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3 Nov 2009 : Column WA31

3 Nov 2009 : Column WA31

Written Answers

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Armed Forces: Marital Status


Asked by Lord Lee of Trafford

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): This information is not held in the format requested.

Following the phased introduction of joint personnel administration, marital category data are no longer available. Personal marital status is recorded in order to determine entitlement to allowances and service families accommodation. These status categories are:

PStat Cat 1-a legally married member of the services or a member of the services who has registered a civil partnership;PStat Cat 2-a member of the services who has parental responsibility in terms of the Children Act for a child(ren) and is regarded as the centre and prime mover in the life of the child(ren), provides a home where they normally live with the child(ren), accepts financial responsibility for the child(ren) and where the child is unable to care for itself, provides a carer, who is not the natural parent of the child(ren) during absences attributable to service life;PStat Cat 3-a member of the services not in PStat Cat 1 or 2 and provides financial support to their former spouse/partner by way of a voluntary agreement; PStat Cat 4-a member of the services not in PStat Cat 1 or 2 and provides financial support to their former spouse/partner by way of a court order; andPStat Cat 5-all other members of the services.

The following table provides a breakdown into which personal status category Armed Forces personnel have declared themselves belonging to on their service record:

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Personal Status CategoryArmyRAFNavy




































None recorded














Joint personnel administration has for the first time allowed service personnel to take responsibility for their own administration. All service personnel are encouraged to notify the service authorities if a child, for which they have responsibility, begins to live with them. However, this is not always done, particularly if they do not reside in service accommodation or the notification of such information does not generate an entitlement to a particular allowance.

As a result data that could be provided for children against specific personal status categories do not give an accurate representation of the numbers of children for which our service personnel have responsibility.

Information relating to marital categories on legacy personnel systems could be obtained only at disproportionate costs.

Armed Forces: Marriage Counselling


Asked by Lord Lee of Trafford

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Support for non-deployed Armed Forces personnel and families is available through comprehensive individual service welfare resources, which offer varying degrees of relationship counselling and direct people to professional advice services such as Relate or local counselling services overseas.

Provision of appropriate pastoral care in theatre is a fundamental command responsibility and commanders take their duties in this regard seriously. While there is no bespoke marriage counselling service in operational theatres, those providing support and advice from the chain of command will be able to signpost individuals in need of particular assistance to where that assistance may be found. There are currently 13 chaplains deployed to Afghanistan as well as a number of mental health professionals, all of whom can provide advice as required. If a commander becomes aware that there is a specific marital issue the unit rear party can be advised in order to assist the family at home. In particularly serious cases, commanders have the discretion to grant compassionate leave to send a service person home in order to assist in resolving marital difficulties, but any such decision has to be balanced against operational imperatives.

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Ascension Island


Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The decision by the Ascension Island Government to remove a variation in the Ministry of Defence's annual property tax liability, which had the effect of almost doubling the amount, is currently being disputed. The MoD, therefore, has not paid this new tax liability in full.

Discussions are ongoing in order to seek an agreement that is fair and equitable, and assurance that the services received from the Ascension Island Government represent best value for money. The Ascension Island Council has commissioned an HMRC-led study, supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, into tax arrangements on Ascension Island. The Ministry of Defence is being consulted as part of this study.



Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): Bats are protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended)1 , and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)2. It is an offence to injure or kill a bat, or significantly to disturb bats. Derogations may be granted through licence from Natural England where proposals will not be detrimental to the favourable conservation status of the species.

Public authorities also have a duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006)3 to have regard for the conservation of biodiversity in exercising their functions.

Belfast Agreement


Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The concepts of equality, partnership and mutual respect are not defined specifically in the context of the Belfast agreement.

Broadcasting: Equality


Asked by Lord Dholakia

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Equality and Human Rights Commission operates at arm's length from Government and makes its own independent decisions as to whom it investigates and on what grounds.



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 Jil Matheson, National Statistician, to Lord Laird, dated October 2009.

Further to my predecessor's letter to you of 14 July, as the new National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary questions asking i) why providing options for Christian denominations in the 2011 Census would not enable comparability with the 2001 Census figures; ii) what duties in relation to religious affiliation need to be fulfilled by public authorities under the Race Relations Act 1976; iii) what are the extra Welsh religious categories that would be required were there a question on Christian denominations; iv) whether religions other than Christianity have difficulty with their single question; and v) what form of equality

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monitoring and service planning users of Census statistics undertake in relation to Christians and Buddhists. (HL5953)

i) An expanded religion question would be likely to affect comparability with the 2001 Census data due to the different way that the question may be interpreted and answered. Testing of a religion question with expanded Christian denominations showed that some people thought of the new question in terms of religious practice rather than religious affiliation (which is the concept we are trying to measure) because of the specific tick-boxes for denominations, and there was evidence that some people chose 'No religion' when they would otherwise have picked 'Christian'.

In addition, if detailed Christian options were provided the lack of space on the questionnaire would require a double-banked format of the question where tick-boxes were listed side by side in two columns rather than in a longer list. Such questions are normally avoided where possible because the tick-boxes on the right, in this case the Christian denominations, frequently get missed by respondents. However, encouraging respondents to notice the Christian breakdown boxes could have the unintended effect of drawing respondents' attention away from the remaining religion tick-boxes and making them less visible. This could lead to incomplete and incorrect data and a possible undercount for the remaining religions.

These and other concerns about including an expanded religion question are set out in an information paper which details the religion question development which led to the final recommendations for the 2011 Census. This is available on the website:

ii) Respondents to the Office for National Statistics 2007 consultation on user requirements for information on ethnicity, identity, language and religion from the 2011 Census emphasised the use of religion data to enable better understanding of the social and economic position of different religious and ethnic groups, and to help to identify cases of social exclusion. This information would be used to inform policy development and monitoring and enable public bodies to meet their statutory obligations under the Race Relations Act and other equality legislation. The Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000) (the Act) gives public authorities a general duty to promote race equality. The duty means that, in everything they do, public authorities should aim to:

eliminate unlawful racial discrimination;promote equality of opportunity; andpromote good relations between people of different racial groups.

The Act gives public authorities a general duty to monitor policy and service delivery for different ethnic groups. Definitions of what constitutes an "ethnic group" are subject to much discussion. This is because membership of any ethnic group is something that is subjectively meaningful to the person concerned, and

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can be based upon a combination of categories such as country of birth, nationality, language, skin colour, national/geographical origin, racial group and religion.

Although the ethnic group question was designed to capture information relevant to the Race Relations Act including colour and ethnic and national origins other concepts or groups relevant to this Act and other pieces of legislation may be captured more easily with other questions creating a suite of ethnicity questions including country of birth, citizenship, national identity, religion and language. For this reason, when prioritising groups for inclusion as new categories in the ethnic group question we considered whether one or more other Census questions provided similar information to an ethnic group tick-box, (in which case there would be less need to include this tick-box in the ethnic group question).

For some ethnic minorities, religion is one of the important defining characteristics and for this reason a question on religion was first included on the 2001 Census. Since the 2001 Census a number of laws to protect religious freedom have been passed, including the freedom to have no religion or belief. The Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Act 2003 places a duty on all local authorities to monitor employment practices and to address the needs of religious groups. Other laws include the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 and the Equality Act 2006. One of the main needs for religion data expressed by users was to assist legal obligations to prevent discrimination and promote equality.

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