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What is the cost of Measuring the Quality of Prison Life (MQPL) conducted by HM Prison Service; how many staff are involved; and how this compares with the cost and staffing of HM Inspectorate of Prisons. [HL1798]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The cost of Measuring the Quality of Prison Life (MQPL) in 2005-06 was £297,133. There are nine staff engaged in conducting and reporting of MQPL surveys. The cost for all aspects of the work of HM Inspectorate of Prisons in 2005-06 was £3,134,077. The staff complement during that period was 41 full-time employees and eight fee-paid part-time specialist inspectors and editors.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Measuring the Quality of Prison Life (MQPL) is a questionnaire survey of prisoners perceptions. Its role is to provide an indication of the state of important aspects .of prison life. These aspects include whether prisoners feel that they are treated equitably, with decency and fairness; whether they feel safe; and the quality of the staff/prisoner interface. The survey results are used internally by prison managers to identify problems and to improve prison performance generally, and as a contribution to the services benchmarking programme.
Why the Department of Health has been unable to answer Lord Pearson of Rannoch's Question for Written Answer of 15 November (HL36) after nine weeks, when the target time is two weeks; and, in light of the fact that 17 out of the 52 questions awaiting a late answer are questions to the Department of Health, what steps they are taking to remedy this. [HL1494]
Whether they have made an assessment of the report by Dr James Gauderman of the University of Southern California which concluded that children who grow up near major roads are more likely to develop asthma and other respiratory diseases. [HL1689]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We have made no assessment of this research, published in the Lancet on 26 January 2007, showing that children growing up alongside freeways in California risk having their lung development impaired. The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants will review the paper referred to in the Question at its next meeting, on 23 February 2007.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Truscott): This is an operational matter for Royal Mail. Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail, has written as below.
Royal Mail is very proud of its people who are serving in the Territorial Army and in the other Reserve Forces and we are determined to continue doing all we can to support them. Currently, several hundred of our people are serving in the Territorial Army. We grant two weeks additional paid leave to employees in the TA to cover the annual active service commitment, as well as unpaid leave as needed to travel to their weekend exercises.
Royal Mail, like a great many other major employers, is covered by the legal requirements on drivers hours and we will, of course, meet our legal obligations. We also work very hard to ensure we are doing all we can to protect the health and safety of our people.
From 11 April 2007, Royal Mail will be required by law to ensure that our drivers have weekly rest including during those weeks when there is weekend training or exercises with the Reserve Forces. However, we want our people to continue to be able to serve in the Reserve Forces and we are very willing to discuss with any individual how best this can be achieved. There are a number of options we can consider, including giving the individual the option of moving to other duties within the company, and offering the facility of taking unpaid leave. We want to be flexible and to see our people continue to serve in the TA, but we also must ensure we comply with the law. Our commitment to supporting our people in the Reserve Forces remains strong.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The fleet transformation programmes primary role is to streamline the Royal Navys force generation and management processes. Other change programmes, such as the naval base review and defence training review, are being taken fully into account in the fleet transformation work, both at working and programme board levels.
What arrangements will be put in place to ensure that the new Defence Equipment and Support Organisation meets the Royal Navys fleet transformation requirements for an agile force generation and management process. [HL1808]
Lord Drayson: We are putting in place new planning arrangements involving the Fleet HQ, defence equipment and support and the MoD, which will build on existing relations between the Fleet HQ and the Defence Logistics Organisation and Defence Procurement Agency. A key element is that the Fleet HQ will in future be responsible for programming the costs of in-service equipment support over the first four years of the defence planning period. These arrangements will be embedded in the transformed management structure.
Lord Drayson: At the outset of the fleet transformation programme, an informal exercise was conducted by the programme team to identify the change initiatives already affecting the fleet TLB. This exercise found at least 88 actions in hand at various levels across the TLB, although many were subsets of larger programmes. Both fleet transformation and the concurrent initiatives reflect the priority being given across the Ministry of Defence to efficiency, effectiveness and the shift in resources towards the front line.
Lord Drayson: Yes. The fleet transformation programme will redesign the Fleet Headquarters force generation and management processes to create more agile, command-oriented, operationally focused support to the front line. Personnel reductions will be achieved as each part of the fleets support area reviews its structure and functions in the coming months and years.
What impact the merger of the Defence Logistics Organisation and the Defence Procurement Agency and resultant manpower reallocation is having on the Royal Navys fleet transformation process. [HL1835]
Lord Drayson: Any change in Defence Logistics Organisation and Defence Procurement Agency manpower as a result of their merger into Defence Equipment and Support will have no impact on the Royal Navys fleet transformation process.
Lord Drayson: No. The fleet transformation programme is intended to rebalance resources between the Royal Navy support area and the front line. It is looking at the fleets command and management processes and organisation, and will not affect planned platform numbers.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): No conclusions or recommendations have been presented to Ministers, nor are they expected to be before spring 2007, after which they will be subject to the MoDs internal scrutiny and approvals process. The current expectation is for an announcement in summer 2007. Final decisions will also be subject to formal trade union consultation.
Whether they have commissioned a literature review of the benefits, or otherwise, of all-age (five-to-sixteen years) schools; and what research evidence they have taken account of, or rejected, in their support of all-age schools in the academies programme. [HL2016]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): We have not commissioned a literature review of the benefits of all-age schools. However, the small number of open all-age schools in England presents a generally positive picture. Each proposal for an all-age academy is looked at on its individual merits. We look at a large number of factors, which, as a minimum, would need to show that the inclusion of primary provision in an academy would be likely to have a positive educational and social impact on both primary and secondary pupils, without adverse impact on the wider school community.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 16 January (WA 146), whether the guidance currently issued by the Department for Education and Skills about the significance of marriage and stable relationships as key building blocks of society requires that equal values should be given to lasting relationships between persons of either the same or opposite sex as to marriage. [HL2019]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): Schools are required to have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State on sex and relationship
19 Feb 2007 : Column WA201
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): Within the school curriculum there are increasing opportunities for pupils to understand and manage risk and take part in competitive activities. Outdoor and adventurous activities are one of six activity areas within the national curriculum for physical education. These activities enable pupils to experience a degree of challenge and risk which can develop the confidence to travel and manage the body in potentially hazardous environments. The Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto, which the Government launched last November, aims to provide young people with opportunities to engage in similar activities beyond the classroom.
Pupils are taught to understand and manage risk and how to behave responsibly as part of their personal, social and health education. We also want pupils to learn how to be enterprising and to apply risk-taking and risk-management skills to business in order to understand the importance of economic well-being.
Whether, following the recent cruise ship accident in Antarctica, they will take action through the Antarctic Treaty consultative system to persuade the International Maritime Organisation to prohibit single-hull vessels in Antarctic waters. [HL1933]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The UKs shipping experts consider that ice strengthening, rather than double-hulling, is a more important issue for ships operating in ice-covered waters. The UK is very concerned about the increasing number and size of non-ice-strengthened vessels visiting Antarctica and has been pressing the issue within the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) over recent years. In 2004, the treaty parties agreed guidelines for ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic ice-covered waters and transmitted them for consideration by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). These guidelines are intended to ensure that ships operating in ice-covered waters meet appropriate standards of maritime safety and pollution prevention. They include the recommendation that operations in Antarctic waters take due account of ship class, among other factors. It is hoped that the IMO will endorse the guidelines by this summer.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working closely with the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to consider further measures for ensuring ship safety within Antarctic waters, including the issue of ship suitability (ice strengthening and hull type). The UK will continue to raise the issue of ship safety in Antarctic waters within the ATCM and the IMO as appropriate
Lord Triesman: The Antarctic Treaty preserves Antarctica for peace and science. Within this framework, however, safe and environmentally responsible tourism is a legitimate activity. There are no tariffs levied on tourist visitors to Antarctica.
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) is a member organisation providing a self-regulatory framework for tourism in Antarctica. The vast majority of Antarctica tour operators are members of the organisation and pay membership fees based on passenger numbers. The level of such fees is a matter for IAATO. IAATO sets stringent environmental standards for Antarctic tourism operators and manages the annual tourism
19 Feb 2007 : Column WA203
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