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To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made towards finalising the updated 1999 School Premises Regulations which were awaiting Ministerial sign-off before the general election. [HL3537]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): As part of its work to streamline and consolidate existing legislation, regulations and guidance affecting school buildings, the capital review team led by Sebastian James is reviewing what is currently in place with a view to developing a new and simplified structure for the way ahead. This work encompasses the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999 and earlier recommendations to update them.
The capital review, a comprehensive review of capital investment in schools, was announced by the Secretary of State on 5 July. We expect to receive its main recommendations at the end of the year and this should include proposals for new, improved regulations and guidance on school buildings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures will be set out in the forthcoming statutory guidance on autism services Implementing Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives to ensure that all community care assessments of adults with autism are carried out by those with training in autism, in light of the recommendations in the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report Supporting Adults with Autism into Adulthood, published in October 2009. [HL3681]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In preparing draft guidance for consultation, account was taken of all available evidence, including the work and findings of the National Audit Office.
The national consultation on the statutory guidance closed on 22 October 2010. We are currently in the process of analysing the response, which will inform the further development of the statutory guidance. Ministers will then consider a revised draft and take final decisions on content. We would not wish nor would it be appropriate to anticipate this process.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): According to the BBC World Service annual review, the total operating costs of the BBC World Service for 2009-10 were £280.6 million.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of continuing to pay universal child benefits irrespective of income if the benefit (a) ceased to be payable at age 16, (b) was paid in respect of only two children in any household, and (c) was taxable.[HL3558]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government consider a range of options when formulating policy. The Chancellor announced that child benefit will be withdrawn from families containing a higher rate taxpayer from January 2013, as it is not fair for those earning just £15,000 or £30,000 to go on paying the child benefit of those earning £50,000 or £100,000. The Chancellor also announced that no further changes to child benefit are to be made.
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) does not have a bilateral development programme with the Government of Bolivia. DfID's office in Bolivia (covering the Andean region) closed in September 2008. In 2008, DfID adopted a twin-pronged strategy of supporting civil society organisations (CSOs), alongside core contributions to multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and European Commission, to assist poor people in Bolivia.
DfID is undertaking a review of its multilateral and bilateral aid programmes. The two reviews aim to ensure that UK aid is focused on areas where it can have maximum impact. The reviews will be completed in early 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of measures taken against Burundian civil society and journalists, including the arrest of Jean Claude Kavumbagu and Faustin Ndikumana, and statements by the Minister of Interior and the Police Director General to the effect that journalists and civil society should not be working on justice and security issues.[HL3606]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of the arrest of Burundian journalists Jean Claude Kavumbagu and Faustin Ndikumana on security related charges and are following developments in these cases closely, together with EU partners.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of measures taken against the political opposition in Burundi, including allegations of (a) torture of opposition activists by the National Intelligence Service (SNR) in June and July, (b) the Government takeover of the FNL political party in August, (c) arrests of provincial and communal representatives of the opposition parties FNL, MSD, Frodebu, and UPD, and (d) recent allegations of extrajudicial executions, documented by United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB). [HL3607]
Lord Howell of Guildford: There have been recent unconfirmed reports of extrajudicial killings and incidents of torture, allegedly by government agents, in Burundi. The Burundian Government have appointed a commission to investigate. The opposition party, the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), has split after factional disputes allegedly encouraged by the Government. There were some reports of arrests of opposition political activists, from parties calling for a boycott of the elections, over the May-August election period. We continue to monitor the situation closely.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The British Indian Ocean Territory (Immigration) Order 2004 states that no one may enter the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) or be present there unless in possession of a permit. The only exceptions to this are members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, public officers and officers in the public service of the Government of the United Kingdom while on duty.
Access to Diego Garcia is also governed by the 1976 UK/US Exchange of Notes and is in general restricted to members of the forces of the United Kingdom and of the United States, the Commissioner and public officers in the service of BIOT, representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom and United States and, subject to normal immigration requirements, contractor personnel. Access for any other person is a matter for consultation between the UK and US authorities.
These include: having a historic constitutional association with an existing Commonwealth member; accepting and complying with Commonwealth fundamental values, principles and priorities; demonstrating commitment to democracy, rule of law and good governance; accepting Commonwealth norms and conventions such as use of the English language; and acknowledging Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of the Commonwealth.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made on the review of the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation, announced by the Secretary of State for International Development in September 2010.[HL3464]
Baroness Verma: In his Written Statement to the House on 12 October 2010, the Secretary of State for International Development set out the broad parameters of his vision for a reconfigured CDC and announced that the Department for International Development (DfID) would launch a public consultation to hear views on CDC. The consultation was launched on 5 November 2010. DfID is also commissioning independent studies on CDC, the findings of which will be made public through DfID's website. Details of the scope of the consultation exercise and studies, and how to submit views, are available on the DfID website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are negotiating with France to use French laboratory facilities to service the United Kingdom's nuclear warheads; and, if so, why the servicing cannot be carried out by United Kingdom nuclear establishments. [HL2519]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Declaration on Defence and Security Co-operation from the UK/France summit on 2 November 2010 states that the UK and France have decided to collaborate in the technology associated with nuclear stockpile stewardship in support of our respective independent nuclear deterrent capabilities. This will be in full compliance with our international obligations through unprecedented co-operation at a new joint facility at Valduc in France that will model performance of our nuclear warheads and materials to ensure long-term viability, security and safety. This will be supported by a joint technology development centre at Aldermaston in the UK.
The declaration also states that the UK and France want to enable our forces to operate together, to maximise our capabilities and to obtain greater value for money from our investment in defence. This does not affect the independence of the UK's nuclear deterrent.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they propose to take to prevent individuals from seeking to obtain the arrest and detention of ministers of overseas democratically elected governments when they visit the United Kingdom.[HL3547]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As I announced in a Written Ministerial Statement on 22 July (Official Report, cols. WS 96-97), the Government intend to bring forward legislation to require the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be issued to a private prosecutor in respect of an offence of universal jurisdiction.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of abolishing the education maintenance allowance on plans to raise the participation age in education and training to 18.[HL3701]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are committed to making sure that every young person remains in education or training until they are 18. Where young people need extra support to realise their potential we will ensure that services are in place to support the most vulnerable.
In reaching the decision to end education maintenance allowance (EMA) we have looked closely at evaluation evidence and other research, which indicates that the scheme does not effectively target those young people who need financial support to enable them to participate in learning. The evidence suggests that around 90 per cent of the young people who receive EMA would still have participated in learning if the scheme was not available.
From 2011-12, EMA will be replaced by an enhanced learner support fund that will be administered by schools and colleges themselves, targeting those young people who face a real financial barrier to participation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they plan to protect the funding for virtual education courses for young people over the age of 16 with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome which were previously funded by the Learning and Skills Council through the Nisai Virtual Academy, given that the Young People's Learning Agency refuses to recognise the Nisai Virtual Academy as a provider while local education authorities providing education for under 16s do recognise the academy. [HL3702]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) has informed the Department for Education that following the receipt of an application from NISAI Virtual Academy (on 28 September 2010), the YPLA is currently considering NISAI Virtual Academy as a new provider through its process for considering new independent specialist providers for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. It expects to make a decision by next spring.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The overall impact to the United Kingdom of implementing a 2.9 per cent increase in the EU budget compared to the decision by the European Parliament to increase the EU budget by 5.8 per cent would be a saving of around £350 million.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Manufacturing has a vital contribution to make to the growth of the UK economy and is a key part of the Government's strategy for rebalancing the economy. We will shortly launch a manufacturing framework which will highlight key ambitions, identify growth opportunities and set out a new framework of actions for Government and industry to ensure growth both domestically and globally. This future growth will come from companies across all sectors of business responding to opportunities such as globalisation, technological and demographic change.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consider that, where projects in the United Kingdom are undertaken by the European Union and its logo is on display, a Union Jack together with the message "Matching funds supplied by Her Majesty's Government" should also be displayed when appropriate.[HL3470]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, with regard to the statement on the website of the National Fluoride Information Centre in the section Water, "Like 'York' [the British Medical Research Council] concluded that areas of concern in the past no longer required any further investigation", (a) which areas are referred to, and (b) in which sections of the York report these conclusions can be found. [HL3571]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We understand that the National Fluoride Information Centre is referring to concerns about whether the fluoridation of water is effective in improving oral health. A Systematic Review of Water Fluoridation published by the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York concluded that "The best available evidence from studies on the initiation and discontinuation of water suggests that fluoridation does reduce caries prevalence, both as measured by the proportion of children who are caries free and by the mean dmft/DMFT [decayed missing and filled teeth]".
To ask the Chairman of Committees , further to his Written Answer on 2 November 2009 (WA 385), whether the Refreshment Committee has reviewed the comparative prices of British and Dutch bacon since 13 May 2009.[HL3988]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Catering and retail services compare the meat prices put forward by their contracted suppliers on a weekly basis. Since British bacon remains uneconomical for the River restaurant, the Refreshment Committee has not been asked to reconsider the issue.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the European Union is putting into practice Baroness Ashton of Upholland's remarks at the Foreign Affairs Council of 25 October about support for Palestinian state-building and access to Gaza for both imports and exports.[HL3559]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We strongly support the noble Baroness Ashton's conclusion that the EU needs to continue its influencing work with key international stakeholders and its support for Palestinian state-building and Gaza access and exports. The EU's support for Palestinian state-building work is through the two year programme Palestine, Ending the Occupation and Establishing the State, adopted in 2009 and the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan for 2008-10.
With regards to Gaza access and exports, we, together with the EU and quartet, have called on Israel to ease restrictions on access and enable a return to economic normality. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary discussed these issues with Prime Minister Netanayhu during his recent visit. The Palestinian economy, whether in Gaza or on the West Bank, will play an important role in contributing towards a viable Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what number and percentage of Ministry of Defence staff have received, or are due to receive, increments in pay in the year ended 5 April 2011; and what is the estimated percentage and money increase in the department's pay bill due solely to increments this year, disregarding promotions or general increases in pay scales. [HL2537]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The department has a number of separate pay arrangements covering the Armed Forces, Senior Civil Service, mainstream civil servants below the Senior Civil Service, specialist grades (such as fire service personnel, police, teachers, nurses etc) whose pay is analogued to outside comparators, locally engaged civilians overseas and those employed in trading funds and non-departmental public bodies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to replace the single clinically led and scientifically based national assessment of drugs and therapies currently undertaken by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence with local arrangements.[HL3664]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, and to what extent, they expect general practitioners to follow the assessments of drugs and therapies made by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and local arrangements.[HL3665]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): As set out in our White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, we plan to reform the way that drug companies are paid for National Health Service medicines by moving to a system of value-based pricing from 2014. This will ensure licensed and effective drugs are available to NHS patients and clinicians at a price to the NHS that reflects the value they bring. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is recognised as an international leader in the evaluation of drugs and health technologies, and it will continue to have an important advisory role, including in assessing the incremental therapeutic benefits of new medicines. However, as we implement our plans for value-based drug pricing from 2014, NICE's role will inevitably evolve.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to issue a statement clarifying their expectation of the future relationship between GP consortia and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.[HL3666]
Earl Howe: As we have made clear in our White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, general practitioner (GP) consortia will be responsible for making decisions about the range and nature of services to commission in order best to respond to the needs of their local population. Individual GPs will continue to be responsible for their referral and prescribing decisions. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence will continue to have an important role in providing advice to both commissioners and clinicians.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in light of the publication of the report Front line care by the Prime Minister's Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England on 2 March, when they will respond to the report; and how its recommendations will contribute to the formulation of policy on nursing and midwifery issues at a local and national level.[HL3479]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Ministers and policy officials are considering the report in the light of the new Government's agenda. A response will be issued in due course.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department is maintaining its efforts to immunise as many children as possible against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). As a consequence, MMR vaccine uptake rates continue to rise. Provisional data for April-June 2010 published by the Health Protection Agency show 88.3 per cent of children in England had received the first MMR dose by their second birthday, an increase of about five percentage points over the preceding two years.
Primary care trusts (PCTs), strategic health authorities (SHAs) and the department monitor MMR vaccine uptake. The department is providing centrally purchased vaccine and online information to enable PCTs and SHAs to improve the effectiveness of childhood vaccination programmes.
The objective of the MMR immunisation programme is to provide two doses of MMR vaccine at appropriate intervals for all eligible individuals. These doses are routinely offered at ages of around 13 months and between three years four months and five years old. Children who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated remain eligible to receive two doses of MMR vaccine at a later age.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The cost of an A4 sheet of embossed House of Lords writing paper when bought in a ream is 3.4 pence. The equivalent cost for an A5 sheet is 2 pence.
To ask Her Majesty's Government , further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 1 November (WA 355), how many of the 301,809 local authority landlord returns made in 2007-08 resulted in underpaid tax being discovered; how much such tax was involved; and whether the 45,257 voluntary returns made in 2008-09 were investigated by HM Revenue and Customs.[HL3531]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In respect of the financial year 2007-08, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) received 244 returns from local authorities containing a total of 301,809 records of payments of housing benefit paid directly to landlords. Details of these payments, along with 45,257 returns made in 2008-09, were made available to HMRC compliance staff for the purposes of risk assessment and, where appropriate, some form of compliance intervention. HMRC maintains a record of formal compliance interventions but the record does not, in every case, contain details of which pieces
15 Nov 2010 : Column WA160
HMRC records do, however, show a number of cases where detail of housing benefit paid was the main piece of third-party information used during an intervention. For 2008-09 (the year when it is most likely that 2007-08 information was used), HMRC settled 202 income tax interventions which totalled £972,869 in additional tax, although not all the additional tax in these interventions was attributable to housing benefit payments.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of households in receipt of (a) housing benefit, and (b) local housing allowance, have at least one member in work (1) in England, and (2) in Greater London. [HL3543]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The table below details the number and proportion of claimants of housing benefit and local housing allowance who are passported/non passported and whether they are in employment, in Great Britain, England and London Government Office Region-July 2010
|Great Britain||England||London GOR|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Nationally, we estimate that 2 per cent of the private rented sector housing benefit caseload will be affected by the caps on local housing allowance rates. This should not have a significant impact in most communities but some private rented sector tenancies in central London will no longer be affordable to people who rely on housing benefit. We simply cannot continue to meet excessive rents in areas where, currently, only the very rich or people on benefit can afford to live.
More generally, even with the introduction of the caps and reductions in local housing allowance rates to the 30th percentile, between 30 and 40 per cent of private rented sector tenancies should be affordable to housing benefit tenants.
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 and an equality impact assessment. Copies of the documents have been placed in the Library. A further economic impact assessment will be published alongside the regulations.
Lord Freud: We will uprate all local housing allowance rates in line with the consumer prices index from April 2013. Uprating of the overall caps will be considered in the context of that work, and we have no plans to uprate caps before then.
Lord Freud: The department is working closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the devolved Administrations to assist families through the transition. For example, we have trebled the discretionary housing payment funding to local authorities. CLG has provided an additional £10 million homelessness prevention funding. This has been paid to London local authorities this month. We are working with local authorities and providing them with a communications tool kit which will help them raise awareness so households can take early action. If practical help and good information is made available to both tenants and landlords, problems can be minimised.
Lord Freud: Reform of housing benefit is long overdue and expenditure must be curbed as a matter of priority. We must press ahead with the changes we have announced. We have provided a substantial increase in the discretionary housing payments budget which will allow local authorities to give additional support and help people through the transition. We have referred the proposed legislation to the Social Security Advisory Committee and will respond to its report in due course.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We are considering whether the law in relation to squatting, or the way it is enforced, should be strengthened, but we have not yet reached any firm conclusions.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Publicly available independent surveys measure expectations for inflation. Assessments of these can be found in the Monetary Policy Committee's meeting minutes and Bank of England inflation reports.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they will make to the Government of Israel regarding the 15 Palestinians injured by gunshots and others harmed by tear gas in Silwan on 15 October.[HL3315]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are concerned by the attacks which have taken place in Silwan. We deplore all civilian casualties which have resulted from this conflict. We recognise Israel's right to defend itself from acts of violence but call on the Israeli Government to act with restraint and in accordance with international law. We also call on the Palestinian Authority to prevent acts of violence from originating in the Occupied Territories.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): References to "ever closer union" have been included in the Rome, Maastricht and Amsterdam treaties. They were not altered by the treaty of Lisbon.
In referring to "creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe" the same clauses of the treaty on European Union also state "in which decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity" and "in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen".
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 1 November (WA 359) on the cost of maternity leave, whether they will inform the European Union that, in the light of the serious financial situation facing the United Kingdom, they will not implement the measure to increase maternity leave to 20 weeks on full pay.[HL3773]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The European Parliament's vote is just the first stage in this negotiation. The UK will be working hard in council to oppose the imposition of a requirement for fully paid maternity leave. We know other member states share our view that the European Parliament's proposals are entirely unacceptable.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent progress they have made, in consultation with interested parties, to prepare legislation introducing a new regime for handling the presumption of death of missing persons.[HL3465]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): My department has carefully considered the draft proposals from the charity, Missing People, to reform the law of England and Wales relating to the presumed death of missing persons. However, in light of the need to concentrate our resources on the delivery of our key priorities, we have decided not to take this work forward. We are grateful to Missing People for its work on the draft proposals.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the National Employment Savings Trust will be obliged to make contributions to the Pensions Regulator along the same lines as a commercial pensions provider; and, if not, what difference there will be. [HL3752]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The occupational pension and personal pension general levy is intended to meet the running costs of the Pensions Regulator. It is a long-standing principle underlying the payment of the general levy that the cost of regulating such schemes should be borne by the schemes themselves. The general levy is therefore payable by all occupational pensions and personal pensions and this will include the National Employment Savings Trust which will be an occupational pension scheme. While the bulk of the general levy funds the Pensions Regulator, it also goes towards meeting the cost of services provided by the Pensions Advisory Service, and the Pensions Ombudsman.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will recommend, at the United Nations Human Rights Council on 5 November, that the United States remove abortion restrictions placed on all foreign aid.[HL3600]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The United Kingdom speaks at every universal periodic review of the UN Human Rights Council. We are candid with the United States (US) about our concerns as well as encouraging progress. For the review of the US we raised many points in our advance questions, including on the issue raised by the noble Baroness.
We are constrained in what we can cover in our review statement by being restricted to two minutes, speaking time. However, we have continuous dialogue with the US on human rights and we will continue to raise issues where our policies differ.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): On 21 June 2010 the department published a revision to the Operating Framework for the National Health Service in England 2010-11 that set out that primary care trusts (PCTs) would be held to account for the delivery of operational plans submitted in March 2010 with the exception of the removal of three process targets and a change in the threshold of another. The 2010 spending review settlement protected the health budget with a 0.1 per cent real terms increase in PCT allocations for 2011-12. The NHS Operating Framework for 2011-12 will set out each PCT's allocation and the department's expectation on what PCTs need to do in terms of securing the delivery of services.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government are committed to diverting mentally ill offenders from custody where appropriate. Delivery of this commitment will be strengthened by interdepartmental plans to provide mental health liaison and diversion services in England, in police stations and courts, by 2014.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the pupil premium will be payable in respect of students at (a) sixth form colleges, (b) further education colleges which are responsible for all or most sixth- form provision in an area under a "tertiary system", and (c) other further education colleges providing sixth-form courses.[HL3341]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The 16-18 funding formula already has an element that ensures disadvantaged learners attending schools and colleges, or who are funded as an apprentice, receive a funding premium. The formula has two components which provide disadvantaged learners with a funding supplement. These are the funding linked to the disadvantage uplift within the
15 Nov 2010 : Column WA166
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that those schools which are receiving capital funding grants for new premises under the building schools for the future programme will have toilet facilities which are in line with the recommendations set out in the new guidelines based on the 1999 School Premises Regulations. [HL3539]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to ensure that schools have toilet facilities compliant with the 1999 School Premises Regulations in those schools that will not be receiving additional capital funding following the cancellation of the building schools for the future programme. [HL3540]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to ensure that toilet and drinking water facilities in schools are at the same standards for pupils and for members of school staff.[HL3541]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a binding code of practice for toilet and drinking water facilities for pupils in schools which would be equivalent to the standards for school staff under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.[HL3542]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Reviewing the requirements for toilets and drinking water provision, which are and will be the same for both new and existing schools, forms part of the exercise to streamline and consolidate existing legislation, regulations and guidance affecting school buildings. This review is part of the work that we have commissioned from Partnerships for Schools for the capital review.
Currently, requirements for toilets and drinking water for pupils and visitors in schools are contained in the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999. Those for teachers and other school staff are set out in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. We are reviewing both sets of requirements, together with earlier recommendations to update the school premises regulations, so that we will establish one set of standards for all school buildings.
At present the responsibility for ensuring that schools conform to the school premises regulations generally rests with local authorities, while responsibility for ensuring compliance with the workplace regulations
15 Nov 2010 : Column WA167
The capital review, a comprehensive review of capital investment in schools, was announced by the Secretary of State on 5 July. We expect to receive its main recommendations at the end of the year and this should include proposals for revised requirements for toilets and drinking water in schools.
The document was published alongside the Spending Review documents on the HM Treasury website on 20 October 2010. It is also available via a link on our website at: http://budgetresponsibility.independent.gov. uk/publications.html.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how the reductions in housing benefit announced in Spending Review 2010 will affect the living conditions of disabled people. [HL3526]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The current exemptions to the shared room rate will continue to apply once that rate is extended to cover housing benefit recipients who are single and aged under 35 years. These include disabled people who qualify for the severe disability premium, that is customers who receive the middle or higher-rate care component of disability living allowance and no carer's allowance is in payment for them.
We will publish a document on the impacts of the proposed changes to the shared room rate in due course, which will include information at the local authority level. A more detailed equality impact assessment will be published in the normal way, once the detail of the policy has been finalised and before amending regulations are laid.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many residents in Brighton and Hove receive local housing allowance for properties which exceed the proposed four-bedroom cap; and what will be (a) the total, and (b) the average per household, benefit payments lost as a result of the proposed cap for each year in the period covered by Spending Review 2010. [HL3647]
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. A copy of the document has been placed in the Library.
Tables 22 and 23 of this document present the impact of the housing benefit caps and the four-bedroom cap; for Brighton and Hove it is estimated that 20 households would be affected, losing on average £38 per week each.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many residents in Brighton and Hove will be affected by changes to the housing allowance shared room rate on grounds of age; and how much on average affected individuals will lose for each year in the period covered by Spending Review 2010.[HL3648]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 28 October (WA 329), what information they provided to fire and rescue authorities in October regarding their future budgets as a result of Spending Review 2010.[HL3668]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): I refer the noble Baroness to the letter of 20 October 2010 by the Minister for the Fire and Rescue Service to the fire and rescue service authorities, a copy of which I am placing in the Library.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they plan to achieve savings from back office costs and raise all provision to the level of the most efficient, as stated on the Department for Education website page What does the Spending Review mean for me? 16-19 education.[HL3698]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): To live within the spending review settlement we will need to secure a reduction in unit costs and we recognise therefore that schools, colleges and other training providers will have to make challenging but, I believe, achievable efficiency savings. We will provide advice to support schools and colleges to help them identify how efficiencies can be made. There is much good practice on better procurement, better use of administrative resources and more efficient use of teaching resources. However, we do not want to be prescriptive and it will be for schools and colleges to identify for themselves how to deliver the necessary efficiency measures. Furthermore, we have already taken steps to reduce the inefficiency in the way that 16-19 institutions are funded by introducing a simplified funding system and ensuring that funding follows the learner.
We are currently working through the specifics of the spending review and aim to announce the details of the 16-19 settlement, and any changes to funding policy that will help deliver the efficiencies we need, before Christmas.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average length of time taken for export licences applied for through the SPIRE system to be granted, in respect of applications submitted by (a) technology companies, and (b) small and medium-sized enterprises. [HL3789]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government produce median statistics to measure the time taken to process export licences through the SPIRE system. In 2009 the median processing time for standard individual export licences and standard individual trade control licences was 12 days. During the same period the median processing time for open individual export licences and open individual trade control licences was 27. These statistics, along with the median statistics for the first two quarters of this year and median statistics by destination, are included in the published annual and quarterly reports that are available to view on the Strategic Export Controls; Reports and Statistics website at https://www.exportcontroldb.berr.gov.uk/eng/fox.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are very concerned by the slow progress on preparations for the referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan to take place in January 2011. Urgent action must be taken by the Sudanese parties and the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission to address delays ahead of the scheduled start of voter registration on 15 November. The Sudanese parties must also reach agreement on the critical post-referendum arrangements, including border delineation, wealth sharing and citizenship rights.
The British Government are providing significant support to ensure a peaceful and credible referendum. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development visited Sudan between 7-10 November to urge accelerated progress. The Department for International Development is providing £10 million of assistance which will help to finance the voting process, assist the Referendum Commission, and support civic and voter education and domestic and international observer groups.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have a Special Representative to help Sudan hold a referendum on 9 January 2011 on the future of the South; and, if so, who is undertaking that role. [HL3612]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We are very concerned by the slow progress on preparations for the referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan to take place in January 2011. Urgent action must be taken by the Sudanese parties and the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission to address delays ahead of the scheduled start of voter registration on 15 November. The Sudanese parties must also reach agreement on the critical post-referendum arrangements, including border delineation, wealth sharing and citizenship rights.
The British Government are providing significant support to ensure a peaceful and credible referendum. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development visited Sudan between 7-10 November to urge accelerated progress. The Department for International Development is providing £10 million of assistance which will help to finance the voting process, assist the Referendum Commission, and support civic and voter education and domestic and international observer groups.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have raised the code of conduct with the Government of Uganda to urge its enactment. It is currently unclear whether parliamentary time will be found to enact the code before elections in February 2011.
My honourable friend Henry Bellingham has also made the point to members of both the government and opposition parties in Uganda (including President Museveni and the leader of the opposition in Parliament) that all political parties need to engage peacefully and responsibly in the electoral process. Constructive dialogue between the governing and opposition parties, at both national and local level, will be essential to this.
Lord Howell of Guildford: We have raised the Public Order Management Bill with the Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of State for Internal Affairs and the Inspector-General of Police.
We have specifically urged the Ugandan authorities to ensure that any legislation in this area strikes an appropriate and legitimate balance between maintaining public order and protecting the rights to free expression and assembly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Uganda regarding the arrest and detention of the Muslim human rights activist Al Amin Kimathi, who is currently charged with terrorism and murder. [HL3605]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Mr Kimathi was charged with terrorism and murder on 20 September as a result of the Ugandan police investigation into the terrorist attacks that took place in Kampala on 11 July. We are aware of the concerns expressed by human rights organisations, and have inquired about the arrest of Mr Kimathi with the Ugandan authorities. In our contacts with both the Ugandan and Kenyan Governments we stress the importance of due process and the maintenance of the rule of law in counterterrorism activity.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The strategic defence and security review made clear that the UK's defence and security relationship with the US remains pre-eminent. The UK-France Defence and Security Co-operation treaty will increase the capability of both our Armed Forces, making us more capable members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and allies of the US. The treaty is therefore complementary to a strong UK-US defence and security relationship.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department is committed to increasing the employment opportunities available to disabled people and others who experience complex barriers to employment and in the process reducing the levels of unemployment and under-employment which they experience.
We are introducing the work programme which will replace a number of previous employment programmes, including the underperforming Pathways to Work programme, and will be an integrated package of support providing personalised help to a broad range of individuals, including those who may previously have been receiving incapacity benefits for many years. We will offer providers differentiated levels of payment for supporting harder customers into work that reflect levels of support to ensure it is worth while for providers to different customer groups appropriate support. We aim to have the work programme in place nationally by the summer of 2011.
As of October 25 2010 we launched Work Choice, a new pan-disability supported employment programme for disabled people, which provides tailored support and targets those customers who face the most complex barriers in reaching or retaining employment, including self-employment. Under a new funding model in which prime providers work closely with their subcontractors, individuals get early, quality support that helps them progress at work and, where it is appropriate for the individual, helps them move into sustainable long-term employment.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Union of the Comoros comprises of three islands: Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Nzwani (Anjouan) and Mwali (Moheli). The island of Mayotte is a departmental collectivity of France. In March 2009, 95 per cent of the people on Mayotte voted in favour of it becoming an integral French Department in 2011.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are promoting the accountability of governments in their implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 by:lobbying conflict-affected states to tackle impunity for perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence;providing financial and technical support for states to develop action plans; andsupporting international mechanisms to improve accountability, including the development of UN indicators to measure progress and the International Criminal Court to tackle impunity.
Fuller details of the Government's work will be set out in our National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which will be released later this month. We intend to lay a copy of this plan before the Parliament.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to promote the development of implementation indicators as practical applied measures to secure the objectives of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 as they relate to the role and security of women in conflict and peacebuilding in Afghanistan, Nepal and Uganda.[HL3622]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government strongly support the development of UN indicators to enhance implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. And we are supporting efforts by states better to measure their progress.we support human rights institutions that assist the Government of Afghanistan to fulfil their obligations under 1325;we provide financial and technical support to the Nepalese Government to develop their own National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325; andin Uganda, the Department for International Development is supporting UN Development Fund for Women's programme to engage women in building peace and security. Part of this programme aims to improve the use of indicators to strengthen accountability.
Our new National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, due for release later this month, will also measure progress made in our own activity. We intend to lay a copy of our plan before Parliament.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to secure the rights and wellbeing of women in the context of United Kingdom support for the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. [HL3624]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We continue to work closely with the Afghan Government to improve the status of women in Afghanistan, so they can play as full a part as possible in a future, peaceful Afghanistan.
The UK will work with individuals and groups who accept the conditions laid down by President Karzai's Government: insurgents must renounce al-Qaeda, give up armed struggle and work within the constitutional framework. We consider on its merits any request for the UK to play a role in support of this Afghan-led process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to promote the protection of women in areas of conflict and to monitor the effective implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820.[HL3625]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government are fully committed to improving the protection of women in conflict and are taking a range of actions to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1820. We will set out our activity in a National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security, due for release later this month.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The Information Committee allows one Chamber event for young people each year. The UK Youth Parliament organised such an event in 2008. This year's event on 10 December is a debate for schools with assistance from the social enterprise Debate Mate.
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