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Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As at 31 May 2010 there were 505 prisoners over the age of 70. There are no centrally collected figures on the number of prisoners with a terminal illness or who are mothers with children under the age of 11. No assessment has been made of the impact on the prison population if those categories of prisoner were to be released. We have no plans to release prisoners executively on the basis that they fall within these categories and such prisoners will continue, therefore, to be subject to the release arrangements which currently apply.

The Secretary of State has the power to release certain prisoners in exceptional compassionate circumstances, for example where they are terminally ill and have a short life expectancy or are severely incapacitated or bed-ridden. Prisoners who meet the criteria can apply to be released on these grounds. Prisoners with young children may be eligible for

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childcare resettlement leave, where they may be considered for release on temporary licence in order to maintain ties with their children.

Public Bodies

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As part of the 2010 spending review, departments should be assessing the costs and benefits of the functions of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) in terms of the wider economic costs and benefits of these NDPBs in line with the methodology as set out in the Green Book. This would include an assessment of any tax consequences.

Public Funds

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Her Majesty's Government consider carefully all applications for leave to remain in the UK from families and individuals where there may be concerns about their welfare. Individuals and families with no recourse to public funds may in some circumstances be eligible for limited assistance from local authorities and the UK Border Agency is committed to prioritising the consideration of outstanding applications for leave to remain from individuals who are supported by local authorities, in the same way as it prioritises the cases of applicants who are supported by the agency.

In 2008, 645 spouses who had been subjected to domestic violence were granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom (taken from The Home Office Statistical Bulletin Control of Immigration Statistics United Kingdom 2008). However, Her Majesty's Government are unable to help those who choose not to contact the authorities.

Questions for Written Answer

Questions

Asked by Lord Jopling



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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): I am very keen to ensure that the number of overdue Questions for Written Answer is reduced. I will be assessing this closely and can assure Members that if government departments fail consistently to answer questions within the 10-working-day period, I will take the matter up directly with the relevant government colleague.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The £750 level referred to is the disproportionate cost threshold (DCT), and applies to all Written Questions to both Houses. This was increased to £800 from 20 January 2010.

HM Treasury makes the assessment of the cost of answering questions. In 1991, the Treasury carried out a detailed costing exercise which has been updated annually to calculate the DCT and the average marginal cost of answering Written and Oral Questions, which have been set at £154 and £425 respectively (from 20 January 2010).

The DCT is the level above which departments can refuse to answer a Written Parliamentary Question (PQ). The "disproportionate cost" answer is intended to be used where the information is held in an accessible form but is expensive to identify.

The cost estimate should be based on a calculation of the cost of civil servants of the relevant grade working for the required length of time to assemble the information.

Cabinet Office guidance for officials drafting answers to PQs refers to the fact that "where information is being refused on the grounds of disproportionate cost, there should be a presumption that any of the requested information which is readily available should be provided".

Rwanda

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We regularly raise human rights issues with the Government of Rwanda, including issues relating to detention and the justice system. However, as a sovereign country, Rwanda has

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its own laws and regulations for traders and small businesses, and many forms of street trading are not permitted in Kigali.

Sarfraz Ibrahim

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): In exceptional circumstances the Minister for the Civil Service may decide to withhold part or all of a Civil Service Pension Scheme member's pension benefits. These circumstances include where they have committed an offence related to their employment which is liable to lead to a serious loss of confidence in the public service. A decision has not yet been taken as to whether the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will apply to the Minister for the Civil Service to take such action in respect of Mr Ibrahim.

Schools: A-Levels

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The average qualification level of first year trainees on undergraduate initial teacher training (ITT) courses, mainly leading to a Bachelor of Education, is given in the table.

Average qualification of first year undergraduate trainees to ITT Years: 2004-05 to 2007-08
Coverage: England
Academic YearAverage Tariff Score

2004-05

255.1

2005-06

266.5

2006-07

277.2

2007-08

265.0

Source: TDA Performance Profiles Notes:

1. UCAS tariff score was used to assess candidates from 2002-03 onwards.

2. UCAS introduced the tariff score to take account of Curriculum 2000. It was designed to make different qualifications comparable. It is based on a number of qualifications including A/AS levels. Grade A at A level scores 120 points; grade B scores 100 points; grade C scores 80 points; grade D scores 60 points and grade E scores 40 points. Tariff scores cover those entrants for whom data are collected. Tariff score data are not collected for some qualifications, including Access courses, OND/ONC, HND/HNC, GCE, A/SCE, Higher, GNVQ/GSVQ, NVQ/SVQ level 3.



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3. Includes Universities and other Higher Education Institutions, Open Universities and SCITTs. Excludes employment- based initial teacher training.

4. 2007-08 is the latest year for which data are available.

Secure Training Centres: Physical Restraint

Questions

Asked by Baroness Stern

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): During their terms of office, the chairs of the Youth Justice Board have had access to an unredacted copy of the Physical Control in Care Manual.

Asked by Baroness Stern

Lord McNally: Members of the Youth Justice Board have had access to an unredacted copy of the Physical Control in Care Manual.

Asked by Baroness Stern

Lord McNally: The Physical Control in Care manual released to the Children's Rights Alliance for England on 13 July is still in use. The National Offender Management Service is currently revising the manual.

Asked by Baroness Stern

Lord McNally: Restraint is only ever to be used by staff as a last resort, when all other approaches have either not succeeded or would not be appropriate.

In the 12 months from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010, there were three incidents in secure training centres where restraint was stopped because a young person complained of having difficulty breathing. This figure has been provided by the Youth Justice Board.

It is not possible to analyse individual reports to obtain the requested information over a five-year period without incurring disproportionate cost.



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Asked by Baroness Stern

Lord McNally: The table below shows the number of injuries to (a) the face, (b) the neck, (c) shoulders, (d) ribs, (e) thumbs, (f) wrists, and (g) other areas of the body following a restraint incident in each of the secure training centres during the 12 months from 1 June 2009 to 31 May 2010, the most recent period for which figures are available. These figures have been provided by the Youth Justice Board.

Analysing the individual reports to obtain this information over the whole of the five-year period requested could not be done without incurring disproportionate cost.

Injuries following restraint incidents, June 2009-May 2010
FaceNeckShouldersRibsThumbsWristsOther

Medway

1

6

6

0

1

0

36

Rainsbrook

0

7

2

0

1

3

26

Oakhill

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Hassockfield

5

0

0

0

0

0

16

Asked by Baroness Stern

Lord McNally: Restraint is only ever to be used by staff as a last resort, when all other approaches have either not succeeded or would not be appropriate.

There is a contractual requirement on each secure training centre for a registered nurse to visit a young person within 30 minutes following a restraint incident. All secure training centres provide 24-hour healthcare provision and are required to have a nurse on site throughout the day.

Asked by Baroness Stern



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Lord McNally: Data are not collected centrally in the requested format.

Asked by Baroness Stern

Lord McNally: A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our officials are aware of these reports but have not been able to verify them. However, we are concerned about the human rights situation of the Syrian Kurds. It is a source of particular concern that so many Kurds are denied Syrian citizenship-300,000 out of 1.7 million.

My honourable friend Alistair Burt, the Minister of State for the Middle East, raised human rights privately with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Muallem during his visit this month to Syria.

We have a firm and frank dialogue with Syria including on human rights issues. We also discuss these issues regularly with EU partners.

Taxation: Gifts

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Neither capital gains tax nor inheritance tax is charged on gifts for national purposes to bodies listed at Schedule 3 of the Inheritance Act 1984, or on gifts to charities. These reliefs apply to gifts made during a donor's lifetime. There are currently no income tax reliefs for gifts of this kind. The Chancellor keeps all taxes under review.

Turks and Caicos

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): For security reasons it is not usual practice to comment on ministerial visits. My honourable friend Henry Bellingham MP, Minister responsible for the Overseas Territories, is keen to visit the territories for talks on priority issues. Officials continue to visit the Turks and Caicos Islands on a regular basis.

Unemployment

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government recently announced a reduction in grants to local authorities for 2010-11 of £1.166 billion, not £6.2 billion. This was part of the overall announcement of £6.2 billion savings for 2010-11, to begin tackling the £156 billion deficit, helping to put the public finances on a sound footing, and restoring confidence in the economy. Without action to cut the deficit we are at risk from adverse market conditions, which would mean higher interest rates for all, stifling the recovery and putting jobs at risk across the economy as a whole.

In order to ensure that local authorities have the flexibility to maintain the services important to their area and reshape budgets around their pressures and efficiencies, the Government also announced more than £1 billion of local authority grants to be de-ringfenced in 2010-11.

It is for individual local authorities to make decisions about how the reductions in grants from the Government will affect workforce numbers in their directly employed workforce, the private sector and the voluntary sector in the context of their overall priorities and organisation

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of their services. It will be for individual government departments to determine the exact implications of how the reduction in grants to local authorities will affect their workforce.

Waste Management: Recycling

Question

Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

Lord De Mauley: Ministers are considering the results of the consultation on packaging recycling targets, and will make an announcement shortly. Decisions will be taken in the context of the Government's overall review of waste policy.

Waterways: Pollution

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

Lord De Mauley: Forty-one per cent of river water bodies and 64 per cent of lakes in England and Wales assessed under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) currently fail to meet the phosphate standards for good ecological status. This is based on WFD classification data for the period 2006-08 and was used for the River Basin Management Plans, published in 2009. The main reasons for failure of the phosphate standards are sewage effluent discharges and run-off from agricultural land. There are standards for over 50 other water quality parameters in freshwaters and the sources of pollution causing failures.


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