3 Feb 2014 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday 3 February 2014

Agriculture: Genetically Modified Crops

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, further to the remarks by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 20 June 2013 on the BBC Today programme that “despite offering the seeds for free to those who would need them, every attempt to deploy this golden rice has been thwarted”, whether he was referring to the activities of anti-genetically modified organism activists; and, in the light of the subsequent report by the International Rice Research Institute in September 2013 that “the Golden Rice is still under development and evaluation and is expected to take another two years before it is ready” and that there have been no attempts to offer seeds for free, on what evidence the Secretary of State's June comments were based. [HL4685]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The Secretary of State has highlighted that Golden Rice could make a real difference to people’s wellbeing in developing countries. It should not therefore be subject to ill-considered opposition, as occurred last year when field trials in the Philippines were vandalised. Golden Rice is being developed as a humanitarian project and the seeds will be donated free to countries for use by poor farmers. The Government believes that developing countries should have fair access to GM technology and make their own informed decisions regarding its use.

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister on 7 January (HC Deb, col 159) that the United Kingdom has accepted about 1,500 asylum-seekers from Syria under the United Kingdom’s international asylum obligations, how many asylum seekers have applied for leave to remain in the United Kingdom, per country, since the start of the Syrian conflict; and how those asylum claims were (1) categorised, and (2) processed.[HL4927]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Statistics detailing the number of asylum applications, per country, who have claimed since the start of the Syrian conflict can be found on the UK.gov website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tables-for-immigration-statistics-july-to-september-2013.

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Every asylum application is considered on its individual merits against up-to-date country information, relevant case law and any policy guidance specific to the type of claim. Country information itself is based on reliable sources, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other governmental sources, the UN Refugee Agency, international and national human rights organisations, and news media.

Aviation: Skyscrapers

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are satisfied that the proposed new skyscraper at Canary Wharf will not represent a safety risk to aircraft operating from London City Airport. [HL4787]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): Planning permission for a new skyscraper at Canary Wharf was granted by the Mayor of London in 2008. The Civil Aviation Authority and London City Airport were both fully consulted before planning permission was granted to ensure steps were taken to mitigate any air safety risks. I understand that that permission remains extant.

Although the original application had been turned down by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, I understand that this was not on grounds of air safety, but rather because of loss of light to neighbouring properties.

There has been some speculation in the press about a revised application for the site, although I understand that to date none has been submitted. Should such an application be made the same due process would apply. I cannot comment on the merits of any individual planning application, given my Department's quasi-judicial role in the planning process.

Bank of England

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to discuss with the Bank of England its review of its policy on forward guidance.[HL4936]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The UK's monetary policy framework, set out in the Bank of England Act 1998, gives operational responsibility for monetary policy to the independent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

The independent MPC's macroeconomic policy tools, including the deployment of forward guidance, are designed to affect the economy as a whole, in order to meet the 2 per cent inflation target over the medium term.

As set out in their August 2013 assessment, the MPC has judged that in these exceptional circumstances, explicit forward guidance can enhance the effectiveness of monetary stimulus, in part by reducing uncertainty

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about the future path of monetary policy as the economy recovers. In particular, it increases public understanding of the conditions under which the highly stimulative stance of monetary policy will be maintained.

Burma

Question

Asked by Baroness Jenkin of Kennington

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Warsi on 19 November 2013 (WA 184) and 7 January (WA 246–7), what are the details of each existing project in Burma which will be incorporated into Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI); which new PSVI projects will be undertaken in Burma; and how much funding is being allocated to each of those projects.[HL4757]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): In my previous answer to my noble Friend, I mentioned three projects.

The first of these is a project to train 60 women in Burma in basic legal skills so that they can provide advice to victims of sexual violence on how to access legal and other support services. For the second project, community leaders and local government staff in 40 target villages will participate in workshops and receive psychosocial training to gain a better understanding of their potential role in preventing sexual violence in their own community. These projects, implemented by Action Aid, aim to address some of the challenges obstructing the right of women to live free from violence in several conflict-affected areas: Kachin state; Kayah state; Rakhine state, Meiktila; and Pyapon. To these, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is providing funding of £221,000 across this financial year (2013/14) and the next (2014/15), with the UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women providing the rest of the projects’ funding.

To the third project, work with non-state armed groups relating to the wider peace process, the FCO is providing just over £97,000 across the same two financial years. In this case, the implementer has requested that we do not release further information, due to the sensitive nature of their work.

Regarding new project work on the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, the bidding round for projects for the next financial year is not yet underway.

Carbon Monoxide

Questions

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines take into account that carbon monoxide can be present in the body from sources other than cigarettes, such as faulty cooking and heating appliances in the home; and whether they will issue guidance to encourage midwives to raise awareness of the carbon monoxide risks from appliances to pregnant

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA4

women, and the case for getting those appliances serviced yearly to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.[HL4960]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence on testing pregnant women for carbon monoxide covers the eventuality that a woman in whom carbon monoxide is detected is a non-smoker; and, if so, what is that guidance.[HL4966]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) public health guidance on quitting smoking in pregnancy and following childbirth, issued in June 2010, recognises that some women with a high carbon monoxide test reading may be non-smokers, and provides advice to health care professionals accordingly. The guidance can be found at:

www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/13023/49345/49345.pdf

We have not asked NICE to produce further guidance on the dangers of carbon monoxide to pregnant women.

Coroner Services

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 20 January (WA 112), on the coroner's invitation to the Duggan family to submit their views on the use of police firearms for his consideration, whether they intend to issue guidance to coroners on the issue of inviting interested parties in coronial proceedings to comment on operational and policy matters.[HL4860]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Chief Coroner has responsibility for providing national leadership and guidance to coroners in England and Wales. Last September he issued guidance on how to draft reports to prevent future deaths. The guidance includes considering the views of interested persons.

In the Mark Duggan inquest the coroner's invitation was to all interested persons, including the Duggan family and the police, to submit suggestions for his consideration.

Dogs: Dangerous Dogs

Question

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord De Mauley on 12 June 2013 (WA 246–7) concerning attacks by dogs on protected animals, whether they will now consider collecting data on the number of attacks by dogs on protected animals, including cats.[HL5074]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): I recognise the devastating effect a dog attack can have on a protected animal such as a cat but I do not propose that the Government collect data on such attacks. It would be difficult to get reliable data on all dog attacks on cats. There is already legislation in place to enable the authorities to take action against dog owners where a dog attacks a protected animal. In addition, the powers in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, currently before Parliament and expected to receive Royal Assent soon, will help to tackle irresponsible ownership of dogs. Any data currently available is likely to be held by the relevant enforcement authorities.

Elections: National Voter Registration Day

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support National Voter Registration Day.[HL4946]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Government welcomes initiatives that promote democratic engagement. such as Bite the Ballot's National Voter Registration Day and the British Youth Council's Make Your Mark campaign.

Cabinet Office will work with national organisations that encourage people to register to vote, as during the recent Parliament Week programme Ministers met recently with Bite the Ballot and support their aims to increase voter registration

Electoral Registration

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Association of Electoral Administrators about registering United Kingdom citizens who are eligible to vote but not on the electoral register.[HL4893]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Government works closely with the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) on all aspects of Individual Electoral Registration as we prepare for the transition to this new system of electoral registration

The Government is supporting the AEA in preparing good practice guidance for Local Authorities in maximising registration.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Post Office about how they could help to register United Kingdom citizens who are eligible to vote but not on the electoral register.[HL4894]

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Government has met with a range of organisations including the Post Office, the Royal Mail and officials in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills who represent Post Office interest as part of planning for the introduction of individual electoral registration.

Whilst the Government is currently focused on using Local Authorities to target the electors not on the register, it will continue to explore the scope for further ideas with partners like the Post Office

Asked by Lord Wills

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 about electoral registration have been answered within the statutory time limits since 2010.[HL4793]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: A total of five requests for information about electoral registration were received by the Cabinet Office, three of which were from the noble Lord. Three of the five requests were answered within the statutory time limits.

Asked by Lord Mawson

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the level of fraud in electoral registration in England; and which areas of the country they consider to be of particular concern. [HL4855]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Since 2008 the Electoral Commission and the Association of Chief Police Officers have produced an annual report ‘Analysis of cases of alleged electoral fraud' which includes such consideration. The Electoral Commission also published a report on 8 January 2014 entitled ‘Electoral Fraud in the UK’ which identifies areas of particular concern.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will encourage local authorities to register United Kingdom citizens who are eligible to vote but are not on the electoral register.[HL4892]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Government recognises that Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) are best placed to determine what local activity can best drive up registration among under registered groups or specific areas of under registration.

The Government is therefore providing funding to all Local Authorities, through the £4.2 million maximising registration fund, to help them with the costs of local activities for maximising registration, during and after the transition to Individual Electoral Registration.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure the registration on the register of electors of eligible citizens who are resident overseas.[HL4944]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Government encourages all those eligible to vote overseas to register, and has made changes as part of the move to Individual Electoral

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Registration to make it easier for them to do so. The general requirement for an initial application to register as an overseas elector to be witnessed by another British citizen resident abroad is being removed, and eligible electors will be able to register online. The Government is also extending the elections timetable to give overseas electors more time to cast their votes.

Energy: Off-gas Households

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Office of Fair Trading about securing an affordable energy supply for rural households that are off the gas grid.[HL4886]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): Representatives of the Office of Fair Trading attend the Roundtable meetings chaired by my Rt. Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Energy. The Roundtable brings together Government, regulators, advisory and charitable bodies, the fuel supply industry and others to work together to improve the security and affordability of off-grid fuel supply.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the energy companies about reducing the price of electricity paid by households that are not dual fuel customers because they do not have access to the gas grid.[HL4887]

Baroness Verma: DECC Ministers regularly meet with energy supply companies to discuss a range of energy issues. Electricity prices for household consumers are a commercial matter for the companies concerned.

Energy: Paper and Online Billing

Question

Asked by Lord Lipsey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will implement the provisions of the European Union Energy Efficiency Directive regarding gas and electricity billing.[HL4998]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Government published a consultation on 13 January which set out proposals for implementing the provisions of the European Union Energy Efficiency Directive regarding gas and electricity billing:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/implementing-the-energy-efficiency-directive-provisions-on-gas-and-electrcity-billing

This consultation closes on 24 February and the Government will set out its final approach to implementation once it has considered any responses.

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Energy: Renewable Energy

Question

Asked by Lord Howell of Guildford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the European Commission's decision to withdraw binding, technology-specific, targets for renewable energy as a proportion of total energy supply.[HL4895]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Government considers that the European Commission's proposals for a 2030 climate and energy framework are a step in the right direction towards an ambitious emissions reduction target for Europe and the flexibility to achieve it in the most cost-effective way.

The Government particularly welcomes the fact that the Commission has listened to the UK's argument that countries must be allowed to decarbonise in the cheapest way possible and will continue to make the case for a technology-neutral approach which gives Member States full flexibility in meeting their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Environment: Rodenticides

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the study undertaken by the Barn Owl Trust of the presence in barn owls of rat poison.[HL5049]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): I am not aware of a recent study by the Barn Owl Trust into the presence in barn owls of rat poison. However, levels of rodenticides are monitored via the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme and the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme investigates deaths of wildlife where pesticides are implicated. I am aware of the risks posed by secondary poisoning and this is why it is important to use rodenticides lawfully and in accordance with all the conditions.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to introduce legislation to regulate second generation anticoagulant rodenticides for last resort use only.[HL5050]

Lord De Mauley: Second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) are active substances used in biocidal products and are strictly regulated under the EU Biocidal Products Regulation, which requires both approval of active substances at European Union level and individual product authorisations.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for the regulation of SGARs (and biocidal products containing them) in the UK. Where product authorisations

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are granted by HSE they include conditions or restrictions of use to ensure high levels of protection for people and the environment. However, the risks from SGARs cannot be entirely eliminated and HSE’s authorisation process recognises the need to use SGARs to protect public health, animals and infrastructure (e.g. in sewers, waste management, and urban environments) by controlling rodent populations as well as the need to reduce the risks arising from their use as far as possible.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to regulate the provision of information on all second generation anticoagulant rodenticide products.[HL5051]

Lord De Mauley: Second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) are strictly regulated under the EU Biocidal Products Regulation. Where SGARs are approved as active substances, or products containing them are authorised for biocidal uses, extensive information is made publicly and easily available free of charge by the European Chemicals Agency. SGAR-based products are only authorised for sale and use in the UK with conditions, which include that relevant information to enable safe use must be included on product labelling and in accompanying safety data sheets. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is also currently working with the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) to develop an industry-led stewardship regime for SGARs, including information provision, operator competence and monitoring to ensure responsible use.

Finance: Equity Short Selling

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the European Court of Justice judgment on the powers of the European Securities and Markets Authority to restrict equity short selling; what plans they have to challenge that judgment; and what the implications of that decision are for other challenges of decisions made by European financial regulators initiated by HM Treasury, including the power to limit bankers' bonuses.[HL4861]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The Government is disappointed that the Court of Justice of the European Union has not upheld the UK's challenge to annul Article 28 of the Short Selling Regulation. We have consistently said we want tough financial regulation that works, but any powers conferred on EU agencies must be consistent with the EU treaties and ensure legal certainty. However, this ruling bears no impact on the day-to-day application of the Regulation.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has no appeals process. Furthermore, there are no implications of this judgement to other legal challenges made on financial services regulation as other cases do not concern the same legal arguments made in this judgement and are treated independently.

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Flooding: Insurance

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many households they estimate are not covered by the insurance scheme Flood Re.[HL4926]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The Environment Agency estimates that around five million households are at risk of flooding in England. The Flood Re Scheme is designed to cover only those households most at risk of flooding, estimated to be around 500,000 properties. We expect properties at a lower risk of flooding to be able to buy insurance in the usual way, at prices lower than those offered through Flood Re.

Government Departments: Management Information Reports

Questions

Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 17 December 2013 relating to the Ministry of Defence (WA 180), whether any performance data are collated on a daily or weekly basis for Ministers or the Permanent Secretary; and, if so, what.[HL4291]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): Briefing and data to supplement the monthly performance information reviewed by the Defence Board is provided to Ministers and the Permanent Secretary as required, rather than to any set timetable.

Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 17 December 2013 relating to the Ministry of Defence (WA 180), what key performance indicators are used to review progress against the overall performance targets and objectives of the Department.[HL4292]

Lord Astor of Hever: The Ministry of Defence has a wide range of responsibilities, and the Defence Board uses a comprehensive set of information to monitor and manage performance on a regular basis. In summary, these cover the current defence priorities:

To succeed in Afghanistan.To continue to fulfil our standing commitments.To succeed in other operations we are required to undertake.To transform defence by: restructuring the Armed Forces and their capabilities; implementing the new Defence Operating Model; and delivering Defence in the most effective, efficient and sustainable way.

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We report on our performance against these priorities in our Annual Report and Accounts each year, the latest edition being available through Gov.uk:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mod-annual-report-and-accounts-201213

We have recently provided an update in our Mid Year Report to Parliament, published on 24 January:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ministry-of-defence-mid-year-progress-report

A summary of some of the numerical indicators which show aspects of our performance that can be released without compromising security is set out on page eight of the Annual Report & Accounts and updated on pages 20 and 21 of our Mid Year Report to Parliament.

Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 17 December 2013 relating to the Ministry of Justice (WA 181–2), whether any performance data are collated on a daily or weekly basis for Ministers or the Permanent Secretary; and, if so, what.[HL4373]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 17 December 2013 relating to the Ministry of Justice (WA 181–2), what key performance indicators are used to review progress against the overall performance targets and objectives of the Department.[HL4374]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Department-wide performance reports are produced on a monthly basis. Individual areas of the Department submit additional information as and when required. The Department's Business Plan sets out the Department's key targets and objectives. Alongside this, the Department has adopted a number of indicators to help the public assess its progress against the Plan. These are set out within our mid year report to Parliament, which can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ministry-of-justice-mid-year-report-to-parliament

Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Deighton on 18 December 2013 relating to the HM Treasury (WA 213–4), whether any performance data are collated on a daily or weekly basis for Ministers or the Permanent Secretary; and, if so, what.[HL4751]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): HM Treasury does not collate performance reports on a daily or weekly basis for Ministers or the Permanent Secretary.

Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Deighton on 18 December 2013 relating to HM Treasury (WA 213–4), what key performance indicators are used to review progress against the overall performance targets and objectives of the department.[HL4752]

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Lord Deighton: HM Treasury publishes its input and impact indicators to track progress against its business plan objectives set by Government. This is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmt-business-plan.

Government Departments: Payroll Services

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which organisations each Government Department allows to use payroll deduction facilities.[HL4890]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): This information is held by Departments.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to allow civil servants working in Downing Street to use payroll deduction facilities to join a credit union.[HL4891]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Prime Minister's Office is an integral part of the Cabinet Office.

Cabinet Office staff can make arrangements to contribute to a credit union via direct debit.

Health: Mental Health

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to raise awareness of mental health issues and to improve the standards of treatment available. [HL4762]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): This Government assigns the highest priority to raising awareness of mental health issues and to improving the standards of treatment available to people with mental health problems.

We have spearheaded a programme of activity to promote equal priority for physical and mental health problems. We are working with system partners in the health and social care community to move further and faster to transform care and support; in the public health community to give health and wellbeing promotion and prevention the long-overdue attention it needs; and with voluntary organisations to shift attitudes in mental health.

On 20 January 2014, the Deputy Prime Minister launched the publication of Closing the Gap: priorities for essential change in mental health services, a companion document to No health without mental health, our mental health strategy, and its implementation framework. A copy has already been placed in the Library.

Closing the Gap sets out our expectations in 25 priority areas and shows how changes at a national level as well as in local service planning and delivery will make a difference to the lives of people with mental health problems.

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA13

The 25 areas highlighted in the document do not represent the full extent of our ambition for change; they are priorities for action and progress in the next two or three years.

The Department is also funding the Time to Change campaign (led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness) with up to £16 million between 2011-12 and 2014-15.

Time to Change is a vitally important campaign to raise awareness and change attitudes and behaviour towards mental health and people with mental health problems.

The Time to Change programme works to support and empower people to talk about their mental health problems and to tackle the discrimination they face.

Houses of Parliament: Repairs

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask the Chairman of Committees whether thermal insulation and ventilation are included in the current programme of roof repairs and improvements for the Palace of Westminster. [HL4867]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): The Parliamentary Estates Department is currently managing a programme to repair and replace the cast iron roofs in the Palace of Westminster.

The first phase of this programme involved work on the cast iron roofs in Speaker's Court, during which the use of sheep wool insulation was trialled. The trial established that the use of natural insulation of this type, coupled with a specialist membrane, prevented condensation (which can lead to corrosion of the roof components). It is therefore intended that, where possible, the sheep wool insulation will be fitted when other cast iron roofs on the Parliamentary Estate are repaired as part of this programme of work. As well as managing the levels of condensation, the sheep wool insulation will reduce the amount of heat lost through the roof voids. The use of insulation does, however, require a clear roof void space and so the insulation cannot be installed in roof voids which contain plant equipment.

There are no plans to increase the amount of ventilation in the roofs on the Parliamentary Estate.

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to promote the growth in the number of affordable homes in London.[HL4764]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): The Mayor of London has oversight of strategic housing, regeneration and economic development in London. The Government has provided £1.1 billion to the Greater London Authority across 2012-13 to 2014-15 to deliver affordable housing in

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA14

London and I know that the Mayor and his team are working hard with providers to deliver London's share of the 170,000 new affordable homes in England between 2011 and 2015.

In addition, the Government is providing to the Greater London Authority £1.25 billion to support delivery of 45,000 affordable homes in London between 2015 and 2018.

Thanks to innovations like the Affordable Rent model, far larger sums of private investment will be levered in on top of the public funding. Across England, in the current spending review period, a total of £19.5 billion of public and private investment is being provided, with an additional £23 billion from 2015 to 2018.

Immigration Removal Centres: Restraint

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the suggestion by the Chief Inspector of Prisons that staff of the Geo group, which operates the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre, ignored the advice of a doctor that a Canadian citizen who subsequently died handcuffed in detention should have not been detained or deported.[HL4745]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Detention is a vital tool that helps us remove those with no right to be in the country. In 2012 more than 44,000 people were removed or voluntarily departed from the UK. But it must be used appropriately, and the unnecessary use of restraints is unacceptable. Following this incident an investigation was carried out and a number of changes have been made to ensure proper risk assessments are carried out (by contractors) in a timely way, and that restraint should only happen where absolutely necessary.

Insurance: Whiplash Claims

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to reform the medico-legal reporting associated with whiplash injuries.[HL4863]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to review the decision not to increase the small claims track limit from £1,000 to £5,000; and what assessment they have made of the impact of increasing that limit on the ability of victims of whiplash to gain access to justice in order to recover associated costs without any financial incentive to a third party.[HL4864]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Government published its response to its whiplash consultation on 23 October 2013 (https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/reducing-number-cost-whiplash/results/whiplash-response.pdf).

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA15

The response made clear that the Government's priority is to introduce a robust system for medical examinations and reporting in whiplash cases. Ministers had constructive meetings with stakeholders earlier this month to discuss the way forward and discussions with expert stakeholders will continue. The Government intends to bring forward detailed proposals in due course.

While the Government believes that there are good reasons for increasing the small claims limit, it does not propose to reconsider this issue while progress is being made in relation to medical evidence.

Internet: Identity Theft and Security

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many cases of breaches of online security, and in particular identity theft, have been experienced by HM Revenue and Customs during the last 12 months, particularly in respect of VAT accounts.[HL4786]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): HMRC takes customer confidence in their online services very seriously. The security of HMRC's online system has never been breached.

When instances arise where details of customers VAT accounts have been stolen directly from them, HMRC works with those customers to ensure that their tax affairs are not adversely affected, and we work with law enforcement partners with a view to bringing the criminals behind the thefts to justice.

HMRC's website provides taxpayers with comprehensive advice to help them reduce the risk of identity theft. When a website posing a threat to our customers is discovered, we close it down within 7.5 hours on average.

HMRC's extensive online services are best accessed by typing this address www.hmrc.gov.uk directly into an Internet Browser.

NHS England: Public Health

Question

Asked by Baroness Manzoor

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the outcome framework has been aligned between NHS England and public health systems.[HL5041]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The three Outcomes Frameworks set out high level areas for improvement for Public Health, Adult Social Care and the National Health Service. The Public Health system and NHS England have a number of shared or mutually supportive goals and this is reflected through the use of shared and complementary indicators in both the NHS and Public Health Outcomes Frameworks. This alignment of indicators provides incentives for different parts of the health and care system to work together to improve outcomes and co-ordinate services.

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NHS: Clinical Commissioning Groups

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of net reductions in Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) funding on commissioning from hospital trusts situated outside the local authority in which the relevant CCG is based; and in particular on the Newcastle Hospital Trust.[HL4773]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Government, by protecting the overall health budget for England, is allowing NHS England to ensure that every clinical commissioning group (CCG) continues to benefit from stable real-term funding for the next two years: CCGs will receive allocation growth of at least 2.14% in 2014-15 and 1.70% in 2015-16. NHS England announced CCG allocations on 17 December 2013.

Alongside these allocations, NHS England is conducting a programme of planning work across the National Health Service in conjunction with CCGs, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority. This will set in place two-year operational plans and accompanying five-year strategic plans for the health system.

As an integral part of these plans, local areas should be looking to create new, different and more integrated ways of providing health and care services to secure the continuity of sustainable high quality care for all. The Better Care Fund, set up to energise the redesign and joining-up of services, is available to turn these plans into reality.

Patients will not see services close unless clinical commissioners are satisfied, based on evidence, that they are in a position to put better, higher quality alternatives in place.

NHS: Personal Health Budgets

Questions

Asked by Lord Turnberg

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the cost of introducing personal health budgets into the National Health Service. [HL4899]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the health, social and economic benefits of the introduction of personal health budgets into the National Health Service.[HL4900]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): An impact assessment was completed in July 2013 which assessed the health,

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA17

social and economic benefits of Personal Health Budgets and the costs to the National Health Service of introducing them. The Impact Assessment was compiled using the independent evaluation of the Personal Health Budget pilot programme, which was published in November 2012 and can be found at:

www.phbe.org.uk/about_the_evaluation.php.

Passports

Question

Asked by Lord Morrow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their current position on the movement of persons to or from the United Kingdom through or from the Channel Islands; and whether a loophole exists involving the non-requirement of passports or photographic identification, which could be exploited by those involved in human trafficking.[HL4560]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The UK and the Channel Islands form part of the Common Travel Area (CTA), along with the Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland. Individuals coming into the UK or the Channel Islands are examined to see if they require leave to enter the CTA, and the policies and processes of the UK and the Channel Islands for deciding whether to grant that leave are very similar.

A person who has been examined for the purpose of immigration control when entering the Channel Islands is therefore not routinely subject to further examination for immigration purposes when travelling to the UK, and vice versa.

There is excellent co-operation between CTA partners, including the UK and the Channel Islands, to prevent abuse of the CTA by strengthening its external border. As part of this, we plan to work with the Channel Islands authorities to ensure that the implications of the Modern Slavery Bill and action plan for the Common Travel Area are fully understood.

Border Force staff receive mandatory training to help identify and tackle human trafficking, and to date we have not seen any evidence that individuals are being trafficked to the UK via the Channel Islands. However, we remain alert to the range of methods used to move people to the UK for exploitation and will act on any information received.

Police: Black and Ethnic Minority Officers

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many black and ethnic minority police officers are posted to firearms units; and at which forces they were based as at 31 December 2013.[HL4678]

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA18

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The following table contains the requested data but relates to the number of officers in post as at 31 March 2013, the most recent data.

Number of black and minority ethnic police officers (FTE)1 in the firearms-tactical2 function3 in England and Wales, by police force area, as at 31 March 2013
Firearms - Tactical

Avon & Somerset

2

Bedfordshire

2

Cambridgeshire

0

Cheshire

1

Cleveland

1

Cumbria

0

Derbyshire

0

Devon & Cornwall

0

Dorset

0

Durham

1

Dyfed-Powys

2

Essex

2

Gloucestershire

0

Greater Manchester

9

Gwent

1

Hampshire

1

Hertfordshire

1

Humberside

0

Kent

1

Lancashire

1

Leicestershire

1

Lincolnshire

0

London, City of

4

Merseyside

2

Metropolitan Police

7

Norfolk

0

Northamptonshire

0

Northumbria

4

North Wales

2

North Yorkshire

0

Nottinghamshire

2

South Wales

4

South Yorkshire

3

Staffordshire

0

Suffolk

0

Surrey

2

Sussex

2

Thames Valley

2

Warwickshire

1

West Mercia

0

West Midlands

7

West Yorkshire

7

Wiltshire

1

Total England and Wales

76

1

. This table contains full-time equivalent (FTE) figures that have been presented to the nearest whole number. Because of this, there may be a discrepancy between the total and the sum of the constituent parts.

2

. Firearms-tactical - officers who are predominantly employed in the use of firearms either as tactical advisors, trainers or in the provision of firearms support to operational incidents. Includes officers employed in Armed Response Vehicles if they are mainly employed within the force firearms unit.

3

. Staff with multiple responsibilities (or designations) are recorded under their primary role or function.

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA19

Population: Over 65s

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the number of those aged over 65 years in England in 2010; what is their estimate of those likely to be over 65 in 2030; and what is their assessment of the implications of those numbers for the National Health Service.[HL4802]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 8,062,000 people aged over 65 in England in 2010.

The ONS project that there will be 12,180,000 people aged over 65 in England in 2030.

The National Health Service needs to meet the challenges that come with an ageing population by ensuring that people can stay healthy and independent for longer, whilst providing an efficient and effective health service for all who need it. As the population ages, a close relationship between health and social care services will be required.

The Government is developing a strategy to ensure that those with the most complex needs, often older people, receive a high level of proactive care through their general practitioner practices. Strengthening the role of primary care services will improve continuity of care for those that need it the most. This will reduce the number of unnecessary hospital visits for the most vulnerable people in society whilst alleviating strain on existing services for all who may need them.

In addition, NHS England is leading work to consider how the system as a whole can best adapt to changes within society to ensure that the health service remains sustainable and productive through their Call to Action.

Scrap Metal Dealers

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when local authorities which have executive arrangements will be able to determine licences for scrap metal dealers through their non-executive licensing committees. [HL4928]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): Clarity regarding functions under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 will be provided by Regulations which the Government is preparing under the Local Government Act 2000 which make provisions about where functions are to be undertaken in authorities with executive arrangements. We will shortly undertake a soundings exercise with the Local Government Association and other parties on the draft Regulations which will provide that any functions under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 may be the responsibility of either the executive or an authority's council or committees.

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA20

Smoking: e-cigarettes

Questions

Asked by Viscount Ridley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the draft Tobacco Products Directive requires consistent delivery of nicotine for e-cigarettes but not for tobacco cigarettes.[HL4775]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the bans on the advertising of e-cigarettes proposed in the draft Tobacco Products Directive will help the promotion of these nicotine replacement products when it comes into effect.[HL4776]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have for promoting the use of e-cigarettes by smoking cessation services in the two years before the draft Tobacco Products Directive provisions on e-cigarettes comes into effect.[HL4777]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the justification for allowing over the counter nicotine replacement therapies to be sold without support; and what assessment they have made of the January 2014 research from Professor Robert West on the impact of such a strategy on the success of those giving up smoking.[HL4779]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Government wants to enable nicotine containing products, including electronic cigarettes, that meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy to be widely available to help reduce the harms from smoking, to smokers and those around them. It has recognised the potential of e-cigarettes to assist some smokers to quit.

Consistent delivery of nicotine will help to ensure that products can meet the need of smokers and that they have information to help manage their use of these products.

Any electronic cigarette product licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency for cutting down, quitting or reducing the harms of smoking could be promoted within the medicines regulatory framework. This allows products to be advertised within their licensed indication and their rational use must be promoted. Medicines regulation prohibits advertising to children.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance on tobacco harm reduction (www.nice.org.uk/PH45) recommends that health professionals should offer only licensed nicotine-containing products to people who smoke, as part of a harm-reduction strategy. Licensed products are required to demonstrate that they meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and that they are effective in reducing the harms of smoking.

There is extensive evidence around the efficacy of nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation, cutting down and for harm reduction. A Cochrane review looked at 132 trials of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), in over 40,000 people. It found evidence that all forms of NRT made it more likely that a person's attempt to quit smoking would succeed. The chances of stopping smoking were increased by 50 to 70%.

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA21

Wider availability of licensed NRT has been a priority for successive Governments with the aim of ensuring that NRT is available wherever cigarettes can bought, as well as being available on prescription.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

3 Feb 2014 : Column WA22

on 28 January (WA 195), whether the annual levy for Tier 4 (student) visa holders will be in addition to student fees or part of them.[HL5033]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The annual health surcharge for Tier 4 student visa holders applying to enter or remain in the UK for more than six months, as proposed by the Immigration Bill, will be payable in addition to student fees.