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We can confirm we have received all three missing passports, which will be returned to the holders. We, and the EU, have also been informed by the Israelis that all the personal belongings have now been sent to Turkey, to the organisers of the Flotilla (Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (Insani Yardim Vakfi) (IHH)). We understand that the Turkish authorities agree this to be correct. My honourable friend Alistair Burt explained this to the British nationals who he met on 17 June 2010.

We have also asked exceptionally our consular staff in Istanbul to follow up with IHH which still holds over 300 pieces of unclaimed luggage, including watches, phones and cameras. Our consular staff have taken photos of everything that was seen in IHH's storage, which we will shortly be distributing to the British nationals involved so they can attempt to identify any property that is theirs.

We have also been informed by the Israeli authorities that the return of magnetic and media equipment is under consideration by the Israeli Defence Forces. We will continue to press for its return and availability for use in the inquiry, as required by those conducting it.

Health: Assessors

Question

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department engages Atos Healthcare as its current provider of occupational health services. The department does not hold any personnel records for Atos Healthcare, which is a private company.



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Health: Contaminated Blood Products

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There have been no meetings between officials in the department and officials in the Republic of Ireland's Department of Health and Children to discuss compensation for those infected with contaminated blood. However, contact has been made via telephone or in writing, most recently in February and March 2010 when confirming information for the March v Secretary of State for Health judicial review.

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government recognise that there is a continued need for affordable housing and remain committed to its provision. At present the Homes and Communities Agency provides grants to housing associations, local authorities and other providers to deliver affordable homes for both social rent and low-cost home ownership. Decisions on future levels of funding for the provision of new affordable housing will be made in the spending review.

Housing Benefit

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Department for Work and Pensions undertakes an assessment of the impact on specific groups as part of the policy development process. The DWP will publish formal impact assessments in due course.



1 July 2010 : Column WA299

Independent Networks Co-operative Association Ltd

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has not approached any other department, agency or other organisation regarding the funding of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association.

Iraq

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle. Together with EU partners, we promote the abolition of capital punishment around the world.

The UK regularly makes representations to the Government of Iraq on the death penalty. Our ambassador in Iraq wrote to the Iraqi President and Prime Minister on 17 May 2010 outlining our opposition to the death penalty. Along with 22 other countries, the UK raised concerns over the use of the death penalty in Iraq during Iraq's Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council in February 2010. On three occasions in 2009, we joined other EU member states in delivering demarches to the Iraqi Government against the death penalty.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Bach

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Jonathan Djanogly) who has policy responsibility for legal aid and legal services has met partners from one major criminal legal aid firm who wrote to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (Kenneth Clarke) shortly after the General Election.



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As set out in my Written Ministerial Statement of 23 June 2010 (Official Report, cols. WS 108-110), the Government are intending to seek views in the autumn on proposals for reform of legal aid following the internal policy assessment that is now in train.

Legislation: War

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): There are no current plans to introduce legislation in this area.

Lisbon Treaty

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are examining the case for a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill, to make it clear that ultimate authority remains with the UK Parliament. The common law is clear-the UK Parliament is sovereign. We are examining whether the common law provides sufficient ongoing and unassailable protection for the principle of parliamentary sovereignty.

Local Government

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This Government are committed to the radical devolution of power, away from Westminster and Whitehall to local councils, communities and homes across the nation. This includes more financial freedom for local government in exchange for greater transparency and accountability to citizens. Localism and decentralisation are key priorities. They will allow radical reform and enable councils to deliver savings. Rapid progress is already being made in this balance of power shake-up, including:

consultation with councils about where best to reduce burdens on them;a move away from the wasteful inefficiency of central targets and towards local accountability with the scrapping of comprehensive area assessment which cost taxpayers between £12 million and £39 million a year; and

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the introduction of a Bill to stop council restructuring in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk which will save the taxpayer £40 million in unnecessary costs.

The Government have already taken action on expenditure reductions by pledging to freeze council tax for 2011-12, and will seek to freeze it for a further year, in partnership with local government. The Government have also provided councils with greater flexibility for local spending decisions through removing restrictions on some £1.2 billion of grants this year. There is still a lot of potential gain through new practices, for example shared services, joint working and smarter procurement procedures. The radical town hall transparency that this Government have announced will be a driver for such change.

In the Queen's Speech, legislation was announced which, alongside other policy changes, will devolve greater powers to councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities control over housing and planning decisions.

Local Government: Standards Board for England

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Government cannot give instructions countermanding statute. However, we will include in the Bill to devolve greater powers to councils, announced in the Queen's Speech for this Session, provisions to repeal the legislation that established the current local authority members' conduct regime, including the Standards Board for England and the First-tier Tribunal.



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Northern Ireland: Justice

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): A prosecution may be terminated before its conclusion in a number of ways. The prosecutor may withdraw a case or may offer no evidence. The court may also stop a case from proceeding by acceding to a defence abuse of process argument or if, at the conclusion of the prosecution's case, it considers the defendant has no case to answer. The specific power to issue a nolle prosequi-which was formerly held by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland and which acts to terminate any prosecution on indictment-was transferred on devolution of justice and policing to the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. The power to seek leave to refer a case to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration on the grounds of undue leniency has similarly been transferred to the director. Whether the sentence is reviewed or changed is a matter for the Court of Appeal.

Police: Cautions

Question

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The number of offenders issued with a caution in the Metropolitan, West Midlands and Greater Manchester Police Force Areas 2004 to 2008 (latest available) can be viewed in the following table.

Data for 2009 are planned for publication in October 2010.

Number of offenders issued with a caution by the Metropolitan Police, West Midlands Police and Greater Manchester Police, 2004 to 2008 (1)(2)(3)
Police Force20042005200620072008

Metropolitan Police

31,833

35,140

43,844

48,904

50,021

West Midlands

13,751

17,706

20,774

21,582

20,968

Greater Manchester

12,778

13,184

13,820

13,123

11,404

(1) The cautions statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been cautioned for two or more offences at the same time the principal offence is the more serious offence.

(2) From 1 June 2000 the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 came into force nationally and removed the use of cautions for persons under 18 and replaced them with reprimands and warnings. These are included in the totals.

(3) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services in the Ministry of Justice.



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Shipping: General Lighthouse Authorities

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: None. The General Lighthouse Authorities do not levy a charge for inspection of aids to navigation. Inspections are normally undertaken by the authorities during the course of their operational activities and they therefore incur little additional expenditure.

Smoking

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): An estimate of the deaths attributable to passive smoking among United Kingdom adults was published in a report by Professor Jamrozik in the British Medical Journal in 2005 (333; 812-17), which indicated that the annual number of deaths was 10,700. This evidence was cited by the Royal College of Physicians in March 2010 in their report Passive Smoking and Children, which also goes on to consider the wider health impact of passive smoking.


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