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Written Answers

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Agriculture: Genetically Modified Crops

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the genetically modified purple tomato juice to be used in a clinical trial on United Kingdom heart patients has been tested for toxicity in accordance with European Union regulations, in addition to the small-scale test on mice performed in Italy.[HL5004]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): No application has been made for the authorisation of genetically modified purple tomatoes or for their cultivation. The Government therefore does not hold any information on the composition or properties of these plants or on any toxicity tests that have been carried out on the juice from such tomatoes.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Ti-plasmid transgene cassette of genetically modified purple tomatoes contains a kanamycin resistance gene; and whether there are any antibiotic resistance genes remaining in the plants or fruit to be used for human trials.[HL5005]

Earl Howe: No application has been made for the authorisation of genetically modified purple tomatoes or for their cultivation. The Government therefore does not hold any information on the composition or properties of these plants, including the possible presence of antibiotic resistance genes.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether mRNA (transcriptome) analysis has been used to assess the possibility that genes other than the target genes for anthocyanin synthesis in genetically modified purple tomatoes would have been turned on by the two transcription factors; and, if so, what were the results.[HL5006]

Earl Howe: No application has been made for the authorisation of genetically modified purple tomatoes or for their cultivation. The Government therefore does not hold any information on the composition or properties of these plants.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the genetically modified purple tomato pulp to be used experimentally on United Kingdom heart patients will be imported from Canada as a food or a medicinal product.[HL5008]

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Earl Howe: The Government is not aware of any plans to conduct research on United Kingdom heart patients using genetically modified tomatoes.

If such products were to be marketed in the UK, they would first need to be evaluated and authorised under European Union Regulation 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed. The definition of "medicinal product" does not apply to nutritionally-enhanced foods such as this genetically modified tomato, which has been developed to produce a high level of anthocyanins.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government who will be funding the trial of genetically modified purple tomato pulp on United Kingdom heart patients; in what establishment it will take place; and who are the principal investigators.[HL5009]

Earl Howe: The Government is not aware of any plans to conduct a trial on United Kingdom heart patients using genetically modified tomatoes.

Apprenticeships

Question

Asked by Lord German

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what expenditure from the Department for Work and Pensions budget goes toward funding apprenticeships in Wales. [HL5027]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Department do not fund any external apprenticeships.

Currently in Wales, the Department has 14 internal apprentices at a cost of just over £270k.

Asylum Seekers

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to clear the backlog of asylum applications; and what progress has been made. [HL5234]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): Progress is underway to clear the backlog of asylum claims. In 2012/13, 54 per cent of initial decisions were taken within 30 days of claiming and 78 per cent within six months.

Sometimes cases will take longer than six months for an initial decision for reasons beyond our control, e.g. when we await expert medical reports or where there are issues relating to national security. But we do accept that we should be taking well over 90 per cent of initial decisions within six months in straightforward cases.

We are currently reviewing our caseworker productivity targets and the customer service standards that apply in asylum cases—as part of UK Visas and Immigration’s

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(UKVI) more general review of its customer service standards. We have also completed a recruitment campaign for both asylum caseworkers and administrative staff.

For context, it should also be noted that asylum intake is rising, and this is bound to put pressure on the system. Intake in the year to June 2013 was 18 per cent higher than year to June 2012 and in the year to September 2013 it was 14 per cent higher. It is likely that by April 2014 intake will be around 30 per cent higher than it was in 2010.

A further obstacle lies in the fact that many claims are unfounded. While some claimants will have a genuine fear of persecution, others are simply seeking to use the system to stay in the UK. This is an issue not just at the decision stage but also after refusal and appeal. Much casework effort goes into dealing with further submissions, after appeal rights are exhausted, and in removing barriers to removal in the case of failed asylum seekers. This can impact on the time we take on initial decisions, to the detriment, potentially, of genuine asylum claimants.

Asked by Lord Naseby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Sri Lankan Tamils were granted asylum in the United Kingdom in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.[HL5245]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Unfortunately we are unable to provide information detailing how many Sri Lankan Tamils were granted asylum in each year between 2006 and 2013. This is because the Home Office's Central Information Database (CID) does not distinguish by ethnic group—only nationality. This Information is only held within paper case files, which would mean this question could only be answered through a disproportionately expensive manual case search.

Details on the number or Sri Lankan's granted asylum can, however, be found on the UK.Gov site (link below).

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-statistics-january-to-march-2013/immigration-statistics-january-to-march-2013#asylum-1

Bangladesh

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the conduct and results of the recent elections in Bangladesh.[HL5280]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): As I noted in my statement of 6 January the election was called in accordance with Bangladesh’s constitution. But like others in the international community the UK is disappointed that voters in more than half the constituencies did not have the opportunity to express their will at the ballot box and that turnout in most other constituencies was low.

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The UK believes that the true mark of a mature, functioning democracy is peaceful elections that express the genuine will of the voters. We therefore encourage all political parties to work together to strengthen democratic accountability as an urgent priority and to build the willingness and capacity to hold future participatory elections without the fear of intimidation or reprisals.

BBC Trust

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 23 January (WA 151), whether they intend to facilitate a pre-appointment hearing with the relevant House of Lords select committee for the next Chairman of the BBC Trust.[HL5000]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): There are no plans to hold a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing for the chosen Chair of the BBC Trust before the relevant Lords Select Committee. However, DCMS is required to offer a pre-appointment scrutiny hearing before the relevant House of Commons committee, which in this case would be the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

Civil Nuclear Police Federation

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when Ministers last met representatives of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation; and when they next intend to do so. [HL5213]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): DECC Ministers last met representatives of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation on 18th December 2013. There are currently no confirmed dates for a further meeting.

Copyright

Question

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to defer their plans for an exception to copyright for private copying in order to take account of the outcome of the Copydan Båndkopi case at the European Court of Justice.[HL5294]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The Government considers that its plans to introduce a narrow exception to copyright for private copying are consistent with EU law, and does not intend to delay their implementation.

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Credit Unions

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Church Urban Fund’s report Money Speaks Louder than Words: credit unions and the role of the Church in tackling financial exclusion in the light of the Department of Work and Pensions’ statement that to become sustainable, the credit union sector needs to grow from one to two million members in the next five to seven years.[HL5270]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Department welcomes the report and shares the desire to see credit unions grow and become sustainable. Government has committed investment of up to £38 million in credit unions—to increase access to affordable credit for at least 1 million more people and save consumers up to £1 billion in loan repayments by March 2019.

The report reflects many of the findings of DWP's Feasibility Study, particularly around raising awareness of the services credit unions can offer. We are currently working with the Church of England on ways to support individual credit unions, raise awareness and increase membership.

Cyprus and Northern Cyprus

Question

Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with representatives of the Turkish community in Northern Cyprus prior to the recent agreement with the government of the Republic of Cyprus relating to the regulation of development in the Sovereign Base Areas; what were the outcomes of those discussions; when they took place; and with which representatives they had those discussions. [HL5180]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Arrangement was concluded following negotiations between the Governments of the UK and the Republic of Cyprus. Community representatives were not involved in those negotiations. The Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) Administration is now consulting community representatives, including Turkish Cypriots, on the implementation of the Arrangement. We are confident that these arrangements safeguard the interests of all land-owners; for example, they will be able to feed in any local concerns before the zoning process begins. The SBA Administration will also be taking into account the particular circumstances that affect Turkish Cypriot residents in the Eastern SBA.

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Deregulation Bill

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proposals they have included in their rights of way reforms in the Deregulation Bill to enable local authorities retrospectively to reject outstanding applications that have not yet resulted in an order and that do not meet any new prescribed standards introduced in that Bill.[HL5271]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): Provisions in the Deregulation Bill implement a Stakeholder Working Group recommendation for a preliminary assessment by the local authority of every application for a public right of way, and authorities will be able to reject without further consideration any applications that do not meet a prescribed standard.

In addition there is provision in the Bill for certain of the rights of way measures to be applied to applications that have not yet resulted in an order. The preliminary assessment and the ability of local authorities to reject applications that do not meet the prescribed standard are included in those measures.

Dominican Republic

Questions

Asked by Lord Griffiths of Burry Port

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 8 November 2013 (WA 82), what specific discussions the British Ambassador to the Dominican Republic and Haiti has had with the government of the Dominican Republic regarding the impact of the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic on 23 September 2013 concerning the human rights of Dominicans of Haitian ancestry in that country. [HL5162]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Our Ambassador to the Dominican Republic has had several discussions with the Government of the Dominican Republic regarding the impact of the Constitutional Court ruling, both bilaterally and together with his EU counterparts. This has included meetings with the President, Acting Foreign Minister, the President of the Electoral Commission and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Services.

Asked by Lord Griffiths of Burry Port

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 8 November 2013 (WA 82), what assessment they have made of the impact that the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic on 23 September 2013 regarding the right to nationality will have on Dominicans of Haitian ancestry; and what assessment

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they have made of the risk that Dominicans of Haitian ancestry might be left in a position of statelessness.[HL5163]

Baroness Warsi: The British Government, along with our EU partners, has expressed concern to the Government of the Dominican Republic over the potential impact of the Constitutional Court ruling on many people of foreign, primarily Haitian, descent living in the Dominican Republic. Although people of Haitian descent affected by the ruling may have a right to Haitian nationality, the challenges of exercising that right could create a situation in which they may be considered, de facto, stateless. We therefore welcome President Medina’s commitment to finding a ‘human solution’ that will avoid situations of statelessness, including through the introduction of a naturalisation law for those affected by the ruling. We continue to follow the situation closely and are engaging with the Dominican government through our Embassy in Santo Domingo.

Drugs: Prescription Medicines

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps have been taken to ensure all pharmacies in England and Wales have access to adequate supplies of medicines for prescribed use to patients.[HL5067]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the ability of independent pharmacies to compete with larger organisations in the supply of prescription medicines, particularly in respect of their ability to bulk-buy.[HL5078]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of parallel exporting of prescription medicines on public health in the United Kingdom; and what steps they are taking to rectify any problems they have identified.[HL5079]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): There is a well established United Kingdom wide network of wholesalers and distributors who deliver medicines to community pharmacies on a daily basis.

European medicines legislation specifically requires that the person who holds an authorisation to market a medicine and the relevant distributor of a medicinal product must ensure appropriate and continued supply of the product to pharmacies and other authorised suppliers, in order to meet patients’ needs. (Article 81 of European Directive 2001/83). Therefore both independent and larger organisations should have equitable access to medicines.

We are aware that delays in supply can sometimes arise due to parallel exporting of UK medicines. However most companies whose products are affected have introduced systems of allocating supplies and other contingency arrangements to ensure that UK patients have access to them. As a member of the Supply Chain Group, the Department is continuing to work

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with organisations operating in the medicines supply chain to help ensure that patients get the medicines they need. The Group has published best practice guidance on the efficient supply and distribution of medicines. The aim of all parties is that, under normal circumstances, pharmacies should receive medicines within 24 hours.

Egypt

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, on their next delegation to Cairo, they will raise concerns about the imprisonment of journalists and specifically the case of Hossam Meneai; and, if so, whether they will also make representations to the government of Egypt as to Mr Menaei’s release.[HL5197]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK government is concerned by the deterioration in Egyptian media freedom including the recent charges against Al Jazeera journalists. In a statement on 6 February the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) said:

“The UK believes a free and robust press is the bedrock of democracy. I urge the Egyptian interim government to demonstrate its commitment to an inclusive political process which allows for full freedom of expression and for journalists to operate without the fear of persecution.”

Our ambassador in Egypt has raised freedom of expression in his meetings with the Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister. We will continue to urge the Egyptian authorities to support media freedom, and raise the treatment of journalists, such as Mr Menaei.

Elderly People: Care

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that elderly people will be treated in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and receive the necessary care.[HL4919]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Care Bill consolidates existing care and support legislation into a single, unified, modern statute and refocuses the law on the person, rather than the service. It also introduces a new adult safeguarding framework.

The Bill will give the Care Quality Commission (CQC) the ability to tackle problems with the quality of care more effectively. It also strengthens existing regulatory powers to assist the CQC in ensuring appropriate standards of care.

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The CQC is already bound by the Human Rights Act, which has a general obligation to ensure appropriate standards of care, equivalent to the standards within the European Convention on Human Rights. The CQC’s obligations relate to all individuals who receive regulated care and support and not just those whose care is publicly arranged.

However, this does not mean that, in the instances when care falls below such standards, the Human Rights Act is always the appropriate means by which to seek redress. The CQC has powers to do this through monitoring and reviews and subsequent civil or criminal action if necessary. In addition, the State has powers through the criminal justice system and the individual has avenues of redress in contract and tort law.

Employment: Commonwealth Professionals

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to easing the requirements for professionals from Commonwealth countries to be able to live and work in the United Kingdom. [HL5223]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): Commonwealth professionals already benefit from a variety of routes to work in the UK.

Like all non-EEA nationals, Commonwealth nationals may apply to work in the UK if they have a graduate level job from a licensed Sponsor, who has been unable to fill that job from the resident labour market.

Over 27,000 UK employers are licensed Sponsors and in the year ending September 2013, we issued 64,414 visas to Commonwealth nationals to work in the UK.

In addition to the usual visa routes, the UK Ancestry route allows Commonwealth citizens with a UK-born grandparent to come to work in the UK.

Some Commonwealth countries (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) also benefit from the reciprocal Youth Mobility Scheme which allows young people (aged 18-30) from participating countries to experience life and work in the UK.

The Government does not plan to make significant changes to these arrangements, although we regularly keep them under review.

Employment: Migrants

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to increase employment opportunities for migrants who cannot speak English.[HL5124]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We expect all new job seeker's allowance and UC claimants to have a level of English which enables them to compete and be successful in the UK labour market.

To enable new claimants to fulfil their obligations under the Claimant Commitment and the requirement to be available for and actively seeking work, this means being able to speak some English.

From April 2014 JSA and UC (full conditionality) claimants will have their English language skills tested. Where ability falls below Entry Level 2, they will be required to attend training.

Environment: Rights of Way

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to implement the 2026 cut-off for recording historical public rights of way, introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.[HL5227]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): We are currently working on a package of reforms to rights of way legislation, developed by a Stakeholder Working Group, which we believe will bring benefits to all involved in public rights of way. The first of the Working Group’s recommendations is that the 2026 cut-off provisions should be implemented. The Group’s report makes it clear that their agreement is contingent on the whole package of proposals described in the report being implemented.

We are progressing implementation of those proposals that require primary legislation through the Deregulation Bill, with a view to delivering the whole package during the lifetime of this Parliament. This would include commencement of the cut-off provisions.

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proposals they have included in their rights of way reforms in the Deregulation Bill to ensure that landowners are informed about any applications to have a public right of way recorded that would affect their land. [HL5228]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proposals they have included in their rights of way reforms in the Deregulation Bill to ensure that applications to have a public right of way recorded are dealt with promptly.[HL5229]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): Provisions in the Deregulation Bill implement a Stakeholder Working Group recommendation that it should be the local authority and not the applicant that approaches landowners and occupiers. The authority will be required to notify every owner and occupier of any land to which the application relates, stating that an application has been made and the authority is considering it.

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Guidance will require authorities to informally explain to landowners and occupiers, at an early stage the process, how the case will be dealt with.

This will be only where the application is good enough to pass a preliminary assessment by the local authority. Authorities will be able to reject without further consideration any applications that do not meet a prescribed standard.

Another recommendation is for a right to appeal to the magistrates’ court for anyone who has made an application to record a public right of way, where the local authority has not decided the application within 12 months of receiving it.

The magistrates’ court may direct the authority to take certain steps in relation to the application within a reasonable period. This right of application to the magistrates’ court will also be available to any landowner or occupier to which the application relates. It will not be available where the authority has already used its new power to reject the application after a preliminary assessment.

Equality

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of current levels of discriminatory treatment of people on the grounds of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and sexuality in the United Kingdom; and what action they are taking in response.[HL4756]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is Great Britain’s National Equality Body with a statutory remit to promote and monitor human rights, and to protect, enforce and promote equality. The EHRC has a duty to monitor progress in society at least every 5 years against the aims of the equalities and human rights duties set out in the Equality Act 2006, and in doing so, to consult with relevant persons. The Commission’s first report—“How Fair Is Britain?” was published in 2010 and is available through the following link— http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/key-projects/how-fair-is-britain/full-report-and-evidence-downloads/ or in the Libraries of both Houses. The next review is due in 2015.

Eurozone

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the call by the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, for a Eurozone parliament.[HL5201]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK has always been clear that the Eurozone must have the right governance and structures to address its current challenges and to secure its long-term stability. However, we need

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to ensure that whatever new arrangements are established work for those outside the Eurozone as well as for those within it, and protect the integrity of the Single Market. We would consider any formal proposal in line with this.

Finance: Loans

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether regulators have been alerted to any cases of alleged mis-selling by banks of loans under the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme.[HL5185]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): Regulators have not advised the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) that they have received any allegations.

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme provides a guarantee to banks and other lenders to enable them to provide finance in cases which they would otherwise decline due to the borrower having insufficient security. The loan is provided according to the lender’s standard terms of business and the borrower is required to sign a declaration confirming that they understand that the presence of the EFG guarantee does not remove or reduce their liability for the debt.

The recent allegations of “mis-selling” of the scheme appear to relate to disputes between small business borrowers and their banks regarding the structuring of their borrowings and the treatment of outstanding debts following the businesses ceasing to trade.

Flooding

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the volume of raw sewage entering the flood-waters on the Somerset Levels and the effects on (1) public health, and (2) the environment and ecology of the area.[HL5043]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): No assessment of the volume of raw sewage entering the Somerset Levels has been undertaken. Where there is raw sewage entering floodwaters the diluting and dispersing of potential sources of infection by flood water significantly reduces any risk.

There are no high risk enteric infectious diseases naturally endemic in the human population of the UK (e.g. cholera, typhoid); and the relative risks to people from bacterial contamination of flood water is therefore low, especially if public health advice is followed.

I understand that Somerset County Council in conjunction with others locally, including Wessex Water, has made sure that water sampling is being undertaken in affected areas to identify any possible public health

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risk. Locally they have convened a Scientific, Technical Advisory Committee to ensure that any necessary mitigation measures that are put in place are coordinated and shared with all local partners.

With regard to the environment and the ecology, the nature conservation sites on the Somerset Levels and Moors are routinely flooded in winter and recover naturally. The effect of the current extreme event is unlikely to have any significant additional long-term effects.

Winter floodwaters would normally carry a nutrient load. Nutrient pollution can have an impact on wildlife and habitats on the Levels. The major source of nutrients under normal conditions is treated sewage effluent and other inputs coming from diffuse water pollution from agriculture. These sources of pollution are being addressed by water industry water quality schemes and initiatives such as Catchment Sensitive Farming.

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment has been made by their scientific advisers of the long-term impact on farming of standing water in the Somerset Levels.[HL5044]

Lord De Mauley: There has been no direct assessment of the long-term impact on farming of standing water in the Somerset Levels. However, there have been a number of pieces of research funded by Defra and the Environment Agency to assess the impact of flooding on agriculture, particularly following the floods of 2007. These include:-

- A study of the impacts of Summer 2007 floods on agriculture in England, jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Environment Agency and Commission for Rural Communities, was undertaken by Cranfield University following the floods in 2007. A summary of the study can be found at:

http://tmm.codecircus.co.uk/assets/764/ImpactOfFlood_FINAL.pdf

- A study, prepared for Defra by ADAS Boxworth, considered the Impact of 2007 Summer floods on agriculture. This was published in December 2009 and a copy can be found here:

http://archive.defra.gov.uk/evidence/economics/foodfarm/reports/documents/Impactofsummerfloods.pdf

Defra is currently funding a project looking at the impact of prolonged waterlogging on soil function based on the wet summer of 2012 and winter of 2012/2013. This will be reporting in April, though it does not focus specifically on the situation in Somerset. Details of the project can be found here at:-

http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location= None&ProjectID=18794&FromSearch=Y&Publisher=1& SearchText=sp1316&SortString=ProjectCode&SortOrder =Asc&Paging=10#Description

An action plan for the sustainable future of the Moors and Levels is currently being developed by Defra, in partnership with local organisations in Somerset, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Other Government Departments over the next six weeks.

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The impacts of standing water on farming may also be considered as part of the plan.

Gambling

Questions

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are receiving full co-operation from the gambling industry in their study into the impact of fixed-odds betting terminals in high-street betting shops. [HL5135]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): The Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities has required full co-operation from the betting industry to understand the impact of category B2 gaming machines in high-street betting shops. The Government has made it clear that if the existing knowledge gaps in relation to these machines cannot be closed the case for precautionary measures is significantly stronger.

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to review the pre-watershed advertising of bingo websites.[HL5136]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The Government is working closely with the Gambling Commission, the Advertising Standards Authority and Ofcom to consider the growth and audience of remote gambling advertising on television, including online bingo, and what impact it may be having on the licensing objectives of the Gambling Act.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Lord Turnberg

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have had discussions with the Palestinian Authority about the delays imposed by its Ministry of Health on the transfer of medical supplies to Gaza. [HL5058]

Baroness Northover (LD): Although we are aware that there have been delays, we do not believe that any such delays can be said to have been imposed by the Ministry of Health.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what immediate action they have discussed with the government of Israel and the European Union in order to get drinking water to the inhabitants of Gaza.[HL5087]

Baroness Northover: DfID regularly raises with our Israeli and EU counterparts the importance of providing access to clean drinking water for the inhabitants of Gaza. We work closely with the EU to monitor and assess humanitarian needs in Gaza, including access to drinking water. The EU is currently supporting water and sanitation programmes in Gaza and discussions are ongoing regarding the construction of a desalination plant, the viability of which will be determined by a sustainable power supply. The UK recently agreed to

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provide a further £10 million of support to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which includes improving access to clean water for over 60,000 people, including through building wastewater plants in Gaza.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take to encourage accountability in Gaza; and whether they support the trial in international courts of soldiers and militants on both sides suspected of violations of international law.[HL5089]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK supports accountability for violations of international humanitarian law. In this context we have repeatedly pressed Israel to implement the recommendations set out in the Turkel Commission’s report on “Israel’s Mechanisms for Examining and Investigating Complaints and Claims of Violations of the Laws of Armed Conflict According to International Law”.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had, or plan to have, with the government of Israel about allowing into Gaza building materials to complete United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East projects which have been approved by the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.[HL5104]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to organise a demarche from all states contributing to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to the government of Israel concerning (1) the rate of approval of new projects in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, (2) the costs incurred by UNRWA when importing materials into Gaza, and (3) whether UNRWA should receive any reimbursement from the government of Israel of costs incurred while importing materials into Gaza. [HL5105]

Baroness Northover: We are deeply concerned by the detrimental effect that restrictions on access of construction materials into Gaza are having on the local populace. The November meeting of the Advisory Commission of UNRWA highlighted the issue of the cost and availability of construction materials for international projects in Gaza. We regularly urge the Israeli Government to ease restrictions on construction materials for both international projects and the private sector.

Government Departments: Asbestos

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 4 February (WA 30–1), whether the occupants of Service Families' Accommodation that is known to

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contain asbestos are systematically informed of that fact, and of the outcome of the regular inspections undertaken of such premises.[HL5266]

Lord Wigley (PC): Occupants of service family accommodation are entitled to see asbestos reports relating to their homes and may request these at any time. However these reports are not automatically made available to occupants.

Health: Mesothelioma

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the statistical breakdown of the occupations of the 2,200 British citizens who are reported to die annually from mesothelioma.[HL5095]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The latest available analysis of citizens dying from Mesothelioma in Great Britain is based on deaths between 2002 and 2010 at ages 16-74. Only the last occupation of the deceased is routinely recorded.

Observed deaths are shown in the table below for all occupation groups with more than 20 deaths observed.

It is important to note that, for those Mesothelioma cases that were caused by occupational exposure, the last occupation of the deceased which is recorded on the death certificate may not reflect the source of exposure due to the long latency of the disease.

Table 1: Number of mesothelioma deaths for males aged 16-74 in Great Britain 2002-2010
Occupation description (for occupations with at least 20 deaths observed)Observed Deaths

Production, works & maintenance managers

113

Managers in construction

128

Marketing & sales managers

87

Financial institution managers

27

Transport & distribution managers

30

Storage & warehouse managers

23

Retail & wholesale managers

25

Publicans & managers of licensed premises

25

Property, housing & land managers

31

Shopkeepers & wholesale/retail dealers

69

Managers & proprietors in other services n.e.c.

184

Civil engineers

36

Mechanical engineers

38

Design & development engineers

27

Planning & quality control engineers

25

Engineering professionals n.e.c.

28

Further education teaching professionals

35

Secondary education teaching professionals

58

Chartered surveyors (not quantity surveyors)

47

Science & engineering technicians n.e.c.

44

Draughtspersons

45

NCOs & other ranks

48

Police officers (sergeant & below)

46

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA123

Fire service officers (leading fire officer & below)

32

Ship & hovercraft officers

22

Estimators, valuers & assessors

22

Sales representatives

54

Occupational hygienists & safety officers (health & safety)

20

Civil Service administrative officers & assistants

52

Accounts & wages clerks, book-keepers, other financial clerks

34

General office assistants/clerks

31

Farmers

26

Gardeners & groundsmen/groundswomen

58

Sheet metal workers

80

Metal plate workers, shipwrights, riveters

91

Welding trades

113

Pipe fitters

64

Metal machining setters & setter-operators

22

Tool makers, tool fitters & markers-out

28

Metal working production & maintenance fitters

399

Precision instrument makers & repairers

27

Motor mechanics, auto engineers

43

Vehicle body builders & repairers

42

Electricians, electrical fitters

670

Telecommunications engineers

45

Electrical/electronics engineers n.e.c.

54

Steel erectors

20

Bricklayers, masons

74

Roofers, roof tilers & slaters

42

Plumbers, heating & ventilating engineers

414

Carpenters & joiners

857

Construction trades n.e.c.

390

Plasterers

52

Floorers & wall tilers

34

Painters & decorators

320

Printers

25

Furniture makers, other craft woodworkers

39

Care assistants & home carers

23

Caretakers

65

Sales & retail assistants

26

Chemical & related process operatives

30

Paper & wood machine operatives

27

Coal mine operatives

35

Energy plant operatives

52

Metal working machine operatives

347

Plant & machine operatives n.e.c.

86

Routine inspectors & testers

40

Scaffolders, stagers, riggers

50

Construction operatives n.e.c.

112

Heavy goods vehicle drivers

180

Van drivers

98

Bus & coach drivers

50

Taxi, cab drivers & chauffeurs

77

Seafarers (merchant navy); barge, lighter & boat operatives

21

Fork-lift truck drivers

40

Mobile machine drivers & operatives n.e.c.

20

Labourers in building & woodworking trades

202

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Labourers in other construction trades n.e.c.

55

Labourers in process & plant operations n.e.c.

172

Stevedores, dockers & slingers

42

Other goods handling & storage occupations n.e.c.

112

Postal workers, mail sorters, messengers, couriers

56

Cleaners, domestics

36

Security guards & related occupations

65

Occupations with less than 20 deaths combined.

1404

Total male deaths aged 16-74

9038

Table 2: Number of mesothelioma deaths for females aged 16-74 in Great Britain 2002-2010
Occupation description (for occupations with at least 20 deaths observed)Observed Deaths

Primary & nursery education teaching professionals

53

Nurses

52

Accounts & wages clerks, book-keepers, other financial clerks

38

General office assistants/clerks

68

Personal assistants & other secretaries

75

Receptionists

22

Chefs, cooks

22

Care assistants & home carers

67

Sales & retail assistants

94

Sewing machinists

38

Labourers in process & plant operations n.e.c.

65

Kitchen & catering assistants

23

Cleaners, domestics

115

Occupations with less than 20 deaths combined.

603

Total female deaths aged 16-74

1335

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many of the annual fatalities caused by mesothelioma involve former members of the armed forces; what data are kept on the cause of death of former servicemen; and what research they plan to commission into the incidence of mesothelioma amongst former servicemen. [HL5096]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): Data on the number of annual fatalities caused by mesothelioma does not identify those who were former members of the Armed Forces.

The causes of death amongst certain groups of serving and former personnel (e.g. veterans of the 1982 Falklands Campaign and the 1990/91 Gulf Conflict), are collected, and released annually by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Defence Statistics.

Defence Statistics is also currently undertaking a study of all serving members of the Armed Forces from 2003 (when operations began in Iraq) until the

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA125

end of operations in Afghanistan, with a view to analysing the eventual cause of death of the entire cohort. Defence Statistics expects to publish the initial results of the study towards the end of 2014.

The MOD has no plans to commission research into the incidence of mesothelioma amongst former Service Personnel.

Health: Public Health England

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the remainder of the Advisory Board of Public Health England has yet been appointed; and if so, how many of the new members are women.[HL5130]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The recruitment process for two further non-executive members to Public Health England’s Advisory Board has concluded. The recommendations of the selection panel are currently with Ministers who will make the final decision.

Higher Education: Escort Services

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with university authorities concerning escorts working from university campuses.[HL5139]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with university authorities concerning university students advertising escort services on the internet.[HL5140]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with university authorities concerning university students working as escorts meeting clients on campuses.[HL5141]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): We have had no discussions with universities about these issues. As independent and autonomous bodies, higher education institutions are responsible for all matters relating to the operation of their institution, including responsibility for student conduct. It is for universities to decide whether any conduct needs reporting to the police. There is also a long-established principle that universities have a duty of care to their students.  Each institution will determine what arrangements they need to ensure the welfare of all their students.

Higher Education: University Status

Questions

Asked by Baroness Bakewell

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many educational institutions in the United Kingdom are currently seeking university status.[HL5188]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many educational institutions in the United Kingdom seeking university status belong within a chain of such establishments.[HL5189]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many educational institutions in the United Kingdom seeking university status are for profit.[HL5190]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many students within educational institutions in the United Kingdom seeking university status are in receipt of state financial support.[HL5191]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): An organisation wishing to apply for approval to use the title ‘university’ in England must:

• have been granted powers to award taught degrees• normally have at least 1,000 full time equivalent higher education students, of whom at least 750 are registered on degree courses (including foundation degree programmes), and the number of full time equivalent higher education students must exceed 55% of the total number of full time equivalent students • be able to demonstrate that it has regard to the principles of good governance as are relevant to its sector

There are no applications currently under consideration.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they regularly receive reports from international non-governmental organisations or private sector organisations evaluating human rights and political risk in different countries.[HL5244]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Government regularly receive reports from international non-governmental organisations and private sector organisations evaluating human rights.

Human Trafficking

Questions

Asked by Lord Eames

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of the Republic of Ireland concerning the movement of victims of human trafficking across the land frontiers with Northern Ireland.[HL5023]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the current level of movement of victims of human trafficking into the United Kingdom across the border with the Republic of Ireland. [HL5024]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the level of co-operation between police authorities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland where human trafficking is concerned. [HL5025]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the current number of victims of human trafficking gaining entry to the United Kingdom from the Republic of Ireland.[HL5026]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, and Channel Islands form part the Common Travel Area (CTA). Border checks for immigration purposes are not routinely conducted within the CTA nor are estimates made of the movement of persons between CTA signatories.

However, there is excellent co-operation between CTA signatories, including the UK and Ireland, to prevent abuse of the CTA by strengthening its external border, including through increased alignment of border processes. Border Force staff receive mandatory training to help identify and tackle human trafficking, and will act on any information related to persons being moved to the UK from Ireland for exploitation. We plan to work with the Irish authorities to ensure that the implications of the Modern Slavery Bill for the CTA are fully understood. The UK also has regular discussions on all aspects of human trafficking with other EU governments, including Ireland, in multilateral fora.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they have paused decision-making on immigration cases relating to spouses or partners where applications would be refused solely because the rules relating to the minimum income threshold are not met; what action they are taking to avoid a backlog of such cases; when decision-making on such cases is likely to resume; and how many cases have been on hold since July 2012.[HL5264]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): Since 5 July 2013 High Court judgment in MM and Others, against which the Home Office is appealing, applications have been put on hold where grounds relating to the income threshold would be the sole basis for refusal. They will remain on hold until the case has been finally determined by the courts. The Home Office intends to publish information on the number of applications put on hold on the Home Office immigration website.

Immigration Removal Centres

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps have been taken at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre to comply with the recommendations

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA128

of HM Inspectorate of Prisons following an unannounced inspection on 5–16 August 2013, particularly that which concerns Rule 35.[HL5174]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): The performance by GEO, the contractor running Harmondsworth, has been below the high standard expected.

The Home Office has already taken a range of actions to address the areas of immediate concern. Contractors have been reminded of the appropriate use of handcuffs and a specific instruction will be issued for the management of detainees who have been hospitalised. The Home Office has also instigated a new process to notify case owners when detainees are moved to hospital to ensure that detention remains appropriate. There is a new healthcare provider and the Home Office is working closely with them to ensure that a safe and comprehensive service is provided.

The Home Office’s Quality Audit Team will carry out a further audit of Rule 35 processes early in the new financial year.

A Service Improvement Plan will address each recommendation and outline what action will be taken. This will be published within two months of the inspection. Thereafter, the Home Office has 18 months to effect the improvements

Immigration Removal Centres: Restraint

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following reports of the death while in handcuffs of Alois Dvorzac at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre, whether they will review procedures for restraining elderly, vulnerable and incapacitated detainees.[HL4704]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The use of restraint in this case was completely unjustified and such action must not be repeated in similar circumstances. The independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman is investigating the circumstances of Mr Dvorzac's death. The Home Office will carefully consider the findings of the Ombudsman’s report. Firm instructions have been issued making clear that restraint should only happen where a risk assessment judges that it is absolutely necessary.

Internet: Freeview and 4G

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the at800 service in resolving the loss of television signal on Freeview following the extension of the 4G mobile network at 800MHz.[HL4972]

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA129

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): at800 reports on its performance to the 4G TV Coexistence Oversight Board which was established by DCMS. The independent Chair, appointed by DCMS, sends a report of each Board meeting to the Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries. Copies of Board meeting reports are available on the gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/government/policy-advisory-groups/4gtv-co-existence-oversight-board . The incidences of interference are much lower than expected; at the Board meeting in January, at800 confirmed 772 cases of 4G interference, excluding the 35 cases found within the pilots.

Internet: Young People

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the death of Tallulah Wilson, how they plan to protect young people from inappropriate content online.[HL4921]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): The Government takes the issue of child safety online very seriously and has engaged intensively with industry; as a result we have set out a series of measures to help parents keep children safe online. The four main ISPs have committed to giving their customers an easy way to install family friendly filters that will protect all devices in the home. These allow parents to prevent their children from accessing potentially harmful content.

In addition, the new national curriculum will see children aged 5 to 16 taught about internet safety in a sensible, age-appropriate way, a really important step to help children and young people understand some of the issues.

However, there is no silver bullet and social media sites and users also need to take responsibility. If individuals are having conversations about harming themselves, then both social media sites and other users should point them to places where they can get help.

We have been clear that we expect social media companies to respond quickly to incidents of abusive behaviour on their networks. This includes having easy to use reporting tools, robust processes in place to respond promptly when abuse is reported and where appropriate, suspending or terminating the accounts of those who do not comply with the acceptable use policies. We will shortly be inviting a number of social media companies to come and discuss with us what more might be done to protect young people when they are online.

Iran

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of changes to the rate of executions in Iran since the election of President Rouhani; how many executions they estimate to have taken place in 2013 (1) before the election of President

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA130

Rouhani, and (2) after his election; how many they estimate to have taken place so far in 2014; and what impact the rate of executions will have on the new negotiations with that country.[HL5177]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Reports of a rise in the number of executions since the election of President Rouhani are deeply disturbing. Estimates of the numbers vary, but there were at least 400 executions in 2013, including up to 200 since President Rouhani’s election. Reports suggest there were up to 50 executions in January 2014 alone. The UK opposes the death penalty as a matter of principle. We will continue to raise our concerns about the number of executions in Iran.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what benefits have been achieved for United Kingdom citizens or the citizens of Iran since the appointment of a United Kingdom chargé d’affaires; whether a resumption of full diplomatic contacts with the Iranian regime is contemplated; and what is the current situation relating to reciprocal activity. [HL5178]

Baroness Warsi: The appointment of non-resident Chargés d’Affaires enables the UK and Iran to have more regular discussions on issues of mutual interest. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has made clear that we are open to continued improvements in our bilateral relationship on a step by step and reciprocal basis. Progress is being made, but we will not have a diplomatic presence in Tehran until we have confidence that Iran will abide by its obligations to protect our staff and that our mission would be allowed to carry out its normal functions.

Iraq: Camp Liberty

Questions

Asked by Lord Eden of Winton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were their most recent representations made to the governments of Iraq and Iran concerning aggression against the inhabitants of Camp Liberty in Iraq; and whether they have received in reply any commitments or undertakings from those governments. [HL5158]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Our Embassy in Baghdad raised the 26 December attack on Camp Liberty with the Government of Iraq in January. We understand that an investigation has been launched into the attack. The Foreign Secretary raised security at the Camp when he met the Iraqi Foreign Minister in November in London. We have not made representations to the Iranian government about the situation at Camp Liberty.

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA131

Asked by Lord Eden of Winton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they support the proposition that a United Nations Force should be sent to Camp Liberty for the protection of its inhabitants; and if not, why not.[HL5159]

Baroness Warsi: We do not support calls for United Nations military personnel to be stationed at Camp Liberty. The Government of Iraq, as the sovereign Government, is responsible for security at the camp.

Iraq: Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when it is intended to transfer the 72 Iranian refugees from Camps Liberty and Ashraf who have been identified as eligible to reside in the United Kingdom. [HL5179]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): None of the 52 residents of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty who were previously settled in the UK as refugees have any current immigration status here or entitlement to re-admission. We have agreed to consider their re-admission, exceptionally, subject to an assessment of each individual to ensure that none has been complicit in acts of terrorism or other activities incompatible with refugee status. Thus far, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has submitted 17 individual cases to the Home Office. No decisions have yet been reached.

Israel

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the government of Israel for the early release and trial of the following individuals from the village of Hares in the West Bank who have been in custody since March 2013: (1) Ali Shamlawi, (2) Mohamed Kleit, (3) Mohamed Mehdi Suleiman, (4) Tamer Souf, and (5) Ammar Souf.[HL5106]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv met with the Israeli Defence Force and the Israeli Ministry of Justice on 27 January to raise our concerns over the cases of the five boys from Hares village currently in Israeli detention.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they provided any funding for the residential and other structures which the Israel Defence Force (IDF) demolished on 26 January in the Bedouin villages of Ibziq and Khirbet Yarza; and what recent

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA132

discussions they have held with the government of Israel concerning reparations for IDF demolition of European Union-funded structures.[HL5252]

Baroness Warsi: The UK has not provided funding for any of the structures demolished by the Israel Defence Force on 26 January.

The Government has not had any discussions with the Israeli authorities over reparations for demolitions of EU funded structures, as this is a matter for the EU.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel concerning the recent death of Mohammed Mubarak.[HL5254]

Baroness Warsi: Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have not made representations on this specific case.

Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Israel concerning Palestinian children killed by the Israeli Defence Force in 2013; and what effect, if any, their discussions concerning the use of live fire have had in limiting fatalities.[HL5084]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We frequently raise their policing of Palestinian protests and the use of live fire which have led to the deaths of Palestinians including children, with the Israeli authorities. The fact that we continue to raise the issue at high levels is indicative of our disappointment that we have yet to see significant changes in the approach adopted by the Israeli security forces.

Recent contact includes written correspondence between our Ambassador in Tel Aviv and the Israeli Ministry of Defence, and discussions between our Embassy officials and the Israeli National Security Council and the Israeli Office for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) on 16 January. It was also an issue we raised during Israel’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council on 29 October.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of elected parliamentarians of the Palestinian Legislative Council currently held in Israeli prisons.[HL5086]

Baroness Warsi: According to the Palestinian human rights organisation Addameer, the number of elected Palestinian parliamentarians currently being held in Israeli prisons as of December 2013 is 14.

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA133

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their policy objectives in respect of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank.[HL5253]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Our policy on settlements is that they are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. We warmly welcome the resumption of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, which US Secretary of State John Kerry has confirmed are to cover all final status issues, including borders and settlements.

Kuwait

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made about the situation of the stateless bidoon of Kuwait; on what occasions they have raised the matter with the government of Kuwait; and what further measures they consider should be taken by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to eliminate statelessness of the bidoon in Kuwait and other Gulf countries. [HL5175]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Kuwaiti government has made clear that it is seeking to find a long term solution to the issue of the stateless Bidoon in Kuwait. We regularly encourage the Government of Kuwait to tackle the subject, swiftly and in a transparent and equitable manner, most recently when the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Mr Robertson), discussed it at the UK-Kuwait Joint Steering Group in November. We judge that these are the most effective fora in which to address the subject. We have not specifically discussed the issue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Lord’s Resistance Army

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in curbing the Lords Resistance Army and in bringing Joseph Kony to justice. [HL5170]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Since the inception of the African Union’s (AU) Regional Cooperation Initiative

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA134

(RCI) in 2011, incremental progress has been made against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) with the number of people displaced by their activity reduced by over 30%. This sustained pressure has also meant that the number of LRA fighters continues to decline. Most recently, 19 LRA defectors came out of the bush in the Central African Republic on 6 December.

The UK has consistently promoted a co-ordinated regional and international approach to defeating the LRA. We lead this work in the United Nations (UN) Security Council. We continue to encourage the UN and AU to implement their counter-LRA strategies in full and bring Kony to justice.

Mental Health: Eating Disorders

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what provision they make for those suffering eating disorders. [HL5148]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Government takes the issue of eating disorders, especially among young people, very seriously. Children and young people’s mental health is a priority for this Government, as we know that half of those with lifetime mental illness first experience symptoms by the age of 14, and three-quarters before their mid-20s.

We are investing £54 million into improving access to mental health treatments through the Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT) programme. CYP IAPT provides training in a number of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved psychological therapies including Systemic Family Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy. These therapies support families and address some of the major mental health problems of adolescence including eating disorders.

Additionally, NICE published guidance on core interventions in the treatment and management of eating disorders in 2004.

We are also working with internet security companies, charities and departments to explore how to protect children and young people from harmful internet content related to eating disorders.

NHS England has a clinical reference group (CRG) specific to specialised services for eating disorders. The CRG has developed a national service specification which covers intensive treatments (inpatient and intensive day-patients) and some outreach/outpatient work for adults with very severe and intractable eating disorders. The aims of the service are to limit the physical and psychiatric morbidity, social disability and mortality levels caused by eating disorders, effectively treat people with very complex eating disorders and/or severe morbidity and minimise the length of time between referral and admission to the inpatient service.

All patients will be managed with a care programme approach.

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National Ugly Mugs Scheme

Questions

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the trial of the National Ugly Mugs scheme funded by the Home Office has been evaluated; and, if so, what the findings of that evaluation were.[HL5214]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many violent offenders were identified and arrested as a direct result of the National Ugly Mugs project; and whether any successful prosecutions have been brought as a result.[HL5215]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): The National Ugly Mugs Scheme is a national mechanism for reporting crimes committed against people involved in prostitution. The Home Office funded pilot ran from April 2012 to March 2013, co-ordinated by the UK Network of Sex Worker Projects. The evaluation of the pilot is available on their website: uknswp.org. The Home Office does not collate figures on identification, arrests, or prosecutions as a direct result of the National Ugly Mugs Pilot Scheme.

NHS: Clinical Commissioning Groups

Question

Asked by Baroness Manzoor

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what mechanisms have been put in place between clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities to demonstrate how CCGs will access local public health services. [HL5042]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Health and Social Care Act 2012 gave local authorities in England the responsibility for taking appropriate steps to improve public health in their areas. It gave clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) a duty to obtain advice on the protection or improvement of public health, and regulations made under the Act require local authorities to provide public health advice to CCGs.

The 2012 Act also established health and wellbeing boards as a key mechanism for all local health and care leaders, including CCGs and local authority directors of public health, to come together to improve the health and wellbeing of their local population and to reduce health inequalities. Health and wellbeing board members should be collaborating to understand their local community's needs, agree priorities, and encourage commissioners to work in a more joined-up way. We would expect local health and wellbeing boards to evaluate access to local public health services, based on their joint strategic needs assessment and joint health and wellbeing strategies, and to agree their collective approach.

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NHS: Data

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the NHS data share plan; and how they propose in the light of that plan to protect citizens' privacy.[HL5161]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): NHS England’s ‘Better information means better care’ leaflet sets out how the National Health Service will improve the quality of care and health services for all by using information about the care received.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has published a privacy impact assessment for all the personal data it processes and for the care.data programme which details how an individual’s privacy will be protected.

The HSCIC collects information from a range of places such as a patient’s general practitioner practice, hospitals and community services. The HSCIC has been established to be the secure environment in which personal confidential data is held and analysed. The HSCIC is legally bound to maintain confidentiality and to ensure confidential information is held securely. There are very strict rules about what information the HSCIC can release to the NHS and outside organisations, for example, access to the information is restricted to the specific information necessary for the research. All approvals must demonstrate compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Information can be released in three ways:

— Non-identifiable data (aggregated or completely anonymised data) are published openly after removing all identifiers and removing details of any rare conditions or combinations of characteristics;— Potentially identifiable data (pseudonymised data) are made available under legal contract to approved analysts for purposes that will benefit patient care; and— Identifiable information (personal confidential data) are made available to named individuals only where explicit consent has been given, such as agreement to participate in a research study, or there is a legal basis for doing so.

NHS: Hospital Fatalities

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to take steps to ensure that National Health Service staff are required to co-operate with the police in the investigation of deaths in hospitals. [HL5014]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): NHS England’s existing Serious Incident Framework makes clear the importance of full co-operation of National Health Service organisations with any external investigations of serious

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incidents, which include unexpected or avoidable deaths, including police investigations. The Framework states that “Providers should.. .collaborate with external scrutiny of investigations and any remedial work required following investigations, including full and open exchange of information with other investigatory agencies such as the police, Health & Safety Executive, Coroner and local safeguarding boards.

In addition, we expect all healthcare professionals to bear in mind their professional codes of conduct when asked to co-operate with any police investigations into patient deaths in hospitals. The professional code of conduct for registered nurses and midwives, for example, states that You must cooperate with internal and external investigations.../. This is important in order for NHS staff to remain accountable and provide the best patient care.

Nigeria

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the attacks on villages in Adamawa and Borno states, Nigeria, on 26 January by members of Boko Haram; and when Ministers last met the Nigerian High Commissioner and representatives of the government of Nigeria to discuss the role of Boko Haram.[HL5168]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are appalled by these attacks which resulted in the deaths of innocent Nigerians. There can be no justification for attacks which target ordinary people going about their daily business. The UK will continue to support the Nigerian authorities in their efforts to counter the terrorist threat and to help bring those responsible to justice.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mr Simmonds), met the Nigerian President’s Special Envoy for Security, Professor Viola Onwuliri, on 5 June 2013 accompanied by the Nigerian High Commissioner to London. On 24 September 2013 Mr Simmonds again met the Envoy, who was by then also acting Foreign Minister. On both occasions Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers discussed the security situation and Boko Haram, and made clear that the UK continued to support the Nigerian government’s fight against extremism while stressing the need to ensure respect for human rights.

North Korea

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the remarks of James Clapper, United States Director of National Intelligence,

11 Feb 2014 : Column WA138

that North Korea has expanded its uranium enrichment facility, restarted a plutonium reactor, and is developing a road-mobile ballistic missile.[HL5099]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Mr Clapper’s remarks on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, including that North Korea restarted its plutonium-producing reactor at Yongbyon in mid 2013, are consistent with the Government’s understanding of the situation.

Nuclear Weapons

Question

Asked by Lord Browne of Ladyton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to attend the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, in Nayarit, Mexico, from 13 to 14 February.[HL5070]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are still considering this issue. A decision will be made as soon as possible, and communicated to the House.

Offenders: Deaths in Custody

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the United Families and Friends Campaign on deaths in custody; and what action they have taken as a result of those discussions. [HL4470]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Government is committed to reducing the number of deaths in prisons and every effort is being made to learn from them to help prevent further deaths. The Ministry of Justice has not had any discussions with the United Family and Friends Campaign on deaths in prison custody.

Offenders: Dependants

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 28 January (WA 221), when they expect to have concluded their examination concerning arrangements for the identification and consideration of dependents of those remanded or sentenced to custody; whether the conclusions of this examination will be published; and whether they are considering legislation. [HL5145]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Government is continuing to look carefully at the issue of dependants of those sent to custody, and is now discussing the subject with a number of interested parties. As part of this we are assessing what practical measures might be necessary to support effective identification and consideration of dependants.

Office of the Quartet Representative

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the cost to the Exchequer of maintaining the Office of the Quartet Representative; and what estimate they have made of the economic successes of the Quartet in the last ten years.[HL5088]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Government does not provide any financial contribution towards maintaining the Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR). However, we do currently second two civil servants to the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem to support the work of the Quartet in reinforcing the prospects of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We assess that the OQR has delivered important economic outcomes that are helping to change the situation on the ground and bring the prospect of a two-state solution closer.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many United Kingdom citizens receiving the basic state pension reside in each country of the European Union.[HL5209]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con):: We do not hold data on the citizenship or nationality of basic state pension claimants as this is not a condition of eligibility. The UK State Pension is a contributory pension system, so if you make contributions then you build up entitlement.

The most recent published statistics on the number of people claiming a UK State Pension in different countries can be found at the following link:

http://tabulation-tool.dwp.gov.uk/100pc/sp/cccountry/ccsex/a_carate_r_cccountry_ccsex_may13.html

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Police: Private Prosecutions

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many private prosecutions arrangements, similar to the recently disclosed arrangement between Virgin Media and the Metropolitan Police, have been entered into by the Metropolitan Police and other police forces.[HL5237]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): This information is not held centrally.

Power of Attorney

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord McNally on 16 July 2013 (WS 60), whether those acting for someone seeking to register power of attorney are allowed to charge more than the £110 per application levied by the Office of the Public Guardian.[HL4736]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The LPA application process has been designed so that anyone can complete and register an LPA without the need for professional advice. If donors choose to seek professional advice then they may pay legal fees in addition to the £110 registration fee. OPG has no control over those fees charged by professionals. OPG is currently working with third sector partners and other Government Departments to see how in future we might provide customers with a broader range of advice and assistance for registering an LPA online.

Railways: Diesel Units and Vehicles

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any proposals to encourage the provision of new diesel trains for services within the Northern franchise (1) as part of discussions with Northern Rail on the possible extension of the Northern franchise from April 2014 to February 2016, and (2) as part the new Northern franchise which is due to operate from March 2016.[HL5119]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): In requesting a proposal from Northern Rail for an interim franchise agreement to run from March 2014, the Department for Transport’s primary objective was service continuity, and it did not require proposals for new rolling stock. The Department normally considers the choice and provision

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of rolling stock in a passenger rail franchise to be a matter for the franchisee, and it is not currently planning to specify rolling stock in relation to a new Northern franchise to operate from February 2016.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are holding discussions with other train operating companies or rolling stock companies with a view to transferring diesel units to the Northern franchise and, if so, when such transfers will take place. [HL5120]

Baroness Kramer: At present no such discussions are taking place.

Railways: European Rail Traffic Management System

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what provision they are making for trains other than the Class 800 and 801 to operate on lines affected by the introduction of the European Traffic Management System. [HL5269]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): All new rolling stock being procured by the Department for Transport – the Class 700s, 800 and 801 include fitment with the European rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).

Network Rail’s national deployment plan for ERTMS aligns well with the Departments passenger franchise program. All new franchises will obligate the Franchisee, where necessary, to retro-fit and introduce fitted trains into ERTMS service operation to coordinate with Network Rail’s infrastructure plans.

Railways: Intercity Express Trains

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what luggage space, separate from wheelchair space, will be available for passenger use on the proposed new Intercity Express trains; and what space is available on the present Intercity 225 trains on the East Coast Main Line.[HL5239]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): I refer the Noble Lord to the answer I gave him on 21st October 2013 [Official Report, Column WA136W].

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that the necessary infrastructure, including signalling, for the new Intercity Express Trains (Class 800 and 801) is in place before those trains start operation.[HL5268]

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Baroness Kramer: The Department for Transport has contracted the required work through the standard rail investment process. Therefore, Network Rail is responsible for ensuring the infrastructure will be ready in time for the Class 800 / 801 deployment.

Railways: West Coast Mainline and Crossrail

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are any proposals for diverting any commuter trains from the West Coast mainline into Crossrail, so as to avoid congestion at Euston station.[HL5240]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): I understand that Transport for London and Network Rail are assessing the technical feasibility of linking the West Coast Mainline to the Great Western Mainline at the proposed new Great Western Mainline station at Old Oak Common which could allow Crossrail trains to operate onto the West Coast Mainline.

Selenium

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the current selenium status of the United Kingdom population; and what they consider to be the optimum level.[HL5007]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Plasma selenium concentration is the most frequently used measure of selenium status, but there is no agreed value indicating adequate status. The most recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) rolling programme report found that adults aged 19-64 years in the United Kingdom had a mean plasma selenium concentration of 1.08 micrornol/litre 1.

The NDNS rolling programme found teenagers and adults to have mean selenium intakes below the reference nutrient intake (RNI), the amount of a specific nutrient which is sufficient for almost all individuals. Only boys and girls aged 1.5-10 years had mean intakes above the RNI. Intakes below the RNI are not an indicator of inadequacy, and in the case of selenium were set on very limited data. Caution should be exercised when using the RNI to infer the adequacy of selenium intake in the population.

In 2013, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition concluded that no adverse health consequences of dietary intakes at the levels typically seen in the UK or benefits of higher intakes have been convincingly demonstrated 2.

Notes:

1. Bates B, Lennox A, Prentice A, Bates C, & Swan G (Eds.) (2012) National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Headline results from Years 1, 2 and 3 (combined) of the rolling programme (2008-2009 — 2010-11)

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2 SACN Position Statement on Selenium and Health, May 2013, www.sacn.gov.uk/reports_position_statements/position_statements/sacn_position_statement_on_selenium_and_health_-_may_2013.html

Sellafield

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the five-year extension to the Sellafield nuclear decommissioning contract awarded to Nuclear Management Partners; which Minister signed off the spending of £5 billion on the contract; and whether that Minister had read the KPMG report “The PBO model at Sellafield: Performance to 31st May 2013” dated 11 September 2013.[HL5172]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is responsible for running the competitions to select Parent Body Organisations to run its Site Licence Companies. Government approval is required before a contract is awarded, after which the NDA is responsible for managing the contracts.

The Government approved the contract with Sellafield Ltd under the ownership of Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) in 2008. The contract is for a 17 year period, with fixed review points at 5, 5, 5 and 2 year intervals and includes the option for NDA to terminate, for convenience, with 12 months notice.

The KPMG report, which provided an independent review of performance at Mieleld Ltd in the first five year period under the ownership of NMP, was commissioned by the NDA to help inform its decision on whether to continue with the contract. The contract review, and decision to continue with the contract, was an operational matter for the NDA.

The NDA’s contracts with its Site Licence Companies and their parent bodies are all available on the NDA’s website. Details of the terms, of the second period of the contract with NMP, due to commence in April, are being finalised; they will be published on the NDA’s website in due course.

South Sudan

Questions

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what international aid they are providing to help deal with the crisis in South Sudan.[HL5187]

Baroness Northover (LD): The UK has allocated £12.5 million for humanitarian assistance and protection to those affected by the crisis. Of this amount, £6m has been committed to the Rapid Response Facility which is supporting key agencies already operating in South Sudan. This assistance is supporting access to clean water, basic shelter items and non-food items including blankets. An additional £19m of previously

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programmed funding has also been reprioritised to support the response. This includes funding for the UN’s Humanitarian Air Service, which airlifts aid workers and life-saving supplies into difficult to reach areas.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Troika support for the new Intergovernmental Authority on Development peace process for South Sudan; and what action they are taking to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those internally displaced by the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan and refugees from the Nuba Mountains living in South Sudan.[HL5218]

Baroness Northover: The Troika have been strong advocates of the mediation efforts led by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and have played an influential role in engaging with both parties to press for a negotiated resolution to the conflict. All three Troika countries sent senior officials to Juba at an early stage in the conflict, and have maintained this high level of engagement both in South Sudan and in the region.

The UK’s Envoy for the South Sudan talks has been active with his Troika counterparts in facilitating dialogue, including through travelling to South Sudan for direct talks with Riek Machar in support of IGAD’s outreach to both parties, to encourage them to participate fully in the Cessation of Hostilities agreement. With our Troika partners, we have been supporting the establishment of the monitoring and verification mechanism to oversee the implementation of the agreement including providing an expert to the Advance Party of the ceasefire oversight committee (“Joint Technical Committee”) which arrived in Juba on 2 February. The Troika will continue to play a supporting role in the IGAD mediation efforts as peace talks resume on the 10 February.