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Written Answers

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Brunei

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had regarding the compatibility of Brunei’s human rights policies with the human rights values of the Commonwealth Charter, and with whom. [HL194]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We, along with the EU and other members of the international community, regularly discuss human rights with the Bruneian authorities. During Brunei’s Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council on 2 May, we called on Brunei to lift its state of emergency, to establish a national human rights institution and to ensure that the implementation of their new sharia criminal code was in line with international human rights standards. This includes the Commonwealth Charter which commits members to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I discussed this with His Majesty The Sultan, and other government figures during a visit to Brunei in April. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt Hon Friend the Member for East Devon also raised our concerns with Brunei’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pehin Kunis on 12 June. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for North West Cambridgeshire (Mr Vara), raised this with the Bruneian Attorney General at the Commonwealth Law Ministers meeting on 6 May. The Secretary of State for Health, my Rt Hon Friend the Member for South West Surrey (Mr Hunt), discussed this with his opposite number at a Commonwealth Health Ministers’ meeting on 18 May 2014.

Chemistry: Teachers

Question

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to increase the numbers of chemistry teachers with a subject-specialist background. [HL438]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Government is committed to supporting schools in recruiting specialist teachers in chemistry. Specific support is provided for individuals interested in teaching chemistry through targeted marketing, personal advisors and securing school experience. We have significantly increased tax-free bursaries for chemistry trainee teachers from £9,000 in 2012/13 to up to £20,000 in 2014/15. In addition, we continue to work jointly with the Royal Society of Chemistry to offer scholarship awards of £25,000 in order to attract the most talented

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chemists into initial teacher training (ITT). We have surpassed our target for trainees entering chemistry teacher training in each of the last three years, recruiting 121% of the target in 2011/12, 108% in 2012/13, and 127% in 2013/14.

We are continuing to fund subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses, which are an important tool to ensure all chemistry trainees have specialist subject knowledge. Around a quarter of accepted places for chemistry ITT in 2014/15 are being supported by SKE.

The latest annual School Workforce Census (2013) shows that 19.6% of chemistry teachers who teach pupils from years 7 to 13 have no relevant post-A Level qualification, down from 24.3% in the 2012 census, demonstrating the impact of these incentives.

The Government also recognises the vital importance of subject-specific development for in-service teachers. We have made almost £7 million available to fund a network of Regional Science Learning Centres and we are funding teaching schools to develop and deliver a range of post-ITT SKE provision in specific subjects, including chemistry.

Claims Management Services

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will bring forward delegated legislation under the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013 enabling complaints against claims management firms to be heard by the Legal Services Ombudsman.[HL178]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013 provides the necessary enabling powers to put in place the funding arrangements for the Legal Ombudsman to deal with complaints against claims management companies. These provisions were commenced on 21 March 2014. They include a power for the Lord Chancellor to make Regulations to charge fees to recover the costs he has incurred in meeting the expenditure of the Legal Ombudsman in relation to claims management complaints.

The Government consultation on the proposed structure of the Lord Chancellor’s cost recovery fee ended on 6 June and the responses are being analysed. Once the fee structure is finalised, the Fee Regulations will be laid in Parliament for approval. Following this, an order to commence section 161 of the Legal Services Act 2007 will be laid. This will extend the remit of the Legal Ombudsman to enable it to deal with complaints about authorised claims management companies.

The government is committed to enabling this as soon as possible.

Consumer Goods: Marketing

Question

Asked by Lord Palmer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Chantler Review's suggestion that there is a spillover effect, whereby the branding of consumer goods intended for adult consumption

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may also appeal to young people; and what assessment they have made of the implications for consumer goods other than tobacco that might be deemed to put children at risk.[HL241]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Tobacco is treated uniquely in regulatory terms, because it is a uniquely harmful consumer good. All smoking is addictive and harmful to health. Around half of all regular smokers are eventually killed by a smoking-related illness, and on average, smokers who die from a smoking-related illness lose around 16 years of life. Smoking is the primary cause of preventable morbidity and premature death, accounting for almost 80,000 deaths in England each year, some 18% of all deaths of adults aged 35 and over.

Regulatory controls on tobacco are commensurate with the potential harm to the health of smokers and others that it can cause. Over the past decade in particular, tobacco has become increasingly regulated and controlled as further evidence about the harm to health from smoking has emerged. Tobacco, therefore, is subject to greater levels of regulation than other consumer products.

Copyright

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they are making on their consideration of (1) protection of metadata, (2) remedies against lookalikes, and (3) equalisation of penalties for physical and digital copyright infringement.[HL366]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): 1) The issue of protection of metadata was considered as part of the industry-led Copyright Hub project, to which the Government contributed initial funding. This involved key players seeking cross-industry agreement to help keep metadata with copyright works and resulted in the publication of a voluntary Code of Practice on Creating and Maintaining Metadata in Images. It is clearly important for industry to take up that code of practice, before Government could consider whether or not any further action may be appropriate.

(2) The Government is considering the case for granting a civil right of action to business against lookalike packaging, for which it launched a review of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs). The Review commenced this spring, and the initial call for evidence closed on 19 May. The Government is keen to continue engaging with stakeholders on this issue; a structured roundtable has been scheduled for 14 July. The final report is expected to be published in October.

(3) The Intellectual Property Office has commissioned Inngot Ltd to carry out a review of the use of copyright infringement sanctions. The review has commenced and is expected to report in November. Data gathering for copyright infringement sentencing is already underway,

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with a broad range of industry stakeholders being consulted including trade bodies; IP rights owners and IP legal professionals. The Government will consider what further action is needed once the final report has been published.

Copyright: Internet

Question

Asked by Lord Birt

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effect of the Digital Economy Act 2010 in reducing copyright theft via the internet. [HL339]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): The online infringement of copyright provisions within the Digital Economy Act 2010 have not yet been implemented, and so no such assessment has been carried out. The delay is due to a number of factors, including legal challenge and ensuring compliance with Government “Managing Public Money” principles. In the meantime the Government has encouraged the industry to investigate a voluntary copyright alert programme, which should produce similar results in a significantly shorter timescale. I am grateful to the industry for the energy with which they have picked up this challenge. Nevertheless, unless an effective alternative is put in place, Government continues to be committed to implementation of the provisions with the Digital Economy Act.

Employment Tribunals Service

Question

Asked by Baroness Drake

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to lower the level of fees for access to employment tribunals.[HL302]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Justice Secretary is committed to reviewing the impact of the introduction of fees in the employment tribunal system. The Ministry of Justice is currently finalising arrangements for the timing and scope of the review to ensure that the impacts can be properly assessed. An announcement will be made when the review begins, and again when it has been completed, setting out the results.

Energy Supply

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress was made towards improving the security and affordability of off-grid fuel supply at the third ministerial roundtable meeting on heating oil and liquid petroleum gas supply on 21 May.[HL357]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): My rt. hon. Friend the Minister of State for Energy chaired the third Ministerial Roundtable meeting on heating oil and LPG supply on 21 May. My rt. hon Friend the Minister of State for Climate Change joined the roundtable discussion on off gas grid fuel poor

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households and support for off gas grid consumers. This continued the useful discussions government has had at the previous two Roundtables with representatives from industry, consumer groups, oil buying groups and others on how to improve heating oil and LPG supply to UK consumers.

Issues covered at the third roundtable included the promotion of the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers’ Customer Charter, the messaging to consumers on buying oil early ahead of the winter and an update on the action government is taking more broadly to help fuel poor off-grid households. Full details of the meeting can be found in the minutes of the meeting which has been placed in the Library of the House.

European Union

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what rules currently govern the disclosure of European Union information; and whether any past or present rule, or any proposed rule, bans disclosure of information disadvantageous to the European Union.[HL163]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Access to documents held by the European Union (EU) is governed by Regulation 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (the Regulation), which provides a public right of access to documents held by these three institutions. The Regulation has also been extended to further EU institutions through other instruments. Information relating to the EU may also be requested from UK public authorities under domestic information rights legislation, including the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Neither the Regulation nor domestic legislation contain provisions which prohibit the disclosure of information simply because its release would be disadvantageous to the EU, and there are no plans to introduce such a measure. However, both the Regulation and domestic legislation provide a range of exemptions, often subject to a public interest test, which permit bodies subject to them to withhold genuinely sensitive information from disclosure where release would undermine legitimate interests specified in that legislation. These include, for example, exemptions which may be relied upon to protect international relations, commercial interests or the decision-making processes for making EU legislation.

Football Banning Orders

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy and effectiveness of sentencing in cases where football fans have been found guilty of racially or religiously aggravated public order offences; and whether they will consider providing advice to the magistracy in response to any evidence revealing that magistrates are reluctant to issue football banning orders in such cases. [HL37]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Racially and religiously aggravated offences have no place in our society. Parliament has provided the courts with the necessary powers to deal effectively with those who are convicted of these serious offences. The court must make a football banning order where an offender has been convicted of a relevant offence and it is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help prevent violence or disorder at, or in connection with, any regulated football matches. If the court is not so satisfied, it must state that fact and give reasons in open court. The prosecution has a right of appeal against a failure by the court to make a banning order.

Relevant offences for these purposes include chanting of an indecent or racialist nature at a designated football match, and specified offences under the Public Order Act 1986 committed during a period relevant to a football match, which covers the period beginning two hours before the match and ending one hour after the match, at any premises while the offender was at, or entering or leaving or trying to enter or leave, the premises.

We are not aware of any evidence to suggest that the magistracy are reluctant to make football banning orders, and decisions of the magistrates are made with the assistance of legal advisers who refer to current sentencing guidelines.

Government Departments: Procurement

Question

Asked by Lord Morrow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many companies currently providing contracted services to government departments and agencies use zero hours contracts.[HL301]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The information requested is not held centrally.

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any cost-benefit analysis of the reduction of carbon monoxide emissions as a result of the planned HS2 high-speed rail link.[HL385]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Government has not made any cost-benefit analysis of the impact of HS2 on carbon monoxide emissions.

The HS2 Economic Case quantifies the impact of HS2 on non-traded direct Greenhouse Gas emissions (which include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) resulting from changes in petrol/diesel use from road and rail passenger transport as a result of HS2. This analysis estimates that the full HS2 Y-Network generates benefits of £101 million (2011 prices, NPV) from reduced non-traded Greenhouse Gas emissions.

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HIV Infection

Question

Asked by Lord Lexden

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was their total spending in 2013–14 on treatments for HIV infection in the United Kingdom.[HL260]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Data for 2013-14 is not available at present. Primary care trusts’ aggregate spend for 2012–13 (latest figures available) on HIV/AIDS was £630 million.

Housing Benefit

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which local authorities received additional Discretionary Housing Payment funding from the extra £20 million announced in October 2013; and how much was made available in each case.[HL332]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The information that has been requested was published on 24 March 2014 on GOV.UK and can be accessed through the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/295291/s3-2014.pdf

Housing: Construction

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their stated intention of building more houses, what is their assessment of the availability of skilled personnel to carry out the building work necessary; and what measures they are taking to train sufficient numbers to ensure the success of the house building programme.[HL253]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): There has been no specific assessment of the availability of skilled personnel for the home building sector. The Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) latest Construction Skills Network Report forecasts an annual recruitment requirement for the construction sector, including home building, of 36,400 a year for the 2013-2018 period.

Under the auspices of the Construction Leadership Council, the house building industry is developing an action plan to address two immediate priorities: improving the image of house building and attracting back experienced workers who left during the recession, and other workers with relevant skills. More widely, the Government is making a number of reforms to the skills system to improve skills supply, putting employers in the driving seat and making providers more responsive to their needs.

The Government is also currently undertaking a triennial review of the way the CITB operates and challenging it on the service it delivers to the sector.

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Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their stated intention of building more houses, what is their assessment of the ability of the United Kingdom building supplies industry to provide bricks, timber and other materials; and what measures they are taking to encourage growth in the building supplies industry to provide sufficient materials to ensure the success of the house building programme. [HL254]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The Government has noted advice from the Construction Products Association that there is no general lack of capacity in UK products manufacturers. The Association advises that only 19 per cent of companies producing heavy building materials are currently operating at near capacity. As the products sector adjusts to the return to growth it expects that capacity will increase further in response to demand.

Illegal Immigrants

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the cost to public funds, in each of the last five years, of compensation payments to illegal immigrants who had been unlawfully detained beyond the statutory period; and what was the legal aid cost of the lawyers undertaking those compensation claims. [HL289]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): 1 April 2008 we have reported on compensation cases and disclosed information on individual cases where the costs exceeded £250,000. We do not report the individual details on cases below this threshold, or prior to this date.

Information relating to compensation, ex-gratia and adverse legal costs payments is available and can be found within the Losses and Special Payments disclosure in the UKBA Annual Report and Accounts. These are available on the Home Office Website via the attached link.

www.gov.uk/government/publications? departments%5B%5D=uk-border-agency

Legal Aid Agency data does not distinguish between false imprisonment claims made by illegal immigrants and those made by other individuals.

Legal Aid Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the changes in the eligibility of legal aid on the number of litigants in person and the consequential impact on the administration of justice.[HL79]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): We are closely monitoring the impact of the legal aid changes. The number of family cases showing self representing parties are published in Courts Statistics Quarterly (www.gov.uk/government/collections/court-statistics-quarterly). We are working towards publishing data on self representation in civil cases more widely and will include this in future publications.

Litigants in person are not a new phenomenon in our courts. Judges are used to helping persons with no legal representation, including explaining procedures and what is expected of them. We have taken steps to help people who either want or have to represent themselves in court, including publishing a revised guide for separating parents and increased training for judges. The link to the guide is:

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetLeaflet.do?court_leaflets_id=2756

Local Government: ICT

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what changes local authorities are required to make to their information technology services in order to remain connected to the gov.uk secure network.[HL349]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what advice has been issued to local authorities to make the required changes to their information technology services to remain connected to the gov.uk secure network.[HL350]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made by each local authority in the United Kingdom in making changes to their information technology services to remain part of the gov.uk secure network.[HL351]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Public Services Network (PSN) is a new and trusted single network for government. Ninety-eight per cent of local authorities have already transitioned to PSN, with the remainder due to transfer before the end of summer.

The Cabinet Office is supporting local authorities as they transition to PSN by providing guidance, project managers and information assurance specialists.

Magistrates: Training

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what training they provide for magistrates.[HL201]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Responsibility for the training of magistrates rests with the Lord Chief Justice and this is exercised through the Judicial College. The National Training Programme for Magistrates provides the framework of training and appraisal for magistrates who sit as chairs

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and wingers for each of the jurisdictions of Adult Court, Youth Court and Family Court in England and Wales.

The training programme supports the learning and development of magistrates to a consistent standard across England & Wales to enable them to perform their duties effectively. Magistrates will go through an induction process and thereafter attend continuation training. The Judicial College supports the training process by providing Bench Books for the Adult, Youth and Family proceedings. Where a need is identified, the Judicial College will also provide training materials to the magistracy for the implementation of major legislation and other changes.

Magistrates are advised in court by their legal advisers who, as professional lawyers, will keep themselves up-to-date with legal developments.

Medals

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any civilian honours other than the George Cross can be awarded posthumously.[HL327]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave on 16 June 2014, (Official Report) Column Ref WA126.

Mental Health Services: Hearing Impairment

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking with regard to those Clinical Commissioning Groups that have not funded Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services for deaf people.[HL330]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme is now the responsibility of individual clinical commissioning groups (CCGs); however over £400 million is being invested over the spending review period to make a choice of psychological therapies available for those who need them in all parts of England.

Section 20 of the Equality Act 2010 requires service providers and CCGs to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so that disabled people are not placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage’ compared to non-disabled people, which would include in the provision of psychological therapies to deaf people.

Minimum Wage

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government under what circumstances employers are legally allowed to pay workers less than the national minimum wage. [HL231]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): There are no circumstances where if a worker is entitled to the National Minimum Wage that an employer can pay less than the National Minimum Wage. However, under the legislation certain types of workers are not entitled to the minimum wage. These are:

self-employed people running their own businesscompany directorsvolunteers or voluntary workersworkers on a government employment programme, eg the Work Programmefamily members of the employer living in the employer’s homenon-family members living in the employer’s home who share in the work and leisure activities, are treated as one of the family and aren’t charged for meals or accommodation (eg au pairs)workers younger than school leaving age (usually 16)higher and further education students on a work placement up to 1 yearworkers on government pre-apprenticeships schemespeople on the following European Union programmes: Leonardo da Vinci, Youth in Action, Erasmus, Comeniuspeople working on a Jobcentre Plus Work trial for 6 weeksmembers of the armed forcesshare fishermenprisonerspeople living and working in a religious community

Additionally, people carrying out work experience and internships will not get the minimum wage if they are:

a student doing work experience as part of a higher or further education courseof compulsory school agea volunteer or doing voluntary workon a government or European programmework shadowing

Employers and workers with queries about the application of the National Minimum Wage can access free and confidential advice through the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368.

Nuclear Power Stations

Question

Asked by Lord Rowlands

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what nuclear power stations there are in the United Kingdom; which of those are being decommissioned; what has been the cost to date of each station; and what is the estimated cost of completion of the decommissioning process.[HL297]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The current and former nuclear power stations designated

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to NDA are Berkeley, Bradwell, Calder Hall, Chapelcross, Dungeness A, Hinkley Point A, Hunterston A, Oldbury, Sizewell A, Trawsfynydd and Wylfa.

All are being decommissioned with the exception of Wylfa which continues to generate.

The costs of each station since their respective generation end dates, and during the period in which they have been in NDA ownership (since 1 April 2005) have been:

Berkeley £400 millionBradwell £590 millionCalder Hall £265 millionChapelcross £490 millionDungeness A £285 millionHinkley Point A £370 millionHunterston A £345 millionOldbury £72 millionSizewell A £280 millionTrawsfynydd £540 million

The estimated cost of completion (the remaining lifetime cost) for all of the sites named is £16.5 billion.

EDF / British Energy stations are: Hunterston B, Hinkley Point B, Hartlepool, Heysham 1, Dungeness B, Heysham 2, Torness, Sizewell B.

Obesity

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much has been spent in each of the last five years to adapt National Health Service hospitals for obese people. [HL370]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): This information is not collected centrally. Decisions on spending are a matter for local National Health Service organisations.

Patient Choice Schemes

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether patients have the legal right to be referred to any hospital provider of their choice, no matter where the consultant is located in England, subject to the provisos listed on the NHS website under Choosing your Hospital; whether patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalopathy in Sussex and elsewhere have been denied the opportunity to do so by local clinical commissioning groups when their general practitioners request a referral; and, if so, why.[HL360]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The 2014-15 Choice Framework and the NHS Constitution, both available on .gov.uk, set out when patients have legal rights to choice.

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The NHS Constitution states that patients have the right to make choices about the services commissioned by National Health Service bodies and to information to support these choices.

The 2014-15 NHS Choice Framework establishes that if a patient needs to see a consultant or specialist as an outpatient for a physical or mental health condition, they can choose the organisation that provides their NHS care and treatment anywhere in England for their first outpatient appointment. They can also choose which consultant-led team or which mental health team led by a named health care professional will be in charge of their NHS care and treatment for their first outpatient appointment.

The organisation can be any clinically appropriate health service provider with whom any clinical commissioning group or NHS England has a commissioning contract for the service required as a result of the referral, but the team must be clinically appropriate and led by a named consultant or health professional who is employed or engaged by that health service provider.

There are also times that patients are not able to make a choice, and these are outlined in the Choice Framework and the Handbook to the NHS Constitution. For example, patients can only choose a hospital or clinic that offers the right treatment and care for their condition. Furthermore, if patients need urgent or emergency treatment, they cannot choose who they see.

If a patient, who is not covered by the exemptions, has not been offered choice, or denied the opportunity to exercise choice by a clinical commissioning group, the 2014-15 Choice Framework sets out a clear complaints procedure.

Personal Injury: Compensation

Question

Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Faulks on 5 February (WA 238), whether they are now in a position to implement a revision to the personal injury discount rate.[HL266]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Government’s review of the personal injury discount rate is still continuing and the position remains as stated in my Written Answer to my Noble Friend of 25 February 2014 (WA238).

Prerogative of Mercy

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Office of the Attorney General has any records of royal pardons granted between 1987 and 1997. [HL285]

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The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) (LD): The Attorney General has no formal role in the issue of Royal Pardons and therefore there are no records of Royal Pardons held by the Attorney General's Office.

Railways: Franchises

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether newly negotiated rail franchises and franchise extensions include incentives for the train operator concerned to devote sufficient resources to revenue protection. [HL207]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Most franchise operators are on risk for revenue and are therefore incentivised to protect that revenue. However, we are conscious that where operators are in receipt of revenue support, in some cases it may be appropriate to strengthen the incentive, particularly later in the franchise term. The exact nature of the incentive or mechanism will vary by franchise.

Rolling Stock

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether plans to cascade rolling stock between rail franchises are made by officials in the Department for Transport; and whether proposed cascades have been examined by operating and engineering people to ensure that costs associated with the cascade are kept to a minimum.[HL206]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): In line with the Government’s policy set out in the March 2012 Command Paper, which is for a market-led approach to rolling stock, the Government does not believe that the cascade of units between franchises should be planned by officials within the Department for Transport.

When proposals arise, such as the transfer of the nine Class 170 trains from TransPennine, officials will work with industry to help find a solution, but the Department has made it clear that it expects train operators and rolling stock companies ultimately to resolve such situations.

Science: Primary Education

Questions

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many primary schools in England have (1) a science subject leader, and (2) a science subject leader who has a science degree.[HL437]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The information requested is not collected centrally.

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to increase the numbers of primary school teachers with (1) a science degree, or (2) a science A-level, as their highest science qualification. [HL439]

Lord Nash: The Government would like to see many more science graduates and candidates with a science A Level becoming teachers—both primary and secondary—to raise the quality of science teaching.

However, the responsibility for making recruitment decisions rightly rests with schools, including what specialist qualifications and experience they expect individual teachers to have. Through the new School Direct training route, we have given schools more control over the selection and training of the teachers they need for the future.

Students: Loans

Questions

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the Student Loans Company does not provide up-to-date online information about the state of an account, detailing all repayments made into the account via the PAYE system since the last statement was issued.[HL292]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): HMRC collates employer information on student loan deductions at the end of each tax year and provides this information in P14 “end of year summaries” to the SLC. The SLC calculate interest and statements are issued to borrowers, advising them of their deductions, interest and outstanding balance at the end of the tax year. This process is repeated annually until all student loan repayments are collected.

The repayment information held by the SLC will, as a result of this system, be accurate to the April of the previous tax year. The SLC is not in a position to provide an accurate settlement of a borrower’s balance more recently than the previous April. However, the borrower can track and monitor their own settlement balance online if they retain a note of all their repayment deductions made over the tax year.

HMRC, BIS and SLC are currently discussing arrangements to share student loan repayment information more quickly, but there is no mechanism to do so in the current tax system and necessary changes will take some time to implement.

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the Student Loans Company and HM Revenue and Customs joint accounting system is able to continue deducting repayments on loans via the PAYE system even when repayment has been completed; and why in such circumstances it is necessary for the individual customer to alert them to the situation and to reclaim overpayment.[HL293]

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): It is possible for borrowers with Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) loans nearing the end of their repayment term to over-repay their loans because there is a time lag between the deductions from borrowers pay (by employers), HMRC’s annual process for student loan repayment accounting and the student loans Company (SLC) subsequently receiving payment information from HMRC. As a consequence it is possible for people to over repay before the SLC becomes aware that their repayments should stop.

Because of this, SLC notifies borrowers in the final 23 months of repayment that they may opt out of the PAYE system and complete their loan repayments by Direct Debit (DD). This would ensure they do not over repay their loan. If borrowers choose not take up DD repayment it is likely that they will over repay. Borrowers are advised to monitor their own repayments. If they can demonstrate to SLC that they have paid enough by providing evidence, such as payslips, SLC can then ask HMRC to issue a “stop” notice to employers and refund any over repayments at the earliest opportunity.

The SLC provides guidance and tools to help borrowers calculate their loan balance and when they are likely to repay their loan in full. The SLC refunds all over repayments to borrowers’ bank accounts.

Tobacco: Packaging

Questions

Asked by Lord Palmer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government from which companies and organisations, other than those involved in the tobacco industry, they have received representations since October 2013 regarding their plans to consider introducing standardised tobacco packaging.[HL239]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The information cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Palmer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of introducing standardised tobacco packaging on the United Kingdom's ability to trade globally.[HL240]

Earl Howe: The Government continues to carefully consider all issues relevant to the introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco products, including aspects related to trade.

The Government will shortly publish a final, short consultation that will contribute to final decision-making on whether standardised packaging will be introduced. The Government encourages anyone with an interest to respond to the consultation, which may include evidence on the impact of standardised packaging on trade.

Asked by Lord Palmer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 6 May (WA 447), whether they will now place in the Library of the House correspondence received by the Department

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of Health regarding the proposed introduction of standardised tobacco packaging from all other government departments and agencies including police forces. [HL242]

Earl Howe: The Government’s position has not changed since the answer that has been referred to was provided.

Asked by Lord Palmer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 6 May (WA 444), whether they will place in the Library of the House correspondence between the Intellectual Property Office and the Department of Health regarding the proposed introduction of standardised tobacco packaging.[HL256]

Earl Howe:The Department has no current plans to publish information on the development and formulation of Government policy on standardised packaging of tobacco products.

Asked by Lord Palmer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the statement by Earl Howe on 3 April (HL Deb, col 1121–2), whether in preparing for the publication of the draft regulations on standardised packaging for tobacco products they are considering the scope of the types of tobacco products to be included, such as drawing a distinction between cigars and pipe tobaccos and mainstream tobacco products. [HL257]

Earl Howe: The Government continues to carefully consider all issues relevant to the introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco products, including the scope of the types of tobacco products covered by the policy.

UK Membership of EU

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the event of Jean-Claude Juncker being appointed President of the European Commission, they plan to review their policy concerning continuing membership of the European Union.[HL456]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): This Government is clear that membership of a reformed EU is in the UK’s interest. The EU must reform to become more competitive, flexible and democratically accountable, and work fairly for those in and outside the Eurozone.

Verne Prison

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to make legal aid-funded immigration representation available to migrants detained in HMP The Verne.[HL233]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Currently, advice on immigration matters within the scope of Legal Aid can be given to detainees in HMP The Verne by any provider that holds an Immigration & Asylum contract with the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).

Earlier this year the LAA conducted an expression of interest exercise among existing contract holders providing immigration surgeries at other Immigration Removal Centres, with four providers confirmed as interested in operating surgeries in HMP The Verne. Communications will be issued shortly regarding when these services are likely to commence.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether it is their intention for on-site legal surgeries be held in HMP The Verne.[HL234]

Lord Faulks: Earlier this year the Legal Aid Agency conducted an expression of interest exercise among existing contract holders providing immigration surgeries at other Immigration Removal Centres, with four providers confirmed as interested in operating surgeries in HMP The Verne. Communications will be issued shortly regarding when these services are likely to commence.