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29 Jun 2009 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday 29 June 2009

Agriculture: Sheep


Asked by Lord Vinson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Under directly-applicable EC law, specified risk material (SRM) controls apply to sheep on a precautionary basis. The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee has also advised that the maintenance of current risk reduction measures such as the removal of SRM would minimise the risk to human health should bovine spongiform encephalopathy enter the sheep flock. In addition, a possible human health risk from atypical scrapie cannot be ruled out, so for these reasons precautionary controls in sheep remain in place.

The Food Standards Agency advises that, at a meeting with the sheep farming industry in February 2009 to discuss the impact of these regulations, the industry undertook to produce an economic impact assessment of the regulations, the results of which are awaited.

Arms Reduction


Asked by Lord Dykes

Lord Brett: There was no discussion of multilateral arms reductions in the Middle East during the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) on 15 June 2009, although Ministers did discuss the Middle East peace process. The Written Ministerial Statement on the 15 June 2009 GAERC was published on 22 June 2009 (Official Report, col. WS 97).

The UK supports a Middle East zone free from weapons of mass destruction and we have consistently supported resolutions calling for such a zone.

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Asylum Seekers


Asked by Baroness Greengross

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): In making decisions about asylum seekers' eligibility for English language training, the Government carried out a race equality impact assessment (REIA) in early 2007. As a result of the full impact assessment, the Government decided that asylum seekers who had not received a decision on their application after six months, and also asylum seekers unable to leave the country for reasons beyond their control, would be eligible for English language training. The Government believe that the current policy is compliant with human rights legislation.



Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): This information has been requested from the special educational needs and children with additional needs division at Essex County Council. It states that educational psychologists employed by the county have discussions with medical colleagues about children who have been diagnosed or are suspected of being on the autistic spectrum but the county states that the diagnosis of autism is a matter for the medical profession.

The Secretary of State at the Department for Children, Schools and Families has received a complaint in relation to Essex County Council's failure to properly discharge its duties, which is being investigated.

Asked by Lord Warner

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): This Government are fulfilling the commitment to undertake transition research for young people with autism.

The department will extend a current study about multi-agency transition services to provide a greater focus about what support multi-agency services provide for all young people with autism.

The department will make further details about this available later this year. Further information about the current study can be found at:

Charity Commission


Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

Baroness Crawley: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Charity Commission. I have asked the commission to reply.

Letter from Andrew Hind, Chief Executive, Charity Commission, dated June 2009.

As the Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, I have been asked to respond to your written Parliamentary Questions.

Parliamentary question (HL4407)

We recognise that there is scope for problems in membership charities if proper attention is not paid to their governance arrangements. For this reason we published a report on membership charities in March 2004, which provides best practice guidance. This includes information on the holding of elections and voting procedures. This is available from our website at

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For the most part, the running of elections is the responsibility of the charity trustees. They must act in accordance with their governing document, charity law, and where appropriate, company law.

In our experience, a problem with voting at an election meeting is indicative of a wider dispute or disagreement in the charity. Only in very limited circumstances will the Commission become involved in such a dispute, usually where there are no validly appointed trustees. Instead, those involved should try and use all available methods to resolve the dispute themselves. Our website contains information to help them do this-"Conflicts in your Charity: a statement of approach by the Charity Commission", and I will arrange for a copy of this to be placed in the Library of the House. For instance, where a more formal approach is required, professional mediation can be a quick and cost effective way to resolve a dispute.

We would only become involved if there were matters of serious concern and where it was necessary and proportionate for us to do so.

Parliamentary question (HL4408)

Whether we will take action in a case will depend upon the issues involved, the risks to the charity and whether our intervention is necessary and proportionate.

There may be legitimate reasons why notification of an election meeting has not been received. For instance, if the charity was not informed of a change of address or the person's membership had lapsed. However it may be indicative of a wider dispute or disagreement in the charity. In my response to a previous question (HL4407) I outlined the Commission's approach to disputes in membership charities and the sources of information available on our website.

In the first instance, the members should take the matter up with the trustees and ask why they were not sent notice of the meeting. If they do not receive a satisfactory answer then they could consider what further action to take. The charity may have a procedure for dealing with disputes or disagreements. The governing document may also indicate what options are open to them.

If we were made aware of the situation, then we would provide the trustees with advice and guidance to help them resolve the situation and ensure that the charity adhered to best practice. Our experience is that disputes in membership charities are best resolved by the members themselves rather than by any direct intervention from us.

Parliamentary question (HL4409)

We take a lot of trouble to make sure that, in making decisions, we get them right first time. However, we do recognise that from time to time a customer may consider that we have not taken the correct decision. We therefore have procedures in place that enable an interested party to ask for one of our decisions to be reviewed. These are set out on our website at

The review, undertaken by a senior Commission officer, will decide whether our final decision is the right one in the sense that it is a proper exercise of our powers and consistent with our statutory objectives. We also check that the reasons for our decisions have been adequately expressed.

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If a customer is not satisfied with our final decision they may be able to appeal or make an application for review to the Charity Tribunal. This is an independent body set up under the Charities Act 2006 to hear appeals against our decisions or applications for review of our decisions. It is part of the Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. It provides an independent route of appeal for charities which have exhausted our own decision review process. Further information is available from its website at

For those decisions that cannot be appealed to the Charity Tribunal, appellants can seek a review of the decision through the Commission's Outcome Review Panel procedures or, of course, through judicial review. For standard of service issues, the Commission has established complaints procedures. If, having been through these procedures the complainant remains dissatisfied, complainants have further recourse through the Commission's Independent Complaints Reviewer and thereafter the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman (further details on all of the above can be found at asp).

I hope this is helpful.

Children: ContactPoint


Asked by Lord Moynihan

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): There is no requirement for parents to register any information (including mobile telephone numbers) directly with ContactPoint.

If a parent has provided their mobile telephone number to one of ContactPoint's national or local data sources, such as a school, general practitioner or the Department for Work and Pensions then that organisation is required to supply that information to ContactPoint.

Cyprus: Property


Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

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Lord Brett: We will not take any steps to close down the UK offices of Cypriot companies selling property or ban the promotion of Cyprus property at exhibitions of overseas property held in the UK unless we receive evidence of illegal behaviour. Our high commission in Nicosia continues to support the work of the Cyprus Property Action Group.

Driving: Motorcycling Test


Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) balances offering a satisfactory level of service to candidates in rural as well as urban areas with the resulting costs. The introduction of a modular test and the use of occasional sites have allowed DSA to provide practical motorcycle tests from more service points. This has benefited candidates in rural areas.

The practical motorcycle test is now delivered in two modules. Module 1 (the specified manoeuvres test) can be taken at 66 testing facilities and module 2 (the general on-road ride) is offered at 105 permanent locations and 30 occasional centres mainly in rural Scotland. As a consequence, 88 per cent of module 1 candidates and 97 per cent of module 2 candidates can reach a test centre within 45 minutes or 20 miles, which are our service criteria.

DSA is currently at various stages of acquisition and construction of multi purpose test centres at 16 locations and it is likely to take up to a further two years before all are operational.

Education: Home Schooling


Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): An impact assessment is not required for the consultation at this stage as the proposals are still at an early stage of development. We do not expect them to place any significant additional burdens on local authorities as most already monitor home education, and our proposals will provide additional

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powers that will assist local authorities in dealing more efficiently with the small number of cases where home education does not come up to scratch. If we decide to proceed with legislation we will publish an impact assessment and will place a copy in the Library of the House.

Education: Land-based Diploma


Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Local areas apply through the Gateway process to be approved to deliver specific lines. By 2013, every local area will be responsible for making sure that all diploma lines are accessible to their young people, so we anticipate that coverage and availability of all diploma lines will increase over time. The tables below show which local authorities will not be offering the diploma in environmental and land-based studies in 2009 and 2010. This information is subject to change as additional areas may be approved to deliver in 2010. We do not yet have information for 2011 and 2012 delivery.

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Local Authorities not offering ELBS in 2009

Barking and Dagenham




Bath and Ne Somerset


Bedford Borough






Blackburn With Darwen

Milton Keynes


Newcastle Upon Tyne




North Lincolnshire

Bracknell Forest

North Somerset


North Tyneside











Central Bedfordshire


Cheshire West And Chester


City of Bristol

Redcar And Cleveland

City of Derby

Richmond Upon Thames

City of Nottingham


City of Peterborough


Corporation of London













South Tyneside








St Helens






Stockton on Tees

Hammersmith and Fulham

Stoke on Trent
















Waltham Forest

Isle of Wight


Isles of Scilly


Kensington and Chelsea


Kingston Upon Hull

West Berkshire

Kingston Upon Thames





Windsor and Maidenhead






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