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Operation Ocean Shield

Question

Asked by Lord Chidgey

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): NATO's Operation Ocean Shield stood up in August 2009 under UK Command; NATO will conduct a full operational assessment at the end of the year. To date the NATO group has undertaken local engagement in support of its wider aim of building regional capacity for the prevention of piracy. It has also integrated fully with both the EU and CMF counter-piracy operations.



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Parole Board

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Government accept that it is important for all prisoners to have parole hearings at an acceptable time and as such are working with the Parole Board to increase the resources available to it. The board's budget has been increased by 18 per cent for 2009-10, and a recently concluded recruitment campaign has seen 35 new members appointed to the board. A new parole process was set up on 1 April, which includes robust performance monitoring for all agencies contributing to the parole process; each agency involved in the process is committed to making the process work more effectively and to using appropriate levers to improve performance. The Parole Board rules have also been amended to allow the board greater flexibility in its use of its membership resources to deliver hearings, and the chair of the board is working with the management team to identify ways in which procedures can be made more efficient and hearing times more productive. The additional net cost of these measures is estimated at £2.5 million.

The Government also published a consultation paper, The future of the Parole Board, on 20 July seeking the views of all those involved in the parole process as to how best the board should be managed to ensure its independence from the Executive and to enable it to operate in as effective and efficient way as possible. Consultation closes on 20 November.

Prisoners: Indeterminate Sentences

Question

Asked by Lord Ramsbotham

Asked by Lord Ramsbotham



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): As of 8 September 2009, there were 1957 prisoners serving indeterminate sentences of imprisonment for public protection recorded as being beyond the expiry of their tariff.

The most recent calculation of the average cost per year of prison places was in respect of the year 2007-08 and was £39,000 per prisoner per annum. However, the actual cost of each prisoner will vary considerably. To give an accurate estimate of the cost of detaining this specific group of prisoners post-tariff would require a manual examination of each case and, as such, would incur disproportionate cost.

Data on the number of prisoners held in prison beyond the expiry of their tariff are held on the Public Protection Unit Database (PPUD) within the National Offender Management Service. As with any large-scale recording system, it is subject to possible errors arising from either data entry or processing.

The tariff is the minimum period specified by the court to be served by the prisoner for the purposes of punishment and deterrence. Whether a prisoner serving an IPP sentence is suitable for release once his tariff has expired will depend on whether the independent Parole Board judges that the risk of harm which he presents may be safely managed in the community.

In 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10, the National Offender Management Service allocated an additional £3 million to improve the completion of assessments and access to interventions for IPP prisoners.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Funding for rehabilitative work is part of establishment baselines and cannot be readily disaggregated. Estimates of additional costs and resources could therefore currently only be obtained at disproportionate cost by analysing the files of all prisoners serving indeterminate sentences, assessing and then costing what rehabilitative work was already in place and what further provision if any may be required. Similarly the costs in preparing for parole hearings and any administration cost for courses are included within prison baseline budgets.

An additional £3 million allocation was made in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 to establishments to support work with this group of prisoners, with a view to ensuring that assessments are made on time and to improving access to interventions.

A new streamlined process for assessing and managing indeterminate sentence for public protection prisoners (IPPs) through the implementation of offender management for IPPs has been introduced, along with revised categorisation and allocation procedures for adult male IPPs. This has facilitated quicker progression to the training estate as well as access to the range of interventions available in training establishments. Action has also been taken to prioritise indeterminate sentence

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prisoners particularly those with short tariffs. Moving these offenders away from the previous lifer processes has also led to improvements in sentence planning.

Improved arrangements for the management of offenders generally have also been introduced from 1 April 2009. The responsibility for the commissioning of services including offending behaviour programmes now rests with directors of offender management in each region. It is for them to commission services that meet the needs of offenders and the requirements of sentencers in their area.

An extensive programme of further work is underway within the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) to support the commissioning of services to better meet the needs of offenders and maximise resources including:

an assessment of the needs of indeterminate sentence prisoners;a specifications, benchmarking and costings exercise which will provide information on the cost of interventions delivered and help to utilise resources more effectively;a review of programmes delivered across prisons.

NOMS has put systems and procedures in place to facilitate indeterminate sentence for public protection prisoners' appropriate progression through the prison system, and will continue to monitor outcomes to ensure further improvements in this area.

The benefits of moving prisoners through the system are fully recognised.

Railways: August Bank Holiday

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): There has been no specific assessment. However, the Government have asked the industry to propose improvements in the process for planning rail engineering work to ensure that the interests of rail users are taken into full account and, in particular, to reduce the substitution of buses for rail passenger services during such work.

Railways: Diesel Vehicles

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



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The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): On 23 July the Government announced a major £1.1 billion programme of rail electrification on the Great Western Main Line and the line between Liverpool and Manchester. This radically affects the requirements for rolling stock over the next decade.

There will be far less need for diesel trains and a greater requirement for electric trains, as a result of which the procurement of 202 new diesel train carriages has now been superseded. The Government will publish a new rolling stock plan in the autumn, taking account of the changed circumstances.

Railways: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Office of Rail Regulation, as the independent safety and economic regulator of UK railways, completed a review and issued revised internal guidance on the use of cost benefit analysis in support of decisions to reduce risks "so far as is reasonably practicable" on Britain's railways in March 2008, which included a consultation with stakeholders.

The Office of Rail Regulation review concluded that the costs of railway safety enhancements should include the costs of financing to reflect the public or private sector cost of capital, depending on the funder of the scheme. This guidance and supporting consultation documents are available from the Office of Rail Regulation's website - see:

http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1118.

Roads: A303

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The A303 Wincanton bypass has not been resurfaced with "low noise" surfacing. It was last resurfaced prior to 1998 using hot rolled asphalt. The bypass will be resurfaced with "low noise" surfacing materials when maintenance of the existing surface is due. As the surface remains in good condition, the A303 Wincanton bypass is not currently within a programme for maintenance resurfacing.



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Royal Household: Expenditure

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The tax affairs of members of the Royal Family are confidential in the same way as those of other taxpayers.

Shipping: Light Dues

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The consultant who prepared the report for Raven Trading drew upon data from the industry, including terminal operators and service providers. One shipping company that called at the major port of Felixstowe was asked to provide actual costs on a commercial-in-confidence basis, which corroborated estimated figures.

The report was only one element taken into consideration, alongside representations from a number of shipping companies, in setting light dues levels for 2009-10.

Social Fund

Question

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 response to the latest public consultation on the reform of the Social Fund (The Social Fund: a new approach) was published on 23 February 2009, and is available on the Department for Work and Pensions website at: www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2008/social-fund-new-approach.shtml

We will publish a further consultation document on Social Fund reform in due course.



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Swine Flu

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

Baroness Thornton: The National Pandemic Flu Service asks for the identification of the person collecting the antiviral to be confirmed in case any issues are subsequently raised about the collection of the antiviral.

The name and address is recorded in case there is a need to contact the person in the future, for example, if a patient reports that they have not received their antiviral, the details of the person who collected it can be checked. The information will not be used for other purposes.

The data is held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and UK privacy laws.

Victims: Consultation

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): We received a total of 24 responses to the consultation, including two from victims' organisations (Victims' Voice and the Victims of Crime Trust) and one from a relative of a victim of crime. The full list of respondents is included in Annex A of the Government's Response to the Consultation on Making Sure that Crime Doesn't Pay, published in January 2009. The response can be viewed on the Ministry of Justice's website at: http://www.justice. gov.uk/consultations/criminal-memoirs.htm

Answers received between Monday 21 September and Monday 28 September 2009

Afghanistan: Air-dropped Ordnance

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie



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The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The below table shows the ordnance air-dropped by United Kingdom aircraft in Afghanistan in August 2008 and August 2009.

MonthNumber of UK air-dropped ordnance

August 2008

335

August 2009

43

Afghanistan: Rifles

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Rifle jamming incidents are not recorded centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.


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