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Written Answers

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have (1) been created, (2) had their boundaries changed, and (3) been abolished, within the last ten years.[HL1468]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): This is a devolved matter. In England, no new Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) have been designated and no variations to existing AONB boundaries have been made in the last 10 years.

As part of the designation of the New Forest and South Downs National Parks, three AONBs were subject to revocation orders. The land within those AONBs fell under the new National Park Designations so it was necessary to remove the AONB status. Other than that, there have been no “abolitions”.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proposals are currently being considered for the creation, amendment and abolition of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[HL1469]

Lord De Mauley: This is a devolved matter. In England, it is for Natural England to consider proposals for the creation, amendment or abolition of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). The Secretary of State’s role is limited to confirming, modifying or rejecting any designation or variation orders that Natural England puts forward.

The Natural England Board (as published in Board minutes) confirmed in December 2013 it would be working towards a Variation Order for the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB. Initial work towards a boundary variation to extend the Surrey Hills AONB has also been agreed (Board minutes of February 2014).

No other substantive work on AONB designation is contemplated in the next three years by Natural England, although a range of historic calls for new AONBs and variations to extend boundaries are presently being reviewed.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the procedures for the creation, amendment and abolition of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[HL1470]

Lord De Mauley: This is a devolved matter. In England, Natural England has powers under section 82 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to designate Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs)

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and section 83 provides for the procedure. It is for Natural England to consider calls for new AONBs or changes to existing AONBs.

In addition to the formal statutory consultations set out in the legislation, Natural England also, throughout the process, seeks engagement with key interested parties and the general public in and around the area concerned.

Any Designation or Variation Order made by Natural England would need to be advertised and submitted to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for confirmation. Depending on the responses, a public inquiry may be held, and the Secretary of State may confirm, confirm with modifications, or refuse to confirm the order.

Armed Conflict

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what criteria they use to determine whether military action, such as that by Israel in Gaza, is proportionate.[HL1482]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK’s criteria for determining whether military action is proportionate are set out in the Joint Service Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict (Ministry of Defence publication available on our website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-manual-of-the-law-of-armed-conflict-amendments-to-the-text), which states that the losses resulting from a military action should not be excessive in relation to the expected military advantage.

Armed Conflict: Sexual Offences

Question

Asked by Baroness Uddin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of Preventing Sexual Violence (PSVI) summit earlier this year, what strategies they have to support women's groups which are working with victims and survivors of rape and sexual violence.[HL1344]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict held in June 2014 set in motion a series of practical steps and commitments which all focus on ensuring that survivors of sexual violence in conflict can access justice and receive the long-term support that they require. This includes providing support for women’s groups who work with survivors.

In support of this the British Government announced £6m of new UK funding for survivors. Of this, £5m came from the Department for International Development (DfID) in the form of £4.25m to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, administered by UN Women, and £750,000 to the International Organisation from Migration. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced £1m for the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims, as well as £400,000 for

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the UN’s survivor support programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the next few months we intend to work with local and international partners to implement the International Protocol on the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict, launched at the Global Summit, in both the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Asylum: Children

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 21 July (WA 150–1), whether they will appoint personal advocates for each child asylum applicant whose case is awaiting appeal who has no parents in Britain.[HL1398]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Government has no immediate plans to introduce personal advocates for child asylum seekers across the UK. All unaccompanied children entering local authority care are entitled to the same level of support and protection, regardless of their immigration status, nationality or documentation. This includes a social worker responsible for planning the care of the child, and an independent reviewing officer who would ensure the child was aware of the implications of their immigration and asylum status.

Asylum: Employment

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy concerning refused asylum seekers, who cannot be returned to their country of origin, being granted entitlement to work for a fixed-term period. [HL1457]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Failed asylum seekers whose appeal rights have been exhausted are not allowed to work because they do not need our protection, have no right to remain in the United Kingdom and are required to leave. Our policy must maintain the distinction between those who need our protection and those seeking to work here. Allowing refused asylum seekers to work, even where removal is difficult, would send the wrong message and undermine the removal process by creating an incentive to frustrate removal.

Aviation: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the shooting down of flight MH17, what they are doing to ensure the safety of long haul flights between the United Kingdom and the Far East. [HL1442]

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The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The safety of our aviation industry is of paramount importance to the Government.

We are actively participating in the Dutch-led investigation into MH17. We are also working very closely with our airline community to ensure that decisions on routings and operations are informed by relevant information.

Balance of Trade

Question

Asked by Lord Barnett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Office for National Statistics’ calculation that the United Kingdom trade deficit widened in May, compared with April.[HL1207]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Livingston of Parkhead) (Con): Between April and May 2014, the Office of National Statistics have reported that the total UK trade deficit widened from £2.1bn in April to £2.4bn in May. This £0.4bn1 increase was driven by a £0.2bn increase in total exports while imports increased more, by £0.6bn. Goods exports increased by £0.1bn while goods imports increased by £0.5bn—more than service exports and imports which both increased by less than £0.1bn.

Monthly trade data are often volatile and usually subject to revisions in later months. On a less volatile basis, in 2013 the total trade deficit decreased by £4.9bn to £28.5bn from £33.4bn in 2012. This was driven by a £10.4bn increase in total exports while imports rose by only £5.4bn over the same period.

Between April and May 2014, the ONS have reported that the total UK trade deficit widened from £2.1bn in April to £2.4bn in May. This £0.4bn1 increase was driven by a £0.2bn increase in total exports while imports increased more, by £0.6bn. Goods exports increased by £0.1bn while goods imports increased by £0.5bn—more than service exports and imports which both increased by less than £0.1bn.

Monthly trade data are often volatile and usually subject to revisions in later months. On a less volatile basis, in 2013 the total trade deficit decreased by £4.9bn to £28.5bn from £33.4bn in 2012. This was driven by a £10.4bn increase in total exports while imports rose by only £5.4bn over the same period.

1 The £0.4bn increase is higher than the difference between the two deficits due to rounding.

Central African Republic

Questions

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the potential radicalisation of those forced to flee from the Central African Republic; and what steps are being taken to address the issue.[HL1232]

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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 plight of refugees from the Central African Republic and the risk of radicalisation. We are working with international organisations and the region to ensure their needs are met, radicalisation is countered and reconciliation promoted.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that there are adequate civilian protection experts deployed at the same time as troops for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic.[HL1247]

Baroness Warsi: The British Government is deeply concerned about the situation in the Central African Republic and has been working closely with the UN and other partners to ensure the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) deploys with the expertise it needs to carry out its mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 2149. MINUSCA is mandated to prioritise the protection of civilians as soon as it deploys in September, with specific protection for women and children, including through the deployment of Child and Women Protection Advisers.

Children’s Centres

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Listowel

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many local authorities are not currently sharing live birth data with children’s centres in their areas.[HL1559]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Department for Education does not hold data relating to local authority practice with regards to live birth data. The statutory guidance for children’s centres is clear that health services and local authorities should share information, such as live birth data, with children’s centres on a regular basis.

Asked by The Earl of Listowel

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether parental consent is necessary for local authorities to share live birth data with Sure Start Children’s Centres. [HL1560]

Lord Nash: As set out in the Department for Education’s Sure Start Children’s Centres statutory guidance, health services and local authorities should share information, such as live birth data and data on families with children under five who have recently moved into the area, effectively with children’s centres on a regular basis. Local authorities and commissioners of health services should consider developing local partnership agreements or information sharing protocols to enable effective sharing of bulk data (such as live

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birth data), whilst ensuring that the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998, and other relevant legal provisions, are complied with.

Asked by The Earl of Listowel

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to review the statutory guidance on the sharing of live birth data.[HL1561]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all local authorities share live birth data with children’s centres in their area.[HL1562]

Lord Nash: The Government has no plans to review the statutory guidance on the sharing of live birth data.

The Department for Education’s statutory guidance for children’s centres is clear that health services and local authorities should share information, such as live birth data, with children’s centres on a regular basis. It is important that professionals work together to identify families who are in need of support and offer them that support.

Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in implementing the top 10 recommendations in the Eighth Report from the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in the United Kingdom, with particular reference to the number of deaths from pre-eclampsia and the general standard of care.[HL1387]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Reports by the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths are valuable resources for supporting maternity services and professionals to improve outcomes for women and babies. The department does not routinely monitor implementation of the recommendations, which largely focus on improving clinical practice and are for local commissioners, providers and health professionals to consider.

Nationally, the eighth report of the Confidential Enquiries supported the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) clinical guideline on hypertension in pregnancy and identified the need for guidance on the management of sepsis in pregnancy. Following publication of the report, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists published national guidelines to assist health professionals on the recognition and management of bacterial sepsis in pregnancy. We expect maternity healthcare providers, commissioners and health professionals to give due regard to NICE guidance and professional guidelines when ensuring the delivery of safe, evidence-based care to achieve the best outcomes for women and babies.

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Crossrail Line

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Statement by Stephen Hammond MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport on 3 July (HC Deb, col 65WS), that 97 per cent of Crossrail’s contracts are based in the United Kingdom, what is the total number of contracts, and their value, awarded to date; and how many of those were awarded to companies domiciled in (1) the United Kingdom, (2) the European Union, and (3) other countries; and what was the total value awarded under each category.[HL1439]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): To date Crossrail Ltd. has procured contracts to the combined value of approximately £7.6bn, not including the Rolling Stock and Depot procurement, the Train Operating Company contract or the on-network Network Rail works.

Crossrail Ltd. has analysed its supply chain and found that approximately 97 per cent of contractors are based in the UK, 2 per cent are based in the EU and 1 per cent are based outside the EU.

These figures are derived from a broad sample which Crossrail Ltd is able to monitor and made up of tier one contractors directly engaged by Crossrail Ltd, contractors from tiers two and three which are deemed to be business critical, and information provided by tier one contractors regarding their own suppliers.

For those contracts in which Crossrail Ltd is not a party (i.e. tiers two and below), Crossrail Ltd does not hold data on the value of these contracts as they are commercial agreements between third parties.

Crossrail Ltd will be writing to the Noble Lord to explain this in more detail.

Cycling: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered making it obligatory to fit a bell on bicycles with the object of alerting those on foot. [HL1278]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Following the Red Tape Challenge, the Department for Transport commissioned a review of bicycle regulations with TRL Ltd. The review highlighted a number of areas to simplify legislative controls on bicycles. Consideration of the current rules on the fitment and use of bells will be undertaken once the current legislative programme updating the regulations for electrically assisted bicycles have been finalised.

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Eggs: Imports

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord De Mauley on 9 December 2013 (WA 80), what was the value of import of shell eggs or egg products from Italy and Greece in the last two years; and what recent results there have been from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency risk-based surveillance on batches of shell egg from those countries.[HL1211]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The value of imports of shell eggs and egg products from Italy and Greece in the last two years is presented in the table below. Please note that 2013 data is still subject to amendments.

£000s
Country of dispatchType20122013

Greece

Shell eggs

-

-

Egg Products

32

195

Italy

Shell eggs

50

19

Egg Products

6,734

8,786

Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency have found no batches of Italian or Greek shell eggs which have raised any issues concerning their method of production since 2012.

Embassies

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which United Kingdom embassies overseas have specified staff delegated to handle matters relating to the work of (1) the Scottish Government, (2) the Welsh Government, and (3) the Northern Ireland Executive.[HL1188]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The British Government works overseas on behalf of all parts of the UK. Our missions also support all three Devolved Administrations with assistance on overseas visits by Ministers and officials and to businesses through the Department for Trade and Investment (UKTI). Furthermore the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) platform houses staff from: the Scottish Government in Washington and Beijing; Scottish Enterprise in Calgary, Toronto, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Dubai; the Welsh Government in Bangalore, Delhi, Dubai, Dublin, Washington, New York, Chicago and San Francisco; and the Northern Ireland Executive in New York, with FCO support given in Washington; and Invest Northern Ireland in Bangalore, Dubai, Erbil, Jedda, Mumbai and Singapore.

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Energy Companies Obligation

Questions

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the success of the delivery of Energy Company Obligation assistance in rural areas. [HL1249]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) is divided into three strands, of which the Carbon Saving Communities Obligation (CSCO) provides insulation measures to households in specified areas of low income. CSCO has a specific rural sub-obligation which ensures that 15 per cent of each supplier’s obligation is used to upgrade more hard-to-reach low-income households in rural areas.

The monthly Green Deal/ECO statistical release published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change presents the number of measures installed under the CSCO rural sub-obligation in each month. The latest release was published on 22 July and is available on the gov.uk website. This shows that between January 2013 and May 2014 there were 955 measures installed:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/green-deal-and-energy-company-obligation-eco-monthly-statistics-july-2014.

The Government’s response to the recent consultation on the future of ECO, published on 22 July, confirmed proposals to make changes to the rules of the rural sub-obligation to ensure that more homes are eligible for support, thus facilitating delivery in future:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-of-the-energy-company-obligation.

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking in relation to the Affordable Warmth Obligation and the Energy Company Obligation in the light of reports of suppliers not funding repairs of boilers run on heating oil or liquid petroleum gas.[HL1250]

Baroness Verma: The ECO Affordable Warmth scheme obligates energy suppliers to meet targets by installing heating and insulation measures to low income, vulnerable households. By the end of April 2014, over 334,000 measures had been installed.

The legislation allows energy suppliers to support a wide range of measures. Energy suppliers can choose which measures to deliver, with a view to meeting their obligation in the most cost effective way. Delivery of boiler repairs and measures to non-gas households has been low to date.

Following a consultation on changes to ECO, we announced scheme amendments on 22 July which will provide stronger incentives for delivery of both new boilers in non-gas homes and boiler repairs. These changes include an ‘uplift’ that will make these forms of support more cost-effective for suppliers to undertake.

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The impact assessment suggests this will take the proportion of measures delivered to non-gas homes from 2% to 30% of Affordable Warmth measures:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335002/future_energy_ company_obligation_government_response.pdf

Energy: Conservation

Questions

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what help they are providing to householders off the gas grid who want to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.[HL1248]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Government is actively encouraging all householders to invest in energy efficiency and reduce their energy bills.

The Green Deal is designed to help all householders in England and Wales improve the energy efficiency of their homes. A Green Deal assessment will identify the most cost-effective improvements to their home from a wide range of measures, such as condensing boilers (gas, oil and LPG), renewable heating and other microgeneration technologies, insulation and better glazing. Green Deal financing is also available to allow households to pay for these improvements via the estimated savings households will be expected to make on their energy bills. There have already been over 260,000 Green Deal assessments and 875,000 energy efficiency measures installed in 726,000 households through ECO, Cashback and Green Deal to the end of May 2014.

The ECO Affordable Warmth scheme obligates energy suppliers to meet targets by installing heating and insulation measures to low income, vulnerable households. By the end of April 2014, over 334,000 measures had been installed.

The legislation allows energy suppliers to support a wide range of measures. Energy suppliers can choose which measures to deliver, with a view to meeting their obligation in the most cost effective way. Delivery of boiler repairs and measures to non-gas households has been low to date.

Following a consultation on changes to ECO, we announced scheme amendments on 22 July which will provide stronger incentives for delivery of both new boilers in non-gas homes and boiler repairs. These changes include an ‘uplift’ that will make these forms of support more cost-effective for suppliers to undertake. The impact assessment suggests this will take the proportion of measures delivered to non-gas homes from 2% to 30% of Affordable Warmth measures.

More broadly changes are being made to the ECO Carbon Saving Communities rural sub-obligation to widen the eligibility criteria and make it easier for suppliers to identify and support eligible rural households.

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Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they are making to achieve the 2020 energy efficiency goals.[HL1444]

Baroness Verma: In 2007 EU Member States agreed to an overarching non-binding target to reduce primary energy consumption by 20% by 2020, against a 2007 business-as-usual projection.

The 2012 EU Energy Efficiency Directive established, among other things, non-binding national energy savings targets on Member States. In April 2013, the UK notified the European Commission of its national energy saving target (Article 3). The target was set at the level of 129.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent for final energy consumption, representing an 18% reduction relative to the 2007 business-as-usual projection. This is equivalent to a 20% reduction in primary energy consumption.

According to DECC’s Updated Energy and Emissions Projections 2013, final energy consumption in the UK will be 20% lower in 2020 than the 2007 business as usual projection meaning that the UK is on track to overachieve against its target. This reflects the Government’s ambitious policy package.

Entry Clearances

Questions

Asked by Lord Watson of Invergowrie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what checks are carried out on individuals applying for investor visas; and by whom.[HL1216]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Any application for a visa will be subject to checks undertaken by an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO), which will include checks on the applicant’s criminal history. In addition, applicants for a visa under the Tier 1 (Investor) category will be subject to checks to establish that the applicant’s funds meet the relevant requirements of the Immigration Rules, which include a requirement that the funds are held in a regulated financial institution. We require specific evidence of funds to be provided, and we do not accept evidence from financial institutions with which ECOs are unable to carry out satisfactory verification checks.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why Israelis can enter Britain without visas; and why Palestinians can not.[HL1397]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The UK keeps its visa regimes under regular review. The imposition or lifting of a visa regime is not undertaken lightly and follows a detailed review of the risks including immigration, security and crime risks. We have no plans at this stage to change the visa regimes for Israeli nationals or those from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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European Union

Question

Asked by Lord Kinnock

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were the “concerns related to the future development of the European Union” raised by the United Kingdom at the 26–27 June European Council; and what were the terms in which those concerns were communicated to the Council.[HL1256]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK’s position is well known: the EU needs reform to be more competitive, flexible and democratically accountable. We welcomed this recognition in the Council’s Conclusions and now need to ensure these aims are realised.

Euston Station

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Network Rail or HS2 Ltd will be the lead designer of the proposed Euston station development.[HL1485]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The lead designer for Euston station is HS2 Ltd. Post Royal Assent, the role of lead designer will be reviewed to ensure that the project continues to deliver the highest possible design standards.

First TransPennine Express

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to make an announcement concerning the class 170 trains which are due to be transferred from TransPennine Express to Chiltern Railways. [HL1279]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Department for Transport continues to work with industry partners to develop a solution that will see more electric trains going into the North, in addition to the 14 already planned. We envisage that these electric trains will release diesel trains to be used on parts of the network in the north that are not yet electrified. The exact detail of this is subject to commercial negotiations and the House will be updated as soon as these are concluded.

Foreign Investment in UK

Question

Asked by Lord Watson of Invergowrie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what checks are in place to ensure that the sources of the funds of foreign nationals seeking to invest in the United Kingdom are legitimate; and who carries out such checks.[HL1218]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Any application for a visa will be subject to checks undertaken by an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO), which will include checks on the applicant’s criminal history. In addition, applicants for a visa under the Tier 1 (Investor) category will be subject to checks to establish that the applicant’s funds meet the relevant requirements of the Immigration Rules, which include a requirement that the funds are held in a regulated financial institution. We require specific evidence of funds to be provided, and we do not accept evidence from financial institutions with which ECOs are unable to carry out satisfactory verification checks.

Future Large Aircraft

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when it is estimated that the A400M aircraft will enter service with the Ministry of Defence.[HL1372]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The in-service date for the UK A400M aircraft is expected to be March 2015.

Asked by Lord Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many A400M aircraft are to be purchased by the Ministry of Defence, and at what estimated cost to the Exchequer.[HL1373]

Lord Astor of Hever: The UK has ordered 22 A400M aircraft with a forecast acquisition cost of £2,809 million, as reported in the Major Projects Report 2013.

Asked by Lord Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the A400M aircraft fleet will be maintained and serviced; in what location; and by how many (1) private, and (2) service, personnel.[HL1374]

Lord Astor of Hever: The Main Gate Business Case investment decision for a contractor-led, output-based in service support solution for the UK A400M fleet was approved in May 2014. Negotiations are nearing completion, with contractual agreement anticipated in August 2014. This innovative solution is designed to combine the commercial efficiencies of civil aviation maintenance whilst also ensuring that it delivers the operational flexibility required to operate a fleet of military aircraft; as a result, the workforce will be made up of both contractor staff and RAF personnel. Just as the aircraft fleet will be introduced over several years, the number of personnel (both contractor and RAF) involved in the support solution will also build up to reflect this. At this stage, however, final numbers are not yet known.

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The Main Operating Base for the UK A400M fleet will be RAF Brize Norton, and it is expected that all maintenance activities will be carried out in bespoke on-base facilities.

Asked by Lord Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government by whom A400M aircraft are designed and constructed, and in what locations.[HL1375]

Lord Astor of Hever: The A400M transport aircraft is designed, developed and produced by Airbus Military, a division of Airbus Defence and Space. It is constructed from component parts produced in a number of countries, including the UK, at the A400M Final Assembly Line facility in Seville, Spain.

Gibraltar: Spain

Questions

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 6 May (WA 363), how many incursions into Gibraltarian waters by Spanish government-owned vessels have occurred since February 2014.[HL1323]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The number of unlawful incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters by Spanish state vessels totalled 180 between March and 22 July 2014.

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 10 July (WA 78), when they intend next to raise within the European Union the issue of unlawful incursions by Spanish vessels into British territorial waters. [HL1488]

Baroness Warsi: The Government regularly raises Gibraltar with EU partners and the EU institutions. We have made it clear to Spain that unlawful incursions are unacceptable. We have not asked the European Commission or any other Member State to take any specific action in relation to incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters because they have no locus on this issue.

The main focus of our lobbying within the EU remains Spain’s unlawful, unjustified and disproportionate action at the border. The Government is pleased that a second border monitoring mission was sent to Gibraltar on 2 July 2014, following concerted lobbying of the European Commission. We have also been very clear to the Commission and other Member States that Spain’s attempts to suspend Gibraltar from EU aviation legislation are unacceptable. We lobby on other Gibraltar issues within the EU as required.

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Health Education England

Question

Asked by Lord Grocott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Earl Howe on 9 July (HL Deb, col 216), how many managerial and clerical appointments have been made to Healthcare Education England. [HL1475]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): As stated in the National Health Service Electronic Staff Record, Health Education England and the 13 Local Education and Training Boards employed 2,483 staff as at 30 June 2014, which is the latest available data. These posts can all be considered as managerial or clerical but include many staff who are directly involved in the management of education and training in the National Health Service, including many qualified clinical staff who add value to its work by providing clinical/health expertise and excellence in the field of education and training.

Heathrow Airport

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what operations are conducted by the Port Medical Inspector in the space adjacent to the detention facilities in Heathrow Terminal 4; what plans Heathrow Airports Limited has for relocating that work elsewhere, including the timing of the move; and why Heathrow Airports Limited has not yet appointed a project manager for the work to upgrade the detention facilities at Heathrow, originally scheduled to start at the beginning of May.[HL1436]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Port Medical Inspector is no longer using the space adjacent to the detention facilities at Heathrow Terminal 4. A Port Medical Inspector is available at Terminal 3 to undertake any necessary on entry referral screening. Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) is waiting for formal notice from the Port Medical Inspector that they wish to terminate their lease on the space. There is a 3 month notice period. In the meantime, free access to the area has been given to plan accommodation changes. HAL has now appointed a project manager. There is a meeting scheduled for 31 July between the Home Office and HAL to discuss the project timetable.

Highway Code

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they propose to respond to the analysis in the RAC Report of Motoring 2014 concerning the level of knowledge among motorists of the provisions of the Highway Code; and, if so, when.[HL1569]

30 July 2014 : Column WA322

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): All road users are personally responsible for ensuring that their knowledge of The Highway Code is up to date. The Highway Code is already available digitally on gov.uk, as an e-book, iPhone app and interactive CD-ROM. It is included digitally on theory test software and free reminders are sent out on Facebook, Twitter and to email subscribers. Therefore, we do not currently intend to respond to the RAC report.

Hospitals: Waiting Lists

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of patients whose treatment was incomplete have waited (1) for their appointment, and (2) for treatment, for longer than (a) 18 weeks, (b) 26 weeks, and (3) 52 weeks, at each NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust for every month since May 2010.[HL1524]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many admitted patients waited (1) for their appointment, and (2) for treatment, for longer than (a) 18 weeks, (b) 26 weeks, and (3) 52 weeks, at each NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust in each of the last five years.[HL1525]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many non-admitted patients waited (1) for their appointment, and (2) for treatment, for longer than (a) 18 weeks, (b) 26 weeks, and (3) 52 weeks, at each NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust in each of the last five years.[HL1526]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many patients whose treatment was incomplete waited (1) for their appointment, and (2) for treatment, for longer than (a) 18 weeks, (b) 26 weeks, and (3) 52 weeks, at each NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust in each of the last five years.[HL1527]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many admitted patients have waited (1) for their appointment, and (2) for treatment, for longer than (a) 18 weeks, (b) 26 weeks, and (3) 52 weeks, at each NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust for every month since May 2010.[HL1528]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many non-admitted patients have waited (1) for their appointment, and (2) for treatment, for longer than (a) 18 weeks, (b) 26 weeks, and (3) 52 weeks, at each NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust for every month since May 2010.[HL1529]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many patients whose treatment was incomplete have waited (1) for their first appointment, and (2) for treatment, for over (a) 18 weeks, (b) 26 weeks, and (c) 52 weeks, at each NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust for every month since May 2010.[HL1554]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of admitted patients waited (1) for their first appointment, and (2) for treatment, for over (a) 18 weeks, (b) 26 weeks, and (c) 52 weeks, at each NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust for every month since May 2010.[HL1555]

30 July 2014 : Column WA323

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of non-admitted patients waited (1) for their first appointment, and (2) for treatment, for over (a) 18 weeks, (b) 26 weeks, and (c) 52 weeks, at each NHS Trust and NHS Foundation Trust for every month since May 2010.[HL1556]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Information is collected each month to measure performance against the waiting time standards for consultant-led treatment for non-urgent conditions. The data measures the number of patients who waited each month and the number of weeks they waited from referral to start treatment. It distinguishes between those patients who are admitted into hospital and those who are non-admitted (for example, outpatients). It does not identify appointments. The data also measures the number of patients who had not yet started treatment at the end of each month and the number of weeks they were waiting.

The requested information has been placed in the Library. It does not sum to published national figures, because it excludes other organisations who submitted data over the time period including primary care trusts and the independent sector.

Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to mitigate the impact of the under-occupancy charge on household debt.[HL1588]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The removal of the spare room subsidy was a necessary change in order to get the housing benefit bill under control, return fairness to the system and make better use of social housing stock.

For those that are vulnerable and who may require more time to make the transition to change, the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme administered by local authorities is available. Money management and budgeting and debt advice is also provided by many local authorities and social sector landlords.

Additional Discretionary Housing Payment funding has been made available to local authorities to help them support vulnerable claimants to cope with the changes. For 2014/15 this totals £165m. At the end of 2013/14 £21m of the £180m central Government funding remained unspent. This included £7m from a bidding scheme fund that was available during the second half of the year and which all local authorities were encouraged to apply for.

Recently published data from the Homes and Communities Agency shows housing association arrears in England falling for the two quarters to the end of March 2014 compared to the same period in the previous year. Rent collection remained at 99 per cent during the same period.

We are continuing to monitor and evaluate the policy. The final report of the two year independent evaluation will be published during 2015.

30 July 2014 : Column WA324

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the under-occupancy charge on child poverty.[HL1589]

Lord Freud: This cost of providing this information is disproportionate.

This Government has made good progress in tackling the root cause of child poverty and has recently published its 2014-17 child poverty strategy which outlines the actions being taken.

The latest figures from 2012/13 show that the number of children in relative income poverty has fallen by 300,000 since 2009/10 representing the lowest level since the mid-1980s.

Iran

Question

Asked by The Marquess of Lothian

To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what extent the E3/EU+3 talks with Iran have been affected by the situations in (1) Iraq, and (2) Ukraine.[HL1477]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): E3+3 negotiations with Iran on a comprehensive solution to the nuclear issue have not been affected by either Iraq or Ukraine. These negotiations focus purely on the nuclear issue: regional and other issues are not discussed. The E3+3 remain united in their objectives and approach to the negotiations. All of the E3+3 agreed on 19 July to extend the Joint Plan of Action until 24 November. We will continue to work constructively with our E3+3 partners to reach our goal by 24 November.

Iraq

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have about attacks by ISIS on the Kurdish area of Kobane in the northern Iraq, its access via Turkey and the availability of medical treatment there for wounded fighters; and whether they are making representations to the government of Turkey about the matter.[HL1077]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are aware of reports of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (aka the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-ISIS) attacks on Kurdish forces in Kobane in Northern Syria. These unconfirmed reports suggest that the attacks began on 7 July, and that ISIL have employed heavy weapons seized from Iraqi Security Forces.

Representatives of the Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) in Syria have claimed that ISIL forces are travelling through Turkey and receiving medical treatment there, though we have not been able to independently corroborate.

30 July 2014 : Column WA325

The UK has regular discussions with the Government of Turkey on a range of Syria related issues, including preventing foreign fighters from using Turkey as a transit route to Syria and Iraq.

Asked by The Marquess of Lothian

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent discussions they have had with senior Kurdish representatives from northern Iraq about the future of Iraq.[HL1411]

Baroness Warsi: Our Consul General in Erbil has met with President of the Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and other KRG Ministers and party leaders in recent weeks. Officials in London regularly meet with the KRG Representation to the UK.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Question

Asked by The Marquess of Lothian

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether ISIS is actively recruiting in the United Kingdom; and what action they are taking to prevent such recruitment.[HL1478]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): It has been the longstanding policy of successive governments not to comment on intelligence matters. However, Islamic State of Syria and the Levant also known as the ISIS was proscribed as a terrorist organisation with effect from 20 June. Proscription means that an organisation is outlawed and is unable to operate in the UK. It is a criminal offence for a person to belong to or invite support for a proscribed organisation. It is also a criminal offence to arrange a meeting in support of a proscribed organisation or to wear clothing or to carry articles in public which arouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of the proscribed organisation. Penalties for proscription offences are a maximum of ten years in prison and/or a £10,000 fine.

McKinsey and Company

Questions

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were the aggregate fees paid to McKinsey and Company by the Ministry of Defence in each of the last five years.[HL1331]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): No fees were paid centrally direct to McKinsey and Company by the Ministry of Defence between financial years (FY) 2008-09 and 2012-13. Information on payments made during FY 2013-14 will be available in mid August 2014.

30 July 2014 : Column WA326

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what contracts the Ministry of Defence has outstanding with McKinsey and Company consultants; with what objectives; and with what fee and expenses structures. [HL1365]

Lord Astor of Hever: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has one outstanding contract with McKinsey and Company. This is for supporting the MOD in ensuring that Equipment Support Plan (ESP) resource is spent in the most efficient manner possible. In summary, the work is to:

• Conduct detailed analysis to enable the MOD to achieve the best output from planned spend on ESP, including meeting savings and efficiency targets;• Identify specific choices for optimising ESP expenditure.

The contract has a total value of £23 million and is due to end in March 2015. I am withholding full pricing details as disclosure would prejudice commercial interests.

Mesothelioma

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the progress in negotiations between the Association of British Insurers and the British Lung Foundation over the last three months to establish a long-term funding scheme for mesothelioma research.[HL1499]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent discussions they have had with (1) the insurance industry, and (2) the British Lung Foundation, regarding establishing a long-term funding scheme for mesothelioma research.[HL1500]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the role of Department of Health officials in the negotiations between the insurance industry and the British Lung Foundation to establish a long-term funding scheme for mesothelioma research. [HL1502]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what correspondence they have received in 2014 from (1) Members of the House of Lords, and (2) Members of the House of Commons, concerning the establishment of a long-term scheme for mesothelioma research funded by the insurance industry.[HL1503]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they intend to make to (1) the insurance industry, and (2) the British Lung Foundation, to facilitate the establishment of a long-term funding scheme for mesothelioma research.[HL1530]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on mesothelioma patients of a failure of negotiations between the Association of British Insurers and the British Lung Foundation regarding establishing a long-term funding scheme for mesothelioma research.[HL1534]

30 July 2014 : Column WA327

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): In April this year, I convened a high level meeting between the Association of British Insurers and the British Lung Foundation (BLF) to discuss how insurers can remain engaged in support for mesothelioma research following earlier donated funding. Departmental officials attended this meeting. Discussions between the BLF and insurers are ongoing. The Department has no direct role in these discussions but is monitoring progress.

This year, a number of noble Lords and members of the House of Commons have written to the Secretary of State for Health, Mr Jeremy Hunt, or to me about this subject.

Any further funding made available by insurers for mesothelioma research will be in addition to existing sources of public funding. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has highlighted to the research community that it wants to encourage research applications in mesothelioma. Further details of this are available on the NIHR website at:

www.themedcalls.nihr.ac.uk/mesothelioma

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what trends they have identified in the prevalence of mesothelioma in the United Kingdom over the last 10 years. [HL1531]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): Statistics on the prevalence of mesothelioma in the United Kingdom – that is, the number of people that had the disease at a particular time or in a particular period – are not available. However, mesothelioma prevalence is known to be approximately equivalent to annual mesothelioma mortality.

The annual total numbers of mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain over the period 2003-2012 (the latest 10 years for which data are available) are shown in the table below.

Year2003200420052006200720082009201020112012

Total

1887

1978

2049

2060

2176

2265

2336

2360

2291

2535

Source: Health and Safety Executive mesothelioma register.

Middle East

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the long-term consequences for Israel of Operation Protective Edge.[HL1337]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Government has not made any assessment of the long-term consequences for Israel over the Gaza crisis. The time to carry out any assessment on this issue is in the future, once the situation in Gaza has de-escalated.

30 July 2014 : Column WA328

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Palestinian civilians in Gaza they estimate were (1) killed, and (2) wounded, in the 2009 Israeli military operation in Gaza.[HL1394]

Baroness Warsi: According to reports received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1,400 Palestinians were killed, and over 5,000 Palestinians were injured, during Operation Cast Lead, which took place between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009.

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether Gaza could seek legal redress for disproportionate military intervention by Israel in the territorial integrity of Gaza. [HL1396]

Baroness Warsi: In our statements and discussions with the Israeli authorities, we have been clear that while Israel has a right to defend itself, it must do so in a way that complies with international law, including the principles of proportionality and necessity. The Government would expect any alleged violations of international law in the course of military operations to be subject to a full, impartial and independent investigation by the State in question.

Asked by The Marquess of Lothian

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with Hamas over the last three weeks regarding brokering a ceasefire with Israel.[HL1407]

Baroness Warsi: The Government’s policy towards Hamas is clear - the UK does not talk to Hamas, which is a proscribed terrorist organisation.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel in respect of the current conflict in Gaza about (1) access for medical supplies and materials for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency water and sewage project, (2) verification of any ceasefires, (3) the use of the Dutch scanner at Kerem Shalom crossing-point, and (4) negotiations for the release of Palestinians arrested since mid-June.[HL1466]

Baroness Warsi: Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have discussed the issue of access for medical supplies and materials for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) with the Israeli authorities. They also have discussed with the Israeli authorities the release of prisoners, released as part of the Galid Shalit deal but then recently re-arrested during Operation Brother's Keeper, as part of ceasefire negotiations. They have not discussed the use of the Dutch scanner at Kerem Shalom crossing-point.

30 July 2014 : Column WA329

Midwives

Questions

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many midwives were working in (1) Band 5, (2) Band 6, (3) Band 7 and (4) Band 8, roles in each of the last five years.[HL1384]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The number of full time equivalent midwives has risen from 20,126 in 2010 to 21,841 as of April 2014.

Annual data provided by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC)1, shows the number of registered full time equivalent midwives in Band 5, 6, 7, 8 for the last five years as shown in the following table.

Band 5Band 6Band 7Band 8aBand 8bBand 8cBand 8dAll staff

2009

1,641

12,700

4,896

161

37

7

3

19,603

2010

1,624

13,301

4,835

171

33

8

2

20,126

2011

1,643

14,022

4,517

164

28

9

3

20,519

2012

1,771

14,456

4,370

165

28

9

2

20,935

2013

1,956

14,759

4,197

195

31

8

1

21,284

1. Health and Social Care Information Centre Non-Medical Workforce Census.

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of pregnant women have been given a named midwife since November 2012.[HL1385]

Earl Howe: Information on the number of women who have been given a named midwife is currently not collected centrally.

The Mandate between the Government and NHS England states that every woman should have a named midwife who is responsible for ensuring she has personalised, one-to-one care throughout pregnancy, childbirth and during the postnatal period. Through the assurance process with NHS England we monitor progress against all mandate commitments. A refresh of the current maternity commissioning guidance for clinical commissioning groups is under way and will include guidance on commissioning services to deliver the named midwife. NHS England is working with the Care Quality Commission on plans to monitor the commitment as part of their maternity services inspections.

Ministers

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Ministers are members of the full Cabinet; how many have attendance status at the Cabinet; and how many Ministers in the House of Lords are in each group.[HL1227]

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): There are 22 Cabinet Ministers and 11 Ministers attending Cabinet. There are two House of Lords Ministers attending Cabinet: the Leader of the House of Lords and Baroness Warsi, as set out on the Government’s website: www.gov.uk/government/ministers.

Motorcycles: Noise

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kramer on 22 July (WA 197), what assessment they have made of the current level of noise produced by motorcycles on public roads.[HL1462]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The noise levels of motorcycles are assessed before they are placed on the market to ensure consistency with legislated noise limits. There has been no additional government assessment of the separate contribution motorcycles make to overall noise levels on public roads.

Muslim Brotherhood

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions have taken place with other European Union governments concerning the Muslim Brotherhood and its alleged links to political and research organisations in Europe.[HL1453]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): As part of the internal review into the activities and influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Government has drawn on a range of input from independent experts and governments. The review is comprehensive and is looking at the Muslim Brotherhood’s origins, philosophy, activities, record in and out of government; and its organisation and activities in the UK and abroad. This has included seeking views and evidence from our allies and partner governments in Europe, as well as the Middle East and North Africa.

The findings of the review will be published once they have been considered by the Government.

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether any threat is posed to the security of the United Kingdom by the Muslim Brotherhood; and whether they consider that any political or research organisations in the United Kingdom have links to the Muslim Brotherhood. [HL1454]

30 July 2014 : Column WA331

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Prime Minister commissioned a review into the Muslim Brotherhood. We must not prejudge the review’s findings, the purpose of which is to inform Government policy towards the Muslim Brotherhood. Its scope includes linked and affiliated organisations and individuals and will encompass any alleged links the Muslim Brotherhood has with terrorism and extremism. The review will take account of evidence relating to allegations of such links. The review is internal but we expect to say something publicly about its conclusions after the summer recess.

Nottingham-Lincoln Railway Line

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any immediate plans to improve the service of the Nottingham to Lincoln railway.[HL1568]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): There is a proposal to improve services on the Nottingham to Lincoln railway and we are currently in discussion with promoters and stakeholders regarding this.

Orders and Regulations

Questions

Asked by Lord Goodlad

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many statutory instruments from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have been laid this calendar year; of those, what percentage corrected errors in a previous instrument (including drafts of affirmative instruments that had to be superseded by correcting drafts); and what steps that Department is taking to reduce the need for correcting instruments. [HL1423]

Lord Bates (Con): The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has laid 21 statutory instruments during 2014, three of which (14.3%) corrected earlier instruments. DCMS is committed to improving the drafting of statutory instruments. The Treasury Solicitor’s Department, which advises DCMS, is working with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on ways of strengthening drafting. The Treasury Solicitor’s Department is working on ideas to improve training, supervision, checking, planning, and the sharing of good practice and expertise.

Asked by Lord Goodlad

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many statutory instruments from the Department of Energy and Climate Change have been laid this calendar year; of those, what percentage corrected errors in a previous instrument (including drafts of affirmative instruments that had to be superseded by correcting

30 July 2014 : Column WA332

drafts); and what steps that Department is taking to reduce the need for correcting instruments. [HL1424]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): Since 1 January 2014, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has laid 31 statutory instruments. Two draft affirmative procedure instruments were re-laid in draft in order to correct errors, being 6% of all instruments laid. In the course of making two other instruments, the Department took the opportunity to correct errors in previous instruments; such correction was not the main purpose of the instrument which was made. The Department has endeavoured to prevent errors occurring in statutory instruments and it regrets that errors have occurred. The Department is committed to continuous improvement of the quality of drafting, in particular by means of training and quality assurance procedures and seeks to learn the lessons when errors do occur.

Asked by Lord Goodlad

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many statutory instruments from the Home Office have been laid this calendar year; of those, what percentage corrected errors in a previous instrument (including drafts of affirmative instruments that had to be superseded by correcting drafts); and what steps that Department is taking to reduce the need for correcting instruments.[HL1426]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Home Office has laid 51 statutory instruments so far this calendar year. Five of these (10%) corrected errors in a previous instrument. Not all “errors” in a statutory instrument are drafting errors. Some instruments are withdrawn due to factual errors or changes in policy. The Home Office Legal Adviser's Branch has in place a “three pairs of eyes” check on all statutory instruments made by the Department. The policy instructions must be cleared by a Senior Civil Service official in the instructing unit. Instruments are then drafted by the responsible lawyer and are checked and cleared by the Senior Civil Service team leader. Instruments are then finally cleared by one of two senior lawyers with specialist drafting skills before they are laid. These processes were enhanced and improved in April this year. The quality of statutory instrument drafting is also being discussed within the wider Treasury Solicitor’s Department with a view to identifying ways of improving quality through, for example, more rigorous monitoring, better training and more flexible use of experienced and skilled drafters.

Asked by Lord Goodlad

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many statutory instruments from the Department for Transport have been laid this calendar year; of those, what percentage corrected errors in a previous instrument (including drafts of affirmative instruments that had to be superseded by correcting drafts); and what steps that Department is taking to reduce the need for correcting instruments.[HL1428]

30 July 2014 : Column WA333

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Department for Transport has laid 58 statutory instruments before Parliament this calendar year. Of these, four, or about 6.9%, corrected errors in a previous instrument (including one that supersedes an instrument laid in draft).

In addition, one instrument was laid that replaced an instrument that had been previously laid but which did not correspond precisely with the instrument as made.

Correcting instruments are something that all legal teams try to avoid. The Department for Transport devotes significant resources to checking draft statutory instruments and to the continuing education of drafters, both informally, for example by using more experienced drafters to mentor less experienced drafters, and through more formal training at departmental level and under the aegis of the Government Legal Service. The department is also represented on a cross-Whitehall group of drafting specialists which exists to act as a point of contact and facilitate the sharing of best practice and it is participating in a review of statutory instrument drafting arrangements in an enlarged shared legal service led by the Treasury Solicitor’s Department.

Asked by Lord Goodlad

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many statutory instruments from the Department for Work and Pensions have been laid this calendar year; of those, what percentage corrected errors in a previous instrument (including drafts of affirmative instruments that had to be superseded by correcting drafts); and what steps that Department is taking to reduce the need for correcting instruments.[HL1429]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Department for Work and Pensions has made 70 Statutory Instruments (SI) in 2014. Of these, 14 affirmative SIs had been laid in draft over the same period and one draft was withdrawn and replaced with two SIs: one under the affirmative procedure (SI 1954) and another using the negative procedure (SI 1711). In this period there was also one negative SI made (SI 1621) to clarify a regulation included in an earlier SI made (SI 1386) but not yet in force.

The Department, with its Legal Service teams in the Treasury Solicitors Office (TSOL), is taking steps to mitigate the need for correcting instruments through training and support to build capability, sharing best practice and learning from internal review and reports from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. Further, TSOL is undertaking a strategic project to improving the quality of SI drafting as part of its “legal quality” agenda.

Pakistan

Questions

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the recent military operation in North Waziristan conducted by the army of Pakistan. [HL1195]

30 July 2014 : Column WA334

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Government of Pakistan’s stated objective for military operations in North Waziristan is to remove all militant groups and dismantle terrorist infrastructure. In its most recent public report, provided on 16 July, the Pakistan army report 447 insurgents killed, 32 surrendered, as well as destruction of 88 hideouts, 11 Improvised Explosive Device factories and 11 tons of explosive. The Pakistan government claim 992,000 people have been registered as displaced and have allocated 4.5 billion Pakistan rupees in assistance. It is for the Government of Pakistan to determine how to tackle the prolonged and deadly insurgency they face. The UK supports Pakistan as it tackles terrorism and violent extremism, and we will stand together to tackle terrorism and the extremism that sustains it. We expect all concerned to act in accordance with international law and take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the court cases and arrest warrants pending in Pakistan for Mir Shakil ur Rahman, chief executive officer of the Geo/Jang Group. [HL1392]

Baroness Warsi: The Government has made no assessment of the alleged court cases and arrest warrants against Mr Rahman reported in the media. These are a matter for the Pakistan legal system, and we will monitor any significant developments.

Palestinians

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of plans to evacuate Gaza if there is no drinking water available as a result of damage to water and sewage infrastructure during the recent conflict there.[HL1174]

Baroness Northover (LD): We are working to help bring about a sustainable ceasefire to avoid any further damage and secure longer term access to clean water. UK support to ICRC (£10m 2013-5) is helping them to repair water infrastructure damaged by the airstrikes. ICRC has carried our repairs improving services for 90,000 people.

Asked by Baroness Deech

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made representations to the International Committee of the Red Cross in relation to the reported placement by Hamas of military facilities and weapons in civilian areas in Gaza.[HL1335]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government has not made any representations to the International Committee

30 July 2014 : Column WA335

of the Red Cross over this issue. We condemn any use of human shields, and call on all sides to ensure that Gazan and Israeli civilians are not put in danger.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they intend to have with the government of Israel concerning the recent destruction of fishing boats and fishing nets; and what plans there are to restore the fishing industry in Gaza.[HL1341]

Baroness Warsi: The UK has no plans for immediate discussions with the Government of Israel regarding the recent destruction of fishing boats and nets. However, the UK is concerned by the issue of restoring the fishing industry in Gaza, and by the devastating economic and humanitarian impact of restrictions on Gaza, including on the fishing industry. Over the past 10 years, Israel has gradually expanded restriction on access to fishing areas in the Access Restricted Areas (ARAs) in the Gaza strip. We regularly raise the urgent need to ease all access and movement restrictions on Gaza with the Government of Israel. This includes fishing limits, which would help to restore the fishing industry.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are any plans for the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to visit Gaza.[HL1342]

Baroness Warsi: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories between 23-24 July. He did not, however, visit Gaza due to the current situation.

Asked by Baroness Deech

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Palestinian Authority about the reported use of imported concrete for non-peaceful purposes, particularly in the construction of tunnels from Gaza into Israel.[HL1376]

Baroness Warsi: Imports into the Gaza Strip are controlled by Israel as occupying power, not the Palestinian Authority. Imports of construction materials, including concrete are currently only permitted for UN-led humanitarian projects with strict controls mitigating the risk of transfer of materials for use other than that intended. There remains a clear need for further legitimate construction work in Gaza, and we are confident in the measures put in place by the UN to avoid diversion of materials.

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government of what state they regard Gaza to be a part.[HL1395]

Baroness Warsi: The Government regards Gaza as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, along with the West Bank.

30 July 2014 : Column WA336

Pensions: Zimbabwe

Question

Asked by Lord Goodlad

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the failure of Zimbabwe to pay pensions due to former Rhodesia or Zimbabwe public sector pensioners living outside Zimbabwe, whether they have any plans to make ex gratia payments to those affected; and if not, why not.[HL1267]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK has no plans to make ex-gratia payments to former Rhodesia or Zimbabwe public sector pensioners living outside Zimbabwe. The legal obligation to pay these pensions rests solely with the Government of Zimbabwe. We will continue to press the Government of Zimbabwe to fulfil their obligation.

Railways

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the design capacity and projected number of trains per direction per hour in (1) 2026, and (2) 2043, for (a) HS2 at Euston approaches and Old Oak Common, and (b) the West Coast Main Line at Euston approaches, Watford and Milton Keynes.[HL1486]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what timetable planning the Department for Transport, HS2 Ltd and Network Rail have conducted for rail traffic on the West Coast Main Line following the opening of HS2 phase 1.[HL1487]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Government’s current requirements for HS2 specify that on completion of Phase 1 it will be capable of enabling a train service of up to 11 trains per hour into and out of Euston and 14 trains per hour in each direction at Old Oak Common. On completion of Phase 2 the system shall enable up to 18 trains per hour into and out of Euston and at Old Oak Common.

The Government’s aim is that all towns or cities which currently have a direct service to London will retain broadly comparable or better services once HS2 is completed. Some preliminary work on the future timetable for the West Coast Main Line was undertaken in the early part of 2014, but it is important to stress that the actual timetable operated in the 2020s will depend on the development of the railway and train services over the course of the coming decade. Network Rail is currently working with the rail industry, including the Department for Transport and train and freight operators, to consider future service levels in light of the opening of HS2, and these will be determined through normal rail industry access allocation processes in due course.

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Railways: Catering

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the continuation of the Travelling Chef service on intercity services between Cardiff, Bristol and Plymouth and London Paddington, and the restaurant car service on some Plymouth to London services, will be a requirement of any extended rail passenger franchise. [HL1308]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Catering provision is not specified in the current Great Western franchise agreement, and it is not currently expected that catering will be specified in the next Great Western franchise. However, the franchisee will be encouraged to set out proposals which are designed to meet the needs of passengers, and deliver the franchise objectives for customer service and train and station services.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Intercity Express passenger train to be used on services out of Paddington is to be designed to enable Travelling Chef and restaurant car services to be provided.[HL1309]

Baroness Kramer: The current design for the class 800 / 801 trains have a kitchen facility for 1st class passengers and a facility to store and replenish a trolley for standard class passengers.

However, it may be possible for a future operator to vary the design subject to agreement from the Department for Transport.

Railways: Freight

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they will include in their passenger franchising specifications to encourage the growth of rail freight.[HL1497]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): We consider the needs of freight operators when developing franchise specifications. If there are specific growth needs for freight, such as in the recent Essex Thameside competition, then a requirement to accommodate additional paths will be made.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether future franchising specifications will encourage the carriage of small freight, parcels and letters on passenger trains.[HL1498]

Baroness Kramer: Her Majesty’s Government considers the needs of freight operators when developing passenger rail franchise specifications. While there are no specific measures included in current specifications relating to the carriage of small freight, parcels and letters on passenger trains, the Department for Transport is

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carrying out research into how better use can be made of spare capacity on trains. We will consider the outcome of this research in the design of future rail franchise specifications.

Religious Freedom

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to persuade those governments whose states have laws penalising apostasy to repeal or amend them, in particular by ending death sentences. [HL1185]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, which includes the right to change one’s religion and to manifest it in teaching, practice, worship and observance is a key human rights priority for the government.

The UK regularly raises our concerns where apostasy laws exist, either in the context of bilateral meetings, together with EU partners or through multilateral organisations.

As an example, in the case of Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan, we have repeatedly urged the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the right to follow a religion or belief of one’s choice.

We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and in all countries. We have made this position clear to those who continue to execute, including the Government of Sudan.

River Thames: Sewage

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord De Mauley on 14 May (WA 542), what is the actual annual average frequency of discharge of storm sewage of the upgraded Mogden works; whether it meets the requirements of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive; if not, what action is to be taken to ensure that it does; and what is the explanation for the number of such discharges between March and December 2013 compared with Thames Water’s statement made before the upgrade that “post upgrade the Mogden works would spill about once every two and a half years.”[HL1221]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): It is not possible to provide the annual average frequency of discharge of storm sewage from the upgraded Mogden sewage treatment works (STW) as the upgrades only came into effect on 31 March 2013. A discharge from Mogden STW storm tanks has occurred on 54 days in the 12 months from 31 March 2013.

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This compares to an annual average of 95 spill days for the preceding 5 years. The period since 31 March 2013 has been exceptionally wet, causing additional spills. Despite this the storm discharges from Mogden STW have not led to a significant adverse impact on the quality of the river since the upgrades. The Environment Agency will continue to assess the performance of the upgrade to ensure it continues to comply with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. The basis on which Thames Water estimated that Mogden STW will spill about once every two and a half years is not known.

Sahel

Question

Asked by The Marquess of Lothian

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the present terrorist threat in the Sahel and surrounding regions; and to what extent they consider it a threat to British interests in the region.[HL1479]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and surrounding regions can pose a threat to British nationals and interests in the region. Groups active in the region, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al Murabitun, aspire to establish Islamic law in the region and to attack Western interests. Al Murabitun claimed responsibility for killing a French soldier in Mali on 14 July, while terrorists affiliated to AQIM are believed to be responsible for killing 14 members of the Tunisian Security Forces on 16 July. We are committed to working with our partners to strengthen the capacity of the affected nations to counter this threat.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice gives our most accurate assessment of the situation and the risks to British nationals in the countries across the Sahel. Travel Advice on the Sahel is included in the page for each country in the region and is available on our website at: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. We encourage all individuals and organisations to take that advice into account when travelling.

Schools: Admissions

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Nash on 2 July (WA 273), what steps they intend to take to tackle the estimated increase in young people in schools to over eight million by 2023.[HL1517]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): Local authorities are responsible for planning and securing sufficient school places for their area. 260,000 additional places have been created between May 2010 and May 2013, including

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212,000 primary places, and authorities have plans to create many more places in order to meet future demand.

The Government provides significant capital funding to support local authorities. The Department for Education has already committed £5 billion for the financial years 2011-15, and in December 2013, the Department announced a further £2.35 billion in basic need funding to support local authorities to create the additional places that will be needed by September 2017.

Funding for free schools is additional to the basic need allocations to local authorities. To date, seven in 10 mainstream free schools have been opened in areas of basic need, and will create a total of over 50,000 places.

Ensuring that there are enough school places for the growing population is one of the Government’s top priorities, and the Department for Education will continue to support local authorities to create sufficient school places.

Schools: Governors

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they will take in response to the recommendation in the report of the Education Commissioner published on 22 July into allegations concerning Birmingham schools that “unless there are genuinely exceptional circumstances, there should be a presumption that an individual will only be a governor at a maximum of two schools at any one time”.[HL1619]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): We are considering all the specific recommendations made in the report and the Secretary of State will return to the House of Commons in the autumn on steps to be taken on these matters.

Schools: Inspections

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by Civitas entitled Playing the Game: The enduring influence of the preferred Ofsted teaching style, and in particular the claim that teachers change their lessons plans during Ofsted inspections.[HL1513]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Department for Education has read the report and is aware of the issues and concerns raised. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has repeatedly made clear that Ofsted does not have a preferred teaching style. It is up to the classroom teacher to determine how they should teach. Ofsted’s judgements on teaching are predicated on whether children are learning, progressing and achieving good outcomes. We recognise the importance of Ofsted

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delivering a consistently good service across a broad remit. Sir Michael has taken a keen interest in the quality and consistency of inspections and has announced that Ofsted's inspections of schools will be brought in-house from September 2015 to enable direct control over the selection and training of additional inspectors, and more control over quality assurance.

Schools: Radicalism

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the review commissioned by the Secretary of State for Education into whether the Department missed historical warnings in respect of concerns raised about Birmingham schools, the Permanent Secretary intends to interview Mr Tim Boyes, headteacher of Queensbridge School.[HL1536]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the review commissioned by the Secretary of State for Education into whether the Department missed historical warnings in respect of concerns raised about Birmingham schools, the Permanent Secretary intends to interview Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. [HL1537]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): Given that the Permanent Secretary’s review is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment on details regarding the conduct of the review. The Permanent Secretary will be reporting to the Secretary of State later in the summer.

Schools: Vocational Guidance

Question

Asked by Baroness Uddin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether all disabled pupils are guaranteed face-to-face one-to-one access to disability-trained independent careers advisers as part of the statutory duty and guidance for careers advice in schools; and how careers advice in schools will raise the aspirations and work expectancy of disabled pupils.[HL1573]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): Schools should secure face-to-face advice and guidance where it is the most suitable support for young people to make successful transitions. The statutory guidance for schools makes it clear that this is likely to be particularly useful for pupils with special educational needs (SEN), learning difficulties or disabilities; and that this group of pupils should receive advice about all of the education, training and employment opportunities on offer and information on the full range of specialist provision.

The statutory guidance also emphasises the need for schools to have high aspirations for all pupils with SEN, learning difficulties or disabilities. It requires schools to work with local authorities around the provision of specialist support services. Where a student has an Education, Health and Care Plan, this must include a focus on preparing for adulthood, including employment, independent living and participation in

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society. The Government encourages schools to have closer links with employers who will help inspire all pupils about the world of work.

Secure Colleges

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what criteria will be used when placing a child in a secure college over a secure children's home.[HL1181]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Youth Justice Board currently decides the most appropriate placement for young people remanded or sentenced to custody. Placement decisions are based on the individual needs of young people and take into account advice from Youth Offending Teams. This assessment informs whether the young person is suitable for placement in a Secure Children’s Home rather than a Secure Training Centre or Young Offenders Institution. The same process will apply when there is the option of placement in Secure Colleges.

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will publish the governance arrangements and draft rules for secure colleges.[HL1182]

Lord Faulks: Ahead of the Report stage of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill we will be publishing and consulting on our approach to the Secure College Rules. Where appropriate, the consultation will set out some draft indicative provisions. We do not intend to consult on a draft of the Rules themselves; we consider that consulting on the underlying principles rather than the detailed drafting will better enable consideration by consultees.

The Rules will be drafted in light of the outcome of the consultation and laid before Parliament ahead of the opening of the Secure College pathfinder in 2017.

The key statutory governance requirements for Secure Colleges are set out in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill with the final arrangements being confirmed ahead of the opening of the Secure College pathfinder in 2017.

South Sudan

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they are having to ensure that allegations raised in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan human rights report of 8 May are being addressed.[HL1307]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We have made clear to both sides of the conflict in South Sudan that we are deeply concerned by the allegations in the UN Mission

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in South Sudan's report of serious human rights abuses. The Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mark Simmonds), has told the South Sudanese Foreign Minister that we expect all allegations to be properly investigated. We are pressing the Government of South Sudan for an official response. We have raised this issue with the African Union’s Commission of Inquiry. The Commission of Inquiry’s final report, due later this year, must make specific recommendations about how those responsible for human rights abuses will be held to account.

Sudan and South Sudan

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there have been any recent reductions in staff allocated to the Sudan and South Sudan Unit in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and, if so, what are the details of those reductions.[HL1234]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Numbers of staff in the Sudan and South Sudan Unit vary to meet operational needs. During the South Sudan crisis, for example, the Unit’s staffing level was significantly increased to cope with the immediate impact of the conflict. There are currently nine staff working in the Unit, two more than in December, before the South Sudan crisis. However, over the past year there have been some reductions in permanent members of staff. These include merging the role of Special Representative with the Head of the Unit, merging the Sudan and South Sudan team leader roles and merging two support functions. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will continue to ensure that the Unit is sufficiently staffed to meet UK objectives in both Sudan and South Sudan.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the security of the mainly Kurdish cantons of north and east Syria, and in particular of the risk of attacks by Islamic extremists. [HL1467]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) in Syria and associated armed groupings have effectively been in control of most of the Kurdish areas in North-East Syria since they unilaterally declared autonomy in November 2013.

We are aware of reports of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (also known as ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) attacks on Kurdish forces in Kobane and other areas in Northern and Eastern Syria. Reports suggest that the attacks in Kobane began on 7 July, and that ISIL has employed heavy weapons seized from Iraqi Security Forces. ISIL is a serious threat in Syria and Iraq. We remain

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concerned that their access to more sophisticated weaponry, a swelling of their ranks and improved morale will now place them in a stronger position to threaten all those in Syria, regardless of their affiliation. Primary responsibility for this situation lies with the Assad regime whose actions have fuelled extremism in Syria.

The UK remains committed to supporting the moderate opposition in Syria to bolster them against the regime and against the extremists, and to help bring about a political solution, which remains the only way to achieve a sustainable resolution to the crisis.

Syria and Iraq

Questions

Asked by The Marquess of Lothian

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what new steps they are taking to reduce the number of British Muslims travelling to Syria and Iraq to participate in jihad.[HL1409]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Government takes the threat posed by those who travel to Syria and Iraq extremely seriously. Our priority is to dissuade people from travelling to areas of conflict in the first place, by highlighting that the best way for the public to help is to donate to UK-registered charities that have ongoing relief operations; that anyone going to Syria, even for humanitarian reasons, is at serious risk of being targeted by terrorist groups or the regime; and that travelling to Syria will place anxiety on families and friends. The Home Secretary this week backed a national campaign aimed at dissuading young people from travelling to Syria and Iraq. The campaign ‘Families Matter’ was launched on 21st July by Families Against Stress and Trauma (FAST), a community organisation which provides support to vulnerable families and individuals across the country. Through our work with law enforcement and responsible social media companies, we are making significant progress with removing online propaganda including material from proscribed groups, such as ISIL, which targets the vulnerable and encourages travel. Since December 2013, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit have removed over 21,000 pieces of unlawful terrorist material, a significant proportion of which is related to Syria and Iraq. The police and security services are actively working to detect and disrupt terrorist threats. A range of measures may be used, including disrupting travel by cancelling British passports, depriving dual nationals of British citizenship and excluding them from the UK, and conducting interviews at the border as part of Counter Terrorist investigations.

Asked by The Marquess of Lothian

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their latest estimate of (1) the number of British Muslims fighting with Salafist movements in Syria and Iraq, and (2) the number of such British Muslims who have recently returned home.[HL1410]

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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: We believe that more than 400 UK-linked individuals have travelled to Syria and have become involved in the fighting since the start of the uprising. A significant subset of those have returned to the UK.

Thailand

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why no official from the British Embassy in Bangkok attended Andy Hall’s meeting with officials at the Prakanong Prosecutor’s Office on 18 June.[HL1230]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Consular officials at our Embassies do not attend court hearings unless there are exceptional circumstances. While a British Embassy representative, in his capacity as a political analyst, did observe Mr Hall’s hearing on 2 July, the Embassy has no role in accompanying Mr Hall to meetings related to his legal dispute.

We cannot interfere in the judicial process of another country and we cannot act as legal representatives for British nationals. Our staff are not legally trained and they therefore cannot comment on proceedings or provide interpretation. Consular officials will continue to support Mr Hall as appropriate, and a decision on whether we will attend future hearings or other key meetings will be made when required.

Uganda

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the passing of anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda, whether they are reviewing the categorisation of that country when considering demands for extradition of United Kingdom citizens to Uganda. [HL1451]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Uganda is a signatory to the London Scheme for Extradition within the Commonwealth and is categorised as a Category 2 country for the purposes of the Extradition Act 2003. It is required to provide prima facie evidence in support of any extradition request. The Category 2 designation does not in itself amount to a simplified extradition procedure. When deciding an extradition case the court must consider any relevant Human Rights concerns. If the court believes a person’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights would be breached, they must discharge the request.

Ukraine

Questions

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any information, either from Eurocontrol or elsewhere, regarding the primary and secondary radar returns from flight MH17 before and immediately after its destruction.[HL1363]

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The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Dutch Safety Board is leading the investigation into the MH17 incident. It would be inappropriate for the UK Government to share or discuss information relevant to the investigation while this is continuing.

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what Notices to Airmen were in force relating to flights over and through Ukrainian airspace at the time of the destruction of flight MH17.[HL1364]

Baroness Kramer: Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) were in force over two areas of Ukrainian airspace on Thursday 17 July. One related to the disputed Crimean airspace, which has been in place for several months. A second was in place over Eastern Ukraine (the Dnipropetrovsk Flight Information Region), closing airspace below 32,000 feet.

Veterans: Employment

Questions

Asked by Baroness Greengross

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to respond to offers of employment for returning injured military personnel.[HL1214]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are identified points of contact for employers who wish to offer work opportunities to returning injured military personnel.[HL1215]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): A career in the Armed Forces equips service leavers with a wide range of specialist and transferable skills. Such a career will also have instilled and developed characteristics such as leadership, initiative and tenacity, which is why this group of people are in high demand in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors.

The Ministry of Defence prepares personnel through the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) in providing them advice, guidance, vocational training and job finding support to help them secure an appropriate and sustainable career after leaving the Armed Forces. The CTP is a partnering arrangement between the MoD and Right Management Limited and engages with industry and public/charity/voluntary sector organisations to best match work and employment opportunities with personnel leaving the Armed Forces. We work with all industry sectors to offer Service Leavers a range of employment options and positions through the creation of partnerships with major organisations such as BAE Systems, Jaguar, Siemens, Google and BT Openreach. The CTP helped 85 per cent of Service Leavers find sustainable employment within six months of leaving the Armed Forces in 2013/14.