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13 May 2009 : Column WA199

Written Answers

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Air Quality: Carbon Dioxide

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Based on estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), the UK is responsible for around 2 to 2.1 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

British Virgin Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Premier of the British Virgin Islands, the honourable Ralph T O'Neal, wrote to my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Gillian Merron, on 20 March 2009 in advance of her visit to the British Virgin Islands in April. He raised a number of issues relating to the good governance of the territory, some of which had been previously discussed during a meeting with my honourable friend following the Overseas Territories Consultative Council in October 2008. My honourable friend's reply answered each point raised in the Premier's letter and offered the opportunity to discuss further during her visit. My honourable friend visited the territory from 7 to 9 April 2009 and met the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition, the Cabinet and members of the House of Assembly. Their discussions covered the public service, good governance issues, and policing and immigration matters.

Care Quality Commission

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashley of Stoke



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Health and Social Care Act 2008 established the Care Quality Commission, which came into being on 1 October 2008. On 1 April 2009, the new commission took over from the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission. It is now fully operational. Ministers and senior officials at the department meet regularly with the Care Quality Commission chairman, chief executive and executive directors.

Asked by Lord Ashley of Stoke

Lord Darzi of Denham: We have deliberately given the Care Quality Commission a wide range of tough, independent enforcement powers enabling the new commission to take direct and independent action against service providers which fail to provide care that meets essential levels of safety and quality that service users are entitled to expect. This could result in the Care Quality Commission forcing the closure of service providers that fail to meet these essential levels of safety and quality.

The department is, of course, in regular dialogue with the Care Quality Commission and discusses issues and matters of concern with it as part of the department's ongoing sponsorship relationship with the regulator.

While the Secretary of State may request that the commission undertake a specific review or investigation so that specific issues of interest to the public or Parliament may receive the necessary attention from the commission, it is important to be clear that we have established the Care Quality Commission as an independent regulator.

Subject to the requirements of its founding legislation, the commission is operationally independent and free from government involvement in the way it exercises its statutory functions.

Civil Service: Performance Pay

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Pay arrangements for the Senior Civil Service are based on recommendations by the independent Senior Salaries Review Body.



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Defence

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We have no such plans.

Energy: Market Liberalisation

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We welcome the European Parliament's agreement of the third internal energy market package. We expect the new measures to enter into force some time this summer.

The legislation introduces measures to develop a fully functioning, properly regulated and more integrated European energy market. The result should be to promote security of supply, put downward pressure on consumer prices across the EU and support those in fuel poverty. It should also put in place the regulatory frameworks to underpin the investment in new infrastructure needed to support the low carbon technologies which will be critically important in addressing climate change in the coming years.

Energy: Wind Generation

Question

Asked by Lord Carlile of Berriew

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government have carried out analysis on generation costs in some detail in recent years to inform policy decisions. Some of these estimates were published as part of the Energy Review (2006). Estimates made in 2007-08 suggest the following indicative levelised costs (£/MWh) associated with 1MWh of electricity generated from wind and nuclear power. These costs include

13 May 2009 : Column WA202

construction and maintenance costs but do not include grid connection costs (which depend on location and distance from the nearest grid connection point rather than type of generation). The updating of cost assumptions for a range of generation technologies is ongoing.

Levelised cost (£/MWh)

Onshore Wind (80MW)—base case

70

Offshore Wind (100MW)—base case

92

Nuclear Pressurised Water Reactor—base case

38

Foster Care

Question

Asked by Lord Sheikh

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Education and Skills Act 2008 will mean that all young people, including those living with foster carers, will be required to continue in post-16 education or training. Through both the Right 2B Cared 4 and the Staying Put: 18+ Family Placement Pilots, which the Government are funding, children in care will have the chance to benefit from a stable family placement beyond the age of 16 so that they move to independent living only when they feel properly prepared and ready. These pilots provide the stability and support necessary for young people to achieve in education, training and employment. In addition, the Children and Young Persons Act extends the right for all care leavers to a personal adviser until the age of 25 if they are in education and training and places a requirement on local authorities to pay a bursary to care leavers who undertake a course of higher education.

Fuel Poverty

Question

Asked by Lord Teverson

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government's fuel poverty strategy brings together policies that target the three main factors that influence fuel poverty—household energy efficiency, fuel prices and household income. The strategy's strong package of programmes and measures addresses all three factors.

Rising energy prices in particular have made achieving our fuel poverty targets more difficult. The current mix of fuel poverty measures is unlikely to eradicate fuel poverty among the vulnerable by 2010. However, the Government continue to do all that is reasonably practicable to tackle fuel poverty amongst all members of society.



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In light of recent market developments and the Government's more ambitious aims on reducing carbon emissions, DECC is currently undertaking a review of its fuel poverty policies. Initial findings of this review are expected this summer.

Government Departments: Databases

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Lord Patel of Bradford: Departments are already required to conduct privacy impact assessments on all new projects which involve the collection of personal data. This measure, part of the mandatory requirements in the data handling review, has been agreed with the Information Commissioner's Office. The ICO has produced and subsequently updated guidance for both the public and private sectors on this. In addition, the Government accepted the recommendations of the Walport Thomas review for measures to strengthen enforcement of data protection and a data sharing code of practice to be published and maintained by the Information Commissioner who has independent oversight of data protection issues across the public and private sector.

Both the data handling review (DHR) and the independent Walport Thomas review on data sharing, published in June and July 2008, respectively, recognised that there was a definite need for government to handle and share information to provide better and more efficient public services and to aid in the detection and prevention of crime but any intrusion into privacy must be appropriate and proportionate.

Both of these reports can be read online at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/reports/data_handling.aspx and www.justice.gov.uk/reviews/datasharing-intro.htm respectively.

The Joseph Rowntree Trust report presents no substantive evidence on which it bases its assessments of privacy impact. However, the Government take their data handling responsibilities seriously and will consider any concerns carefully, adapting existing safeguards where necessary.

Copies have been placed in Libraries of the House

Government Departments: Energy

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach



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The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has an ongoing programme of initiatives in place to deliver significant sustainability improvements across its estate.

Defra has implemented a carbon management programme which has enabled it to develop a systematic approach to monitoring and managing its carbon emissions. The department is successfully improving the energy efficiency of its estate by implementing a range of technologies, initiatives and operational improvements. Initiatives which have already been implemented include: voltage regulation technologies, energy efficiency lighting, insulation and draught proofing, biomass, combined heat and power plants and automatic metering (AMR) of utilities. Thermal imaging surveys have also been undertaken at a number of sites and the results will form a programme of works to improve the thermal efficiency of the buildings.

All new build and refurbishment projects undergo sustainability reviews and are designed to achieve BREEAM excellent as standard. Recent projects such as the new office at Alnwick, which is designed to operate as carbon neutral, demonstrate Defra's commitment to deliver sustainable solutions in the design, build and operation of all its developments.

The Ministry of Justice is taking a number of actions to reduce the use of energy and these have been published in the OGC delivery plan at www.ogc.gov.uk/documents/Delivery_Plan_Update_ Dec08.pdf.

Government Departments: Staff Absence

Questions

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): It is not possible to provide information on (a) as no reliable data are available on absences other than sickness absence.

Sickness absence rates in the MoD for the 12 months ending 31 December 2006, 31 December 2007 and 31 December 2008 are shown in the table below:

Sickness Absence Rates 1, 2 by Year Ending:
Average working days lost per
FTE3:
IndustrialNon IndustrialTotal

31 December 2008

11.3

7.9

8.5

31 December 2007

11.9

8.2

8.9

31 December 2006

12.1

8.0

8.8



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1. Data exclude staff in Trading Funds, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and Locally Engaged Civilians for whom sickness absence data are not readily available.

2. Data presented reflect the current Cabinet Office definition, setting a maximum absence of 225 days per person, and exclude data for weekends, annual leave and bank holidays.

3. Average working days lost per FTE are calculated by dividing the total working days lost for each period by a weighted average of the 1st of the month strengths for the period, with the strengths at the 1st January at the start and end of the period receiving a weighting of 0.5, and the strengths at the 1st of the other months in the period a weighting of 1.

4. Sickness absence figures for the 12 months to 31 December 08 exclude absences where a person is classed as being on zero pay.

Sickness Absence Rates 1,2 by Year Ending—Trading Funds:
Average working days lost per
FTE3:
IndustrialNon IndustrialTotal

31 December 2008

..

..

6.1

1 Trading Fund personnel cannot be split by Industrial Non Industrial status.

2 Data presented reflect the current Cabinet Office definition, setting a maximum absence of 225 days per person, and exclude data for weekends, annual leave and bank holidays.

3 Rates are calculated by dividing the total working days lost for each period by a weighted 13 month average for the period listed with the first and last month receiving a weighting of 0.5, and all other months a weighting of 1.

4 Sickness absence figures for the 12 months to 31 December 08 exclude absences where a person is classed as being on zero pay.


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