the board of NHS Property Services Ltd, including the Chair, in the last 12 months.[HL3273]

Earl Howe: Ministers regularly meet the Secretary of State's Shareholder Representative of NHS Property Services (NHS PS) Limited (a non-executive member) in an official capacity.

Ministers have not met any other non-executive members of the board of NHS PS.

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA199

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government who is the accounting officer for the activities of NHS Property Services Ltd.[HL3274]

Earl Howe: The Department’s Permanent Secretary is the accounting officer for NHS Property Services Limited.

Nuclear Missile Submarines

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Welsh Government concerning the relocation of the British fleet of nuclear missile submarines from Scotland, in the event of a “yes” vote in the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum.[HL3299]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): None.

Offenders: Dependants

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the need for the courts to identify children or dependent adults whom those remanded or sentenced to prison may be leaving behind without provision for their care or safety.[HL3083]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The Government recognises the need to raise awareness amongst criminal justice professionals and the courts of the importance of identifying dependants of offenders or defendants who face a custodial sentence or a remand in custody. Probation staff and the Crown Prosecution Service continue to play an important role in identifying and drawing attention to the existence of dependents in advising the court. The court also has clear guidance, via established case law, on the sentencing of offenders with dependents. We welcome the important work that other organisations, such as the Prison Advice and Care Trust, do in raising awareness of this issue across the criminal justice system and by encouraging defendants to disclose the existence of dependents so that practical arrangements can be made for their care.

Palestine

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the economic losses to Palestinian farmers (1) in the last 12 months, and (2) in the last 10 years, resulting from the destruction of olive trees.[HL3213]

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA200

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): According to information from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), to date in 2013, OCHA has recorded the damage or destruction of over 9,400 olive trees or saplings in the context of settler-related incidents, compared to 8,500 in all of 2012.

We have made no assessment of the economic losses resulting from the destruction of olive trees either (1) over the last 12 months or (2) the last 10 years as we do not hold the data required for this assessment.

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of people currently in private sector defined benefit or final salary pension schemes; and what are the 10 largest schemes, and their current membership numbers.[HL3359]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of people currently in private sector defined benefit or final salary pension schemes and similar public sector schemes respectively; what has been the change in numbers of members in such schemes over the last five years; and how they are addressing any decline.[HL3360]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The number of people currently in defined benefit schemes, in both the public and private sector, and the change in these numbers over the past five years can be found in the answer I gave to the Noble Lord, Official Report, on 15 October 2013, Col WA75.

Information on the largest schemes and their current membership is not held by DWP.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR), who hold this information, have confirmed that they do not give out information in relation to specific schemes as a result of the data protection act. Listing the ten largest schemes would also be commercially sensitive.

We recognise the decline of DB pension schemes has been happening for a long time and employers are deciding to close DB schemes for a number of reasons. Two key reasons are the high costs of funding schemes, and the volatility of costs - risks which employers are increasingly unwilling to bear. Unless we act now, we believe DB will be a thing of the past for all but a small number of schemes.

Our proposals for Defined Ambition pensions—set out in our consultation paper Reshaping workplace pensions for future generations—include ways of addressing these issues. We propose easing the regulatory burdens on employers with DB schemes for future accruals of benefit, and the paper includes suggestions to encourage employers to continue to offer some element of DB pension in the future rather than seeing DC as the only alternative.

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA201

Personal Data: Facial Recognition Software

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the use of facial recognition software in advertisement display hardware on privacy; whether they consider sufficient consent to be given in the use of such devices; and whether they will promote a code of ethical use to prevent an abuse of the technology.[HL3202]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) covers the processing of personal data—this includes the use of facial recognition software to process the facial images of individuals.

There has been no specific assessment of the impact of the use of facial recognition software in advertisement display, however the Ministry of Justice works closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), who is the independent regulatory body responsible for enforcing the DPA in the UK, to ensure that both private and public sector organisations understand their responsibilities under the DPA.

As part of the ICO’s regulatory responsibilities, the ICO produces guidance for the general public, private and public sector organisations on such matters. This guidance can be found on its’ website at; www.ico.org.uk.

Planning: Neighbourhood Planning

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what has been the impact of the new neighbourhood planning provisions which came into force in April 2012. [HL3303]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): Three neighbourhood plans are now in force after being resoundingly approved by residents at referendum. The neighbourhood plans now form part of the development plan for the local area. Three more referendums are scheduled in the next three months. 13 neighbourhood plans have been submitted to local planning authorities and are being considered by an independent examiner and 30 communities are currently carrying out pre-submission consultation on their neighbourhood plan or neighbourhood development orders.

Our informal monitoring of local planning authority websites tells us that as of the beginning of November, over 780 communities have taken up the right to prepare a neighbourhood plan or a neighbourhood development order and more are joining them each week.

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA202

Post-Millennium Development Agenda

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to take steps to champion the role of the health workforce in the current discussions on the post-millennium development agenda.[HL3151]

Baroness Northover (LD): Health workers are a vital part of the health system and are critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). We continue to work with developing counties in their efforts to build health service quality and access, and strengthen their health workforce. The UK has supported the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) for a number of years, which aims to ensure that Human Resources for Health remain an area of focus in the post-MDG agenda.

Repatriation

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what legislation governs the repatriation of living British citizens not convicted of offences; and what assessment they have made of the need to obtain consent to repatriation in cases when an adult is capable of giving consent.[HL3225]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): There is no UK legislation to cover repatriation, and British consular officers cannot force British nationals to return to the UK against their will when they have capacity in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Through our consular services we can assist British nationals who wish to return to the UK. Further information about what we can and cannot do to assist in these circumstances can be found in our Guide, Support for British Nationals abroad, which is available on our website at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-british-nationals-abroad-a-guide.

Sudan

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the ability and capacity of the United Nations mission in Darfur, Sudan, in meeting the humanitarian and security needs of new arrivals joining already internally displaced persons in Darfur.[HL3301]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): With over 300,000 additional people displaced by fighting in Darfur so far this year, it is crucial that the Government of Sudan and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA203

Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) take steps to meet the pressing security and humanitarian need. Some existing or newly displaced populations are currently beyond the reach of UNAMID and humanitarian agencies.

Protection of civilians and supporting the delivery of humanitarian assistance are UNAMID’s core tasks. While it faces a range of constraints and obstacles to its day-to-day operations, in particular restrictions imposed by the Government of Sudan, we consider that the mission could be more robust and effective in fulfilling its mandate. In July this year the UN Security Council mandated a detailed and forward-looking review to help achieve this goal. We fully support this, and in the meantime will continue to work with UNAMID’s leadership and troop contributing countries to improve the mission’s performance.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 7 November (HL Deb, GC 169), whether his comment that the United Kingdom did not channel aid through the government of Sudan took into account the funding of training for police and prison officers in that country.[HL3332]

Baroness Northover (LD): No UK funds are channelled through the Government of Sudan. The UK does support the training of police through an independent non-governmental organisation/agency with the aim of building the capacity of the police to increase the coverage, accessibility and effectiveness of services offered to citizens.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations their diplomatic missions in Beirut and Amman are making to the government of Syria concerning prisoners and missing persons. [HL3309]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The British Government raises these issues in a number of different ways. Where British nationals are concerned, we have made consular representations to the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through various EU partners still represented in Damascus. Our Embassy in Beirut has also raised specific cases of British nationals in Syria with the appropriate authorities.

The UK supports the National Coalition’s call for the release of detainees in advance of the start of the Geneva II dialogue process. The UK also fully supports the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry and will continue to call for them to be given unfettered access to Syria to investigate human rights violations. We welcome the latest Human Rights Council resolution on Syria, which was adopted on 27 September. The

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA204

resolution raised the urgent need to address the human rights situation in Syria, including the growing accounts of sexual violence in the conflict as well as calling for full access for the Commission of Inquiry team and humanitarian workers. Our diplomatic mission in Beirut also encourages those countries who do send diplomats into Damascus (e.g. EU missions) to raise broader human rights issues with the Syrian authorities.

Torture

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect the report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on its visit to the United Kingdom from 17–28 September 2012 to be published. [HL3322]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The Government is currently considering the Committee’s initial findings following its September 2012 visit and will respond to the Committee in due course.

Troubled Families

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the number of Troubled Families; and what action they are taking to address this problem. [HL3305]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): In December 2010, the Prime Minister announced his commitment to turn around the lives of 120,000 troubled families in England by 2015.

To achieve this goal, all upper-tier local authorities have committed to turn around an agreed number of troubled families within their area. Information relating to these local commitments and current progress is published and shows the programme is on track nationally. The latest information and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/237773/130906_PI_RESULTS_TABLE.xls

This information shows that local authorities reported in July that they had successfully turned around the lives of nearly 14,000 troubled families. Councils have already identified over 80,000 of their families and almost 50,000 of the 120,000 troubled families are already being worked with.

To support this work, the Government has provided a budget of £448 million, primarily on a payment by results basis. The detail of this scheme is published and can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/11469/2117840.pdf

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA205

Uganda

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the report by Human Rights Watch Letting the Big Fish Swim: Failure to Prosecute High-Level Corruption in Uganda.[HL3236]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Uganda about anti-corruption measures in that country. [HL3238]

Baroness Northover (LD): The UK government has had significant high-level dialogue with the Government of Uganda at Ministerial and official level about corruption. We are committed to maintaining this level of focussed dialogue on corruption and accountability with the Government.  Following the discovery of misappropriation of UK funds by the Office of the Prime Minister in 2012, the Secretary of State for International Development decided indefinitely to suspend all budget support to the Government of Uganda. Development partners have an agreed joint approach to corruption and are committed to increasing their support to anti-corruption institutions to help improve their performance. The UK has been at the forefront of these efforts.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the effectiveness and value for taxpayers’ money of the United Kingdom’s assistance to Uganda. [HL3237]

Baroness Northover: The recently published operational plan refresh for Uganda sets out our assessment of DfID Uganda value for money, and a new value for money strategy and action plan to improve value for money.

United Nations

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to seek reform of the United Nations Organisation.[HL3378]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Government is committed to seeking reform of international institutions such as the United Nations, to ensure that they reflect the modern world. The role of the United Nations is more important than ever in tackling problems facing the UK and the international community. But at a time when many governments face tight constraints on resources, it is important that the UN is able to deliver better outcomes for its member states while giving better value for money.

The Government, together with our EU and like-minded partners, has therefore strongly supported the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and Executive

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA206

Heads of the Specialized Agencies, Funds and Programmes to transform the UN Organisation into a more efficient and effective body. In June 2012 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office hosted a conference at Wilton Park that brought together senior UN officials and a number of UN member states to consider the reform challenges. My officials also work closely with other Government Departments that engage with UN bodies to ensure that Her Majesty's Government delivers clear and consistent messages to the UN’s leadership on the need for reform.

Waste Management

Question

Asked by Lord Plumb

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why bespoke permits for anaerobic digestion plants importing more than 100 tonnes of waste per day do not stipulate a minimum distance between the plant and nearby homes; and whether the Environment Agency has any plans to introduce such a requirement. [HL3198]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Bespoke environmental permits for anaerobic digestion plants importing more than 100 tonnes of waste a day do not stipulate a minimum distance between the plant and nearby homes because they are tailored to address site-specific individual circumstances and rely on site-specific risk assessments to determine the impacts the proposals will have on human health and the environment.

An applicant will need to take account of the location of the proposed activities in preparing a risk assessment. In the case of a proposed anaerobic digestion plant, this may need to include air dispersion modelling, noise modelling and odour modelling to consider the impact on people living nearby. The applicant is also required to submit management plans that set out the measures to be taken to mitigate against these emissions. The Environment Agency will review the risk assessment and management plan and may refuse an application for an environmental permit if it is not satisfied that the proposed measures will prevent harm to human health and the environment. This level of assessment and control could not be achieved by simply stipulating a minimum distance from nearby homes and the Environment Agency has no plans to introduce such a requirement.

Young Offenders

Questions

Asked by Lord Dholakia

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children aged 10 and 11 were sentenced for criminal offences in (1) 2011–12, and (2) 2012–13.[HL3179]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children aged 10 and 11 received formal youth justice disposals not involving court proceedings in (1) 2011–12, and (2) 2012–13.[HL3180]

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA207

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children aged 10 and 11 were sentenced to detention in (1) 2011–12, and (2) 2012–13.[HL3181]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old. Having an age of criminal responsibility set at 10 allows us to intervene early and robustly to prevent further offending and to help young people develop a sense of personal responsibility for their behaviour.

Serious crimes committed by 10 and 11 year old children are rare. However, it is important to ensure that, where appropriate, serious offences are prosecuted and the public protected.

Formal out of court youth justice disposals for 10 to 11 year olds are represented by reprimands and warnings, which were replaced for offences committed from 8 April by the youth caution and youth conditional caution.

The table shows the number of children aged 10 to 11 given a reprimand or warning and the total number sentenced for criminal offences, including community sentences, discharges, fines and offenders otherwise dealt with, in England and Wales, for the calendar years 2011 to 2012, the latest available data. There were no cases resulting in immediate custody.

Court proceedings and out-of-court disposals data for the calendar year 2013 are planned for publication in May 2014.

Persons aged 10 to 11 given a reprimand/warning and sentenced at all courts for all offences, England and Wales, 2011-2012(1)(2)
Calendar YearTotal SentencedImmediate CustodyReprimand/Warning

2011

246

-

1209

2012

168

-

891

' - ' = Nil

(1) The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the

19 Nov 2013 : Column WA208

heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

(2) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services - Ministry of Justice.

[Ref:HL 3179-3180]

Zimbabwe

Question

Asked by Lord Goodlad

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in discussions with the government of Zimbabwe on the subject of Zimbabwe public service pensions.[HL3280]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We remain concerned by the difficulties that many British nationals resident in the UK have faced as a consequence of the non-payment of Zimbabwe public service pensions.

Our Embassy in Harare has regularly pressed the government to resume payments to those living outside Zimbabwe, most recently during their meeting with the Government of Zimbabwe on 11 November 2013. The Government of Zimbabwe have confirmed that they have the financial resources, but have been unable to pay the pensions due to logistical problems. We understand they are now close to finding a solution.

We will remain in contact with the Pensions Department and continue to highlight the importance of this issue to British nationals.