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30 Nov 2010 : Column WA425



30 Nov 2010 : Column WA425

Written Answers

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The greater flying hours for Tornado results from its greater endurance and ability to undertake an increased number of operational tasks. The Tornado has wider utility in the intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance role, in addition to its close air support capabilities, and is therefore tasked more frequently and over a wider geographical area than the Harrier.

Banking: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority is consulting on implementation of the capital requirements directive disclosure requirements, which come into force on 1 January 2011. The directive requires firms to make disclosures regarding capital and risk and includes requirements for narrative and quantitative disclosure on pay policy and practices. This will help to inform institutional investors' decisions.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Hardship support is available to jobseeker's allowance (JSA) claimants who are sanctioned for failing to meet reasonable work-related requirements where they can show that they or their dependants will be in significant need if such payments are not made.



30 Nov 2010 : Column WA426

The universal credit White Paper made clear that we will continue to make hardship payments to protect more vulnerable households on JSA and extend the principle of hardship into employment and support allowance (ESA). For others on JSA, we are considering making payments in the form of loans and for shorter periods to increase their incentives to meet the conditions of their benefit.

As all parents in hardship are treated as vulnerable we do not expect these changes to affect sanctioned parents on JSA and ESA or in universal credit.

Sanctions apply only to the personal allowance (that is, to JSA or ESA or a broadly equivalent amount under universal credit). They do not affect child benefit, child tax credits, council tax benefit or housing benefit, which continue to be paid in the event of sanctions. Therefore the number of children in the care of a claimant is not relevant to determining the value of their hardship payment.

British Indian Ocean Territory

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The record of the UK/US Political-Military talks on the British Indian Ocean Territory held in October is still in draft. The document is considered to be jointly owned with the US Government and is classified. It would not therefore be appropriate to place a copy in the Library of the House.

Burma

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government fully support Aung San Suu Kyi's call for reconciliation and a fully inclusive dialogue. We urge the military regime to respond positively to her request for talks and to co-operate with the UN.

It is clear that the 7 November elections were a sham and reflect a regime intent on entrenching its grip on power. There can be no prospect of national reconciliation until the regime complies with the international community's long-standing demands for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, greater respect for human rights and a genuine dialogue with all opposition groups, including Aung San Suu

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Kyi's National League for Democracy party and all ethnic groups. We will maintain pressure on the regime until these conditions are met.

We will support the UN Secretary-General and his Good Offices Mission in their efforts to facilitate a transition to democracy in Burma.

Cayman Islands: Biosafety

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The UK's instrument of ratification of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety has not been extended to the Cayman Islands. As such, the provisions of the protocol regarding the transboundary movement of genetically modified (GM) organisms are not applicable to the shipment of GM mosquitoes from the UK to the Cayman Islands, a non-party. Overseas territories are encouraged to become party to the UK's ratification of multilateral environmental agreements, but ultimately this is a matter for them to decide.

However, the shipment of the GM mosquito eggs from the UK was subject to the requirements of Regulation (EC) 1946/2003, chapter II of which imposes an obligation on exporters to notify their first intended transboundary movement of a GM organism to the relevant authority in the importing country, whether that country is a party or a non-party to the protocol, and to await its consent to proceed.

The decision to allow the GM mosquito field trials in the Cayman Islands was not subject to the EU legislation on the deliberate release of GM organisms, because it does not apply to UK overseas territories. And the Cartagena Protocol does not govern the release of GM organisms into the environment, only their transboundary movement. The Cayman Islands have their own legislation which required the Mosquito

30 Nov 2010 : Column WA428

Control and Research Unit to obtain a permit from the local Department of Agriculture to carry out the trials, and as part of this process a risk analysis and an environmental impact assessment were carried out.

Citizens Advice Bureaux

Question

Asked by Lord Boateng

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice published initial impact assessments and equality impact assessments alongside the consultation papers Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales and Proposals for Reform of Civil Litigation Funding and Costs: Implementation of Lord Justice Jackson's Recommendations, which were published on 15 November 2010.

There are a number of areas which we would like to consider closely with Citizens Advice and other interested organisations, and we will be seeking their views during the consultation process.

The consultation and the impact assessments can be accessed at the link at http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/legal-aid-reform-151110.htm.

Climate Change

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): We estimate that in 2008 UK forest land removed from the atmosphere the equivalent of about 15.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide compared with about 13.8 million tonnes in 1990. These numbers include carbon stored in wood products from harvest, and are equivalent respectively to about 2.4 per cent and 1.8 per cent of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in the same years.

The Read report commissioned by the Forestry Commission GB suggests that if woodland cover was to increase from 12 per cent to 16 per cent of land cover, abatement from woodlands planted since 1990 would, potentially, amount to 15Mt CO2 per year by the 2050s; this would be equivalent to 10 per cent of the UK's total GHGs emissions at that time, if current reduction targets are met. The abatement that could be achieved is highly sensitive to the level and timing of woodland creation and would be delivered through a combination of sequestration in forest biomass and wood products, renewable energy production and wood products displacing more carbon-intensive materials such as brick, steel and concrete.



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Climate Change: Deforestation

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): In order to reduce emissions from forests in developing countries the UK will be seeking an agreement at Cancun on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), as part of a balanced package of decisions. In particular, we will be seeking a high level goal for reducing deforestation, agreement to a REDD+ mechanism, the establishment of technical work programmes to operationalise it and appropriate safeguards for people and biodiversity.

Commonwealth Scholarships

Questions

Asked by Lord Luce

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Chevening scholarships programme is currently under review and we have not yet consulted the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission as part of that exercise. Officials have started work on establishing a working group on all government scholarships and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission will be invited to take part in due course.

Asked by Lord Luce

Lord Howell of Guildford: There have been no discussions between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with regard to the provision of Commonwealth scholarships to Commonwealth countries after this financial year. Officials have started work on establishing a working group to bring together all government scholarship schemes and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be invited to take part in due course.



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Cuba

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Of the 52 political prisoners the Cuban Government undertook to release in their announcement in July, 40 have now been released. The most recent prisoner released, Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique, was the first to be able to remain in Cuba on parole (licencia extrapenal) without conditions. We understand that another of the group, Luis Enrique Ferrer, is due to be released in the coming days and to travel to Spain. The remaining 11 awaiting release want to stay in Cuba. In addition to these, 14 other prisoners not included in the list of 52 have been released and travelled to Spain, including the only other Cuban prisoner recognised by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, Rolando Jimenez Posada.

The UK and our EU partners continue to monitor the situation closely and remain in touch with the Cuban Government, the Cuban Catholic Church and the families of the prisoners. We will continue to encourage Cuba to fulfil its commitment to release these individuals and to allow released prisoners to remain in Cuba if they so wish.

Education: Performance-related Pay

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Performance-related pay is already a feature of the school teachers' pay and conditions document in relation to teachers on the upper pay scale and members of the leadership group. Movement up their pay scales is not automatic and is subject to successful annual performance management reviews.

In The Coalition: Our Programme for Government we have said that we will reform the existing rigid national pay and conditions rules to give schools greater freedoms to pay good teachers more and deal with poor performance. As part of this commitment the Secretary of State for Education has indicated that he intends to return to the School Teachers' Review Body early next year to look at the introduction of greater freedoms and flexibilities to the teachers' pay system and the department's business plan published on 8 November says that we will "develop revised teacher standards and performance management regulations".



30 Nov 2010 : Column WA431

Employment: Special Needs

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department has received correspondence from the chief executive of the Seashell Trust about employment opportunities for college leavers with complex learning difficulties, and I will respond shortly.

We recognise it is vital to support the most vulnerable in society. We intend to publish a Green Paper on the future of education and support for those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, which will include proposals about improving access to employment opportunities.

The department does not collect information on the number of young people with complex learning difficulties who remain unemployed on leaving college.

Energy: Coal Mining

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): An Explanatory Memorandum was sent to the European Scrutiny Committees of both Houses of Parliament on 13 August 2010 on the original Commission proposal (Commission Document 12698/10 and Addenda) for a regulation to take effect from 1 January 2011. The proposal would allow "closure aid" to mines subject to a notified and defined closure plan as well as "exceptional aid" towards safety and social costs arising from mine closures, including local regeneration and employee reskilling programmes. Without this measure, the expiry of the existing Regulation (No 1407/2002) on 31 December 2010 would result in the abrupt, disorderly closure of subsidised mines, many of them in economically and socially deprived regions of the European Union. A text with some revisions is expected to be discussed at a Competition Council on 10 December and to be adopted by 1 January 2011.



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EU: Currencies

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): It is not for Her Majesty's Government to comment on other EU member states' decisions regarding their currencies and membership or otherwise of the euro area.

EU: UK National Sovereignty

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): No areas of competence have been transferred from the UK to the EU under majority voting or unanimity in the Council of Ministers. The limits of EU competence are clearly set out in the EU treaties, and only an amendment of the EU treaties can transfer any competence to or from the EU.

Parliament is sovereign; and EU law has effect in the UK because-and solely because-Parliament wills that it should. The EU Bill currently before Parliament includes a clause which seeks to place on a statutory footing this common-law principle.

Extradition

Questions

Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The terms of reference for the review were set out in the Written Ministerial Statement of 8 September 2010 (col. 18WS). The terms of reference include the operation of the European arrest warrant and the way in which the optional safeguards have been transposed into United Kingdom law.

The panel aims to publish all submissions other than those which request confidentiality. The panel is expected to report back by late summer 2011.

Once the panel has considered the submissions, it will decide whether it would like to conduct oral evidence sessions. It is not anticipated that these sessions will be public.

The conduct of the review is a matter for the independent panel to determine.

Finance: Strategy

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Fiscal policy is a competence of HM Treasury. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has operational responsibility for monetary policy.

The MPC takes into account the path for fiscal policy in judging the outlook for growth and inflation, and so that is incorporated into its monetary policy decisions. In accordance with the Bank of England Act 1998, a Treasury representative attends, and may speak at, the monthly MPC meetings. The non-voting representative plays a key role in ensuring appropriate co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy, including by briefing the MPC on the Budget.

Food: Kosher and Halal Meat

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): We have no specific plans to require kosher or halal meat to be labelled as such. However we do believe people should know what they are buying in shops or when they are eating out, and we

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are discussing with the food industry whether labelling and point-of-sale information can play a greater role in giving consumers an informed choice about the food they buy. This may include information about the method of slaughter.

This is a difficult, complex and sensitive issue and as the way animals are slaughtered is primarily a welfare issue, we would wish to see this considered in the wider context of animal welfare and method of slaughter labelling.

Forced Labour

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In Pakistan, the UK and the EU raise the issue of bonded labour as part of our regular dialogue on human rights. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Annual Report on Human Rights 2009 highlighted our concerns in Pakistan, where the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that in 2009 there were over 3 million children born into or entering bonded labour to repay family debt in Pakistan. We have not recently raised the issue in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. However we continue to raise broader human rights concerns with these Governments at every appropriate opportunity.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Although there is no permanent physical Israeli presence in Gaza, given the significant control that Israel has over Gaza's borders, airspace and territorial waters, the UK judges that Israel retains obligations under the fourth Geneva Convention as an occupying power.

Government Departments: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton



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Earl Attlee: There are no unpaid advisers to Ministers in the Department for Transport.

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions have no unpaid advisers.

Housing Benefit

Question

Asked by Lord Bassam of Brighton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Information on housing benefit recipients in receipt of full and partial housing benefit in each year since 2005 is not available.

To answer this Question we would have to compare the amounts of eligible weekly rent with the weekly amount of housing benefit awarded. The department does collect some management information on eligible weekly amounts of rent but to assess the completeness of recording and quality assure the figures would incur disproportionate cost.

The Department for Work and Pensions has made no estimate of the number of new tenants in the social housing sector who will be able to afford rents set at 80 per cent of market rent levels on new five-year fixed-term tenancies. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have undertaken the work on the new affordable rent. The DCLG and the Homes and Community Agency will be setting out further details on affordable rent shortly.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): I refer the noble Lord to the Statement I made to the House on 23 November.



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Immigration: Detainees

Questions

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): There were 27 families and five age-disputed individuals, who were unassociated with a family, who entered detention, solely under Immigration Act powers, from the 6 May 2010 to the 30 June 2010 inclusive, the latest date for which published information is available.

Management information shows that there was one family with one child in detention solely under Immigration Act powers as at 30 June 2010. There were an additional two individuals claiming to be children recorded as being under 18 as at 30 June 2010 in detention solely under Immigration Act powers; both individuals were recorded as having their age disputed.

Data for children entering detention under Immigration Act powers for July 2010 to September 2010 have been available from 25 November 2010 when data for the third quarter of 2010 are published.

The Home Office publishes statistics on the number of children detained solely under Immigration Act powers on a quarterly and annual basis, which are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.

Asked by Lord Avebury

Baroness Neville-Jones: The Government are committed to ending the detention of children for immigration purposes. A review is currently under way to consider how this can be done in a way which protects the welfare of children while ensuring the departure of families who have no right to be in the UK. We are testing out a range of new approaches aimed at keeping families with children in the community because we need to be sure that any new process works in practice.

The number of families being detained has reduced significantly during the course of the review, and it is no longer the case that families are detained for long periods of time. Currently detention is used only as a last resort after families' appeal rights are exhausted, assisted return has been offered and self-check-in has been attempted.



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Inflation

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave him on 15 November (Official Report, col. WA 162).

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The monetary policy framework states that the inflation target for the Monetary Policy Committee will be confirmed in each Budget Statement.

Isles of Scilly

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The Isles of Scilly Link scheme is one of three schemes with conditional approval. As confirmed in the document Investment in Local Major Transport Schemes, published on 26 October, we hope to make firm decisions on the way forward on these schemes by January 2011.

Israel

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We welcome Israel's recent announcement of their intention to accept proposals put forward by the UN and UN Interim Force in Lebanon to withdraw Israeli Defence Force troops from the northern part of Ghajjar.

We have not been involved in negotiations, but have regularly called on all parties to fulfil their obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions, including 1701, and will continue to do so. Israel and the UN should now work together to agree practical measures to implement this proposal as soon as is possible.



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Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We take seriously any reports of text-books being used to promote anti-Semitism. We also recognise this is a controversial area. However, recent independent studies have shown that the Palestinian Authority has made real improvements to its text-books over the last decade and found no evidence of anti-Semitism. But at least one study has shown that both Israeli and Palestinian text-books could do better and teach something positive about the other side. We support that message.

We condemn all instances of violence and discrimination against individuals and groups because of their race, faith or belief.

Local Enterprise Partnerships

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Where local enterprise partnerships receive funding from the Government, grant conditions will be used to ensure proper accountability for those funds including appropriate appraisal and evaluation processes.

Partnerships will be directly accountable to local authorities, businesses and other members for their activities. This may take different forms and it will be up to local partners to agree scrutiny arrangements that are sufficiently robust and transparent to ensure proper accountability. We expect such partnerships to adopt the same transparency arrangements on their staff and spending as those adopted by local government.

Mortgage Lenders

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions.

Ofgem

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): As announced in July 2010, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is both reviewing Ofgem's regulatory role (the Ofgem review) and looking at its role in administering government programmes as part of a broader examination of the department's delivery landscape. No decisions have been taken on Ofgem's powers and responsibilities at this stage.

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My honourable friend the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans wrote to Vice-Admiral Sir Michael Moore on 16 November. While we have enormous sympathy for those whose benefits and pensions will be affected by the change in indexation, and while the Government are still considering detailed guidance on how this will be implemented, the country's current financial situation means that this measure is necessary.

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Pensions policy in the United Kingdom remains subject to the principle of subsidiarity. As the Green Paper says,

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member states are responsible for pension provision, and the Green Paper does not question member states' prerogatives in this area.

The European Commission's Green Paper Paper Towards adequate, safe and sustainable European pension systems was a consultative document only.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Freud: Pensions systems are within the competence of individual member states. There is an EU interest in the aspects of occupational pension provision and supervision that are concerned with the enabling and supporting of free movement of persons and services.

The European Commission's Green Paper was a consultative document only.

The Government's response to the Commission's Green Paper reiterated that member states are best placed to tackle the issues raised and indicated that we are already tackling these issues through our pensions policies.

Railways: Capacity

Question

Asked by Viscount Astor

Earl Attlee: Yes. I refer my noble friend to the road and rail alternatives study undertaken by the Department for Transport earlier this year. This is available at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/alternativestudy/.

Railways: High Speed 2

Questions

Asked by Viscount Astor

Earl Attlee: Rail demand has risen broadly in line with economic growth for the past 40 years or more. The current forecasting method, which has been developed by the industry since privatisation, takes data from ticket sales and evidence on the drivers of demand to provide projections of growth for individual routes. There is no evidence in these forecasts of saturation of

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demand. The forecasts for the London-West Midlands corridor show that crowding is likely to become increasingly acute over the next 20 to 30 years. High Speed Two would meet that demand by providing a significant uplift in capacity and by releasing capacity on existing lines for more commuter and regional services. At the same time it would generate new journeys and attract trips from other modes due in large part to the faster journey times it would provide.

Asked by Viscount Astor

Earl Attlee: HS2 Ltd proposes a journey time by high speed rail between London and central Birmingham of 49 minutes. This compares to the current fastest journey time on the Chiltern line between London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street of one hour and 56 minutes.

HS2 Ltd's proposed line would also deliver journey time savings to destinations further north via services through-running on to the conventional network. In addition, extending the high speed network further north would deliver still greater journey time savings to a range of destinations.

Asked by Viscount Astor

Earl Attlee: Details of the fares assumptions underpinning HS2 Ltd's technical modelling are contained in the report HS2 Demand Model Analysis, which is available at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/hs2ltd.

Asked by Viscount Astor

Earl Attlee: The Government have not made such a forecast. The Government recognise that some generalised property blight has been generated by the publication in March of this year of HS2 Ltd's proposed line of route, but the fluctuating nature of the property market and other influences on property values make the effects of blight very difficult to quantify accurately. Any forecast of the overall effect on property values in the vicinity of the proposed route could be inaccurate and potentially misleading, particularly as blighting effects often lessen over time as more certainty about a proposal and its impacts develops.

However the Government are monitoring the effects of blight and have introduced the Exceptional Hardship Scheme to assist those most severely affected who

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urgently need to sell their property. The Government have also asked HS2 Ltd to do further work on both the effects of blight and the options for mitigating such effects, and intend to introduce additional support arrangements once a final decision on the route is made. This would help people whose property would not be covered by the statutory blight regime but may nevertheless suffer a significant diminution in value as a result of proximity of the line.

Rainforests

Question

Asked by Lord Eden of Winton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The United Nations Global Forest Resources Assessment (2010) estimates the global rate of deforestation from 2000 to 2010 at about 13 million hectares a year. This was offset by afforestation and the natural expansion of forests, leaving a net loss of about 5.2 million hectares a year. The rate of loss in the first half of that period (between 2000 and 2005) was higher, at about 7.3 million hectares a year, meaning the rate of loss has slowed.

Republic of Ireland: Financial Support

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the eurozone and other member states, including the UK, have agreed a three-year financial assistance package for Ireland. We are doing this because it is overwhelmingly in Britain's national interest that we have a stable Irish economy and banking system.

Schools: Free Schools

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We have reallocated up to £50 million from the Harnessing Technology grant to provide capital funding for free schools up to the end of March 2011. The capital review is considering the best models for allocating and targeting capital in the future. The review team will complete its work by the end of the calendar year, and decisions will be made in the light of the review as soon as possible in the new year. Since we know that schools and local authorities are keen to have certainty of funding, we are aiming to confirm allocations for the 2011-12 financial year in December underpinned by principles emerging from the capital review.



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Schools: GCSEs

Question

Asked by Lord Quirk

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The information requested is in the table below:

Number and Percentage of Pupils Entering GCSEs, 1995-20102,3
Number of GCSEs' entered for
Year012345678910 or more

Number of pupils

1995

44,837

9,462

5,685

6,626

8,921

13,102

20,003

33,782

73,982

208,331

153,466

1996

44,796

9,661

5,675

6,692

8,950

12,933

20,333

34,957

77,875

230,506

141,657

1997

43,309

9,267

5,496

6,223

8,302

12,669

19,808

34,553

74,744

230,200

142,195

1998

32,939

8,378

6,159

6,568

8,628

12,538

20,047

36,111

78,606

218,915

146,321

1999

31,389

7,349

5,438

6,146

8,194

12,333

19,580

36,645

77,913

220,282

155,703

2000

28,415

7,504

5,639

6,187

8,168

11,988

19,537

36,138

75,010

221,147

160,660

2001

28,469

8,365

6,084

6,779

8,875

13,140

21,058

38,535

76,245

221,677

174,091

2002

27,831

8,152

6,273

7,116

9,547

14,033

22,524

43,713

77,450

214,877

175,038

2003

27,843

7,881

6,511

7,869

10,601

16,723

27,521

51,688

88,578

208,309

168,598

2004

28,869

8,261

7,595

9,183

12,806

20,529

33,288

60,168

96,147

194,812

171,902

2005

21,410

8,244

8,296

10,726

15,552

26,172

40,098

70,098

98,901

175,876

160,746

2006

21,657

8,180

8,789

12,137

19,225

30,466

46,649

77,960

101,685

165,910

156,175

2007

19,459

8,375

9,252

13,660

22,177

35,430

52,728

82,872

107,427

153,460

150,306

2008

17,492

9,083

9,759

16,749

26,257

41,492

61,567

85,014

105,621

134,949

145,100

2009

16,536

8,612

11,081

19,020

30,498

44,190

62,740

82,181

96,717

123,038

139,883

2010

18,000

9,506

15,137

25,785

37,122

49,449

64,297

78,890

90,917

115,578

135,937

Percentage of pupils

1995

8%

2%

1%

1%

2%

2%

3%

6%

13%

36%

27%

1996

8%

2%

1%

1%

2%

2%

3%

6%

13%

39%

24%

1997

7%

2%

1%

1%

1%

2%

3%

6%

13%

39%

24%

1998

6%

1%

1%

1%

1%

2%

3%

6%

14%

38%

25%

1999

5%

1%

1%

1%

1%

2%

3%

6%

13%

38%

27%

2000

5%

1%

1%

1%

1%

2%

3%

6%

13%

38%

28%

2001

5%

1%

1%

1%

1%

2%

3%

6%

13%

37%

29%

2002

5%

1%

1%

1%

2%

2%

4%

7%

13%

35%

29%

2003

4%

1%

1%

1%

2%

3%

4%

8%

14%

33%

27%

2004

4%

1%

1%

1%

2%

3%

5%

9%

15%

30%

27%

2005

3%

1%

1%

2%

2%

4%

6%

11%

16%

28%

25%

2006

3%

1%

1%

2%

3%

5%

7%

12%

16%

26%

24%

2007

3%

1%

1%

2%

3%

5%

8%

13%

16%

23%

23%

2008

3%

1%

1%

3%

4%

6%

9%

13%

16%

21%

22%

2009

3%

1%

2%

3%

5%

7%

10%

13%

15%

19%

22%

2010

3%

1%

2%

4%

6%

8%

10%

12%

14%

18%

21%

Schools: Water Supply

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Good access to appropriate toilet facilities and drinking water in schools is essential for the health and well-being of children and young people. A lack of either, or both, is likely to have an adverse impact on their learning, but we do not have good enough evidence to enable us to estimate that impact.

Currently, requirements for toilets and drinking water for pupils and visitors in schools are contained in the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999. Those for teachers and other school staff are set out in the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The responsibility for ensuring that schools conform to the school premises regulations generally rests with local authorities, while responsibility for ensuring compliance with the workplace regulations sits with the Health and Safety Executive.

Working closely with Partnerships for Schools, we are reviewing both sets of requirements, together with earlier recommendations to update the Education (School Premises) Regulations, so that we can establish a single set of standards applicable to all users of school buildings. We are also looking at how compliance will be ensured in the future, when there is one set of standards, and intend that the responsibility for this will be much clearer than it is now.

Spending Review 2010

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The publication Spending Review 2010 policy costings set out that "the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), led by the Budget Responsibility Committee, has provided independent scrutiny of the Government's estimated costings of annually managed expenditure policies as part of the Spending Review". This text was provided by the OBR.

Sustainable Communities Act

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Department for Communities and Local Government's business plan states that the Government will, by the end of January 2011, "decide on proposals already submitted under the Sustainable Communities Act, and publish related steps the Government will take to enable local authorities to achieve what they want to see happen" and "set a date by which government will invite councils to submit more ideas".

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to press the Syrian Government over the cases of human rights defenders, including the case of Ms Hassan, and call for the release of all who have been imprisoned solely for seeking to exercise their right to peaceful freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Turkey

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We do not disclose the details of diplomatic exchanges, as these are confidential.

Asked by Lord Patten



30 Nov 2010 : Column WA447

Lord Howell of Guildford: Our embassy in Ankara periodically raises issues relating to freedom of expression-including the imprisonment of journalists-in the context of wider discussions on human rights with its Turkish counterparts. This was done most recently at the beginning of August.

Freedom of expression, and of the media, remain key areas for reform in Turkey in the context of its EU accession process. The EU Progress Report for 2010 addresses this issue, and makes clear that while there have been some positive developments, there are concerns over the high number of legal cases brought against journalists. More work is needed before Turkey fulfils the EU criteria on respect for freedom of expression and the media.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have nothing to add to the Answer I gave the noble Lord on 2 November 2010 (Official Report, cols. WA 401-02).

Uganda

Questions

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our High Commission in Kampala has discussed the Public Order Management Bill with the Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of State for Internal Affairs and the Inspector-General of Police. Our High Commission has discussed the draft Press and Journalist Bill with the Ugandan Minister for Information and National Guidance.



30 Nov 2010 : Column WA448

In both cases we have encouraged the Ugandan authorities to ensure that any new legislation strikes an appropriate and legitimate balance between regulation and protection of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Lord Howell of Guildford: We assess that there is a legitimate case for regulation and legislation in both areas and that it is important that any new or amended legislation is in accordance with the Ugandan Constitution and international human rights standards.

Women: Peace and Security

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The United Nations Security Council's open debate on women, peace and security provided an encouraging sign of broad support for UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325; over 90 member states spoke. Working with like-minded states, we secured a number of important outcomes. These included: a strong statement of support for UNSCR 1325 from the Security Council; commitment to action by many member states; and agreement to take forward the implementation of indicators to better measure global efforts to protect and empower women in conflict.

The key challenge following the debate is to ensure that the commitments made are now delivered. We intend to follow developments at the UN closely and to maintain the council's focus on this agenda, starting with the Secretary-General's report on sexual violence in armed conflict in December.


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