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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 27 September (WA 428), whether they will apply for copies of the medical information on Abdul Baset Al Megrahi and the details of his location sent monthly to East Renfrewshire Council on the grounds of their application being for the purposes of safeguarding national security and the prevention and detection of crime, thereby testing the exemption from non-disclosure under the Data Protection Act 1998.[HL2425]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not intend to apply for this information; we do not believe these exemptions apply and we consider it is unnecessary to test them. It is not apparent to the FCO that Abdul Baset Al Megrahi currently presents a threat to the UK, in terms of national security or crime, nor that disclosure of his medical information or details of his location would reveal either.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they will make to the Governments of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan regarding the formulation and execution of a common security and non-military strategy towards Afghanistan and the role the United Kingdom can play in execution. [HL2257]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We encourage all of Afghanistan's neighbours to play a positive and constructive role in supporting increased stability and security in Afghanistan. We therefore welcome the role being played by the Central Asian states, particularly their development of regional infrastructure, their efforts to tackle trans-boundary threats and their practical support for International Security and Assistance Force operations in Afghanistan.
Baroness Verma: The UK, through the Department for International Development (DfID), is monitoring the availability of wheat in Afghanistan closely. At present, national availability is better than the previous year's average, following last year's bumper crop and better than average production this year. The World Food Programme, supported by donors including DfID, is providing wheat to traditionally vulnerable groups. DfID also supports the Red Cross in Afghanistan with £6 million for emergency relief operations.
Baroness Verma: Agriculture has a key role to play in helping to meet the millennium development goal of halving the proportion of people in the world suffering from extreme poverty and hunger. Seventy-five per cent of the developing world's poor, some 2 billion people, live in rural areas. The great majority depend on agriculture to provide them with jobs and incomes and to lift them out of poverty. Agriculture also contributes to wider economic growth and wealth creation in developing countries, for the benefit of all. In addition, agriculture contributes to increased food availability, helping to address the problem of high food prices and price volatility in developing countries, which hurt the poor most.
Baroness Verma: The Government recognise the competing demands between food production and environmental sustainability and the need for agriculture in both developed and developing countries to take account of its impact on the environment, particularly in relation to the management of resources, including water, carbon and biodiversity.
We supported the millennium ecosystem assessment, which looked at the links between environmental sustainability and agriculture. The fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reviewed the link between agriculture and climate change.
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The Government Office of Science expects to publish an important new report, the Foresight Report on Global Food and Farming Futures, early next year. This will set out how the international community can ensure an equitable and sustainable food supply between now and 2050, when it is estimated that the world's population will have reached 9 billion. The report will include an assessment of the choices that need to be made in maintaining biodiversity and minimising impact on the environment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to (a) the African Union, and (b) individual sovereign states in sub-Saharan Africa in relation to the failure to meet African Union and New Partnership for Africa's development targets on the proportion of national spending to be allocated to national budgets for agriculture.[HL2378]
Baroness Verma: In 2008, eight countries in Africa met or exceeded the 10 per cent target for public expenditure on agriculture and food security. The Department for International Development (DfID) participates twice yearly in meetings with the African Union (AU) and member states to review this and other targets. We use these meetings and our country-level work to press for progress. In the countries where DfID is active in the agriculture sector, like Malawi and Rwanda, DfID staff work closely with those Governments to monitor progress in achieving expenditure and productivity targets. DfID is also in regular contact with the African Union to monitor our £10 million grant to the African Union's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Baroness Verma: The UK, with other members of the G8, has agreed to take concerted action to tackle global hunger under the L'Aquila food security initiative. This aims to increase food availability in developing countries, increase food affordability for the poorest and most vulnerable, help lift the rural poor out of poverty and make markets function more effectively. The Department for International Development (DfID) has committed over £1 billion to food security and agriculture over the next three years, which will indirectly support the World Bank's agriculture action plan, particularly those areas which focus on increasing agricultural productivity, linking farmers to markets, reducing risk and vulnerability and enhancing environmental sustainability.
We have no plans to directly contribute to the implementation of the bank's action plan 2010-12, other than through our regular subscription to the soft loan arm of the bank's operations, the International Development Association.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many United Kingdom service men and women have applied for or been granted an Armed Forces Compensation Scheme award for amputations at tariff 2 and tariff 3.[HL2271]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) was introduced on 6 April 2005 and compensates for injuries sustained after that date. Applicants apply to be compensated for their injuries or illness and not for any particular amount or tariff. Payments are based on the severity of illness or injury sustained following assessment by staff in the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency.
Since the scheme's introduction there have been five personnel awarded a level 2 tariff (£470,000) and 10 personnel awarded a level 3 tariff (£380,000) in respect of injuries that include amputation. Those personnel will also receive a tax-free guaranteed-income payment for life when they leave the Armed Forces.
The AFCS has recently been independently reviewed by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, who made several recommendations, one of which was the increase in the levels of all payments, with the exception of the top award which was recently doubled to £570,000. These recommendations have been accepted in full and are currently being implemented.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why an Australian soldier who had recently been recommended for a Military Cross after his actions in the Vietnam War cannot now receive the Military Cross but instead would be awarded the current Australian equivalent.[HL2124]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Australian Government commissioned an independent review of Battle of Long Tan recognition in 2007. They accepted the recommendation to upgrade the awards for several individuals, two of whom were awarded medals for gallantry while serving in the Royal Australian Army during the Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam in 1966. However, Australia is no longer part of the Imperial Honours system and it is a matter for the Australian Government to decide what medal should be awarded.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): This is a new initiative, fulfilling the commitment made in our Programme for Government, that we aim to implement soon. Funding will be provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, but no expenditure is currently taking place.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The following table presents the number of UK Armed Forces personnel who as a result of an injury sustained while deployed on Op HERRICK (Afghanistan) or Op TELIC (Iraq) have suffered a traumatic or surgical amputation. This ranges from the loss of part of a finger or toe up to the loss of entire limbs. The term "permanently injured" is not used for categorising injuries sustained by Armed Forces personnel.
The data cover the time period 1 April 2006 to 30 June 2010, the latest date for which data are readily available. Data prior to this date are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
|Date of Amputation||Op HERRICK||Op TELIC|
These statistics are published quarterly and can be found at www.dasa.mod.uk, under all other publications and health/medical statistics.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The following table presents the number of UK Armed Forces personnel who have been identified as being very seriously injured or seriously injured as a result of deployment to either Op HERRICK (Afghanistan) or Op TELIC (Iraq) and who have subsequently been permanently medically downgraded.
Although medical boards recommend medical downgrading, they do not attribute the principal disability leading to the board to either service or deployment. A medical board could take place many weeks or months after an event or injury and it is not clinically possible in some cases to link an earlier injury to a later problem which may lead to a downgrading. Decisions on attributability to service are made by the Service Personnel and Veterans' Agency.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will offer technical assistance to the Government of Bahrain to implement the recommendations of the Bar Human Rights Committee following their hearing observation visit in July.[HL2229]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government would be willing to consider providing technical assistance to the Government of Bahrain to implement the recommendations of the Bar Human Rights Committee, should the Bahraini Government request our assistance, and subject to resource considerations.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The National Bee Unit (NBU), part of the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), delivers the bee health programme in England and Wales. The programme includes the provision of a free apiary inspection and diagnostic service for statutory
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So far in 2010, beekeepers in England and Wales have benefited from over 30,000 colony inspections which include one-to-one training with beekeepers. In the same period, the NBU has also provided over 800 technical events attended by more than 30,000 beekeepers to help them improve skills in areas such as colony husbandry and pest and disease control.
The improvement of beekeepers' husbandry skills is a key objective of the Healthy Bees Plan delivered in partnership by Fera, the Welsh Assembly Government and key organisations such as the Bee Farmers' Association, the NFU, the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) and the Welsh Beekeepers' Association. This work includes a recently announced project (jointly funded by the BBKA, the National Diploma of Beekeeping Board and Defra) to produce new training materials and recruit 400 beekeeper trainers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide an update on progress being made with Operation Bumblebee; and how many of the planned 1,000 hectares of British farmland have been planted with wildflower seeds.[HL2672]
According to the Syngenta website, 570 farmers and growers took part and some 1100ha of land was sown with appropriate seed mixes. This resulted in a 600 per cent increase in bumblebee numbers and a 12-fold increase in butterfly numbers. The project has now expanded, as Operation Pollinator, to six other European countries and to Australia.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the estimated (a) information technology software planning period, (b) implementation period, (c) total purchasing costs and (d) annual running cost of the system needed to provide the proposed single universal benefit system.[HL2398]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government are developing their plans for the implementation of the universal credit as part of the spending review. Further details will be available when those plans are published in a White Paper later in the autumn.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in each local authority, how many families receive a total of more than £500 per week from a combination of jobseeker's allowance, employment support allowance, incapacity benefit, council tax benefit, housing benefit and carer's allowance.[HL2400]
The Chancellor's announcement of a benefit cap was informed by high-level consideration of the broad impacts when developing the policy. We are now working up the more detailed design of the caps as part of the spending review announcement on 20 October and an equality impact assessment will be published soon after. When we introduce legislation for the implementation of the caps, we shall publish a fuller impact assessment.
Lord Freud: The Chancellor's announcement of a benefit cap was informed by high-level consideration of the broad impacts when developing the policy. We are now working up the more detailed design of the caps as part of the spending review announcement on 20 October and an equality impact assessment will be published soon after. When we introduce legislation for the implementation of the caps, we shall publish a fuller impact assessment.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK, with EU partners, has raised concerns with the Government of Cambodia about treatment of opposition members of the National Assembly including Sam Rainsy on a number of occasions. The local EU presidency raised the democratic rights of opposition parliamentarians
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Industry has proposed a period of 12 months from 1 December during which the requirements of the EU Regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) would be applied so as to allow downstream user companies time to respond to potential disruptions in the supply of essential chemicals that may result from the first registration deadline, working within the terms of the existing legislation. The Government fully recognise industry's concerns and the Secretaries of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and for Business, Innovation and Skills have written to the European Commission putting the case for such an approach across the European Union.
Our understanding is that industry is not asking for a delay or temporary suspension of the 2010 registration deadline for high volume or hazardous substances, and the Government would not support such a proposal.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Cyberwarfare is currently being considered alongside all other aspects of security and defence within the Strategic Defence and Security Review. It would not be appropriate at this time to go into any further details regarding the Government's plans before the outcome of that review is known.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the alleged gang rapes of women and children in Luvungi, Walikale territory of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August, and the subsequent statement from the United Nations Special Representative on sexual violence, Margot Wallstrom, on the attacks. [HL2351]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK strongly condemns these terrible crimes as stated by my honourable friend the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, on 27 August. We have called for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to urgently enhance efforts to protect and defend civilians and improve MONUSCO's impact in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
However the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians must rest with the DRC authorities. We agree with Margot Wallstrom's statement calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. We, along with our EU and UN partners, have urged the Government of the DRC to investigate and ensure a swift and fair prosecution of the perpetrators of these terrible crimes.
My honourable friend the Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, was in the DRC recently and raised the UK's concerns about human rights with various DRC government Ministers. He stressed that the DRC's human rights record is poor and must improve. He met Foreign Minister Thambwe on 26 September and urged the Government of DRC to implement fully President Kabila's zero tolerance policy on perpetrators of sexual violence.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the mining suspension imposed on 8 September by President Kabila in the three eastern provinces of North and South Kivu and Maniema in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and what effect this has had on the civilian population and on rebel activity in the area.[HL2352]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Having a strong, robust and transparent minerals sector is vitally important for the prosperity of the Congolese people. The UK welcomes measures to bring an end to illegal activities in mining and the trade of minerals and to make the sector more productive and accountable.
There has been no formal assessment by the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or the Government of Democratic Republic of Congo on the effects of the mining ban. The UK is working closely with the World Bank and others to encourage the Government to move forward with comprehensive reforms of the mining sector.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what response they have made in relation to the United Nations mapping report, published on 1 October, which details human rights abuses committed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003; and what assessment they have made of the report's conclusions concerning improvements which could be made to the judicial process and the role of Rwandan troops in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.[HL2354]
Lord Howell of Guildford: This is a lengthy and detailed report cataloguing numerous abuses over a 10-year period. We recognise the importance of documenting this traumatic period in the Democratic
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will use the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill passed in July in the United States, which requires United States-listed oil, gas and mining companies working anywhere in the world to report how much they pay to Governments in their annual filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, as a model for British legislation; and whether they have assessed its impact on the exploitation of minerals in Rwanda and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. [HL2353]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Secretary of State has noted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 2010 on disclosure of payments made to foreign Governments. The UK Government took a leading part in the extractive industries transparency initiative (EITI) as a voluntary agreement between corporations and Governments of resource-rich countries to disclose details of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining. The Democratic Republic of Congo has achieved EITI candidate status.
There is also considerable international work currently in progress. The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which is an independent standard setter for global accounting standards, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are both investigating international approaches to this kind of disclosure.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Future Jobs Fund was closed to new bids on 24 May 2010. At that time 337 bids had been approved for funding. A further 107 bids had been submitted and the result of the assessment was outstanding at the time of the Government's announcement. As a consequence of the announcement, these 107 bids were subsequently turned down.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Job creation must come from the private sector. It is the Government's responsibility to create an environment conducive to this. Cutting the country's deficit is a necessary first step to the future creation of jobs and promotion of economic growth, but it will not be sufficient.
We published A Strategy for Sustainable Growth in July 2010 and will draw on this within a growth White Paper, to be jointly published by BIS and HM Treasury, which will follow the upcoming comprehensive spending review.
Baroness Wilcox: Job creation must come from the private sector. It is the Government's responsibility to create an environment conducive to this. Cutting the country's deficit is a necessary first step to the future creation of jobs and promotion of economic growth, but it will not be sufficient.
We published A Strategy for Sustainable Growth in July 2010, and will draw on this within a growth White Paper, to be jointly published by BIS and HM Treasury, which will follow the upcoming comprehensive spending review.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We will begin recruiting mentors-a key element of the new enterprise allowance offer, alongside financial support worth around £2,000-and setting up the allowance from November.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The start date for construction and the length of construction time for the first carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plant will depend on the identity of the successful bidder in the current CCS demonstration competition as each have proposed separate construction programmes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the Office for Carbon Capture and Storage will produce a road map of steps necessary for carbon capture and storage to be a commercially deployable technology. [HL2542]
Lord Marland: We expect to publish the CCS road map in spring 2011. Since May we have held a senior stakeholder conference on encouraging investment in CCS in the UK and published the 2050 pathways call for evidence. Feedback from stakeholders will feed into the road map and the new CCS development forum, which we launched in July, will help guide its development.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Her Majesty's Government expect to provide a total funding of up to £132.87 million to the Carbon Trust in 2010-11. The purpose of the funding is to support the delivery of government climate change and energy objectives, focusing on accelerating the move to a low-carbon economy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): I refer the noble Lord to the Written Statement made to the House today concerning the National Policy Statement on nuclear power.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): National Grid's winter energy outlook indicates that forecast gas demand will be 0.5 per cent higher than the weather-corrected demand for winter 2009-10. Overall, gas supplies are projected to be higher than last winter, with indigenous supplies forecast to be 9 per cent lower, but with additional import capacity available.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): This Government are fully committed to taking action on renewable heat. We are considering responses to the renewable heat incentive consultation and expect to make a decision once the spending review has concluded.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The conclusions of the Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study were announced via a Written Ministerial Statement on 18 October, and all the supporting documents, including the supply chain report and the options definition report, are available
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government have not set a target to install 12 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2012. It does not set targets for individual energy generation technologies but takes a market-based approach to energy generation. The actual amount of offshore wind delivered, and the timing, will depend on a range of factors, including market uptake, the relative cost of offshore wind compared to other options, the ability of other technologies to deliver, the potential for energy exports to other countries and the need for increased renewables capacity beyond 2020.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they made when creating their annual energy statement of the amount of energy used in building and installing the 100 turbines in the Thanet wind farm; and by what date they estimate this wind farm will have produced that amount of energy.[HL2357]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Annual Energy Statement aims to provide market direction, set strategic energy policy and help guide investment. The energy used in constructing energy-generating infrastructure is not part of this remit.
Life cycle analysis conducted by Vestas suggests that the turbines of the type used in the Thanet wind farm will achieve energy payback within seven months, implying that over their lifetime they will produce 35 times more energy than used in manufacture and installation. This is consistent with the range of estimates in the literature on the performance of wind turbines in general.
A 2006 note from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology estimated that offshore wind energy has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any low-carbon technology at 5.25g CO2 equivalent/kWh.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): While continuing to be vigilant in the light of the Macondo incident, we do not believe there is currently a case for a moratorium on deepwater drilling in the UK.
The UK regime is robust-following the inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster in 1998, a comprehensive offshore regulatory system was set up to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of all parties, including well operators, sub-contractors and regulators, are clear and well understood.
We understand in any case that, following its announcement made on 13 October, the Commission is not now proposing a moratorium but does wish to look more generally at the way in which such drilling activities are regulated across Europe with the aim of ensuring a consistent approach.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): This Government intend to play an active and activist role in the EU to ensure its success. We will champion vigorously the interests of the UK in the EU and work together to further our shared agenda. There are things that the EU can do better and we are confident in the UK's ability to drive forward change and move the EU in the right direction.
The Government have agreed that there should be no further transfer of sovereignty or powers from the UK to the EU over the course of this Parliament. The Government will also introduce a Bill in the autumn that aims to increase democratic and parliamentary control, scrutiny and accountability over EU decision-making. We are clear in our objective to restore democratic accountability of the EU and ensure that the British public are engaged and active participants in the UK's future within Europe.
The Bill will introduce a referendum lock so that any proposed future treaty that transferred competence or power from the UK to the EU would be subject to a referendum. This will also include any ratchet clause that would amount to a transfer of power or competence from the UK to the EU.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Environmental Justice Foundation's report All at Sea exposing human rights abuses aboard illegal fishing vessels; and what discussions they have had with partners in the European Union and United Nations on action to reduce and eliminate pirate fishing.[HL2548]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): We are aware of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) report, but have made no formal assessment of it. We co-operate with EJF and value its work in highlighting the impacts of illegal fishing, notably in West Africa.
The UK has for many years taken a lead role internationally in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. UK Ministers led the international Ministerial High Seas Task Force on IUU fishing. We strongly supported the introduction of new EU rules, which came into force on 1 January 2010, designed to prevent illegal imports of fish and fish products from entering the EU market, and have implemented the necessary controls at UK ports. As part of the EU, we have signed the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) Port State Measures Agreement. We are actively supporting the FAO's proposal to create a global record of fishing vessels. Both are aimed at combating this serious environmental crime. We work within other UN fora, including regional fisheries management organisations, to press for concerted international action to fight illegal fishing.
Finally, we work closely with other UK government departments and agencies, including the Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to support initiatives aimed at preventing and eliminating IUU fishing wherever it occurs.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): European Council directive 96/23/EC requires member states to test their produce from food-producing animals for residues of veterinary medicinal products and certain other substances; honey is included in the surveillance programme. Commission decision 97/747 sets out the sampling requirements for honey and other foodstuffs, based on production levels. The UK takes around 100 samples per year. A range of substances are covered in the analyses, including antibiotics. The results show that beekeepers take their responsibilities seriously, with relatively few non-compliant results; these are published in the Veterinary Medicine Directorate's newsletter-MAVIS-which can be viewed on-line at www.vmd.defra.gsi.gov.uk.
The Honey England Regulations 2003 protect and control the quality of honey by setting out detailed labelling and compositional requirements for honey, including setting limits for the amount of sugars present. The rules state that honey should not contain more than 5 per cent sucrose.
Baroness Verma: The UK is working with other members of the international community with the objective of securing full access for aid, aid workers, reconstruction materials and other permitted imports to Gaza, and relaxation of restrictions on exports and the movement of people.
We have worked closely with key international partners including the United Nations (UN) and Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) in pressing for full implementation of the measures to relax movement and access announced by Israel on 20 June, including through the provision of practical support to the OQR and the UN. Our funding to the UN Access Co-ordination Unit, which works with the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and aid agencies, is helping to facilitate the transfer of goods into Gaza. We have also been working with the PA to address vital issues related to its role in co-ordination of crossing points and entry of goods into Gaza.
More widely, we have encouraged international partners, including the OQR, UN and World Bank, to develop robust reporting and analysis of the situation in Gaza, along with a comprehensive plan for the revival of Gaza's legal economy. We have raised directly with the Israeli Government on a number of occasions the need to allow exports from Gaza and the free movement of people.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reports they have received from the quartet concerning the permitted imports of building materials required for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency's reconstruction projects in Gaza.[HL2319]
Baroness Verma: The quartet does not issue such reports. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports that they have secured approval from the Israeli Government to build eight of the 30 schools they estimate are needed, but have not yet received clearance to import all the necessary construction materials. UNRWA has recently been notified that approval for three of the eight schools has been withdrawn due to undisclosed problems with their locations. UNRWA is working with the Israeli authorities to resolve this issue.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): We are unable to provide detailed information on the cost of security to protected individuals. To do so would compromise the integrity of the security arrangements of the individuals concerned.
We can provide details of the aggregate Home Office contribution for the dedicated security post (DSP) grant which provides a contribution towards
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated net saving in the pay bill of the Department for International Development for each of the next four years if all salaries and increments are frozen.[HL2444]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many officials in the Department for Education work to the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning in total, and in relation to (a) careers education and advice delivered in schools, (b) vocational qualifications available to 14 to 19 year olds, (c) work-related learning and work experience, (d) enterprise education, (e) employer engagement, and (f) policy that impacts upon further education colleges. [HL2204]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): There are eight officials in the Department for Education (DfE) who work to the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning. Of those eight, six work on (a) careers education and advice delivered in schools and two on (b) vocational qualifications available to 14 to 19 year-olds.
To ask Her Majesty's Government to how many (a) Irish, and (b) other European Union nationals, the habitual residence test was applied to in the past three years; how many in each category were turned down; and what social security benefits were paid to those who were successful.[HL2345]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The information requested on (a) Irish and (b) other European Union nationals is not available in the requested format.
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|Habitual Residence Test||20082||2009||2010|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest estimate of the effectiveness of United Kingdom bilateral and United Kingdom-supported multilateral assistance in the reconstruction and regeneration of Haiti; and what they will contribute towards future progress.[HL2240]
Baroness Verma: The UK Government's support to the reconstruction and regeneration of Haiti will be almost entirely through our share of the programmes of multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and European Union. This will be over $100 million in 2010-11. In addition, the UK will contribute at least $53 million in 2010 for the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. Our bilateral support for reconstruction will be restricted to £2 million for disaster risk reduction. The UK Government made a £20 million bilateral contribution for humanitarian relief in Haiti after the earthquake.
Reconstruction programmes of the scale needed in Haiti inevitably take time to design and approve. We have been concerned at the pace of the multilateral effort and the flow of funds pledged. The pace of delivery by the multilaterals is now increasing. The World Bank, for example, has now approved $233 million of the $479 million it pledged to deliver by June 2011, and the Interim Commission for Haiti Reconstruction has now approved projects worth over $1.6 billion. We
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance, led by Lord Browne, has now delivered its recommendations to government. We welcome this report which includes a number of progressive proposals and which makes important recommendations about the structure and level of graduate contributions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider the implications for further education of the Browne review, and include their conclusions in their White Paper on higher education funding, to be published in 2011.[HL2587]
We will consider the implications for further education in the forthcoming higher education White Paper. The White Paper will make detailed proposals to which experts from the sector can react and will lead, subject to parliamentary time, to a Higher Education Bill in Autumn 2011.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There are no such restrictions on the appointment of the ambassador to the Holy See or to any other ambassadorial position in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
To ask Her Majesty's Government for how many months during the past five years the trailing one-year inflation rate, as measured by (a) the retail prices index and (b) the consumer prices index, has exceeded the 2 per cent per annum inflation target set for the Monetary Policy Committee.[HL2312]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): According to the Office for National Statistics, inflation as measured by the consumer prices index (CPI) has been above the 2 per cent target set for the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England for 48 months between January 2005 and August 2010. The Bank of England terminated its use of the retail prices index as a measure of inflation in 2003 and has, since then, used the CPI as the measure of inflation.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Global oil demand is set to continue to rise, and it is important to ensure that the supply of oil remains sufficient to match this. 2009 saw huge progress in the Iraqi oil industry in this regard, with the success of two major oil licensing rounds, covering reserves of around 65 million barrels of crude oil. This represents approximately 5 per cent of the world's total proven reserves. It is clear therefore that the Iraqi Government have already managed to attract significant investment. The role for HM Government is now to use their diplomatic and other resources to assist, where appropriate, with the further development of Iraq's energy sector (including, for example, skills development) and with the fulfilment of contracts emanating from the licensing round. To these ends we will continue to work closely with the Iraqi Government as well as UK commercial entities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Israel regarding the early release of Palestinian detainees held in their prisons without due process.[HL2234]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK will continue to monitor the situation with regard to all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. We call on the Israeli Government to take immediate action to ensure that all cases are reviewed by a court in accordance with fair procedures and that detainees' rights are upheld.
18 Oct 2010 : Column WA118
Additionally our officials started attending military court hearings in 2009. Since then, following a UK suggestion, an EU rotating team has been set up to send three EU diplomats to all hearings in human rights defender cases; the UK continues to attend more regularly than other member states.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations at international fora regarding the Government of Israel's alleged breaches of international law in relation to Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem.[HL2235]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We will continue to raise with the Israeli Government our concerns about Israeli policies in Jerusalem, which threaten to cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank. Those policies include the routing of the barrier on occupied territory, settlement activity both within and around East Jerusalem, residency rights for East Jerusalemites and increasingly restricted access to Jerusalem for Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza.
The UK has a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building. We see the situation in East Jerusalem as extremely sensitive because we view east Jerusalem fundamentally as we see the rest of the Occupied Territories. Any attempts to change the facts on the ground are therefore contrary to international law and prejudicial to the peace process itself, as well as causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians and causing tensions. We strongly supported the statement of 30 June by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton to this effect.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much money they contribute to the Large Hadron Collider; and what assessment they have made of the commercial and scientific benefits to justify continued financial support for the project from public funds.[HL2367]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Expenditure on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is funded from the budget of CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory. The UK Government, through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), currently contribute 14.6 per cent of the CERN budget, which is determined in Swiss francs, and this equates to approximately £96 million per year. Due to the economic situation facing the UK
18 Oct 2010 : Column WA119
STFC undertook a scientific assessment of the value of the LHC and UK particle physics in 2009 and concluded that it was a very high priority. STFC also analysed the value of industrial contracts won by UK organisations over the LHC construction period from 1995 to 2008. This averaged around £19 million per annum or about 7.5 per cent of contracts placed and is in addition to contracts placed by the UK and other countries in relation to the LHC experiments. UK industry continues to win important contracts directly from CERN.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Local Government Improvement and Development (LGID)-formerly the Improvement and Development Agency-is not a government agency but is part of the Local Government Group, led by the Local Government Association (LGA). Therefore, decisions about its future are a matter for the LGA. The LGA's proposals for future revenue support grant top-slice funding of bodies in the group, including LGID, were consulted on by the department between 25 August and 6 October this year, and a consultation response will be published shortly. The proposals are on the department's website at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/rsgtopsliceimprovementsconsult.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Local strategic partnerships are non-statutory groups of local organisations, led by local authorities, coming together voluntarily to work in partnership. Decisions on their future, including composition, accountability and structures, are entirely a matter for local areas themselves.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The UK, represented by the FCO, is a permanent observer to the Arctic Council, the primary regional multilateral body, which has a strong environmental focus. The UK is committed to protecting the arctic environment while defending rights to fair access.
The UK also contributes to environmental protection in the Arctic through its involvement in international organisations such as the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR), the United Nations Environment Programme and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In addition, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee represents the UK on the Circumpolar Seabird Working Group that forms part of the Conservation of Arctic Fauna and Flora Group.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: Details of the Director General's (Political) salary and allowances were published in the Northern Ireland Office resource accounts report 2009-10. The report was laid before Parliament on 19 July 2010.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why Ambassador John Duncan did not attend the Conference From Aspiration to Reality: Nuclear Disarmament after the NPT review when all other nuclear states were represented.[HL2258]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK appreciates the continued work of the Global Security Institute and Middle Power Initiative (MPI) in support of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. The Government are committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons and to working with our nuclear weapon state partners to make progress on multilateral disarmament.
Ambassador Duncan had planned to attend and speak at the MPI's September 14-15 conference in Geneva. Unfortunately, he was called away from Geneva at short notice. We are grateful to the MPI for their understanding and hope to be able to participate in future such discussions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the amount and proportion of the United Kingdom's overseas development assistance spent on agriculture in 1979, 1987, 1997, 2005 and in each year since 2005 for which figures are currently available (a) as a whole, (b) in relation to South Asia, and (c) in relation to sub-Saharan Africa.[HL2374]
Baroness Verma: Breakdowns of official development assistance by sector and region together are not available before 2005. More information is available from the online database of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development at www.oecd.org/dac/stats/gwids.
Bilateral programme expenditure on agriculture, agricultural development, agricultural research, fishing, rural development, food aid and related sub-sectors from 2005 to 2008, the last year for which figures are currently available, is as follows.
|Year||Total (£millions)||South and Central Asia||Sub-Saharan Africa|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what errors were uncovered by HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions in their investigations into the mistaken handling of the guaranteed minimum pension element of public
18 Oct 2010 : Column WA122
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Approximately 85,500 pensioners within the five central government pension schemes were found to be in receipt of an incorrect public sector pension. The total amount of overpayments made since 1978 across affected schemes is approximately £90 million.
A joint Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)/HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) project in 2009 discovered that there was no single cause for the overpayments, although a number of areas were identified where processes could be improved upon. Several changes have been implemented including new, simplified guidance for DWP Pension Centre staff and the introduction of checks within HMRC to identify quickly where issues may arise, enabling remedial action to be initiated more rapidly than before.
A joint Guaranteed Minimum Pension Advisory Group, chaired by HMRC with representatives from DWP and the public sector pension schemes, has also been set up to progress issues and implement changes leading to lasting improvements.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We propose to make prisons places of hard work and industry. As part of this, we are looking to expand the prisoner working week to up to 40 hours within prison industries. We want to make it easier for the private sector to get involved in training, providing work and employing prisoners on release.
These plans will increase the number of prisoners engaged in meaningful and productive work, help replicate the working week and instil dignity, a work ethic and discipline, and through improving skills for sustained employment aid rehabilitation on release.
These figures are published in Transport Statistics Great Britain (TSGB) which is available on the Department for Transport website at http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/tsgb/.
|Length of National Rail route open to passenger traffic: at year end (miles)|
Earl Attlee: The Government support Crossrail, which will bring substantial economic benefits to London and the UK. As the Minister of State has made clear, no decisions have been taken to change the scope of the Crossrail project.
However, in the current economic climate we have a responsibility to all those funding Crossrail to ensure that every pound invested in the project is well spent and that the scheme remains affordable.
That is why Crossrail Ltd is carrying out an ongoing programme of work focusing on value engineering, risk mitigation and indirect cost reduction to ensure that it delivers Crossrail in the most effective way.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recent report by Passenger Focus, Still Waiting for a Ticket, on ticket queueing times at large regional railway stations; and what plans they have to ensure that ticket-processing times do not exceed those in the ticket and settlement agreements with railway franchises.[HL2380]
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport regularly engages with train companies on their obligations, including those relating to ticket sales. Despite some welcome investment in, for example, self-service ticket machines, internet sales and products such as London's "Pay as You Go" scheme, many passengers still experience ticket office queues. Ministers are challenging the rail industry to make buying tickets easier for passengers.
Earl Attlee: Train operators must comply with the terms of their franchise agreements, including those relating to ticket sales and queueing times. In addition, work is ongoing within the rail industry to expand alternative ways to buy tickets, thus increasing choice for passengers and reducing the need to queue at ticket offices. Recent innovation has focused on areas such as online booking, self-service ticket machines, mobile phone ticketing and London's "Pay as You Go" scheme.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The number of termination agreements reached by each regional development agency in the financial year 2009-10 containing confidentiality clauses was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the aggregate additional compensation, beyond statutory and contractual amounts, included in termination agreements reached by each regional development agency in the past year.[HL2232]
Baroness Wilcox: The aggregate additional compensation, beyond statutory and contractual amounts, included in termination agreements reached by each regional development agency in the financial year 2009-10 was as follows:
|RDA||Amount in £|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the aggregate additional compensation, beyond statutory and contractual amounts, included in termination agreements containing confidentiality clauses reached by each regional development agency in the past year.[HL2233]
Baroness Wilcox: The aggregate additional compensation, beyond statutory and contractual amounts, included in termination agreements containing confidentiality clauses reached by each regional development agency in the financial year 2009-10 was as follows:
|RDA||Amount in £|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the rural development programme funding that is currently administered by regional development agencies has been suspended, and who will in future be responsible for administering this funding.[HL2420]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Delivery of the Rural Development Programme for England has not been suspended. Regional development agencies have been asked by Defra to continue supporting programme delivery within their budget allocation for the current financial year. The only exception to this is where projects are seeking £l million or more of programme support, where decisions have been deferred until after the outcome of the spending review announced on 20 October.
Baroness Wilcox: The details of the Government's policy on local enterprise partnerships will be set out in the White Paper on sub-national growth due to be published shortly. Local enterprise partnerships will bring together businesses and local authorities and will have an important role in improving the environment for business growth.
Earl Attlee: Local authorities are responsible for the design of their local highway spaces, and they are best placed to take into account the views and needs of different road users in designing streets to suit local circumstances.
The Department for Transport provides evidence-based policy and technical advice to local authorities on the advantages and disadvantages of various street design techniques, but has no plans to promote pedestrianised zones specifically.
The Government announced last month plans for a Local Sustainable Transport Fund to support the delivery by local transport authorities outside London of packages of sustainable measures that tackle the problems of traffic congestion and other transport challenges in their areas. It will be for local authorities to determine what combination of measures would work best to meet local needs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all the money derived from speed camera offences is paid to HM Treasury, or whether local authorities or safety camera partnerships are able to retain part of this money to cover the expenses which they incur.[HL2387]
Earl Attlee: Until 31 March 2007 safety camera partnerships were allowed to reclaim their costs from fixed penalties arising from offences detected at approved sites within the National Safety Camera Programme. All surplus was passed to the Treasury Consolidated Fund. Since 1 April 2007 all fine revenue from speeding offences has gone to the Treasury Consolidated Fund.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps are being taken to implement the recommendations by the Chief Schools Adjudicator for England that (a) the admission code be altered to ensure that multiple-birth children are allocated places together at primary school by adding them to the list of "excepted pupils" in the class-size regulations; and (b) that respective admission authorities be required both to consult on and publish arrangements for the admission of multiple-birth children.[HL2384]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that schools involve parents of multiple-birth children in deciding whether they should be placed in the same class when starting school.[HL2385]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are considering the Chief Schools Adjudicator's recommendations to the previous Secretary of State regarding the admission to the same school of twins and other children from multiple births and will announce in due course any policy changes which may arise.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Her Majesty's Government have provided regular assessments of the impact of the science on the United Kingdom economy through its annual reports on the Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-14.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published the Economic Impact Reporting Framework in each of the past five years. Research councils have separately, for the past three years, published their economic baselines in each of the past three years.
There is a wide range of historical and econometric evidence that supports the view that science, and R&D more generally, are central to productivity growth. Precise estimates should be treated with caution because of the complex methodological and data issues involved.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the total public sector investment in United Kingdom science as a percentage of gross domestic product in each of the past five years; and how this compares with other G7 countries.[HL2342]
Baroness Wilcox: International comparisons of science and technology indicators are drawn from the OECD's Main Science and Technology (MSTI) Database. This is one of the most comprehensive and reliable sources of internationally comparable research indicators drawn from the respective country's statistical office.
Public spending on research and development (R&D) is best illustrated through Total Government Budget Appropriations or Outlays for Research and Development (GBAORD). Government Expenditure in Research and Development (GOVERD) was not used as this measures actual expenditure following accounting arrangements in the respective country, which are not harmonised across the OECD and may therefore limit comparability.
|GBAORD as a percentage of GDP|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 27 September (WA 566), what they expect the Joint Strategic Board to achieve; whether the Joint Strategic Board has a remit beyond the implementation of the Atkins report; and how many times the Joint Strategic Board has met.[HL2512]
Earl Attlee: The role of the Joint Strategic Board is to drive forward the co-ordination of General Lighthouse Authority activity in the most effective way. It will implement relevant matters arising from government initiatives including the agreed recommendations from Atkins' report of the Assessment of the Provision of Marine Aids to Navigation around the UK and Ireland. The board will represent the views of the three General Lighthouse Authorities to the Governments of the UK and Ireland on joint strategic and policy issues and other matters of common interest.
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