Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA177



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA177

Written Answers

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Abortion

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Anne Milton) will be meeting the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Marie Stopes International on 29 November 2010. Following this meeting, we will place the requested information in the Library.

Afghanistan: Elections

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Nearly 4.3 million valid votes were cast on 18 September. Thirty nine per cent of voters were female.

A total of 2,506 candidates competed for 249 seats in the Wolesi Jirga election held on 18 September. 398 of these were female candidates, up from 328 in the 2005 parliamentary elections.

Airports: Security

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

Earl Attlee: I refer the noble Lord to the Oral Statement made by the Home Secretary in the House of Commons on 1 November 2010 (Official Report, Commons, cols. 632-633). The Government have committed to reviewing all aspects of air freight security. The Secretary of State for Transport and his officials have been meeting with senior representatives in the air cargo industry to determine future strategy.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA178

Alcohol: Young People

Question

Asked by Lord Sheikh

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government take the issue of under-age drinking extremely seriously which is why we have committed to raising the fine for persistent sales to children to £20,000.

The Government have encouraged the leisure security industry to verify the age of an individual by using the proof of age standard scheme (PASS).

PASS is supported by the Home Office and the organisation has engaged extensively with the leisure security industry to ensure that door staff are aware of the scheme.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Tornado aircraft fleet consists of the GR4 ground attack and F3 air defence variants. The Tornado GR4 aircraft currently has a planned out of service date of 2025. Anticipating the planned retirement from RAF service of the Tornado F3 in March 2011, the estimated logistic support cost of the Tornado GR4 is £4.8 billion starting from April 2011. This includes the estimated cost of eventual aircraft disposal. However, the final effect of the decisions taken as part of the strategic defence and security review has not yet been fully costed.

In addition, there are other support costs for all RAF aircraft which are not specifically attributable to Tornado aircraft.

Armed Forces: Families

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There are currently no plans to conduct a bespoke study into the impact on families of repeated operational deployment of the Armed Forces. The single services run annual families'

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA179

continuous attitude surveys and the Armed Forces continuous attitude survey which include questions on how personnel and their families feel about many aspects of service life, including operational deployments. In addition, we have strong links with research communities in the UK and allied countries, all of which feed into welfare policies.

Armed Forces: Mental Health

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There is no evidence to suggest that the frequency of operations, or different harmony guidelines, has a differential impact on mental health of Royal Marines and Army personnel.

The noble Lord may wish to consult "What are the consequences of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan on the mental health of the UK Armed Forces?", a cohort study published in the Lancet 2010: Volume 375: Number 9728 pages 1783-1797.

Armed Forces: Rehabilitation

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Help for Heroes has contributed to Ministry of Defence capital equipment and facilities as follows:

At the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, Help for Heroes has contributed £7.9 million of funding for a new swimming pool and gym complex. The MoD made a capital contribution of £3.4 million and bears the responsibility for full running costs estimated at £250,000 per year.

As a partner in the Army Recovery Capability, Help for Heroes has committed £33 million of capital investment to fund the initial building of personnel recovery centres (PRCs) at Colchester, Catterick, Tidworth and Edinburgh, and a further £1.2 million in support of the running costs for the Tidworth PRC. The MoD has committed £35 million over the next four years to the Army recovery capability. The Royal British Legion has also committed £13 million, over 10 years, to support the running costs of the PRCs.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA180

Benefits

Questions

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In 2010-11, there are estimated to be around 1.2 million households with at least one higher-rate taxpayer that are in receipt of child benefit.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Lord Sassoon: The Government have considered the impact of the withdrawal of child benefit from January 2013 from families containing at least one higher rate taxpayer. Affected families are within the top 20 per cent of the income distribution of all families (including those without children).

Children: Adoption

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The average time between a child entering the care system and being adopted has remained fairly stable over the past three years. But there has been some decline in the timeliness of placements for adoption once the adoption decision has been made, and there is considerable variation at a local level. This is disappointing given that there are many prospective adopters ready and able to adopt a child.

The Government expect the adoption system to work effectively for all looked after children who would benefit from this option, and want to see all local authorities performing at the level of the best. That is why we have set up a ministerial advisory group on adoption to provide expert advice on a range of practical proposals to remove barriers to adoption and reduce delays. Proposals include making better use of the adoption register and extending its matching role.

We are also disseminating key messages from the adoption research initiative to front-line practitioners. This research provides a robust evidence base for adoption practice, including permanence planning and family finding. It can be found at: www.adoptionresearchinitiative.org.uk.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA181

In addition, the family justice review, which is currently underway, will consider what changes are needed to the system including how best to ensure that delays in determining the outcomes of court applications are kept to a minimum.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

Lord Hill of Oareford: Adoption law and statutory guidance require that due consideration is given to a child's ethnic background. But it also stresses that it is unacceptable for a child to be denied adoptive parents solely on the grounds that the child and prospective adopters do not share the same racial or cultural background. This is a very important message. Ministers have recently made clear their position that ethnicity should not be a barrier to adoption if there are loving, stable and secure families ready to adopt children.

The Government want to see more children adopted when it is in their best interests, fewer delays in reaching decisions and improved matching in particular for black and minority ethnic children. That is why we have established a ministerial advisory group on adoption to provide expert advice on how to remove barriers to adoption and to reduce delay in placements. In January we shall issue revised statutory guidance on adoption. This will underline the requirements in respect of the matching of children and prospective adopters from different backgrounds.

Work commissioned under the adoption research initiative provides a robust evidence base for adoption practice, including family finding and matching. The research can be found at www.adoptionresearchinitiative.org.uk.

Climate Change

Questions

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): We welcome the Local Government Group's Offer on Climate Change and we are discussing with them at all levels how to take this forward.

Asked by Lord Dykes

Lord Marland: In answering this question, "model" is taken to mean a computer model. An "empirical" model is taken to mean a computer model based on

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA182

"statistical relationships" drawn from observations and a "physical" model, one that is founded on the laws of physics.

In general, the Government do not use empirical models for future climate change projections. Rather, the Government use physically based models (such as the Met Office's new family of Earth System models) for climate change projections on scales from a season, through a decade to a century or more ahead. However, empirical models are used by the Met Office to support short-term climate prediction (up to a season ahead) over Europe and some components of physical models are empirically based.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

Baroness Verma: The safety and security of women is a top priority for our aid programme and for wider HMG work in DRC. Through our humanitarian programme we have provided medical and psychosocial care over the past year to more than 5,000 victims of gender-based violence, and are working with the International Committee of the Red Cross to support a network of 30 listening centres that provide psychosocial support and referral services to victims. In addition, we are seeking to strengthen accountability and the rule of law through our support to police and judicial reform, and enhance civilian protection through wider UK Government support to the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC.

We are currently reviewing our aid programme to determine how we can achieve better value for money for the taxpayer and accelerate progress towards the millennium development goals. Women and girls, including their safety and security, will remain at the heart of what we do.

Education: Special Educational Needs

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Lamb inquiry made 51 recommendations. Many have already been implemented, including legislative changes to provide parents a right to appeal where the local authority decides not to amend a statement following an annual or interim review, and to route SEN complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman. A new statutory

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA183

requirement on Ofsted to report on how well schools are providing for children with special educational needs and disabilities as part of school inspections was taken forward through the Children, Schools and Families Bill and commenced in September 2010. In addition, a range of activity has already been implemented, including:

the Achievement for All programme in 455 primary, secondary and special schools in 10 local authorities;the National Strategies training for LA officers on statement writing;the National Parent Partnership Network work to enhance parent partnership services; advice from an Expert SEND Group to the Commissioning Support Programme; and work to improve parental experience of the Special Educational Needs Tribunal, which includes new guidance for tribunal chairs and the production of a DVD guide for parents on the tribunal.

The Government are considering any outstanding recommendations as they develop their detailed policies in this area and have announced that they will be publishing a Green Paper on special educational needs and disabilities. The overall finding of the Lamb inquiry was that by addressing support needs early, ensuring parents were listened to and that there was a real focus on improving outcomes, parental confidence increased. The Green Paper will be informed by the inquiry's findings and explore how we can improve support for all children with special educational needs and disabilities and their families. It will cover a range of services and settings including schools and the early years, where we know from recent research that pre-school education acts as a protective factor, so that the risk of SEN decreases from one child in three on entry to pre-school, to one in five by the time children start primary school. In doing so it will draw on recommendations such as those covering the school workforce and child well-being; the outcomes of the Council for Disabled Children's review of SEN information; and findings from the local authority projects to develop innovative practices in involving parents at a local level.

Embryology

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the incident referred to in my Written Answer of 13 October

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA184

2010 (Official Report, col. WA 72), did not relate to a case in which confidential documents were circulated to an unintended recipient.

The HFEA's log of potential and actual internal incidents records one incident of a confidential document being sent to an unintended recipient by a member of its executive staff. This was reported to the authority's corporate management group in accordance with the HFEA's established procedure.

The HFEA has also advised that it takes the protection of confidential information extremely seriously and has an established process for recording and investigating internal incidents that would include any breaches of confidence.

Energy: Carbon Emissions

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government decided not to proceed with the recycling of CRC revenues proposed by the previous Administration in order to support the public finances. It also gives a clearer price signal in the scheme which participants have asked for. The impact on the public sector and local government will depend on the extent to which participants reduce their energy consumption before they are required to purchase and surrender allowances. We have delayed the first sale of allowance from 2011 to 2012 in order to give participants more time to improve their energy efficiency.

Energy: Green Deal

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The green deal will provide the opportunity for all householders to take action to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and communities. We envisage that local authorities may want to play different roles in terms of the green deal, whether as green deal providers in their own right, or in forming partnerships with companies active

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA185

in their areas. We are currently considering proposals from the Local Government Group around the contribution local government can make to the green deal. We will be discussing these proposals further in the coming months.

In addition, DECC Ministers have discussed the green deal with the Local Government Association (LGA) and a number of local authorities.

Energy: Nuclear Power

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): On 18 October, Her Majesty's Government announced the consultation on the revised draft energy national policy statements including the nuclear NPS, which lists eight sites as being potentially suitable for the deployment of new nuclear power stations before the end of 2025. The consultation will run until 24 January 2011 and we expect the NPSs to be put before Parliament for ratification next spring.

Energy: Nuclear Reactors

Question

Asked by Lord Haworth

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): We have not received any proposals to consider processing spent fuel from the next generation of nuclear reactors but should proposals come forward in the future, they would need to be considered on their merits at the time. In theory there is no reason why spent fuel from the next generation of nuclear reactors would not be capable of being reprocessed. In practice, however, the ongoing availability of reprocessing facilities and supporting plant would be a key consideration as would the overall economics of reprocessing such fuel.

Energy: Renewables

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Severn tidal power feasibility study concluded that

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA186

there is no strategic case for Government to support a large tidal power scheme in the Severn estuary in the immediate term. However, the Government recognise that factors which will determine the feasibility of Severn tidal power could change over time. The circumstances in which a future Government may choose to review the case for Severn tidal power are set out in the feasibility study summary report available at www.decc.gov. uk/severntidalpower.

The outcome of the feasibility study does not preclude a privately financed scheme coming forward. My officials are talking to private sector consortia about their ideas.

The Government are committed to increasing the amount of energy generated from a portfolio of renewables technologies across the sectors of electricity, heat and transport. We will do this by providing long-term, comprehensive and targeted financial support for the deployment of renewables in each of these sectors. This will support large-scale commercial deployment and deployment by businesses, communities and households. We are also taking steps to catalyse further private sector investment through the establishment of a green investment bank and tackle the non-financial barriers to deployment through the production of the renewables delivery plan in the spring.

Energy: Wind Turbines

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Information on load factors for both on and offshore wind farms are published in table 7.4 of the Digest of UK Energy Statistics. The 2010 edition, published in July 2010 gives the load factors for the calendar years 2005 to 2009. A copy of this publication is available in the Libraries of the House and on the Department of Energy and Climate Change website at http://www.decc. gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/publications/dukes/dukes.aspx.

Load factors are normally calculated by examining the installed capacity at the beginning and the end of each year, and comparing the average of these two figures with the amount of electricity generated by them. For 2009 this gives an offshore load factor of 26.0 per cent. These figures can be influenced by when new capacity come on stream, particularly if this is early or late in the year. The load factor for the offshore turbines that were in operation throughout the calendar year 2009 has been calculated as 33.7 per cent.

Recent analysis undertaken by the Public Research Centre, and published in the Offshore Valuation Report, highlights that the offshore wind resource in UK waters is "widely reported to be the best in Europe".



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA187

EU: Commissioners

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We support President Barroso's intention to review the Commissioners' code of conduct as stated in the political guidelines for the current Commission.

Financial Services Authority

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Regulation of equity markets is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The FSA has advised that it has not had to investigate any incidents where there was prima facie evidence to suggest that a high-frequency trader or other market participant intentionally sought to crash the markets' equity trading system.

Food: Aspartame

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Volunteers are coming forward to participate in the Food Standards Agency (FSA)- funded study on aspartame more slowly than anticipated. As such the FSA is currently negotiating to extend the end date for this work by six months with the contractors at no additional cost. It is anticipated that the study will now complete in summer 2011.

To date, 23 aspartame-sensitive individuals, and 23 age-and-sex-matched controls of the 50 volunteers required for each group have completed the study.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA188

We do not anticipate that delaying the conclusion will undermine industry and consumer confidence, whereas terminating the study with insufficient numbers of participants would undermine confidence as no conclusions could then be drawn from this work.

The FSA's view is still that aspartame can be consumed safely.

Foreign Heads of State: UK Property

Question

Asked by Lord Rooker

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Foreign heads of state are not required to inform Her Majesty's Government if they buy private property in the United Kingdom. However, the same rules apply to these transactions as apply to others, including any requirements relating to registration of title.

G20

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The group of 20 summit (G20) took place on 11 and 12 November. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister attended, accompanied by the Chancellor. This summit was an important step in the G20's evolution from a crisis management grouping to an effective long-term global forum.

Along with the other G20 members, the UK was pleased to discuss fiscal consolidation, financial regulation, trade, and international development at the summit.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Baroness Verma: The UK is providing core funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) through a five-year (2007-11) commitment worth up to £110 million. In June this year we provided £19 million under this commitment. In October we provided an additional £8 million to ensure UNRWA can continue to deliver essential services, such as healthcare and education. This brings our total assistance to UNRWA for 2010 to £27 million which, among other things, will help provide maternal healthcare to 263,000 women

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA189

and 242,000 children, education for 45,000 children, vocational training for 1,000 vulnerable and disabled people, and food and cash aid for 29,000 extremely poor people. Approximately 30 percent of UNRWA's funding is spent in Gaza.

The Minister of State for International Development, my right honourable friend Alan Duncan MP, recently met UNRWA's Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi, to discuss the funding shortfall. The UK fully supports UNRWA's fundraising efforts and, in addition to the extra funding we have provided, we are calling on other donors to honour their funding commitments.

Gilts

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon):

Date10-year gilt yield (per cent)10-year US Treasury yield (per cent)Spread (basis points)

11 May 2010

3.89

3.53

36

1 November 2010

3.05

2.62

42

Government Departments: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The department has not employed any staff since 12 May on temporary or short-term contracts to support the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Health: Health Visitors

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA190

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The coalition agreement pledges to increase the number of health visitors. We announced on 21 October 2010 a national recruitment drive to create 4,200 new health visitor posts and build a rejuvenated profession across the country, including the Greater Manchester area.

We are currently developing a programme of work to implement these proposals.

Health: Incontinence

Questions

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Information on expenditure by primary care trusts (PCTs) in support of paediatric continence services, and numbers of staff employed to deliver these services, is not available centrally. It is for PCTs to decide how to use the resources allocated to them in order to ensure the health of the people they serve.

Healthcare

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): No such appointments have been made by the Government since coming to office.

Homelessness: Rough Sleepers

Questions

Asked by Lord Moonie



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA191

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Information on the proportion of former Armed Forces personnel who became rough sleepers within five years of leaving the Armed Forces is not available. However, a recent CHAIN (Combined Homeless and Information Network) survey (funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government) estimated that 3 per cent of those found rough sleeping in London, from 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010, had served in HM Armed Forces. This compared with 4 per cent seen rough sleeping the previous year and 6 per cent estimated in a York University study in 2006. The CHAIN survey does not record the number who became rough sleepers within five years of leaving the Armed Forces.

The Ministry of Defence continues to work closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government, devolved authorities, other government departments, ex-Service organisations and other service providers to ensure a co-ordinated and structured approach to the issue of homelessness among former members of HM Armed Forces. Our aim is to prevent new service leavers becoming homeless and to provide an effective safety net for those ex-service personnel who find themselves in that position.

Measures have been introduced making it easier for former service personnel to access social housing, become home owners and occupy empty MoD properties as an interim measure. We work with the local authorities to ensure that the use of surplus MoD property in this way does not inadvertently disadvantage the service leaver's position on social housing waiting lists. The MoD has also gifted land and provided financial support for supported housing projects at Aldershot and Catterick.

House of Lords: September Sitting

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): Recess dates are subject to the progress of business. At present, there are no plans to review the dates of the 2011 Summer Recess.

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA192

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Information on the average income of social households is not available at district level.

Immigration: Yarl's Wood

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Ms Diedericks received the same level of maternity care at Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre as she would have received in the community.

She was seen by nurses, a GP and midwife on several occasions during her first week at the centre and a routine scan was booked with the local hospital as part of the continuity of care. However, despite this, her legal representative chose to seek a court order requiring her to be taken to the hospital for an earlier appointment.

Yarl's Wood complied with the court order and took her to the hospital, but following examination she was returned to the centre. She was taken back to the hospital the following day for the scan as planned.

Ms Diedericks received appropriate care whilst in the centre and she was fully involved in all the medical consultations. No apology was therefore required.

Ms Diedericks has been granted temporary admission whilst she pursues a legal challenge to her removal from the United Kingdom.

India

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We recognise caste discrimination as a problem and are concerned by reports of discrimination against Dalits and other minority communities in India. We welcome the measures that the Indian Government have taken to address discrimination. Our High Commission in New Delhi has discussed these issues with the Indian National Commission for Minorities and with various state level authorities, drawing their attention to British parliamentary and public concern, though we have not covered the specific issue of access to parks and places of worship. We will continue to raise human rights issues with the Indian Government both bilaterally and through the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA193

Asked by Lord Patten

Lord Howell of Guildford: Through the EU-India Human Rights dialogue, we have regularly raised the issues of women's rights and trafficking of children with the Indian Government, though these discussions have not covered the specific issue of the Devadasi system. We welcome the steps taken by the Indian Government and State Governments to address the issue. Through the EU we also funded a project on the education, empowerment, participation and rehabilitation of children vulnerable to or survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation, in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh from June 2006 to June 2010.

Asked by Lord Patten

Baroness Verma: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has launched a bilateral aid review of the Department for International Development's (DfID's) country programmes, including India, to ensure that we are giving aid where it is most needed to help the world's poorest people. Any decision on the future of the UK's bilateral programme in India will be made in close consultation with the Government of India.

Currently, the UK does not have a specific aid allocation for Dalits but all UK development programmes are designed to benefit particularly the poorest and most excluded, including Dalits. For example, the Indian Government's Education for All scheme, which is supported by the UK, has helped bring the proportion of Dalit children in school into line with their proportion in the general population. The UK has also supported the Government of India to reduce maternal and infant deaths among Dalits and tribal people by training community health workers to provide health services in remote rural areas. Through our civil society programmes, the UK is also supporting excluded groups, including Dalits, in India's 120 poorest districts to access benefits and services.

Insolvency

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government have no plans aimed specifically at small companies which are insolvent.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA194

However, since the emergency budget in June we have taken steps to help small and medium-sized enterprises get better access to both debt and equity finance and to reduce red tape. There is also a range of support to businesses seeking access to finance to ensure that small businesses get the right advice.

In addition, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs remains committed to helping businesses through genuine short-term difficulties by allowing time to pay agreements. Its business payment support service continues to provide a fast-track gateway into the decision-making process for businesses seeking time to pay agreements.

International Development

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) currently funds a range of voucher schemes in health and education that are specific to country context.

The Secretary of State has initiated a review of all DfID's aid programmes, including health and education, to ensure we achieve value for money and accelerate progress towards the millennium development goals.

As laid out in The coalition: our programme for government, DfID will prioritise increasing access to basic services, such as health and education, for the world's poorest people and will continue to do this via methods that are proven to work.

Manufacturing

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government are supporting manufacturing industries by creating a stable business environment that will give businesses the confidence they need to plan and invest for the future. We are doing this by creating a more supportive tax environment, freeing up credit through the banking system, reducing regulation, maximising the flexibility of the labour market and focusing on training and apprenticeships. The Government announced in the spending review that they will invest up to £200 million to support manufacturing and business development focusing on high growth business and innovation particularly among small and medium-sized businesses.

Later in the year we will be launching a new approach to manufacturing that will highlight key ambitions, identify growth opportunities and set out a new framework of actions for both government and industry.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA195

Monetary Policy Committee

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The first explicit inflation targeting regime for monetary policy was introduced in 1992. The Bank of England Act 1998 transferred operational responsibility for monetary policy to an independent committee of the Bank, the Monetary Policy Committee, with a clear remit to deliver price stability by meeting the Government's inflation target of 2 per cent measured by the retail prices index.

The then Chancellor announced on 10 December 2003 that the operational target for monetary policy would switch to a target based on the consumer prices index.

Specific data on how much prices have risen over time can be found on the Office for National Statistics website at the following link: http://vvww. statistics.gov.uk/ hub/economy/prices-output-and-productivity/price-indices-and-inflation/index.html

Morocco

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have not made representations to the Government of Morocco on this issue. However, officials from our embassy in Rabat attended a briefing given by the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to EU ambassadors on 28 October. The Moroccan Chef de Cabinet, Nasser Bourita, specifically said that the Moroccan authorities were helping with supplies and health. The desk officer for Morocco also received a briefing from officials regarding the protest camps at the Moroccan embassy to London on 2 November.

The UK is concerned by reports of violence at the camps outside Gdiem Izik and in the town of Layounne. We are following the situation closely and are in contact with the Moroccan authorities. The loss of life is profoundly regrettable.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA196

National Insurance

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Statistics of the numbers of non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals sent to work in the United Kingdom by an overseas employer are not available. Workers from countries outside the EEA, with which the UK has no bilateral agreements, may benefit from a 52 week exclusion from national insurance contributions by virtue of Regulation 145(2) or (3) of the Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 2001 provided they meet the statutory conditions. This exclusion is designed to keep temporary visiting workers, students and apprentices out of the UK social security scheme.

Northern Ireland Office: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) keeps its staffing levels under review and when vacancies occur regularly considers the continuing business need for the post. Determining optimal workforce levels in order to live within the department's Spending Review resource DEL settlement will be an ongoing process.

Northern Ireland: Dissidents

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: This is an operational matter for the chief constable. I have asked him to reply directly to the noble Lord and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA197

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The information requested is provided in the following table:

YearPurposeExternal SourceFunding (£)

2005-06

Bill of Rights Arts Project

Arts Council for Northern Ireland

8,751*

2006-07

Hosting of a round table on "The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in Conflict and Post Conflict Situations"

United Nations

53,480*

2007-08

"Rights and Righteousness" conference

Irish School of Ecumenics

5,124*

2008-09

Research into Human Trafficking

Equality Commission

6,000*

2009-10

Work with the Equality Commission to develop independent monitoring mechanism under Article 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Office for Disability Issues

15,564*

2009-10

Programme of work on the Bill of Rights to enable the NIHRC to disseminate its advice to a wider audience and enhance the NIO consultation process

Atlantic Philanthropies

110,000

2009-10

Develop a business case for further external funding

Atlantic Philanthropies

30,000

* Actual income received.

No requests for funding have been approved since May 2010.

Asked by Lord Laird



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA198

Lord Shutt of Greetland: This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which operates independently of government. The noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which operates independently of government. The noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government have not entered into any correspondence with either Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, or Rosslyn Noonan, chair of the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Protection of Human Rights, on matters relating to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Asked by Lord Donoughue

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The way in which the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission organises itself to deliver its statutory responsibilities is a matter for the commission, which operates independently of government. The noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly.

Olympic Games 2012

Question

Asked by Lord Sheikh

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Home Office has supported the provision of trained stewards for the London 2012 Games through "Bridging the Gap": an initiative to train young people in stewarding, event management and security guarding

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA199

with a recognised qualification and opportunities to work within the Games. The initiative has been funded jointly by the Home Office, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), working alongside the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) and further education establishments.

LOCOG's planned Games-time workforce includes up to 100,000 short-term opportunities from third-party contractors, including in the field of security. LOCOG will ensure that contractors' staff are appropriately trained and have the necessary skills.

People Trafficking

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Expert competent authorities located in the UK Human Trafficking Centre and UK Border Agency make decisions on trafficking cases. The training for all competent authority staff is identical and they work to the same guidance and rules. A multi-agency quality assurance exercise in February 2010 found the quality from both competent authorities to be generally high.

The functioning of the national referral mechanism (NRM) is overseen by an official-led Strategic Monitoring Group, which includes representatives from government departments, local authorities, the UK Human Trafficking Centre and NGO service providers. In the second half of this year this group oversaw a review of the NRM, including the decision-making process. It concluded that the NRM was working reasonably well but as part of the government's commitment to improve its response to trafficking the Strategic Monitoring Group is developing a number of options to reform the process, including increasing the speed of decision-making.

Railways: Railcards

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Earl Attlee: The senior railcard generates revenue for the rail industry, when the revenue generated by the sale of the card itself is taken into consideration, together with the additional rail trips it generates. There is no direct government subsidy to National Rail senior railcards.

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA200

Currently, the terms of the senior railcard do not include a citizenship requirement. Anyone aged over 60 is eligible to buy a senior railcard, if they can provide a valid United Kingdom driving licence or a birth certificate or passport number (from any nation).

Spending Review 2010

Questions

Asked by Lord Barnett

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have set out their plans to increase total health spending by 0.1 per cent above inflation in each year of the spending review. But the NHS will still need to drive reform and make savings by reducing waste and inefficiency. The Government aim to find up to £20 billion a year of efficiency savings by 2014-15, which will be reinvested in the NHS to help fund services.

These savings do not therefore contribute directly to the £81 billion of spending reductions set out in the spending review. But within an overall health budget that increases in real terms in each year of the spending review, these savings will enable the NHS to focus more resources on front-line services.

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): We will announce our proposals for the distribution of formula grant in the usual manner in due course.

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

Baroness Hanham: The most recent information on the number of additional new-build affordable homes in England for the period requested can be found from the following link at http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/1406088.xls.

The information covers the supply of homes for social rent, intermediate rent and low cost home ownership.



16 Nov 2010 : Column WA201

The department does not forecast levels of future house building and delivery will be determined by local housing plans. In the spending review we announced almost £4.5 billion investment in new affordable housing to deliver up to 150,000 affordable homes. We are giving housing associations much more flexibility on rents and use of assets, so our aspiration is to deliver as many as homes as possible through our investment and reforms. We will publish details of how these proposals will work shortly.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

Lord Sassoon: The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) released the official forecast for whole economy employment to 2015-16 on 22 June 2010.

Further information on its employment forecast, including projections for general government employment, was released on 30 June 2010 in its document OBR forecast: Employment, which can be found on the following webpage at http://budgetresponsibility.independent. gov.uk/publications.html.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has noted that, taken together, the OBR forecasts for whole economy employment and general government employment imply 1.6 million additional private sector jobs over the next four years (Official Report; col. 512).

The OBR forecast reflects the degree of fiscal consolidation in the 2010 spending review, as announced at the June Budget. The OBR will update its forecasts on 29 November.

SPIRE System

Question

Asked by Lord Harris of Haringey

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): We receive regular feedback from individuals and companies who use the SPIRE system through

16 Nov 2010 : Column WA202

various channels of communication. Recently, we received comments about the SPIRE system through responses to a customer satisfaction survey. The survey was issued by the Export Control Organisation (ECO) through SPIRE and ran between January and April 2010. A questionnaire was sent to 1,618 individuals asking for feedback on services provided by the ECO. Of the 657 individuals who responded, 40 per cent were from small and medium-sized enterprises. One question asked respondents to rate the usability of SPIRE and, while some respondents commented that SPIRE should be improved to enhance usability, most (75 per cent) respondents said that SPIRE is easy to use. Customers were also invited to provide comments and suggestions specifically about the SPIRE system. On the whole these comments support the view that SPIRE is a good, workable system for exporters to use. Comments include, for example, "the SPIRE process is generally very good and easy to use" and "SPIRE is a good tool to use".

The full survey results are available to view at:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/eco/docs/10-1198-eco-customer-survey-analysis-2010.doc.

A high level summary of the results and action plan are published at:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/eco/docs/10-1197-e-eco-customer-survey-analysis-2010.doc.

I shall arrange to place a copy of these documents in the Library of the House. We have not received any representations from the Home Office concerning this issue.

Videos: Hatred and Anger Incitement

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The coalition Government take the threat of online extremist or hate videos very seriously. Where such unlawful videos are hosted in the United Kingdom, the police seek their removal and also have the ability to sanction this under the Terrorism Act 2006. In cases where unlawful videos are hosted overseas, we work closely with our international partners and the internet industry to effect their removal.


Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page