15 Jan 2014 : Column WA15

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA15

Written Answers

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Aviation: UK Operations Abroad

Question

Asked by Lord Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the financial value of United Kingdom aeroplane companies’ operations abroad.[HL4297]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Government does not hold information on the financial value of United Kingdom aeroplane companies operations abroad.

Bullying: Cyber and Racist Bullying

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the reported rise in cyber and racist bullying, particularly among young people; and what plans they have to address this issue. [HL4421]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Department for Education does not collect data on the number of children who have been subject to racist or cyber-bullying specifically. Estimates from an evidence review carried out by the Childhood Wellbeing Centre (at the Institute of Education, University of Kent and Loughborough University) for the Department in 2011, found that between 8% and 34% of children and young people in the UK had been cyber-bullied.

A number of expert organisations, such as the Diana Award and NSPCC, have undertaken surveys to try to measure the problem of cyber-bullying. These surveys reveal a wide variation in the incidence of cyber-bullying.

The Department keeps abreast of research in these areas and is funding a series of questions about bullying and cyber-bullying in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 Crime Survey for England and Wales. This will give us a baseline estimate of prevalence and will help us to track trends over time.

The Government has made tackling all forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying and racist bullying, a top priority. All schools must have a behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils. Under the current Ofsted framework school inspectors consider how well schools prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination.

In the Education Act 2011 we strengthened teachers’ powers to discipline pupils for poor behaviour, including bullying. They can now issue same day detentions, confiscate banned items and search for, and if necessary

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA16

delete, inappropriate images on mobile phones. Many schools choose to limit mobile phone use during the school day.

We are also providing £4 million of funding over 2 years from spring 2013 to four organisations: Beatbullying, The Diana Award, Kidscape and the NCB to develop effective initiatives to prevent and tackle bullying. These organisations have in place separate evaluations, which will report on the effectiveness of their initiatives.

The Government has pressed for progress through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and works to protect children online, including from the risk of cyber-bullying. UKCCIS brings together the most important internet organisations, such as Facebook and Microsoft, and is chaired by Government Ministers, including Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families.

From September 2014 pupils in all four key stages will be taught about e-safety as part of the new curriculum. This will empower young people to tackle cyber-bullying through responsible, respectful and secure use of technology. The new curriculum offers other opportunities to address bullying; for example the new citizenship programme of study sets out a requirement for pupils to be taught about the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding.

Charities

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what advice they are giving to United Kingdom charities about their communications being monitored by GCHQ. [HL4443]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): It is the long-standing policy of successive governments not to comment on matters of intelligence.

Climate Change

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made on whether members of the Committee on Climate Change have or have had financial interests which may conflict with their independence. [HL4496]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Department’s assessment is that members of the Committee on Climate Change do not have and have not had financial interests which may conflict with their independence whilst in post.

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA17

Members are bound by a code of practice and with the rules relating to the use of public funds and to conflicts of interest, set out by the Cabinet Office. One of their responsibilities is to ensure that they must not misuse information gained in the course of their public service for personal gain or for political profit, nor seek to use the opportunity of public service to promote their private interests or those of connected persons or organisations.

DVLA: Medical Advisers

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kramer on 11 December 2013 (WA 116), how many (1) full-time, and (2) part-time, doctors are employed by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency as Medical Advisers; and whether (a) medical records can be accessed, and (b) medical assessments are ever made, by personnel who are neither qualified medical practitioners nor licensed by the General Medical Council.[HL4324]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) currently employ 14 full time Medical Advisers, six part time Medical Advisers and one full time Senior Medical Adviser.

The DVLA does not have direct access to an individual’s medical record. The DVLA obtains medical information relevant to driving and road safety either from an individual or with their consent, from their GP or consultant.

The information obtained is accessed and assessed for the purposes of making a decision on whether a driving licence should be issued. The assessment may be made by a DVLA Medical Adviser or by a trained official who follows instructions authorised by the Medical Advisers. These trained officials are not qualified medical practitioners or licensed by the General Medical Council.

Employment: Training and Rehabilitation

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to secure the future of Finchale Training College in Durham following the expiry of its contract with the Department for Work and Pensions in August.[HL4303]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We are continuing to explore all options for Residential Training provision, and no decisions have yet been made on contracts beyond August 2014. In the coming weeks, the Minister for Disabled People, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead, Mike Penning MP,

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA18

intends to meet with all contracted Residential Training Colleges, including Finchale College, to discuss the way forward.

Energy Act 2013

Question

Asked by Baroness Worthington

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they undertook an assessment of the impact of introducing technology banding to the allocation of Final Investment Decision Enabling Investment Contracts under the Energy Act 2013.[HL4399]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The affordability assessment published in Update 3, including the technology-based rules, was developed taking account of the need to deliver a mix of technology in line with the 2020 renewables target and the Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan.

Link to Update 3:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/263169/FID_Update_3_Contract_Award_Process.pdf

Energy: Biodiesel

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to develop the use of biodiesel made from waste food products.[HL4517]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Government amended the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) in December 2011 to provide extra support to waste-derived biofuels through the award of two Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates (RTFCs) per litre of waste-derived biofuel.

We are assessing the available data and other evidence regarding the impact of these and other changes made to the RTFO in a post implementation review. We published a draft version of that review on 16 December for consultation with industry, this is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/renewable-transport-fuel-obligation-a-draft-post-implementation-review. The final review to be published in the spring will inform decisions on what, if any, changes are necessary to the RTFO to support the use of biofuels made from waste products.

The Department for Transport also published a call for evidence on Advanced Fuels on 12 December, this is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/advanced-fuels-call-for-evidence.

The call for evidence seeks views on what is needed to develop the use of advanced fuels in different transport sectors, including potentially advanced fuels derived from waste.

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA19

Energy: Electricity

Questions

Asked by Baroness Worthington

To ask Her Majesty’s Government at what point the decision was taken to introduce technology banding into early Contracts for Difference in the electricity market; and whether stakeholders were consulted about that decision.[HL4400]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The consideration of a mechanism designed to ensure that a range of different technologies benefit from Investment Contracts was included in the publication Final Investment Decision (FID) Enabling for Renewables: Update 1: Invitation to Participate (March 2013) and restated in Update 2: Investment Contract Allocation (July 2013). The process itself was set out in Update 3: Contract Award Process (December 2013).

The affordability assessment published in Update 3, including the technology based rules, was developed taking account of the need to deliver a mix of technology in line with the 2020 renewables target and the ranges consulted on and published in the Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan.

Link to Update 1:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/141873/FIDeR_update_doc_Invitation_to_Participate_2013_-_03_ -_14_FINAL.pdf

Link to Update 2:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/209367/2013_-_06_-_27_FIDe_Update_2_Master_Draft__2_.pdf

Link to Update 3:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/263169/FID_Update_3_Contract_Award_Process.pdf

Asked by Baroness Worthington

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what impact the decision to limit the number of early Contracts for Difference in the electricity market awarded to biomass conversion projects will have on (1) the security of the United Kingdom electricity supply, (2) wholesale electricity prices, (3) the cost of meeting legally binding European Union renewable energy targets, and (4) the likelihood of meeting legally binding European Union renewable energy targets. [HL4401]

Baroness Verma: Her Majesty’s Government has not taken a decision to limit the number of Investment Contracts awarded to biomass conversion projects. The technology-based rules included in the FID Enabling for Renewables affordability assessment are designed to ensure that the process supports at least a minimum amount of each technology type (which have met the qualifying and minimum threshold criteria).

Final Investment Decision (FID) Enabling for Renewables is one of the measures under the Government’s Electricity Market Reform programme

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA20

designed to ensure a reliable, diverse and low-carbon power market. DECC has robust plans to deal with security of supply, working jointly with National Grid and the energy regulator Ofgem.

The FID Enabling for Renewables process was developed taking account of the need to ensure that value for money should be delivered whilst averting investment hiatus and delivering a mix of technology in line with the 2020 renewables target and the Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how often electric power cables to houses are inspected and renovated; and what advice they give to householders where cables are not functioning and there is danger of electrocution.[HL4441]

Baroness Verma: Distribution Network Operators have a statutory duty to ensure their networks provide a safe and reliable electricity supply so far as is reasonably practicable. Inspection and replacement should be of sufficient frequency to comply with that statutory duty. Householders are advised to immediately inform their Distribution Network Operator of any supply interruption or dangerous situation. Details of how to contact the appropriate Distribution Network Operator can be found on electricity bills, on the DECC and Electricity Networks Association websites and in local telephone directories.

Energy: Fracking

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in their review of fracking, they predicted and costed the requirements both of clean water and of cleaning the water discharged by the process, and also the requirement for new roadways to and from the fracking areas.[HL4444]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Government has recently published for public consultation an Environmental Report as part of the process of conducting a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for further onshore oil and gas licensing in Great Britain. This assesses the potential environmental impacts of activities which may be carried out on further licences, on the basis of scenarios of high and low activity for both conventional and unconventional oil and gas. It includes estimates of water consumption and waste water volumes of these scenarios. It does not assess the costs of water supply and water treatment, both of which would fall on the licence holders. The Report can be accessed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/environmental-report-for-further-onshore-oil-and-gas-licensing.

It is not possible at the SEA stage to make any assessment of requirements for new roadways, as those requirements will be entirely dependent on the specific

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA21

locations of the activities which may subsequently be proposed and the proximity of those locations to existing roads. Those locations are not ascertainable at this stage.

Oil and gas licences do not convey permission for any actual activities. Such permission depends, among other things, on compliance with all relevant regulatory requirements. In particular, it depends on the obtaining of planning permission. All relevant land use issues, including the implications of the proposed activities for relevant roads, will be taken into account by the relevant planning authority, and the proposals will be subject to public consultation, before any decision is made on the grant of planning permission.

The Environmental Report is open for public consultation until 28 March 2014. All responses to the consultation will be carefully considered before Ministers make any decision about further onshore licensing.

Energy: Nuclear Power Stations

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 16 December 2013 (WA 152), whether they will now answer the question which was asked.[HL4346]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): Negotiations over the proposed investment contract, which are based on commercially confidential information, have yet to be concluded.

Should an investment contract be agreed for Hinkley Point C, it would be laid before Parliament subject to the redaction of confidential data in accordance with the provisions set out in the Energy Act together with summaries of the Government’s value for money assessment including an assessment of project returns.

Asked by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what arrangements are in place to evacuate populations from (1) within the three-mile designated emergency planning zone, and (2) the wider thirty-mile zone, around nuclear power plants, in the wake of significant radiation release from an accident in cases where roads within both zones are impassable due to (a) widespread flooding, or (b) heavy snow cover. [HL4556]

Baroness Verma: Detailed off-site plans for responding to reasonably foreseeable radiation emergencies are developed by local authorities hosting nuclear sites in accordance with Regulation 9 of the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR). These plans focus upon areas surrounding nuclear sites known as Detailed Emergency Planning Zones (DEPZs). The sizes of these DEPZs differ from site to site, ranging from 1km to 3.5 kilometres in radius.

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA22

Local Authorities hosting nuclear sites are advised to draw up plans to enable them to extend measures described in their detailed plans if necessary (e.g. in response to very severe emergencies). These are known as “extendibility” plans. Further information about extendibility planning is available on the gov.uk website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69113/NEPLG_guidance_ch_9_-_extendibility.pdf.

Off-site plans cover the application of a range of counter-measures, one of which is evacuation. Local Authorities must ensure that their off-site plans are resilient to a range of weather conditions (e.g. those leading to, or involving, flooding or heavy snow).

In accordance with REPPIR, off-site plans are reviewed and tested on a regular basis, to assess their accuracy and effectiveness, and are continually updated and improved. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is responsible for ensuring that such reviews and tests take place. Further information about REPPIR is available on the Health and Safety Executive's web site : http://www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/ionising/reppir.htm.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also continually assess the UK's overall preparedness in terms of planning for, and being able to respond to, nuclear emergencies.

Following the events at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, ONR carried out a detailed assessment of the implications of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami for the UK (the Weightman Report), which included analysis and recommendations concerning preparedness for severe and prolonged emergencies. The 2011 report and the assessment of progress against the report can be found on the Health and Safety Executive’s website:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/fukushima/.

Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committees

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are taking steps to ensure that the collective knowledge and experience of Regional Advisory Committee staff is being retained within the new Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committees.[HL4308]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they anticipate that the new Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committees will have a role in extending and improving community involvement in woodlands; and, if so, how.[HL4309]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Around 40% of the current Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committee membership previously served on the Regional Advisory Committees. Each Committee has a minimum of four members with previous experience.

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA23

Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committees will have a role in extending and improving community involvement in woodlands where this aligns with their core remit. This includes advocating and championing woodlands partnership working at local level.

Government Departments: Administrative Costs and Salaries

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were the administrative costs, including salaries, of the private offices of each Minister in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for the last year for which figures are available.[HL4312]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The administrative costs for each of the BIS Ministers’ private offices during financial year 2012/2013 were:

£

Dr Vince Cable

625,400

Norman Lamb MP / Jo Swinson MP

326,456

Rt Hon David Willetts MP

448,328

John Hayes MP / Matthew Hancock MP

206,560

Baroness Wilcox / Lord Marland / Lord Younger

198,512

Mark Prisk MP / Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP

384,586

Lord Green

300,632

The above costs, where relevant, include both Ministers and private office staff pay costs, travel and transport related costs. Other administrative costs are centrally funded and could only be separated out at disproportionate cost.

Housing: Funding

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will consider extending discretionary housing payments to the rural areas with the smallest numbers of one bedroom properties, in addition to the areas already covered.[HL4461]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): Following the Autumn Statement it was agreed that the additional £5 million funding for the most rural/remote areas would be maintained in 2014/15. The Department is currently consulting Local Authority Associations and will provide details of individual allocations by early February.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will report on the use of discretionary housing payments in the 21 least densely populated rural

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA24

districts of the United Kingdom, as announced by the Department for Work and Pensions on 30 July 2013.[HL4462]

Lord Freud: The Department has collated and published information about the use of Discretionary Housing Payments by Local Authorities in Great Britain for the first six months of the financial year from April 2013 to September 2013. The information was published on 20 December 2013 and can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-discretionary-housing-payments

In 2013 the government contribution to Discretionary Housing Payments was increased to £180 million. As part of this, local authorities are able to bid for funding from a £20 million reserve fund. The scheme is open to bids until 3 February 2014.

Israel

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have received relating to Israel’s investigation of the killing of Wajih al Ramahi in Jalazone refugee camp.[HL4465]

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 informed us that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has launched an investigation into the incident but cannot confirm whether the minor died as a result of IDF live fire.

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the United Kingdom security services have been consulted by Shin Bet about named parliamentarians associated with the Council for European Palestinian Relations or any visits organised by the Council.[HL4337]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): It is the long-standing policy of successive governments not to comment on matters of intelligence.

Public Documents: Retention

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking, in respect of public documents for which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible, to meet their commitment to reduce the period of retention from 30 to 20 years; and

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA25

when they expect to release to the National Archives documents relating to Mauritius and the British Indian Ocean Territory for years later than 1980. [HL4406]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), like all Government departments, is required to achieve the release of its records at the 20-year mark by transferring two years’ of selected records to the National Archives (TNA) over every year of the transitional period (2013-2022).

Work on the release of colonial administration files over the 2011-2013 period has regrettably caused a backlog in the regular annual transfer of FCO departmental files to TNA. The colonial files project was completed in November 2013 and we have now deployed all of our file transfer resources onto annual release. We publish the order in which we will be transferring files to the TNA on our website at: www.gov.uk/archive-records.

FCO departmental files relating to Mauritius and the British Indian Ocean Territory form part of the FCO 31 class (Eastern Africa) at TNA. We expect 1981 and 1982 FCO 31 files to transfer to the TNA later this year following which the TNA will require a further period to prepare the files for public release. We are working closely with the TNA on the transfer of files in the FCO 31 class for later years.

Schools: Academies

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many academy-sponsored schools there are in (1) England, and (2) Wales and what proportion of such schools have been established by (a) individual sponsors, (b) faith communities, (c) businesses, (d) other academies and (e) universities.[HL4473]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The information you requested relating to English academies can be found below. The Department for Education is not responsible for education in Wales.

Total number of sponsored academies in England

997

Proportion established by individual sponsors

7%

Proportion established by faith communities

9%

Proportion established by businesses

5%

Proportion established by other academies

24%

Proportion established by universities

3%

Schools: Asbestos

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether it is their intention that the asbestos awareness guidance for schools, issued by the Department for Education, be adopted in Wales.[HL4362]

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA26

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The responsibility for the management of asbestos in schools in Wales is devolved to the Welsh Government and does not rest with the Department for Education. I understand, however, that the Welsh Government intends issuing similar guidance on asbestos management to schools in Wales shortly.

Schools: Free Schools

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they are ensuring that free schools are established in areas in need of school places; and whether any of the funding for additional school places has been specifically allocated for the establishment of free schools.[HL4472]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): Free schools are set up in response to demand from parents for a new school in their area. In assessing the merits of individual free school applications, the Department for Education takes into account, amongst other things, the basic need for places, the level of demand from local parents and the quality of existing schools in the area.

Seventy per cent of open mainstream free schools are in areas of basic need. When all free schools in the pipeline are open, the Department expects 150,000 extra places will have been created by the programme, with many more to come.

Over the current spending review and in addition to the free schools programme, the Department is spending £5 billion on addressing the shortage of places through basic need funding—more than double the amount spent by the previous Government over an equivalent four year period.

Schools: Ofsted Report

Questions

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, with reference to the 2012–13 Ofsted Report on schools, what steps they are taking to ensure that schools address the criticism that in one third of the schools inspected “English and Mathematics are not taught well enough” (page 6).[HL4328]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): We are radically reforming the English and mathematics curriculum and qualifications, raising expectations so that they match the best worldwide and providing effective support to schools and teachers to improve their teaching.

In primary we have published a more rigorous curriculum with a greater level of demand. The new English national curriculum places a greater focus on grammar, spelling and punctuation, with a new test

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA27

for 11 year olds. We have strengthened the requirements on learning to read through systematic synthetic phonics since evidence shows this works best, especially in children aged five to seven. Between September 2011 and October 2013, we offered match funding of up to £3,000 to all state primary schools with key stage 1 pupils, so that they can purchase high quality phonic products. £22.9 million in match funding has been claimed by 13,430 schools. We have also introduced a phonics screening check at age six so that teachers can intervene early to help children catch up. In mathematics, children will know their times tables by age nine and calculators will be removed from the test for 11 year olds to ensure that children get a rigorous grounding in mental and written arithmetic.

In secondary, mathematics GCSE will be more challenging for all, while stretching the most able, and there is a strengthened requirement in English GCSEs to use accurate spelling and punctuation. We expect schools will increase time spent teaching mathematics, bringing us in line with our international competitors. The recently announced Progress 8 measure gives double weighting to English and mathematics in performance tables for the first time. For Year 7 pupils who have not achieved level 4 at key stage 2 in reading and/or mathematics we have introduced a catch-up premium worth £500 per pupil and £54 million in 2012-13. This enables secondary schools to deliver additional support, such as individual tuition or intensive support in small groups, for those pupils that most need it.

We continue to fund the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and we recently announced £11 million over the next two years to create a network of “mathematics hubs”, led by teaching schools, which will drive up the quality of mathematics education from the early years to age 19.

We have increased investment in teacher training bursaries and scholarships for mathematics: mathematics graduates can now get up to £25,000, and there are no limits on the number of initial teacher training places in mathematics. Furthermore, subject knowledge enhancement courses give graduates and career changers the chance to develop the expert knowledge needed to teach mathematics.

We are also reforming post-16 education, including A Levels in English and mathematics, and have set out our ambition for the majority of young people in England to study mathematics at least to age 18 by 2020. Students who have not achieved at least a grade C at GCSE in mathematics and/or English are now required to continue to study the subject. In addition, new Core Mathematics qualifications are being developed for those students with GCSE grade C or above who do not go on to study A or AS level mathematics.

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, with reference to the 2012–13 Ofsted Report on schools, whether they accept as adequate the recommendations for “raising standards in English” (page 19), or whether they intend to take steps to ensure that attention is explicitly paid to vocabulary development and enrichment.[HL4329]

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA28

Lord Nash: We recognise that standards in English need to be raised and have reformed the English national curriculum so that it matches the best worldwide.

We accept that the teaching of writing is important and all pupils are expected to develop and progress their competence in writing including planning, revising and evaluating their work. Writing also depends on fluent and legible handwriting and the new curriculum requires that pupils are given sufficient time to learn how to form letters correctly, confidently and with ease.

The new English curriculum emphasises the importance of teaching vocabulary throughout the key stages and we have added a separate section on vocabulary, grammar and punctuation for Years 1 to 6. A new grammar, punctuation and spelling test was introduced in 2013 at key stage 2.

Reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information is one of the overarching aims of the new English curriculum and all pupils are encouraged to establish a life-long love of reading.

We recognise that a high-quality education in English will help pupils in their lives, now and in the future. The new English curriculum will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so they can communicate to a range of audiences and for different purposes and contexts. Through reading and the study of poetry, prose and drama pupils will have an opportunity to develop culturally, emotionally and socially.

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, with reference to the 2012–13 Ofsted Report on schools, what action they are taking to eradicate the “pockets of weak educational provision in parts of the country” (page 4).[HL4331]

Lord Nash: We take action to transform consistently under-performing schools, including those judged by Ofsted to be inadequate, into sponsored academies with a high quality sponsor who can turn performance around rapidly. Ofsted has implemented a more rigorous inspection framework, with performance data ensuring inspections are targeted on the weakest schools and a recognition that any school less than “good” is not performing well enough.

This year, in primary sponsored academies the proportion of pupils that achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics improved by 3%, compared to 1% in local authority maintained schools.

In secondary sponsored academies, results have been improving faster than in other schools over recent years. For those open for three years, results have improved by 12% since opening, higher than the increase of 5% seen in local authority maintained schools over the same period.

We have issued statutory guidance1 to local authorities that make very clear our expectations that they should take swift and robust action when maintained schools are not good enough. This includes our expectation that poorly performing schools should become sponsored academies.

1

Available at: http://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/statutory/ g00192418/scc

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA29

Schools: Sulivan Primary School

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they (1) have made, (2) plan to make, and (3) have received, from interested parties, regarding the proposed closure of Sulivan Primary School by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham; and when they will be in a position to consider, and make a decision on, the school’s application for academy status.[HL4471]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Department for Education has not made and has no plans to make any representations regarding the proposed closure of Sulivan Primary School. The Department received representations from two interested parties, one from the Chair of Governors of Sulivan Primary School and the other from a local supporter of the school’s application to convert to academy status. The Department will review Sulivan Primary School’s application to convert and join the LDBS Multi Academy Trust once the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has made its decision on the proposed closure.

South Sudan

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the ability of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan to deal with the situation there; and whether it has adequate capacity to deal with the number of civilians in need of protection.[HL4456]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK is deeply concerned by the terrible violence in South Sudan that began in December. The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan has played a vital role in protecting many thousands of civilians in its bases and in providing humanitarian assistance to those affected by fighting across the country. The scale of the violence has stretched the resources of the mission, and we therefore fully support the increase of the mission’s authorised forces by an additional five battalions (5,500 troops) and three formed police units (480 personnel), which was agreed by the Security Council’s unanimous adoption of resolution 2132 (2013) on 24 December.

Syria: Chemical Weapons

Questions

Asked by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what enquiries have been made regarding the chemical signatures on the chemical weapons declared by the Assad regime in Syria since July.[HL4418]

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA30

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Chemical Weapons Convention and the US-Russia framework for Syrian accession requires that the destruction of all material related to Syria’s programme is independently verified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Sampling analysis by OPCW inspectors takes place to confirm the declared identity of the chemicals to be destroyed. Under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention Verification Annex Part IV (a), sampling is not carried out in order to confirm the synthetic route used.

Asked by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will publish any findings by the United Nations about the manufacture and origin of the chemical weapons declared by the Assad regime in Syria. [HL4419]

Baroness Warsi: The findings of the UN inspection mission into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria are set out in their reports of 16 September and 13 December 2013. The inspectors’ mandate was to determine whether chemical weapons had been used, not to determine the place of origin and manufacture of the weapons. However, as part of the process of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Syria is required to make comprehensive declarations regarding its programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). These declarations include detail on the origin of material used to manufacture the weapons. These are classified under the Convention’s confidentiality regime and are available only to States Parties in accordance with OPCW agreed protocols, and are not for public release.

Asked by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any evidence has emerged of Iraqi origin in the chemical weapons so far declared by the Assad regime in Syria.[HL4420]

Baroness Warsi: As part of the process of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Syria is required to make comprehensive declarations regarding its programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). These declarations include detail on the origin of material used to manufacture the weapons. These declarations are classified under the Convention’s confidentiality regime and are only available only to States Parties in accordance with OPCW agreed protocols, and are not for public release.

UK Honours

Question

Asked by Lord Lexden

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what criteria were used to determine which new year honours should appear in the Diplomatic Service and Overseas List section of the New Year Honours List 2014. [HL4323]

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA31

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The criterion used for considering awards on the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague)’s Diplomatic Service and Overseas New Year 2014 Honours List was service performed overseas or in the United Kingdom with a significant international component. As with all British honours, recommendations for awards are based on exceptional merit in order to reward excellence in achievement and service in support of British interests.

United Arab Emirates

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of the United Arab Emirates about the treatment of migrant workers in Abu Dhabi; and with what result.[HL4301]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We regularly discuss human rights with the Government of the United Arab Emirates. We most recently made recommendations relating to the living and working conditions of foreign workers during the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review in January 2013.

15 Jan 2014 : Column WA32

Universal Credit

Question

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why universal credit claimants who use the Simple Payment service will not be able to withdraw their universal credit payments in instalments if they wish.[HL4410]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): Customers using the Simple Payment service can only withdraw the whole amount (and not part) of each benefit payment at the same time, up to a daily limit of £600.

Consequently Universal Credit recipients who want to withdraw only part of their payment will, in line with any other benefit or pension recipient, need to use an account with this functionality.

Vehicles: Taxation

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has the sole right to choose which sub-post offices may handle vehicle tax renewals.[HL4416]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Post Office Limited is responsible for selecting the appropriate outlets from its network of Branches to meet the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s requirement for service delivery across a wide geographical spread.