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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the written answer by Lord McNally on 21 October (HL2419), what action they will take to ensure that 100 per cent of personal identifiers for postal voters will be verified in the elections on 5 May 2011 for local authorities in England and for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh assembly, and for the proposed referendum on the voting system.[HL3009]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Legislation requires returning officers to undertake a minimum of 20 per cent verification of personal identifiers of postal votes returned. Funding was made available at the general election last May for the verification of 100 per cent of personal identifiers. The Government consider the funding for each election on a case by case basis and will make further announcements on funding for the referendum on the voting system and these elections in due course.
Under Section 36 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, local authorities in England are responsible for paying expenditure incurred by the returning officer in administering local elections held in their area and for fixing any scale of payments for these elections. This money is paid from the revenue support grant which is administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Local authorities are therefore responsible for the level of funding of their own elections, including the level of funding for the verification of personal identifiers of postal votes returned. Funds for Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections are provided by the UK Government out of the block grant. For Scottish Parliament elections, decisions on the level of funding allocated to returning officers for the completion of functions, such as the verification of postal votes, are made by the Secretary of State for Scotland. In Wales, these decisions are made by Welsh Ministers and approved by members of the devolved legislature.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Maximising UK oil and gas production and encouraging exploration are key government objectives. We recently offered 144 new offshore licences, via our 26th round, and hope to launch a new round in 2011. We will also continue to ensure existing work programmes are fulfilled within licence terms.
Initiatives to stimulate activity within existing licensed acreage (fallow and stewardship processes) will continue as will generation and presentation to industry of prospectivity ideas ahead of future rounds.
Government also seek to ensure the UK Continental Shelf fiscal regime encourages continuing investment and exploitation of remaining hydrocarbon resources. Expenditure incurred on exploration activity is already generally deductible for corporation tax purposes.
Government have acted to improve the impact of the field allowance (which encourages development of small or technically challenging new fields). This will indirectly encourage new exploration activity. Furthermore the remote deep water gas field allowance has facilitated the development of gas fields west of Shetland, and resulting infrastructure is likely to stimulate further exploration in that region.
In addition, the Government are legislating in the Finance Bill 2011 for a measure announced in the June Budget that will facilitate UKCS asset trades and reinvestment of sale proceeds in UK exploration activity, by extending ring fence reinvestment relief to apply where sale proceeds are spent on exploration and development. This measure can also be expected to encourage higher levels of exploration.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): DECC does not hold the information requested. To meet its principal duty, to protect the interests of consumers, Ofgem collects relevant information but I understand it does not have the specific data requested. However, Ofgem are able to provide details of the number of tariffs available to new domestic gas, electricity and dual-fuel customers based on a snapshot of 1 November 20101. The table excludes: social tariffs; any tariffs that were closed to a new customer as at 1 November 2010; and tariffs offered by suppliers other than the main six energy suppliers. The majority of tariffs are available in each region. In some cases, tariffs may have the same price and payment method-but there could be differences in service options such as loyalty scheme points, vouchers or donations to different charities turning a single price and payment plan into multiple options.
|Table 1 Total number of tariffs available to a new customer in the average region, across main six energy suppliers|
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have been absolutely clear that we cannot accept the 6 per cent budget increase from 2010 levels, proposed by the Commission at the start of these negotiations. We also therefore oppose
8 Nov 2010 : Column WA21
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will oppose the decision of the European Parliament to increase the European Union budget for 2011 by 5.9 per cent and instead propose that the budget should be reduced in line with budget cuts being made by member states.[HL3103]
Lord Sassoon: The Government have been absolutely clear that we cannot accept the 5.9 per cent budget increase from 2010 levels, proposed by the European Commission at the start of these negotiations. We instead called for a freeze in the budget at 2010 levels. We also therefore oppose the European Parliament's suggested budget increase, which-while still representing a 6 per cent increase overall-is higher still than the European Commission's proposal. This is completely out of step with the very tough fiscal consolidation measures being taken not just in the UK, but also by governments across the European Union.
On 29 October, the Prime Minister and 12 other EU leaders signed a joint letter saying that the European Parliament's proposals "are especially unacceptable at a time when we are having to take difficult decisions at national level to control public expenditure. The Council has proposed an increase in EU budget spending of 2.91 per cent for 2011. We are clear that we cannot accept any more than this".
Lord Sassoon: On 20 October the European Parliament adopted its position in relation to the draft European Union budget for 2011 proposed by the European Commission. It proposed a 5.9 per cent increase in the budget from 2010 levels.
On 29 October, the Prime Minister and 12 other EU leaders signed a joint letter saying that the European Parliament's proposals "are especially unacceptable at a time when we are having to take difficult decisions at national level to control public expenditure. The Council has proposed an increase in EU budget spending of 2.91 per cent for 2011. We are clear that we cannot
8 Nov 2010 : Column WA22
The European Commission's draft budget and the Government's approach to annual budget negotiations are subject to parliamentary scrutiny. This is an important process, enhancing transparency, accountability and the Government's formulation of policy towards these negotiations. The final EU annual budget agreed at the end of the process does not require specific parliamentary agreement.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The proposed EU-India free trade agreement is still under negotiation. The Government's commitment to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands is fully compatible with our desire to strengthen international trade including through the European Union free trade agreement with India.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the decision to opt in to the European Investigation Order to which future amendments will be made by qualified majority voting rather than unanimity transfers any power from the United Kingdom to the European Union.[HL3227]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The UK's decision to opt in to the draft directive for a European Investigation Order (EIO) and thereby participate in negotiations which will be subject to qualified majority voting (QMV) does not constitute a transfer of power from the United Kingdom to the European Union. The treaty on the functioning of the European Union provides an appropriate legal base under Title V for the Union to legislate in this area. This is subject to protocol 21 to the treaty providing for the UK to decide to opt in to the proposal. In taking the decision to opt in to this measure a number of factors, including the benefits of participating in the more effective arrangements which the measure proposes and the prospect of achieving the right outcomes for the UK through negotiations, were considered.
Any new measure proposing amendments to the EIO after the current directive has been adopted would be subject to the UK's JHA opt-in and the UK could therefore choose whether or not it wished to participate in any future amended version. The UK will consider these decisions on a case by case basis.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what position regarding the exchange rate system and the setting of targets for current account deficits they propose to take at the G20 Summit in Seoul on 11 November.[HL3041]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK has been actively engaged in discussions in the G20. The meeting of G20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors on 23 October announced that we are all committed to play our part in achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth in a collaborative and co-ordinated way. Specifically, we will:move towards more market determined exchange rate systems that reflect underlying economic fundamentals and refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies; andstrengthen multilateral co-operation to promote external sustainability and pursue the full range of policies conducive to reducing excessive imbalances and maintaining current account imbalances at sustainable levels.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated net saving in the pay bill of Her Majesty's Treasury for each of the next four years if no bonuses are paid and all salaries and increments are frozen.[HL3133]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The pay freeze announced by the Chancellor in the June 2010 budget exempted the payment of non-consolidated performance awards from the freeze. Non-consolidated performance payments are an integral part of the reward package for all staff in the Treasury and its agencies and are a cost-effective method of driving high performance as they have to be re-earned each year and are non-pensionable.
In the Treasury, payments in 2010-11 were made to the top 25 per cent of staff at both the Senior Civil Service level and to staff below the SCS, in respect of performance in 2009-10. These payments totalled £856,000. This amount would be saved if it was not paid in future years.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated net saving in the pay bill of the Department of Health for each of the next four years if no bonuses are paid and all salaries and increments are frozen.[HL3135]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Following the spending review settlement for the department, detailed workforce plans and pay bill allocations, on which pay bill estimates would be based, are currently being developed and finalised. We are therefore currently unable to provide estimates of savings from the freezing of salaries and pay progression, for the years in question.
For the current financial year, the department paid £1,639,680 in non-consolidated performance-related pay and £118,674 as in-year non-consolidated performance related pay up to and including October.
From these figures a very simple estimate of savings for the next four years would be £7,373,000. This figure does not include employer's national insurance contribution, which would be in addition to that figure. A figure for the cost of that contribution would be available only at disproportionate cost. This simple estimate assumes constant staff numbers in the department which is contrary to current plans and so not likely to be the case.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated net saving in the pay bill of the Department for Work and Pensions for each of the next four years if no bonuses are paid and all salaries and increments are frozen.[HL3136]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): I refer the noble Lord to the two Written Ministerial Statements made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) 21 October 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 192) and 25 October 2010 (Official Report, col. WA233).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The coalition's previous announcements on the closure of the Government Office Network made it clear that we were closing the government offices because we believe the previous Administration's regional government arrangements lacked democratic accountability, created burdens and bureaucracy for local councils and imposed arbitrary administrative boundaries over real communities.
It is not yet clear whether wider reorganisations in departments will lead to relocation of central functions. Departments are currently setting out plans for reform in light of their spending review settlements.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department works closely with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the independent body with regulatory responsibility for nurse education standards.
To ask the Chairman of Committees which posts within the House of Lords administration entitle the holder to accommodation; on what basis that accommodation is provided; and what is the address of the accommodation provided for each member of staff.[HL3669]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): At present, residential accommodation is provided to Black Rod and the Staff Superintendent, both of whom are required to spend some nights in proximity to the House. For security reasons, it is not possible to provide the addresses of these residences.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Housing market renewal pathfinders are constituted as local authority partnerships overseen by a board with an independent chair. Post 2010-11, it will be for local authorities to decide whether to continue with these partnerships and to bid for funding which would allow them to take forward market renewal projects in their areas.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the number of households likely to be affected by the cap on housing benefit in Scotland, Wales and each of the English regions other than London; and how this figure has been reached.[HL3303]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department published a document on Impacts of Housing Benefit Proposals: Changes to the Local Housing Allowance to be introduced in 2011-12 on the 23 July, which includes analysis at the local authority level and the methodology used for its production. A copy of the document has been placed in the Library.
Lord Freud: The department published a document on Impacts of Housing Benefit Proposals: Changes to the Local Housing Allowance to be introduced in 2011-12 on the 23 July, which includes analysis at the local authority level and the methodology used for its production. A copy of the document has been placed in the Library.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which of the proposed changes to housing benefit rules will require primary legislation; which will require secondary legislation; and which can be achieved administratively. [HL3442]
From April 2011 to April 2014 stage increases in the rates of non-dependant deductions from April 2011. By April 2014, these increases will bring the rates to the level they would have been had they been fully uprated since 2001 to reflect growth in rents and council tax.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many residents in Brighton and Hove who have received jobseeker's allowance for 12 months or longer currently receive housing benefit; and what will be the cost (a) in total, and (b) on average for affected individuals, of the 10 per cent cut in benefits announced in Spending Review 2010.[HL3650]
From February 2007, DWP has been collecting more detailed housing benefit and council tax benefit data electronically from local authorities. Over time this will improve the accuracy, timeliness and level of detail available in the published statistics, as the information supplied is quality assured.
At present, the management information needed to estimate durations on housing benefit has not been sufficiently quality assured; and, while information is collected on the number of claimants in receipt of a passported benefit, which includes income-based jobseeker's allowance, the total number of jobseeker's allowance claimants receiving housing benefit is not available.
Housing benefit caseload and average weekly amounts are available at local authority area level and these are published on the department's website at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/hbctb.asp.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Unlawful occupation of social housing deprives honest families of homes they need. We expect all social landlords to manage their stock actively and make sure homes are occupied by people who have the right to be there. The Government are reviewing the progress which landlords have made and considering what further steps are necessary to tackle this form of fraud.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Allegations that UK forces abused Iraqis are already being investigated by the service police and the Iraq Historic Allegations Team. We are still studying the Wikileaks documents, and if there are new allegations about UK forces, they will be investigated.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role of Local Improvement Finance Trusts in the development of new facilities in the National Health Service; and whether they have any plans for their involvement in the creation of more integrated health environments, moving beyond a bio-medical model of health.[HL3406]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): On the future of the Local Improvement Finance Trust (LIFT) programme, I refer the noble Lord to the answer I provided him on 26 October, Official Report, col. 269.
Since its launch in 2001, the LIFT programme has provided investment in the primary, community and social care infrastructure through a series of public private partnerships (involving the primary care trust and a private sector partner). In doing so, it provides modern, purpose-built facilities that, in many cases, co-locate services under the same roof. Across England, 49 LIFT companies have collectively provided 233 health, community and social care facilities with a capital value of more than £1.9 billion.
A good example of this co-location is the Pendleton Gateway Centre (£14.9 million, opened February 2009) in Salford. It brings together a wide variety of health and local authority services. This centre acts as a community hub, located close to local shops and housing. The services provided include two general practitioner practices (seven GPs), a fracture clinic, ophthalmology, orthoptics, podiatry, audiology, dentistry, mental health teams and a pharmacy. It also includes a Salford City Council "one-stop shop" for council services, a cafe, a walk-in centre and a library. It has a special focus on children and young people's services, including children's and adolescents' mental health and paediatric services.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) takes into account the path for fiscal policy in judging the outlook for growth and inflation and hence in its monetary policy decisions. During the period of fiscal consolidation, the MPC could provide additional stimulus should it judge that economic conditions warrant such a response in order for the inflation target to be met.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the name of the single home oxygen supplier in each of the strategic health authority areas; and what is the cost to the National Health Service of supplies of oxygen and the delivery services of each supplier. [HL3112]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): For the Home Oxygen Service (HOS) there are currently three suppliers serving the 10 strategic health authorities of England. They are:Air Liquide (Homecare) Limited: South East Coast, South Central, South West and the North East:(note that currently the primary care trusts of South London are divided across the South East Coast and South Central regions);Air Products PLC: North London, East Midlands, West Midlands, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber; andBOC Limited: East of England.
Earl Howe: We are currently involved in the reprocurement for the Home Oxygen Service. The principles for the reprocurement involve the department first appointing approved bidders to a new national framework. Once on the framework each region will then conduct a mini-competition involving those on the framework. At the mini-competition stage, the bidders will be asked to submit a price for the service. The prices at mini-competition for each region must be lower than or equal to the bidder's prices submitted at the framework stage.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Under the proposals set out in the White Paper Equity and Excellence we will shift decision-making as close as possible to individual patients. Power and responsibility for commissioning services will be devolved to local consortia of general practitioner (GP) practices which will be overseen nationally and held to account by an independent NHS Commissioning Board. Primary care trusts will be abolished. This change will build on the pivotal and trusted role that primary care professionals already play in co-ordinating patient care, through the system of registered patient lists.
These new arrangements are intended to transform the quality of care and health outcomes for patients. Giving GP consortia more responsibility and control over commissioning budgets will align clinical decisions with their financial consequences. This is an essential component of a more effective commissioning structure.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what correspondence has taken place between the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission during October; and whether they will place this correspondence in the Library of the House.[HL3392]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: All ministerial and official letters between the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) during October will be placed in the Library of the House. These are:
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland appoints the chief commissioner and other commissioners to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Recruitment to replace the current commissioners, whose terms come to an end in autumn 2011, is expected to begin early in the new year. All appointments to the commission will be made on merit and will be run in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) guidelines. In making appointments, the Secretary of State will have regard to his statutory obligations under Section 68(3) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
To ask Her Majesty's Government (a) what are the employer contribution rates in the largest public sector pension schemes, (b) whether they have introduced or will introduce a policy of limiting the level such contributions can reach, and (c) what are the criteria governing public sector schemes enrolling employers in non-public sector companies or bodies as members.[HL3077]
Within the regulations of the Teachers, Civil Service, NHS and Local Government Pension Schemes there is already provision to limit the level of employer contributions, and the Government expect that Lord Hutton of Furness will consider such policies as part of his Independent Public Service Pensions Commission.
The criteria governing public service pension schemes enrolling employers in non-public sector companies or bodies as members are set on a scheme by scheme basis and are not held centrally. Information on the criteria of individual public service pension schemes is available from the relevant government departments.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We recognise that the existing pension system is complex and difficult for many to understand. We are looking to publish proposals for reform in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to safeguard the pensions of former employees of financial institutions if the institution is sold to a body based outside the United Kingdom. [HL3393]
Lord Freud: The Pensions Regulator, set up under the Pensions Act 2004, is the body responsible for the regulation of work-based pension schemes in the UK. The regulator's main statutory objectives include the protection of the benefits of members of work-based pension schemes administered in the UK and it has a number of powers to meet this objective.
As I said in my reply of 27 September 2010 (col. WA399), where, as a result of the state of the employer, the pension scheme becomes based outside the UK, a number of regulatory provisions could
8 Nov 2010 : Column WA33
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to ensure that multi-agency child safeguarding teams operate at main United Kingdom ports to identify and respond to concerns about children and young people arriving in or leaving the United Kingdom.[HL2989]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government are committed to safeguarding children. Multi-agency arrangements for child safeguarding operate at all ports and UK border force staff receive training on how to identify safeguarding concerns, how to respond to such situations and how to refer their concerns to the statutory agencies that have a child protection or child welfare role.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Potentially trafficked children are likely to present to local authorities as unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC). They will be supported as looked-after children by local authorities, who are responsible for assessing their needs and supporting them. Each child will be allocated a social worker, who will draw up a care plan designed to meet their individual needs and which will be regularly reviewed. This will include an assessment of whether the child is likely to have been trafficked and an appropriate plan to minimise the risk of them going missing from care or engaging with traffickers. All looked-after children are allocated an Independent Reviewing Officer, whose role is to ensure that the child's views have been taken into account in the care plan and at review meetings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that unaccompanied children who have been trafficked into the United Kingdom are given support during any court proceedings by a legal guardian or other representative.[HL3231]
Lord Hill of Oareford: Any child subject to care proceedings in a court is entitled to have a guardian and legal representation. However, unaccompanied children who are suspected of having been trafficked into the United Kingdom would not normally be
8 Nov 2010 : Column WA34
A single commissioner will be directly elected at the level of each force in England and Wales with the exception of the Metropolitan Police, where the Mayor of London will fulfil this role, and the City of London Police.
Baroness Neville-Jones: Proposals were set out in the consultation document, Policing in the 21st Century: Reconnecting Police and the People, and further details will be set out in the police reform and social responsibility Bill when introduced into Parliament later this year.
Baroness Neville-Jones: As outlined in the Policing in the 21st Century consultation document, police and crime commissioners will be paid. Proposals around pay will reflect our focus on value for money and transparency.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government believe that the best way to tackle this issue is to address the root causes of poverty, because it is only by doing this that we can improve outcomes for children in the most effective way.
By spring next year we will consult on and publish a robust, sustainable strategy to end child poverty by 2020 as required by the Child Poverty Act. As part of that, we will be looking closely at those groups most at risk of poverty, including large families, and will consider multiple-birth families as part of that.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the availability of childcare provision for mothers of multiple birth children who wish to return to work after maternity leave. [HL2972]
Lord Hill of Oareford: Local authorities have a duty to assess childcare provision and to secure sufficient childcare for working parents in their area, which includes mothers of multiple-birth children. Local authorities are due to publish their next sufficiency assessments by the end of March 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address the disproportionate number of black and minority ethnic people affected by stop and search powers and in prisons and mental health institutions.[HL2911]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 12 July 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 109), about the action being taken to address disproportionality in the use of stop and search powers.
Since that reply, the National Policing Improvement Agency has begun the phased roll-out of Next Steps, a diagnostic tool to help forces to ensure that stop and search is used appropriately and effectively while exposing inappropriate, ineffective usage that is having a detrimental impact on community confidence.
On disproportionality in prisons and mental health institutions, I refer the noble Lord to the reply given to him by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health, on 27 September 2010 (Official Report, col. WA563).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to allow private sector companies to access Higher Education Funding Council for England funding for the delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.[HL3421]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): All universities are independent of the Government and are not part of the public sector. The Government want to make it easier for new providers who can offer excellent teaching and a high-quality
8 Nov 2010 : Column WA36
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The White Paper on local growth sets out the Government's approach to local economic development.
In the 2010 spending review, the budget allocations from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will cover agreed levels of international subscriptions at the prevailing exchange rates and research councils will use forward contracts to minimise these foreign exchange risks.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the retail prices index is to be used to set allowable rail ticket price rises whilst increases in pensions and benefits are limited to the consumer prices index.[HL3158]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Different inflation measures are appropriate for different purposes. In the case of benefits, pensions and tax credits, the objective of indexation policy is to maintain individuals' purchasing power in respect of the payment in question. As explained in paragraph 1.106 of the June Budget, Her Majesty's Government
8 Nov 2010 : Column WA37
The use of the retail prices index (RPI) for setting the cap on regulated rail fares is consistent with the general indexation approach adopted across the rail industry. Franchise payments, franchise financial models and network grant are all indexed at RPI. Similarly, the Office of Rail Regulation uses RPI as the index for Network Rail's revenues; namely, track access charges. It is also worth noting that RPI is the basis of price regulation for other networks; for instance, Ofgem uses RPI as the basis for regulating energy markets as does OFWAT in water rate regulation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many schools in England (a) applied for details of transfer to academy status by the end of September, and (b) formally lodged applications to become academies; and how many new academies are now in operation. [HL3419]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): At the end of September 2010, 2,042 schools had registered their interest for details of transfer to academy status. By the same date, 186 schools had submitted applications to convert to academies.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are committed to improving the attainment of pupils in the public sector. We will do this by getting the basics right through promoting the use of systematic synthetic phonics in primary schools and ensuring that pupils are fluent in basic mathematics by the time they move to secondary school. We intend to raise the quality of the teaching profession and reduce bureaucracy in schools so that teachers and heads can focus on teaching and raising standards. We will develop a knowledge-based curriculum, with sharper assessment processes.
We are also committed to the expansion of the academies programme, opening it up to all schools including for the first time primary and special schools.
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Educational psychologists are local authority employees, and it is for the local authority employers to ensure that the training arrangements secure a sufficient number of trained educational psychologists to match predicted work demands and vacancies in educational psychology services.
In the past, local authorities have been expected to contribute to the voluntary subscription scheme set up by the Children's Workforce Development Council to help manage the entry training of EPs but an increasing number of LAs are deciding not to participate fully in the scheme.
We are therefore considering how initial training for educational psychologists can be sustainably managed and funded within the context of the forthcoming Green Paper on Special Educational Needs and the Government Spending Review.
Lord Hill of Oareford: The training and deployment of educational psychologists is the responsibility of local authorities, which are expected to contribute to the voluntary subscription scheme set up by the Children's Workforce Development Council to help manage the entry training of EPs. However, many have chosen not to contribute to the voluntary scheme. We are therefore considering how initial training for educational psychologists can be sustainably managed and funded. The forthcoming Special Educational Needs Green Paper provides the opportunity to consider this in the broader context of improving the SEN system, including early identification and assessment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they will give to local authorities on the provision and availability of educational psychologists for children for whom they are responsible, their families, and children's service professionals in order to provide diagnostic support, advice and assessment.[HL3417]
Lord Hill of Oareford: Educational psychologists make an extremely important contribution to services for children and families. However, individual local authorities are responsible for determining, in the light of their assessment of needs and their own circumstances, how they configure their educational psychology services, the number of EPs required and their input in terms of training and their deployment to support the children and young people in their area.
The forthcoming Special Educational Needs Green Paper, which aims to improve the SEN system, should provide an opportunity to identify and strengthen the way local authorities manage early identification and assessment. In addition, the Children's Workforce Development Council has developed a workforce planning model which should inform the way local authorities manage any capacity issues.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the financial year 2009-10, how many school inspections were carried out by (a) HM Inspectors directly employed by Ofsted, and (b) freelance staff and contractors; and what was the average cost of each inspection in each category.[HL2559]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): This is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, will write to the noble Lord and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The information requested is published in table D4 within the Statistical First Release, "School Workforce in England (including pupil:teacher ratios and pupil: adult ratios), January 2010 (provisional)", published on 26 May 2010. It is available at the following web link at http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000927/sfr11-2010tis.xls.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 26 July the Secretary of State for Education and the Minister for Children and Families launched a consultation on school funding for 2011-12. This consultation covered the methodology and operation of the pupil premium, including the precise distribution to pupils.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many pupils, and what proportion of the relevant age group, in (a) Newcastle-upon-Tyne, (b) other north-eastern local authorities, and (c) England, are in receipt of education maintenance allowance; and what effect the changes announced in Spending Review 2010 will have on those numbers.[HL3091]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Information on the number of students and proportion of the relevant age groups in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, other north-eastern local authorities and England, in receipt of education maintenance allowance is shown below.
|Nos. in receipt of EMA as at 30 September 2010||16-18 Population estimate for 2010-11|
No young people will receive education maintenance allowances after the end of the 2010-11 academic year. It will be replaced by an enhanced learner support fund. Decisions about the use of this fund will be made locally.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact which the reduction in police budgets over the period of spending review 2010 will have on the provision of specialist services to investigate rape offences.[HL3176]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact which the reduction in police budgets over the period of Spending Review 2010 will have on the provision of sexual assault referral centres.[HL3177]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government have made it clear since coming to office that the victim in rape cases is their priority and have committed to publishing a full response to Baroness Stern's independent review into how rape complaints are handled by public authorities in England and Wales in 2011.
In addition, the ACPO rape support programme, funded by the Home Office, is undertaking an evaluation of dedicated sexual offences units as per Baroness Stern's recommendation. This will help forces to understand the advantages of such specialised units and will support them in considering how best to use the resources at their disposal to ensure the best outcome. Chief constables and police authorities have maximum flexibility to make best possible use of resources and ensure they have the right workforce balance they need to deliver local priorities.
In addition, we have so far provided £2.2 million of funding to aid the development of sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) in England and Wales this year, and the provision of SARC services will also be a key theme in the response to Baroness Stern.
SARCs are not the sole responsibility of the police, but should embody a partnership approach at a local level, particularly with the NHS which will already bear the cost of providing many of the services that SARCs offer. We will continue our work with the Department of Health to consider how we best support local areas in developing SARCs going forward.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by Lord Sassoon on 20 October (Official Report, col. 831), what rate of interest they assumed when they said debt interest payments would be £63 billion in 2014-15.[HL3222]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Debt interest is forecast to be £63 billion in 2014-15 in the Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR) June Budget forecast. The determinants of the OBR's fiscal forecast, including market gilt rates, are published in Table C5 of the June Budget 2010 (page 87).
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 18 October (WA 131), when they expect to report the outcome of their review into the case for developing a general anti-tax avoidance rule for the United Kingdom. [HL3072]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Revenue and Customs has been engaging informally with interested parties over the summer. The Government will report on the outcome at the appropriate time.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 18 October (WA 131), whether action taken to challenge tax avoidance schemes includes the review of inheritance tax trusts.[HL3073]
Lord Sassoon: HM Revenue and Customs has consulted on draft legislation to extend the disclosure of tax avoidance schemes regime to include avoidance schemes relating to inheritance tax as it applies to the transfer of property into trusts. The consultation closed on 20 October and the responses are currently being considered.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Home Office does not hold statistics on victims of terrorism as such but within the homicide statistics there is a breakdown by apparent circumstances and relationship of victim to principal suspect, for which one of the categories is attributed to acts of terrorism. This therefore gives a figure for victims of homicide due to terrorism. In recording homicides, perpetrators of terrorist acts who cause their own deaths are not counted as victims.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): A landowner or tenant may use any legal means to control or prevent parking on their land, including vehicle immobilisation. Individuals who carry out vehicle immobilisation, elsewhere than on a road within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1988, with a view to demanding a release fee, or who employ or manage them, must hold a personal licence issued by the Security Industry Authority. Conditions are attached to the licence including a prohibition on clamping if a valid disabled badge is displayed on the vehicle, or if it is an emergency service vehicle which is in use as such.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Winter fuel payments are paid to former UK residents living in the European Economic Area and Switzerland if they qualified for a payment before leaving the UK.
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