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Questions

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The £5 million funding comes from the Home Office budget for the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT).This has been allocated as part of the budget-setting round for 2009-10 to support regional and local delivery of work in England and Wales to improve the protection of crowded places as set out in the Government's consultation document Working Together to Protect Crowded Places. The Government will allocate this funding based on priorities identified by local partnerships and risk assessments carried out by counterterrorism security advisers (CTSAs).

Funding provided by the Home Office for counterterrorism security advisers (CTSAs) is paid directly to police authorities and was funded from the dedicated security post (DSP) grant in 2008-09 and previous years. The funding is a contribution towards the cost of employing, training and equipping police officers/police staff to fulfil the duties agreed between the police force and the Home Office. The funding since 2003-04 is as follows:

2003-04—£2,508,000;2004-05—£4,984,000;2005-06—£6,061,163;2006-07—£5,952,800;2007-08—£5,970,763; and2008-09—£7,775,863.

Information for 2001-02 and 2002-03 is not readily available.

CTSAs in each police force in England and Wales have identified crowded places in their force areas and completed risk assessments using guidance jointly issued by the Home Office and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

This process is nearly complete in Scotland and is still under way in Northern Ireland. CTSAs are advised of other critical sites within their force areas and provide protective security advice as appropriate. The number of counterterrorism security advisers trained by year and by police force is not held centrally.



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Education: Sponsor Licence

Question

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Information pertaining to sponsor licence applications is held in confidence between the UK Border Agency and the institutions making the application. It would not be appropriate to disclose information relating to refusals to a third party.

Elections: Northern Ireland Constituencies

Questions

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: These are operational matters for the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland. Statistics about the June 2004 elections can be found on his website at www.eoni.org.uk/index/statistics/election-statistics/european-parliamentary-election-2004.htm.

The noble Lord may wish to write to the chief electoral officer directly with any further queries.

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland is responsible for maintaining the electoral register in Northern Ireland. Statistics about the size of the electorate can be found on his website at www.eoni.org.uk/index/statistics/electorate-statistics.htm.

The noble Lord may wish to write to him directly with any further queries.

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Electoral Commission is responsible for promoting public awareness of election matters across the United Kingdom, including with

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regard to notices in relation to postal vote applications. The noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly.

Energy: Renewables

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The projected cost of the RO (including the measures banding the RO in the Renewables Obligation Order 2009) on electricity prices is £6.5/MWh in 2020. This represents an increase in the average annual electricity bills of around £21 in 2020.

In the renewable energy strategy consultation the Government set out the impact of meeting the UK's share of the EU renewable energy target. Table 10.1 shows the impact on electricity bills to be 9 to 15 per cent higher between 2020 and 2024, an increase in average domestic bills of between £32 and £53 per year. Estimates will be updated in the renewable energy strategy to be published in the summer.

Equalities Targets

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government are committed to the equalities agenda. They have no plans to abolish the Government Equalities Office (GEO) or the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), or revoke equalities legislation.

Foster Care

Questions

Asked by Lord Sheikh



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): By improving the training, support and development of foster carers our Care Matters agenda should help to equip foster carers with the skills they need, and in doing so aid recruitment and retention of foster carers.

We have also provided a grant of £82,000 in 2009-10 to support the Fostering Network's foster carer recruitment event—Foster Care Fortnight—which launched on 11 May. We will continue to work with stakeholders to determine what more the Government can do to support local recruitment of foster carers.

Asked by Lord Sheikh

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: All foster carers receive an allowance from their fostering service provider to meet the costs of caring for children placed with them. The Government introduced a national minimum allowance in 2007. A Fostering Network survey conducted in October 2008 showed that all but nine fostering service providers are paying their carers at least the national minimum allowance. A further six providers have subsequently confirmed that they would pay their carers at least the national minimum allowance from April 2009.

Over and above this minimum, it is for fostering service providers to determine their payments in light of their particular circumstances. We will be expecting providers to publish details of the way in which their payment systems are structured so that this is transparent to carers.

Government Departments: Staff Absence

Questions

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Information on sickness absence for 2004, 2005 and 2006-07 for the Department for Communities and Local Government or its predecessor, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), can be found on the Civil Service website at www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/who/statistics/sickness.aspx.

From January 2008, information on sickness absence has been provided by departments and collated by the Cabinet Office on a quarterly basis. Sickness absence data for the Department for Communities and Local

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Government are aggregated with those for its executive agencies but data are not collected for its NDPBs. In the 12 months to 31 December 2008, the average working days lost per employee in the Department for Communities and Local Government were 6.3.

Targets for sickness absence have not been set by the department and neither does it collect information on absence other than that which is sickness-related.

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): (a) Staff absence in Home Office HQ and its agencies—Members of staff might be absent from work for a variety of reasons (other than sickness absence), such as annual leave, flexi leave, maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or special leave. No central record is kept of the totality of these absences and the information requested could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

(b) Sickness absence in Home Office HQ and its agencies—Table 1 provides the rate of sickness absence for Home Office HQ and its agencies in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. We do not hold data for non-departmental public bodies.

Sickness absence target rates for Home Office HQ and UKBA—Targets for the reduction of sickness absence levels in Home Office HQ and UKBA were set out in the Home Office reform action plan, published in July 2006. The published targets were: a reduction to an average seven working days lost per person per year by 2008 and to an average six working days lost per person per year by 2010. This target is currently being reviewed in the light of recent developments in the department, including the introduction of a new sickness absence policy and improved data collection procedures.

Identity and Passport Service—Targets for the reduction of sickness absence levels in the Identity and Passport Service have been published regularly in the IPS annual report and business plan. The targets for 2007, 2008 and 2009 were 10.5 average working days lost per staff year.

Criminal Records Bureau—Targets for the reduction of sickness absence levels in the Criminal Records Bureau have been published regularly in the CRB. business plan. The 2006-07 business plan stated a target of less than 11 days annually. The 2007-08 and 2008-09 business plan stated a target of 10 days annually.



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Table 1Footnote2006-072007-082008-09

1

AWDL RY

AWDL RY

AWDL RY

Home Office Headquarters

2

7.80

6.60

5.50

Agencies:

UK Border Agency

3

11.20

9.70

Identity and Passport Service

10.10

11.70

9.59

Criminal Records Bureau

9.30

12.30

11.31

The Prison Service

4

12.00

Home Office Total

10.70

9.34

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The department reports on targets for sickness absence, including the average number of days, on its website at www.dcsf.gov.uk/sicknessabsence/.

The department is committed to managing sickness absence effectively and is on target to reduce sickness absence to meet Cabinet Office targets, with an aim of reducing sickness absence to seven days per full-time staff member by 2010.

The department does not report against any absence targets other than sickness absence.

All non-departmental public bodies for which the Department for Children, Schools and Families has responsibility have their own systems, and information is not kept centrally and could only be established at disproportionate costs.


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