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30 Apr 2009 : Column WA73

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government have not made any recent assessment of whether the world population can continue to increase at the current rate. Population assessments have proven to be unreliable over the medium to long term, due to unpredictable changes in global fertility and mortality rates. The maximum sustainable world population is almost impossible to determine accurately as it is strongly dependent on technological advances and their application.

Presbyterian Mutual Society of Northern Ireland


Asked by Lord Kilclooney

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Treasury Ministers and officials hold a wide variety of discussions with international counterparts as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.



Asked by Lord Ramsbotham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): On 24 April 2009, 4,612 indeterminate sentence prisoners were recorded as being detained in custody beyond the expiry of their tariff. Such prisoners do not fall to be released automatically on expiry of their tariff; they can be released only if the independent Parole Board is satisfied that the risk which they present is such that it may be safely managed in the community. Public protection is the board’s overriding consideration.

This figure includes those who have been released then subsequently recalled.

These figures are taken from the Public Protection Unit database within the National Offender Management Service. As with any large-scale recording system, it is subject to possible errors arising from either data entry or processing.

Prisoners: Northern Ireland


Asked by Lord Hylton

30 Apr 2009 : Column WA74

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The existing range of community penalties and suspended sentences means that only around 8 per cent of convicted offenders are sentenced to immediate custody.

We are committed to doing more. From 1April 2009 electronic monitoring has been available to the courts in Northern Ireland and offers an alternative to custodial remand in appropriate cases.

Plans are also well advanced for improving fine enforcement and providing an alternative to custody for fine default. We will be announcing shortly a wider package of reform that is targeted towards all offenders who are fined, but may have a particular relevance to women offenders.

In addition, plans are well advanced for a range of alternatives to prosecution for low-level offences.

A very successful model of statutory youth conferencing has been operating in Northern Ireland for some time, reducing the time of custody for young people.

There are plans to develop tailored restorative interventions with female offenders both as an alternative to prosecution and as a targeted element of certain community disposals. The proposals are contained in the Draft Strategy for the Management of Women Offenders published for consultation on 23 February, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

Prisons: Northern Ireland


Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: In December 2007 plans were announced for the provision of 400 additional prison places over the following three years and the redevelopment of Magilligan prison thereafter. This is needed to relieve overcrowding, to replace unsatisfactory accommodation and to take account of projected increases in the prisoner population.

The provision of training, education and resettlement opportunities are important elements of the existing regimes which are funded from the overall prison service budget.

In addition, NIPS have been provided with £4.7 million additional resources over the Comprehensive Spending Review period for the implementation of the Criminal Justice (NI) Order 2008 which rightly emphasises public protection and addressing offending behaviour.

Questions for Written Answer


Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The policy was determined by both Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office: the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Shaun Woodward) and the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Goggins).

The noble Lord will be aware of the Answer given on 5 November 2008, Official Report, col. WA 70, which stated that where questions relate to operational matters that are the responsibility of public bodies and not the responsibility of Ministers, the answer ought to come from those bodies.

Questions for Written Answer: Northern Ireland Office


Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: I have nothing further to add to the Answers provided on 20 April, Official Report, col. WA 365, and 27 April, Official Report, col. WA 19.

Railways: East Midland Trains


Asked by Lord Bradshaw

30 Apr 2009 : Column WA76

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The invitation to tender for the East Midlands franchise included a service level commitment for this route which was based on previous service patterns and levels of rail usage. The invitation to tender stated “bidders should assume the same timing for crossing the east coast main line at Newark as in the December 2006 timetable, but otherwise timings and calling patterns may be adjusted to fit with Bidder's other timetable proposals”.

The Department for Transport took this approach in order to allow the operator some commercial flexibility with a view to improving overall reliability and value for money. As with all franchise competitions, local and regional priorities are put forward by local authorities with passenger transport responsibilities. Consultees are asked to supply evidence to inform the specification, and local authorities are particularly encouraged to provide information on any future schemes (such as housing developments) which are likely to affect demand.

The current timetable was drawn up on the commercial and operational judgement of the operator, who consulted on timetable changes which were made in December 2008.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord Adonis: Interested parties should approach East Midlands Trains to investigate the scope for changes to services. I would be happy to discuss the outcome of any discussions with the train operator.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord Adonis: The Department for Transport models potential future demand for rail and considers the results when specifying services. Population change will affect rail demand, but population is not the determining factor: other key factors include the employment opportunities in local or regional centres, the propensity of different social groups to travel, car ownership and road access to potential destination towns.

Decisions on calling patterns are steered by a wide number of considerations, alongside demand, including affordability, value for money and operational factors such as rail performance and rolling stock.

Railways: Fares


Asked by Lord Bradshaw

30 Apr 2009 : Column WA77

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Office of Rail Regulation publishes a fares index in National Rail Trends, which is available from its website Up until 2008 regulated fares have been below accumulated inflation. The next edition of National Rail Trends is due in the summer of 2009.

Roads: Traffic Officers


Asked by Lord Jopling

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The role of the traffic officer is to deal with routine incidents on the motorways in England and on some all-purpose trunk roads, and to assist the emergency services in dealing with traffic management at the more serious incidents. Traffic officers, in the seven regional control centres, set signs and signals and answer emergency roadside telephones.

This involves maintaining and improving the movement of traffic on relevant roads and to prevent or reduce the effect of congestion, which may involve stopping and directing traffic, removing debris and other obstructions from the carriageway, closing lanes and carriageways and management of traffic.

Traffic officers do not have an enforcement role. The police remain responsible for tackling crime, investigating collisions, and enforcing the law.

Asked by Lord Jopling

Lord Adonis: The Highways Agency, as an executive agency of the Department for Transport, is responsible for the Traffic Officer Service.

The Traffic Officer Service covers the strategic road network in England. The number of traffic officers employed by Highways Agency region, as at 31March 2009, is as follows:

Yorkshire & North East 206North West 310East Midlands 134West Midland 218East 320South East 239South West 184.

The estimated cost of traffic officers in England for 2008-09 is £50.65 million. This includes pay, overtime, travel time, and travel and subsistence and includes on road traffic officers, control room traffic officers, traffic officer managers, and 35 support staff.

30 Apr 2009 : Column WA78

Asked by Lord Jopling

Lord Adonis: The traffic officer fleet currently comprises a total of 195 vehicles. Of these:

154 are available for use by traffic officers32 are used by team managers9 are used for training.

Traffic officer vehicles have an average monthly lease fee of £1,450, excluding VAT. Team manager vehicles have an average monthly lease fee of £900, excluding VAT. Training vehicles have an average monthly lease of £700, excluding VAT.

The cost of conversion of a base vehicle to a full traffic officer specification can vary between £6,000 and £11,000 excluding VAT, subject to the extent of equipment utilised from an old replaced vehicle.

The average weekly use of each traffic officer patrol vehicle is 100 hours.

Social Care: Adults


Asked by Lord King of West Bromwich

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Government consider that every older person is entitled to high-quality, safe and dignified care, whether it is provided in their own home or anywhere else. Anything less is completely unacceptable.

We established an independent system of statutory regulation, registration and inspection of social care provision and introduced national minimum standards (NMS) for care homes, domiciliary care and adult placements. The Regulations and NMS are intended to ensure vulnerable and older people can live in a safe environment, where their rights and dignity are respected and staff are properly trained.

The previous regulator of social care, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), reported that the quality of care, measured against the NMS, improved in every year since they were first introduced.

30 Apr 2009 : Column WA79

The new integrated regulator of health and adult social care, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), is responsible for registering, inspecting and regulating all social care providers. It has a wide range of enforcement powers under the Care Standards Act 2000. These include issuing notices requiring improvement within a specified time period, prosecuting providers for failing to provide proper care and even closing down a provider by cancelling its registration.

From 2010, the CQC will be introducing a new system of registration under the Health and Social Care Act 2008. This will give it additional powers to fine providers and suspend those which are not providing acceptable levels of care.

Local councils are responsible for the provision of social care services and for the quality of those services, whether provided directly or via contracting with private and independent organisations. Anyone who is not satisfied with the quality of care they receive from their council is entitled to pursue the matter via the social services complaints procedure and ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate.

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