24 Jan 2014 : Column WA169

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Written Answers

Friday 24 January 2014

Bangladesh

Question

Asked by Lord Carlile of Berriew

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made an assessment of the effect of Baroness Warsi’s official presence in Bangladesh in December 2013 on the political and electoral situation in that country.[HL4654]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): During my visit, I urged the Prime Minister and Begum Zia to take note of the negative effects on Bangladesh’s image both domestically and internationally of the continued violence, confrontational politics and elections that fall short of delivering a credible, sustainable outcome. It was highly disappointing that many people were unable to take part in Bangladesh’s democratic process, and I now urge the political parties to work together to strengthen democratic accountability and to build the willingness and capacity to hold future participatory elections without the fear of intimidation or reprisals.

Courts: Jurors

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord McNally on 23 September 2013 (WS 169–170), whether jurors from rural areas and no longer in employment are able to claim expenses for mileage and parking for using their own vehicles, or taxis where they cannot use their own vehicles; and whether hotel expenses are met when the court is a lengthy journey away. [HL4417]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): HMCTS will reimburse jurors for the actual costs of public transport between their home and court and in certain limited circumstances, with the advance permission of the court, HMCTS will pay a mileage rate for travelling by car and reimburse reasonable costs of parking or cover taxi fares. Jurors are summonsed from within the community that is served by the courts and therefore should not generally require a lengthy journey to court. Jurors may apply to be excused from jury service if doing jury service would cause significant hardship.

The table of juror allowances can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/jury-service/what-you-can-claim

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA170

Cremation Regulations 2008

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received from the Welsh Government concerning the amendment of the Cremation Regulations 2008 in order to provide for the use of bilingual Welsh and English forms in crematoria.[HL4544]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Government has not received any representations from the Welsh Government on the use of bilingual cremation forms.

Driving Tests

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered whether the driving test should include a night driving element.[HL4722]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Improving the safety and ability of young drivers is a key priority for the Government which is why we have made the driving test more realistic. The Department for Transport is considering several options to ensure that young people are properly prepared and drive safely. It may be practically difficult for the test to include a night time element but we would encourage all learner drivers to have lessons and practise driving after dark.

Embryology

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 18 July 2013 (WA 141) and 29 August 2013 (WA 315–16), what actions the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) intends to take in the light of the findings described in PLoS ONE 9(1): e80398 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080398) and pursuant to the recommendations set out in the independent review carried out by Dr Justin McCracken. [HL4534]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): There is nothing further I can add to the Written Answer I gave to the noble Lord on 18 July 2013, Official Report, col. WA 141. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regularly considers research about the health impacts of in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, requires that patients are provided with full information about the nature of the treatment they are proposing to undergo, including any potential risks and possible side effects associated with the treatment.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA171

The HFEA has advised that, at its meeting on 11 September 2013, the Authority agreed an action plan in response to the McCracken Report recommendations, which is available on the Authority’s website at:

www.hfea.gov.uk/Authority-September-2013.html

Energy: Charges and Prices

Question

Asked by Lord German

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the intergovernmental arrangements for the management, charging regime and pricing policies of all existing and proposed energy interconnectors between Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.[HL4703]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): Matters relating to the management, charging regime and pricing policies of existing and proposed electricity and gas interconnectors between Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the relevant regulators.

There are two existing electricity interconnectors between the Great British electricity market and the Irish single electricity market: the East West Interconnector and the Moyle Interconnector. The regulation of revenues on these interconnectors is a matter for the Irish regulatory authorities. These Irish regulatory authorities and the GB regulator, Ofgem, are required to approve the capacity charging and access rules for both interconnectors on an annual basis.

In respect of proposed electricity generation projects in the Republic of Ireland that would involve electric lines conveying electricity to Great Britain, Ofgem has recently consulted on how these links might be regulated: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/regulation-transmission-connecting-non-gb-generation-gb-transmission-system

Matters relating to the on-going management, charging regime and pricing policies of gas interconnectors are the responsibility of the relevant regulators, but arrangements for Interconnector 1, Interconnector 2, and the SNIP are put in place with reference to two intergovernmental treaties:

“Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland relating to the Transmission of Natural Gas by Pipeline between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland” (Treaty Series No.73 (1993)); and

“Agreement relating to the Transmission of Natural Gas through a Second Pipeline between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Ireland and through a Connection to the Isle of Man” (Treaty Series No 10 (2007)).

Gas arrangements are being revised as the relevant regulators implement new EU regulations governing gas transmission ownership, management, charging regimes and pricing policies.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA172

Energy: Off-Gas Grid Households

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to mitigate the additional cost of heating for rural households not on the gas grid. [HL4733]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Government believes that domestic consumers living off the mains gas-grid should have access to secure and affordable fuel supplies to heat their homes.

This year’s Buy Oil Early campaign, coordinated by DECC, was launched by the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS) and consumer groups in September. A similar campaign was launched by the LPG trade association (UKLPG) in October. DECC have worked with the FPS to produce a Code of Practice and Customer Charter, setting expected levels of service provision for FPS members such as the fair treatment of consumers with payment difficulties.

DECC have also worked with the industry to provide consumer guidance on setting up or joining oil buying clubs, in order for communities to save money through bulk buying.

The Energy Minister intends to hold a third Ministerial Roundtable meeting on heating oil and LPG in the spring, to assess how off-gas grid consumers fared over the winter and whether further action in this area is needed.

Energy efficiency is vital when it comes to reducing the cost of energy for off-gas grid households. The Green Deal offers a means for consumers to identify and finance the most effective energy efficiency improvements to their homes, such as insulation and new heating systems.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) works alongside the Green Deal to ensure energy efficiency measures are supplied to vulnerable consumers. We will be publishing a consultation on the ECO this spring. This will explore how best to incentivise delivery of Affordable Warmth measures to non-gas fuelled households, and include proposals to widen eligibility for the Carbon Saving Community Obligation.

In addition we will be considering how best to support non-gas fuelled households as part of our forthcoming draft Fuel Poverty Strategy, on which we will also consult in the spring.

DECC also provides additional support for the switch to renewable heating systems through the provision of one-off grants under the Renewable Heat Premium Payments scheme. From spring 2014, this will be replaced by the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI). The RHI is designed to cover the additional costs of a renewable heating system compared to a new conventional heating system, through tariffs that will be paid over seven years.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA173

EU: Foreign Policy

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government under what circumstances they encourage the European Union to take over and manage major foreign policy projects.[HL4552]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Her Majesty’s Government does not encourage the European Union to take over foreign policy. The EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy is decided by unanimous agreement amongst the Member States.

EU: Gypsies, Roma and Travellers

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to implement the European Commission’s European Code of Conduct on the Partnership Principle for the European Structural and Investment Funds 2014–20 as regards Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.[HL4495]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): Local Enterprise Partnerships will be responsible for strategic leadership of European Structural and Investment Funds in the 2014-2020 period and will be the lead bodies with whom Government works to ensure delivery of programme targets. The Government has made it clear to Local Enterprise Partnerships that they must include all relevant partners and interested parties in the development of their strategies. Government will however continue to be the formal legally accountable body to the European Commission for these Funds. Social inclusion is an important aspect of the EU Funds and is a mandatory element of the European Social Fund. Disadvantaged groups, including the Roma where relevant, will be therefore reflected in Local Enterprise Partnerships plans according to local circumstances.

EU: UK Membership

Questions

Asked by Lord Stevens of Ludgate

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remark by Baroness Warsi on 7 January (HL Deb, cols 1387–9) that United Kingdom membership of the European Union brings 3.5 million jobs to the United Kingdom, what estimate they have made, calculated on the same basis, of the number of jobs United Kingdom membership brings to the rest of the European Union.[HL4511]

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA174

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Livingston of Parkhead) (Con): No estimates have been made by HM Government of the number of jobs United Kingdom membership of the European Union brings to the other 27 Member States.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech at the Open Europe conference on 15 January regarding the future of the United Kingdom in the European Union, whether a priority in their reform agenda is the removal from any new treaty of the phrase “resolved to continue the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”. [HL4665]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron) set out clearly the Government’s EU reform priorities in his speech in January 2013: the EU needs to become more competitive, more flexible and more democratically accountable, with power flowing both ways and fairness for those within and outside the single currency. And, as the Deputy Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr Clegg), said in October, the EU must do less meddling and be more meaningful in its contribution to national life by concentrating its focus on policies where it can bring added value. Much of this reform can be and is being delivered right now, without Treaty change. Detailed decisions about a government negotiating position would be taken in the context of any future proposals for Treaty change.

Food: Horsemeat

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prosecutions have taken place since the discovery in January 2013 of horsemeat in food for human consumption; how many businesses are being investigated; and whether any businesses have been closed.[HL4738]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises that police investigations are on-going and decisions on prosecution are for the Crown Prosecution Service. The FSA does not have information on the numbers of businesses being investigated as that is an operational matter for the police. The FSA is not able to confirm how many businesses have closed as a direct result of horsemeat because the reasons for closure are varied and a direct correlation between horsemeat and businesses closing cannot be made.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA175

Government Departments: Administrative Costs and Salaries

Questions

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 Ministry of Defence for the last year for which figures are available. [HL4315]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The salary costs for staff employed in Ministerial Private Offices in Financial Year 2012-13 was £1.96 million. This includes a mixture of civilian and military staff.

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 Work and Pensions for the last year for which figures are available.[HL4582]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The administrative cost, including salaries, for the Private Office of Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions in 2012-13, the last year for which information is available, is given in the table below.

DescriptionAdministration Costs

SECRETARY OF STATE

387

MINISTER OF PENSIONS

145

MINISTER OF EMPLOYMENT

206

MINISTER FOR DISABLED PEOPLE

207

MINISTER FOR WELFARE REFORM

214

TOTAL £000's

1,159

The administration cost exclude Ministerial salaries.

Government Departments: Research and Development

Questions

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the Department for Transport spent in total in (1) 2010–11, (2) 2011–12, (3) 2012–13, and (4) 2013–14; how much the Department spent on research and development in each of those years; and how much the Department spent on the Small Business Research Initiative in each of those years.[HL4641]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Department for Transport’s total procurement spend, spend on research and development and spend on the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) in 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 is below.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA176

YearTotal procurement spendSpend on research and developmentSpend on the SBRI

2010-11

£3,282,564,767

£53,000,000

£0

2011-12

£2,701,876,619

£34,000,000

£0

2012-13

£2,789,751,980

See note 2

£0

2013-141

£2,002,619,542

See note 3

£0 4

1

Spend to 30 November 2013

2

Data for 2012-13 has been submitted to ONS for publication in September 2014. As these are official statistics they cannot be released before formal publication.

3

As 2013-14 has not yet finished, the data has not yet been gathered. Once gathered, as these are official statistics, they cannot be released before formal publication.

4

The Department has one PCP competition (the EU equivalent of SBRI) and one SBRI competition in progress. Two further SBRI competitions are also planned for launch in 2013-14.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many competitions the Department for Transport held for the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) in (1) 2010–11, (2) 2011–12, (3) 2012–13, and (4) 2013–14; how many Phase 2 SBRI projects the Department funded in each of those years; and how many of the Department’s SBRI-funded projects led to procurement contracts in each of those years.[HL4642]

Baroness Kramer: The Department for Transport has a significant programme of investment in innovation and research. This includes our recently announced £17m commitment to the “Transport Systems Catapult”—a new technology centre for integrated transport systems; and the funding over two years of £30m for the “Enabling Innovation Team”, which addresses the “innovation gap”—taking new rail technologies forward to market delivery. We have also been developing the market through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

The number of competitions the Department held for the SBRI, the number of Phase 2 projects funded and the number of projects that led to procurement contracts is below.

YearSBRI competitions heldPhase 2 SBRI projects fundedSBRI funded projects that led to procurement contracts

2010-11

0

0

0

2011-12

0

0

0

2012-13

0

0

0

2013-14

2*

0

0

*

This figure includes one PCP competition (the EU equivalent of SBRI).

The Department also has two further SBRI competitions that are planned to launch in 2013-14.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spent in total in (1) 2010–11, (2) 2011–12, (3) 2012–13, and (4) 2013–14; how much the Department spent on research and development in

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA177

each of those years; and how much the Department spent on the Small Business Research Initiative in each of those years.[HL4696]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Total core Defra spend and spend on research and development are set out in Defra’s Annual Report and Accounts (ARA). The links below show where the information can be found in respect of 2010-11 to 2012-13. Figures for 2013-14 will be available when the ARA is published, which is expected to be in July 2014.

2010-11

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69583/defra-annual-report2011.pdf

Total departmental expenditure is shown on Page 70

Research and Development expenditure is shown on Page 93

2011-12

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69588/pb13805-defra-annual-report-2011-12.pdf

Total departmental expenditure is shown on Page 90

Research and Development expenditure is shown on Page 118

2012-13

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/224329/defra-year-end-accounts2012-13.pdf

Total departmental expenditure is shown on Page 90

Research and Development expenditure is shown on Page 121

The table below shows core Department expenditure on the Small Business Research Initiative in 2010-11 to 2012-13. Details of expenditure in 2013-14 will not be available until after the end of the financial year.

2010-112011-122012-13
£££

1,277,404

404,954

2,183,000

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many competitions the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs held for the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) in (1) 2010–11, (2) 2011–12, (3) 2012–13, and (4) 2013–14; how many Phase 2 SBRI projects the Department funded in each of those years; and how many of the Department’s SBRI-funded projects led to procurement contracts in each of those years.[HL4697]

Lord De Mauley: The information requested for core Defra is as follows:

YearSBRI CompetitionsSBRI Phase 2 Projects fundedNumber of Procurement Contracts

2010/11

1

0

11

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA178

2011/12

2

2

20

2012/13

2

8

18

2013/14

3

5

11

The numbers of procurement contracts quoted include contracts for both the feasibility stage and development stage (phase 2), and include contracts which may form part of Small Business Research Initiative competitions started in the previous year.

Health: Academic Health

Question

Asked by Lord Turnberg

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans NHS England has to fund academic health science networks during the next five years.[HL4734]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): NHS England has advised that no decision on future year commitments has yet been made by its executive team on any operational programme budgets, including for the 15 academic health science networks. However, it does intend to provide a level of core funding during the initial five year contracts that were signed with the academic health science networks in November 2013, as well as seeking to supplement this with strategic investment programmes. A review of strategy for future funding is due to take place in 2015-16.

Health: Doctors

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of current levels of recruitment of trainee doctors in the National Health Service; and what plans they have to address any shortfall. [HL4707]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Department has set up Health Education England (HEE) to deliver a better health and healthcare workforce for England. It is responsible for the education, training and recruiting for values of trainee doctors.

HEE works to improve the quality of health and healthcare for the people and patients of England, through educating, training and developing health and healthcare staff.

HEE is responsible for ensuring a secure workforce supply i.e. balance against demand and not a growth or reduction in the National Health Service workforce.

HEE has informed us that they have established working groups in those medical specialities that have been experiencing problems in recruitment and retention. These include emergency medicine, general practice, acute medicine and geriatrics and psychiatry.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA179

The groups are tasked to look at a number of different workforce interventions to support the recruitment and retention of medics in these specialities.

HEE published its national workforce plan for England on 17 December. Data submitted to HEE includes the actual employment intentions for this year, as well as forecasts of future intentions that it has used in establishing the workforce plan for England, showing the education commissions that will be made with providers of clinical education for places commencing in August 2014.

Health: Vaccinations

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many cases of suspected adverse reactions resulting in psychotic episodes and other mental disorders have been reported following administration of Stamaril yellow fever vaccine (1) to members of the armed services, and (2) to members of the public, in each year since its introduction.[HL4797]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Reports of suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are submitted to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) via the Yellow Card Scheme. It is important to note that a Yellow Card report is not proof of a side effect occurring, but merely a suspicion by the reporter that the vaccine may have been the cause.

Suspected reactions of psychiatric disorders reported to the MHRA each year since Stamaril yellow fever vaccine was licensed are summarised in the following table.

YearReported ADRs*

2002

Dissociation

2003

hallucination

2004

catatonia

psychotic behaviour

Hallucination

2005

disorientation

sleep disorder

eating disorder

Insomnia

2006

nervousness

Insomnia

2007

confusional state (2)

2008

0

2009

restlessness hallucination

2010

delirium

confusional state (2)

hallucination auditory

Restlessness

2011

confusional state

2012

Insomnia

2013

confusional state

panic attack

Anxiety

*One report unless stated in brackets

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA180

The Yellow Card scheme is open to anyone in the United Kingdom who wishes to report a suspected ADR, regardless of their profession. However, the MHRA does not routinely receive information on a suspected ADR report on whether the individual concerned is a member of the armed forces or any other profession.

Although yellow fever vaccines have not typically been associated with psychosis, very rarely yellow fever vaccine-associated neurotropic disease has been reported following vaccination, symptoms of which include high fever with headache that may progress to include one or more of the following: confusion, encephalitis/encephalopathy, meningitis, focal neurological deficits, or Guillain-Barré syndrome.

This potential risk is described in the product information for Stamaril. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease, and the balance of benefits and risks for Stamaril remains positive. As with all medicines and vaccines on the UK market, the MHRA keeps the safety of the yellow fever vaccine under close review.

Higher Education: Creative Arts

Question

Asked by Lord Freyberg

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the reasons for the decline in the number of students applying to study creative arts at university; and what measures they intend to put in place to reverse that decline.[HL4596]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): Higher Education (HE) institutions are autonomous and make their own decisions on which courses to run in response to demand from students.

In common with many other subjects, applications for creative arts courses fell in 2012/13, in part because of a 60% decline in the number of students deferring their application from the year before. However, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) data shows there has been a 2.2 per cent increase in applications to study creative arts in 2013/14 compared to 2012/13, and this has led to 2000 extra acceptances in creative arts this year. UCAS data also indicates that 4.4% of all 18 year olds in the UK applied to study creative arts in 2013/14, making these courses the third most popular after biological sciences and business administration.

Housing Benefit

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the additional cost of housing benefit paid to households moving to smaller properties in the open market and affordable rent housing sectors as a result of the under-occupancy charge. [HL4732]

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA181

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): Our central estimate remains that this measure will save around £500m per annum.

We anticipated prior to the implementation of this measure that some affected tenants could downsize by moving to the private rented sector.

This movement frees up social sector accommodation, enabling it to be let to others who may otherwise have been renting more expensive private accommodation.

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in persuading the government of Israel to implement recommendations in the Children in Military Custody report.[HL4683]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We welcome some recent progress in the implementation of some of the report’s recommendations. This includes a pilot to use summons instead of night-time arrests, and steps to reduce the amount of time a child can be detained before seeing a judge. We are encouraging Israel to continue this progress.

Legal Aid

Questions

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many applications for exceptional funding for legal aid have been made since the passage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012; and what proportion of those have been granted. [HL4377]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): At around £2 billion a year we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world. We are reforming legal aid so it remains available to those that need it most while getting better value for the hard-working taxpayers that fund it.

As of 3 January 2014, the Legal Aid Agency has received 1123 applications for exceptional funding (of which 1104 have been processed) and approved exceptional funding in 35 cases.

A significant number of applications are rejected following receipt (for example where the application is for civil legal services already in the scope of the civil funding scheme).

The exceptional funding scheme ensures the protection of an individual’s rights to legal aid under the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as those rights to legal aid that are directly enforceable under European Union law.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA182

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the estimated loss of VAT from the planned reductions in criminal and civil legal aid fees including experts’ fees; and whether that figure has been reflected in the savings projected to be produced by the reductions.[HL4378]

Lord Faulks: Between 2010/11 and 2015/16 the Ministry of Justice is required to make a real terms spending reduction of around a third. The impact of the Transforming Legal Aid proposals if fully implemented—on top of the baseline that includes earlier reforms and volume reductions—would be that legal aid expenditure would be reduced by a similar order of magnitude over the same period. These proposals ensure that we can continue to bear down on the costs of legal aid spending, which is currently around £2 billion a year.

The estimated reduction of VAT revenue from the planned decrease in criminal and civil legal aid fees, including expert fees, is £33m per annum once savings have reached their steady state. The estimated savings for these measures set out in the consultation document Transforming Legal Aid: Next Steps referred to how spending by the Legal Aid Agency would change as a result of the proposals including VAT.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when and how they intend to introduce a residence test for civil legal aid claimants so as to limit legal aid to those with a strong connection with the United Kingdom.[HL4389]

Lord Faulks: It is intended that the residence test will be introduced, subject to Parliamentary approval, through secondary legislation. We expect this to take effect in 2014.

Local Authorities: Bellwin Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on how many occasions in the last five years the Bellwin Formula has been applied to assist local authorities in England to meet significant unanticipated expenditure; how many local authorities were assisted on each such occasion; and what was the total centrally-funded expenditure on each such occasion.[HL4543]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): Bellwin provides emergency financial assistance to local authorities to help them meet uninsurable costs they incur when responding to a major emergency in their area. The level of funding over time is causally linked to the scale of flooding or other emergency. It operates by local authorities retrospectively claiming spending back.

The Bellwin Formula has been applied to assist local authorities in England to meet significant unanticipated expenditure on 9 occasions in the last

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA183

5 years. The table below sets out the local authorities who have been assisted and the total centrally-funded expenditure on each occasion in the last 5 years.

BELLWIN PAYMENTS 2009-10 to 20013-14
YEAR OF PAYMENTLOCAL AUTHORITYGRANT PAID

2009/10

Castle Morpeth Borough Council

24,452

Herefordshire Council

607,872

Shropshire County Council

710,061

Eden District Council

2,281

Total for year

1,344,666

2010/11

Allerdale Borough Council

302,847

Cumbria County Council

408,297

Cumbria Police Authority

148,049

South Lakeland District Council

30,348

Total for year

889,541

2011/12

Total for year

0

0

2012/13

Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

76,668

City of Lincoln

24,870

Gateshead Council

393,939

Herefordshire Council

218,499

Royal Berkshire Fire Authority

404,640

Total for year

1,118,616

2013/14 (to date)

Devon County Council

3,023,598

Herefordshire Council

2,048,963

Richmondshire District Council

915

Newark and Sherwood District Council

3,407

Teignbridge District Council

38,234

Uttlesford District Council

16,643

Total for year

5,131,760

Total over last 5 years

19

8,484,583

* Payments may not necessarily be in the same financial year as the incidents occurred. The amount claimed is net of threshold and grant rate.

Overseas Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will ensure that a reasonable proportion of British aid for Syrians and Palestinians fleeing Syria is devoted to those now in Egypt.[HL4569]

Baroness Northover (LD): To date the UK has allocated £2.3 million to provide support to refugees in Egypt who have fled Syria.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA184

Parliaments: European Parliament

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to take action to end the practice of holding sessions of the European Parliament in two venues; and, if so, what steps they will take.[HL4615]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK Government’s position on the seat of the European Parliament remains the same: we are in favour of a single seat. The current arrangements are expensive, impractical and indefensible on environmental grounds. Any amendment to the seat of the European Parliament would require Treaty change, and agreement by common accord among Member States. The European Parliament itself recently committed itself to come forward with proposals for Treaty change aimed at ending the practice of holding sessions of the European Parliament in two venues. We will look at any Treaty change on the table to ensure that it is in the interests of all EU Member States, including the UK.

Railways: Network Rail

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, when its debt becomes part of the public sector, Network Rail will become subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.[HL4811]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Work to decide on the best approach to governance, financing, and accounting/budgeting (which will include the applicability of the Freedom of Information Act 2000) has now begun. Decisions will be set out in a Framework Agreement that will be published before reclassification occurs in September. In the interim, Network Rail’s voluntary information publication scheme, which it introduced in June 2012, reflects the Company’s ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability.

Railways: Rolling Stock

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kramer on 20 January (WA 87), whether they are involved in the plan to refurbish to modern standards of seating, decor and lighting, over and above the statutory requirements for accessibility, those trains to be transferred to the Northern franchise.[HL4815]

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA185

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): This is a matter for the Rolling Stock Owning Company and the train operator.

The Department is not involved in any detailed plans to refurbish rolling stock that may be transferred to the Northern franchise.

The Department will make an assessment of any such proposals on value for money and affordability grounds.

As I stated in my previous answer any rolling stock that is transferred will meet all statutory and legislative requirements.

Roads: A40

Question

Asked by Lord Mawson

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how frequently the A40 between Oxford and Witney is cleaned; and whether the amount of rubbish ejected from traffic on that stretch of road has increased since 2010.[HL4662]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Oxfordshire County Council, as local highway authority, is responsible for litter clearance on the A40 between Oxford and Witney. The Department for Transport does not hold information on how much rubbish is ejected from traffic on this stretch of road or whether it has increased since 2010.

Sellafield

Question

Asked by Lord Lewis of Newnham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether it is still the intention of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the existing Sellafield decommissioning consortium to seek to integrate tier 1½ contractors or programme partners within the renewed five-year Sellafield decommissioning contract, or whether it is considered that all necessary expertise and capacity already exists within the consortium to meet decommissioning targets in a safe, timely and cost-effective manner.[HL4701]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): Responsibility for the contracting strategy between Sellafield Ltd and its supply chain sits with Sellafield Ltd. The NDA, as owner of the Sellafield site and the client for the Sellafield contract, works closely with Sellafield Ltd on its plans including scrutinising its decisions on the most appropriate procurement routes to enhance the capability of Sellafield Ltd to deliver its plans.

Sellafield Ltd has identified a number of areas in which it is seeking to improve its contracting arrangements, including the use of organisations which can provide high level capability to support a range of activities. A range of options are currently being explored in order to determine the most appropriate way forward.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA186

Smoking: e-cigarettes

Question

Asked by Viscount Ridley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on tobacco sales across Europe over the last year of e-cigarette use. [HL4778]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): No such assessment has been made.

Social Care: Elderly and Disabled People

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance is available to elderly and disabled people in England who are not eligible to receive National Health Service social care at home.[HL4603]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): With the exception of National Health Service Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC), publicly supported adult social care services in England are provided or arranged and funded by 152 councils with adult social services responsibilities (CASSRs). CASSRs are responsible for providing or arranging services to meet peoples’ eligible care needs.

In addition to their duty to provide care to people with eligible needs, CASSRs have discretionary powers to arrange care for people, which they may exercise where they consider it appropriate.

CASSRs, together with the NHS, which funds the nursing element of residential care, currently pay for approximately 60% of the total cost of all social care services. The remainder is funded by service users themselves. Eligibility for public assistance with the cost of social care services is means tested and people who have over certain amounts of savings, income and assets may not be eligible to receive help with the cost from public funds.

Where a person is found not to have eligible needs, the local authority can advise on what universal services are available in the community to help them. Through the Care Bill, we will place a duty on local authorities to provide preventative services, information and advice relating to the care and support available in their areas.

NHS CHC is a package of care arranged and funded solely by the NHS. It is provided to people aged 18 or over to meet physical or mental health needs which may have arisen as a result of disability, accident or illness. Where a person has both health and social care needs, but their primary need is determined to be a health need, the NHS has responsibility for providing care to meet all of that individual's assessed health and social care needs. NHS CHC can be provided in any setting, including in a person's own home. It is not means tested.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA187

Where an individual is not eligible for fully funded NHS CHC, the NHS may still have a responsibility to contribute to meeting their care needs. An individual's care and support package may be supported by both the NHS and the local authority—this is known as a “joint package of care”. The respective powers and responsibilities of each organisation should be identified by considering the needs of the individual.

Older and disabled people may, depending on their circumstances, be eligible for a variety of benefits and financial assistance in addition to services.

Timber

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of United Kingdom standards for the quality of softwood for construction; and whether European Union rules permit the use of effective materials for rot-proofing softwood used for agriculture.[HL4451]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): Timber construction products are subject to the Construction Products Regulation (305/2011/EU-CPR) and are covered by harmonised European standards. These standards are produced by the European standardisation bodies, including British Standards Institution (BSI) for the UK, with the assistance of industry experts, and are implemented by British sawmillers to grade and mark timber aimed at the construction market.

The Government works closely with the European Standard Committees responsible for timber grading through the UK timber Grading Committee to ensure standards are fair and applicable to construction regulations across Europe.

Rot-proofing products are covered by the European Biocidal Products Regulation (EU 528/2012) and its predecessors. Such products must be authorised before they can be sold or used in the EU. Products are only authorised for use if this is assessed to not cause undue harm to human or animal health or the environment and where they are demonstrated to be effective according to recognised standards for the uses in question.

24 Jan 2014 : Column WA188

United States of Europe

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the proposal by Viviane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission, on 8 January, for a United States of Europe in which the Commission would have supremacy over national governments and the European Parliament would supersede the sovereignty of national parliaments.[HL4550]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Government does not agree with the comments that Commissioner Reding made in a speech at a Dutch telecoms company about what a political union means to her.

Waste Management: Recycling

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what levels of recycling are achieved in England by region. [HL4516]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The table below shows the household waste recycling rates achieved in each region in England between April 2012 and March 2013. These recycling rates include household waste that is recycled, composted or prepared for reuse, deducting any material that is rejected at collection or rejected at the gate by processors.

RegionHousehold recycling, composting and reuse, 2012/13 (thousand tonnes)Household recycling rate

North East

414

37.0%

North West

1,385

43.8%

Yorkshire and the Humber

971

43.3%

East Midlands

943

46.8%

West Midlands

1,027

43.5%

Eastern

1,269

48.5%

London

1,003

34.0%

South East

1,649

43.4%

South West

1,120

47.2%

England

9,782

43.2%

Source:

WasteDataFlow