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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the reply by Lord De Mauley on 27 July (WA 206), whether the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published the report summarising the outcome of the consultation on changing the county parish holding numbering system by which the farms are identified.[HL4810]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): A summary of responses for the consultation on the simplification of livestock movement rules and identifiers in England is published on the Defra website at the following address: http://www.defra. gov.uk/corporate/consult/simplify-livestock-move-id/ 20100331-consult-condoc-summary.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 2 November (WA 376), whether passengers suffering from medical conditions, such as cancer patients or those with BRAC-1 or BRAC-2 gene mutation, who have been instructed by their physicians not to undergo ionising radiation such as that produced by the Rapiscan x-ray machine, will be offered an alternative method of screening at United Kingdom airports.[HL4659]
Earl Attlee: If a passenger is selected for a security scan and they refuse to be scanned, they will not be able to travel. There are no exemptions for passengers on medical grounds. The Government have recently conducted a public consultation on the use of security scanners and an announcement in response to the consultation is expected shortly. The dose received from a body scanner is very small fraction of that received every day from natural sources and is far lower than the permissible levels allowed by law for all types of people, including expectant mothers.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The decision on when UK forces should start drawing down and the rate of reductions in force levels will be based on conditions on the ground. However, the Prime Minister recently reiterated in a Statement to Parliament following the NATO summit in Lisbon that, from 2015, there will be no UK troops in a combat role in Afghanistan. This is a firm commitment and is consistent with President Karzai's objective, agreed at the Lisbon summit, for the Afghans to lead and conduct security operations in all provinces by the end of 2014.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 8 November (WA 3) regarding Tornado aircraft, which said that "there are currently no plans for the aircraft to receive any further capability upgrades after 2014", how much will be spent over the next three years upgrading the Tornado's ground attack capability to match that of the Harrier GR9 by fitting the sniper pod.[HL4256]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There are currently no plans to fit a sniper pod to the Tornado GR4, as the Tornado is already fitted with the Litening III, which provides equivalent targeting and reconnaissance capabilities.
Lord Astor of Hever: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my honourable friend the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans in another place on 16 November 2010 (Official Report, Commons, cols. 734-5W) to the honourable Member for Moray (Angus Robertson).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of the capability of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35C they forecast could be provided by Super Hornet F-18 E/F aircraft currently in service with the United States Navy.[HL4529]
Lord Astor of Hever: A previous study, which included a comparison with the F/A-18, concluded that the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) provided the best value for
7 Dec 2010 : Column WA23
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their decision not to bring the Nimrod MRA4 aircraft into service, announced in the Security Defence and Strategic Review, what is their forecast of the annual savings to be made.[HL4771]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what would have been the annual costs of (a) operating, and (b) retaining in a state of extended readiness, the four Nimrod MRA4 aircraft already substantially completed.[HL4772]
In respect of other Nimrod MRA4 programme costs, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made estimates of savings that would accrue from measures considered in the Strategic Defence and Security Review for the purposes of formulating policy. Some of these have been published to help inform the public debate. In the case of the Nimrod MRA4 we estimate that around £2 billion will be saved over the next 10 years, by not bringing the aircraft into service. Release of further detail may prejudice the MoD's negotiating position with its commercial suppliers. The MoD is therefore not prepared to release more detailed savings or updated estimated in-service cost figures at this time.
We are currently in discussions with BAE Systems to terminate the contracts for production and support of the Nimrod MRA4 programme. Until these negotiations are complete it would be inappropriate to comment on any contract termination costs.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) set out the capabilities the Armed Forces require now and in the future. The process of renegotiating contracts to implement SDSR decisions is under way and it would not be appropriate to comment further until renegotiations have been fully completed with defence industry.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Army is always looking for ways to encourage female applicants. We currently ensure that all recruiting literature is targeted towards both sexes. The Army website has a section dedicated to explaining what life in the Army is like for women. Adverts for recruits are also made in literature with a high female readership. Women are strongly represented on the Diversity Action Recruitment Team, which provides role models to young people from a variety of backgrounds at recruiting events throughout the country.
To encourage recruitment among those who may wish to start families at some point in their chosen career, the three services offer career breaks of up to three years and the maternity package is one of the most financially generous among UK employers. Where appropriate, flexible working arrangements are encouraged within the Army, which help mothers balance childcare arrangements with their work.
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No decision about HMS "Walney", which was decommissioned on 15 October 2010, has been made; however, any future decision will be in line with the Ministry of Defence's policy for disposing of surplus assets and the need to obtain the best financial return for the taxpayer where possible.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand to allow veterans of the Malaysia Campaign to accept and wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal; and whether they will review their policy on this matter in respect of British troops.[HL4482]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Honours policy and decisions on acceptance and wearing of awards are matters for the individual Governments concerned. There are no plans to review the UK decision on the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 9 November (WA 48), which Ministers were consulted by the HD Committee before the decision was made to allow British ex-servicemen to accept but not wear the Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal. [HL4483]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 22 November (WA 258), what is (a) the principal, and (b) the interest, outstanding on the loan made to Iceland by HM Treasury.[HL4519]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The negotiations to repay the loan made by the previous Government in respect of Iceland's obligations under the deposit guarantee directive to UK depositors in Icesave are ongoing.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): If a person comes to or returns to the United Kingdom from overseas and makes a claim for an income-related benefit1 they are required to satisfy the habitual residence test. This test is applied to everyone, including UK nationals. To satisfy the test a person must first show that they have a right to reside and secondly be habitually resident in the common travel area2.
The term "habitual residence" is not defined in UK social security legislation. In deciding whether a person is habitually resident, benefit decision makers consider a wide variety of factors. These include an individual's reasons for coming to the UK, the length of their stay, future intentions, previous links with the country and, in the case of people returning to the United Kingdom, the reasons for their absence.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much would be saved from child benefit paid to families with 16-19 year-olds in further education and unwaged training if payments were restricted to households with gross income below (a) £31,500 per year, (b) £37,000 per year, and (c) £44,000 per year.[HL4523]
|Households with gross incomes over||Saving from removing Child Benefit from 16-19 year-olds in these families (£ million)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much in child tax credit is paid to parents with 16-19 year-olds in further education and unwaged training; and how much would be saved if payments were restricted to households with gross income below (a) £26,000 per year, (b) £31,500 per year, (c) £37,000 per year, and (d) £44,000 per year.[HL4524]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): It is estimated that £2.65 billion of child tax credit was paid to families with a 16-19 year-old in full time non-advanced education or training (FTNAE) in 2008-09.
|Households incomes over||Saving from removing child tax credits from 16-19 year-olds in FTNAE (£ million)|
The Civil Service Management Code sets out regulations and instructions to departments and agencies on the terms and conditions of service of civil servants and the delegations that have been made by the Minister for the Civil Service under the Civil Service (Management of Functions) Act 1992, together with the conditions attached to those delegations.
Details of the Civil Service Management Code can be found on the Civil Service website at the following link: http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/resources/csmc/index.aspx.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We regularly discuss international justice and issues such as universal jurisdiction with a range of international partners. Most recently, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary discussed universal jurisdiction and arrest warrants with his Israeli counterparts during his visit to the region on 3 and 4 November. The UK also participated in discussions in the UN's sixth committee on legal affairs on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction in November.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The scope and outputs of Defence Equipment and Support are being assessed as part of the Defence Reform Unit's review, which is due to report in 2011. This review will also assess how those outputs should be delivered, including the potential for outsourcing.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Office for National Statistics publishes information regarding UK research and development, which may be accessed from its website: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/berd1209.pdf.
Lord Astor of Hever: The latest figure available, published in the UK defence statistics, for extra mural research and development expenditure by the Ministry of Defence is for 2008-09 and is some £1.8 billion.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The White Paper The Importance of Teaching, published on 24 November, outlined our commitment to improving the quality and rigour of initial teacher training carried out in higher education institutions and schools, and our intention to establish a strong culture of professional development in schools.
We are committed to creating a new national network of teaching schools, building on the good work of existing training schools and national teaching schools. These outstanding schools will be responsible for leading the training and professional development of teachers and head teachers ensuring that every school has access to highly effective professional development support.
We want to provide opportunities for teachers to increase their subject knowledge, so that they are seen, alongside university academics, as the guardians of the intellectual life of the nation. A new competitive scholarship fund will therefore be introduced in 2011 which will provide teachers with the opportunity to deepen their subject knowledge.
We will also review the existing teacher professional standards to ensure that our expectations of teachers are clear, making it easier to assess teacher performance and to steer professional development.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 10 November (WA 79-80), whether there are any circumstances in which a Gibraltar citizen, resident in Gibraltar and eligible to vote in the European elections, would be able to participate in a United Kingdom referendum.[HL4662]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Further to my reply of 10 November, the question of who is entitled to vote in any particular referendum will be considered and determined in the light of the subject matter. The franchise for each referendum is commonly set out in the primary legislation which establishes that a referendum is to be held.
Citizens of Gibraltar are entitled to vote in European elections as part of the combined region of South West England and Gibraltar. However, for the purposes of the referendum on the Parliamentary Voting System, Gibraltarians who are resident in Gibraltar will not be entitled to vote unless they are also British citizens and are registered to vote in UK parliamentary elections as an overseas voter.
The position is different under the European Union Bill in a case where any referendum would extend to Gibraltar under the provisions of that Bill. In that case Clause 11(1)(c) of the Bill provides that the persons who can vote in Gibraltar in the referendum are the Commonwealth citizens who, on the date of the referendum, would be entitled to vote in Gibraltar at a European Parliamentary election in the UK electoral region which includes Gibraltar.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Earl Howe on 13 October (Official Report, col. 511), what is the anticipated timetable for transferring the current functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.[HL4682]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): As previously stated, the department's review of its arm's-length bodies, announced in July, set out that the functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will be transferred to other bodies by the end of the current Parliament. As the report of the review also indicated, the practicalities of how to do so will need to be considered. This will influence decisions about the precise timing of transfer.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the proposed change of status of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate on the recruitment of specialists and experts.[HL4489]
Lord Freud: The Government intend to make an announcement shortly on the future status of the nuclear safety and security regulator, which will take account of any flexibilities it may require in order to recruit and retain the specialist personnel it needs to continue to regulate the hazards of the nuclear industry effectively.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with, and what representations they have received from, the Health and Safety Executive about the proposed change of status of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.[HL4492]
Lord Freud: The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has the principal responsibility to Parliament for the Health and Safety Executive and routinely receives representations on their work. Recent representations are concerned with a range of matters relating to the formulation and development of government policy, including the reform of nuclear regulation. In addition, in September 2010 Her Majesty's Government held a ministerial roundtable with representatives from industry, trades unions and the HSE.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The previous Administration held a consultation exercise between June and September 2009 on the restructuring of the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Directorate, which includes the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate. A summary of the consultation responses received, and the Government response, was published in March 2010. The overall response to the consultation was positive, with the majority of respondents recognising the need for change and accepting the nature of the proposed restructuring. Further representations on the proposed restructuring have since been made by a range of industry and union bodies, expressing their continued support for reform in legislation. In addition, In September 2010 Her Majesty's Government held a ministerial roundtable with representatives from industry, trades unions and the HSE on this issue.
The Government are committed to creating an independent nuclear regulator fit to meet the challenges of the nuclear industry in the 21st century and maintaining the highest level of safety. We will announce a final decision on the way forward shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the employee profile of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and the need for recruitment of specialists over the next 10 years. [HL4490]
Lord Freud: The Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Directorate regularly reviews its future need for nuclear safety specialist staff. The directorate estimates that about 140 nuclear safety specialist posts may become vacant over the next 10 years as existing specialist staff reach 60 and may elect to retire. Additionally, further recruitment is required to fill existing gaps and address potential expansion of the UK nuclear industry. This is the subject of ongoing strategic workforce planning. The directorate has recently recruited 13 new nuclear specialists and is in the process of recruiting 30 more.
Earl Attlee: While no specific assessment has been made, the Government have a highly developed strategic approach to protecting the UK's seas and coasts from ship-source pollution, which is designed in the first instance to prevent major pollution incidents, and which provides for a co-ordinated and effective response in the event that such an incident does occur.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Sassoon on 8 November (Official Report, cols. 1-4), what is the reasoning behind the claims that (a) the wider benefits of the United Kingdom's European Union membership include (1) "better access [to EU markets] for British companies"; (2) "cheaper prices and greater choice on our high street"; and (3) "more foreign investment"; and (b) "free trade with the EU alone has been estimated to boost GDP by more than 2 per cent". [HL4501]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Over 300,000 UK companies currently operate elsewhere in the European Union (EU) and 78 per cent of business leaders consider that the single market has been helpful for UK business1. Benefits include access for British businesses to potential customers, reduced costs for businesses wishing to export to Europe or to set up European operations without having to re-register in each country, and an increased ability to sell products across Europe without having to get them approved separately in 27 different countries.
Eight out of the UK's 10 main export markets are in the EU. Exports to EU member states account for 48.7 per cent of the UK's overall exports of goods and services in 2009, worth more than £188 billion2.
The single market has also been an important driver for competition across the EU with resulting benefits for consumers. The European Commission estimates that the extent of price variation in EU15 member states (those belonging to the EU before 2004) fell by 4.8 per cent between 1995 and 2005 and by 13.3 per cent in the EU25 member states (those belonging to the EU before 2007)3. Moreover, mutual recognition and standards harmonisation for thousands of products and services have ensured that consumers all over Europe enjoy high levels of quality and safety, thus increasing consumer confidence in purchases.
A paper from the European Commission in 2007 estimated that over the period 1992-2006 the single market programme raised EU GDP by 2.2 per cent, creating 2.75 million jobs in the process. This estimate was used subsequently to infer the gains to the UK assuming that gains were distributed evenly across EU member states.5
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 23 November (WA 298), whether they are aware of the launch of
7 Dec 2010 : Column WA34
Earl Attlee: The Commission published in July an internet consultation in the form of a questionnaire asking about personal experience of roadworthiness testing and views on possible future policies. The questionnaire covered all vehicle types, not just motor cycles. Since the questions in it were addressed to individuals rather than to Member States, the Department for Transport did not respond. However, we are in contact with the Commission about our preferences for EU roadworthiness testing policy in the future.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Food and Drink Federation's proposals for a radical and modernised common fisheries policy; and whether they support those proposals.[HL4453]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The proposals set out by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) are a valuable contribution to the debate on reforming the common fisheries policy (CFP).
The Government agree with many of the views expressed by the FDF, for example on the need to tackle overcapacity and to simplify and decentralise fisheries management, enabling those closest to fisheries to plan for the long term and giving fishermen greater incentive to fish sustainably.
Input from influential bodies such as the FDF will be important in building support for reform ahead of negotiations next year. Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Fisheries, has met the FDF to discuss our mutual aims for reform of the CFP and is keen to work with it and other organisations in helping build the case for radical reform.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 15 November (WA 156), (a) in which sections of the York report, A Systematic Review of Water Fluoridation, can the conclusion that areas of past concern about water fluoridation no longer require investigation be found, and (b) why the National Fluoride Information Centre placed this claim within the Is it safe? section of their website if it intended to refer to past concern about fluoridation's health effectiveness. [HL4557]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The extract from the York report to which I referred in my earlier reply was from "Section 12. Conclusions". Although York found no clear association between fluoridation and cancer or bone fractures, we are not complacent. This is why the department is committed to a programme of further research to strengthen the evidence base on fluoridation. I agree that the layout of the website could be improved and officials will be exploring with the National Fluoride Information Centre how this can best be done.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 9 November (WA 54-5), why the Ministry of Defence (Catering, Retail and Leisure) purchases only 47 per cent British pork and 1 per cent British bacon.[HL3985]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): European Union procurement legislation precludes public bodies from discriminating in favour of domestic products when procuring food, and Ministry of Defence (MoD) contractors are required to seek best value for money in the open market. However, where competitive, the MoD gives full consideration to procuring British produce. To this end regular and routine meetings are held between the MoD and other government departments aimed at assisting British companies better to compete for MoD food contracts.
For operational requirements, it is necessary to supply frozen fish and meat, including bacon, to military personnel serving on duty outside the United Kingdom. To procure frozen bacon from a British supplier would currently represent a significant additional cost to the MoD of approximately £880,000 per annum.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The ceasefire that brought the fighting between Israel and Hamas to an end in early 2009 remains fragile as this incident demonstrates. There remains a risk of rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli strikes against targets within Gaza. Restraint is vital-no-one wishes to see a return to the
7 Dec 2010 : Column WA36
The fragile situation underlines more than ever the urgent need for a return to normality in Gaza: opening the crossings to humanitarian relief and reconstruction materials, and revival of the economy through allowing exports and the movement of people is the best way of ensuring longer-term stability and the re-emergence of Gaza's business fraternity.
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 Transport; 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.[HL3852]
In 1996, the Ministry of Defence carried out a thorough investigation into the use of organophosphate pesticides in the 1990-91 Gulf conflict. A report entitled: Organophosphate Pesticide Investigation Team: Substantive Report (Parts One-Three) found that, overall, organophosphate pesticides were used properly by personnel who had been carefully trained in the safe use of such products, including the wearing of personal protective equipment. Copies of the report are available in the Library of the House.
Lord Astor of Hever: Some 53,400 personnel were deployed to the Gulf War in 1990-91. Personnel were given a pre-treatment regime of nerve agent pre-treatment sets (NAPS) tablets. Each tablet contained 30 milligrams of pyridostigmine bromide to be taken orally every eight hours. The tablets were self-administered on command.
Further information can be obtained from the paper published by the Ministry of Defence on 28 October 1997 entitled Background to the use of Medical Countermeasures to Protect British Forces during the Gulf War (Operation Granby), copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
In 2010-11, an additional £60 million was included in PCT allocations to support the delivery of the National Dementia Strategy including treatment of those with Alzheimer's disease and all other forms of dementia.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Publication plans for the autism statutory guidance are in place for December 2010 as per the requirements of the Autism Act 2009.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department is fully committed to clinical and applied research into treatment and cures for cancer. The department's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) welcomes
7 Dec 2010 : Column WA38
The department is working closely with research funding partners (including the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, and the Roy Castle Lung Foundation) through the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) to enhance national research efforts on lung cancer. Specific actions are under way in several areas and the department is taking the lead, on behalf of NCRI partners, in the area of research on screening for lung cancer. The NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme is funding a pilot study in the United Kingdom that will complement other trials currently under way in Europe and the United States of America.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they will take to ensure that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on childhood constipation and the forthcoming NICE guidelines on bedwetting will be taken up by healthcare professionals and commissioners. [HL4611]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) clinical guidelines are based on a thorough assessment of the available evidence and are developed through wide consultation with stakeholders. The department expects National Health Service organisations to work towards their implementation over a reasonable period of time as and when resources permit.
The department supported the Paediatric Continence Forum conference on 1 December, which focused on publicising and promoting implementation of the NICE guidelines, and the NICE commissioning guidance now in production. Karen Turner, deputy director Children, Families and Maternity, represented the department and made the opening address.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to raise awareness of the role of paediatric continence problems in contributing to abuse against children, as was the case in the death of Victoria Climbie.[HL4610]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In 2009, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published guidance for healthcare professionals on When to Suspect Child Maltreatment. This includes the issues of wetting and soiling. Health professional bodies also issue a range of guidance on safeguarding and child protection for their members.
To ask the Leader of the House, further to his Written Answer on 25 November (WA 379) concerning September sittings of the House, whether he consulted those responsible for the programme of maintenance and works on the parliamentary estate.[HL4977]
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): Recess dates are set with a view to the likely volume and progress of business. They are not set with a view to facilitating the programme of maintenance and works on the parliamentary estate, and therefore no consultation of the kind described by the noble Lord was carried out.
Baroness Verma: This Government recognise that increasing the number of women in politics has a real and constructive effect on the quality of decision-making and are committed to tackling the barriers preventing women and underrepresented groups from participating in political life.
The Equality Act 2010 includes a range of positive action provisions that allow political parties to take steps to encourage involvement amongst women and other underrepresented groups. These include extending the period that they can use women-only shortlists
7 Dec 2010 : Column WA40
Section 106 of the Equality Act 2010 also makes it possible to require registered political parties to publish anonymised data relating to the diversity of their candidate selections at a particular election, and we are currently considering how this will be taken forward.
The Deputy Prime Minister is chairing a cross-party committee that is discussing proposals for a wholly or mainly elected second Chamber. The committee is considering how a reformed second Chamber could more closely reflect the diversity of the society it serves.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they selected six unsalaried Members of the House of Lords to serve as unpaid Ministers when the three Members of the House of Commons who receive no ministerial salary receive a parliamentary salary; and whether, within the constraints of a limited number of paid Ministers, consideration has been given to making a fairer division of unpaid ministerial appointments between the two Houses.[HL4472]
The House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 limits the number of Ministers, paid or unpaid, who may sit in the House of Commons to 95. The Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 limits the number of paid Ministers, whether sitting in the House of Commons or the House of Lords, to 109.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government are committed to take steps to manage housing benefit expenditure, and to ensure that people who make new claims for housing benefit in the private rented sector, including migrants from the A10 countries, are prevented from claiming the unacceptably high rates of local housing allowance.
Importantly, the measures announced will provide a fairer and more sustainable housing benefit scheme by taking steps to ensure that people on benefit are not living in accommodation that would be out of reach of most people in work.
The adjustments to rates of local housing allowance will take effect from April 2011 and up to nine months' transitional protection will be afforded to existing customers from the anniversary of their claim. This means that many existing customers will not be affected until January 2012 and some will not be affected until December 2012
The Government are committed to decentralising planning. This will give communities greater flexibility to determine planning policies that better reflect the wishes and needs of local residents, including migrants from the A10 countries.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): We are not ending tenancy for life. Landlords will have discretion to offer new lifetime tenancies, if they so choose. Our proposals will make the system much more flexible, allowing local authorities and social landlords to help the many people who are inadequately housed, stuck on waiting lists, or overcrowded. There will be no change to the security and rights of existing social tenants.
Low-income families will also benefit from the plans we set out in the spending review to build 150,000 more affordable homes, with around £2 billion supporting the construction of homes at a traditional rent.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 24 November (WA 344), why a GCSE or an International GCSE is not one of the ways in which they measure knowledge of English for immigration purposes; and in what ways the examinations fall short of the requirements of the immigration service.[HL4602]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The levels of English required for immigration routes are not comparable with GCSEs. For example, the A1 test for entry as a spouse or the life in the United Kingdom test for settlement are set at a lower level than GCSE. A person who has attained a GCSE in English should therefore be able to succeed in these tests. In addition, spouses must demonstrate speaking and listening English skills which might not be tested by all GCSEs. The life in the United Kingdom test for settlement also requires a person to demonstrate knowledge of life in the United Kingdom, which would not be covered in English GCSEs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the findings of the Independent Asylum Commission of March 2008 and the reports of the London Detainee Support Group of January 2009 and September 2010, they plan to make proposals for ending the use of indefinite detention and limiting the duration of detention.[HL4739]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): We have no plans to do so. We are keen to ensure that periods of detention are kept to the minimum and that no one is detained for longer than is necessary. However, to impose a fixed time limit on the length of detention would take no account of individual circumstances and would serve only to encourage individuals to delay and frustrate immigration and asylum processes in order to reach a point where they would be released. We cannot allow the operation of immigration control to be hindered in such a way.
Baroness Neville-Jones: In order to safeguard an individual's personal information and comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, the UK Border Agency is limited in the information it can provide when the request is made by someone who is not the subject of the application.
The UK Border Agency has no record that Mr Arben Draga has provided us with written confirmation that they wish the noble Lord to act on his behalf. However, if he can provide us with this authority it will be possible to respond in more detail in correspondence.
The UK Border Agency only detains individuals with a view to deporting or removing and has no wish to detain for any longer than is necessary. However, where a detainee refuses to cooperate with the removal or deportation process, detention may be prolonged.
Baroness Neville-Jones: In order to safeguard an individual's personal information and comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, the UK Border Agency is limited in the information it can provide when the request is made by someone who is not the subject of the application.
The UK Border Agency has no record that Mr Christian has provided us with written confirmation that they wish the noble Lord to act on his behalf. If the noble Lord would care to write to my honourable friend, the Minister for Immigration, providing such confirmation and further details, we will provide an update on Mr Christian's status.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The relationship between the EU and Israel covers a number of important issues, including human rights and progress towards a two-state solution. The EU-Israel Association Agreement provides a platform for discussing these important issues. The EU has made it clear that no progress should be made on upgrading the wider EU-Israel relationship until there is substantial progress towards a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. We do not believe that the isolation of Israel is the way to achieve the positive steps that we would like to see.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Implementation planning for the sale of Marchwood is still at an early stage. However, our aim is to complete the sale transaction by 2014-15.
The current assumption, which will be tested to deliver value for money, is that Marchwood will continue to provide the sea mounting services required by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) under private ownership. Sale should, therefore, have no detrimental impact on the MoD's ability to conduct current or future operations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 16 November (WA 196), whether the exclusion from national insurance contributions in Regulation 145(2) or (3) of the Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 2001, designed to keep non-European economic area temporary visiting workers out of the United Kingdom social security scheme, means that those excluded are required to pay for use of the National Health Service; and what estimate they have made of social security savings due to the exclusion. [HL4462]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Entitlement to free National Health Service hospital treatment is based on ordinary residence in the United Kingdom, not on nationality or the payment of UK taxes or national insurance contributions. Under the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, as amended, some people who are not considered ordinarily resident in the UK-overseas visitors-are exempt from charges for NHS hospital treatment. These include those in the UK for the purpose of working with a UK-based employer or a UK-registered branch of an overseas company. Any overseas visitor who is not exempt from charges will be chargeable for their treatment.
Primary medical care contractors (GPs) are self-employed and have contracts with the local primary care trust to provide services for the NHS. Under the terms of those contracts, GPs have a measure of discretion in accepting applications to join their patient lists. However, they cannot turn down an applicant on the grounds of race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or medical condition. Registration with a GP does not equate to entitlement to free NHS hospital treatment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they have provided to local authorities regarding the civil parking enforcement powers, and the proceeds raised by enforcement, under the Traffic Management Act 2004; and when this information was provided. [HL4512]
Paragraph 3.8 says that revenue received from penalty charges (whether for on-street or off-street enforcement) must only be used in accordance with Section 55 (as amended) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act (RTRA) 1984 which limits the use of surplus funds to transport- related objectives or for environmental purposes. Paragraph 4.25 adds that income and expenditure of local authorities in connection with their on-street charging and their on-street and off-street enforcement activities are governed by Section 55 (as amended) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. These points are reiterated in paragraphs 4.24-4.27, 6.15, 14.3, 14.7 and Al (Appendix 1) of the operational guidance.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they carried out or took into consideration any party-political seat distribution modelling research during their preparations for the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill; and, if so, what were the results.[HL4428]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): No party-political seat distribution modelling has been carried out or taken into consideration by Her Majesty's Government in drafting the provisions of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the date of the first and any subsequent appointments of each member of the South Wales Police Authority to serve on the authority in each of the past six years. [HL4556]
Earl Attlee: The Government announced on 20 October 2010 that the cap on regulated rail fares from 2 January 2011 will be RPI+1 per cent, then RPI+3 per cent applied for the following three years. Passenger numbers are, in general, still increasing and we expect this trend to continue.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to imposing minimum standards of passenger accommodation on the railways, so as to allow passengers over 6 feet 3 inches in height to sit straight in standard class seating. [HL4135]
Earl Attlee: Specifications for new trains already include a requirement that seating be arranged to accommodate a height range to accommodate the vast majority of adults. This requirement is based on an industry developed standard to which trains on the UK rail network are expected to be built.
Additionally, rail vehicles entering service since 1998 have been required to provide extra defined amounts of clearance for at least 10 per cent of all seats to enable persons of reduced mobility to use those seats comfortably. Taller passengers might wish to make use of this additional space, although they would need to vacate those seats when needed by someone who has priority, such as pregnant women or people with mobility difficulties.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by Lord Sassoon on 22 November (Official Report, col. 993) which indicated that a bilateral loan to Ireland would be just a contingent liability, what is their definition of this term; and whether they envisage that the loan will not be drawn down by the Government of Ireland. [HL4446]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The impact of a bilateral loan on the fiscal aggregates will be determined by the Office for National Statistics. Usually a loan scores as a financial transaction and as such would directly impact on the level of net debt but not on net borrowing. Net borrowing would be affected by any differences in interest paid and received on the loan.
On 28 November, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and eurozone member states agreed a three-year financial assistance package for Ireland-worth €85 billion-to safeguard financial stability in the euro area and in the EU as a whole.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of (a) the reorganisation and new command structures of the Russian armed services, and (b) large-scale conscription in Russia, on possible bilateral or multilateral co-operation
7 Dec 2010 : Column WA47
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Opportunities for greater bilateral and multilateral engagement with Russia may present themselves as the reform programme starts to produce results. As part of the UK/Russia bilateral programme in 2011, we hope to exchange information on how each country's defence reforms are progressing. Assessments of the Russian defence reform programme and its impact are the subject of regular Ministry of Defence analysis and reporting, and these assessments feed our decision-making process as we seek, together with our NATO allies, to build meaningful co-operation with Russia, including in areas covered at NATO's recent summit.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the opportunities for students in state-maintained schools to participate in full academic year exchanges with students from non-European Union countries compared to those in the independent sector; and whether they have plans to revise the tier 4 (child) category of the points-based system. [HL4560]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government believe that school exchanges provide valuable opportunities for young people to improve language skills and enjoy an experience of life in another country. However, we also believe that exchange visits at state-maintained schools for periods of longer than six months would effectively amount to replacement, and free education for non-EU nationals at the UK taxpayer's expense. Non-EU nationals wishing to undertake exchange visits to state-maintained schools are able to spend up to six months in the UK under the child visitor route. Independent schools are able to bring international pupils to the UK under tier 4 for academic year exchanges, as those students are paying full fees and are not being subsidised by the UK taxpayer. Given this distinction, we have no plans to revise the tier 4 category to allow full academic year exchanges at state-maintained schools.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what commitment has been given by shipping and maritime insurance companies that there will be tug coverage available in the event of shipping in difficulty or distress, following the withdrawal of the four coastguard emergency towing vessels from Stornoway, Lerwick, Falmouth and Dover in 2011.[HL4639]
Earl Attlee: Between now and next September, when the current emergency towing vessel contract ends, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will facilitate discussions with the shipping and wider maritime industries, and also with local interested parties about how commercial tug and salvage arrangements could operate in the future.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the committees and appointments funded by South Wales Police Authority that have been served by appointees to the Police Authority in each of the past six years.[HL4700]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department for Education is still working through the details of the spending review 2010 for funding 16-19 year-old students. We will be announcing the planned funding settlement by Christmas and the planned individual allocations to institutions by the end of March 2011. These will be the allocations for full-time and part-time students combined; it is not possible to split out the allocations just for full-time students.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment was made prior to the spending review of how to protect disabled people from being adversely affected by decisions taken in the spending review 2010. [HL4413]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Throughout the spending review process HM Treasury has looked closely at the impact that decisions may have on different groups in society, and published a high level overview of the impact of the spending review.
Theresa May, the Minister for Women and Equalities, and Maria Miller, the Minister for Disabled People, wrote to Ministers across government in advance of the spending review to remind colleagues of the need to consider the impact of policy and financial decisions on different groups of people.
Throughout there have been clear and focused measures to protect disabled people and help to ensure support is there for those who need it most. A full summary of the changes that affect disabled people has been published on the Department for Work and Pension's website at www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/spending-review-2010, where people can register for updates to help keep them fully informed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will ensure that the measures announced in the spending review 2010 do not have a disproportionate effect on disabled people; and what measures they will take if it appears to be having such an affect. [HL4415]
Lord Freud: We will work with disabled people, who can tell us about the overall effect of public policy and services on their lives, in order that this can inform how we develop our policy and strategy.
We will continue to talk as widely as possible with disabled people about how we can make reforms that enable economic recovery while ensuring that the impact on disabled people and other disadvantaged groups remains proportionate.
Within the Department for Work and Pensions, all Budget and spending review measures will be equality impact-assessed. Some polices will be subject to public consultation. Views of disabled people will therefore be fully considered in how policies are shaped.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government published the document Corporate Tax Reform: Delivering a More Competitive System on 29 November 2010. This includes proposals for a new Controlled Foreign Companies (CFC) regime to be legislated in Finance Bill 2012 and a package of CFC interim improvements to be legislated in Finance Bill 2011. The aim of this reform is to modernise the rules to reflect better the way businesses now operate in a globalised economy, while providing necessary protection of corporate tax revenues.
Further information on the consultations can be found at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/corporate tax reform.htm.
Earl Attlee: Schedule 7 to the Traffic Management Act 2004 specifies the road traffic contraventions that are subject to civil enforcement. Only those contraventions set out in Part 1 of Schedule 7 have been brought into force. Regulations made under Section 144 of the Transport Act 2000 give approved English local authorities outside London the power to enforce an area of road that forms part of a bus lane if the locally made order provides that it may be used only by buses, a particular description of bus, or by buses or a particular description of bus and other class or classes of vehicular traffic. Local authorities in London have additional traffic enforcement powers, under various locally made Acts of Parliament.
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