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In terms of future plans, the Secretary of State for International Development has launched a bilateral aid review of all DfID country programmes, including India, to ensure that we are giving aid where it is most needed. We are in close dialogue with the Government

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of India about the future of the India programme. Details will be announced on conclusion of the review process.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: We welcome the announcements made by the Indian Home Minister regarding the setting up of 330 anti-human trafficking units and a training course on anti-human trafficking at the Indira Gandhi National Open University in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs. We would be open to exploring the possibilities of the UK and India sharing learning and best practice in the future.

Inflation

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): There are a range of independent forecasts of the economy. The Bank of England's assessment of its forecasting record can be found on page 48 of the August 2010 inflation report.

International Labour Organisation: Domestic Work

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The proposed new ILO convention on decent work for domestic workers has the potential to enhance the protection that is currently provided by the existing ILO fundamental conventions for domestic workers worldwide. The specific requirements of the new instrument, including the responsibilities of the various actors involved, will be negotiated during the 2011 ILO conference. The UK Government will take into account a number of factors in the negotiations, including

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whether the convention will provide suitable protection, and whether it is formulated in a way that helps it to be widely ratified.

International Space Station

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): No British scientific personnel have served on the International Space Station (ISS), although four of the NASA astronauts are British born, namely Nicholas Patrick, Michael Foale, Piers Sellers, and Richard Garriott.

Iraq

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): On 10 November 2010 my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary met the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hoshyar Zebari, and raised the issue of Iraqi Christians with him. Mr Zebari agreed that the protection of Christians was the responsibility of the Iraqi Government.

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister also raised this in a telephone conversation with Prime Minister al-Maliki on 15 November 2010. Prime Minister al-Maliki expressed concern at recent developments, and welcomed UK support, particularly on persuading the Christian minority groups to remain in Iraq. The Prime Minister made it clear that the Iraqis had the UK's full support.

During his visit to Iraq from 22-25 November 2010, my honourable friend Alistair Burt raised the need to improve the protection of Christians and other minorities with all his interlocutors.

We will continue to press the Iraqi authorities to do all they can to bring to justice those who are responsible for this attack on innocent worshippers, and all Iraq's politicians and diverse communities to work together to tackle the threat of violent extremism.

The United States has also publicly condemned the attacks on the Christian community in Iraq. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to hold discussions with US colleagues on a range of issues relating to Iraq, including the situation of Iraqi Christians.



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Israel

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Israel is bound by international law in the same way as other countries. We both expect and encourage Israel to adhere to its obligations both as a member of the international community and as one of the few democracies in the Middle East.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: As my noble friend is aware, the UK has a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building and we regularly raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities. We are further concerned at a recent increase in demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem and Area C. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will continue to raise the matter with the Israeli Government as necessary.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: As my noble friend is aware, the UK has a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building and we regularly raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities. We are further concerned at a recent increase in demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem and Area C. We continue to monitor the situation closely and to raise the matter with the Israeli Government as necessary.

Asked by Baroness Tonge



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Lord Howell of Guildford: As my noble friend is aware, the UK has a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building and we regularly raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities. We are further concerned at a recent increase in demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem and Area C. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will continue to raise these issues with the Israeli Government as necessary.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made our position clear in his statement of 9 December in which he said:

"I am disappointed that Israel has not renewed the freeze on settlement construction and that peace talks are currently on hold. It is Britain's longstanding view that settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.

I spoke to US Envoy Senator Mitchell today to underline Britain's support for work to find a way forward. The leadership of the United States remains vital.

There is an urgent need for progress to secure a two state solution, based on 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the future capital of two states and with a fair settlement for refugees. This is important for Israelis, for Palestinians and for the international community including the UK.

We will continue to work with the United States, the parties to the conflict and with our EU and UN partners to achieve a two state solution. In addition, we will continue to press for an end to all settlement activity".

Kenya

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The naming by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of suspects behind Kenya's post-election violence of 2007-08 is a further step towards ensuring much needed justice for the victims of that violence. Polls suggest the majority of Kenyan citizens firmly support the ICC, which has had to intervene because of the failure by Kenya's politicians to agree a credible local judicial mechanism

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to take the cases forward. We welcome the Kenyan Government's commitment to co-operate fully with the court. The ICC process is an important element of the wider reform agenda agreed by the coalition parties to address the underlying causes of Kenya's instability.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Howell of Guildford: Together with our EU and other international partners, we have regularly urged the Government of Kenya to provide sufficient witness protection, make clear their condemnation of witness intimidation and ensure that those suspected of intimidation face prosecution; we did so recently in a meeting with Kenya's Minister of Justice on 22 November and in an article published in the local media on 13 December. We support chief prosecutor Moreno Ocampo's statement on 15 December that he would seek to prosecute at the International Criminal Court anyone suspected of intimidating or bribing witnesses. The UK has contributed £200,000 to the International Criminal Court witness protection programme for Kenya. This funding underlines the UK's commitment to a successful investigation in Kenya and the importance of protecting witnesses at risk.

Local Government: Funding

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): We expect that match-funding for European structural funds programmes in Cornwall will continue to be available from a range of public and private sector sources.

The European structural funds allocated to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly for the 2007-13 programme are guaranteed, provided the programmes meet their annual spend targets.



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Lord's Resistance Army

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We assess that the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues to pose an unprincipled and violent threat to civilian populations throughout the region, in particular in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and southern Sudan. This was demonstrated recently by attacks in the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo, which I condemn unreservedly.

Migration Advisory Committee

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The membership of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was determined following the 2006 public consultation on establishing the MAC. There are no fixed criteria for appointing members. In addition to labour market economists, the Commission for Employment and Skills and the UK Border Agency are also represented. The Government have no current plans to alter the membership of the MAC.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Questions

Asked by Lord Turnberg

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): As the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS made clear and, subject to parliamentary approval, we will

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establish the National Institute for Health Clinical Excellence (NICE) on a firmer statutory footing to secure its independence and extend its remit to social care.

NICE will provide advice to both the National Health Service Commissioning Board and Ministers to enable them to discharge their respective quality improvement functions effectively. The NHS Commissioning Board will work with NICE to ensure that general practitioner consortia have access to the most up-to-date expert advice on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of different interventions, including medicines.

NHS: Ambulance Trusts

Question

Asked by Lord Colwyn

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Department of Health expects each ambulance trust to provide and manage its service locally, with all ambulance trusts still required to meet all existing national response time targets across the full operational year; including during the winter period. This includes the safe use of its fleet, which can be of particular importance when vehicles are being driven in adverse weather conditions.

NHS: Reform

Question

Asked by Lord Mawson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The White Paper Liberating the NHS set out our proposals to devolve power and responsibility for commissioning services to local consortia of general practitioner (GP) practices supported by the creation of a NHS Commissioning Board.

The reforms will liberate professionals and providers from top-down control and secure the quality, innovation and productivity to improve outcomes. We are confident that giving clinicians direct influence over commissioning decisions will ensure that commissioning will be undertaken much closer to patients and the public, and that commissioning decisions will be carried out in a more innovative and effective way. Giving patients greater choice and ensuring effective competition will stimulate innovation and improvement.



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The content of medical training is the responsibility of the General Medical Council (GMC), which is the competent authority for medical training in the United Kingdom. GMC approval of the GP training curriculum in the future will consequently need to ensure it reflects the responsibilities of GPs following implementation of the White Paper proposals.

NHS: Restructuring

Question

Asked by Lord Mawson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I will shortly write to the noble Lord to answer this question, and others, which time did not permit me to address during a debate in the House on 16 December 2010.

Northern Ireland: Equality Commission and Parades Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Biographical details of those recently appointed to the Equality Commission Northern Ireland and the Parades Commission were included in the notes to editors element of the individual news releases circulated to the media.

The core text of the news releases was published on the Northern Ireland Office website at the same time. Notes to editors are not routinely published on the website.

Northern Ireland: Women

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Consistent with the requirements of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Northern Ireland Executive undertakes

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considerable work to promote gender equality, and all Northern Ireland departments and the Northern Ireland Office are required to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between men and women generally when making public appointments.

In addition, the Equality Act 2010 has extended to Northern Ireland until 2030 the period during which women only shortlists would be permitted for the purposes of candidate selection.

The Government are committed to ending dual mandates in Northern Ireland, which will allow elected offices to become more open to groups currently underrepresented, including women.

Parking Fines

Questions

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government are unaware of reports or other evidence about bailiffs using common law distraint powers to enforce alleged debts incurred by motorists who park on private property. It would be inappropriate for the Government to issue guidance to private companies on the lawfulness or otherwise of their enforcement activity. That would be a matter for the court to determine if challenged by a debtor.

Asked by Lord Lucas

Earl Attlee: There are no plans to change the rules for the release of information to private car parking companies. Information is not released directly to bailiffs for car parking related incidents. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has policies and procedures in place to ensure data are disclosed only where it is both lawful and fair to do so.

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Shipley



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The UK state pension is payable worldwide but is only up-rated abroad where there is a legal requirement or reciprocal agreement to do so. A well known court case challenging the UK's position was heard by the European Court of Human Rights' Grand Chamber in September 2009 and the Court's judgment of March 2010 was in the UK's favour. We continue to take our obligations under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights seriously and are satisfied that we are complying. We therefore have no plans to make any changes to the current arrangements.

Asked by Lord Shipley

Lord Freud: The Department for Work and Pensions does not collect data on the "administrative costs" relating to this specific matter. There is no business need for the collection of this data, therefore I am unable provide you with the information you have requested.

Police and Crime Commissioners

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): As set out in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, Police and Crime Commissioners will be required to attend an annual public meeting with their Police and Crime Panel, who will provide robust scrutiny, challenge, and advice to the Commissioner on his or her decisions on policing in the force area.

The Bill also requires Commissioners to engage properly with all those with an interest in policing in their force area, but it will be for Commissioners themselves to choose how best to achieve this.

Prisoners: Education

Questions

Asked by Lord Quirk



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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The National Audit Office in its report Meeting Needs? The Offenders' Learning and Skills Service [HC310-March 2008] identified the key obstacles to ensuring offenders engage with learning and skills as: the availability of appropriate courses; negative perceptions of education among prisoners; other activities were assessed as having higher priorities for some prisoners; and the lack of strong enough incentives for offenders to attend.

The Government accepted the National Audit Office's analysis and are responding to these obstacles through their review of offender learning (Breaking the Cycle: Straight to Skills, to be published shortly), particularly by ensuring offender learning resources are properly distributed and by putting a significantly enhanced focus on developing in offenders the skills employers need, including the underpinning skills of literacy and numeracy.

Increasingly, opportunities are being offered for prisoners to access learning and skills outside of the traditional classroom environment. Embedded learning offers prisoners the opportunity to learn functional skills (numeracy, literacy and language) in a work environment. Other interventions such as offending behaviour programmes, thinking skills and other activities have a learning and skills element embedded. This means that learning opportunities have direct relevance to the activity. The availability of learning and skills across the prison means that the number of prisoners that access learning and skills is on the increase.

Asked by Lord Quirk

Lord McNally: The information in the Prison Reform Trust's Prison Factfile of December 2010 was an estimate of the prisoner participation rate in education prior to the introduction of new offender learning delivery arrangements in 2005. Since then, the National Audit Office in Meeting Needs? The Offenders' Learning and Skills Service [HC310-March 2008] reported that 42 per cent of offenders starting custodial sentences in September 2006 had at least registered for a learning and skills course in the nine months between then and June 2007. Latest Skills Funding Agency data show that, over the course of the 2009-10 academic year, an average of 41 per cent of the adult (age 18+) population in English public sector prisons participated in education on any one day.

Increasingly, opportunities are being offered for prisoners to access learning and skills outside of the traditional classroom environment. Embedded learning offers prisoners the opportunity to learn functional skills (numeracy, literacy and language) in a work environment. Other interventions such as offending behaviour programmes, thinking skills and other activities have a learning and skills element embedded. This means that learning opportunities have direct relevance

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to the activity. The availability of learning and skills across the prison means that the number of prisoners that access learning and skills is on the increase.

Asked by Lord Quirk

Lord McNally: The information in the Prison Reform Trust's Prison Factfile of December 2010 relating to transfer of prisoner records dates back to a 2002 report. Since then, we have introduced a new IT system to make information on prisoner learning needs and progress available immediately as prisoners move between establishments. In her annual report for 2009-10, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector notes that "The quality of initial assessments and information-sharing between prisons continues to improve. As a result, the number of repeat assessments has significantly reduced".

Asked by Lord Quirk

Lord McNally: There was an increase in the number of basic skills awards from 25,000 in 2001 to over 63,000 in 2004-05.

Also, the average number of hours that prisoners spent in education activity rose from 6.37 hours per prisoner per week in 1999-2000 to 6.88 hours per prisoner per week in 2004-05.

The increased funding also enabled the introduction of a head of learning and skills to each adult, public sector prison in England. The Adult Learning Inspectorate's chief inspector's annual report for 2003-04 said:

"Most prisons gave education and training a high priority. Their understanding of the importance of learning and education to the resettlement of offenders grew. The impact of the newly appointed heads of learning and skills began to be felt".

The latter part of this period saw the full education inspection regime applied to prison learning from 2002, and the inadequacy rate for learning and skills provision in prisons fell year-on-year, and continued to fall in subsequent years.

Prudential Regulatory Authority

Question

Asked by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As part of the reforms to the regulatory architecture, the Government are working with the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to consider what powers should be given to the authorities, including the Prudential Regulation Authority, to gather, share and disclose information.

The Government's view is that, where there is a legitimate public interest, the results of investigations into firms should be published subject to appropriate safeguards and the constraints of European law. As set out in Adair Turner's letter to the chair of the Treasury Select Committee of 15 December 2010, the single market directives put in place restrictions on the disclosure of confidential information. These restrictions cannot be circumvented by national law.

Public Assets: Sales

Question

Asked by Lord Barnett

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave him today (HL5290).

Departments' spending review capital departmental expenditure limit settlements were agreed net of assumed fixed asset sales. In addition, the Government have made a number of announcements about asset and concession sales where substantial progress is expected within 12 months. It is not, however, appropriate to provide forecasts of the potential proceeds, for commercial reasons, because policy parameters have not yet been fully determined, and because there is considerable uncertainty over the likely timing and quantity of proceeds.

Republic of Ireland: Financial Support

Questions

Asked by Lord Willoughby de Broke

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The legal basis for the proposed bilateral loan to Ireland is the Loans to Ireland Act 2010. The scoring in the public sector accounts of financial assistance to Ireland is a matter for the independent Office for National Statistics. A loan would usually raise the UK's public sector net cash requirement, but should not affect public sector net borrowing. Details of the financial assistance package, which was announced on 28 November, have not yet been finalised.



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Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Sassoon: The Government announced their decision, in principle, to participate in the package of assistance to the Republic of Ireland in the Statement to both Houses on 28 November 2010.

The Irish High Court ruled on 7 December that one of Allied Irish Banks' (AIB) former employees was entitled to receive his bonus for performance in 2008.

The Irish Minister for Finance stated on 13 December that he had written to AIB outlining that the payment of the required financial support for AIB will be conditional on the non-payment of bonuses awarded, irrespective of when they may have been earned. He also stated that the board of AIB had considered the Minister's letter and decided not to pay the bonus payments.

Russia

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Nashi is a voluntary organisation and we are not aware of a formal relationship with the Government of Russia. There are informal links between Nashi and the Russian Government. For example, the former head of Nashi, Vasiliy Yakemenko, is now head of Rosmolodezh, the Federal Government's youth agency. Senior officials, including Prime Minister Putin and First Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov, have attended Nashi events in the past.

The Government continue to urge Russia to bring to justice those responsible for the unresolved murder of journalists. We are deeply concerned about attacks on journalists in Russia and the low success rate in investigating and prosecuting crimes against journalists. The perception of a climate of impunity undermines freedom of expression and human rights in Russia.

The UK supported the statement made on 17 November 2010 by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton concerning attacks on journalists in Russia. We will continue to raise this issue both with our EU partners and within the framework of our annual bilateral human rights dialogue with the Russian Government.



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Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): As the Prime Minister outlined in a previous response to this issue, the Government remain very concerned by Mr Magnitsky's case. President Medvedev announced an official investigation into this case in November 2009 and we are looking forward to receiving the findings of such investigation in the new year. Until then, it would not be appropriate for me to comment any further.

Schools: Faith Schools

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Through the introduction of the pupil premium for those pupils eligible for free school meals, the Government are encouraging all schools, including faith schools, to admit more pupils from deprived backgrounds. In addition to this, faith schools becoming academies or free schools will be able to prioritise children in receipt of FSM in their admission arrangements.

Schools: Pupil Premium

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The equivalent of a pupil premium for 16 to 19 year-olds attending schools and colleges or funded as an apprentice already exists within the 16 to 18 funding formula. The formula has two elements which provide disadvantaged learners with a funding supplement. These are the funding linked to the disadvantage uplift within the formula and that for additional learning support. Details of the 16 to 18 funding formula for schools and colleges for 2010-11 can be found on the website of the Young People's Learning Agency at http://readingroom. ypla.gov.uk/ypla/funding_rates_and_ formula_v2.2.pdf and that for apprenticeships on the Skills Funding Agency website at http://readingroom.skillsfundingagency. bis.gov.uk/sfa/Aprenticeship-funding-requirements-2010_11-v1.pdf.

For the 2010-11 academic year, the funding for disadvantage and ALS was £561 million within the 16 to 18 budget of £7,503 billion. For the 2011-12 academic year this will increase by over one-third to £770 million, within a budget of £7,612 billion. In

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2011 we will review the funding formula to look at how it can better support the coalition Government's aims of transparency and fairness and, in particular, how targeted support for 16 to 18 year-old learners can be aligned with the pupil premium for pre-16s and the national scholarship programme in higher education.

Spending Review 2010

Question

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In September the Secretary of State asked Darren Henley, the Managing Director of Classic FM, to carry out a review of music education and to make a series of recommendations about the best use of funds in the future. More than 900 parents, schools and music specialists have responded to a call for evidence issued by Mr Henley, and the review is expected to make its recommendations to Ministers before the end of the year. No decisions will be made on the level of funding to be made available for music education until the review has reported.

Sudan

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to Vice-President Taha on 13 December. My honourable friend the Minister for Africa spoke to President Kiir on 5 December. In both conversations, we stressed the need for progress on Abyei and the UK's long-term commitment to stability and security in both northern and southern Sudan.

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

Lord Howell of Guildford: We remain very concerned by the lack of preparation for the Abyei referendum including the lack of agreement on voting rights. We continue to support the work of Thabo Mbeki as he hosts tasks between north and south to discuss the Abyei region and wider comprehensive peace agreement issues.



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Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: There is no question of this Government prioritising commercial links over the very real and pressing human rights concerns that we continue to have about Sudan. We encourage British companies to be aware of the impact of their investments abroad. With non-governmental organisations and other development partners, we closely monitor the human rights situation in Sudan.

Asked by Baroness Cox

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are aware of the issues raised by the Ngok Dinka leaders. We remain concerned about the tensions in Abyei and the lack of progress towards an Abyei referendum.

We continue to support the work of Thabo Mbeki as he hosts talks between North and South Sudan to discuss the future of Abyei. We urge both parties to find a way forward within the framework of the comprehensive peace agreement.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: We remain concerned at rising tensions in Abyei and lack of progress towards the Abyei referendum. We continue to support the work of Thabo Mbeki as he hosts talks between north and south Sudan to discuss Abyei. We urge both parties to find a way forward within the framework of the comprehensive peace agreement.

Turkey

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We do not plan to make such representations to the Turkish Government. However, our embassy in Ankara continues to raise the issue of respect for all religious minorities in its wider discussions on human rights.

Asked by Lord Patten

Lord Howell of Guildford: We do not plan to make such representation to the Turkish Government. However, our embassy in Ankara continues to raise the issue of respect for all religious minorities in its wider discussions on human rights.

Asked by Lord Patten

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have not discussed freedom of worship in the United Kingdom with the Turkish authorities. However, our embassy in Ankara regularly raises the issue of religious freedom in Turkey with its Turkish counterparts.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There is little current or historic economic data on which to make an accurate assessment.

The economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands continues to be badly affected by the loss of construction activity since the global financial crisis began in 2008 and the secondary impact this continues to have across other economic sectors. Construction of luxury real estate for overseas buyers was the main engine of

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growth in the economy during the past decade, but supply far outstripped demand during this period. There was also an unsustainable expansion of the public sector during the same period. Visitor numbers have, however, increased significantly over the past two years following a small drop in numbers during 2008.

We are not aware of any research linking the state of the economy with the number of suicides.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK Government are taking a number of measures to help the Turks and Caicos Islands Government provide a stable economic environment that will lead to improved employment prospects for those out of work.

The labour department in the Turks and Caicos Islands is in constant dialogue with the major employers within the territory to explore further employment opportunities for the people of the islands.

We have not seen a rise in social unrest since the elected Government in the Turks and Caicos Islands was suspended in 2009.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Howell of Guildford: To recover from its economic decline the Turks and Caicos Islands Government need to meet the challenge of providing a stable economic environment. This means the establishment of robust and transparent public financial management processes, and a strengthening of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government's capacity to manage their public finances.

The Department for International Development has provided a chief financial officer to the Turks and Caicos Islands Government, to meet the urgent task of addressing their structural deficit and putting them on a course towards a sustainable fiscal surplus in the financial year 2012-13. In addition, the department is reaching the final stages of putting in place a medium-term financial package for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Howell of Guildford: In his statement to Parliament of July 2010 my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development announced that his department would provide a temporary package of financial support for the Turks

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and Caicos Islands Government. The department is now reaching the final stages of putting the package in place, which it intends to be at or near zero cost to the UK Government over the medium term.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Howell of Guildford: The question does not state whether it refers to civil or criminal cases, or both. But there are no comparative data in the Turks and Caicos Islands on this issue. Although the islands' authorities could gather and analyse such data, this could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Two new lawyers have recently joined the Attorney-General's chambers with a third due to begin work in the new year. Of these three lawyers, one has been assigned to civil work, one to criminal and the third will join the criminal law team. Further recruitment will be necessary to ensure that the workload can be dealt with efficiently.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Howell of Guildford: There is mental health legislation in place covering the issue. No advice on how to deal with offenders who have mental difficulties has been given to legal officers in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Ten patients from the Turks and Caicos Islands are being treated on a permanent basis in Jamaica.

The Ministry of Health is recruiting a psychiatrist and consideration is being given to converting an existing facility into a care facility for those with mental health difficulties.

Those individuals with mental health problems who are committed to prison are seen on a regular basis by nursing staff and a visiting psychiatrist. Those requiring longer-term treatment and care may be sent overseas as required. The Turks and Caicos Islands Government are considering holding a mental health workshop in 2011.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham



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Lord Howell of Guildford: There are approximately 40 staff currently employed on the special investigation and prosecution team. None are residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The investigators are for the most part experienced former detectives from the UK police. This is a reflection of the size of the investigation and the number of extremely serious and interlinked allegations of corruption, misconduct in public office and money laundering that were recommended for investigation by the commission of inquiry and that have come to light after the commission reported.

For the most part, the investigators have been provided by specialist recruitment firms. They are all employed, after open competition and interview, on three-month renewable contracts. Short-term contracts have been used to give the senior management team maximum flexibility, and to ensure that each member of staff is retained only where there is a clear business case for his or her services.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) consists of a mix of investigators, financial investigators and lawyers. The investigation is exceptionally complex and involves work with law enforcement authorities in several other countries. It requires investigators who are highly experienced in this field. The investigation is also highly confidential.

The special prosecutor has explained in public that it was not possible to recruit local attorneys or to contract with them to provide legal advice. This was not because the local Bar lacked expertise. Rather, it was a consequence of the fact that the legal profession is relatively small, that the investigation is wide ranging and that it was preceded by a commission of inquiry. Most of the law firms on the islands would be unable to provide legal services to the SIPT because they are already advising persons or entities that are the subject of investigation. Legal advice on local law and procedure is provided by the Turks and Caicos Islands Attorney-General's chambers.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office covered the initial costs of the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT). These were approximately £660,000 in the financial year ending March 2010.



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The estimated budget for the SIPT for financial year ending March 2011 is £5,208,750. The budget includes all costs associated with running the investigation, including accommodation and IT. The budget is funded by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government.

As charges are brought and cases advance towards trial, the size and therefore the costs of the investigation team will decrease substantially. Furthermore the eventual recovery of the proceeds of crime is a central aim of the investigation.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Howell of Guildford: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement made on 9 December about the timing of elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands (Official Report, col. WS56-58).

The issue of who will be eligible to stand for elected office is being considered as part of the constitutional and electoral reform exercise.

Uganda

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have concerns about administrative and legal curbs on freedom of expression in Uganda, in particular the draft Press and Journalism Bill, and the reports of difficulties faced by journalists. However, we were encouraged by the recent ruling of Uganda's Constitutional Court that abolished the crime of sedition and quashed 14 outstanding charges of sedition brought against journalists and opposition politicians.

Our high commission in Kampala regularly discusses issues relating to freedom of expression with the Government of Uganda and has raised the draft Press Bill with the Ugandan Minister for Information. We will continue to urge Uganda to ensure that any new legislation strikes an appropriate and legitimate balance between regulation and protection of the right to freedom of expression.

UK Investment: Foundation X

Question

Asked by Lord Myners



10 Jan 2011 : Column WA421

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury officials were last in contact with Lord James of Blackheath on 13 December 2010, to reiterate that Lord Sassoon does not intend to pursue the issues he raised regarding the purported organisation known as Foundation X. Treasury Ministers have had no meetings with anyone claiming to represent an organisation known as Foundation X.

Cabinet Office officials last corresponded with those associated with an organisation referred to by Lord James as Foundation X on 19 November 2010, to acknowledge receipt of an email. The Leader of the House of Lords met with Lord James and an associate of Lord James on 26 July 2010.

Universities: Admissions

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Office for Fair Access (OFFA) does not have powers to instruct universities to change their admissions policies. Universities are responsible for their own admissions policies and decisions.

OFFA's role is to safeguard access to higher education for under-represented groups. OFFA does this by approving and monitoring access agreements-agreements in which universities set out their tuition fee limit, their plans for targeted bursaries and other financial support and, in many cases, additional outreach work for under-represented groups.

Evidence to date strongly indicates that the introduction of higher fees in 2006-07 has not had a detrimental effect on the participation of disadvantaged students from low-income backgrounds and other under-represented groups. On 7 December, the Government published early draft guidance setting out the coalition's expectations of how the Director of Fair Access might approach the approval and monitoring of new access agreements from 2012.

All universities are required, as a condition of receiving a widening participation allocation, by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, to produce Widening Participation Strategic Assessments (WPSAs). A WPSA must include a statement on admissions policy showing how the university will ensure transparency, consistency and fairness.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

Lord Henley: The Government are establishing a new framework, with increased responsibility on universities to widen participation and with greater government investment in improving attainment and access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

10 Jan 2011 : Column WA422

Universities wanting to charge more than a £6,000 annual graduate contribution will have to demonstrate what more they will do to attract more students from disadvantaged backgrounds through outreach activities, targeted scholarships and other financial support. This will include a requirement to participate in the new £150 million national scholarship programme. This work will be further supported by the £2.5 billion pupil premium to turn their school-based achievement into success at university.

Participation in higher education has improved in recent years-in 2008-09, 88 per cent of young entrants to full-time degree courses in England were from state schools. However, there is more to do. Access will remain a focus for all institutions, which will continue to submit a widening participation strategic assessment to the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Universities charging above the £6,000 threshold will draw up a new access agreement with the director of fair access, who will expect most from those whose records show they have furthest to go in securing a diverse student body. On 6 December, we published draft guidance to the director of fair access setting out our expectations on how he might approach the approval and monitoring of universities' new access agreements.

Universities: Grants

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) awarded the following amounts in recurrent grant for teaching, including widening participation for each of the financial years requested:

2005-06

£4,259,260,000

2006-07

£4,171,281,000

2007-08

£4,355,355,000

2008-09

£4,499,182,000

2009-10

£4,599,425,000

Source: HEFCE Annual Report and Accounts.

Universities: Intellectual Property

Question

Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): There have been no discussions with the University of Manchester on the application of Intellectual Property Office guidance to the research that led to the development of the new material graphene. Manchester University has a professional team with a track record in commercialising the results of research.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): UK government agencies and Swedish authorities are co-operating in ongoing investigations and it would be inappropriate to comment on the details of Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly's activities.

Women: Peace and Security

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Discussions during the redrafting of the national action plan took place between NIO officials and officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Government Equalities Office and the Northern Ireland Executive. There are no plans to integrate provisions relating to the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in Northern Ireland into the national action plan.

Young Offender Institutions: Social Workers

Question

Asked by The Earl of Listowel

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): There is a statutory duty on local authorities to provide social work services to children in need. It is a matter for local authorities how they choose to fulfil these duties. In 2005, a number of dedicated social worker posts in young offender institutions (YOIs) were established by a centrally funded pilot scheme; since this funding came to an end in 2009, the provision of social work services has been determined on a case by case basis at a local level.


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