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23 Apr 2009 : Column WA409

Written Answers

Thursday 23 April 2009

Asylum Seekers: Legal Advice


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Solihull process will be rolled out across the Midlands as soon as practicable. The number of cases initially admitted on to the pilot was 451.

Broadcasting: Digital Switchover


Asked by Lord Dubs

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): The increase in the BBC licence fee between 2007-08 and 2012-13 allowed for a total of £603 million to be ring-fenced to fund the digital switchover help scheme. It looks increasingly likely that the full amount will not be required, but it is too early to make an accurate assessment of the amount of any underspend. So far less than 0.5 per cent of the population has had its analogue signal switched off and we do not expect to have a reliable estimate of any underspend until the end of this year, by which time around 20 per cent of the UK population will have been switched.

Even then many factors could affect the final outturn figure, such as changes in take-up rate, the cost of the equipment offered under the help scheme, or the level of the eligible person's financial contribution. The DCMS would want to discuss the position with the BBC Trust before reaching a decision on how any underspend is dealt with.

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China: Human Cloning


Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Chinese ministry of health issued a series of guidelines on the clinical use of medical technologies on 16 March 2009. Restrictions are applied to a broad set of clinical techniques, and include a temporary ban on the clinical use of therapeutic cloning. Specifically, they include treatments by cloning technologies, autologous stem cell and immune cell therapy, gene therapy techniques, xenotransplantation technology, surgical treatment of the central nervous system, stereotactic surgical treatment of mental illness, allogeneic stem cell transplantation technology, and vaccines as therapeutic techniques.

The temporary ban should be seen in the context of wider medical reforms in China and will allow officials to clarify the legal and regulatory frameworks for innovative therapies and the boundaries between clinical trials and clinical applications.

The UK Medical Research Council is in the process of finalising a report on research ethics in China, which includes a review of stem cells research, clinical trials and implications for research collaboration.



Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Tunnicliffe: There are no conditions attached to our £50 million pledge for humanitarian assistance and early recovery in Gaza. The UK believes that all vulnerable people in need retain the right to humanitarian assistance, whatever their political affiliation. Our aid is provided through organisations that have experience of operating in Gaza, and have the expertise and resources to provide immediate help to people in desperate need. We remain in contact with all our partners to make sure that UK government funding is being used appropriately and relief items are getting to those who need them. These criteria will be used for working with future partners.

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With regards to our planned expenditure in the West Bank, at the Paris pledging conference in December 2007 the UK committed up to £243 million over three years to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Provision of this funding is linked to tangible progress in peace negotiations, including progress on reform of the Palestinian Authority, and the easing of movement and access restrictions by the Israeli Government.

Government: IT Contracts


Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): From information readily available, the department and its predecessors have entered into the following IT contracts valued at £50 million or over since 1997:

1999-2004—SchlumbergerSema (applications development services). Spend: £86.8 million. This contract was subsequently extended to March 2005;1999-2005—Fujitsu Services Ltd (IT product supply and hardware and software maintenance services). Spend: £115 million;1999-2005—SunGard Sherwood Systems (applications development services). Spend: £85.8 million;2003-date—Accenture (RPA IT development to support single payment system). Spend to date: £148.6 million;2004-date—IBM UK Ltd (IT and business change services). Spend to date: £440 million. This is ongoing; under the current term, it is due for renewal in 2011; and2004-date—Atos Origin (Genesis IT development for Natural England). Spend to date:*. This is ongoing; a new contract has been signed (term: January 2009 to March 2012).

These figures do not distinguish between spend for projects, infrastructure and maintenance. The Fujitsu, SchlumbergerSema and SunGard Sherwood Systems contracts were framework contracts that encompassed many individual IT projects, although no individual IT project exceeded £50 million. Gathering details about individual IT projects within the framework agreements mentioned and whether they have each delivered to time, cost and specification could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Prior to 1999, MAFF's main IT supplier was Siemens Computer Systems. Information on major IT contracts prior to 1999 is not held centrally and we therefore cannot provide details of the contract value without disproportionate cost.

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Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has entered into three long-term information-technology service contracts valued at £50 million or more. These are:

The FCO Telecommunications Network (FTN) is a 10-year contract, provided by Global Crossing. At the time of signature in 2000 the estimated value of the services to be provided over 10 years was £180 million. This contract covers the various services required to run the network, including flexibility to meet changing needs over the length of the contract. The FCO's demand for connectivity has increased greatly during the contract period to take advantage of efficiencies from new technology. The current estimate of the value of the services that will have been delivered by 2010 is £252 million.

Prism. This contract with Capgemini was signed in January 2002 to deliver and operate the FCO's resource planning system used mainly for finance, human resource and procurement activities. The implementation phase was completed in May 2006, two months later than planned. The contract originally expired in 2009 but an option to extend until January 2010 was exercised, to maximise the return on the investment. The original value of the contract was £53.8 million. The current estimate of the cost is £63.2 million. Reasons for the increase include retail price index increases included in the terms of the contract and the extension in duration. In addition, the FCO has used flexibility within the contract to deliver solutions to new requirements at a current cost of £25.3 million.

A contract with Hewlett Packard (HP) to deliver and operate a replacement to the FCO's desktop infrastructure was signed in February 2005 and expires in 2012. The current value is £216.8 million, an increase from £189.5 million when the contract was signed. The increase is associated with the need to meet new central government security requirements as described in the Answer of 19 June 2008 (Official Report, cols. 1101-02W). The contract with HP is managed within a wider FCO IT programme, Future Firecrest. The increase in costs of the HP contract has been met by savings elsewhere in the programme, which has an overall estimated cost of £401 million and is due to finish at the same time as the Hewlett Packard contract.

Olympic Executive


Asked by Lord Patten

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Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government Olympic Executive (GOE) is part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and is charged with ensuring that the London 2012 Games are delivered on time, on budget and deliver long-term benefits for the whole of the UK.

It is the only body overseeing the entire Olympic project and has teams that are specifically focused on the areas of build and finance, staging, communications and legacy.

Prisoners: Voting Rights


Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Matthews judgment obliged the UK to amend its legislation to ensure that its voting arrangements for European parliamentary elections extended to Gibraltar. The UK Government are reviewing their current blanket ban on serving prisoners voting in the light of the Hirst (No. 2) judgment. The Government are carrying out a two-stage consultation process to inform any legislative response. As both judgments recognise, the UK has a wide margin of appreciation in respect of the franchise.

To quote from the second stage consultation paper:

“It is proposed that a serving prisoner who is enfranchised as a result of the proposals outlined in [the consultative] paper would be entitled to be registered to vote in [European Parliament] elections”.

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Railways: Intercity Trains


Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): These aspects of the interior design of the trains are currently being finalised and will form part of the contract that will be placed with Agility Trains later this year.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act


Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The consultation on of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was launched on 17 April 2009. It covers which public authorities are able to access communications data or use directed surveillance or covert human intelligence sources, and the purposes for which authorisations can be sought and the ranks at which local authority authorisations can be granted.

The consultation will also include revised draft codes of practice for (i) covert surveillance and property interference, and (ii) covert human intelligence sources.

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