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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 16 November (HL3761), how soon the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Anne Milton, will meet with the charity LIFE to discuss support for women facing unplanned pregnancies.[HL4236]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in relation to the aviation security incident at East Midlands Airport, at what time on 28 October the Minister for Security was first informed of the removal of the device from the plane.[HL3608]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Secretary of State for Transport was informed about an incident at East Midlands Airport at 8.10 am on Friday 29 October. In his capacity as Secretary of State for Transport he is routinely informed of incidents having the potential to disrupt air transport, even when no specific threat materialises. The Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Security Minister were all informed at lunchtime on Friday 29 October.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 1 November (WA 339) that tackling anti-social behaviour "must be a priority for all agencies, including the police", what assessment they have made of the role and value in this work of community policing systems, and in particular police community support officers, in (a) Lancashire, and (b) England as a whole. [HL3588]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): A report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), Anti-social Behaviour: Stop the Rot, highlights the importance of providing reassurance and tackling quality-of-life crimes. These are key tasks for neighbourhood policing teams. Neighbourhood policing provides a dedicated, consistent and visible presence in communities, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. It strengthens the public's confidence that the criminal justice system is on their side, encouraging them to play their own part in keeping their communities safe.
Through visible patrols and engaging with the community, police community support officers make an important contribution to providing reassurance and tackling quality-of-life crimes in Lancashire and across England and Wales.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any of the information on reported incidents involving the treatment of civilians by United States, British or Iraqi military or police, which was compiled by the United States military and associate organisations and published online by Wikileaks, was communicated by the United States to the Ministry of Defence or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before September 2010.[HL3667]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): We condemn any unauthorised release of classified material. This can put the lives of UK service personnel and those of our allies at risk and make the job of the Armed Forces in all theatres of operation more difficult and more
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the status of the Future Rapid Effect System Utility Variant programme; and what consideration has been given to procuring a vehicle already in service with other armies to meet the requirement.[HL4112]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Future Rapid Effect System has been recast from a single programme into a set of constituent programmes, one of which is the utility vehicle programme. The way forward on this programme is being reviewed following the publication of the strategic defence and security review.
During the utility vehicle competition in 2006-07, consideration was given to several candidate vehicles that were either in, or scheduled to be in, service with other armies. All candidate vehicles that demonstrate they can meet the requirements will be eligible for consideration in any future competition.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The information requested for all Land Rovers retired from the Army is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. I can confirm however, from 2002 to date, the Ministry of Defence has sold the following Land Rovers that were surplus to requirements:
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The green investment bank (GIB) has yet to be established. As set out in the BIS structural reform plan, we are committed to completing the design and conducting further market testing by spring 2011, with the GIB being operational by September 2012.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): No such assessment has been made. An English local authority (LA) can arrange residential care for a person anywhere in England or Wales. That LA then remains responsible for their care as long as they remain in LA-arranged residential care in England or Wales, as set out in the department's guidance, Ordinary Residence: Guidance on the Identification of the Ordinary Residence of People in Need of Community Care Services, England, which came into effect on 19 April 2010.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 8 November (WA 39) concerning the proportion of male teachers in state primary schools, whether they will take urgent action to increase the proportion from the current 15 per cent.[HL4291]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government are currently considering a wide range of issues around the future of teacher training and, in particular, what steps we should take to ensure that we have an adequate supply of high-quality teachers, and how the best people can be attracted into the profession. The number of male primary teachers in schools is one of these issues.
Lord Hill of Oareford: A government priority is to improve the quality and status of teaching by attracting the highest quality entrants to the profession. We will pursue this by improving the quality and rigour of initial teacher training carried out in higher education institutions and in schools; and by identifying entry routes to teaching that will attract experienced people from other walks of life, including the private and voluntary sectors and the armed services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the total cost of producing and distributing the new primary curriculum handbook; and what is the estimated cost to the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency of reimbursing schools that purchased additional copies.[HL3842]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The total cost* of producing and distributing the new primary curriculum handbook was £389,000. The estimated cost to the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency of reimbursing schools that purchased additional copies was £198,000.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which sections or subsections of the Equality Act 2010 have not been commenced; of those, which ones they intend to commence and which they do not intend to commence; how many orders have so far been made under the Act; and how many orders are pending. [HL4457]
Baroness Verma: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 1 November, Official Report, col. WA 348. Since that time the Government have announced they will not be taking forward the duty regarding socioeconomic inequalities (Sections 1 to 3 of the Equality Act 2010).
The Government are still considering provisions in relation to the following matters which were not commenced on 1 October 2010: dual discrimination (Section 14); disability-related alterations to common
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As indicated in the Answer referred to above, 19 Statutory Instruments relating to the Equality Act 2010 have been made and published and are accessible through the Government Equalities Office website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they receive regular representations and communications from the European Azerbaijan Society based in the United Kingdom; and what responses they have given in 2010.[HL4144]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We receive regular representations and communications from the European Azerbaijan Society and give careful consideration to these representations.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Extending the lone parent changes to lone parents with a youngest child aged five or over, which is subject to the passage of the Welfare Reform Bill, is expected to further increase the rate at which lone parents leave benefits for employment and will contribute to achieving an increase in the number of lone parents taking up full or
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The introduction of the universal credit will ensure that support is only gradually withdrawn as lone parents return to work and increase their working hours, so that they will usually keep more of their earnings than is currently the case, regardless of how many hours they work.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Safeguarding vulnerable adults from abuse and financial exploitation is an important strand of the police service's protective capabilities work. A specific project led by ACPO is currently under way to undertake an intelligence assessment of the threats, causes and impact of financial crime on vulnerable adults that will be used to inform any future work needed to address this issue. This report is due to be published shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many staff have been employed on temporary or short-term contracts since 12 May to support the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; what are the names of those employed; at what grade and what level of remuneration they were employed; and what selection criteria were used to determine their suitability for the post.[HL3957]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My honourable friend the Minister for Employment gave details of the appointments made by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in response to a parliamentary Question on 15 June 2010 (Official Report, Commons, col. 361W).
Both Ms Pickles and Mr Brien have been seconded to support the Secretary of State. They were selected with agreement by the Permanent Secretary based on their close working with the Secretary of State and their expert knowledge of his policy programmes, particularly family, children, disability policy, and the economic drivers of worklessness.
Ms Pickles is remunerated consistent with the level for senior civil servants in pay band 1 and has not been appointed to the permanent Civil Service. Mr Brien is seconded part-time and remunerated consistent with the level for senior civil servants in pay band 2.
To ask Her Majesty's Government who was consulted prior to the decision to merge the post of director-general science and research into the Directorate of Knowledge and Innovation in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. [HL4198]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The amalgamation of responsibility for science, higher education and innovation under a new post of director-general, knowledge and innovation is part of a major change programme in BIS to enable the department to achieve real synergies between its policy areas and deliver benefits for universities, science and business in the years ahead. The new top-level structure was agreed last summer by the department's executive committee, (comprising all directors-general and chaired by the Permanent Secretary) and is now being implemented following the arrival of the new Permanent Secretary. A range of people throughout the department, including the government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, commented on the options, and Ministers were kept fully informed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the interview panel to decide on the appointment of the new director of Knowledge and Innovation in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will include members with qualifications in the areas of science, engineering and technology. [HL4199]
Baroness Wilcox: The process to select a new director-general, Knowledge and Innovation, was conducted in accordance with Civil Service commissioners' rules and chaired by a Civil Service commissioner. He was satisfied that the panel, which included two Permanent Secretaries and a director-general, was qualified to assess all aspects of the new role.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Cabinet Office and Downing Street passes are issued to members of staff and to others who are sponsored by both Cabinet Office and Prime Minister's Office members of staff. Their employment, previous employment status or political-party association is not relevant and we therefore do not hold this information.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Under the Capability Review programme, launched in 2006, all Whitehall departments are regularly independently assessed on their performance against a range of criteria, including evidence-based policy-making.
As reported in Capability Reviews: An Overview of Progress and Next Steps at the end of 2009, the Capability Review programme had resulted in departments improving their performance against this indicator, although more work remains to be done. More detail on the Capability Review programme can be found at www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/improving/capability/index.asp.
The Government also ensure evidence-based policy-making through the requirement to carry out impact assessments for all regulatory proposals. Policy development across government is supported by advice from the Government Economic Service and the Government Statistical Service.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the goal to reduce Clostridium difficile infections to be implemented from April 2011 differs from a target or a milestone; and in what way it differs from previous targets for reducing MRSA and Clostridium difficile.[HL4315]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In any outcome measures this Government establish within the National Health Service, the driving factor will be the need to ensure all patients receive safe, effective and high-quality care regardless of where they receive it. National reductions, while a welcome indicator, will not be the only measure by which we assess progress.
In the case of reducing Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections, the approach of the previous Government was to use national targets, which placed no specific obligation on individual organisations to reduce their own infection rates as part of measuring
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Details on the level of ambition we propose to set from April 2011 for the NHS to reduce the level of C. difficile infections will be confirmed next month. The key aim will be to remove variations in C. difficile infection rates between organisations, by driving all organisations towards the best rates. We propose to set an objective for each NHS organisation (acute trusts and primary care organisations) based on its historical rates of infection. Those organisations with the highest rates will be set the largest challenge to improve. This will result in a more clinically relevant objective for all organisations and address the variations in performance that have occurred in the past.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the goal to reduce Clostridium difficile infections from April 2011 will be measured and progress monitored; how the infection rates are currently monitored in establishments for the elderly; and whether the new goal will apply to such institutions.[HL4316]
Earl Howe: Details on the level of ambition we will set from April 2011 for the National Health Service to reduce the level of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections and how progress will be monitored will be confirmed next month. We propose to set an objective for each NHS organisation based on its historical performance, with the largest challenge set in those with the highest rates of infection and, therefore, with the capacity to make the most significant progress.
The C. difficile objective for 2011-12 will be measured using data reported to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) on the number of C. difficile infections each month. Before the start of 2011-12, organisations will produce plans on how they will deliver the annual objective throughout the course of the year. In-year progress towards delivering the annual objective will be measured by comparing performance against these plans. Strategic health authorities (SHAs) will observe organisational performance and, in turn, the department will hold SHAs to account for performance management of organisations towards delivering their individual objectives.
In terms of infections within care homes, we are committed to ensuring that the objective reflects the need for a whole economy approach to be undertaken in order to reduce these infections, recognising that action needs to be taken in the hospital and outside of it.
Currently, PCOs and other organisations, such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC), use data from the HPA mandatory surveillance system to support them in ensuring effective infection prevention and control measures are being operated within all providers of health and social care services. The mandatory
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It is important to note that the C. difficile objective is not the only means to ensure effective infection prevention and control within care homes. From October this year, the social care sector became subject to the requirements of the code of practice for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections against which the CQC assess compliance.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We have set out in Liberating the NHS: Transparency in Outcomes, an approach to developing an outcomes framework for the National Health Service which will act as a catalyst for driving quality across services. This included proposals for maternity services and we are currently considering the results of this consultation.
In the White Paper Liberating the NHS: Excellence and Equity, we set out a plan to extend maternity choice and help make safe, informed choices throughout pregnancy and in childbirth a reality by developing provider networks. Our vision is that networks will cover all the maternity services a mother may need throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatally, including arrangements to access services that may not be available locally. For example, this may mean that mothers with disabilities can obtain additional support and expertise from other services with more experience and knowledge.
Liberating the NHS: Greater Choice and Control, seeks views on which choices people would like to see in maternity services and which are most important to them. The consultation period ends on 14 January 2011.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We are aware of various issues that are causing supply difficulties and delays to the dispensing of some medicines. Manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacists are making additional efforts to ensure patients get their medicines when they need them. The department continues to work collaboratively with supply chain organisations to explore further measures to help alleviate the situation.
Lord Henley: The Government have set out plans to reform higher education student finance in England which will offer a more generous package of financial support for low-income students living in England wishing to attend university in 2012-13. No full-time student will need to contribute to their tuition costs up front and students from families with incomes of £25,000 or less will be entitled to a more generous full maintenance grant of £3,250 a year. Students starting part-time courses in 2012-13, often those from non-traditional backgrounds, will be entitled to an up-front loan to meet their tuition costs so long as they are studying at an intensity of at least 33 per cent of a full-time course.
We are establishing a new framework, with increased responsibility on universities to widen participation, and greater government investment in improving attainment and access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Universities wanting to charge more than a £6,000 annual graduate contribution will have to demonstrate what more they will do to attract more students from disadvantaged backgrounds through outreach activities, targeted scholarships and other financial support. This will include a requirement to participate in the new £150 million National Scholarships Programme. This work will be further supported by the £2.5 billion pupil premium to turn their school-based achievement into success at university.
Participation in higher education has improved in recent years. In 2008-09 88 per cent of young entrants to full-time degree courses in England were from state schools. However, there is more to do. Access will remain a focus for all institutions, which will continue to submit a widening participation strategic assessment to the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Universities charging above the £6,000 threshold will draw up a new access agreement with the director of fair access, who will expect most of those whose records show they have furthest to go in securing a diverse student body.
Lord Henley: The Government would like to see greater mobility amongst UK students. Spending time abroad, either as part of a UK degree or completing a degree at an overseas institution, contributes significantly to a student's personal and professional development and enhances their attractiveness to future employers. Many higher education institutions already offer opportunities for periods to be spent abroad, either through institutional agreements with their overseas partners or as part of the European Commission's ERASMUS programme.
The Government are particularly keen to encourage greater exchange with emerging economies, including India and China. Plans for phase 2 of the UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI -2), due to start in April 2011, highlight student mobility as an area for future collaboration. Similarly, the new UK-China Education Partnership Framework, which was signed on 9 November, includes a commitment to increase the number of partnerships between British and Chinese universities, including increasing the mobility of students.
Lord Henley: How much students will have to repay will depend on what universities choose to charge for tuition and the loan that students choose to take out. As universities are yet to make these decisions, it is not possible to make such an estimate.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a member of the House of Lords with a pension based on previous service in the House of Commons has to give up that pension upon receipt of a Ministerial salary.[HL4471]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund Regulations set out the terms under which pensions are payable for service as a Member of the House of Commons or service as an officeholder.
An individual in receipt of a pension due to service as a Member of the House of Commons does not need to give up that pension if appointed as a salaried officeholder in the House of Lords. Any pension in respect of service as an officeholder in either House is abated if the recipient is appointed to a salaried office in Parliament.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 15 November (WA 161), what further work is necessary before they can reach a decision to uprate local housing allowance caps.[HL4189]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department will be taking forward proposals to uprate local housing allowance rates according to the consumer prices index during the welfare reform Bill next year. We expect that the overall weekly caps will be uprated in line with other local housing allowance rates from April 2013 by the consumer prices index.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): According to the Home Office resource accounts, £3 million was paid out in 2008-09 and £12 million in 2009-10 as "special payments". "Special payments" include compensation payments such as those paid out to individuals who have been awarded compensation either in court or in an out of court settlement following a claim for unlawful detention, as well as many other legal and compensation costs.
Special payments are by their very nature unpredictable and irregular. Court cases and challenges may be ongoing for long periods of time and can result in peaks of cases being paid out many months or even years after the proceedings are launched.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what risks to public safety or public amenity arise from the performance of live music in workplaces that are not adequately covered by existing public safety and nuisance legislation, irrespective of licensing. [HL4100]
Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Government believe that, in the light of specific health and safety and fire and noise legislation to address public safety and public nuisance, it is not always necessary or proportionate to require the additional layer of regulation through the licensing regime.
This is part of our current thinking about how best to deliver the coalition commitment to remove red tape from live music and other entertainment. However, before finalising any proposals, it is important to test these assumptions with relevant stakeholders, and that is what we are doing ahead of announcing our preferred solution.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 12 November (WA 146), whether the admission of 2,812 medical practitioners from non-European Economic Area countries in 2009 indicates that the 5,684 medical graduates in England in the 2008-09 academic year is insufficient for service demand and available jobs.[HL4233]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): All the indications confirm that we are in a very healthy position regarding medical recruitment and retention in the National Health Service. Vacancies remain low despite a substantial expansion of medical numbers during the past two years. The additional investment in undergraduate medical numbers is working through the training pipeline and we are becoming increasingly self-sufficient in terms of matching supply with demand in most specialties and locations.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The department has paid circa £2.3 billion under the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) scheme to former miners and their families. Total claims received under the COPD scheme was 592,000 of which only 134 claims remain to be finalised and only 11 claims are awaiting offer in full and final settlement or denial.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much has been paid to lawyers acting for miners and their descendants in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claims, broken down by year, amount and company. [HL4508]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress is being made by the Cabinet Office Natural Hazards Team (a) to prepare long-term plans, and (b) to reduce the vulnerability of the natural environment to unforeseen natural hazards; and whether those plans would also include rapid response by local authorities.[HL3798]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Natural Hazards Team was formed within the Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the Cabinet Office in May 2009. The purpose of this team is to establish a cross-sector programme to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure to disruption from natural hazards.
One of the team's early priorities was to work with government departments, regulators and infrastructure owners to produce the first sector resilience plans. Produced during 2009, these plans identified and assessed the vulnerability to flooding of the most critical infrastructure of each of the nine sectors of essential services and the measures necessary to secure the resilience of those sites to flooding. The sector resilience plans are being used as the basis for a long-term programme to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure to a broader range of hazards.
More recently, the Government set out in the strategic defence and security review their intention to build upon this work and put in place measures significantly to enhance co-operation between government, regulators and industry to improve resilience against all kinds of hazards and threats. In addition, Infrastructure UK within HM Treasury has set out in the national
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All sector resilience plans include measures to improve the business continuity planning and management during emergencies by the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, and also rapid response capabilities of local responders.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government take quality of care in accident and emergency (A&E) departments seriously. That is why, from April 2011, the four-hour waiting time standard for A&E departments will be replaced with a broader set of clinical quality indicators. These indicators are being developed by the department together with experienced clinicians and will provide a balanced view of the quality of care given to patients, including outcomes, experience and timeliness. Data collected from the indicators will be publicly available to enable patients to monitor, for themselves, the quality of care provided.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Following the abolition of primary care trusts (PCTs), responsibilities for local health improvement will transfer to local authorities, which will employ directors of public health to lead on public health for their areas. Directors of public health will be jointly appointed by the public health service and local authorities and will be responsible for driving health improvement locally. For this purpose local authorities will have use of a ring-fenced budget allocated according to relative population need.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): This is an issue for Suffolk Primary Care Trust, which is best placed to understand the needs and pressures specific to the local area.
However, when changes are made to local health services, the Secretary of State expects all decisions to be informed by local needs, driven by clinical professionals, and grounded in firm clinical evidence, recognising the views of the community.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department published a revision to the operating framework for the National Health Service in England 2010-11 on 21 June 2010. This revision set out the removal of three process targets:guaranteed access to a primary care professional within 24 hours and to a primary care doctor within 48 hours;percentage of patients seen within 18 weeks for admitted and non-admitted pathway; andpatient experience of access to primary care.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 8 November (WA 31), whether they will place in the Library of the House the enclosures to the letter of 22 October from the chief executive of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission relating to amendments to the standing orders of the commission. [HL4228]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The enclosure to the letter of 22 October that the noble Lord refers to was a draft copy of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's corporate code of governance. The release of this information in its current format would prejudice future free and frank discussions between officials in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. However, the
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 8 November (WA 31), whether they have agreed to any proposals of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to amend its standing orders; and whether any such proposed changes are in line with human rights standards.[HL4229]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: Under paragraph 8 of Schedule 7 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998 the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission may determine its own procedure, including its standing orders. The noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly on these matters.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission a copy of the recent independent report on the Commission's internal management structure; and, if so, whether they will place a copy in the Library of the House.[HL4298]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has not received a copy of the independent report. This is an operational matter for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which operates independently of government. The noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly on this matter.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received correspondence from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission with regard to the removal of its chief executive; and, if so, whether they will place copies in the Library of the House. [HL4299]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has not received any correspondence on this matter. The appointment of the chief executive is an operational matter for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which operates independently of government. The noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly on this matter.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government have no current plans to merge the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Northern Ireland Equality Commission. Most functions of the Equality Commission are in any case devolved. Any such proposals could not proceed without the full support of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. In meeting its objectives over the standards of regulated qualifications and national curriculum and early years assessments, there are no European standards which Ofqual must aim to meet. However, in future we will ensure that international comparisons play a key role in exam development and our exams can keep pace with those of our competitors.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what regard they had to the military covenant, to which they adhere, in taking the decision to link future increases in war and war widows' pensions to the Consumer Prices Index rather than the Retail Prices Index. [HL4420]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): This Government have stated that we recognise the need to do more to ensure that our Armed Forces, ex-service personnel and their families, including widows, have the support they need and are treated with the dignity they deserve. The scope of the Armed Forces covenant is far reaching, covering areas such as access to education, healthcare and accommodation, and is a factor in deciding policy across government.
The Government have made it clear that they appreciate the concerns of those in the Armed Forces and their dependants whose pensions and benefits are affected by the change in indexation to the consumer prices index. However, we believe that we have to do what is best for the country given the financial position that we find ourselves in, and that this measure is necessary to restrain the overall public sector pension bill.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will request an investigation by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Independent Police Complaints Authority into the instruction given by Officers of the South Wales Constabulary to dismiss the two separate chairmen elected by the residents of Pontprennau and Old St Mellons without consultation and to select members of Partnership and Communities Together (PACT) panels without any consultation, and into why the officers did not when requested name the members of the panel in Old St Mellons.[HL4300]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones: The case is an operational matter for the South Wales Police, and does not raise issues falling within the remit of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. If an individual is concerned about the behaviour or conduct of any police officer, they may make a complaint under the police complaints system, including directly to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements the South Wales Constabulary has made with county councillors to co-ordinate the timing and location of Partnership and Communities Together (PACT) lunch-time meetings with the two Old St Mellons county councillors' surgery; and what is the average attendance of residents and police at the last six meetings.[HL4301]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will investigate why no record is included in the minutes of the South Wales Police Authority open meeting held in September 2009 concerning the information placed before the Chief Constable and officers at that meeting into the alleged abuse by a County Councillor of the number plate display regulations; and why there has been no action taken since the alleged abuse was reported to the Chief Constable and the Police Authority; and whether they will place a copy of all documents and reports in the Library of the House.[HL4313]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Rawlings on 16 November (WS 33), what are the specific duties currently carried out by Ofcom that it is proposed be removed via Schedule 7 to the Public Bodies Bill.[HL4327]
Baroness Rawlings: We are not proposing to remove any of Ofcom's duties or functions via Schedule 7. The purpose of Schedule 7 is to enable Ministers to use the Bill's powers in future if the need for legislative reform of a body arises following a future review. However, the Government recognise that there are certain functions that should remain outside the scope of the powers in the Bill. These include the economic and network regulatory functions of bodies such as Ofcom, where the Government wish to ensure that regulatory stability is maintained.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they provide financial support towards achieving a reduction in illegal logging operations in rainforests; by what method that expenditure is monitored and assessed; and what is the total amount committed for that purpose in the current financial year.[HL4215]
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) provides financial support to reduce illegal logging and related trade through its forest governance and trade programme. The total amount committed through this programme for the current financial year 2010-11 is £7,388,700.
Programme expenditure is monitored and assessed by quarterly reports against planned activities with annual independent reviews. An independent assessment of the impacts of global efforts to tackle illegal logging, including the UK's contributions over the last 10 years, was commissioned by DfID and published by Chatham House in July 2010.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 1 November (WA 367-68), how they propose to respond to the absence of (a) physics, and (b) chemistry, from the lists of the 12 most favoured subjects for GCSE examination English schools throughout the period 1995-2009.[HL3929]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Most pupils who study science at GCSE cover substantial elements of physics and chemistry because they take science GCSE and additional science GCSE. None the less, the Government believe it important that all pupils have the opportunity to study these two separate sciences, along with biology, at GCSE. Although there has been a welcome increase in pupils studying physics and chemistry, there are still too many pupils who are not given the opportunity to study sciences in this depth.
We are reviewing what more needs to be done to enable all pupils to have access to these GCSEs. This includes considering introducing an English Baccalaureate measure to encourage the study of a broad range of academic subjects including English, maths, science, modern or ancient languages and a humanity. We are also looking at incentives to encourage more top science graduates into teaching to help ensure that schools have the specialist teachers in place to teach these subjects.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The education White Paper, published this week, sets out proposals to reform school inspection, as part of wider changes to school accountability. We intend to make inspection more proportionate, including freeing the best schools from routine inspection. We also intend to target school inspections in future around pupils' achievement, the quality of teaching, leadership and management, and pupils' behaviour and safety. These proposals will form part of the forthcoming education Bill.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the Every Child a Chance Trust has been asked to delay the publication of research into the effectiveness of the Every Child a Reader and Every Child Counts scheme; and when that research will be published. [HL4216]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Every Child a Chance Trust has not been asked to delay the publication of research into the effectiveness of Every Child a Reader and Every Child Counts. There are currently independent evaluations of both programmes taking place, commissioned and funded by the Department for Education. The evaluations will be published in the first part of next year.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Phonics is an approach to teaching reading and writing that focuses on the relationships between letters and sounds. This is different, for instance, from the whole word approach, or guessing words according to picture clues.
Synthetic phonics refers to an approach where children learn to use their knowledge of the relationship between letters and sounds to blend together the individual sounds in words to read them, and the reverse process of segmenting words to spell them. Unlike other approaches, with synthetic phonics phonemes (sounds) associated with particular graphemes (letters) are pronounced in isolation and blended together (synthesised). For example, children are taught to take a single-syllable word such as cat apart into its three letters, pronounce a phoneme for each letter in turn, and blend the phonemes together to form a word.
We are committed to strengthening the use of systematic synthetic phonics in the teaching of early reading. The evidence is clear that good synthetic phonics teaching leads children to the next stage-of becoming fluent and confident readers and writers. There is also evidence that synthetic phonics has a major and long-lasting effect on children's reading and spelling attainment.
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development's (DfID's) business plan 2011-2015 commits to developing new projects on microfinance as part of the government strategy to foster wealth creation and economic growth in developing countries. All DfID programmes are currently being reviewed under the bilateral and multilateral aid reviews, to ensure UK aid brings real benefits to the world's poor. DfID has also commissioned a systematic review of the impact of microfinance on poor people. Both these exercises will inform DfID's future support in this area.
To date the UK has provided support to a range of microfinance bodies in south Asia, including regulatory authorities and associations in order to strengthen the overall governance and performance of the microfinance sector, and to protect the beneficiaries of microfinance programmes. For example, in Pakistan UK aid has supported informal microfinance institutions (MFIs) to convert into regulated financial institutions; developed a code of conduct for microfinance providers (signed by all major MFIs); supported social performance and responsible finance rankings through the Pakistan microfinance network; and launched a financial literacy scheme to inform microfinance clients about products and their rights. DfID also funds the Consultative Group to Assess the Poor (CGAP), the global think-tank on access to finance based in the World Bank, which promotes consumer protection and best practice in the industry, including in south Asia.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government do not set a budget for spending on youth services. Local authorities make funding decisions, taking into account government policy and local needs.
In the spending review, the Government announced the creation of an early intervention grant for local areas. This will bring together funding for services for the most vulnerable children and young people. It will be worth around £2 billion by 2014-15 and will bring together funding for a number of early intervention and preventive services, for example families with multiple problems, and targeted support for young people.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what figure for privatisation receipts, scored as negative expenditure, is assumed in table 1.1 of the spending review 2010 in the figure for total management expenditure for each of the years 2010-11 to 2014-15 inclusive. [HL4053]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): No privatisation receipts, scored as negative expenditure, are assumed within total management expenditure in table 1.1 of the spending review 2010. Receipts from privatisations normally take the form of negative cash expenditure on company securities, which are financial transactions and have no net impact on total managed expenditure.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 11 November (WA 134), what is the total allocation to the enhanced discretionary learner support fund to support 16 to 19 year-olds in full-time education for each of the years covered by the spending review 2010.[HL4107]
Lord Hill of Oareford: The budget for the discretionary fund in the financial year 2010-2011 is around £26 million. The level of the enhanced fund for each of the years covered by the spending review has yet to be confirmed. However, we anticipate that the enhanced fund will be around three times greater than current funds. We plan to allocate the enhanced funding in line with the timetable for overall funding allocations for schools and colleges, which will be made by the end of March.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The UK Armed Forces will be restructured to meet current and emerging threats. The Defence Reform Unit aims to take forward some of the conclusions of the strategic defence and security review and reform the structure and business practices of the defence organisation. This work will create an organisation that is simpler, more efficient and better able to deal with current and future challenges, as well as significantly reducing the running costs of defence. Over the coming months exactly how this restructuring will impact upon current manning configurations and levels will be set out.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government currently have no plans to introduce short-term unpaid work. Earlier this month, in our White Paper Universal Credit: Welfare that Works we
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When a Jobcentre Plus adviser refers an individual to mandatory work activity, they will be making an assessment of approach and motivation, not skills and qualifications. The small number of people who are referred to this programme will be selected for participation because they need to develop the skills and discipline associated with full-time employment, for example attending on time and regularly, carrying out specific tasks and working under supervision.
Mandatory work activity is one of a range of options available to a Jobcentre Plus personal adviser when they work with an individual to understand what activities might help them move into employment as quickly as possible. Any decision to refer an individual to a specific area of support activity will take into account a wide range of factors including, where appropriate, qualifications.
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