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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Thornton): While there has been significant and rapid progress in reducing C. difficile infections, some National Health Service organisations have not contributed as significantly as they could have done to these reductions. The key aim of the new C. difficile objective, starting in April 2011, will be to address this variation by driving the performance of all organisations towards the level of the best by setting a performance level for each NHS organisation (acute trusts and primary care organisations) based on its historical performance. The largest challenge will be for those organisations that have not contributed as significantly as they could have done to the progress made so far. The 55 per cent national reduction referred to is a consequence of successfully delivering the key aim of the objective.

Israel

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement:

"The resolution adopted today in Geneva by the United Nations Human Rights Council has no connection to the safeguarding of human rights. As a democratic country, Israel will continue its internal inquiry procedures, out of its commitment to the rule of law and moral values. Israel has an outstanding legal system, widely esteemed around the world. Israel will continue to realize its right to protect its citizens, while at the same time maintaining the strictest moral standards".

The UK will continue to press both the Israelis and Palestinians to conduct full, credible and independent inquiries into the serious issues raised by the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on Gaza.

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): We along with our EU and US partners have condemned Israel's plans to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem.

The UK will continue to urge both sides to show the courage, commitment and compromise needed to make real progress. The quartet has also expressed its determination to move swiftly to proximity talks addressing issues of substance.



7 Apr 2010 : Column WA439

Justice: Arrest Warrants

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (for Scotland) are the designated authorities in the UK responsible for processing European arrest warrants (EAWs). It is not possible from current systems to break down the number of EAWs received by the UK into nationality. To do so would require a manual examination of all files and incur disproportionate cost.

On 19 November 2008, the Home Office replied to the noble Lord stating that, from 1 January 2004 up to 30 September 2008, 203 British citizens had been arrested pursuant to EAWs. 101 British nationals had subsequently been surrendered to other European member states pursuant to EAWs. Due to changes in late 2008 in the way the information was recorded it is not possible to provide figures for the remainder of 2008-09 without disproportionate effort. However, a new system introduced on 1 April 2009 will allow SOCA to provide more detailed figures once these have been validated.

The difference between the number of arrests compared with the number of surrenders over any period is due to the judicial processes in the UK. Once the subject has been arrested on the European arrest warrant, it can take from a matter of days to many months before the subject is surrendered to the requesting territory

Nigeria

Questions

Asked by Lord Sheikh



7 Apr 2010 : Column WA440

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): As I said in the House on 30 March in response to the noble Baroness Cox of Queensbury, we condemn the recent violence near Jos (House of Lords, Official Report, 30 March 2010, col. 1287), which resulted in such terrible loss of life. I raised UK concerns with the then Foreign Minister Maduekwe on 20 January, and my honourable friend the Minister of State Ivan Lewis spoke to the Foreign Minister on 15 March. Our high commission in Abuja remains in regular contact with the Nigerian Government at state and federal level on this issue. The situation on the ground has now stabilised, although a curfew remains in place in Jos between 2100 and 0600 hours.

The Department for International Development (DfID)'s representatives in Nigeria began discussions with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on assistance to victims of conflict in Jos in mid-March 2010. Previously, DfID had provided £200,000 to ICRC for its overall work in Nigeria, which has helped to meet immediate needs. Decisions on any additional funding will be made on the basis of a needs assessment currently being carried out by the ICRC.

More broadly, our high commission in Abuja and DfID will continue their programme of outreach and interfaith activity to promote dialogue between different communities to foster reconciliation and tolerance. We will also continue to press the Government of Nigeria on the importance of ensuring security for their citizens and protecting freedom of religion as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We encourage all Commonwealth states to uphold the values of the Commonwealth, as reiterated at the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2009, with the issuing of the Trinidad and Tobago Affirmation on Commonwealth Values and Principles. We also maintain a close dialogue with Nigeria through the Commonwealth forum. For example, during last year's CHOGM I had productive discussions with Foreign Minister Maduekwe .

Prisoners: Home Leave

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: It is not the case that Mr Hargan was given home leave after serving 18 months of his sentence. Prior to the introduction of the Criminal Justice Order 2008 the legislation pertaining to Northern Ireland stated that 50 per cent remission applied to all determinate sentences. He became entitled to apply for home leave in his last six months of sentence. The timing of his eligibility for that was a consequence of the remission applied and the relevant period served in custody on remand. His application was approved by the Home Leave Board.



7 Apr 2010 : Column WA441

Public Bodies: Prompt Payment

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Wirral

The Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Davies of Abersoch): The prompt payment code is a voluntary code developed and managed by the Institute of Credit Management (ICM).

We encourage all public sector bodies and private sector businesses to become signatories to the code.

The list of signatories is provided in the Institute of Credit Management website at http://www.prompt paymentcode.org.uk.

Republic of Macedonia

Question

Asked by Lord Bowness

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The UK has ongoing contact with the Government of Greece regarding the name issue at official and ministerial level. Negotiations between Greece and Macedonia continue under the auspices of UN Special Representative, Matthew Nimetz. The UK remains fully supportive of these talks and continues to encourage both Macedonia and Greece to engage flexibly in the negotiations in the hope that they will be able to find an early solution.

Schools: Church Schools

Questions

Asked by Lord Glenarthur



7 Apr 2010 : Column WA442

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Government are not directly involved in individual decisions on making changes to local school provision, including promoting the establishment of new maintained schools and the closure of existing schools.

We acknowledge the long-standing tradition of church schools in this country and the significant contribution that they continue to make to our education system. We remain committed to supporting church schools where local consultation has shown that this is what parents and the local community want. We have regular contact with faith group national bodies, including the Education Division of the Archbishops' Council of the Church of England which is invited to termly stakeholder meetings at the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Its members then feed back any required information to their dioceses.

The role of diocesan boards of education is secured in law by the Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 1991. This requires every diocese to have a Diocesan Board of Education and that its functions are to include, among other things, promoting education that is consistent with the faith and practice of the Church of England, promoting religious education and worship in schools in the diocese and promoting church schools in the diocese.

Where changes to local school provision are proposed a statutory process must be followed, which includes consultation with all those likely to be affected by the proposals. The process is decided at a local level under established decision-making arrangements, normally by the local authority. There are rights of appeal to the independent schools adjudicator in certain cases. In recognition of the importance of their schools to the education system, both the Church of England and Roman Catholic dioceses have a right of appeal in the majority of cases, even where church schools are not directly involved.

Our records show that St Margaret of Antioch Church of England Primary School has been approved under local decision-making arrangements for closure from 30 August 2010, and the displaced pupils will be accommodated at a local community primary school. We are not aware of any current consultations on potential school closures in the Liverpool area. However, under the statutory process any consultation would be a matter for either the local authority or the school concerned.

Sport: Football Clubs

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

Lord Davies of Oldham: The financial position of Manchester United is a matter for the club and the football authorities.



7 Apr 2010 : Column WA443

The Government will continue to push the football authorities for tougher regulation from within the game.

Sudan: Darfur

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Brett: The UK Government are extremely concerned about the situation in the Jebel Mara region of Darfur. However, we cannot confirm whether the estimates made by Médecins du Monde (MDM) are accurate. The Government of Sudan, the Sudanese Liberation Army rebel movement and the insecurity in the region have prevented humanitarian agencies from undertaking assessments in the areas where most civilians are thought to have fled.

The UK Government have called upon all parties to cease hostilities immediately and allow humanitarian agencies access to all areas in order to assess the needs of the affected civilian population and provide humanitarian assistance. We are encouraging and supporting the African Union/United Nations Hybrid peacekeeping operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to focus on its primary roles of improving civilian protection and security. The UN's Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Georg Charpentier, is currently in Darfur. We are awaiting his report and will continue to use all opportunities and channels available to us to press all sides to allow humanitarian access.

Taxation

Questions

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Estimates are not yet available for the revenue yield from the package of reforms made to the remittance basis in Finance Act 2008.

However, an initial analysis of the self-assessment returns received to date by HMRC for the 2008-09 tax year shows payments of the £30,000 remittance basis charge currently total around £130 million. It is not currently possible to estimate the number of individuals who have ceased to be taxed on the remittance basis as a result of the introduction of the £30,000 remittance basis charge.

The Government have no plans to publish details of the taxpayer population broken down by their residence and domicile status.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Educational institutions must issue a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) to each student they wish to sponsor under tier four. The UK Border Agency regulates the number of CAS each institution can issue and knows, from its sponsor management system, when a CAS is issued. In this way the agency can tell how many students are studying at a particular institution at any one time.

Publishing the number of visas issued to students studying at individual institutions could be used by would-be migrants to assess the popularity of particular institutions and could put those with few students from outside of the EU at a disadvantage.


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