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Written Answers

Thursday 29 January 2009

Avian Flu


Asked by Lord Harrison

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Government are currently considering cutting-edge scientific research and expert advice on this subject. However, there are no plans at this time to increase the stockpile. Pre-pandemic vaccines need to be balanced against more broadly applicable defences such as antivirals and antibiotics.

Asked by Lord Harrison

Lord Darzi of Denham: The Government have procured 3.3 million doses of generic H5N1 vaccine to supply frontline healthcare workers in the event of a pandemic against which it is effective. This is because of their proximity to symptomatic patients and to reflect the need to ensure the continuity of essential healthcare services.



Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): All of Her Majesty's Courts Service civilian enforcement officers and private contracted bailiffs are required to have been trained in the appropriate application of these powers and use of conflict management techniques. Her Majesty's Courts Service also issues instructions to in-house civilian enforcement officers and private bailiff companies under contract to of Her Majesty's Courts Service on how and when to use these powers. The contracts with these companies require them to adhere to these instructions and to refer back to the magistrates’ court before attempting to use them. The contracts also require the companies to withdraw and cease execution of any warrant where

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it becomes apparent that the individual falls into one of the categories deemed vulnerable and refer the matter back to the court before any further action is taken.

Powers of entry have only been used on two occasions in the last year by Her Majesty's Courts Service contracted bailiffs. Her Majesty's Courts Service issued 625,000 distress warrants to contracted bailiff companies in 2007-08.

Asked by Lord Lucas

Lord Bach: The Information Commissioner agreed with the proposed redactions when the guidance was first released under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on 9 December 2008 and the Government have no plans to release the redacted parts.

Belarus: Universities


Asked by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Education and university standards in Belarus are high, so the UK does not provide additional support for them. We do, however, provide funding via the Global Opportunities Fund for other projects in Belarus that support civil society.

Benefits: Conditionality Review


Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Professor Gregg's report, Realising Potential: A Vision for Personalised Conditionality and Support, laid out a comprehensive approach to help individuals back to work, including those that are unemployed. The report recognises that claimants will face a wide array of possible circumstances (the area in which they live being just one) and that both the support on

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offer and what we expect of individuals should react to those circumstances. The Government's recent White Paper, Raising Expectations and Increasing Support: Reforming Welfare for the Future, strongly accepts this principle, and lays out our plans to test Professor Gregg's core recommendations around personalising conditionality and support.

DWP is also working with the Government Office network to ensure that localities support and prioritise employment and skills issues in their areas through the local area agreements and local strategic partnerships. Local solutions will therefore support and add value to DWP's priorities in getting people back into work, particularly from disadvantaged communities, including rural areas.

Child Protection


Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Each local safeguarding children board (LSCB), as one of its core functions, must have in place policies and procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in their area. These should be agreed by the LSCB members but ultimate responsibility for signing them off lies with the LSCB chair. Similarly, it will be the responsibility of the person who is the most senior manager of any organisation to approve its child protection policy. This policy should be in accordance with the policies of the local safeguarding children board.



Asked by Earl Attlee

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): Each department is responsible for its own consultation exercises and no aggregate data are held regarding consultations initiated by Her Majesty's Government. Setting out whether or not responses to consultations will be attributable is not a requirement of the Government's Code of Practice on Consultation. However, guidance from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which aims to support application of the code recommends that

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departments make potential consultees aware that information provided in response to consultations, including personal information, may be subject to publication or disclosure in accordance with the access to information regimes.



Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The annual budget for removing detainees from the United Kingdom cannot be disaggregated from the total cost of removals by air. Provision of details on escorting costs are not available as disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests.

The National Audit Office (NAO) give a breakdown of what it costs to enforce the removal of a failed asylum seeker in appendix two of its report Returning Failed Asylum Applicants.

Latest published statistics on the total Home Office spend is set out in the Home Office report, a copy of which is available from the Library of the House. It is also available to view at

European Humanities University


Asked by Lord Wallace of Saltaire

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK strongly supports the European Humanities University, which does excellent work in providing education to young Belarusians unable to study in their own country. We have not raised this issue recently with the Belarusian authorities, but remain ready to do so if necessary.



Asked by Baroness Uddin

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (as at 21 January 2009) 110 women have been killed in Gaza during the current conflict.

One Israeli woman was killed when a rocket hit Ashdod.

Asked by Baroness Uddin

Lord Malloch-Brown: According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (at 21 January), 1,855 children and 795 women have been injured in Gaza during the conflict. (In addition to the 412 children and 110 women who have been killed).

We have been unable to secure similar figures from the Israeli authorities concerning Israelis injured.

Gypsies and Travellers


Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Local authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area. They are also required to establish local safeguarding children boards; these are the key statutory mechanism for agreeing how the relevant organisations in each local area will co-operate to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in that locality, and for ensuring the effectiveness of what they do. DoE Circular 18/94 makes clear that when local authorities decide to proceed with an eviction, they should liaise with the relevant statutory agencies, particularly where newly-born children are involved, to ensure those agencies can fulfil their obligations towards those persons. We have issued clear guidance to local authorities which recognises enforcement action can be traumatic, and should therefore be proportionate and considered.

Immigration: Detention and Removal Centres


Asked by Baroness Hanham

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The assisted voluntary return of irregular migrants (AVRIM) programme introduced in November 2004 is available to those who have entered the UK unlawfully or those who have breached their conditions of leave to enter or leave to remain. AVRIM is operated on behalf of the Home Office by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), an independent intergovernmental organisation.

Currently there are seven individuals who have applied under the programme who are detained in the UK Border Agency's detention estate while approval for their return is pending.

Internet: BT and Phorm


Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): Information on enquiries to government departments is not held centrally and the Answer to this Question could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Israel and Palestine


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Bill Rammell, visited Hebron and Ramallah on 22 and 23 December 2008 and witnessed the highly damaging impact illegal settlers, and criminal acts committed by illegal settlers, were having on Palestinian communities, land and property. He also saw the Rajabi House in Hebron and the tombstones in the adjoining Muslim cemetery which had been defaced by illegal settlers. In Israel on 22 December 2008 he voiced his concerns about the impact of illegal settlers and settlements and the need to bring to justice those responsible for criminal acts.

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not hold records of representations made by the quartet.

Marine and Coastal Access Bill [HL]


Asked by Lord Greaves

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Islands off the coast of England which will qualify as being accessible under the definition in Clause 290(3) of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill are those where it is possible to walk to the island across the foreshore, or by means of a bridge, tunnel or causeway, either from the mainland of England or from another accessible island. This applies even where an island is accessible on foot only at certain times such as at low tide, or only during certain periods.

Natural England's initial advice is that the following islands are likely to qualify as accessible for this purpose:

Burgh Island (Devon);Canvey Island (Essex);Foulness Island (Essex);Great Stonar (Kent);Hayling Island (Hampshire);Hilbre Island (Merseyside);Holy Island (Lindisfarne—Northumberland);Isle of Sheppey (Kent);Mersea Island (Essex);Northey Island (Essex);Portsea Island (Hampshire);Potton Island (Essex);St Michael's Mount (Cornwall);Thorney Island (West Sussex);Wallasea Island (Essex);Walney Island (Cumbria); andWhale Island (Hampshire).

The Secretary of State will also have power by order to specify any other island as accessible for this purpose under Clause 290(2) and (5) of the Bill, if that island is suitable for the establishment of one or more long-distance routes along its coast. It is envisaged that the Isle of Wight will be specified by order in this way.

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