11 Mar 2014 : Column WA359

Written Answers

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Armed Forces: Scotland

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people in Scotland work in the Armed Forces or for the Ministry of Defence.[HL5767]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): As at 1 January 2014, there were 10,850 Regular Service personnel and 3,940 Ministry of Defence (MOD) civilian staff based in Scotland. A detailed breakdown of the stationed location of our personnel by unitary and local authority area is published in the MOD’s Quarterly Location Statistics; Section 5 provides information on Scotland, and the latest version is available at the following address:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/284580/quarterly-location-l-january-2014.pdf

A full series of location statistics going back to January 2010 can be found at this address:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/location-of-all-uk-regular-service-and-civilian-personnel-quarterly-statistics-index

Ascension Island: Vessel Licences

Question

Asked by The Earl of Selborne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were the names of the vessels that obtained commercial long-lining licences in the waters of Ascension Island in (1) 2010, (2) 2011, and (3) 2012.[HL5745]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The names of the vessels that obtained commercial long-lining licences in the waters of Ascension Island in (1) 2010, (2) 2011, and (3) 2012 were:

2010

CHUN FA

SHUN YU

CHIEN CHYANG

KAIHO MARU NO.68

KAIHO MARU NO.88

YI FU

HUNG YAO NO.2

YING HSIN HSIANG

YIH LONG NO.101

YIH SHUEN NO.212

WIN FAR 878

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA360

WIN FAR 888

WIN FAR 818

JIIN HORNG NO.168

DAI HO

HUNG CHING NO.212

JIIN HORNG NO.206

CASTRO NO.168

HONG CHIN

HONG SHENG

CHIN SHUN NO.101

JILN HORNG NO.101

YI SHUN

CHIN SHUN KUO

HAU SHEN NO.236

KAO HSIN NO.3

LONG CHANG NO.3

SUN WARM NO.8

CHIN YUAN MING

YUH YEOU NO.236

YUH YEOU NO.31

EVERRICH NO.636

YUNG CHIN NO.101

CHUNG I NO.237

YUNG FENG NO.101

NO.111 DAE YOUNG

NO.601 DAR YANG

NO.626 DAE SUNG

FU YUAN YU 559

NO.216 DAE SUNG

2011

CHIN CHANG MING

CHIN CHENG WEN

CHIN HSIANG MING

YEUN HORNG NO.1

JETMARK 102

YU CHEN HSIANG

YU CHEN HSIANG NO.66

CHAI HORN NO.101

HSIANG AN NO.102

CHUNG I NO.302

YING JUI HSIANG NO.3

HSIANG MAN SHING

CHEN FA NO.1

NO.111 DAE YOUNG

YUNG FENG NO.101

HUNG CHING NO.212

SENFUKU MARU NO.1

SENFUKU MARU NO.61

TOKO MARU NO.8

TOKO MARU NO.78

TOKO MARU NO.68

SHINRYU MARU NO.1

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA361

YUH YEOU NO.236

YUH YEOU 31

CASTRO NO.168

DAI HO

JETMARK NO.8

HUNG YAO NO.2

SHUN YU

CHIEN CHYANG

KAIHO MARU NO.68

KAIHO MARU NO.88

YI FU

FORTUNE NO.3

HAU SHEN NO.236

HONG CHIN

YI CHUN NO.232

YIH SHUEN NO.212

KAO HSIN NO.3

LONG CHANG NO.3

YING CHIN HSIANG NO.101

HONG SHENG

WIN FAR NO.818

WIN FAR NO.878

WIN FAR NO.888

YUNG HAN NO.101

CHUN FA

KUANG LI

SUN WARM NO.8

SENFUKU MARU NO.62

SHINSHU MARU NO.62

KAIHO MARU NO.6

SHINSHU MARU NO.111

SHINSHU MARU NO.11

SHINRYU MARU NO.11

SHINSHU MARU NO.61

SENFUKU MARU NO.22

NO.11 DAE SUNG

KAIHO MARU NO.1

KAIHO MARU NO. 2

SHINSHU MARU NO.22

SENFUKU MARU NO.11

SHINRYU MARU NO.21

NO.626 DAE SUNG

NO.116 DAE YOUNG

2012

HUNG CHUAN NO.212

JIIN HORNG NO.206

YING JUI HSIANG NO.3

HSIN CHENG FA NO.16

YU CHEN HSIANG NO.66

YU CHEN HSIANG

KAO FONG NO.1

KAO FONG NO.8

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA362

CHING YUAN MING

FU YUAN YU 559

YIH LONG NO.101

CHIN HSIANG MING

CHIN CHANG MING

CHIN CHENG WEN

TOKO MARU NO.88

KAISHIN MARU NO.18

CHIN SHUN KUO

YI SHUN

WIN FAR NO.161

SENFUKU MARU NO.66

TAIHO MARU NO.8

TOYO MARU NO.28

YUNG FENG NO.101

DAE YANG NO.602

SENFUKU MARU NO.1

DAI HO

Central African Republic

Question

Asked by The Archbishop of Canterbury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking in response to the six-point initiative for the Central African Republic presented by the United Nations Secretary-General to the Security Council on 20 February.[HL5636]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Secretary-General of the United Nation’s 6-point plan for the Central African Republic (CAR) was published on 20 February. The plan calls for the rapid reinforcement of African Union and French troops, logistical and financial support for African troops and funding assistance for the security and judicial sectors. It also urged an accelerated political and reconciliation process, and funding for humanitarian aid.

The UK is already actively supporting elements of this plan. We have supported the French military deployment from the start, providing additional logistical capacity to carry French equipment to CAR. We have also provided £2 million for the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA), to enable it to operate, as well as supporting its reinforcement through the EU. And we have actively worked with the European Council to deploy an EU military force in CAR to help reinforce the Bangui area.

We also continue to work closely with partners in the UN Security Council, helping deliver an effective mandate for the UN Mission and, through the Department for International Development, we have provided £15 million to support the UN-led humanitarian operation.

We agree with the Secretary General that military efforts alone cannot bring about long-term stability in CAR. We welcome the work done by religious

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organisations and non-governmental organisations to diffuse the tensions, as well as the efforts of the transitional government towards a strong and sustainable constitutional government. We will continue to work with the EU and UN to support this.

We continue to keep the situation under regular review, including what more can be done to strengthen existing efforts given the severity and urgency of the situation. We will also quickly and carefully consider the UN Secretary General report, which will make recommendations for whether they believe the conditions exist for a successful deployment of a UN Peacekeeping Operation.

Commission on the Status of Women

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which Government officials and Ministers will attend the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2014.[HL5581]

Baroness Northover (LD): The Commission on the Status of Women provides a unique opportunity to improve the rights of women throughout the world. The UK has always demonstrated strong leadership at this event and considers it a key opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to gender equality and promote good practice.

The Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller, The Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, and the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Lynne Featherstone are each due to attend for some of the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March.

The delegation will be supported by officials from both DCMS and DfID to participate in plenary meetings and to support the negotiations on the agreed conclusions.

Council Tax

Questions

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to provide the illustrations requested by the Local Government Association in November 2013 of the impact on local authorities of changes to the council tax resource adjustment and of an alternative which would have protected the adjustment at its cash level of £6.323 billion; if so, when they will do so; and, if not, why not.[HL5694]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of changes to the council tax resource adjustment on local authorities with above average numbers of student council tax exemptions, and, in particular, Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Bristol.[HL5695]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): We consulted on the proposals for the new Business Rates Retention scheme in 2011 and

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA364

2012. We also issued a Technical Consultation in 2013 and set out our proposals in the usual statutory consultations on the 2013-14 and 2014-15 Local Government Finance settlements. These set out in detail how we intended to implement the new scheme and we have now confirmed the final settlement for 2014-15. We therefore do not intend to provide further detail on the possible effect of alternative approaches to that which we have adopted.

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which 20 authorities charge the highest and lowest rates of council tax in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. [HL5706]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: Council Tax does not operate in Northern Ireland; the District Councils in Northern Ireland strike a rate which is charged to ratepayers. Responsibility for council tax in Scotland and Wales has been fully devolved.

Data for Welsh local authorities can be found here:

http://wales.gov.uk/statistics-and-research/welsh-local-government-financial-statistics/?lang=en

Data for Scottish local authorities can be found here:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0042/00426740.xls

The 20 billing authorities that charge the highest and lowest rates of council tax for England are listed below:

Local authorities with the lowest council tax, England, 2013-14
AuthorityBand D (£)

Westminster

681.01

Wandsworth

691.54

City of London

943.39

Hammersmith & Fulham

1,060.90

Kensington & Chelsea

1,085.58

Windsor & Maidenhead

1,181.65

Tower Hamlets

1,188.52

Isles of Scilly

1,193.06

Southwark

1,215.14

Lambeth

1,228.29

Newham

1,248.63

Islington

1,264.87

Birmingham

1,269.12

Dudley

1,280.62

Greenwich

1,284.04

Hackney

1,301.45

Trafford

1,313.00

Bromley

1,313.07

Bradford

1,317.52

Barking & Dagenham

1,319.40

These figures include money collected on behalf of major and local precepting authorities (county or Greater London Authority, fire and police, parishes).

Local authorities with the highest council tax, England, 2013-14
AuthorityBand D (£)

Rutland

1,701.47

Weymouth & Portland

1,692.42

Hartlepool

1,685.73

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA365

Kingston-upon-Thames

1,682.65

Newark & Sherwood

1,657.39

East Dorset

1,652.50

Central Bedfordshire

1,652.21

Lewes

1,645.22

Redcar & Cleveland

1,644.40

Nottingham

1,643.76

Purbeck

1,643.09

Wealden

1,634.61

Mansfield

1,619.68

Fenland

1,617.09

Broxtowe

1,617.06

West Dorset

1,614.90

Hastings

1,614.43

Oxford

1,614.14

Rushcliffe

1,612.09

West Devon

1,610.98

These figures include money collected on behalf of major and local precepting authorities (county or Greater London Authority, fire and police, parishes).

Credit Unions

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they take to support credit unions.[HL5821]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): Government has committed investment of up to £38 million to April 2015 to support credit unions.

DWP awarded a contract, commencing 1 May 2013, to the Association of British Credit Unions Limited to deliver a collaborative expansion project to enable participating credit unions to modernise, expand their services to many more consumers and achieve financial self sufficiency.

In addition from April 2014 the maximum interest rate credit unions can charge will increase from 2% to 3% per calendar month.

Crime: Domestic Violence

Questions

Asked by Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what direct protection they are able to give women fleeing from domestic abuse.[HL5588]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): From 8 March 2014, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) and Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) are being rolled out across England and Wales. The roll-outs follow two successful pilots.

The DVDS introduces recognised and consistent procedures where anyone can seek a disclosure about a partner’s violent past. Those who have a legal right to

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know are provided with information that empowers people to make an informed choice about their relationships.

DVPOs are able to give direct protection to a victim of domestic abuse by banning the perpetrator immediately from the home for up to 28 days. This then allows the victim time to consider their options, including obtaining a civil injunction.

We have also put stable funding in place, ring-fencing nearly £40 million for specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services, rape crisis centres, and national helplines until 2015.

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report on domestic violence published in the Guardian on 27 February, whether they have plans to establish a review into how incidents of domestic violence are recorded and dealt with by the police and Crown Prosecution Service.[HL5657]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: In September 2013, the Home Secretary commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to review the police response to domestic violence and abuse. The inspection will identify where improvements need to be made and the report will be published before April 2014.

While the conviction rate for cases flagged as domestic violence in 2012- 13 was the highest recorded for the second year running, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is currently revising its domestic violence policy which will be published for consultation. The CPS will consider how the prosecutorial response can be improved together with the police consideration of the HMIC review.

Education: Science

Question

Asked by Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to encourage more women and girls to take up science, technology, engineering and maths subjects at school and at higher and further education levels.[HL5587]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Government is doing much to engage more girls in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects at all levels of education.

Excellent teaching is a key factor to engaging more girls and the Government is taking action to recruit more top STEM graduates into teaching by offering teacher training scholarships worth £25,000 as well as teacher training bursaries worth up to £20,000. The Government is also funding a programme of bursaries and grants aimed at attracting high-quality graduates to train as specialist teachers of maths in further education. We are supporting existing teachers by providing access to high-quality continuing professional development (CPD) through Science Learning Centres and Science Learning Partnerships; a network of teaching

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excellence to train up to 400 master teachers in computer science by March 2015 to deliver CPD nationally; and the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. We have also allocated £11 million to fund 30 new maths hubs to drive up the quality of maths teaching from primary to post-16.

The Department for Education is funding the Stimulating Physics Network and the Further Maths Support Programme to support schools and colleges in increasing the number of students taking physics, maths and further maths A-level, with a particular emphasis on increasing the number of girls. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) funds the STEM Ambassadors programme, a nationwide network of over 27,000 volunteers from industry and academia, 40% of whom are women, who work with schools across the UK to raise awareness of the range of careers that STEM qualifications can offer. BIS hosted the Tomorrow’s Engineers Week in November which aimed to raise the profile of engineering careers, with a particular focus on girls aged 11-14. The week led to a 6% increase in young people saying they would consider a career in engineering.

The Government has set out an ambition that, by 2020, the great majority of young people (boys and girls) will continue to study maths to age 18. To support this we are introducing core maths qualifications from 2015 aimed at students who have a grade C or higher in GCSE maths, while all 16-19 year olds who have not achieved at least a grade C will be expected to continue to study towards a GCSE. Thanks to our English Baccalaureate—the performance table measure that encourages pupils into the most respected subjects—the number of girls doing GCSE physics is now at a record high and has almost caught up with boys. 73,000 girls are now taking the subject compared to 76,000 boys.

In the Autumn Statement the Government announced a £200 million investment in STEM higher education teaching facilities. Higher education institutions will be required to match the funding, so that will see at least £400 million of investment in the 2015 to 2016 financial year that will support a growth in the number of students that can be taught on the latest equipment to make them ready for the world of work. This funding is dependent on the higher education institutions demonstrating a commitment to equality and diversity.

Energy: Fracking

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any assessment of the noise which may result from fracking; and if so, whether the noise will be audible at ground level and to what radius.[HL5758]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): There is a robust regulatory regime to ensure that any shale gas operations can be carried out in a safe and sustainable manner. Noise issues are

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA368

assessed on a site by site basis through the planning and environmental permitting regimes, and both the mineral planning authority and Environment Agency can put in place conditions to ensure that the level of noise may be suitably mitigated or controlled. They also have enforcement powers to take appropriate action if any noise limits are exceeded.

Energy: Green Deal

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the interest rates for loans provided through Green Deal plans; and what consideration they have given to reducing such rates.[HL5661]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The current interest rate available for loans provided through Green Deal plans is set by the Green Deal Finance Company, which is independent of Government. Our assessment of the rate is that, whilst there is no product that is directly comparable, it is a competitive rate and available to customers with a wide range of credit scores. We have no current plans to act to reduce the rate but we have and will continue to consider ways to deliver our policy objective of ensuring that lack of finance is not a barrier to installing energy efficiency measures.

Environment: Coastal Defences

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to encourage coastal communities to contribute more to the cost of maintaining coastal defences.[HL5601]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The Government has introduced Partnership Funding to make sure that investment is not constrained by what Government alone could afford to do. The new Partnership Funding system encourages external investment and gives local people more choice in how their community is protected. The system also provides more certainty and transparency. In the past communities held out for full Government funding when there was little or no prospect of it being available. Partnership Funding clarifies what level of investment communities can expect so that they can secure funding from other sources to allow schemes to go ahead.

Currently there are no plans to change current funding arrangements for coastal defences. However, funding for flood and coastal risk management is kept under regular review.

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Eritrea

Questions

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 11 March 2013 (WA 14), what is their assessment of the evidence provided by the Eritrean community in the United Kingdom of the levying of a tax on them by the government of Eritrea; whether they have received any response to the concerns they raised on 20 December 2012 with the Eritrean Ambassador; and whether they have given consideration to expelling the Eritrean Ambassador if the practice continues.[HL5699]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): In October 2013, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials reminded the Eritrean Ambassador of the concerns about the diaspora tax raised on 20 December 2012. On 8 November 2013 we held a meeting with members of the Eritrean Diaspora, urging them to report any coercion to the police. We are not aware of the evidence to which the noble Baroness refers.

The Eritrean government maintains that collection of the tax is legitimate.

We have no plans to expel the Eritrean Ambassador.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are monitoring the illicit taxation of Eritreans resident in the United Kingdom; and whether steps are being taken to report any such levying of tax to the United Nations Security Council under Resolution 2023.[HL5700]

Baroness Warsi: We continue to monitor all reports about the illicit taxation of Eritreans resident in the UK. The UK would of course report any confirmed breaches of the Security Council Resolution 2023 provisions on the Diaspora tax to the United Nations Security Council.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Canada about that country’s decision to expel the Eritrean Ambassador in relation to the imposition of a tax on Eritreans in Canada.[HL5701]

Baroness Warsi: The Eritrean Consul General in Toronto was expelled in June 2013. We have not discussed this expulsion with the Canadians.

EU: UK Membership

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 24 February (WA 179), whether the view of the Prime Minister in his speech on the United Kingdom’s relationship with Europe of 23 January 2013, is government policy.[HL5724]

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA370

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): I refer the noble Lord to the response I gave on 24 January 2014, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA174. The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron)’s position on “ever closer union” in his speech of 23 January 2013 was set out in his capacity as leader of the Conservative Party.

Flooding

Question

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the cost to the economy of the United Kingdom of floods in 2013 and 2014. [HL5778]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The Government is continuing to gather information to enable an accurate assessment of the economic impacts of the recent floods to be made. The Environment Agency will carry out a full assessment of the impacts.

Government Departments: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many staff are currently employed for more than 50 per cent of their working week to support the Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office in his role as Accounting Officer; and what are their job titles.[HL5803]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): Information on staffing within the Cabinet Office is published regularly in our organograms. The most recent includes information from 30 September. It is available here:

http://data.gov.uk/organogram/cabinet-office.

The Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office in his role as Accounting Officer is currently supported by 10 staff working in his own Private Office and the Financial Management Team.

Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many staff are currently employed for more than 50% of their working week to support the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Energy and Climate Change in his role as Accounting Officer; and what are their job titles.[HL5809]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Department routinely covers Accounting Officer issues when providing advice to Ministers. No individual spends 50% or more of their time supporting the Permanent Secretary on such issues.

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA371

House of Lords: Members’ Interests

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask the Chairman of Committees how many Members of the House of Lords currently have entries under category 8 (Gifts, benefits and hospitality) of the Register of Lords' Financial and other Interests.[HL5849]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): As at 7 March 2014, 34 Members had entries registered under category 8.

Immigration: Detention

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many nationals of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are currently held within United Kingdom immigration estates and prisons.[HL5679]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Published National Statistics show that there were 15 nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo detained as at 31 December in the immigration estate.

As at 24 February, 18 nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo were detained under immigration powers in prison.

This information has been extracted from National Offender Management Service (NOMS) reports which are taken from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Information Commissioner

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they apply the guidance in the Ministry of Justice policy statement relating to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 that a ministerial veto of the Information Commissioner’s rulings should only be used in “exceptional circumstances and only following a collective decision of the Cabinet”.[HL5504]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Government has committed to only use the ministerial veto in exceptional circumstances and only following a collective decision of the Cabinet. In 2012 nearly 50,000 freedom of information requests were received across central government monitored bodies. In comparison, the veto has been used on only seven occasions in nine years which demonstrates that the exercise of the veto is infrequent and necessary only in an extremely small proportion of cases. In each case the collective agreement of Cabinet has been obtained before the accountable person has issued a certificate overriding a decision of the Information Commissioner, Information Tribunal, or court.

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA372

Nigeria

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Nigeria following the recent attacks by Boko Haram at a boarding school in Yobe state, on students at St Joseph’s Seminary, Shuwa and at St Paul’s Catholic Church in Waga Chakawa, Madagali.[HL5705]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): During his visit to Nigeria the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mr Simmonds), met President Jonathan on 27 February 2014. Mr Simmonds discussed the security situation in the north east of Nigeria including the series of horrific attacks on civilians in northern Nigeria that have taken place over recent months. During his entire visit Mr Simmonds reaffirmed our commitment to assist Nigeria in its fight against terrorism, while stressing the importance that Nigerian forces respect human rights during their operations.

North Korea

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current position of Choe Ryong-hae within the regime of North Korea. [HL5734]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are aware of speculation in the South Korean media that Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae (the director of the Korean People’s Army General Political Bureau) has been arrested and interrogated. By contrast, North Korean media reports on the 7 March indicate that Vice Marshal Choe has accompanied North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a recent field guidance visit. We have been unable to verify these reports. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Nuclear Waste

Questions

Asked by Lord Judd

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they have taken to ensure that all nuclear waste sites within the United Kingdom are made permanently secure against flood damage and associated erosion. [HL5784]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implications of climate change for the safety of all nuclear installations and of both existing and future nuclear waste facilities in the United Kingdom; and what action they are now taking to deal with any identified risks.[HL5785]

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA373

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): A Nuclear Sector Resilience Plan is produced by my Department annually assessing vulnerabilities to which the nuclear sector may be exposed and how Government will work with partners in industry and at the local level to ensure the UK's nuclear installations remain safe and secure.

Under the nuclear licensing regime, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) requires licensees of existing nuclear facilities, or applicants for new facilities, to evaluate risks from all external hazards, including those that may be affected by climate conditions. ONR also requires licensees to review regularly their safety cases to ensure that licensees continue to mitigate the risks and, where necessary, take action to maintain those risks at a level which is as low as reasonably practicable. ONR will not permit nuclear plant to be operated unless its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions has been robustly established.

The safety of all UK nuclear installations was recently reviewed following the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan. More information about this review can be found on the website for the Health and Safety Executive:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/fukushima/final-report.htm

RSPCA

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether RSPCA inspectors have rights of entry to private property or private homes; and, if not, what actions individual citizens can take against inspectors who claim to exercise such rights.[HL5720]

11 Mar 2014 : Column WA374

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The RSPCA have no powers of entry. Any complaints about an RSPCA inspector’s conduct should be reported to the organisation.

Stephen Ward

Question

Asked by Lord Lexden

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether a transcript of the evidence given at the trial of Stephen Ward up to 26 July 1963 exists in the National Archives; and whether they will authorise the release of any such transcript.[HL5538]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The National Archives does not hold a full transcript of the Stephen Ward trial within its records. Full court transcripts are not automatically created unless requested by the judge or parties involved in the trial. A full transcript of the court case may never have been created for this trial.

The National Archives holds partial records of witness evidence given as part of Stephen Ward’s trial. These partial records contain sensitive information about people who are still alive and disclosing the records now would invite renewed and potentially unfair speculation about their activities. Accordingly, these records will not be released at this time.