2 July 2014 : Column WA257

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Written Answers

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Abortion

Question

Asked by Baroness Gould of Potternewton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many repeat abortions were performed in 2013 on women aged (1) under 16, (2) 16 to 17, (3) 18 to 19, (4) 20 to 29, (5) 30 to 34, and (6) 35 and over, in each clinical commissioning group and local authority area. [HL473]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): This information can only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Abortion statistics are published annually. Table 4b of the latest statistical data (2013) gives information on repeat abortions for ages under 25 and 25+ by clinical commissioning group and local authority. A copy of the Annual Statistics, England and Wales: 2013 has been placed in the Library.

Animal Experiments

Question

Asked by Lord Hoyle

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 10 June (WA 7), why the number of scientific procedures on animals has increased from 2,652,673 in 1997 to 4,128,527 in 2012; in what areas of research procedures in 2012 took place; and what types and breeds of animals were being used.[HL594]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The overall level of scientific procedures is determined by a number of factors including the economic climate and global trends in scientific endeavour. As the regulator, the Home Office ensures that a proper balance between animal welfare and scientific advancement is maintained which is achieved through a harm-benefit analysis.

The increase in procedures is primarily due to breeding to produce genetically altered animals. A comparison of breeding to produce such animals with other primary purposes, from 1995 to 2012, can be found in Figure 2, page 11 of the Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain 2012, a copy of which is in the House Library (HC549).

Details of the areas of research and the species of animals used are published annually in the Annual Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain, copies of which are also in the House Library. The publication of statistics for Northern Ireland is a matter for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland, which separately publishes Northern Irish statistics.

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In 2010, the Coalition Government made a commitment to work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research and our Delivery Plan has now been published and can be found on the GOV.UK website by searching for the document entitled, "Working to reduce the use of animals in research: delivery plan". The commitment is being delivered through a science-led programme, much of which is led by the National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), an organisation with a strong record in reducing animal use.

The Government is committed to reducing the use of animals in research and the Delivery Plan shows how alternative methods can deliver fast, high quality research that also boosts economic growth.

Setting a target for the reduction in the use of animals would be flawed. We are wary of targets which we cannot control, but we do set criteria that can be controlled. In addition, if animals of a lower sentience are used then that may increase numbers.

Armed Conflict: Sexual Offences

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support reparations for victims of conflict-related sexual violence in the six focus countries identified in their National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.[HL479]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The British Government understands the importance of reparations for victims and survivors of sexual violence who often cite this issue as key to their social, psychological and economic recovery. We strongly supported the launch of new Guidance from the UN Secretary General on reparations for conflict related sexual violence at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, hosted by the UK on 10-13 June. This included a specific session on reparation schemes in post conflict settings. We firmly support the participation of survivors in determining appropriate reparations and believe reparations should not only focus only on financial compensation but also the dignity, social status and health of victims.

The UK is also an active supporter of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Trust Fund for Victims (TFV). The TFV was established under the Rome Statute to support victims and to help build lasting peace and reconciliation in war torn societies – such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 2012, the UK has provided £2.8 million to the TFV and our most recent contribution (£1 million) was specifically earmarked for projects that support the survivors of acts of sexual violence.

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether their plans to stop the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war announced in June 2014 will cover caste-based sexual violence, rape and so-called punishment rape.[HL507]

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Baroness Warsi: The Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), launched by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), and the Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in May 2012, is focused on ending impunity for crimes of sexual violence committed in conflict and the provision of greater support to the survivors of these crimes. Where caste based sexual violence and so-called punishment rape are used in conflict they fall within the overarching objectives of the Initiative.

PSVI is complemented by wider government activity on tackling violence against women and girls, underpinned by the cross-government action plan, ‘A Call to End Violence against Women and Girls’, which sets out the Government’s programme of domestic and international work in this area. This includes working though our network of embassies overseas and with non-governmental organisations to address the full range of violations of women’s rights, including sexual and other forms of violence committed against them.

Arms Trade: Treaties

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what pressure is being exerted on countries that have not ratified the Arms Trade Treaty.[HL669]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK has allocated £350,000 to support projects that will help countries to sign, ratify and implement the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). We are working through the UN and EU with countries that require technical assistance and advice on how to implement certain aspects of the Treaty e.g. enforcement training and framing legislation correctly. Other activities include raising awareness with key partners in regions such as West Africa, where communities are seriously affected by the illicit trade in Small Arms.

This year, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s counter-proliferation programme, we will be funding a series of ATT-related projects specifically focused on ATT signature, ratification, implementation and early entry into force.

Care Act 2014

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why staying safe from abuse or neglect has been omitted from the list of specified care outcomes in the new draft eligibility criteria for the Care Act 2014 Part 1 regulations; and whether there are any plans to address the issue elsewhere in the regulations. [HL421]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Care Act for the first time will put adult safeguarding on a legal basis. The new measures require local authorities to carry out a

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safeguarding enquiry where they suspect a person is at risk of abuse or neglect and consider what if any actions are needed, and who should carry these out.

The safeguarding duties are triggered on the basis of suspecting that an adult with care and support needs may be at risk of abuse or neglect. This rightly does not have an eligibility threshold, or require a particular level of need before the duty to carry out an enquiry is required. If we were to treat the risk of abuse and neglect separately in the eligibility criteria, then a person’s level of risk would have to meet the eligibility threshold before they became eligible for the local authority to meet their need.

The Act is clear that safeguarding responsibilities sit alongside the other elements of the care and support system, including assessment of needs. The draft guidance clarifies that where a local authority has started a safeguarding enquiry, it should continue the needs assessment for care and support in parallel, and determine whether the person has eligible needs which it must meet.

This approach will ensure that the local authority identifies both risks of, and responses to, abuse or neglect, as well as identifying the person's eligible needs which must be met through care and support.

The draft regulations and guidance which support implementation are subject to public consultation until 15 August 2014.

Domestic Service: Conditions of Employment

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to end the abuse and exploitation of domestic workers in the United Kingdom, especially those from overseas; what means they will use to ensure that such workers have contracts of employment and are regularly paid at least the minimum wage; and whether such protection can extend to the employees of foreign diplomats.[HL579]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The UK already provides comprehensive employment and social protections to domestic workers and as a rule, domestic workers in the UK are entitled to the same employment rights as workers generally – including the National Minimum Wage (unless they are treated as if they are a member of the family), statutory sick pay, paid annual leave, protections from discrimination and unfair dismissals as well as other protections.

We are fully committed to ensuring that domestic workers are able to access their rights. Anyone who believes they are being mistreated by their employer in any way has access to a number of organisations who can help including the police, the Pay and Work Rights Helpline and Employment Tribunals.

The Government is also focused on ensuring that overseas domestic workers are informed about their rights and immigration and borders staff are trained to recognise potential victims of abuse. Overseas domestic

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workers must have been employed for 12 months before a visa will be granted and must have a signed statement of terms and conditions of employment in line with the National Minimum Wage legislation. Every overseas domestic worker is also provided with a letter informing them of their rights in the UK and where to get help if needed. This letter is provided in a range of languages as well as English.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, all foreign diplomats in the UK are required to respect our laws, including employment regulations. The FCO treats any allegation of mistreatment of staff in diplomatic households very seriously. Any allegations that the law has been broken are investigated by the police and the FCO will take appropriate steps to assist the investigation which may include requesting the withdrawal of diplomatic immunity.

Egypt

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the allegations of torture and mistreatment of prisoners at the Azouli prison reported in the Guardian on 23 June; and whether they will make representations to the government of Egypt in relation to them.[HL504]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Recent allegations of torture and mistreatment in Egyptian prisons are deeply worrying. A recent Amnesty International report suggests that up to 400 civilians are being held without charge at the Azouli prison, with no access to their lawyers or families.

The European Union made a statement on 19 June at the 26th Human Rights Council regarding the treatment of prisoners in Egypt. The statement expressed concern at the continued detention of thousands of Egyptian citizens, many of whom were detained on unclear grounds, and the conditions under which they are detained.

Representatives of our Embassy in Cairo raised the issue of Azouli prison with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24 June. The British Government condemns the use of torture in all its forms and strongly urges the Egyptian authorities to ensure that all human and legal rights of all detainees are upheld.

Eritrea

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the situation of Eritrean refugees in Sudan and in Egypt; and whether they are discussing the matter with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.[HL580]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We remain concerned about the situation of Eritrean refugees in Egypt and Sudan. We have highlighted the kidnapping and trafficking of Eritrean refugees in Sudan in our annual human rights report and are also in regular discussions with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on this issue.

EU Enlargement

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 17 June (WA 37), which third countries envisage joining the European Union; and what assessment they have made of the impact of further European Union enlargement, particularly on the financing of the European Union and migration.[HL455]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Six countries currently have been awarded Candidate Status by the European Union (EU). Of these, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are currently in accession negotiations. Iceland has suspended its accession negotiations. Macedonia is a candidate country but has not yet opened accession negotiations. Last month, the European Council endorsed the decision to grant Candidate Status to Albania. Two further countries are recognised as potential candidates. These are Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo.

The current governments of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have all publicly expressed an interest in joining the EU.

The accession process is a lengthy one, involving detailed negotiation of 35 Chapters of the EU Acquis, with candidate countries required to adapt their administrative and institutional infrastructures and bring their national legislation into line with EU legislation in these areas. Financing of the EU and migration will be addressed at several stages in this process, notably in EU Common Positions and related impact assessments by the European Commission on Chapter 2 (Free Movement of Workers), Chapter 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) and 33 (Financial and Budgetary Provisions). We welcome the emphasis that EU Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fule, has placed upon economic governance in the enlargement process, which should increase economic convergence between accession countries and the EU and reduce migratory pressures.

The UK has not produced national impact assessments on EU enlargement in addition to the European Commission’s own impact assessments. As part of the Government’s review of the balance of competences with the European Union, however, reports are due to be published on enlargement and free movement of persons.

Food Poverty

Questions

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to monitor the scale and causes of food poverty in the United Kingdom; and what steps they plan to take.[HL446]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The root causes of household food insecurity are varied and complex. The Government is committed to playing its part in tackling both short and long term challenges. While it is not the Government’s role to set food prices, we work to promote open and competitive markets that help offer the best prices to consumers.

Through Healthy Start the Government provides a nutritional safety net that encourages healthy eating to around half a million pregnant women and children under 4 years old in low income and disadvantaged families throughout the UK. The Government provides free school meals to disadvantaged children, and the Deputy Prime Minister has announced healthy free school meals for all school children in reception, year 1 and year 2 from September 2014. We are reforming the welfare system to make it fairer, more affordable and better able to tackle poverty, unemployment and welfare dependency. We are also providing increased access to jobs through the Government’s efforts to promote growth in the economy.

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will develop and implement a cross-departmental strategy for tackling food poverty in the United Kingdom.[HL447]

Lord De Mauley: Food inflation fell to an annual rate of -0.6 per cent in the year to May, down from 0.5 per cent in March, which means food is cheaper now than it was twelve months ago (the first time this has happened since 2006). The Government has a clear strategy on benefits and welfare which includes making work pay, creating a fiscally sustainable system for future generations and ensuring we are focusing benefit support on those most in need. Our benefits system provides a strong safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable, with £94 billion per year provided for working age benefits which support millions of people who are on low incomes or out of work. The introduction of Universal Credit will also see three million households better off and significantly improve take-up of unclaimed benefits.

In addition, through Healthy Start the Government provides a nutritional safety net by encouraging healthy eating to around half a million pregnant women and children under 4 years old in low income and disadvantaged families throughout the UK.

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the recent report by Church Action on Poverty, Oxfam GB and The Trussell Trust Below the Breadline: The relentless rise of food poverty in Britain.[HL448]

Lord De Mauley: The Government noted the recent Below the Breadline report. The factors that impact on household food security are complex and include economic, social and environmental influences. There is no official definition of “food poverty”. A single measure would not be able to reflect the multi-faceted

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aspects of this issue

.

Year on year food prices have fallen for the first time since 2006 with an annual rate of inflation of -0.6 per cent in the year to May 2014. This is down from 0.5 per cent inflation in April.

We recognise the extremely valuable work of civil society groups in supporting local communities. There has long been a tradition in this country of voluntary and charity organisations providing support to people in need.

Food: Labelling

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to combat misleading labelling of food.[HL552]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Food labelling rules are harmonised in the EU and require that food information shall not be misleading. This Government has pressed for better information for consumers during negotiations relating to food labelling in Europe.

Food businesses are ultimately responsible for ensuring their products’ safety and accurate labelling. However, Government departments and agencies back this up with more than 80,000 risk-based checks per year. In addition, Defra develops validated testing methods under its Food Authenticity Programme to check whether a product has been mislabelled or contaminated. These are then used by Public Analysts and local authorities to support food law enforcement.

Football

Question

Asked by Lord Faulkner of Worcester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what responses they have had to their approach to Premier League and Football League clubs about the provision of access for disabled people to their grounds; and whether they will publish them.[HL497]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): Twelve football clubs have responded to the Minister of State for Disabled People’s letter about inclusive and accessible stadia. We do not feel that it would be appropriate to publish these letters at this time. My Department and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are working together to ensure that our national game, and other spectator sports, take their responsibilities seriously when catering for disabled supporters.

Immigrants: Detainees

Question

Asked by Baroness Gould of Potternewton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the incidence of physical, sexual and emotional abuse experienced by transgender individuals placed in mixed-sex Immigration Removal Centres.[HL476]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Men and women only mix at two immigration removal centres (IRC); Yarl’s Wood family accommodation and Dungavel IRC. Transsexual people may be held in any IRC.

Transsexual people in detention are managed in accordance with Detention Services Order 11/2012. This order requires centres to produce a management care plan outlining how the detainee will be managed safely and decently within the detention environment and to put in place measures to manage the risk of transphobic harassment and transphobic hate crime.

An assessment of the incidence of physical, sexual and emotional abuse experienced by transgender individuals placed in IRCs is not possible as the information is not centrally recorded and can only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Iraq Conflict

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with other European countries concerning a role for the International Criminal Court in investigating the legality of the war in Iraq.[HL575]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The United Kingdom has not had any discussions with European countries over a role for the International Criminal Court in investigating the legality of the war in Iraq.

Israel

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of any change in the treatment of young people arrested in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the publication of the report of the independent commission headed by Baroness Scotland of Asthal.[HL628]

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 reply I gave on 18 June 2014, Official Report, column WA69.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the use of the phrase "cleaning the stables" by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and others in relation to Israeli operations in Palestinian areas; and what impact they consider such language will have on relations between the communities there.[HL640]

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Baroness Warsi: The Government has made no assessment on this issue. However, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has made clear that it is vital that all security operations are conducted with due care and proportionate use of force.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Questions

Asked by Baroness Brinton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many 18 to 21 year-olds claim Jobseeker's Allowance in England; and what proportion of those (1) do not have a Level 3 qualification, and (2) live in households with a gross income of £42,000 or more.[HL471]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the total annual cost of Jobseeker's Allowance for 18 to 21 year-olds in England; and what is the cost of Jobseeker's Allowance for those (1) with qualifications below Level 3, and (2) at or above Level 3.[HL472]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): In January 2014, the latest figures available, there were 140,000 claimants aged 18 to 21 year olds in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance in England.

In 2012/13 the Department estimates it spent around £610m on Jobseeker's Allowance for 18-21 year-olds in England.

It is not possible to split this expenditure for claimants by qualification level, as the Department does not collect this information in our administrative systems.

It is not possible to identify how many live in households with a gross income of £42,000 or more as the Department does not collect this in our administrative systems.

Large Goods Vehicles: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with representatives of the haulage industry about improving the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.[HL460]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): There have been discussions with representatives of the haulage industry in a number of broader meetings. The meetings included the Commercial Vehicle Road Safety Forum, the Road Haulage Forum and a driver certificates of professional competence (DCPC) stakeholder meeting for the EU review. The subjects discussed included the potential for DCPC, vehicle design and enforcement to improve safety, including of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

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Department for Transport officials have also attended meetings about vehicle construction and to develop a best practice standard for construction logistics. These have been in collaboration with the haulage industry and Transport for London, with the objective of improving road safety for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

The Department runs a Safety Sub Group of the Minister’s Cycling Stakeholder Forum. This includes members from the haulage industry, such as the Freight Transport Association, Road Haulage Association and Minerals Products Association.

Medical Records: Data Protection

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that patient data held by the National Health Service are not sold improperly.[HL441]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): National Health Service organisations are individually accountable for their management of patient information and must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and common law confidentiality requirements. The sale of patient identifiable data, without patient consent, would be an unlawful act. Where data is brought together in large databases for purposes other than care—for example, commissioning and medical research—the Government intends to ensure that data will be handled in secure environments, for a limited range of approved purposes and under strict controls. The Government will shortly be consulting on the controls and safeguards that should be established to reassure patients and the wider public.

The Government has made changes through the Care Act to extend the role of the independent Confidentiality Advisory Group (CAG), which advises the Secretary of State and the Health Research Authority on non-direct care uses of confidential health data. The CAG can advise the Health and Social Care Information Centre and ensure, as outlined in the Care Act that there is a clear legal basis to support the disclosure of patient data and that data are only used for care related purposes.

Meriam Ibrahim

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the re-arrest of Meriam Ibrahim and the detention of her husband and children by the Sudanese National State Security at the airport in Khartoum while they were attempting to leave the country.[HL557]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Meriam Ibrahim and her family were released on police bail on 26 June

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following their detention on 24 June. We understand that she and her family are currently staying at the US embassy.

We will remain closely engaged in this case and continue to call on the Government of Sudan to abide by its international obligations to uphold an individual's right to freedom of religion or belief.

Muslim Brotherhood

Question

Asked by Baroness Falkner of Margravine

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect to complete their inquiry into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood; and whether they intend to publish their complete findings.[HL605]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Prime Minister, my Rt Hon Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), asked Sir John Jenkins to complete the review of the Muslim Brotherhood before Parliament rises and will make public its findings after the Government has considered them.

Passports

Questions

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of passengers (1) departing from, and (2) arriving in the United Kingdom by (a) air, (b) rail, and (c) sea, have their passports scanned electronically. [HL501]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Border Force officers at the Primary Checkpoint (immigration control) scan passports electronically and complete other checks on all arriving passengers seeking admission or leave to enter the UK in accordance with the Border Force Operating Mandate. Border Force officers perform in-person exit controls on passengers departing the UK on an intelligence-led basis in accordance with the Border Force Operating Mandate. Where Border Force officers carry out in-person exit controls they may check and scan a passenger’s passport electronically as well as completing other checks.

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government for how long records are retained from the electronic scanning of passports of persons (1) arriving in, and (2) departing from, the United Kingdom.[HL502]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: It is longstanding policy not to disclose details of records which may be held in relation to arrivals in and departures from the United Kingdom, as to do so would not be in the interests of border and national security.

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Postal Services

Questions

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to protect the universal postal service in the light of declining use of the service.[HL442]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The universal postal service is protected in primary legislation – the Postal Services Act 2011. Under the Act, Parliament has established the minimum requirements of the universal service – which include letter deliveries 6 days a week at a uniform and affordable rate throughout the UK. Only Parliament can change the minimum requirements.

Government has ensured that ongoing protection of the universal service is at the heart of the regulatory regime by giving Ofcom the primary statutory duty to secure the provision of the universal service and to this end Ofcom must have regard for the financial sustainability of the universal service.

Ofcom has put in place a comprehensive monitoring regime that tracks the financial sustainability of the universal service and Parliament has ensured that the regulator has the powers and tools it needs to intervene in the market if the provision of the universal service is ever at risk.

The steps we have taken to reform the regulatory framework coupled with securing access to the much needed private capital for Royal Mail, as the designated Universal Service Provider, are the best way to safeguard the future of a sustainable universal postal service in the UK.

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are considering a review of the direct delivery market in the light of postal service providers other than Royal Mail being able to serve selected areas only.[HL443]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Under the Postal Services Act 2011, Parliament gave Ofcom, as an independent regulator for postal services, the primary statutory duty to secure the provision of the universal service.

Last year, following a consultation, Ofcom, as the independent regulator for postal services, set out its guidance on its approach to intervening in response to a material threat to the provision of the universal service.

Ofcom has made clear that if its ongoing monitoring regime, which keeps the situation under continual review and allows for any new evidence, does not prompt the need for any earlier assessment, it will as a matter of course carry out a full assessment of the impact of competition on the universal service towards the end of 2015.

More information about Ofcom’s regulatory regime can be found on its website (www.ofcom.org.uk).

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Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are considering any regulatory changes to protect the universal postal service in the light of postal service providers other than Royal Mail being able to serve selected areas only.[HL444]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Under the Postal Services Act 2011, Parliament gave Ofcom, as an independent regulator for postal services, the primary statutory duty to secure the provision of the universal service.

Parliament has given Ofcom the regulatory powers and tools it needs to intervene in the market if the universal service is ever at risk. It is for Ofcom to determine how it uses its powers and tools in support of its statutory duties.

Ofcom also has a duty to promote competition where that benefits consumers, though should the two duties be in conflict it is the universal service that takes precedence in the interests of postal users.

More information about Ofcom’s regulatory regime can be found on its website (www.ofcom.org.uk).

Postal Services: Competition

Questions

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have conducted research to review whether end-to-end competition in the postal sector is more likely to affect the universal service than in other European countries due to (1) the United Kingdom's economic geography, and (2) the United Kingdom mandatory access requirements.[HL550]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): Under the Postal Services Act 2011, Parliament gave Ofcom, as an independent regulator for postal services, the primary statutory duty to secure the provision of the universal service.

Parliament has given Ofcom the regulatory powers and tools it needs to intervene in the market if the provision of the universal service is ever at risk.

Given its statutory duties, it is for Ofcom to monitor and assess any impact of postal competition on the provision of the universal service. To this end Ofcom has put in place a comprehensive monitoring regime to keep the situation under review.

More information about Ofcom’s regulatory regime can be found on its website (www.ofcom.org.uk).

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of postal services was delivered through access contracts in each year since access competition was introduced in 2004.[HL551]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Since 2004, the percentage of postal services delivered through access contracts (i.e. addressed volumes – excluding unaddressed and

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including international) is: 2004-5: 0%; 2005-06: 5%; 2006-07: 12%; 2007-08 (unadjusted 53 week): 19%; 2008-09: 26%; 2009-10: 35%; 2010-11: 41%; 2011-12: 44%; 2012-13 (unadjusted 53 week): 48%.

(Sources: 2005-2009 Postcomm Regulatory Accounts; 2010-2013: Ofcom’s Annual Monitoring Report 2012-13).

Prisoner Escapes

Questions

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Category A prisoners have escaped in each of the last 10 years; and how long after the escape each was recaptured or how long each such uncaptured prisoner has been at large.[HL407]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prisoners have absconded or escaped from each of Her Majesty's prisons or other custodial establishments in each of the last 10 years.[HL409]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Category A escapes remain extremely rare occurrences. The table below provides details of the two Category A escapes that have occurred in the last 10 years; both have been recaptured.

Table 1: Category A Escape occurring between April 2002 and March 2013
YearNumber of Category A escapersDays spent unlawfully at large

2011/12

1

418(1)

2012/13

1

0(2)

Neither prisoner escaped from a prison establishment.

(1) This prisoner escaped from prison contractor transport, through force of arms.

(2) This prisoner escaped from the witness box during a court hearing and was recaptured in less than 1 hour.

As a result of improved risk assessment procedures the number of prisoners absconding from open prisons has reduced significantly over the last 10 years. There were 225 absconds in 2013-14 compared to 1,301 in 2003-04.

Figures for the number of escapes and absconds, by prison, since 1995 are provided in the Prison Digest contained in the Prison and Probation Trusts Performance Statistics. This can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/225234/prison-performance-digest-12-13.xls

Radicalism

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what they are doing to combat radicalisation in Britain.[HL595]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The revised Prevent strategy, launched on 7 June 2011 has three objectives: respond to the ideological challenge of

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terrorism; prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure they are given appropriate advice and support; work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation which we need to address.

We refocused the Prevent strategy in 2011 so that we confront the ideology behind extremism, and tackle non-violent extremism as well as violent extremism. Following the recommendations made by the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Tackling Radicalisation and Extremism at the end of last year, the Government is now implementing a raft of practical measures to further strengthen our approach across a range of sectors including prisons, schools, universities and online.

Prevent practitioners across the country work with Local Authorities and key partners, such as the police and the Charity Commission, to provide targeted projects and outreach work.

One of our initiatives, the Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP), has been delivered to over 24,000 front-line public sector staff. This teaches front-line staff who work in various sectors and institutions (such as in the education and health sectors) how to recognise people who may be vulnerable to radicalisation, and how to refer people who may need support to Channel.

We also have a multi-agency programme, Channel, which supports and protects individuals who may be vulnerable to being drawn into any form of terrorism.

In addition, my Department continues to work with the Department of Education on long-term efforts on reducing the risk of radicalisation in young people, particularly within the schools sector. Since June 2011, Prevent has committed £1.4 million to fund more than 50 projects in schools and madrassahs across the country. This includes projects to teach young people about the dangers of extremist online messaging, and interactive drama workshops that are a safe environment in which to discuss tackling extremist ideology.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary

Questions

Asked by Lord MacKenzie of Culkein

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any assessment has been made of the officer retention rate in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, particularly of engineer officers.[HL601]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many engineer officers have been recruited by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as a result of recent advertisement. [HL602]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) continually monitors its manpower numbers and plans its recruitment and retention strategies accordingly. As part of that overall programme there are ongoing and specific RFA Recruitment Campaigns. The direct contribution from individual campaigns is not known, not least as interest may grow over time,

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but I understand that between January and June this year 18 joining offers have been made to individuals wishing to become engineering officers in the RFA.

Schools: Admissions

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of secondary and primary schools currently experience a shortage of capacity in regard to school places; and how many schools have been extended or expanded to deal with a shortage of capacity since May 2010.[HL564]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Department for Education collects information from each local authority on the number of available school places in state-funded primary and secondary schools (excluding special schools) through an annual survey. The most recent publication relates to the position at May 2013 and is published online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-capacity-academic-year-2012-to-2013

The corresponding statistics for May 2010 are published online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-capacity-academic-year-2010-to-2011

We do not hold a central record of the number of schools that have been extended or expanded to deal with a shortage of capacity and we could only provide this information at a disproportionate cost.

South Sudan

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Worcester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they are offering members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to stop small arms entering South Sudan.[HL527]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have played an important role in the mediation efforts and have consistently called for both parties to respect the cessation of hostilities to solve the ongoing crisis in South Sudan and commit fully to the mediation process. Although South Sudan is not subject to an UN Arms Embargo, we have been clear that the actions of its neighbours should not in any way exacerbate the conflict. South Sudan has been subject to an EU Arms Embargo since its independence.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Worcester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure the impartiality of any protection force deployed to South Sudan by the countries of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.[HL529]

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Baroness Warsi: We welcome the decision by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy troops to provide protection to the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) in South Sudan. The protection force will be integrated into the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) structure, and under UN command, to ensure impartiality and alignment with UN Security Council Resolution 2155.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Worcester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether the United Nations Mission in South Sudan has sufficient logistical support to respond to the new protection needs in civilian protection camps in South Sudan.[HL530]

Baroness Warsi: UN Security Council Resolution 2155 of 26 May 2014 renewed the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) mandate and acknowledged that the situation has changed in South Sudan. The new mandate enables UNMISS to focus on its core priorities: to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian assistance and investigate human rights violations and abuses. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that UNMISS remains focused on these priorities, with the right personnel and resources in place.

Special Constables

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the recent award to Kent Police Special Constabulary of the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, whether there are any steps being taken nationally to encourage membership of the Special Constabulary.[HL651]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Special Constabulary is an integral part of policing.

Individual police forces are responsible for determining their own recruitment requirements in order to meet local policing needs. In line with the Government’s commitment to increase the number of volunteers, the Home Office continues to support the development of the Special Constabulary in England and Wales.

Sri Lanka

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to ban the leader of the Bodu Bala Sena, Mr Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, from entering the United Kingdom.[HL643]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Home Office does not routinely comment on individual cases. This is because the Home Office has obligations in law to protect this information.

I can confirm that any visa application from Mr Gnanasara would be considered in accordance with the Immigration Rules.

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Under the Prevent strategy, the Unacceptable Behaviours policy has prevented a cross section of extremists from entering the UK. This includes excluding individuals for public speaking or publishing material that foments, justifies or glorifies terrorist violence or fosters hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK or otherwise can be demonstrated as providing support for extremists.

Coming to the UK is a privilege we refuse to extend to those who would subvert our shared values.

UK Border Force

Questions

Asked by Lord Eames

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the criteria for applicants to the UK Border Force.[HL608]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Applicants applying for permanent positions with Border Force are required to meet a range of eligibility criteria, depending upon the role and grade. This may include nationality, age, driving licence, academic achievements for the grade and previous experience.

The criteria for the key posts of Border Force Officer and Assistant Officer was formally reviewed in 2012. The requirement to hold a driving licence underwent an internal policy equality review in 2013.

Asked by Lord Eames

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how frequently the performance of members of the UK Border Force is reviewed.[HL609]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: All Border Force staff have a minimum of three performance discussions a year: objective setting, mid-year and end-of-year reviews. Managers are strongly advised that these formal, mandatory meetings are supported by regular informal performance discussions throughout the year.

USA

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 17 June (WA 36), whether the figure for United States intelligence flights includes all intelligence flights by United States aircraft.[HL540]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): I refer my noble friend to my previous response in which I said that no US intelligence flights with a detainee on board have landed in the UK, our overseas territories, or the Crown Dependencies since 11 September 2001.

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Work Capability Assessment

Question

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the policy of withdrawing Employment and Support Allowance payments during mandatory reconsideration of decisions being appealed from the Work Capability Assessment will be reviewed in the light of the delays in reconsideration; and what assessment they have made of whether the policy is causing claimants hardship.[HL534]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): In line with all other DWP-administered benefits Employment and Support Allowance is not payable whilst the mandatory reconsideration process is undertaken.

During the mandatory reconsideration period other benefits may be payable, provided the claimant meets the conditions of entitlement.

Our reforms to the appeals process mean that more claimants are now being contacted before decisions are made, giving them the opportunity to discuss their circumstances with the decision maker; and subsequently – through Mandatory Reconsideration – they are given another opportunity to provide additional evidence. This is helping to either prevent disputes arising or resolving them as early as possible, thereby mitigating gaps in benefit payments and avoiding the need for costly appeals.

World War I

Question

Asked by Lord Faulkner of Worcester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many bodies of those killed in the First World War are currently unburied; and what are their plans for their interment.[HL506]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) currently holds the remains of 43 British service personnel killed in the First World War. A further eight sets of remains which were recovered with those of British personnel, are now believed to be members of other Commonwealth forces.

The Ministry of Defence has an agreed target with the CWGC to complete investigations and reinter remains, with appropriate honours, within 18 months of discovery.

World War II: Anniversaries

Question

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 18 June (WA 84), what plans they have to recognise the

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contribution of women in auxiliary, emergency and support services during the Second World War; and whether they have considered the introduction of a badge such as the badge awarded to the Veterans of the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps in 2008.[HL649]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): I am sure the

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commemorations will seek to honour the work of all of those who contributed to the Second World War effort including women in the auxiliary, emergency, and support services. As the Noble Lord points out, a number of Departments have introduced badges, such as that for female pilots of the Auxiliary Transport Service provided by the Department of Transport. The Ministry of Defence Veterans badge recognises all women who served in the Armed Forces during the Second World War.