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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Councillors of all principal local authorities are treated for Access to Work purposes as in employment, and thus provided they meet the general eligibility criteria are eligible for Access to Work support. Certain parish councillors who receive only reimbursement of travel and meal allowances are treated as voluntary workers and are not eligible for Access to Work.
The Government are also committed to introduce extra support for disabled people who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials following recommendations of the Speaker's Conference on Parliamentary Representation in January 2010, and intend to consult shortly on options, including an Access to Elected Office Fund.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Substitute Service Family Accommodation (SSFA) and Substitute Service Single Accommodation (SSSA) properties may be rented to accommodate service families and single serving personnel respectively when no suitable Ministry of Defence accommodation is available to entitlement, at or close to the duty station. Substitute accommodation is used only as a last resort, and often more than one Service person may occupy an SSSA property. Information on the total cost of SSFA and SSSA is available for only the last eight years, and is shown in the following tables. Information prior to 2002-03 is not held centrally. Details on the numbers of SSFA and SSSA properties prior to 2006-07 are not held.
|Financial Year||Number of SSFA properties||Cost (£million)|
|Financial Year||Number of SSSA properties||Cost (£million)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cost and location of the 20 most expensive properties which were rented by members of the armed forces with a rank of colonel or equivalent and above, in each of the last thirteen years.[HL5166]
Lord Astor of Hever: Substitute Service Family Accommodation (SSFA) and Substitute Service Single Accommodation (SSSA) properties may be rented to accommodate service families and single serving personnel respectively when no suitable Ministry of Defence (MoD) accommodation is available to entitlement at or close to the duty station. Substitute accommodation is used only as a last resort, and often more than one service person may occupy an SSSA property. Officers of the rank of colonel or equivalent are entitled to be accommodated in Type 3 SSFA or Band A SSSA. Information is only available for the past three years and shown as £ per calendar month (pcm). The most expensive SSFA properties of a Type 3 or above are shown in the following tables.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is provided to enable service personnel whose children accompany them on necessary relocations achieve continuity of education that is not achievable through the day school system. Details of these costs are only held for Financial Years 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 and can be found in the following table. Prior to the implementation of the Joint Personnel Administration System this information was held on single service legacy systems and as such could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
In addition to the money paid to service personnel, the Ministry of Defence also pays Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs for tax and national insurance following the grossing up of the allowance. Therefore, the figures quoted in the table reflect the total cost to the department for the past three financial years.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the European Union proposals to regulate bank bonuses; whether income tax policy is a matter for Member States; and whether the proposals conform to the subsidiarity principles.[HL5202]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Capital Requirements Directive (CRD3) is intended to implement the Financial Stability Board's Remuneration Principles and Standards to ensure remuneration is consistent with effective risk management and aligns employees' pay and incentives with the risks they take. Income tax policy is a matter for individual member states.
Regarding subsidiarity, it is the European Commission's view that the objectives of this directive cannot be sufficiently achieved by the member states and can therefore, by reason of the scale and the effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Community level.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the impact of the reduction in Bus Service Operators Grant, and the changes to Concessionary Fares Reimbursement, on the fares and services outside London, both overall and in rural areas; and what estimates they have made of the change in the numbers of bus services that local authorities classify as socially necessary services and of the financial capacity of local authorities to support socially necessary services.[HL5093]
Following the Spending Review, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Norman Baker) spoke to the Confederation of Passenger Transport which was hopeful that, in general, the small reduction in BSOG could be absorbed without fares having to rise. Indicative estimates produced by the department suggest that the changes in concessionary travel reimbursement guidance may lead to a reduction in passenger journeys in England outside London between 1 per cent and 1.8 per cent, and an increase in fares between 1 per cent and 1.8 per cent. It has not been possible to directly model the likely impact on rural areas as we do not know the extent to which local authorities will apply the non-statutory guidance and in which instances local authorities will decide to tender services that might be withdrawn by operators on commercial grounds.
No information is available on the number of services that local authorities classify as socially necessary. However, subsidised bus services funded by local authorities accounted for 22 per cent of the total mileage operated by bus services in 2009-10 in England outside London. It is for local authorities to decide what services to provide in the light of resource available and local priorities. The simplification of local transport funding undertaken through the Spending Review will give local authorities greater flexibility, enabling solutions to be tailored for the specific needs and circumstances of individual communities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the payments due to bus operators for journeys made under the English Concessionary Travel Scheme (a) in the current financial year, (b) for the year from April 2011 under the draft guidance published in September, and (c) for the year from April 2011, under the guidance published on 29 November.[HL5094]
Earl Attlee: The table below shows the forecast expenditure by Travel Concession Authorities outside London on concessionary bus travel reimbursement for older and disabled people for 2010-11 and 2011-12. The figures below include spend by Travel Concession Authorities on both statutory and discretionary concessions.
|Forecast expenditure on Concessionary Travel Reimbursement for older and disabled people, England outside London (£m 2008-09)|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Civil Nuclear Police Authority (CNPA) has never published minutes of meetings for security reasons. The arrangements and conditions under which minutes of CNPA meetings can be published comply with the new publication scheme, which standardises the way that public authorities explain what information they proactively publish, which was introduced by the Information Commissioner in January 2009. This is explained on the CNPA website at http://www.cnpa. police.uk/freedom-of-information.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the respective roles of the Civil Nuclear Police Authority and the Civil Nuclear Police Authority Management Board; and what is the relationship between the two.[HL5395]
Lord Marland: The Civil Nuclear Police Authority Board (CNPA Board) is a committee of the CNPA given responsibility for specific areas including finance; strategy; planning; meeting Energy Act reporting requirements; setting the policy and resourcing framework, and holding the Chief Constable to account for the efficiency and effectiveness of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC); ensuring wide stakeholder engagement in the work of the CNPA and the CNC; making arrangements to ensure that the CNPA remains compliant with all applicable legislation.
The CNPA retains the statutory obligation and remains accountable for the efficiency and effectiveness of CNC. The CNPA Board has been designed to support the CNPA in meeting its statutory obligations. These arrangements were put in place in September 2010 and are subject to review after 6 months.
The CNPA is required under Section 52(1) of the Energy Act 2004 to secure the maintenance of an efficient and effective CNC for which the chairman of CNPA is accountable to the Secretary of State and the public. The CNPA is also responsible for making senior CNC appointments and dealing with disciplinary matters relating to senior officers, and for arranging meetings in public as required by the Energy Act.
Lord Marland: The Civil Nuclear Police Authority (CNPA) has not had and does not have anything titled as a management board. The Civil Nuclear Police Federation (CNPF), in its status as observers, received papers relating to the non-restricted aspects of CNPA meetings up to September 2010 when the Civil Nuclear Police Authority Board (CNPA Board) was introduced. The CNPF has not been given observer status on the CNPA Board so does not receive meeting papers which are restricted to attendees only. The CNPA Board arrangements are subject to review after six months.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when and where meetings between the Chairman or members of the Civil Nuclear Police Authority and the Civil Nuclear Police Federation took place over the last three years; and what issues were discussed.[HL5397]
In addition, the CNPF has held bilateral meetings with the CNPA Chairman from time to time to discuss a wide range of issues relating to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the policing of civil nuclear establishments and any issues that the CNPF may choose to raise with the independent chairman of the CNPA. The most recent meeting took place on 8 December 2010.
Lord Marland: Security arrangements, including the number of Civil Nuclear Constabulary police officers at civil nuclear establishments, are kept under constant review as part of a continuous process to ensure existing arrangements are robust and effective. It is not government policy to comment on the detail of operational security matters at civil nuclear establishments.
Lord Marland: The current pay mechanism for police officers within the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) is based on an historical link to the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) as set out in the Wright report of 1979. The CNPA is currently reviewing the terms and conditions of CNC officers as part of a process of continuous improvement.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The equality impact assessments (EIAs) that accompany each of the sixteen HMCS Area consultation responses papers identify the potential impacts of the court estate proposals on different communities and groups of people.
The consultation response papers and impact assessments can be found on the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations /consultations-closed-with-response.htm.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they will provide to ensure that the poorest and most marginal farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo can adapt to climate change (a) today, (b) over the next 5-10 years, and (c) over the next 50 years.[HL5208]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they spent on climate change adaptation for smallholders farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in each of the last five years; and what proportion this represents in terms of (a) total Government spending on climate change overseas, (b) total Government spending on climate change adaptation overseas, (c) total Government spending on climate change in the developing world, and (d) total Government spending on climate change adaption in the developing world.[HL5209]
Baroness Verma: The UK aid programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) does not specifically focus on agriculture. Support to DRC's agricultural sector is led by Belgium, the United States and the World Bank. DRC still benefits indirectly from a range of regional and continental initiatives tackling climate change adaptation. However, DfID recording systems do not routinely disaggregate country level expenditure under such programmes. Compiling the requested information would incur disproportionate cost.
The UK supports adaptation to climate change in DRC, through its £50 million contribution to the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF), which seeks to alleviate poverty and tackle climate change and sustainable forest management. DRC is one of 10 Congo Basin countries eligible for funding. One of the fourteen projects approved and in receipt of funds directly seeks to support poor farmers in DRC. Action for the Development of Agriculture and Fisheries to promote the Environment (ADAPEL), a local Congolese environment and development NGO, is implementing a pilot project in 10 villages in DRC's Equator Province to replace slash-and-burn farming. The practice is being replaced with a system that uses bio-char, a carbon-rich product derived from biomass found on previously cleared forest land to enrich soil fertility and improve agricultural yields on a more sustainable basis, therefore lessening pressure to encroach on forested land. Using crop residues to produce bio-char also generates renewable energy in a low-cost manner, so reducing local dependency on firewood.
DfID recognises that smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The UK Government have committed to providing £1.5 billion in Fast Start finance over the period 2010-12, to help the developing world carry out the urgent work needed to adapt to climate change, adopt clean technology and reduce emissions from deforestation. This year, the UK is allocating approximately 41 per cent of its Fast Start allocation for adaptation, a significant share of which has been designed to benefit smallholder farmers.
In December 2010, the Secretary of State for International Development announced extra support to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which will include £7.2 million for a programme to help adapt farming systems in the developing world to climate change. The UK Government also support the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa-of which DRC is a member-to support research into agricultural issues, including climate change adaptation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what factors were considered in concluding that the Independent Living Fund is financially unsustainable; what alternatives have been explored; and whether the funding that is freed up by the closure of the Independent Living Fund will be reallocated to support disabled people in other ways.[HL5287]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: As set out in the Statement on the Independent Living Fund on 26 July 2010, the decision to close the fund to new applicants for 2010-11 was taken to ensure that the fund remained within its £348 million budget set by the previous Government, not to free up funding.
The Independent Living Fund was originally designed to provide financial assistance for around 500 people and last for five years. However, it is now topping up local authority support of 21,000 people.
The Independent Living Fund is a discretionary fund which makes direct cash payments to severely disabled people to purchase personal care or help with domestic duties from a care agency or privately employed personal assistant. Local authorities already have primary responsibility to provide social care support to their residents and the Independent Living Fund supplements this. As part of this responsibility they will need to consider the requirements of clients who may otherwise have received an additional Independent Living Fund package.
Although core funding for DWP falls by 26 per cent in real terms over SR10, we have decided that throughout this Parliament the Independent Living Fund will continue to support existing awards and we will fully protect the programme budget for existing recipients. We are therefore protecting 21,000 disabled people currently in receipt of Independent Living Fund awards.
In addition in 2011, following the publication of the report by the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, we will carry out a formal consultation on the future of the ILF. This will inform decisions on determining how best to continue to support existing users of the ILF in a social care system based on the principles of personalised budgets, the findings of the Commission and recognising the importance of the support that ILF users have built their lives around. We will consult fully with disabled people, particularly current users of the Independent Living Fund and their families, local authorities and other interested parties, including the devolved administrations.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): An assessment of the impact of asset purchases on the gilt market can be found on page 12 of the Bank of England May 2010 Inflation Report. The Bank's Quarterly Bulletin 2010 Q4 also discusses movements in global long-term interest rates, including from the earlier impact of expectations of further quantitative easing in the US.
Lord Sassoon: Data on the assets purchased under the Asset Purchase Facility can be found on the Bank of England website: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): EMA will be replaced in September 2011 with an enhanced discretionary learner support fund, which will enable schools, colleges and training organisations to target support to those students facing real financial barriers to continuing in education and training post-16.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they forecast the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will save by restricting free tuition for those who want to take an English for Speakers of Other Languages course to persons who receive active benefits.[HL5416]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many adults taking an English for Speakers of Other Languages course they forecast will pay (a) a full fee for their course and (b) no fee, in each of (1) 2011-12, (2) 2012-13, and (3) 2013-14.[HL5417]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether (a) adults with a European Union passport, and (b) British citizens who receive inactive benefit, will be expected to pay a fee for English for Speakers of Other Languages courses in (1) 2011-12, and (2) 2012-13.[HL5418]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): I will write to the noble Lord and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefit to the United Kingdom's global reputation of gap year students participating in voluntary and charitable projects abroad.[HL5183]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The department has made no such assessment and we are not aware of any research on this issue.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Yes. In order for Teaching Schools to lead and develop sustainable approaches to high quality teacher development and help improve other schools across the country, they will need to ensure they obtain the appropriate input and expertise from universities. We would encourage them to do so, but ultimately, it will be up Teaching Schools to decide on what basis to work with them.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the likely impact of new funding arrangements for undergraduate students on (a) the Training and Development Agency for Schools and funded initial teacher training provision for school teachers; and (b) Higher Education Funding Council for England-funded initial teacher training provision for further education teachers.[HL5369]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): I will write to my noble friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): An independent review of vocational education is currently being conducted by Professor Alison Wolf. Professor Wolf will consider the organisation, funding and target audience for vocational education, and the principles that should underpin the content, structure and teaching methods. She will report in spring 2011, and her findings will inform future developments to improve the standard of vocational education for 14-19 year-olds.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord McNally on 1 November (Official Report, col. 1415), whether they had full and detailed knowledge of the allegations of electoral fraud made by Baroness Warsi when questioned about this in the House on 5 October.[HL3642]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: As my noble friend Lord McNally made clear in his answer on 1 November (Hansard, col. 1415), his comments on 5 October about specific complaints of electoral fraud referred to allegations of electoral malpractice that had been referred to the police during the campaign for the 2010 UK general election, as the Electoral Commission has set out publicly in its report on the administration of the 2010 UK general election. The Electoral Commission has indicated that it will publish verified data and analysis on the extent and nature of cases of electoral malpractice at the UK general election in January 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Part 1.2.a of the Ministerial Code, stating "The principle of collective responsibility, save where it is explicitly set aside, applies to all Government Ministers", was in operation at the time that Baroness Warsi made allegations of electoral fraud.[HL3644]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 9 December (WA 77), how soon the internal governance review commenced after the meeting of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) on 13 May 2009; what were the constraints placed on resources that limited progress; how it might be determined that the HEFA's internal governance review "has taken longer than originally anticipated" without an anticipated date for its completion having been documented; and whether they can provide details regarding each occasion on which a previously proposed date for completion of this report had been postponed.[HL5409]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that its internal governance review was formally commissioned on 18 June 2009. The HFEA has also advised that, as the evidence began to be assembled, it became clear that the volume and complexity of the material could not be adequately addressed without the person undertaking the review being freed from other duties to devote his time exclusively to it. The HFEA had provisionally thought the report might be ready for a meeting of the Authority in the summer of 2010 but other priorities took precedence. The HFEA has advised that it has nothing further to add on this matter.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what current and future prices of carbon are currently used in their appraisal of transport projects; when those prices came into use; when and how they were published; when they are next due to be reviewed; and how this review will be conducted.[HL4786]
The current "definitive" prices of carbon used in appraisal of transport projects are published in Table 2 of the Greenhouse Gases Sub-Objective Transport Appraisal Guidance, which is available at http://www.dft. qov.uk/webtaq/documents/expert/pdf/unit3.3.5.pdf.
The current in-draft carbon prices, published in WebTAG in January 2010, are based on the then current guidance from the Department for Energy and Climate Change. These carbon prices are provided in table 2a of the in-Draft Greenhouse Gases Sub-Objective guidance at http://www.dft.qov.uk/webtaq/documents/expert/pdf/unit3.3.5d.pdf.
The in-draft carbon prices were used for the appraisal of schemes during the Spending Review, to ensure that decisions were informed by the most up-to-date values of carbon impacts. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) updates its short term carbon values for the traded sector annually. The most recent update of these carbon values published by DECC was in June 2010, and the in-draft WebTAG guidance will be updated to include these.
DECC plans to update its non-traded sector, and long-term traded sector, carbon values every five years beginning in 2011. These changes will be incorporated into WebTAG appraisal guidance following the timetable of the WebTAG Orderly Release Process, through which the definitive guidance is revised once each year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the legal basis for European Union member states' loans to Greece and the Republic of Ireland in the context of the "no bailout" clauses in the Maastricht Treaty.[HL5086]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Article 125 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (the so-called "no bailout clause") does not preclude member states from providing loans to one another. As evidence of that, the EU's Balance of Payments Facility has already provided medium-term financial assistance to a number of member states.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether financial regulators in European Union member states are barred from making public any information gained in an investigation without the consent of the individuals and companies concerned, as stated by the Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority.[HL5344]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Under the European directive relating to credit institutions (2006/48/EC), financial regulators in all member states are obliged to treat as confidential, and not to disclose to third parties, information received by them in the course of their duties. This is subject to limited exceptions, such as an exchange of information between regulators and use in criminal proceedings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have forecast the cost saving to public funds from joining the Schengen Agreement; if so, what is the calculated saving; and if not, whether they will provide such a forecast and place a copy in the Library of the House.[HL5336]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The UK takes part in Schengen provisions relating to police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters (except hot pursuit), to narcotic drugs, and to carriers' liability. The UK is also working to join the second generation of the Schengen Information System when it becomes operational.
However, the Government have not applied to join Schengen provisions on visas and border controls and have no intention of doing so. This is because the Government believe that maintaining the UK's border controls is an essential element of controlling immigration and combating organised and cross-border crime. Given that the Government have no intention of joining Schengen provisions on visas and border controls, they do not consider that preparing estimates of the costs or savings of doing so would be justified.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Level of grant support for forestry for each of the last five calendar years was as follows.
The Regional Development Agencies have also provided some support under Axis 1 of the Rural Development Programme for England. Between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2010 this amounted to £278,000 in grants to owners to improve the economic value of their forest.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): A number of different inheritance tax reliefs are potentially available for afforested land, the main ones being business property relief and woodlands relief.
Business property relief, which is an exemption from inheritance tax for certain types of business assets of trading companies that have been owned as such by the transferor throughout the two years immediately before the transfer, is available in relation to commercially run woodland and forests. This wide ranging relief currently costs £155 million per year and can be found on HMRC's published Ready Reckoner tables at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/tax expenditures/table1-5.pdf.
The cost of woodlands relief, which provides for the deferral of an inheritance tax charge on the value of trees or underwood until such time as they are disposed of, can be found on HMRC's published Ready Reckoner tables at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/tax expenditures/table-bl.pdf and is estimated to be negligible (less than £5 million).
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there will be any targeted funding to enable future generations of teachers and health and social care professionals to enhance their skills through higher-level study. [HL5368]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): We have set out proposals that in future funding for higher education should largely follow the choices made by students rather than by
22 Dec 2010 : Column WA335
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the current agriculture and food security situation in Ghana including the effects of climate change; and what help they propose to give to poorer and marginal farmers.[HL5062]
Baroness Verma: Agriculture in Ghana is mainly fed by rain, with very little irrigation. Latest projections of climate change point to increasingly erratic rains and rising temperatures. This year, seasonal rains have continued late and been far above normal, particularly in the poorer north, which has caused extensive flooding. The National Disaster Management Organization estimated that up to 140,000 people were affected in October, losing household goods, food stocks and field crops. Overall, the likely food security scenario for the next four months is moderate, with food available in both rural and urban areas. However, areas heavily affected by floods are likely to experience food insecurity and loss of income until the next harvest.
The Department for International Development (DfID) is currently providing support to poor and marginal farmers through several channels, including; work through the Government's social protection programme, which is being scaled up, funding CARE to undertake a community-based adaptation programme in two northern districts and supporting the Government in developing their national climate change policy framework. This highlights the needs of poor and excluded groups and the vulnerability of agriculture. DfID Ghana is currently considering a dedicated contribution towards the flood response as the situation develops.
There has been no spend on agricultural development this year (2010) since we are no longer engaging directly in this sector. The lead donors on agricultural development in Ghana are German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). We continue to support work that has a significant impact on agriculture, particularly around our work in the north of Ghana and on market development.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 9 December (WA 83), whether war pension tribunals distinguish between "Gulf War Illness" and "Gulf War Syndrome"; and, if so, what level of recognition is currently given to the former condition.[HL5256]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Chamber (WPAFCC) is an independent judicial body. I understand that it has not sought to distinguish between Gulf War Illness and Gulf War Syndrome. The WPAFCC reaches its decisions on appeals against the rejection of claims in respect of "Gulf War Syndrome" on the basis of the evidence before the Tribunal in each individual case.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government expect all primary care trusts (PCTs) to have regard to the current guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) about National Health Service fertility services, and to recognise, when determining which services to commission, the significant distress and impact that infertility has on people's
22 Dec 2010 : Column WA337
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reduce the pressure on university places caused by a higher number of university applicants choosing to enter university in September 2011 to avoid the increased fee levels.[HL5182]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): We have set out our plans for student numbers in 2011-12 in the Secretary of State's annual grant letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): I will write to my noble friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the finding by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that students from poorer families will pay more for their university education under the tuition fee proposals.[HL5142]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The IFS has said that students from the poorest families will be better off, in terms of upfront support, by around £750 per year compared with the current system. They conclude that the Government's proposed graduate contribution system
22 Dec 2010 : Column WA338
Lord Henley: Statistics on deferred entry to higher education are available via the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Provisional end-of-year figures for 2010 show that 479,057 applicants from all domiciles accepted a place at a UK institution; 32,983 of these have deferred entry to 2011. These provisional figures show the position on 13 October 2010; final end-of-year data will be available from 20 January 2011.
It is still very early in the UCAS application cycle for entry in 2011 or beyond, so limited information is held on the extent of deferred entry. Applicants can make up to five choices on their application form and this can include courses which start in 2011 or 2012. As of 22 November 2010, 815,327 choices had been made in the current application cycle, 23,610 were for courses beginning one year or more after September 2011. At the equivalent point in the previous cycle, 717,880 choices had been made, 32,621 of which were for courses beginning one year or more after September 2010. In the 2011 application cycle the main deadline for universities and colleges to guarantee consideration of applications for those domiciled in the UK and EU is 15 January 2011.
The new support arrangements we are introducing from the 2012-13 academic year will apply to all students starting university in that year, including those who have deferred entry. When the new arrangements were announced, UCAS worked with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on an e-mail that UCAS sent to those 2011 cycle deferred-entry applicants that had applied prior to 4 November 2010. The e-mail informed applicants of the implications of the new finance arrangements and advised them to check the BIS website for further information and contact individual institutions to discuss individual circumstances.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): The Prime Minister determines who is appointed as paid or unpaid Ministers. The number of salaries that can be paid to Ministers, including those in the House of Lords, is set out in the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975. There are no plans to amend the legislation.
To ask the Leader of the House, further to his Written Answer on 15 December (WA 194) concerning September sittings, whether the necessity for sitting in September will be reviewed in the light of progress of business.[HL5452]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Income-contingent student loan borrowers are not required to pay back their loan until the April after they finish their course. Repayments are based on 9 per cent of income above the threshold and linked directly to a borrower's income and not the size of their loan.
The Council for Mortgage Lenders advises that a student loan is very unlikely materially to affect an individual's ability to get a mortgage. However, any reduction in net income may result in a commensurate reduction in the amount that a mortgage lender is
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 3 December (WA 506), what assessment they have made of the Migration Advisory Committee's recommendation that consideration should be given to awarding zero points for allowances under the points-based system for intra-company transfers in order that they make a full contribution to United Kingdom revenues.[HL5379]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government have not accepted the Migration Advisory Committee's recommendation that no points be awarded for the payment of allowances under the Points Based System. However, the guidance pertaining to Intra-Company Transfers dictates that when calculating points for earnings, accommodation allowance can account for no more than 40 per cent of total remuneration. Where a transferee is entering for over 12 months, this is restricted to 30 per cent of the total remuneration.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 3 December (WA 506), whether the responses to the consultation regarding visas for intra-company transfers support the view that business needs the ability to transfer key staff for short periods; and how many were opposed to tax and national insurance exemptions for such transfers.[HL5380]
Baroness Neville-Jones: The UK Border Agency consultation, Limits on non-EU Economic Migration, asked whether the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route should be included within annual limits. The largest proportion of respondents (49 per cent) felt that ICTs should not be included within annual limits. A further 32 per cent stated that they should be included and 19 per cent stated that they did not know. The consultation did not seek views on tax or national insurance regulations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many immigration detainees have been held for (a) more than two years, and (b) more than three years; for what reasons in each case; and how they intend to prevent detentions of such lengths of time.[HL5392]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 15 December 2010, 197WA which provided data on those detained in immigration removal centres beyond
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Detention plays a key role in maintaining an effective immigration control. It is used only where necessary and is kept to the shortest time possible. Each case is considered on its individual merits, and there remains a general presumption in favour of release. Many factors will be taken into account, including the risk of absconding and the risk of further harm to the public.
Deportation of these individuals can be delayed in a number of ways. Judicial challenges can be used to delay or frustrate removal. This is being tackled through improved legal case working within the UK Border Agency and closer co-operation with the judiciary. Where there are difficulties in obtaining travel documents these issues are taken up directly with the relevant Embassy or High Commission. There may also be delays in the deportation process if individuals do not comply fully with the UK Border Agency's efforts to re-document them.
Every effort is made to ensure that a foreign prisoner's deportation coincides, as far as possible, with his or her release from prison. Where sentence length allows, deportation will be considered up to 18 months prior to the earliest point of removal. It is expected that in 2010 around a third of all foreign prisoner removals will have occurred before the end of sentence.
As Lin Homer, Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency, advised the Home Affairs Committee in July, the new Government are committed to exploring ways of removing foreign criminals even earlier. This will include working with the prisons, courts and the police to build upon our capacity to gather intelligence information on nationality at an earlier stage.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government announced on 16 December the conclusions of the review into ending the detention of children for immigration purposes; a copy is available in the House Library.
As part of the review, the UK Border Agency looked at the approaches taken in several other countries, including Australia and Sweden. No one jurisdiction provides all the answers, and comparisons are difficult to draw not only for reasons of culture and geography but also because of differences in the overall systems for dealing with migrants in other countries. But some common themes emerge from a number of countries around the emphasis on positive engagement with families and maximising the opportunities for them to co-operate with their return; these have been built into the approach we have now set out for the UK.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Sir Michael Marmot's review, Fair Society, Healthy Lives, is the latest assessment of the impact of the wider social determinants on health, including socioeconomic factors, on life expectancy. This review, commissioned by the Government, reported earlier this year. Its findings have informed policy across government.
The review concluded that socioeconomic factors, along with the other determinants of health, significantly contribute to inequalities in life expectancy and other health outcomes. The Government recognise that reducing health inequalities is a matter of fairness and social justice.
Policies to address these inequalities are being developed actively across government. In particular, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS (Cm 7881) proposes a National Health Service health inequalities duty and a health premium to reward progress in improving health and reducing health inequalities. Deprivation in communities is associated with need for healthcare services, and is recognised in the formula for primary care trust revenue allocations. Healthy Lives, Healthy People (Cm 7985) responds to the Marmot review and adopts its life-course framework for tackling the wider social determinants of health as part of a commitment to help people live longer, healthier lives and improve the health of the poorest fastest. The health inequalities in life expectancy outcomes are a key measure of this approach.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government believe there are significant savings to be made through more collaborative approaches to local authority procurement and through sharing back and front office functions. To support local authorities with this task, the Government are working with the Local Government Group on its Place Based Productivity programme, which aims to support councils by identifying ways to deliver savings through more productive use of resources. Further details are available at: http://local.gov.uk/lgv2/core/page.do?pageld=579930.
The Localism Bill, introduced on 13 December, proposes a new general power of competence which will give local authorities the legal reassurance they need to innovate and drive down costs to deliver more efficient services. There will also be new powers for local people to hold councils to account and to shape their local area. Combined with the requirement to publish all expenditure over £500, councils have a real opportunity to cut out waste and drive down unnecessary back office costs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in light of the Local Government Finance Settlement announced on 13 December, how many local authorities will benefit from the £85 million of transitional grant to reduce the front loading of grant reductions and the restriction of reductions in total spending to 8.9 per cent.[HL5302]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in light of the Local Government Finance Settlement announced on 13 December, by how much the formula funding grant will be reduced in 2010-11 in (a) cash terms, and (b) real terms.[HL5303]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in light of the Local Government Finance Settlement announced on 13 December, whether the comparison between total spending in 2010-11 and in subsequent years provides an accurate picture of the size of the reduction in grant.[HL5304]
An explanation of how the Government has calculated revenue spending power, including the way in which revenue grants are included, is set out in the consultation document on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at: http://vvww.local. communities.gov.uldfinance/1112/spcondoc.pdf. The local authorities that, subject to the outcome of consultation, will receive the transition grant are listed on the same website at: http://www.local.communities. gov.uldfinance/1112/spannexbl.xls and at: http://www.local.communities. gov.uk/finance/1112/spannexb2.xls.
To ask Her Majesty's Government , in light of the Local Government Finance Settlement announced on 13 December, what will be the reduction in floors after damping for (a) principal authorities, and (b) district councils.[HL5305]
Baroness Hanham: Levels of grant damping floors for the calculation of formula grant in 2011-12 and 2012-13 are published on the department's website at http://lAww.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/1112/grant.htm.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in light of the Local Government Finance Settlement announced on 13 December and the Local Government Association's estimate of a requirement of up to £2 billion to capitalise redundancy and severance costs, they will increase the £200 million being made available for this purpose.[HL5306]
Baroness Hanham: Capitalisation permits local authorities, exceptionally, to treat revenue costs as capital costs, and allows them to borrow for these purposes. This is a relaxation of accounting rules, and as such, it is strictly controlled. While capitalisation will provide important support to authorities next year to help them to manage organisational restructuring, the Government cannot meet all of these costs, and it will be for authorities to assess how they best manage the costs from their own resources, including from reserves.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government are clear that the provisional local government finance settlement represents a fair deal that will enable councils to protect the front-line services people rely on, shield the most vulnerable places, safeguard the most vulnerable people and protect taxpayers' interests. The Government have:
sought to insulate those areas of the country most dependent on central government funding by creating four separate grant bands to group councils into, based on the extent to which different councils are reliant on government funding. These bands, or "floors", set different limits for their reductions and thereby protect councils against the sharper grant reductions that they would otherwise have faced; and
established a transitional grant of £85 million for 2011-12 and £14 million in 2012-13. This transitional funding will help councils manage issues related to the ending of the Working Neighbourhoods Fund. This was a three-year fund that was always scheduled to end in March 2011.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Sections 34 and 35 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 confer mutual insurance powers on local authorities and other best value authorities in England and Wales. Our intention is to lay before Parliament in the new year regulations commencing the provisions in the Act and imposing conditions or restrictions on the use of the mutual insurance powers. Any savings achieved under mutual insurance arrangements would be available to councils to use to invest in other services or keep council tax down. The general power of competence in the Localism Bill will further increase the flexibility and freedoms available to councils.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the Local Government Spending Review, announced on 13 December, on jobs within local government; how many redundancies they forecast will result from the settlement; and what is their estimate of the annual costs to the Exchequer of redundancy payments, unemployment and other benefits as a result.[HL5309]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): It is for each council to make local decisions about how their workforces are organised and managed to ensure that it can deliver for local taxpayers and within the resources that they have available. Decisions about how to manage workforce reductions in local government, including policies on redundancy payments, are rightfully for individual councils to make as the employers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many attacks on and demonstrations against mosques in the United Kingdom have been reported in the last year for which figures are available; and how this compares with previous periods.[HL5282]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): I will write to the noble Lord and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The coalition Government made a commitment to increase health spending in real terms. In October the spending review delivered this. Nevertheless, the Government made clear the need for the National Health Service to make efficiency improvements of up to £20 billion over the next four years to re-invest in meeting rising demands and to improve outcomes. This includes a one-third reduction in the costs of administration that will save £1.9 billion.
The NHS chief executive first outlined the likely scale of the efficiency challenge in May 2009, and NHS organisations have therefore been planning towards meeting this challenge for some time, through the Quality Innovation Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) programme. The NHS Operating Framework for 2011-12, published on 15 December 2010, set out the requirement for NHS organisations to formulate single integrated plans setting out how they intend to deliver on quality, efficiency and reform over the next four years.
While delivery of efficiency and quality improvements must be locally led, the Government have also taken action centrally to support delivery. For example, the Operating Framework announced that the tariff prices received by providers of NHS services will be subject to a 4 per cent efficiency requirement in 2011-12. The two-year pay freeze across the public services, excepting lower-paid workers, will also help the NHS in delivering efficiency improvements.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the finding by the Royal College of Surgeons that half of the NHS hospitals do not have the facilities or staff to provide emergency surgery for children.[HL5387]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The report from the Royal College of Surgeons underlines the need to ensure there is sufficient capacity for safe and sustainable routine surgery available as close to the family home as possible, which is a major concern for families. This report will be of great interest and benefit to National Health Service commissioners, service planners and also specialist training advisory committees in ensuring that these needs are met.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action has been taken to avoid conflict of interest or appearances thereof in cases where proposed non-executive directors for the board of a Department of State have business or other interests in the sector covered by the Department.[HL5348]
Lord De Mauley: It is the responsibility of both the Minister making the appointment and the candidate to ensure that any actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest is declared and discussed, and action taken to avoid a conflict or the perception of a conflict. In the appointment of non-executive board members, any action required has been taken at departmental level.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance is given to the staff of Ofcom about giving or receiving hospitality, in view of its status as a regulatory body; and whether its annual report will cover expenditure on hospitality.[HL5404]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): I will write to the noble and learned Lord and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): As my right honourable friend the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice stated in his Written Ministerial Statement on 13 December 2010 (Official Report, Column 72WS), safety and security for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics is a priority for this Government. Safety and security planning is well advanced and on schedule.
In accordance with the commitment made by the then Minister for the Olympics in 2007, the Government will make up to £600 million available, if required, for the Olympic safety and security programme. At this stage, with almost two years before the games begin, we estimate that it should be possible to deliver the core cross-government safety and security programme for about £475 million.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As part of a wider strategy to combat human trafficking, the Government are introducing a new model for funding specialist support for adult victims of trafficking. A tender exercise to select a prime contractor commenced on 15 December 2010.
No consideration has been given to the use of properties on the Olympic site, or anywhere else, at this stage. We have made it clear, however, that we expect the appointed prime contractor to be innovative in their approach to supporting victims.
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): Table 1 below shows the mid-year estimate of the population aged 18 and over by parliamentary constituency in Scotland for 2008. These are the latest figures that are available and reflect the parliamentary constituency boundaries that were in place for the 2010 general election. Estimates for mid-2009 are due to be published in February 2011.
For comparability, Table 2 shows the numbers of people registered to vote in parliamentary elections as at 1 December 2008 and also reflect the parliamentary constituency boundaries that were in force at the 2010 general election.
The latest figures (1 December 2009) for electoral registration in Scotland are available on the General Register Office for Scotland website at http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/electoral-stats/1-dec-09.html. Figures as at 1 December 2010 are due to be published by the General Register Office in February 2011.
|Table 1: Estimated mid-year population 2008 by parliamentary constituency, Scotland|
|Parliamentary Constituency||Population aged 18 and over|
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