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15 Dec 2010 : Column WA181

Written Answers

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Agriculture: Theft

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The information requested is not available centrally.

The Home Office collects statistics on offences recorded by the police. However, it is not possible to identify those offences which take place on farm premises. In addition, details of the value of property stolen and the amount of property recovered are not collected.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Baroness Neville-Jones: The information requested is not available centrally.

The Home Office collects statistics on searches of vehicles by the police, by reason for search. However, it is not possible to identify searches that take place en route to ports or at ports, or whether the reason is to search for goods stolen from farms.

Armed Forces: Royal Marines

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): As highlighted in the recently published strategic defence and security review, the immense contribution of our highly professional special forces is necessarily largely unreported. It is the long standing policy of the Ministry of Defence not to comment on matters concerning UK special forces to protect operational capability.



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Banking: Iceland

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The table below shows the outstanding loan balances the Treasury has provided to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in order to pay compensation up to £50,000 to retail depositors in Icelandic banks, and the value of compensation paid by the Treasury to cover balances above £50,000. These figures show the net position at 31 March 2010 and are taken from page 162 of the Treasury's Resource Accounts for 2009-10 (HC261).

£'000HMT Loan to FSCSHMT Top Up CompensationTotal

Heritable

307,354

58,005

365,359

KSF

1,766,936

291,248

2,058,184

Icesave

1,412,809*

772,983

2,185,792

Total

3,487,099

1,122,236

4,609,335

This table corrects some of the numbers set out in my Written Answer to the noble Lord on 19 October 2010. The numbers in that Answer were in respect of 1 April 2009, rather than 31 March 2010 as stated, and failed to take account of adjustments made during the 2009-10 financial year to reflect further drawdowns, due diligence exercises and repayments arising from dividends received from the administration process.

Compensation payments, including those for deposits over £50,000, are administered by the FSCS. According to the FSCS, as at 24 November 2010, 14,652 depositors had been compensated in the three banks for deposits over £50,000, of which 14,618 depositors were UK residents and 34 depositors were non-UK residents. No compensation payments were made to residents of Iceland in respect of deposits over £50,000. The FSCS is not able to disclose the names of depositors receiving

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compensation for dataprotection purposes. As at 24 November 2010 there were 45 depositors with balances above £50,000 in all three Icelandic banks combined that were yet to submit a claim to the FSCS

The current agreement in place between HM Treasury and FSCS sets a final repayment date of 31 March 2012 for repayment of the £3.487 billion loan detailed above. This deadline is extendable at the FSCS's discretion, subject to agreement with HM Treasury. With regard to the HM Treasury top-up element, the Treasury will seek to recover these amounts from the respective administration processes of each bank.

On 28 January 2010, Ernst & Young published two forecast rates of recovery for Heritable Bank PLC, a base case recovery of 79 to 85 pence in the pound and a stress scenario recovery of 63 to 73 pence in the pound.

http://www.heritable.co.uk/Uploads/Documents/news/Heritable_Bank_Plc_Creditors_Update_ 2010.01.28.pdf.

On 3 November 2010, Ernst & Young published an Administrators Progress Report on Kaupthing and Singer and Freidlander (KSF) in which it announced a forecast return of 75 to 84 pence in the pound.

http://www.kaupthingsingers.co.uk/Files/CustomerCreditorinformation/Administrators% 20Progress%20Report%20Oct%202010. pdf

The Landsbanki Resolution Committee announced in a creditors meeting on 1 December an expected rate of recovery of 86 per cent.

http://www.lbi.is/Home/News/News-Item/2010/12/01/News-announcement-from-LBI-Creditors-Meeting/.

Banking: Royal Bank of Scotland

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In May 2009 the Financial Services Authority (FSA) launched an investigation into the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to consider whether regulatory rules had been broken and what, if any, action was appropriate. The review looked specifically at the conduct of senior individuals at the bank, the acquisition of ABN AMRO in 2007 and the 2009 capital raisings.

The FSA conducted the review with assistance from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The appointment of external advisers is a matter for the FSA, as independent regulator. The Treasury does not have any information about the cost of PwC's assistance or its terms of reference.



15 Dec 2010 : Column WA184

Benefits

Question

Asked by Baroness Sherlock

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): In the recent Welfare Reform White Paper, Universal Credit: welfare that works, we have committed to providing protection to ensure that no households in receipt of the relevant benefits and tax credits at the point of transition will lose in cash terms as a direct result of the introduction of universal credit.

Benefits: Disability

Questions

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Reliable estimates of total disability living allowance claimants in residential care homes are not available as we are unable to identify accurately DLA claimants who meet the full cost of their residential care.

Asked by Lord German

Lord Freud: Savings from withdrawing the mobility component of disabled living allowance for those living in residential care funded by the state are estimated to be £140 million (GB, real terms) each year, with £100 million savings estimated from those receiving higher rate mobility and £40 million savings estimated from those receiving lower rate mobility.

The savings outlined have been updated since the spending review in light of new information on the status of care home residents who entered residential care before 1998.

Accurate estimates of the number of people who claim disability living allowance and live in residential care are difficult to produce because before 1998 there was no requirement to record entry or exit dates in to residential care.



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Asked by Lord German

Lord Freud: The information requested is not available.

Asked by Lord Rowlands

Lord Freud: The information requested is set out in the table below.

BodyCost 2009-10

Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board

£20,467

Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee

£486,795

Benefits: Drug Users

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): As announced in the Government's drug strategy, Reducing Demand, Restricting Supply, Building Recovery: Supporting People to Live a Drug Free Life which was published on 8 December 2010 (a copy of which is available in the House of Lords Library) this Government will take a holistic approach to helping benefit claimants beat their drug and alcohol dependency, so they have every chance of competing in today's labour market.

Benefit claimants who decide to go into treatment will be offered every support to help overcome their addiction. Those who refuse treatment will still be able to claim unemployment benefits and, if as a consequence they are unable to comply with the normal conditions for receipt of benefits, they will face the same sanctions as every other jobseeker.

Our welfare reforms will support this strategy by making sure that work always pays.

British Indian Ocean Territory

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There are a number of officials of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The BIOT commissioner is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen by instructions through a Secretary of State. Mr Colin Roberts is the current BIOT commissioner.

Under Section 7 of the BIOT (Constitution) Order 2004, the commissioner appoints a commissioner's representative, a deputy commissioner and a BIOT administrator. The current commissioner's representative is a Royal Navy commander appointed by the Ministry of Defence as Commander British Forces at BIOT. The deputy commissioner and the BIOT administrator are currently members of the Overseas Territories Directorate in the FCO. BIOT law allows these officers to delegate responsibility for issuing permits.

Cabinet Office: Draft Manual

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The draft Cabinet Manual was published on 14 December 2010. A 12-week period has been allowed for comments. Full details of the draft manual can be found on the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/cabinet-manual. The draft manual is also available in the Libraries of the House.

Asked by Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The draft Cabinet Manual was published on 14 December 2010. A 12-week period has been allowed for comments. Full details of the draft manual can be found on the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/cabinet-manual. The draft manual is also available in the Libraries of both Houses

Civil Service and Ministerial Codes

Question

Asked by Lord Laird



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): There are clear guidelines set out in the Civil Service and Ministerial Codes, policed by the Cabinet Office, which strictly prohibit civil servants from engaging in, or being seen to advocate or promote, messages to the public which are overtly political as to promote one party over another or to denigrate other political parties' views or policies.

The Ministerial Code states that:

"6.3 Official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political. The conventions governing the work of the Government Communication Network are set out in the Government Communication Network's Propriety Guidance-Guidance on Government Communications.

8.4 Ministers must only use official machinery for distributing texts of speeches relating to Government business. Speeches made in a party political context must be distributed through the Party machinery".

The Cabinet Office guidance published at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/cabinetoffice/government_communication/assets/guidance.pdf states:

"If a speech by a minister included an attack on their political opponents, it would be improper for the department to issue it as an official text. The political attack would have to be omitted from the official release. If the minister wished the full speech to be issued, it would have to come from the press office of the political party ... the director of communications will be responsible for weighing up the matter and deciding whether publishing an official release might risk damaging the integrity of the department".

For the speech concerned, the director of communications made the judgment that only a redacted version should be published on the Home Office website.

Crime Prevention: Burglar Alarms

Question

Asked by Lord Lipsey

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The figure quoted is taken from a 2004 publication from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics (RDS) Directorate entitled Decision Making by House Burglars: Offenders' Perspectives. The findings were based on interviews of a small sample of burglars in southern England who responded to questions regarding a range of deterrent factors against burglary. The use of these findings in an advertisement does not constitute an endorsement by the Home Office of a particular company's products or services.

Crime: Knives

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government's position is clear. People who commit knife crimes shall expect tough sentences, including prison where necessary. We will continue to keep our knife crime laws under constant review.

Crime: Persistent Offenders

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Punishment of offenders, in terms of sentencing following conviction, will continue to be imposed by the courts. The Green Paper Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders, published on 7 December, explained that while some persistent offenders will still need to go to prison, the Government's aim is to stop offenders getting to that stage by the development of more credible and robust community sentences.

The Green Paper sets out proposals for giving offender managers greater freedom in delivering community sentences to secure the best possible outcomes in terms of reducing reoffending.

Crime: Violence

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We are conducting an assessment of sentencing to ensure that it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting re-offending. On 7 December we published proposals in the Green Paper, Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders, for public consultation. These proposals included the reform of sentences of imprisonment for public protection (IPPs) which are specifically targeted at violent and sexual offenders.

We propose to restrict these sentences to those who merit a minimum term of at least five years in prison. Offenders will still have to undergo a risk assessment before being considered for release, and the Parole Board will consider whether each individual case is suitable for release on licence. We are, however, proposing to make amendments to the risk test used by the Parole Board, so that the Parole Board will need to satisfy itself that the offender presents a risk which cannot be managed in the community. These proposals have been published on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk.

Violent and sexual offenders who do not meet the new threshold will be able to receive a long determinate sentence or in appropriate cases an extended sentence (where the offender remains under supervision for an extended period after release). Additionally, there are

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court orders available to manage the risk of serious sexual and violent offenders whose risk was not considered high enough at the time of conviction for an indefinite sentence, but who appear to present a risk at the end of their sentence.

Crown Prosecution Service

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Attorney-General superintends the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and meets regularly with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to discuss the work of the CPS including case handling. In addition the CPS has a statutory inspectorate, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI), which has a programme of inspection of the CPS. The CPS is routinely inspected by HMCPSI, and this includes looking at specific cases when required to do so by the Attorney-General. The work of the CPS is also scrutinised by the Justice Committee, and the DPP supplies written and oral evidence to the committee on specific issues as requested.

There are no plans to further expand on the current scrutiny of the work of the CPS.

Cybercrime

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): We are currently developing a national cybercrime strategy, which will set out how we believe the UK can collectively tackle cybercrime, through government, industry and the public working together. This will include setting out what the public and business can do to help protect themselves, as well as how we will structure law enforcement and other government work to meet the challenge posed by cyber criminals.

Disabled People: Work Capability Assessments

Questions

Asked by Lord German



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Professor Harrington published his independent review of the WCA on 23 November 2010, and the Government have fully accepted all of his recommendations. We are currently exploring the details of how to implement some of the recommendations, but are working to implement them all as quickly as possible.

Economy: Spending Cuts

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was formed in May 2010 to make an independent assessment of the public finances and the economy.

On 29 November 2010, the OBR released the official forecast for total employment and general government employment, updated for the spending review announcements.

As the OBR sets out in paragraph 3.98, page 62 of its November 2010 Economic and Fiscal Outlook (Cm 7979), it expects total employment to rise by 1.1 million over the next five years, from 29.0 million in 2010 to 30.1 million in 2015.

The OBR has not published forecasts by gender.

Elderly People: Poverty

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government have restored the earnings link for the basic state pension with a triple guarantee that the basic state pension will increase by the highest of the growth in average earnings, prices (as measured by the consumer prices index) or 2.5 per cent. We estimate this will mean that the average person reaching state pension age in 2011 will receive an additional £15,000 in basic state pension over their retirement than they would have done under the old prices link.

This commitment will benefit both existing and future pensioners by providing a more generous state pension giving a solid financial foundation from the state which is essential as part of the pensions system.

In April 2011 it is proposed that the basic state pension will increase by 4.6 per cent, in line with the retail prices index, the old prices link, for one last time. After that the "triple guarantee" will apply.



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This Government are protecting key benefits for pensioners. Free eye tests, free prescription charges, free bus passes, free television licences for the over 75s, and winter fuel payments will remain exactly as budgeted for by the previous Government-as we promised. We have also made the temporary increase in the cold weather payment to £25 permanent.

We want to ensure that older people receive the help that they are entitled to and we are conducting a research study into the feasibility of using existing data to help to improve the take-up of pension credit.

We will help prevent people from falling into poverty in later life by simplifying the rules and regulations relating to pensions to help reinvigorate occupational pensions. We will encourage companies to offer high-quality pensions to all employees and from October 2012, all employers will be required to automatically enrol their eligible workers into a qualifying workplace pension scheme. We expect this radically to increase the number of people saving into a pension and lead to between 4 million and 8 million people newly saving or saving more in all forms of workplace pension schemes.

All these changes will have a positive impact on pensioners' incomes.

Embassies

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The following British embassies represent the United Kingdom in more than one state. The resident post is shown first with non-resident posts to which the head of mission is accredited after:

Abuja (Nigeria)- Cotonou (Benin), Malabo (Equatorial Guinea);Accra (Ghana)-Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire), Lome (Togo);Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)-Djibouti (Djibouti);Astana (Kazakhstan)-Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic);Bamako (Mali)-Niamey (Niger);Bangkok (Thailand)-Laos;Berne (Switzerland)-Liechtenstein;Bridgetown (Barbados)-St Lucia, Grenada, St Christopher and Nevis, St Vincent and Grenadines, Commonwealth of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda;Buenos Aires (Argentina)-Asuncion (Paraguay);Colombo (Sri Lanka)-Male (Maldives);Dakar (Senegal)-Prais (Cape Verde), Bissau (Guinea-Bissau);Freetown (Sierra Leone)-Monrovia (Liberia);Georgetown (Guyana)-Paramaribo (Suriname);Guatemala City (Guatemala)-San Salvador (El Salvador), Tegucigalpa (Honduras);Jakarta (Indonesia)-Dili (Timor L'Este);Kigali (Rwanda)-Bujumbura (Burundi);Kingston (Jamaica)-Nassau (Bahamas);

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Kinshasa (Dem Rep of Congo)-Brazzaville (Rep of Congo) Luanda (Angola) - Sao Tome (Sao Tome & Principe);Madrid (Spain)-Andorra;Manila (Phillipines)-Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau;Paris (France)-Monaco;Port Louis (Mauritius)-Moroni (Comoros), Antananarivo (Madagascar);Rabat (Morocco)-Nouakchott (Mauritania);Rome (Italy)-San Marino;San Jose (Costa Rica)-Managua (Nicaragua);Santo Domingo (Dominican Rep)-Port-au-Prince (Haiti);South Africa-Mbabane (Swaziland) and Maseru (Lesotho);Stanley (Falkland Islands)-Commissioner, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands;Suva (Fiji)-Tarawa (Kiribati), Naura (Nauru), Port Vila (Vanuatu), Nuku'alofa (Tonga), Funafuti (Tuvalu);Wellington (New Zealand)-Apia (Samoa), and Governor of Pitcairn, Henderson and Ducie; andYaounde (Cameroon)-Bangui (Central African Republic), Ndjamena (Chad), Libreville (Gabon).

EU: Budget

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The aim of the workshop on budget projections methodology over the medium term was to introduce different budget projection methodologies and obtain insight on best practice in EU member states. Experts from the Romanian, Polish and Spanish administrations gave a range of technical presentations to more than 100 participants from Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) beneficiary countries. Their presentations can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/taiex/dyn/taiex¬events/library/detail_en.jsp?EventID= 42945.

The provisional total cost of the event is €61,257. The precise final cost will be known shortly when all invoices have been submitted and checked. It is expected to be close to the provisional cost.

EU: Israel Association Agreement

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Israel's progress against the European Union-Israel Association Agreement, and its implementing action plan, is reviewed annually by the European Commission, including the new External Action Service. The UK contributes to these reviews. These assessments, which include human rights, are published on the Commission websites http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/documents_en.htm#3 and http://eeas.europa.eu/israel/index_en.htm.

For example, the report covering 2009, http://ec.europa. eu/world/enp/pdf/progress2010/sec10_520_en.pdf, highlighted that international democracy indexes rank Israel at levels comparable to EU member states but more efforts were needed to address the economic and social situation of the Arab minority and enhance their integration in Israeli society.

EU: Research and Development

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Formal negotiations on the Eighth European Union Framework Programme (FP8) will follow publication of the Commission's legislative proposals, which are not currently expected before late 2011. BIS is currently running a call for evidence to inform the UK position, which will close on 4 January 2011. BIS has also sought to elicit views of business organisations on FP8 by participating in a number of events with key stakeholders.

Government Departments: Websites

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Minister for the Cabinet Office announced on 24 June that he wanted to see up to 75 per cent of government websites closed.

As of 1 December there were over 800 central government websites, but more websites are still being discovered. This makes it confusing for citizens and businesses to find the services and information they seek.

In her review of Directgov and government websites, Martha Lane Fox recognises the need to simplify the user experience of government websites. She also emphasised the need for these websites to be more customer focused. It is hoped that by focusing on customer needs and providing a better user experience, it will possible to reduce the number of government websites.



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Martha Lane Fox has suggested moving to a single website for Government but she also accepts that doing so will present a number of challenges for Government. In his response to her report, the Minister for the Cabinet Office accepted the principle of a single domain whilst acknowledging the need to consult with Cabinet colleagues on the challenges that this involves.

The cost of managing large numbers of websites and maintaining their contracts is too high and the Government are committed to increasing efficiencies wherever possible. The Government therefore hope that a considerable number will be closed to make significant efficiency savings.

House of Lords: Reform

Question

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): In March 2007, the House of Commons voted in favour of a fully or substantially (80 per cent) elected second chamber, and against a wholly appointed second chamber. In addition, all three main political parties committed in their manifestos to reform of the House of Lords. The Government believe that they should move forward on this issue.

House of Lords: September Sittings

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

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 I have no plans to consult contractors.

Houses of Parliament: Female Members

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling



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Baroness Verma: Sessional statistics for the 1983-84 Session, which ran from 15 June 1983 to 31 October 1984, show that the number and percentage of female members in the House of Lords stood at 64/1183 peers representing 5.4 per cent of the Lords.

Sessional statistics for the 1984-85 Session which ran from 6 November 1984 to 30 October 1985 shows that the number and percentage of female members in the House of Lords stood at 64/1174 peers representing 5.5 per cent of the Lords.

Housing

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Following the spending review announcement, housing market renewal funding as it is currently structured will end in March 2011. Post 2010-11, it will be for local authorities to decide whether to continue with their housing market renewal partnerships and to bid for funding which would allow them to take forward market renewal projects in their areas. This could include the £1.4 billion regional growth fund and £100 million empty homes funding to help bring empty homes back into use, as well as new incentive schemes such as the £1 billion new homes bonus. In addition,

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the spending review has secured £4.5 billion of investment for affordable housing and an extra £2 billion for the decent homes programme.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government view human rights as integral to our foreign policy, and encourage the EU to promote human rights and democracy with the many levers at its disposal. The EU has a common position, agreed by all member states, on the inclusion of clauses on human rights in EU-third country agreements, including association agreements. Human rights concerns identified are therefore discussed openly with the third country in question. The performance of third countries in association agreements is assessed by the Commission and External Action Service both in Brussels and in the country concerned. The UK contributes to that process through our overseas Posts and the permanent representation in Brussels. The Commission publishes these assessments, including on human rights, on its website.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: Morocco's progress against the European Union-Morocco Association Agreement, and its implementing action plan, is reviewed annually by the European Commission, including the new External Action Service. The UK contributes to these reviews in Rabat and Brussels. These assessments, which include human rights, are published on the Commission website. For example, the report covering 2009 highlighted the importance of providing for full freedom of the press and noted that Morocco had ratified the international convention for the rights of the disabled.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Parliament, like any other employer, can apply for a licence to sponsor skilled migrant workers under tier 2 of the points-based system. This will not change when the full limit on non-EEA economic migration is introduced in April 2011.

Immigration: Detainees

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): As at 30 September 2010, management information shows that of the 2,890 people in immigration removal centres and short-term holding facilities detained solely under Immigration Act powers, 200 had been in detention for between a year and two years, 50 for between two years and three years, and 10 for more than three years. These figures are rounded to the nearest five and exclude people detained under both criminal and immigration powers and people detained in prison service establishments.

The Home Office publishes statistics on the number of persons 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.

Ivory Coast

Question

Asked by Lord Alderdice

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary issued a statement on 8 December welcoming the strong stance taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the situation in Cote D'Ivoire. We are working closely with our partners in the EU, the UN, the African Union, ECOWAS, and international partners in support of a resolution that respects the will of the Ivorian people and the result certified by the UN special representative confirming Mr Ouattara as the winner. We will continue to maintain pressure for this to happen.



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Malaya

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): To date, no response has been received. The British high commission in Kuala Lumpur is pursuing this with the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and reports that the Malaysian Government are now in the process of preparing a response.

Nigeria: NGOs

Question

Asked by Baroness Goudie

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office plans to hold a round-table meeting in early 2011 with organisations, including some from Nigeria, working to defend the rights of children accused of witchcraft in the Niger Delta, a practice which we condemn. In the mean time, we will continue to work with key stakeholders and to press the Nigerian authorities to address the issue.

Northern Ireland Office: Taxis

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: All four taxi journeys were for work-related purposes. In two cases, the use of a taxi was the most cost effective method of transport to attend a business meeting. The remaining two journeys were to accommodate staff working unsocial hours, taking account of both cost and the availability of public transport. Decisions on the use of taxis are normally made by line managers.



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Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: As part of the spending review, announced by the Chancellor on 20 October 2010, the Northern Ireland Office budget, including that part of the budget that supports arms length bodies, will reduce by 25 per cent in real terms across the four years of the spending review period. The Northern Ireland Office is currently working with all its sponsored bodies, including the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, to agree future budget allocations in light of the outcomes from the spending review.

The Government have no current plans to review the status of the commission.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The basic state pension will rise by £4.50 to £102.15 a week, an increase of 4.6 per cent.

Police: Mergers

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government believe that a wide scale programme of force amalgamations would not be appropriate, and we will not impose compulsory mergers on police forces. We will consider requests for mergers only where they are voluntary, supported by a robust business case, and have community consent.

Police: Shared Facilities

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government have made clear that their approach to police value for money will involve ending the practice of procuring things in 43 different ways when it makes no sense to do so either operationally or financially. The Government are considering responses to the consultation paper, Obtaining Better Value for Money from Police Procurement, which set out proposals for regulations to require the police service to use specified contractual arrangements to purchase particular equipment and services. The Government recognise the benefits in effectiveness and efficiency that collaboration between forces can bring and are ensuring, through the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, that in the future, police and crime commissioners and chief constables will have a strong duty to collaborate where it is in the public's best interests.

Questions for Written Answer

Questions

Asked by Lord Rosser

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The comprehensive spending review settlement for the Home Office will necessitate a reduction in Home Office workforce over the four years from 2011-12 to 2014-15. The Home Office will manage staff reductions to minimise disruption to functions and services and will continue to endeavour to answer all Parliamentary Questions within the appointed timescales.

Asked by Lord Jopling

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): The Question for Written Answer HL2293 was answered on 13 December 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 150). I very much regret the delay in responding to this Question. The Government aim to answer all questions within the 10 working day period.

Spending Review 2010

Question

Asked by Lord Barnett



15 Dec 2010 : Column WA201

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 24 May, the Government announced savings in the current financial year of £6.2 billion compared with the plans of the previous Administration. In the Budget on 22 June, the Government set out the overall path for public spending to 2015-16. On 20 October, the spending review also set out more detail on the Government's plans for public spending up until the financial year 2014-2015. The previous Administration had not published a spending review.

Terrestrial Trunked Radio

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): It is unlikely that the secure broadband services for the emergency services in the UK will use a spectrum allocation below 1 GHz due to the lack of available spectrum within that range. Even if spectrum could be freed for this purpose, the technical benefits would be minimal. The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has explored with the Ministry of Defence future communications capabilities around the 400 MHz level (the existing Tetra range).

Government policy requires public sector organisations to engage with the market. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills does not currently anticipate exempting any spectrum from auction and no business case has been produced.

Turkey

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The British Government have not made representations to the Turkish authorities on the difficulties faced by Anglicans resident in southern Turkey in establishing new places of worship. However, our embassy in Ankara has raised the issue of respect for all religious minorities in its wider discussions on human rights. The Law on Foundations, amended in 2008, requires non-Muslim places of worship to be approved by the Government. The 2010 EU Progress Report notes that there have been delays and procedural

15 Dec 2010 : Column WA202

problems in implementing this law, and calls for Turkey to ensure full respect for the property rights of all non-Muslim religious communities.

Asked by Lord Patten

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have not made specific representations on either of these issues. However, our embassy in Ankara has raised the issue of respect for all religious minorities in its wider discussions on human rights with its Turkish counterparts. The Law on Foundations, amended in 2008, requires non-Muslim places of worship to be approved by the Government. The 2010 EU Progress Report notes that there have been delays and procedural problems in implementing this law, and calls for Turkey to ensure full respect for the property rights of all non-Muslim religious communities.

Asked by Lord Patten

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Everyone in the UK has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

UK Border Agency: Training

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): There is no specific training covering the effect of post-traumatic stress disorder on memory and recollection. In the foundation training programme for new asylum case owners, the training focuses on raising awareness of difficult interview scenarios with an emphasis on the effectiveness of the interview technique and the importance of considering trauma when assessing credibility. We do not expect case owners to make clinical decisions.



15 Dec 2010 : Column WA203

UK: Savings

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government want to build a savings system based on the principles of freedom, fairness, and responsibility, and are committed to creating conditions for higher saving. The Government have already announced a number of measures to support and encourage savers.

These include confirming the introduction of auto-enrolment into workplace pension schemes, and the creation of the National Employment Savings Trust, a low cost pension scheme aimed at low to median earners, which the existing market does not currently serve. The Government are also giving more choice over the use of pension savings in retirement; for example, by removing the effective requirement to purchase an annuity by age 75. In addition, from spring 2011, the Annual Financial Healthcheck will be delivered by the Consumer Financial Education Body, which is designed to help people take action across all aspects of their finances, including saving.

The Government will also increase from April 2011 the amount that can be paid into individual savings accounts each year, in line with inflation, and will

15 Dec 2010 : Column WA204

shortly be consulting on the development of a new category of simple financial products, which will help consumers make better choices.

Universal Credit System

Question

Asked by Baroness Sherlock

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Under the current system, households with over £16,000 of savings would be ineligible for some income-related benefits, including income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit.

The universal credit will replace the above benefits, along with child tax credit and working tax credit for working-age households, and the £16,000 savings threshold would extend to all households eligible for universal credit.

We have committed to providing protection to ensure that no households in receipt of the relevant benefits and tax credits at the point of transition will lose in cash terms as a direct result of the introduction of universal credit. New cases or those whose circumstances change will be subject to the £16,000 threshold.


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