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13 July 2009 : Column WA181

13 July 2009 : Column WA181

Written Answers

Monday 13 July 2009

Abergele: Explosion


Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Information of historical and national interest dating back to the time of the investiture would have been transferred to the National Archives. Some information selected for preservation by the National Archives may be retained in departments for security reasons.

The Home Office is currently searching for any information that might be held and will then assess its sensitivity to decide whether or not it can be released. I will write to the noble Lord as soon as a more substantive response is possible.

Access to Work Scheme


Asked by Baroness Scott of Needham Market

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Some, but not all, disabled councillors will be eligible for Access to Work support. One of the basic eligibility criteria for Access to Work is that applicants should be in or about to start paid employment. Since 2007, councillors elected to office in Scotland have been paid a salary rather than an allowance and are therefore able to claim Access to Work provided that all other eligibility conditions are satisfied.

Councillors in England and Wales receive various levels and types of allowances. Those councillors who receive only reimbursement of travel, mileage and meal allowances will continue to be treated as voluntary workers and are therefore not eligible for Access to Work. Where councillors receive allowances other than those outlined above, they may be eligible for Access to Work support, provided that they meet the other eligibility conditions including being paid at least the national minimum wage.

The Access to Work guidance was clarified from the start of 2009 and staff who administer Access to Work claims and payments were reminded of the eligibility criteria.

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Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (Sections 12 and 13) provides for designated public places orders (DPPOs). These orders can be applied for by a local authority for use in areas that have experienced alcohol-related disorder or nuisance. A DPPO does not make it a criminal offence to consume alcohol within a designated area. An offence is committed if an individual refuses to comply with a constable's request to refrain from drinking. The Home Office published guidance on DPPOs in December 2008 and this can be found by using the web link at

Banking: Asset Protection Scheme


Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): As set out in "Statement on the Government's Asset Protection Scheme" published on 26 February, the eligible assets for the scheme are valued at 31 December 2008.

British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat


Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: Since its inception, the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) has met on 20 occasions. Decisions taken by British and Irish Ministers at the BIIGC are contained in the joint communiqué issued after each conference. These are published on the Northern Ireland Office website at



Asked by Lord Laird

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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 July 2009.

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking whether the census question on religion which currently permits one Christian answer without denominational distinction and lists five other religions will be reviewed; and why that question is as it is. (HL4806)

The religion question was introduced in the 2001 census as a voluntary question and has been designed to collect information on religious affiliation, which is required by many users of census statistics for monitoring equality and planning of services.

Question development for the 2011 census began in 2005. A detailed and lengthy process of user consultation, prioritisation of user requirements and qualitative and quantitative question testing has been carried out to inform decisions on the topics, content and design of questions to he included in the 2009 census rehearsal and 2011 census.

As part of this process ONS has already considered the feasibility of an extended list of Christian denominations in the England and Wales census but rejected this approach for a number of reasons.

Testing of a question with Christian denominations indicated that some respondents may interpret and answer the expanded question differently, which would make it difficult to compare data with those from the 2001 census. Trends in religious affiliation over time are required by many census users, primarily for service planning: three-quarters of the respondents to the 2007 consultation regarded comparability with the 2001 census question as essential.

In addition, different and potentially a higher number of categories would be needed in Wales, which would make comparison across England and Wales difficult.

Furthermore, space constraints on the census questionnaire for England and Wales mean that providing detailed breakdowns of the Christian category would result in losing other questions or compromising the questionnaire design, thereby putting the quality of responses and their comparability with 2001 data at risk.

A key reason for including a question on religion in the 2001 census was to provide statistics on minority religions. This helped to provide benchmarks so that employers and public authorities, for example, could fulfil their duties under the Race Relations Act. The proposed 2011 question lists five other religions in addition to Christian: Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh. These religions are included as they are widely recognised as being the largest of the minority religions within the UK, although it is also proposed that there will be a "write-in" option, where those who wish to record themselves under any other religion may do so.

Full details of this consideration are set out in an information paper relating to the development of the 2011 census religion question, which is available on the website:

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ONS is currently testing a revised wording to the question on religion that asks "Which of these best describes you?" with no changes to the "No religion" and pre-designated religion tick-boxes.

More information about the further question testing programme is available on the website:

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 for approval around mid-October.

Children: ContactPoint


Asked by Lord Moynihan

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): ContactPoint is an online directory to enable the delivery of co-ordinated support for children and young people. It will be the quick way for practitioners to find out who else is working with the same child. ContactPoint will contain basic identifying information about all children and young people in England up to their 18th birthday and contact details for their parents/carers and for services working with the child or young person-nothing more. It does not and will not contain any financial information (such as bank details) or case information (such as case notes, assessments, medical records, exam results, comments or subjective observations).

ContactPoint was developed, and is being implemented, taking a cautious, step-by-step approach. We are implementing ContactPoint in accordance with national information security policy and standards. ContactPoint therefore has a significant set of appropriate security measures and controls in place. Our security measures and management of those are continually assessed. This includes assessment by independent bodies, including, and approved by, CESG, the UK's National Technical Authority for Information Assurance. All ContactPoint users must state clear reasons for accessing a child's record and all use of the system will be subject to monitoring and audit. Sanctions are in place for misuse under the provisions of the Data Protection Act and Computer Misuse Act.

Climate Change


Asked by Baroness Noakes

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The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Lord Turner was appointed as chair of the Committee on Climate Change for a five-year period from 28 January 2008. This involves an estimated time commitment of approximately four days per month.

A recruitment exercise to find a successor to Lord Turner was undertaken in summer and autumn 2008, but no candidate was considered appropriate. We are continuing to review the position and whether to undertake a further recruitment exercise. In the mean time, we are grateful to Lord Turner for agreeing to remain as chairman of the committee.



Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The department has agreed to implement the Government's Cycle to Work Scheme. Details will be developed in due course.

Emergency Services: Common Talk Groups


Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): All officers in the three forces are trained on how to access and use the Airwave Talk Group facility, as part of their general radio training.

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): To date 69 key officers in the London Fire Brigade (LFB) have been trained and issued with Airwave radio handsets to facilitate interoperability with relevant responders. In addition, some 80 officers who operate LFB's eight incident command units have been trained in the use of the Bronze Interoperability Radios (Airwave) which are carried on LFB's command units. The main rollout of Airwave to LFB's front-line appliances is planned to commence 3 August 2009.

Asked by Baroness Neville-Jones

Lord West of Spithead: Talk groups that allow inter-working between individual police forces, government agencies and blue-light services are in all police Airwave radios and are also available for use by non-police Airwave users, such as the ambulance service, where appropriate.

The sets of talk groups are: Police Hailing Group; Sharer Hailing Group; Dedicated Air to Ground Group; four "local" Police Interoperability Groups; Dedicated Firearms Unit Group; Dedicated Protection Team Group; Dedicated Immigration Service Group; Dedicated Government Agency Group; Silver Level Inter-Agency Group; three Bronze Level Inter-Agency Groups; All-User Interoperability Group; Police Mutual Aid Groups; and Multi Agency Mutual Aid Group.

Government Equalities Office


Asked by Lord Dholakia

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): Since the Government Equalities Office was established on 12 October 2007, it has not made provision for ring-fencing non-consolidated performance payments for senior staff. The process for the current financial year is currently under review in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance.

The Government Equalities Office sponsors the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC has not made provision for ring-fencing such payments for senior staff.

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Homeless People


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): CLG will be meeting the Salvation Army in September to discuss the Seeds of Exclusion 2009 report and closer working on homelessness. My officials will send a copy of the report to the Irish Government highlighting the references to homelessness in Dublin.

Housing: HomeBuy Direct


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): As at the end of June, 194 properties had been sold through HomeBuy Direct. We do not hold centrally data on the number of households that have applied for HomeBuy Direct.

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