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20 Jan 2010 : Column WA257

Written Answers

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Alcohol: Pricing

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Baroness Thornton: The Independent Review of the Effects of Alcohol Pricing and Promotion by the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at Sheffield University estimated changes in alcohol consumption and consumer spending in both the on-trade and off-trade for a range of pricing interventions, including different levels of minimum unit price. The effects vary according to the intervention chosen and its level.

The ScHARR review has already been placed in the Library.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): No assessment has been made of the effect on the level of smuggling into the United Kingdom of the introduction of a policy of minimum pricing for alcoholic drinks.

Anguilla

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We are in regular contact with Anguilla about its desire to increase its borrowing, its financial shortfall and its plans to make significant savings.

Care Services: Free Personal Care

Question

Asked by Lord Lipsey

Baroness Thornton: Consistent with longstanding practice, information relating to the proceedings of Cabinet and Cabinet committees is generally not disclosed as to do so puts at risk the public interest in both collective responsibility and the full and frank discussion of policy by Ministers.

Civil Service

Question

Asked by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Government have provided evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body suggesting that there should be no increase in the pay bill per head available for base pay for all members of the senior Civil Service (including Permanent Secretaries) for 2010-11. Copies of this evidence have been placed in the Library.

Climate Change

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Before ratifying or acceding to a treaty the Government would be required to publish and lay that treaty before Parliament in accordance with the Ponsonby Rule.

At Copenhagen, representatives of 49 countries reached agreement on a political accord, copies of which have been made available in the Libraries of the House. This does not have the status of a treaty and therefore the Ponsonby Rule does not apply. Building on the agreements reached at Copenhagen, the Government will continue to work towards a legally binding outcome in the form of a treaty in order to combat dangerous climate change.

As regards any future treaty, if it is subject to ratification or accession, it would be laid before Parliament under the Ponsonby Rule. If any debate is requested, it would be considered in the normal manner, and arranged in accordance with the internal procedures of Parliament.



20 Jan 2010 : Column WA259

Defence: Grob Tutor Service Inquiry

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The inquiry into the accident on 11 February 2009 involving two Tutor aircraft was carried out by a team of three experienced RAF officers. As with all inquiries of this nature, inquiry teams are drawn from those with recent expertise in the relevant areas. In this case, the team comprised two qualified Tutor pilots with experience of air experience flying and instructing roles and a qualified aircraft engineer with previous experience in aircraft accident investigation.

Additionally, the team was supported by a range of experts including: service inquiry advisers whose full-time role is to advise on all aspects of aircraft accident investigation process and on the associated policies and procedures and advisers from the RAF's Centre for Aviation Medicine. The team also worked closely and shared evidence with the independent investigator from the Air Accident Investigations Branch on technical and operational issues. Technical advice was also provided by QinetiQ. The range of expertise both within and available to the team ensured that the inquiry was both professional, comprehensive and covered all relevant factors.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Brett: Details of the Department for International Development's (DfID's) expenditure in developing countries is published in Statistics on International Development, which is available in the House Library and on the DfID website at http://www.dfid.gov.uk/About-DFID/Finance-and-performance/Aid-Statistics/Statistics-on-International-Development-2009/.

DfID expenditure for the past 12 years on the education sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo is presented in the table below.



20 Jan 2010 : Column WA260

Year£ in thousands

1997-98

0

1998-99

0

1999-00

0

2000-01

0

2001-02

0

2002-03

0

2003-04

61

2004-05

290

2005-06

148

2006-07

95

2007-08

82

2008-09

835

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We take women's empowerment in the Congo very seriously. Our embassy in Kinshasa has developed a gender strategy to promote gender equality and women's empowerment in the Congo and to tackle the serious and widespread problem of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). We have set ourselves a target of improving the representation of women in local, provincial and national parliaments in the Congo (from 8 per cent in 2006 to 30 per cent by 2011), and improving the capacity and visibility of current female elected representatives.

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have ratified the international Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, but a serious gap remains between the legal framework that has been put into place and the reality on the ground. Our work to empower women in the Congo therefore focuses on providing support and advice to the Ministry of Gender and helping to build its capacity to mainstream gender issues across the whole of government; lobbying and providing training and support to parliament, political parties and election components; and through providing £58.8 million funding from 2008-2012 to the United Nations Development Programme Governance Programme which works to advocate and promote women's political empowerment.

Economy

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government recognise that GDP is not a perfect measure of welfare, and that measuring a broad set of quality of life indicators is desirable in informing national economic policy.



20 Jan 2010 : Column WA261

The Government's objective is to build a strong economy and a fair society, where there is opportunity and security for all. While measurement of gross domestic product (GDP) data informs the Government's economic forecasts and related targets for the Government's fiscal plans, the aim of national economic policy is to raise the rate of sustainable growth, and achieve rising prosperity and a better quality of life with economic and employment opportunities for all. This requires other indicators, for example as set out in its sustainable development strategy Securing the Future, available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/sustainable/government/publications/uk-strategy/documents/SecFut_complete.pdf.

The Government publish information on life satisfaction, broken down by socio-economic class, as part of the sustainable development indicators published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and is available at http://www.defra.gov.uk/sustainable/government/progress/documents/SDIYP 2009_a9.pdf. Work to develop these indicators presents a number of methodological challenges, which the Government are working to help overcome.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Thornton: The Hampton Implementation Review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) forms part of a series of reviews of the work of 36 national regulators against the principles of good regulatory and enforcement practice first set out in the Hampton report, Reducing Administrative Burdens: Effective Inspection and Enforcement (2005).

The findings of the HFEA report reflect the views of a team consisting of peer reviewers drawn from other regulators and Better Regulation Executive officials, who visited the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in April 2009. The review conclusions are based on a range of evidence, including interviews with regulator staff and stakeholders.

In its report, the Hampton review team commends significant aspects of the HFEA's work as well as highlighting some areas for improvement. Since the review, the authority has already undertaken a number of steps to improve processes and address the issues raised. This work will continue, informed by the final report.

The findings of the report are for the HFEA to consider and it will implement changes as appropriate.



20 Jan 2010 : Column WA262

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Thornton: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that it has nothing further to add to the information I gave in my response of 16 December 2009 (WA 236-37). The HFEA's policy on the use of sanctions is outlined in its indicative sanctions guidance for licence committees, which is available on the authority's website at www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/Indicative_Sanctions_ Guidance.pdf.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Harries of Pentregarth

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Solicitor General's statement relates to a request which the Government Equalities Office (GEO) had, then, recently made to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to take forward the Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance's recommendation that the EHRC should undertake detailed research on caste. The EHRC, which is an independent body, has subsequently indicated it does not intend to undertake research in this area at the present time, although it is discussing the issue with stakeholders.

GEO is therefore now in the process of seeking an alternative provider for this research on caste discrimination. It is working in consultation with both the EHRC and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

EU: Budget

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Under the 2009 Adopted EC Budget, UK Own Resources payments were set at £10,879 million. Under the 2010 Adopted EC Budget UK contributions were calculated at £11,735 million.



20 Jan 2010 : Column WA263


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