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22 Jan 2008 : Column WA25

22 Jan 2008 : Column WA25

Written Answers

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Arts: Funding

Lord Denham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Arts Council operates at arm’s length from the Government and decisions about which arts organisations to fund are entirely for it. It has said the following in response to requests to see the names of the organisations listed in its proposals:

“Our proposals for non-renewal of funding cannot be made available until our National and Regional Councils make final decisions.. This information is considered confidential and commercially sensitive during the response period. This is especially so in the case of a recommendation that might be overturned by the National Council or a Regional Council. Regularly funded organisations who have a right to respond to our recommendation, should be able to do so freely without fear that our intention to reduce or stop their funding is potentially unnecessarily, and without their consent, released into the public domain. A full announcement will be made at the beginning of February.”

Benefits: ESA

Baroness Thomas of Winchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Welfare Reform Act 2007 provides that people on income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) will have access to all of the income-related passported benefits that those who currently qualify for income support do. Customers whose only income is contributory ESA will also be able to apply separately for passported benefits. This includes local authority concession schemes, although the eligibility criteria for these schemes remains a matter for the local authorities concerned.

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Currently people in receipt of incapacity benefit have to make a separate claim for help with prescription charges from the low income scheme. We are working with colleagues in the Department of Health to make access to its low income scheme easier for those who are not eligible for automatic passporting. This includes the potential for simplifying the claim form and making the process less complex.

We are also considering options for those elements of the Social Fund which are unavailable to those customers not in receipt of qualifying benefits.

China: Human Rights

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We believe that the UK and EU-China human rights dialogues contribute to incremental progress in human rights in China. They continue to provide a direct channel of communication with the Chinese Government, allowing us to discuss difficult and complex issues in detail. The next round of the UK's dialogue will take place on 28 to 31 January. The EU will hold its next round in May. We and our EU partners regularly urge China to extend media freedom to its domestic journalists, both up to and beyond the Olympics, and will do so again at the forthcoming dialogues.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Malloch-Brown: We take every appropriate opportunity to raise our concerns about re-education through labour (RTL), along with other forms of administrative detention with the Chinese Government. We did this at the last round of the UK-China human rights dialogue in February 2007. More recently, the Director of Public Prosecutions discussed RTL with his Chinese counterparts during his visit to China in September 2007. The Chinese Government have informed us of planned reforms to RTL, but progress remains slow. We continue to urge China to implement these reforms as soon as possible.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Malloch-Brown: We regularly discuss in detail each of the issues raised by the noble Lord at the UK-China human rights dialogue. These exchanges form part of our wider engagement with the Chinese Government on human rights. We take a multi-layered approach to working with China to achieve improvements on these issues, including high-level messaging to encourage progress at the top and project work to deliver more immediate results on the ground.


Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): A summary of responses to the consultation on Proposals to Improve Access to the English Coast has been published and is available on the Defra website. Following analysis of the consultation responses, the Government have announced their intention to introduce new legislation so that the public will have the right to walk around the English coast for the first time. We are now developing the detail of the legislation and will be seeking to identify an appropriate opportunity to bring forward coastal access legislation.

Education: NEETs

Lord Bradley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): The table below sets out the number and proportion of 16 to 18 year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) in each of the 10 districts of Greater Manchester at the end of 2006. This information was provided by the Connexions Service.

16-18 year olds NEET% 16-18 year olds NEET







City of Manchester
























Connexions data are different from the estimates of the number of 16 to 18 year-olds NEET in England published annually by the department. These estimates cannot be disaggregated to regional or local level so Connexions data are used instead to measure NEET by local authority.

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Electoral Commission

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) conducted an extensive review of the Electoral Commission in 2006 and took evidence from key stakeholders. The CSPL’s report, published in January 2007, made several recommendations for improvements to the commission's mandate, governance and accountability. Both the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee report on party funding, published in December 2006, and Sir Hayden Phillips’s March 2007 report on the funding of political parties shared much of the CSPL’s analysis.

The Government have not reviewed the working and efficiency of the Electoral Commission and have no plans to do so. However, the Government’s response to the CSPL report was published on 20 November and supports the majority of the CSPL's recommendations. The Government’s response can be accessed at:


Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised the department that the issue of culturing whole embryos to form outgrowths was first raised at a meeting of a licence committee in 2006, following consideration of a licensed research centre inspection report.

This issue was considered by the HFEA's scientific and clinical advances group. The members agreed that the outgrowth could not be considered to be a live human embryo, as it would not be able to develop if placed in a woman. As such, it would not be subject to the prohibitions in Section 3 of the Act.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: Egg sharing arrangements are permitted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which carried out a public consultation about egg donation for research in 2006. The authority’s decision was that donation to research, including egg sharing arrangements, was appropriate provided that safeguards are in place to ensure the safety of women wishing to donate. The research project on the derivation of human embryonic stem cell lines using nuclear transfer and parthenogenically activated oocytes is licensed by the HFEA and the recompense for egg sharing is funded by the Medical Research Council. The Government played no role in the award of the research licence or funding for the North East England Stem Cell Institute.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: All centres licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to carry out research have to submit six monthly and annual reports to the authority. These contain information on the number of embryos created and/or used in research during that time period. This information is subsequently checked during the annual inspection. In the case of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the HFEA has informed me that it has found no differences in the numbers reported and the information obtained during inspection.

The HFEA has also informed me that it holds no information on compliance with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines by the centre described, but not named, in Human Fertility (Volume 10, Issue 3: pages 183-7).

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