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4 Jun 2009 : Column WA101



4 Jun 2009 : Column WA101

Written Answers

Thursday 4 June 2009

Agriculture: Disease Testing

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) delivers the administration of disinfectants testing under the approved disinfectants regime for Defra. The various tests are undertaken by the VLA and the Institute of Animal Health and charges for them are based on full cost recovery. Each year, these laboratories have to estimate the likely requirement for tests and set their charges accordingly. This process was undertaken for the tests for foot-and-mouth disease and swine vesicular disease.

Children: ContactPoint

Questions

Asked by Lord Moynihan

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The current projected cost for development and set-up of ContactPoint is £224 million, most of which is expected to be incurred by the end of the financial year 2009-10.

ContactPoint moved into its first phase of delivery in January 2009 when 19 early adopter organisations, comprising 17 local authorities in the North West of England and two national voluntary sector partners—Barnardo's and KIDS—began to train their ContactPoint management teams. In parallel, all local authorities started to shield a small proportion of records on ContactPoint.

Early adopter organisations have now started to train a limited and controlled group of practitioners to use ContactPoint. These practitioners, who must all go through stringent security checks and training before accessing the system, are being carefully monitored in order to evaluate their experience of using the system. From June to August 2009, ContactPoint management teams in the remaining local authorities and national partner organisations will be trained. This will enable them to make local preparations for wider deployment to users.



4 Jun 2009 : Column WA102

Asked by Lord Moynihan

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: Information held on ContactPoint has been clearly set out and restricted in Section 12 of the Children Act 2004. Local authorities must supply to ContactPoint the contact details they hold for parents. This could include a mobile telephone number, a landline number which is used for domestic or business purposes or any combination of these.

Asked by Lord Moynihan

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: The department and local authorities are already making information about ContactPoint available to children, young people and their parents/carers using a range of methods, such as direct mailing to households, leaflet distribution, publications on websites and through the media.

Activity has been taking place across England for some time and will increase over the coming months. A range of materials are widely available, including leaflets suitable for young people. The materials include information about shielding, which is an additional security measure appropriate for a small proportion of children's records. Young people, parents or carers are advised to contact their local authority if they have reason to believe their own or their child's record should be shielded on ContactPoint.

More detailed information is available on the Department for Children, Schools and Families website.

Asked by Lord Moynihan

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: In order for professionals who work with children and young people to become authorised users of ContactPoint they must:

have an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check, renewed every three years;attend and successfully complete mandatory training on the use of ContactPoint, which includes security responsibilities, the importance of good security practice, the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act;be provided with the ContactPoint Security Operating Procedures; andsign an end user agreement form which sets out the responsibilities and commitments that an authorised user of ContactPoint agrees.

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ContactPoint users will also need to be subject to monitoring by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) when it is introduced.

Civil Service: Performance Pay

Question

Asked by Lord Newby

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Funding for Senior Civil Servants' performance-related pay is calculated as a percentage of the total pay bill. The attached table summarises the paybill figures for each year since 2005 and the percentage of the paybill that was applied as performance-related pay, in line with SCS pay policy set by the Cabinet Office, following recommendations by the Senior Salaries Review Body.

Year20052006200720082009

SCS Paybill

£14,177,765

£18,135,458

£19,208,849

£17,199,520

£18,570,568

Performance Pay Pot

5.0%

6.5%

7.6%

8.6%

8.6%

Criminal Records Bureau

Question

Asked by Lord Moynihan

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): All professionals who work with children and young people who need access to ContactPoint are required, as a condition of access, to be subjected to an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check prior to being granted access to ContactPoint.

The enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks will be carried out by the practitioner's employer and be verified as part of the ContactPoint access application process.

Cycling: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Department for Transport is committed to reducing the number of children killed or seriously injured while cycling. As part of a broader communication strategy to educate children about road safety, an online game was designed to encourage 6 to 11-year-olds to wear cycle helmets, which can help reduce head injuries.

After due consideration, the department removed the game from the website on 21 May 2009, as we agreed that it was not appropriate.

Employment: Discrimination

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government have no plans to add Ireland to the countries it monitors for human rights abuses.

Energy: Wind Generation

Question

Asked by Lord Reay

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): If a higher level of support as set out in the Budget for offshore wind under the renewables obligation were to go ahead, it would have no cost in the short term before the projects start generating electricity. It will have an impact on electricity bills in the longer term. The final cost would depend on how many projects proceed and meet the criteria and the effect that this has on the electricity market.

Our expectation is that this proposal could be worth some £2 billion to £3 billion of additional support over the twenty years' lifetime of the projects. Officials are currently undertaking work to assess the longer-term impact of renewables policy measures on consumer energy bills, as part of the renewable energy strategy.



4 Jun 2009 : Column WA105

Equal Pay

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): No: we consider it very unlikely that a single figure relating to gender pay over the whole of a large undertaking would in itself be sufficient evidence to found an equal pay or sex discrimination claim in any individual case. What it would do is reveal the existence of any pay gap, and enable both employers and employees to raise questions as to its causes—and as a result take steps to remedy it.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The process for reappointing a chair and other board members of the Equality and Human Rights Commission differs from the process of making new appointments as there is no requirement to advertise a post should a decision be taken to reappoint a current member. Reappointments are governed by time and performance criteria set out by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. There is no guarantee of any reappointment being favourably considered. To be considered for reappointment members must have performed satisfactorily during their current term. The Government Equalities Office has ensured there is an appropriate performance assessment process in place to provide the necessary evidence for considering any reappointments. The Minister for Women and Equality has the final decision on reappointments based on performance assessments.

Equality Bill

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Government's aim is for employers regularly to publish information about what they pay their male and female employees on a voluntary basis. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is bringing employers and unions together to recommend how gender pay reporting should operate in practice and in particular the measures that employers should be encouraged to report on. If sufficient progress has not been made by 2013 in the voluntary reporting, we will prepare regulations to require reporting of specified information. It is too early to say what any regulations which may be made under clause 73 will prescribe.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: We want to maximise the number of employees whose employers publish gender-based information about their pay, while avoiding the imposition of excessive burdens on business. We are therefore proposing coverage of larger employers who between them employ around 50 per cent of the workforce outside the public sector, and who should be best able to produce and publish information on gender pay. Small and medium-sized employers with fewer than 250 employees are of course free to publish gender pay information, and we would strongly encourage them to do so.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: All employers are bound by the Equal Pay Act 1970, and will continue to be bound by their successor provisions in the Equality Bill. Not all differences in pay between women and men are as a result of failure to comply with the Equal Pay Act. The voluntary disclosure regime which is proposed, supported by the power in Clause 73 is aimed at giving people the ability address the causes of any gender pay gap in their organisations whatever they might be.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



4 Jun 2009 : Column WA107

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: Clause 73 is not part of the UK's scheme for implementing Article 141 of the Treaty of Rome or the Recast Directive (Council Directive 2006154/EC), neither of which contains obligations to require this kind of disclosure, so no question requiring such an interpretation to be made should arise.

EU: Legislation


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