Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page



24 Jun 2009 : Column WA277



24 Jun 2009 : Column WA277

Written Answers

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Anglo-US Defence Trade Treaty

Question

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Her Majesty's Government continue to discuss the defence trade co-operation treaty with the US Government at all levels. The treaty still awaits ratification by the US Senate. The UK has worked hard to ensure that members of the Senate are aware of the importance the UK places on the treaty and the benefits for both nations in operational and industrial terms. MoD and FCO officials in the British embassy in Washington regularly discuss treaty implementation with their US colleagues in preparation for ratification.

Apprenticeships

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green):World Class Apprenticeships: Unlocking Talent, Building Skills for All, published in January 2008, assessed the distribution of the benefits of apprenticeships among the black and minority ethnic (BME) population, disabled people and women. This assessment found that not everyone benefited equally from the opportunities offered by apprenticeships: the 2005 apprenticeships pay survey found a 40 per cent average pay differential between male and female apprentices and found that BME young people were underrepresented in the programme. Through World Class Apprenticeships, the Government committed to addressing these inequalities and outlined specific measures that would be taken to achieve this.

In 2008, the Learning and Skills Council commissioned research by BMG Research, using a survey of apprentices, into the benefits of completing an apprenticeship. This research concluded that apprenticeships do not particularly nor generally fail any major group of apprentices who complete the programme, but showed a clear gender bias in participation in sectors where this would be expected from the labour force in general. While the apprenticeship experience appears a little more positive for BME apprentices in terms of motivation and confidence, BME apprentices are less likely to have employed status and more likely to have returned

24 Jun 2009 : Column WA278

to learning. The results of this research were published in February 2009, and a copy of the report will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

The National Apprenticeship Service has commissioned research by the Institute of Employment Studies to help shape this pilot work. This will determine the most severe areas of under-representation and what lessons can be learnt from existing projects aiming to address inequality. The final research report is due to be published at the end of June 2009, after which providers will be invited to take part in a number of pilots to help address inequality in apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Dr Richard Williams wrote to the Secretary of State for Children, School and Families on 24 April 2009. In his letter, Dr Williams raised concerns that the work-based programme led apprenticeship delivery model operated by Rathbone will not meet the criteria for an apprenticeship under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill. The Secretary of State for Children, School and Families' response will be placed in the Library. Officials have since met representatives of Rathbone and Barnardos to explore how these concerns might be addressed and we are committed to continuing this dialogue during the passage of the Bill.

Armed Forces: Compensation Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We believe that the current time limits are suitable for the purposes of the scheme and have no plans to remove them.

There is a time limit to claim of five years. Where diagnosis of an illness is not made until within one year of the end of the five years, then the time for making a claim is extended by one year starting from the date on which this diagnosis was made.



24 Jun 2009 : Column WA279

The five-year time limit does not apply to claims for a late onset illness which has been diagnosed by an accredited medical specialist. A late onset illness is defined as including a malignancy, or a disorder of the liver, kidneys or central nervous system which is capable of being caused by occupational exposure occurring more than five years before the onset of the illness; and as including a mental disorder which is capable of being caused by an incident occurring more than five years before the onset of the illness. The five years can also be extended by up to a year if a person is physically or mentally incapable of either making a claim or instructing another to do so on their behalf.

Arms Exports

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Davies of Abersoch): The UK has one of the most robust arms export licensing regimes in the world. All export licence applications, including any for Sri Lanka, are rigorously assessed on a case by case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (which incorporates the EU Code of Conduct). Assessments of applications take account of all available information at the time of the application, including information about the situation in the receiving country, the capability and stated end use of the goods, and the past behaviour of the end user. Licences will not be issued if the proposed exports would be inconsistent with any of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. In particular, a licence will not be issued if there is a clear risk that the goods would be used for internal repression, would provoke or prolong armed conflict or would aggravate existing tensions within the recipient country. Consequently, the UK has fully observed the code of conduct for all destinations, including Sri Lanka.

Individual EU member states are responsible for observing the code of conduct. I am unable to comment on the actions of other member states in this respect.

The Government continue to be very concerned by the internal situation in Sri Lanka, both in terms of the recent conflict and the human rights situation, which is inextricably linked to it. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely. All export licence applications for military and dual use equipment will continue to be rigorously scrutinised on a case by case basis and a licence will not be issued if to do so would be inconsistent with the consolidated criteria.



24 Jun 2009 : Column WA280

Benefits: Employment and Support Allowance

Questions

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Department for Work and Pensions is currently carrying out an internal review of the work capability assessment, introduced in October 2008. The purpose of the review is to ensure that the new assessment is accurately identifying those individuals who are incapable of work related activity, those who are currently unfit for work but would benefit from support and an eventual return to work, and those that, despite their condition, are fit to continue work at that time. It is also considering how the assessment might be modified to account for an individual's adaptation to their condition.

A copy of the terms of reference for the review has been placed in the Library.

This review is chaired by officials in the department and involves representatives from the fields of physical disability, mental function, disability assessment and occupational health, as well as representatives of disability groups and employers. This includes participation from representatives of:



24 Jun 2009 : Column WA281

Atos Healthcare;Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development;Citizens Advice Bureau;Disability Benefits Consortium;Disability Employment Advisory Council;Mencap;Mind;National Autistic Society;Neurological Disability and Rehab Medicine;Occupational Medicine;Occupational Psychiatry;Parkinson's Disease Society;Royal College of Psychiatrists;RNIB;RNID;RSI Action;Social Security Advisory Committee; andTribunal Service

There are no practicing occupational therapists taking part in the review.

As a result of the review, the department will produce recommendations to Ministers on possible enhancements to the work capability assessment. If changes are made to account for adaptation, it is likely that there will be an increase in the number of people considered able to look for a range of jobs straight away and thus be eligible for jobseeker's allowance.

We plan to finish the review in the summer, and its findings and proposals will be reported shortly afterwards.

The department is also committed to an annual independent review of the work capability assessment. This statutory and ongoing requirement—set out in the Welfare Reform Act 2007—is focused specifically on the operation of the assessment against Sections 8 and 9 of the Act; that is the assessments of limited capability for work and limited capability for work related activity.

The internal review is a one-off technical evaluation of the criteria involved in assessing entitlement to ESA. It is normal that the department evaluates new policy initiatives in this way. The independent review is an ongoing annual requirement to allow parliamentary scrutiny of the effectiveness of the policy in meeting its stated aims. While the reviews will inevitably cover some of the same ground, the nature of review activity may be different.

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester



24 Jun 2009 : Column WA282

Lord McKenzie of Luton: A breakdown of individual benefit data, and for clients groups, on employment and support allowance will be available in summer 2009.

The department is currently carrying out an internal review of the work capability assessment. This began in March, at which point several thousand assessments had taken place. Once this is complete, a report of its findings and proposals will be produced. A further independent review of the work capability assessment will follow, which will report on the first year of the assessment.

Census

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Crawley: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician, to Lord Laird, dated June 2009.

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking what ethnic groupings will be referred to in the next Census. (HL4446)

I refer you to my reply to a similar question in the House of Lords Official Report 709, col. 90.

Subsequent to the publication of the 2011 Census White Paper “Helping to shape tomorrow” in December, ONS has further considered concerns raised and has identified a small number of issues for further investigation and evidence gathering. One of these is the ethnic group question, where we are testing the performance of a possible additional category to collect information on people identifying as “Kashmiri”.

More information about the further question testing programme is available on the website http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/news-and-events/additional- questionnaire-testing-planned/index.html.

The programme of testing is not complete and consequently no decisions have yet been made about any of the possible revisions. The Draft Census Order which sets out the topics and particulars to be collected by each question is currently scheduled to be laid before Parliament around mid October. Parts of the Census Order require the approval of Parliament.

Civil Service: Performance Pay

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay



24 Jun 2009 : Column WA283

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The criterion for awarding senior civil servants (SCS) with performance related pay awards is set by the Prime Minister following independent advice from the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB). The level of payments takes into account a number of factors including individual performance against agreed priority business objectives and targets. Performance-related pay awards reward and provide incentives for in-year delivery of key results. Over the three years of SR 04 the Home Office met all its PSA objectives.

For the 2007-08 reporting year, 127 SCS staff in the Home Office and its agencies received a non-consolidated performance pay awards; the total amount spent on these bonuses was £1,246,000. Bonuses were awarded to 75 per cent of Home Office SCS staff.

For the 2006-07 reporting year, 158 SCS staff in the Home Office and its agencies (including SCS staff who moved as part of the machinery of government change to Ministry of Justice) received a non-consolidated

24 Jun 2009 : Column WA284

performance pay awards; the total amount spent on these bonuses was £1,513,209. Bonuses were awarded to 62.5 per cent of Home Office SCS staff.

Breakdowns of non-consolidated performance pay awards by pay band and award type are given in the attached tables.

Table 1 shows awards paid in 2008 for the 2007-08 reporting year, with a breakdown by pay band and award type.

Table 2 shows awards paid in 2007 for the 2006-07 reporting year, with a breakdown by pay band and award type. For the financial year 2006-07, pay band three members of staff receiving a bonus were broken down into two categories only: middle and top figures do not include permanent secretaries and SCS equivalents.

Records of non-consolidated performance pay awards for financial years prior to 2006-07 are not available and it is not possible to provide the information requested for these years without incurring disproportionate costs.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page