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Written Answers

Thursday 15 January 2015

Al-Sweady Inquiry

Question

Asked by Lord Blencathra

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the statement made by the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon MP, on 17 December 2014 (HC Deb, cols 1407–9), whether they will take action against Public Interest Lawyers for pursuing “completely baseless allegations” against the Ministry of Defence.[HL3955]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The Government is considering all available options.

Armed Forces: Credit Unions

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they are making in enabling credit unions to offer services to members of Her Majesty's Forces and their families.[HL4030]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): I refer the hon. Member to the answer given in the House of Commons by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Anna Soubry) on 8 December 2014 to Question number 216988 to the hon. Member for Harrow West (Gareth Thomas).

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-12-03/216988/

This Answer included the following attachment Hansard Extract 8 December 2014 (HOC 216988.doc)

Bahrain

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 16 December 2014 (HL3617), what are the names and sentences of those imprisoned in Bahrain. [HL4020]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): Due to consular confidentiality, any information about British nationals detained abroad cannot be released without the express written permission of the individuals concerned.

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Cyprus

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the 29 December 2014 statement by the Greek Cypriot Archbishop Chrysostomos II in respect of civil and human rights for Turkish Cypriots; what recognition they accord to the role of the Archbishop in Greek Cypriot decision-making; and what impact this statement will have on their current policy towards the Cyprus.[HL3959]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): The Government is aware of the statement made on 26 December by Archbishop Chrysostomos II. While we have not made an assessment of that statement, we recognise that the unresolved political situation in Cyprus has also given rise to human rights challenges for both communities and for religious minorities on the island. The recent UN “Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the question of human rights in Cyprus” notes that the persisting division of the island remains an obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights by all Cypriots. The report concludes that the human rights situation in Cyprus would be greatly improved by the achievement of a comprehensive settlement. The Government shares this assessment.

We recognise the importance of the Church of Cyprus in Greek Cypriot society. Civil society, including religious leaders, can play a vital role in supporting efforts towards reunification by building bridges between communities. Archbishop Chrysostomos II has himself played a role in nurturing inter-faith dialogue, notably through his role in the 2014 Good Friday service in Famagusta.

The Government continues strongly to support UN-led efforts to end the division of the island through a lasting and just settlement.

Developing Countries: Family Planning

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will advocate proposals for a 10 per cent of Official Development Assistance to be allocated to Population Assistance at the forthcoming International Conference on Financing for Development to be held on 13–16 July 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.[HL3984]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Northover) (LD): The UK Government is proud to have fulfilled our commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on ODA, and intends to continue to do so. Within this, it is important to maintain the flexibility to target our programme to the areas where support is most needed, and where UK development assistance can have greatest impact. For

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this reason we do not support sub targets on Official Development Assistance (ODA) to specific sectoral areas.

Driving: Licensing

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether under the new arrangements for the design of the United Kingdom's driving licence the Union flag will appear on all driving licences.[HL3977]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): All driving licences issued to drivers in England, Scotland and Wales will display the Union flag from summer 2015.

Egypt

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Egypt on behalf of Mohammed Hegazy. [HL3910]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): We are concerned about the case of Mr Mohammed Hegazy, who converted to Christianity in 1998. We raised Mr Hegazy’s case at official level with the Egyptian Embassy in London on 7 January.

We deplore all discrimination against religious minorities and constraints on their freedom to practise their faith. The Government of Egypt has clearly stated its commitment to protecting the rights of minorities and of the need for religious tolerance, and the Egyptian constitution contains protection for freedom of religious belief. It is important that these rights are respected.

In September our Ambassador to Egypt called on the Patriarch of Alexandria, and officials from our embassy in Cairo recently met members of the Coptic Christian community to discuss the challenges they face.

The British Government will continue to raise concerns about such cases with the Egyptian authorities.

Employment: Obesity

Questions

Asked by Lord McColl of Dulwich

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the financial implications for employers of the ruling by the European Court of Justice that under certain circumstances obesity should be considered a disability.[HL3903]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): A formal assessment of the impact of a court judgment on business is only carried out where a

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change in our domestic law is thought necessary in the light of that judgment. No such change is expected to arise from the relevant European Court judgment (Fag og Arbejde v Kommunernes Landsforening – aka the “Kaltoft” case.

Asked by Lord Willoughby de Broke

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on small and medium-sized enterprises of the recent decision of the European Court of Justice in Fag og Arbejde (FOA) v Kommunernes Landsforening (KL).[HL3911]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): A formal assessment of the impact of a court judgment on business is only carried out where a change in our domestic law is thought necessary in the light of that judgment. No such change is expected to arise from Fag og Arbejde v Kommunernes Landsforening (aka the “Kaltoft” case).

Entry Clearances: Nepal

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Bates on 8 December 2014 (HL3326) and 18 December 2014 (HL3645), how many applications from Nepal were received in 2014 in Delhi and how many of these were approved. [HL3896]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): There were 7,022 Visa applications made in Nepal and processed in New Delhi between Jan - Sep 2014. Of these, 5,251 were approved.

Eritrea

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the outcomes of the visit to Eritrea by Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office representatives in December 2014. [HL3979]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): As part of an ongoing dialogue on migration related issues between the UK and Eritrean governments, a joint delegation of senior Home Office and Foreign Office officials visited Eritrea on 9-11 December. The delegation held a number of discussions with government ministers, officials and non-government actors on topics including the current drivers of irregular migration, ways to mitigate it, and voluntary and enforced returns. The meetings were constructive and identified a number of potential areas for joint co-operation, including on returns. We are

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now considering how best to use the information gathered during the visit to develop our approach to managing migration from Eritrea.

EU Immigration: Horn of Africa

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what programme of research they are undertaking on the drivers of migration to support the European Union–Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative.[HL3978]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): Following its launch at a Ministerial Conference in Rome on 28 November, the Government is working with other EU Member States and African partners to develop the new Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative (the Khartoum Process), which is intended to tackle people smuggling and human trafficking in the Horn of Africa.

Our work under the Khartoum Process to date has drawn upon on a number of sources of information on migration routes in the Horn of Africa and the countries of the region, including information on the drivers of migration. This includes research specifically commissioned or undertaken by HM Government and information provided by its posts in the region. We are also drawing on the broader expertise and information held by other EU partners, and on information provided by international organisations and partner countries in the Horn of Africa.

European Central Bank

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they support a policy of quantitative easing by the European Central Bank; and if so, what would be the implications for the United Kingdom if such a policy were implemented.[HL3928]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): It is for the ECB Governing Council to decide the appropriate monetary policy stance for the euro area.

European Union

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 16 December 2014 (HL3536), whether recent statements by the Prime Minister stating that during negotiations on European Union reform nothing can be ruled out mean that the United Kingdom could withdraw from the European Union if the Government's objectives can not be met.[HL3927]

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns): I refer the Noble Lord to my answers of 20 November 2014, 4 December 2014 and 16 December 2014. The Government’s position has not changed: the European Union must reform to become more competitive, democratically accountable and fair for those inside and outside the Eurozone. I also refer the Noble Lord to the speech by the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), on the 28 November 2014; and the speech by the Deputy Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr Clegg), on the 5 August 2014. Transcripts of the speeches are attached for ease of reference.

This Answer included the following attachments:

1. PM speech 280Nov 2014 (PM speech 28 Nov 2014.docx)

2. DPM speech 5 Aug 2014 (DPM speech 5 August 2014.docx)

Financial Services

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to protect consumers from continuous payment authority abuses.[HL3938]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): There are two sets of regulations that protect consumers from abuses of continuous payment authorities (CPAs) – the Payment Services Regulations 2009, and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

In June 2013, the Financial Conduct Authority issued a warning to banks, reminding them of their obligation to cancel CPAs immediately at the customer’s request. Banks are also required to refund consumers if companies continue to take money without the account-holder’s permission.

In addition, the FCA has introduced tough new rules limiting payday lenders’ use of CPAs to two unsuccessful attempts. These rules also prevent payday lenders from using CPAs to take partial payment – a lender can only take payment if the entire amount owed by the customer is available in their account.

Financial Services: Regulation

Question

Asked by Lord Stewartby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to reconsider the attitudes, capabilities and experience required for senior posts in regulation in the light of the outcome of the Davis Review of the Financial Conduct Authority.[HL3937]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The Davis Review contained no recommendations for the government. The response to the Davis review conclusions is a matter for the Financial Conduct Authority.

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This question has therefore been passed on to the FCA and the FCA will reply directly to the Noble Lord by letter. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Firearms: Registration

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Shrewsbury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, following the requirement under European Union Directive 2008/51/EC that all member states have a computerised system to record all firearms by 31 December 2014, they have implemented such a system; and if not, for what reason.[HL3975]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): In order to comply with European Union Directive 2008/51/EC, the Government must have established a computerised filing system to record and maintain details about the supply and ownership of legal firearms by the end of 2014.

We already have robust processes in place as firearms dealers are required to maintain their own register of firearms under the Firearms Act 1968, details of which are passed to the National Firearms Licensing Management System in England and Wales and Shogun in Scotland. Records and registers will now need to be kept for a minimum of twenty years and this will require an amendment to secondary legislation.

Although our original approach was for dealers to computerise their records, we recently announced that we would be continuing to use the existing centralised systems for the majority of the recorded transactions, as this reduces the impact on both police and firearms dealers. However, we will continue to recommend that dealers keep computerised records as a matter of best practice.

Asked by The Earl of Shrewsbury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the status of Firearms Dealers Computerised Registers as originally required by the Home Office and agreed with the Gun Trade Association in July 2013; whether the requirement been rescinded; and if so, for what reason.[HL3976]

Lord Bates: In order to comply with European Union Directive 2008/51/EC, the Government must have established a computerised filing system to record and maintain details about the supply and ownership of legal firearms by the end of 2014.

We already have robust processes in place as firearms dealers are required to maintain their own register of firearms under the Firearms Act 1968, details of which are passed to the National Firearms Licensing Management System in England and Wales and Shogun in Scotland. Records and registers will now need to be kept for a minimum of twenty years and this will require an amendment to secondary legislation.

Although our original approach was for dealers to computerise their records, we recently announced that we would be continuing to use the existing centralised

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systems for the majority of the recorded transactions, as this reduces the impact on both police and firearms dealers. However, we will continue to recommend that dealers keep computerised records as a matter of best practice.

Gatwick Airport: Immigration Controls

Question

Asked by Baroness Valentine

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the maximum immigration control queue waiting time at each of London Gatwick’s terminals on Sunday 4 January; and why the immigration control desks were not fully staffed at times of high demand. [HL3980]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): There were no breaches of the published service standard at Gatwick on Sunday 4th January 2015; the maximum immigration queue waiting times on that day were as follows:

North Terminal: 35 minutes for non-EEA passengers and 20 minutes for EEA passengers.

South Terminal: 32 minutes for non-EEA passengers and 12 minutes for EEA passengers.

The published service standard for queue times at the border specifies that 95% of British, EEA and Swiss passengers should wait no longer than 25 minutes at passport control and 95% of non-EEA passengers should wait no longer than 45 minutes.

The operational managers continually monitor the situation with regard to queuing times to ensure staff are flexibly deployed in the right numbers at the right times. The security of the border and the safety of the public are our priorities. At Gatwick, eligible travellers also have the option of using the e-Passport gates, of which there are 20 (15 in the South Terminal and 5 in the North Terminal), all of which were in operation on the day in question.

Gibraltar: Spain

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the position taken by the government of Spain that Gibraltar should be excluded from the proposed European Union legislation Single European Sky Two+.[HL4019]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Gibraltar continues to be included in the scope of existing Single European Sky II (SESII) legislation, as it should be under the Treaties of the European Union.

At the Transport Council on 5 December, the Government took a very firm position making it clear to the European Commission and Italian Presidency that Spain’s attempts to exclude Gibraltar airport from the proposed Single European Sky Two+ proposals

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were unacceptable to the UK and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Robert Goodwill walked out of Council to protest this approach.

The Government will continue to oppose Spain’s attempts to exclude Gibraltar airport from future aviation legislation.

Government Departments: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether non-British passport holders are eligible for employment by the Home Office on duties connected with immigration control and the security of United Kingdom borders.[HL4040]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): The Home Office Policy on non UK national appointments is governed by the Nationality Rules. These are a matter of public record at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/307925/nationality-rules_amendedjh101213.pdf

All posts involving border control or decisions about immigration are deemed reserved posts for UK nationals.

Honours

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 18 January 2012 (HL14630), 30 January 2012 (HL14978), 10 July 2014 (HL828) and 28 July 2014 (HL1115), what were the relevant figures for the awards of Knighthoods and Damehoods in the 2015 New Year honours lists.[HL4090]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The information requested concerning the number of honours recipients described as holding the title of Professor in the New Year 2015 honours list at Knighthood/Damehood levels is in the public domain at www.london-gazette.co.uk. Percentages are as follows:

Number of recipients at Knight/DameNumber of Knight/Dame recipients who described themselves as ProfessorPercentage of Knight/Dame recipients who described themselves as Professor

NY 2015

38

12

32%

Immigrants: Detainees

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on what ground an individual can be detained for immigration purpose for periods in excess of 30 days.[HL3991]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): Individuals may be detained to effect their removal from the UK, to establish their identity or basis of claim, or where there is reason to believe that they will fail to comply with any conditions attached to the grant of temporary admission or temporary release. In addition, asylum applicants whose claims are considered to be straightforward and capable of speedy resolution may be detained under the asylum fast track process.

Immigration detention is not subject to a fixed time limit but it must comply with the principles established in leading case law. These broadly provide that: the power to detain can only be exercised for a permitted purpose; detention is limited to a period that is reasonably necessary for the purpose for which it was authorised; what is a reasonable period will depend on all the circumstances of the case; and, if it becomes apparent that the purpose of detention cannot be achieved within that reasonable period, detention should be brought to an end.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to place time limits on detention for immigration purposes.[HL3992]

Lord Bates: The Government has no intention of introducing a fixed time limit on immigration detention in the UK.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they have yet to respond to the application submitted on 25 October 2013 by the person whose Home Office reference is A1342128 for indefinite leave to remain under the settlement protection route.[HL4007]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): The Home Office does not routinely comment on individual cases and has obligations in law to protect this information. Applications for indefinite leave to remain need to meet the requirements set out in the Immigration Rules.

Japanese Knotweed

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what advice they are giving to each local authority in relation to (1) the desirability of carrying out a survey of the incidence of Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) in their area, (2) the desirability of establishing a programme for its suppression and removal, and (3) the best means of doing this both on land they own, and on other land in their area.[HL4036]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Advice relating to the identification and treatment of Japanese knotweed is openly available to local authorities through a variety of mechanisms. Defra and its delivery partners, including the Environment Agency and Natural England, provide guidance on their websites, as does the Non-Native Species Secretariat. The advice includes identification sheets and best practice guidance for management and removal. However, it is for the local authority itself to decide what priority and resource it places on tackling Japanese knotweed.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress is being made with the pilot schemes for control of Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) using the psyllid Aphalara itadora; and what assessment they have made of schemes and proposals for the control of Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) in other parts of Europe, and North America.[HL4037]

Lord De Mauley: Following rigorous laboratory testing which identified the psyllid Aphalara itadori as a suitable biocontrol agent for Japanese knotweed, it was released under licence to two sites in spring 2010, subject to a programme of close monitoring. After reviewing the data collected, the Food and Environment Research Agency, as the licensing authority, approved releases in spring 2011 to seven sites in England and one site in Wales.

The psyllid has successfully overwintered since then, but numbers have remained low so additional releases were made at the sites in spring of 2012, 2013 and 2014 to boost numbers with the aim of achieving establishment. This rate of progress is not unexpected. The sites continue to be closely monitored.

This was the first intentional release of a non-native organism to control an invasive plant in Europe. Other classical biocontrol programmes from around the world have taken five to ten years from release to achieve successful biological control.

Mediterranean Sea

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have changed their position on supporting search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. [HL3990]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): HM Government has not changed its policy. Search and rescue operations remain the responsibility of national Governments, although any vessels in the area of a boat in distress, including UK ships, should assist in their rescue according to the usual laws of the sea.

The UK continues to provide support for Frontex’s Operation Triton, which commenced at the EU’s Mediterranean sea border in November. We have recently

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responded positively to further Frontex requests for contributions to this operation for the coming year.

We have also agreed with our European partners to enhance co-operation within the EU given the continuing pressures in the Mediterranean, and to work with countries of origin and transit seeking sustainable solutions by tackling the causes of illegal immigration along with the organised gangs that facilitate it, and enhancing support in North and East Africa for those who need it.

Middle East

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel concerning the boy killed and 24 children injured in the West Bank last week as reported by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.[HL3930]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): While we have not raised these particular cases with the Government of Israel, we have raised the issue of excessive use of force, in particular the use of live fire, regularly with the Israeli authorities. We have urged restraint in the use of force to deal with security incidences and crowd control.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report that the Israeli authorities have opened a military investigation into this incident.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Israel concerning (1) the removal of two military bases in the West Bank in order to allow for the expansion of existing settlements, (2) the Israeli air attack on a cement factory near Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip on 20 or 21 December, (3) the elimination of delays and full normal opening of the Tulkarm Crossing-point for Palestinians with permission to work in Israel, (4) approval for the construction of 243 houses on West Bank land illegally annexed to Jerusalem, and (5) Israeli naval vessels firing live ammunition at Palestinian fishermen off Gaza, damaging several boats.[HL3934]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: While we have not raised these specific issues, we have repeatedly condemned Israel’s announcements to expand settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv regularly bring up the issue of settlements with the Israeli National Security Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence contacts. We are aware of an attack by the Israeli Defence Forces against “Hamas terror infrastructure” in the Khan Yunis area of southern Gaza after a rocket was fired into Israel from Gaza on 19 December. Our Ambassador discussed this matter with the Israeli Ministry of Defence. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv regularly meet with the Israeli authorities – including the Israeli

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Office for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories/Ministry of Defence and the National Security Adviser - to urge them to ease restrictions on Gaza, including the movement of commercial goods, and persons from and to the Gaza Strip. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv is looking into the situation faced by Gazan fishermen and will consider Government action on this issue.

National Security Council

Questions

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many countries of concern have been identified by the National Security Council, and how many countries have been prioritised for activity under the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.[HL3882]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): The governance arrangements for the Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) are currently being considered. The CSSF will support delivery of the Building Stability Overseas Strategy, National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review using the full range of government capabilities and expertise in tackling conflict, instability and insecurity. Cross Whitehall Regional Boards for Africa, Americas, Asia/Pacific, Middle East & North Africa, South Asia and Wider Europe and have been established, and will be responsible for disbursing the funding allocated to the countries in their region. Updates on the development of the CSSF can be provided once Ministerial agreement of these governance arrangements has been secured.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the National Security Council will have a strategy for each of its priority countries, and, if so, what those strategies will include.[HL3883]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) is one part of a broader approach to UK prioritisation in fragile states, governed by the National Security Council (NSC). With the NSC at the core, the Government has been making strategic decisions for the most effective use of limited departmental resources. This process is still ongoing and updates on the development of the CSSF can be provided once Ministerial agreement of these arrangements has been secured.

NATO: Newport

Questions

Asked by Baroness Hodgson of Abinger

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people comprised the United Kingdom delegation at the NATO summit in Wales in September; and of those how many were women.[HL3904]

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): The UK delegation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit in Wales in September comprised a total of 40 people, of which 10 were women. The first ever meeting at a NATO summit on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) was held. The meeting launched NATO’s new Policy and Action Plan on WPS, and made permanent of the role of the Special Representative on Women, Peace and Security.

Asked by Baroness Hodgson of Abinger

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people comprised the Afghanistan delegation attending the NATO Summit in Wales in September; and of those how many were women.[HL3905]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: According to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Afghanistan delegation to the Summit in Wales in September comprised a total of 12 people, of which 2 were women.

Asked by Baroness Hodgson of Abinger

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many delegates in total attended the NATO Summit in Wales in September; and of those how many were women.[HL3906]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: According to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), a total of 2226 delegates attended the NATO Summit in Wales in September of which 394 were women. However the number of women may have been higher as 295 of the 2226 delegates did not confirm their gender at the point of registration.

Asked by Baroness Hodgson of Abinger

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many delegates from fragile and conflict-affected states attended the NATO Summit in Wales in September; and of those how many were women.[HL3907]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is primarily focused on issues of Transatlantic security. However, the UK was keen to encourage broader participation at the Summit.

Allied Heads of State and Government met with 27 partner countries including International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) contributors (Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Jordan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Montenegro, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates), countries from the region (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan) as well as Japan. High level representatives of the United Nations and the European Union also attended.

NATO agreed that its partner countries which cooperate with NATO on interoperability should also be invited. As well as countries included above, the Republic of Moldova, Morocco, Serbia, and Switzerland also attended the Summit.

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Natural Gas: Ukraine

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of the United Kingdom's gas supply comes through Ukraine; and whether they are satisfied about the security of this supply.[HL4012]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): Due to the interconnected nature of the European gas system, it is possible that some gas feeds through to the UK via Ukraine. Nevertheless, we estimate that these are small volumes, likely less than 1 per cent of total imports.

Since the gas agreement between Russia and Ukraine signed on the 31 October we assess the risk to the UK and Europe’s energy supply is low and we have no grounds at present to expect a disruption to gas transiting the Ukraine. Ukraine has proved through the gas dispute to date to be a reliable transit state. The UK and other EU Member states have reiterated that existing contracts for gas supply from Russia to the European Union need to be respected.

Northern Ireland Government

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the talks leading to the Stormont House Agreement included any discussion of the undertakings given by the government of the Republic of Ireland as part of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 to improve human rights in their country; and, if not, why not.[HL3950]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson) (LD): A wide range of issues were discussed in the talks which led to the Stormont House Agreement. The issue mentioned does not feature in the Agreement.

Palestinians

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they are making to the government of Egypt about full reopening of the Rafah Crossing, in particular for urgent medical cases, students, and other priority categories.[HL3935]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): We are concerned about the closure of the Rafah Crossing and the impact that has on urgent medical and other priority cases in Gaza. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), raised the importance of reopening

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the Rafah crossing when he met the Egyptian Foreign Minister on 27 October and again on 18 November. We continue to raise this issue in our contacts with the Egyptian government.

Parades: Belfast

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they decided not to establish a panel to examine issues around parading in North Belfast.[HL3951]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson) (LD): One of the key principles in the Terms of Reference for a panel on parading in North Belfast was that in order for it to be successful, the process needed to be able to engage effectively across the community. It became apparent that there was insufficient support for the panel, including from amongst some of those most directly involved in the dispute. It was therefore decided, on balance, not to go ahead with establishing the panel.

Police: Car Allowances

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the police are paid 65 pence per mile for the use of private cars on official business; and whether they are required to pay tax on the surplus they receive above the 45 pence HM Revenue and Customs Mileage Allowance payment which is non-taxable.[HL4038]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): Motor vehicle allowance rates are set out in determinations made under the Police Regulations 2003. The current rates were reviewed and agreed in 2012 by the Police Negotiating Board following a recommendation by Sir Thomas Winsor in his Independent Review of Police Officer and Staff Remuneration and Conditions (Part 1, 2011) that the existing Motor Vehicle Allowance for police officers should be retained, as “it provides officers with fair reimbursement of their motoring costs incurred in the performance of their duties”.

Any surplus mileage allowance paid above the 45 pence HM Revenue and Customs Mileage Allowance must be declared for tax purposes as a benefit in kind unless alternative arrangements have been agreed by a police force with HMRC.

Prisoners: Suicide

Question

Asked by Lord Patel of Bradford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people committed suicide in prison in England in 2014; and of those (1) how many received mental health assessments prior to their deaths, and (2) how many were diagnosed with a mental health illness.[HL3902]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The number of self-inflicted deaths in prison custody in 2014 is due to be released on the 29th January 2015 at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/safety-in-custody-statistics

The most recent Safety in Custody statistics bulletin covers deaths in prison custody up to the end of September 2014. In the first 9 months of 2014 there had been 58 self-inflicted deaths in prison custody in England. As it can be difficult to determine a person’s intent to take their own life, the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) classifies any death where a person has apparently taken their own life, irrespective of intent, as a self-inflicted death.

Information on mental health assessments and diagnoses are not collected centrally.

Prisoners receive a detailed medical examination on reception and those identified as having mental health needs are referred for a further mental health assessment. The reception healthcare screen also includes an assessment of the risk of self harm or suicide. Prisoners identified as being at risk of self harm or suicide (on reception, or at any point during their time in custody) are subject to Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork (ACCT), a flexible, prisoner-centred care planning process. The ACCT process includes a detailed psychosocial assessment by a trained assessor within 24 hours, and this is followed immediately by the first multi-disciplinary case review, at which a decision is reached about whether or not a further mental health assessment is necessary.

We are applying strenuous efforts to learn from each death and are providing further resources and support to prisons to help support their safer custody work. Reducing the number of self-inflicted deaths in prisons is a top priority, and our dedicated resources are providing support to many vulnerable prisoners every single day.

Privy Council

Question

Asked by Lord Lexden

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total size of the Privy Council on (1) 1 May 1997, (2) 1 May 2010, and (3) 1 January 2015.[HL4074]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The information is set out in the table below.

DateNumber of Privy Counsellors

1st May 1997

423

1st May 2010

554

1st January 2015

639

Prostitution

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 17 December 2014 (HL3283), what plans they have to introduce legislation to criminalise the purchase of sex. [HL3908]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): The government currently has no such plans, and I refer to my answer of 17 December 2014 to question HL3283 on this matter.

Public Finance

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how, for the purposes of official statistics, they define (1) the annual budget deficit, (2) the structural deficit, and (3) the cyclical deficit.[HL4034]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The annual budget deficit is also referred to as Public Sector Net Borrowing (PSNB). The Office for National Statistics (ONS) defines PSNB as the difference between public sector receipts and expenditure as measured by National Accounts. It also equals the net balance of the public sector’s net acquisition of financial liabilities less its acquisition of financial assets. In December 2009, the ONS defined an alternative measure of PSNB excluding the temporary effects of the financial sector interventions (PSNBex).

Typically PSNB excluding banks (PSNBex) is the measure that is used to describe the public finances. Further information on ONS definitions of the Public Finances can be found in the latest Public Sector Finance (PSF) release from December 2014[1].

The cyclically adjusted deficit and cyclical deficit are not official statistics. These measures are estimates by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) based on assessments of the output gap. Information on how these are derived can be found in the OBR’s Working Paper No. 3: Cyclically Adjusting the Public Finances which can be found on the OBR’s website[2].

[1] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/psa/public-sector-finances/ november-2014/stb-nov-2014.html

[2] http://budgetresponsibility.org.uk/wordpress/docs/Working- paper-No3.pdf

Railway Stations

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the way Network Rail manages station rebuilding projects.[HL4028]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Network Rail is responsible for managing a large number of station rebuilding projects. The scope and scale of these works vary from relatively minor works to very large scale projects such as London King’s Cross or Birmingham New Street. The amount of assessment will similarly vary depending upon the scale of the project concerned. For the larger schemes it is usual for the Department for Transport to appoint a scheme sponsor. These sponsors are in regular contact with Network Rail to undertake assurance activity around delivery.

In addition the Office of Rail Regulation undertakes regular reviews of Network Rail’s delivery against its Business Plan commitments, and this will include station rebuilding projects.

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Right to Buy Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will review their policy of right to buy in the light of the continued shortages of social housing to rent. [HL4050]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): The Government is committed to enabling social tenants to achieve their aspiration for home ownership where this is the right option for them.

We are also committed to ensuring that affordable rented housing is available to those who need it most.

Over £600 million has been generated from additional Right to Buy sales since the policy was reinvigorated, and this is being recycled directly into providing new affordable homes for rent.

Since April 2010, this Government has delivered 217,000 affordable homes, and council housebuilding is at its highest rate for 23 years.

Scottish Parliament

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to change the status of the Scottish Parliament.[HL4013]

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) (LD): The Commission chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin delivered a cross party agreement on further devolution to Scotland on 27 November 2014. The Government has committed to producing draft clauses by 25 January 2015. Individual parties have made commitments to introduce legislation to Parliament following the General Election in May 2015.

Social Rented Housing

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was (1) the total council-owned housing stock, and (2) the stock of other social housing, in each local housing authority in England for each year since 1980. [HL4032]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): The Department does not hold figures at local authority district level to fully answer this question. The information published by the Department can provide the numbers of local authority-owned stock from 1994 and numbers of social housing stock from 1997.

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These data are available from the Department’s statistical tables at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-dwelling-stock-including-vacants

Private Registered Provider (housing association) stock can be found in live table 115, local authority-owned stock can be found in live table 116. These can be summed to provide an estimate of social and affordable housing stock. Total housing stock can be found in live table 100 from 2009.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government for each local housing authority in England, and for England as a whole, how many units of housing were sold under Right to Buy and Right to Acquire provisions in each year since 1980; and how many new units of (1) council housing, and (2) other social housing, were provided (by new build, conversion or purchase) in each of those years.[HL4033]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Statistics on total Right to Buy sales in England for each year since 1980/81 and Right to Acquire sales in England for each year since 1998/99 are published in the Department’s tables 671 and 677 respectively. Annual Right to Buy sales for each local authority district for each year since 1998/99 are published in table 685. These tables are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-social-housing-sales

Right to Acquire sales are not available by local authority district.

Annual statistics on delivery since 1991/92 of housing for social rent (table 1006) and since 2011/12 of housing for affordable rent (table 1006a) for each local authority district are published at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-affordable-housing-supply

These figures include newly built and acquired housing delivered by both local authorities and Private Registered Providers.

Statistics for Right to Buy starts on site by local authority district are only available from 2012-13 when one for one replacement on additional local authority sales - that is, sales above the level forecast before the changes were made - was introduced. They are published in the Department’s table 693 at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-social-housing-sales

Councils have three years to start building the homes after the sale, which gives them time to ensure new builds maximise value for money.

Somerset Rivers Authority

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what legal basis the newly created Somerset Rivers Authority will have; how it will interact with the county council and other local authorities; and how it will be funded in the long term.[HL3998]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The Somerset Rivers Authority will be a new joint body in the form of a partnership between existing local organisations. The County Council and five district councils in Somerset will be member organisations and each have a representative on the Authority’s board. The other member organisations will be the Environment Agency, the local Internal Drainage Boards and Natural England. The Wessex Regional Flood and Coastal Committee will also be represented by a member on the Authority’s Board. A review will be carried out to identify a long-term, local funding solution from 2016/17. On 8 December the SoS announced that the SRA would receive funding of £2.7m for 2015/16; £1.9m from Defra and £800,000 from local partners.

Tax Avoidance

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Deighton on 9 December 2014 (HL3168), what steps they are taking to ensure that legislation is properly drafted such that Parliament's intentions are clear with regard to taxation.[HL3925]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): In 2010 the government introduced ‘The new approach to tax policy making’[1] with the aim of improving the predictability and transparency of tax policy making. This commits to early and continuing engagement through all stages of tax policy development. As set out in the Tax Consultation Framework[2], the government will commonly consult on tax issues, why change is needed, what it is intended to achieve and on the legislation itself to ensure it achieves that intention. As part of this, the government

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publishes the majority of Finance Bill clauses in draft 3 months in advance of the bill’s introduction into Parliament. For example, on 10 December this year, the government published 315 pages of draft legislation

[3]

for consultation with the aim of ensuring that legislation in Finance Bill 2015 is clear and works as intended.

[1] http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130129110402/ http:/www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/tax_policy_making_response.pdf.pdf

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/89261/tax-consultation-framework.pdf

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/385160/Draft_clauses_and_explanatory_notes_for_Finance_Bill_2015.pdf

Transport: Capital Investment

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Deighton on 17 December (HL3391), what proportion of the appraisal of a typical road and a rail investment proposal is based on (1) the aggregation of small time savings forecast to be of benefit to users, and (2) other effects such as the wider economic impacts and the various regeneration effects.[HL3973]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Transport investment decisions are supported with a 5-part business case. Appraisal information largely informs the economic case, which aims to provide a comprehensive overview of a proposal’s impacts. This includes a wide range of social and environmental factors, as well as time savings and economic impacts. The proportion of benefits falling in these different categories varies on a proposal-by-proposal basis and information on the proportion of benefits from (1) small time savings, and (2) other effects such as wider impacts, is not centrally held.