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Older People: Student Loans

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): In 2006-07, the age limit was raised to 60 years of age, and the additional requirement for the student to enter into an agreement to work after their studies was removed. Eligibility for student loans prior to 2006 was limited to students aged under 55 or under 50 for students not intending to enter employment upon graduating.

During the passage of the Higher Education Act 2004 through Parliament, concerns were raised about the upper age limit on student loans. The Government agreed to set up a working group in response to these concerns to look at the issues. The working group, including, among others, Baroness Greengross, representatives from Age Concern, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, the NUS and UUK, met on 28 September and 30 November 2004 and presented its findings to the Minister on 19 January 2005.

Following these meetings, the Minister agreed that there should be no age limit applied to the fee loan when this was introduced in 2006 and agreed to review the current position on age limits for maintenance loans with the intention of increasing this to match the state pension age for the 2006-07 academic year.

People Trafficking

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The National Register of Unaccompanied Children (NRUC) is not currently being used to track referrals of suspected cases of

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child trafficking. It is available to local authorities as a source of data on the proportion of unaccompanied asylum seeking children who have been trafficked. Consideration is being given to ways of improving the functionality of the system, in parallel with efforts to ensure that all local authorities make best use of the information it contains.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord West of Spithead: The Government’s proposed specialist model for accommodating unaccompanied asylum seeking children is currently being negotiated with local authorities. The specification for authorities that wish to be part of the new arrangements includes provision for the safeguarding and accommodation of children suspected to be victims of trafficking.

Planning: Appeals

Lord Christopher asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Unfortunately we are unable to provide the data on planning appeals in the format requested. However, the table below shows the number of planning appeals determined by the Planning Inspectorate for the calendar years 2003 to 2007 and the number of those appeals that were allowed (successful) and dismissed (rejected).

A further breakdown is given between those appeals relating to development for householder and major and minor dwellings (ie excluding those in respect of industrial or commercial development) and the total of those relating to all other types of development.

Planning appeals for Householder and Major and Minor DwellingsPlanning appeals for all other development types
YearAppeals DeterminedAppeals AllowedAppeals DismissedAppeals DeterminedAppeals AllowedAppeals Dismissed

2003

11,988

3,609

8,379

5,942

2,396

3,546

2004

11,534

3,624

7,910

4,837

1,913

2,924

2005

16,301

5,019

11,282

5,893

2,369

3,524

2006

14,076

4,405

9,671

5,639

2,280

3,359

2007

14,413

4,738

9,675

6,013

2,546

3,467



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Police: Hand-held Computers

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): A number of police forces have issued hand-held computers to some of their officers, and six have run pilot trials funded by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA). In order to accelerate the deployment of hand-held devices in the police service, the Home Office has made a total of £50 million available, spread over the next three years. The programme is managed by the NPIA, working closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities.

Forces have submitted proposals which are being assessed against the programme's objective of an additional 9,000 hand-held computers to be in use by September 2008. An announcement on the apportionment of the funding to the selected forces can be expected towards the end of April.

Prisoners: Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The total number of people serving life sentences in Northern Ireland prisons in January in each of the past 10 years is given in the following table.

YearNumber of life sentence prisoners

1999

150

2000

127

2001

87

2002

90

2003

105

2004

117

2005

126

2006

136

2007

147

2008

165

1 The population figures are taken on the last Thursday of January in each of the past 10 years.

Residential Care

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Local councils and health trusts are responsible for ensuring that the needs of service users and patients are properly assessed and that those needs are met. To safeguard service users and patients, local councils and the National Health Service are required by law to have formal complaints procedures and to help and assist service users and patients who may wish to make use of them. In the event that anyone is not satisfied with the way their complaint has been dealt with, they are entitled to ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate complaints against local councils and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman to investigate complaints against the NHS.

The Regulatory Reform (Collaboration etc. between Ombudsmen) Order 2007, which came into force on 1 August 2007, enables the ombudsmen to work together more effectively in investigating and reporting on complaints which cross their jurisdictions.

The Injustice in Residential Care report, which deals with the failures of Buckinghamshire County Council and the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Mental Health Partnership Trust to provide adequate services to a service user with severe learning disabilities, is the result of the first collaborative investigation between the Local Government Ombudsman and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman under the new arrangements. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library.

It is important to note that the findings in the report, unacceptable as they are, were focused on the failure by a single council and mental health trust to deliver quality services to an individual service user. We expect the local authority (LA) and the trust to revise their policies to ensure no reoccurrence of these events. It is the responsibility of all LAs and health trusts to identify the required resources from the funding the Government provide, to ensure that they are delivering appropriate services.

Royal Visits

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Both Governments are aware of each other’s views on a possible visit and agree that it should take place when they judge the time to be right.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Malloch-Brown: The Government advise Buckingham Palace on official travel overseas by Her Majesty the Queen. Both Governments are aware of each other’s views on a possible visit and agree that it should take place when they judge the time to be right.

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Malloch-Brown: Both Governments are aware of each other’s views on a possible visit and agree that it should take place when they judge the time to be right.


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