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Ethnicity and religious faith figures are based on self-reported information provided by prisoners. Annual numbers of self-inflicted deaths in custody are subject to random and cyclical swings. Falls or rises from one year to the next are not good indicators of underlying trends. This is particularly true with those ethnic groups and religious faiths where overall numbers are relatively

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small. A more reliable measure is the three-year rolling average. The three-year rate to the end of 2007 fell to 102 per 100,000 from a peak of about 136 per 100,000, (for the years ending September 2004).


Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Government keep their databases under regular review to ensure compliance with both the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act. Following the Government's data handling review, all new government databases are subject to an impact assessment specifically to assess the proportionality and legality of the intended data processing.

Questions for Written Answer: Unanswered Questions


Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: During this Session (tabled up to and including 13 March), 159 Questions have been tabled in the House of Lords for the Northern Ireland Office, 149 of them tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Laird.

Public Sector Databases

88 of these Questions—55 per cent of the total—were answered within two weeks. The department continues to look at ways of improving its performance in responding to parliamentary Questions.

Although some of the Questions are straightforward, many require the collation and checking of figures or the acquisition of information from third parties. More complex Questions of this kind take longer to answer. All Lords Questions answered by the Northern Ireland Office are cleared by a senior civil servant before consideration by Ministers.

The Treasury has calculated that the average cost of answering a Written Parliamentary Question is £149. This information was contained in a Written Ministerial Statement made by the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury on 8 December 2008, Official Report, Commons, col. 24WS.

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Railways: High-speed Lines


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): High Speed Twohas been formed to help develop the case for high-speed services between London and Scotland. I have written to Sir David Rowlands at High Speed Twosetting out what the Government expect of the company. A copy of this letter is available in the Libraries of the House.

As a first stage, High Speed Two will report by the end of the year with a proposed route from London to the West Midlands, setting out any necessary options. It will also consider the potential for new lines to serve the north of England and Scotland, providing advice on the potential development of a high-speed line beyond the West Midlands, at the level of broad “corridors”. We have asked the company to consider in particular the potential for the new line to extend to the conurbations of Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, the north-east and Scotland.

Railways: London Midland


Asked by Baroness Scott of Needham Market

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): In the year to 28 February 2009 London Midland achieved an average punctuality of 86.5 per cent across the franchise as a whole and 81.6 per cent during the four weeks ending on that date.

Improving rail performance is a key objective for the Department for Transport. Joint action plans are in place between Network Rail and London Midland to address performance issues. London Midland has also developed an improvement plan, progress against which is monitored regularly. Minsters meet senior representatives of the rail industry every four weeks to discuss performance.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act


Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Parliament has granted a range of public authorities the ability to access communications data under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. They will retain this ability until or unless Parliament withdraws it.

Roger Casement: Review of Records


Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): On examination of the file, KV2/10 it appears that there are no pages missing from 1921, the period covered by the file. A retention note at the front of the file states that 13 pages have been retained but it does not describe the pages. It is possible that these pages relate to a later assessment of whether the historic content of the file should be retained or released. The Security Service has no record of the 13 pages referred to and, in the circumstances, further review is not possible.

The Security Service has released its files on Roger Casement subject only to limited redactions which are still necessary on national security grounds; this includes redaction in file KV2/8.

Royal Mail


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): Postcomm, the postal market regulator, looks at Royal Mail's costs compared with other European universal service providers (USP) to inform ad hoc and periodical reviews of Royal Mail's operations—for example, for setting price controls. The reviews use commercially confidential cost data from Royal Mail Group and Letters and publicly available cost data from the annual reports of other USPs. The comparisons are usually not published due to their commercially sensitive nature for Royal Mail.

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Compared to some other European USPs, Royal Mail's operations model employs low capital and high labour resources. For instance, Royal Mail has labour costs of around 66 per cent of its revenues. This compares to the USPs of Germany and Italy with around 28 per cent and around 34 per cent labour costs respectively. In contrast, the operational models used by the USPs in France and Spain are more similar to Royal Mail with labour costs at around 65 per cent and 69 per cent respectively.

General information concerning postal regimes in other European countries can be found in the 2008 Ecorys report on developments in the postal sector—a pan-European study commissioned by the European Commission's postal unit: market/post/doc/studies/2008-ecorys-final_en.pdf

The Hooper Report, Modernise or Decline, also drew on international comparisons of costs. The report can be found on the department's website:

Royal National Lifeboat Institution


Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): Charges for the use of radio spectrum are a matter for the Office of Communications (Ofcom) rather than government.

The RNLI, like all other users of spectrum, already pays fees for its spectrum licences. As a charity with a “safety of life in an emergency” objective, the RNLI enjoys a 50 per cent discount on spectrum fees which it pays. It is liable to pay about £40,000 per year (after discount).

Ofcom has proposed that in future, fees for these maritime VHF channels should vary according to the type of use: for example, how powerful the transmission is and how much demand there is for radio channels in the particular locality, instead of being based only on administrative cost. This is the same approach as has been used for many years to charge for the use of spectrum by the Ministry of Defence, emergency services and commercial users. It is intended to help ensure that spectrum is used efficiently. Under these proposals, some current users (who use low power transmitters and/or are in areas of low demand) would pay less than they currently do now. Others (with high power transmitters and/or in areas of high demand) would pay more. Ofcom's initial proposals were for fees which would range from £75 to £1,480 per year for a radio channel at a transmitter site.

However, Ofcom will also offer organisations that have a large number of transmitters around the country the option of taking out a licence that allows them to

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operate any number of transmitters across the UK. This arrangement acts effectively like a volume discount. It already operates well with spectrum licences granted in other sectors, and Ofcom believes it would be logical to apply the same rules to maritime licences. Ofcom expects that for widespread organisations like the RNLI this would be much cheaper than paying separate fees for each channel at each location, and could lead to a reduction in fees compared to now. Ofcom estimates that, based on the RNLI's usage, its fee under the new arrangements would be less than £20,000.

Ofcom expects to publish a second more detailed consultation on these proposals later this spring.

Sand Hills


Asked by Lord Fearn

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council is the authority responsible for coastal erosion matters at Formby. In partnership with other relevant organisations, it has developed a shoreline management plan for this stretch of coastline.

The shoreline management plan determines the long-term policy for each stretch of coast, taking into account the natural processes and climate change, including sea level rise.

The first generation shoreline management plan was completed in 1998. Since then, the coast has been carefully monitored to assess the amount of change taking place and any changes in the risk of coastal flooding. The policies for this stretch of coastline are currently under review in light of the latest climate change information, as part of the second generation of shoreline management plan development. This will help determine the longer term options for the coast in that location covering the next 100 years. The second generation plan is due to go out to consultation in the autumn this year.

This part of the coast is designated as a site of special scientific interest. The current shoreline management plan review is therefore carefully considering the environmental value of the dune system, as part of the longer term options.

Schools: Performance Tables


Asked by Lord Lucas

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Including only qualifications approved under Section 96 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 for funding in maintained schools ensures that the attainment reported in the achievement and attainment tables is properly comparable. To gain approval, such qualifications will have been accredited by Ofqual as meeting the necessary standard and be subject to Ofqual’s regulation to ensure that that standard is maintained. They will also have met the criteria by which we judge qualifications to meet priorities for public funding. It is right that the Tables should reflect these priorities. It is particularly important to ensure that the attainment reflected by the “5 A*-C GCSEs including English and mathematics” indicator includes the priority aspects of learning in English and mathematics that the national curriculum reflects.

Senior Salaries Review Body


Asked by Lord Newby

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): Pay arrangements for the Senior Civil Service are managed centrally by the Cabinet Office and are based on recommendations by the independent Senior Salaries Review Body.

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): For members of the senior Civil Service, non-consolidated performance payments are allocated by the departmental pay committees to high-performing staff to reflect their individual contribution during the previous performance year. The size of the non-consolidated performance pay pot available for the senior Civil Service is specified in guidelines issued by Cabinet Office each year following the report of the Senior Salaries Review Body and is detailed below:

Performance yearNon-consolidated performance pay pot % of total SCS salary bill











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Southport: Gasometer


Asked by Lord Fearn

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The removal of a gasometer is normally a matter for its owner, which in this case is National Grid Gas Distribution.

Sport: Football Supporters


Asked by Lord Pendry

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): English football safety and security experts are already working closely with UEFA and the host authorities to help minimise any safety and security risks to visiting fans at this year's Champions League and UEFA Cup finals. The Home Office will co-ordinate multi-agency preparations if any English teams are participating. The Football Supporters’ Federation will be a key partner in that process.

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