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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 16 December (WA 205), what percentage of passenger movements are subject to e-Borders checks (a) into, and (b) out of, the United Kingdom.[HL5842]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a Memorandum of Understanding was agreed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Law Society in 2004; when it was amended; what proportion of the costs were paid by the Law Society and by ACPO; and, of the ACPO costs, how much was paid by the Home Office, the Police Authorities and other contributions.[HL5550]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) advises that no memorandum of understanding was agreed by ACPO and the Law Society in 2004. A memorandum was produced in 2001 but was decommissioned in 2007 without further amendment. It is not possible to identify the costs accrued in the development of this document.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have received reports that torture was used in Bahrain's Ministry of Interior detention facilities. The Government believe that torture is unacceptable under any circumstances. We regularly encourage the Government of Bahrain, at the highest level, to meet all its human rights obligations, demonstrate transparency and follow due process in the investigation of alleged offences committed against those who have been detained. The
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the banking industry about "Project Merlin"; and in particular on proposals to curb the payment by banks of excessive bonuses.[HL5317]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are in discussion with the banks to see whether a new settlement can be reached whereby smaller bonuses are paid than would otherwise be paid and that there is greater transparency in relation to remuneration than hitherto. If the banks cannot commit to such a settlement, the Government have made it clear to them that nothing is "off the table". The Government will keep the House informed of all relevant policy developments.
Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. It is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what Barnett consequentials since the May general election have been made in the form of (a) deductions, and (b) additions, and for what purposes, to each of the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Administrations. [HL5489]
The 2010 spending review settlements for the devolved Administrations were calculated according to the Barnett formula as set out in the Treasury publication Funding the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly: Statement of Funding Policy. The changes compared to the 2010-11 baseline are shown in the table below.
The digital television switchover programme is on track for completion by the end of 2012 and is under budget. Over 7 million homes (over 25 per cent of UK households) have completed the switchover and are now digital only. A further 10.5 million will switch in 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 11 November (WA 109), in respect of each local authority, how many looked-after children had (a) five to nine, and (b) 10 or more, placement moves in the year ending 2008.[HL5432]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 21 December (WA 279), when they expect to complete their investigations into recent cases of wrongful arrest arising in respect of tagging conducted by Serco on behalf of the Serious Fraud Office, and how soon the results will be published and made available to Parliament.[HL5587]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): I believe the noble Lord is referring to the arrest of Mr Asil Nadir on 4 December 2010. The Ministry of Justice has investigated this matter. Information from the investigation is currently with the judiciary and I cannot comment any further on this case, which is still subject to ongoing judicial proceedings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what bursaries will be made available to people from lower socio-economic groups wishing to continue their studies to help cover their living costs following the abolition of the education maintenance allowance.[HL5615]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are committed to making sure that young people from low income households can continue in education and training post 16. We are considering the replacement for the education maintenance allowance and want to ensure that the funds we have are targeted on those young people who most need support to enable them to participate in learning.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Department for Education spends on the funding of family support helplines; whether and at what level it will continue to do so in the year 2011-12; and when any decision on the level of funding will be made public.[HL5594]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In the current financial year, 2010-11, the department has invested £4.6 million in family support helplines. The department opened a new procurement on 6 December 2010 to fund family support telephone helplines and online services from April 2011. I cannot confirm future funding that may be available from the department to fund the service until the procurement process has been completed.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 29 November 2010, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) released the official forecast for total employment and general government employment, updated for the spending review announcements.
As the OBR sets out in paragraph 3.98 on page 62 of its November 2010 Economic and Fiscal Outlook (Cm 7979), it expects total employment to rise by 1.1 million over the next five years, from 29.0 million in 2010 to 30.1 million in 2015. General government employment is projected to fall by just over 400,000 between 2010-11 and 2015-16, more than offset by a rise in market sector employment of around 1.5 million.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they propose to ensure that the United Kingdom is in the forefront in developing and applying emerging technologies in electricity transmission, especially with regard to sub-sea solutions and proposals for an international supergrid.[HL5774]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): DECC is currently developing detailed technology plans for the allocation of the innovation fund. Transmission and offshore technologies are being considered as part of this work, the outcomes of which should be known in spring 2011.
DECC and Ofgem are setting up an offshore transmission co-ordination group, which will consider the costs and benefits of different offshore grid configurations against the backdrop of likely technological developments. The sub-sea cable manufacturers will be represented within the group.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take steps to change the current situation under which gas and electricity consumers pay relatively more for their fuel if their consumption is low or if they are on prepayment systems.[HL5886]
The Committee on Climate Change has reported that, rather than alleviating fuel poverty, requiring suppliers to introduce rising block tariffs could actually make it more expensive for many fuel-poor households to heat their home to a reasonable standard.
The available evidence suggests that on average fuel poor households have higher energy requirements than non-fuel poor households. This is both because these homes tend to be less energy efficient and because of the needs of the householders. For example, people who do not work, such as pensioners, are more likely to need to heat their home during the day when others might be at work.
Details of the Committee on Climate Change's first annual progress report, with reference to rising block tariffs from page 166, can be found online at: http://downloads.theccc.org.uk/docs/21667%20CCC%20 Report%20Chapter%205.pdf.
With regard to prepayment meters, Ofgem has put in place rules to protect consumers on pricing, including licence condition changes to prevent unfair price differentials, such as those between different payment methods.
Ofgem has found that the charges for customers paying by pre-payment meter (PPM) are, on average, £19 below the equivalent standard credit tariffs and that the average premium over direct debit for a typical dual fuel PPM customer has fallen from £111 to £69, which is less than the £88 indicative cost difference between providing and servicing a PPM compared to a direct debit account, identified by Ofgem. The full Ofgem report is available online at: www.ofgem. gov.uk/Markets/RetMkts/ensuppro/Documents1/Update%20 on%20Probe%20Monitoring_FINAL.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of research conducted by Save the Children which found that low income families frequently pay more for basic goods due to prepayment systems. [HL5734]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Regarding pre-payment for gas and electricity, Ofgem has put in place rules to protect consumers on pricing, including licence condition changes to prevent unfair price differentials, including those between different payment methods, such as between pre-payment meters and direct debit.
Ofgem has reported on the effectiveness of these changes and found that annual charges for customers paying by pre-payment meter (PPM) are, on average, £19 below the equivalent standard credit tariffs. Ofgem also reported that the average premium over direct debit for a typical dual fuel PPM customer has fallen from £111 to £69, which is less than the £88 indicative cost difference between providing and servicing a PPM compared to a direct debit account, as identified by Ofgem. The full Ofgem report is available online at: www.ofgem.gov.uk/Markets/RetMkts/ensuppro/Documents1/Update%20on%20Probe% 20Monitoring_FINAL.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much electricity suppliers spent in each of the past five years on Renewables Obligation Certificates; and how much of this was in respect of (a) offshore, and (b) onshore, wind energy.[HL5899]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are tradable and have no fixed price. The amount a supplier pays for a ROC is dependent on bilateral negotiations between supplier and generator.
The nominal value of a ROC in any particular year depends on the gap between the renewables obligation level, and the number of ROCs presented to Ofgem. The obligation is set higher than the expected ROC generation to ensure that there will be a gap between the number of ROCs suppliers can purchase and the number needed to meet the obligation. The gap between the two is made up by suppliers paying into the buyout fund at a set price (the "buyout price") for every ROC they do not present to Ofgem. This buyout fund is then redistributed to suppliers on a pro-rata basis
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The value of a ROC in any given year is therefore equal to the buyout price plus the recycle value for that year. The nominal value represents the maximum worth of a ROC to a generator but is not necessarily the amount paid by a supplier. The nominal value of a ROC for the past four years is given in the table below.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Just under half of all UK wind capacity is operationally metered by National Grid to assist in balancing the system. From these data, in November, the load factor of operationally metered wind generation was 29 per cent, while in December it was 21 per cent.
DECC publishes data on the load factors from all UK onshore and offshore wind turbines on an annual basis. Across 2009, the load factor for all UK wind farms was 28 per cent. This load factor is calculated by taking the generation of wind farms that have been operational for the full course of the year and then dividing by the total maximum output that would be possible given the installed capacity.
Lord Marland: DECC publishes data on electricity generation from all sources, including wind power, on a quarterly basis. Figures for the last quarter of 2010, which will show the proportion of electrical energy supplied by all UK wind generation, will be published in March. DECC's latest quarterly figures show that in Q3 2010 all UK wind farms contributed 3.5 per cent of UK electricity generation.
Just under half of all UK wind capacity is operationally metered by National Grid to assist in balancing the system. From these data, in November, operationally metered wind generation provided 1.7 per cent of electrical energy supplied through the National Grid, while in December it provided 1.1 per cent. Given the limited coverage of wind, however, these figures are likely to be understated.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, if wind turbines continue to operate at their current rate of capacity, how many will be required to deliver their target of supplying one third of electricity from wind by 2020; and what would be the estimated cost of subsidising the installation of that number of turbines by 2020.[HL5751]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): There is a legally binding target for the UK to source 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. It is estimated that this may require around 29 per cent of electricity to come from large-scale renewable sources, but there is no target for the electricity sector, nor for individual technology targets. The exact shares of effort between sectors and technologies will depend on how investors respond to the renewable
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Modelling by Redpoint consultants in 2009 of a scenario to deliver around 29 per cent large-scale renewable electricity suggests that around 70 per cent of renewable generation in 2020 might come from offshore and onshore wind. Assuming, as per the question, no increase from average current turbine sizes of, say, 3MW for offshore wind and 1.5MW for onshore wind, this wind generation would come from around 10,000 onshore turbines and around 4,000 offshore turbines. This is based on 2009 analysis of one potential scenario amongst many. Turbine sizes vary and we also expect to see offshore turbine sizes increase to 5mw or more.
We are currently reviewing the level of support for all renewables technologies, and will consult on any changes to RO bands this summer. As part of that process, we have asked our consultants Arup and Ernst & Young to provide updated assumptions on potential deployment and costs for each renewable electricity technology.
DECC calculations suggest these levels of wind imply a subsidy cost of around £5 billion in 2020 through the renewables obligation and around £360 million through the climate change levy exemption (both figures in 2010 prices, undiscounted). Note that these figures represent the total spending. The UK Renewable Energy Strategy of 2009 published lower subsidy cost figures based on the additional level of spending resulting from the increase in renewables ambition, on a different price basis.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our ambassador to Eritrea raises human rights and media freedom issues with the Eritrean Government regularly. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials do likewise with the Eritrean embassy in the UK. The UK also participates in a regular political dialogue between the EU and the Government of Eritrea. Human rights and media freedom were the focus of discussions in March and November 2010, and were raised again in December 2010.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK was closely involved in a review of EU strategy on the Horn of Africa, including Eritrea, in 2009. The UK also engages with other EU member states and the EU institutions on our collective approach to Eritrea on an ongoing basis.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by Mr Herman Van Rompuy's Chief of Cabinet, in an interview with the Belgian newspaper De Morgen, that "every crisis leads to more European integration". [HL5687]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Mr Van Rompuy's Chief of Cabinet was expressing a personal opinion, not the view of the European Council. This Government have made clear that there will be no further treaty change which transfers power from London to Brussels during the lifetime of this Parliament. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has also stressed that we are not in the eurozone or going to join the eurozone during the lifetime of this Parliament. It is however in our interests not to stand in the way of major reform of the eurozone. The EU Bill, which we are currently taking through Parliament, will guarantee that any such future transfer of power or competence from the UK to the EU would require a referendum.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will set up a Royal Commission to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union and the impact on Parliament's ability to hold the Government to account.[HL5688]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): This Government have no plans to set up such a royal commission. This Government believe that membership of the European Union is in the national interest, bringing with it significant economic benefits to the UK.
This Government are committed to the principle of effective scrutiny of European legislation and there are already in place robust parliamentary processes to hold the Government to account on EU issues. At a time when the Government are implementing deep budgetary cuts, we do not think spending money on a royal commission on this issue would be good value for money.
Furthermore, if adopted, the EU Bill, currently under consideration by Parliament, would significantly strengthen Parliament's oversight of EU matters by providing, for the first time, that an Act of Parliament would have to be sought before the UK Government could agree to future treaty changes under either the ordinary or simplified revision procedures. The Bill also provides for greater parliamentary control over the use of the so-called "ratchet clauses" in the existing treaties which allow changes to the treaties, or the exercise of one-way options, without the need to use the ordinary or simplified revision procedures.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether shareowners have sufficient information to make informed decisions when voting on company remuneration reports, including those for banks.[HL5723]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has consulted recently on corporate governance issues, including remuneration reporting and shareholder engagement. The consultation The Future of Narrative Reporting closed on 19 October 2010; the summary of responses was published on 22 December 2010. The call for evidence A Long-term Focus for Corporate Britain" closed on 14 January 2011. The Government will be considering policy options in the light of their assessment of the responses.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect insurers to secure significant increases in house insurance premiums to cover the increased risk of flooding consequent on government cuts in the funding of flood prevention.[HL5598]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Insurance is provided in a competitive market and policy terms will reflect local circumstances, including flood risk. Government investment in flood risk management is only part of the story, and insurance policy terms should reflect activities by individuals and communities to reduce the likelihood and consequences of flooding.
Defra is currently consulting on proposals to reform the funding of flood and coastal erosion risk management in England to allow each local area to have a bigger say in what is done. This would mean more communities could benefit from the protection that flood and coastal defences provide. Following a flood summit on 16 September, Defra is continuing the dialogue on flood insurance and risk reduction and putting in place a road map to take us beyond 2013, when the current statement of principles expires.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Annual food and non-alcoholic drink retail price inflation increased during 2010; it was 5.5 per cent for the 12 months to November, compared with 3.3 per cent for overall inflation (and so food and non-alcoholic drinks prices are currently increasing in real terms).
Low-income households spend a greater proportion of their household income on food. People in the lowest fifth of households (by income) spent 15.8 per cent of their total budget on food and non-alcoholic drink in 2009, comparatively more than the spending of the general household population of 11.5 per cent.
While the food expenditure share of total low-income household expenditure is currently growing, UK low-income households spend a lower percentage of their budget on food than most European counterparts, whilst benefiting from zero-rated VAT on most food products.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Forestry Commission makes an annual assessment of the total area of woodland creation in England and this is published each September. For the year to 31 March 2010 this was 2,300 hectares.
Additional information is available from the Forestry Commission records of grant payments for woodland creation. The area of woodland creation grant paid for 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2010 by region is given in the table below.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe):Improving Outcomes-A Strategy for Cancer, published on 12 January, sets out a range of measures to improve cancer survival rates in England. It shows how we intend to tackle preventable cancer incidence, improve the quality and efficiency of cancer services and deliver outcomes that are comparable with the best in Europe. Through these approaches, the aim is to save an additional 5,000 lives every year by 2014-15. A copy of the strategy has already been placed in the Library.
The earlier a cancer is detected, the sooner treatment can begin and the better the outcome is likely to be. This is why achieving earlier diagnosis of cancer is central to the strategy. To achieve earlier diagnosis of cancer we are investing over £450 million over the next four years.
This money will give general practitioners (GPs) increased access to key diagnostic tests such as chest X-ray to aid in diagnosing lung cancer, non-obstetric ultrasound to support the diagnosis of ovarian and other cancers, flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy to support the diagnosis of bowel cancer and magnetic resonance imaging scans to support the diagnosis of brain cancer.
With this funding, we will also work to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer, and to encourage symptomatic patients to visit their GP. We have already launched 59 local initiatives across 109 primary care trusts that are using a range of approaches to raise awareness of bowel, breast and lung cancer. Later this month, we will launch two centrally led regional bowel cancer campaigns that will be used to test the impact of a national bowel cancer campaign.
Overall, we are providing more than £750 million to drive forward the improvements that will deliver the best cancer outcomes. This includes funding for the introduction of flexible sigmoidoscopy to the NHS bowel cancer screening programme, the expansion of radiotherapy services, and ensuring that all high-priority patients with a need for proton beam therapy get access to this innovative treatment.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Although there have been improvements in widening participation in recent years, there is still more to do. Government are establishing a new framework, with increased responsibility on universities to widen participation; and greater government investment in improving attainment and access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is within this context that the Aim Higher programme will cease at the end of this academic year (July 2011).
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. The national scholarship programme forms part of a package of measures to support disadvantaged young people through their education, including the introduction of the £2.5 billion pupil premium which will support them to achieve at school and turn that into success at university.
Access will remain a focus for all institutions, who 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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guarantees will be offered to students paying the increased tuition fees to ensure that the higher education experience will warrant the substantial fee increase. [HL5616]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The reforms being brought forward by this Government will put power in the hands of the student and in future student choices will shape higher education. All universities and colleges, whatever contribution they decide to charge, will be expected to publish a standard set of information about their
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It will be in every institution's interest to ensure that its teaching arrangements, facilities and undergraduate support are worth the investment. Over time, popular and successful institutions will be able to grow and we expect new providers to enter the sector providing they can offer a teaching experience to the high standards students will expect. Under current arrangements HE institutions have the main responsibility for ensuring high quality and standards are maintained, independently overseen by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). Additionally, the Higher Education Funding Council for England has statutory responsibility for ensuring that academic quality is assessed in the institutions that it funds which it delivers through the QAA. In future, we have already announced our intention to publish a higher education White Paper covering a wide range of long-term issues.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 11 January, what are the countries whose media behaviour constitutes the "international norm" against which the proposed Hungarian press law is to be judged. [HL5739]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The international norms on freedom of expression and on freedom of the media relevant to the situation in Hungary are derived not so much from the behaviour of particular countries, as from the international instruments and commitments that apply to Hungary itself. In addition to EU law, these include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 19 in particular; the European Convention on Human Rights, and Article 10 in particular; the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Human Dimension Commitments, which are politically binding, linking human rights to the institutional and political system of a state.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made in relation to the attack on medical and hospital personnel at Camp Ashraf by Iraqi forces on 25 and 26 December 2010; what, if anything, they have done to improve conditions at the hospital; and what steps they plan to take to ensure the defence of the human rights of Camp Ashraf inhabitants from those outside the camp perimeter.[HL5588]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is aware of reports of a disturbance at Camp Ashraf on 25 and 26 December 2010. Our embassy officials in Baghdad regularly discuss the situation with their UN, US and EU colleagues. UN contacts met the Iraqi Government's Ashraf Committee on 9 January 2011 and raised their concerns about these and other recent events.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of loudspeaker equipment used on the outskirts of Camp Ashraf on the physiological condition of residents; what steps they will take to ameliorate this disruption; and what plans, if any, they have made to ensure that United Kingdom parliamentarians can visit Camp Ashraf in the immediate future.[HL5589]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is aware of reports of loudspeaker equipment being used outside Camp Ashraf. We will continue to encourage the Iraqi authorities to respect the residents' human rights. However, Camp Ashraf is in a sovereign and democratic Iraq, and any decisions on the future of the camp are for the Iraqi Government to take.
We are aware of the interest shown by UK parliamentarians in visiting Camp Ashraf in Iraq. While we have yet to receive a formal request for assistance, it should be noted that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to Baghdad and its surrounding areas where Camp Ashraf is based.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Israeli Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi's comments that renewed war in Gaza "was only a matter of time"; and what representations they have made to the Government of Israel on this subject.[HL5657]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We call on all parties to continue to respect the ceasefire that brought to an end the 2009 conflict in Gaza. Although the number of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza towards Israel has remained relatively low over the past year, we continue to condemn these acts of indiscriminate violence. A rise in the number of rocket and mortar attacks in the last few weeks is a cause for concern. We call for a halt to all such attacks and continue to urge Israel to exercise restraint in its response.
"The British Government reaffirms their strong, long-standing opposition to the creation of this new illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem and condemn today's demolition in Sheikh Jerrah. The establishment and expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.
We oppose provocative unilateral actions such as this, which hinder efforts to resume talks between the two parties leading to a two-state solution to this conflict, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states living side by side in peace and security. That is the way forward. This latest settlement activity does not help-on the contrary, it raises tensions unnecessarily".
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem; and, if so, what response they received.[HL5770]
"The British Government reaffirms its strong, long-standing opposition to the creation of this new illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem and condemns today's demolition in Sheikh Jerrah. The establishment and expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.
We oppose provocative unilateral actions such as this, which hinder efforts to resume talks between the two parties leading to a two-state solution to this conflict, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states living side by side in peace and security. That is the way forward. This latest settlement activity does not help-on the contrary, it raises tensions unnecessarily."
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the case of Imad al-Ashhab, a 17-year old Palestinian boy held without charge or trial in an Israeli prison for over 10 months, and
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are concerned about the widespread use of administrative detention including those orders given to children, which, according to international law, should be used only in the most exceptional security cases rather than as routine practice.
The UK is aware of the case of Imad al-Ashhab. Imad is currently the only minor held under administrative detention orders. He has served nearly 11 months in Ofer prison since his arrest on 21 February 2010. His fourth administrative detention order will expire on 4 February at which point he will either be released or issued with a fifth administrative detention order.
As I am sure my noble friend is aware, we raise our concerns with the Israeli Government on a regular basis about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees, including where Palestinian children are involved.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): At 11 per cent of total expenditure, the National Health Service spends more money on mental health (£10.4 billion in 2008-09) than on any other clinical area. However, provision of specific services are decisions for local NHS providers. In February 2010, the National Mental Health Development Unit published the document Working towards Women's Well-being, which presents clear evidence that some progress has been made in providing gender-specific and gender-sensitive mental health services to meet the needs of women.
Developments such as graduate mental health workers, the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme and training for health visitors and midwives have made a major contribution to building capacity within primary care to respond to common mental health problems.
Progress is being made in health and social care in terms of personalising services to ensure that they meet the needs of individuals through the use of personal/individual budgets. This will benefit women as they will be able to have a greater say in what services they wish to utilise.
We will shortly publish our mental health strategy which will reinforce the need for services to respond to the needs of individuals across all sections of the community. We are committed to promoting equality
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is not yet possible to say what the likely implications of Moqtada al-Sadr's return to Iraq will be. It should however be noted that members of the Sadrist Trend, led by Moqtada and part of the National Alliance bloc, participated in the March 2010 national elections and, winning 39 seats, were involved in the peaceful-if protracted-process that resulted in the formation of a new Iraqi Government towards the end of 2010. We hope that the Sadrists will continue on this path of responsible political engagement.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My honourable friend the Minister for Africa, Alistair Burt, raised the handling of the protests outside Layounne with the Moroccan Government during his visit to Morocco in December 2010.
Officials from our embassy in Rabat maintained close contact with the Moroccan authorities following the dismantling of the camp on 8 November 2010. Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also held meetings with officials from the Moroccan embassy in London to discuss the circumstances surrounding these events.
An official from our embassy in Rabat visited the territory in December 2010 and met with a range of Moroccan officials, international bodies, United Nations agencies and local non-governmental organisations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of representation of female artists in the collections of the National Gallery; and whether they have had any discussions with the trustees of the National Gallery on this issue.[HL5791]
Baroness Rawlings: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has had no discussions with the National Gallery on this issue. The contents of the National Gallery's collection are an operational matter for the trustees of the gallery.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a local authority has the power to stop managing local nature reserves which are provided under section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.[HL5720]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): It is possible for a local authority to decide to cease managing land as a local nature reserve, but any decision to do so must be made reasonably. This would require the local authority to review why it had originally considered it was expedient to provide the local nature reserve under Section 21(1) of the 1949 Act; and whether, in the current circumstances, it is expedient to continue to do so. Under Section 21(6) of the 1949 Act, the local authority would also need to consult with Natural England and consider its views before ceasing to manage the land as a local nature reserve. The local authority's ability to cease managing the land will also be subject to the terms of any management agreement and byelaws in place for the land.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): These costs are already in the public domain and there are no plans to make them directly available to National Health Service patients at the point of use. Implementing such a proposal would be complex and costly. In addition, research into labelling prescription medicines with prices has shown a much more complex impact on patient attitudes towards their medicines than may be expected. High and low prices on medicines could lead to patients not taking their medication appropriately as they may be perceived to indicate the quality of the drug, the seriousness of the illness, the importance of the condition, and the patient's self-worth.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave him on 11 January 2011 (Official Report, col. WA435). Work continues on changes to the Counter Fraud and Security Management Service, to take effect from 1 April 2011. Following the restructure of this service the training centre in Reading will be retained and three regional centres will be closed at a planned cost of £66,000.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK remains deeply concerned about violence suffered by members of both Christian and Muslim communities, particularly in Plateau State in central Nigeria, where appalling loss of life has occurred since Christmas Eve.
In September 2010 our High Commission in Abuja discussed this ongoing issue with the head of the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Jos crisis, which last year submitted a range of recommendations to the presidency to take forward. Over the past year we have also raised the situation in Jos with other senior officials, including the National Security Adviser and the Governor of Plateau State. My right honourable Friend Henry Bellingham, the Minister for Africa, has raised inter-communal violence with Vice-President Sambo, who agreed on the seriousness of the issue.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government believe that the spending settlement is challenging but that police forces can make savings while protecting the front line. We do not accept that reducing costs will cause an increase in crime. What matters is how resources are used and how officers are deployed. The reductions in funding are lower in the first year than the second.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The management of the police estate and the allocation of resources are matters for police authorities and chief constables to determine, as they are responsible for assessing local needs.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): No request for financial assistance has been made and it is not for the UK Government to comment on what may or may not happen in other EU member states.
The December European Council agreed that member states of the euro area would establish the European Stabilisation Mechanism to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area. This mechanism will replace the European Financial Stability Facility and the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism, which will remain in force until June 2013.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government have recently concluded the Home Access Programme which has provided help for over 270,000 disadvantaged households with children in years 3-9 in state-maintained education in England. The programme has provided free home computers and a broadband internet connection for one year. We are aware of the importance of digital inclusion and we will continue to work with schools and others to ensure that we are making the most effective use of the available technology to support learning for all children.
Lord Hill of Oareford: Martha Lane Fox is the UK's digital champion working across government to reduce digital exclusion by helping to ensure the best use of digital technology. Although this is a general remit to improve the lives and life chances of all children and adults, there is a particular emphasis on raising the profile of those who are in a position of disadvantage such as those without access to a computer at home. This complements the department's own measures to help improve access, including the recently concluded Home Access Programme which has provided free computers and a broadband internet connection for one year in over 270,000 disadvantaged households.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Research conducted by Allen and Burgess in 2010, Evaluating the Provision of School Performance Information for School Choice found that CVA is a less strong predictor of how well a child will do academically than raw attainment measures. We have decided to end the use of contextual value added because the measure is difficult for the public to understand and because we feel it is wrong to support a measure which entrenches low expectations of certain groups of pupils. However, it is important to reflect what a school does to bring out the best in all its pupils, regardless of where they start from. This is why one of the key changes we have announced is the introduction of a new school floor standard which is based on measures of both attainment and progression. It will identify and offer support to schools below the floor. In addition, we will also publish all available information which we hold on schools in an easily accessible online format. This will enable schools, parents, governors and the public to view, analyse and judge schools' performance on whichever information they feel is important.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consultation was undertaken with Brighton and Hove schools and the local education authority before ending the local school sports partnership; and what impact they expect the budget cut to have on sports participation and obesity levels.[HL4371]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): While the network of school sport partnerships helped schools to increase participation rates in areas targeted by the previous Government, the proportion of pupils playing competitive sport regularly has remained disappointingly low. The 2009-10 PE and sport survey showed that only around two in five pupils play competitive sport regularly within their own school, and only one in five plays regularly against other schools. All maintained schools in England took part in that survey, with over 99 per cent of them responding. This included schools in Brighton and Hove. There was no further consultation with schools or local authorities.
All schools across the country, including those in Brighton and Hove, will benefit from the planned changes in the Government's approach to competitive school sport, and we aim to achieve a rise in participation rates in competitive sport. This will make a significant contribution to reducing the risk of obesity among our young people.
The Secretary of State for Education announced in December 2010 the direction of travel, and initial funding, for the coalition Government's new approach on school sports. Schools will receive funding to allow PE teachers to embed competitive sport in schools across the country and raise participation. Every secondary school will receive funding up to the end of the academic year in 2013 to pay for one day a week of a PE teacher's time to be spent out of the classroom, encouraging
19 Jan 2011 : Column WA52
Lord Hill of Oareford: The Secretary of State for Education announced in December 2010 the direction of travel, and initial funding, for the coalition Government's new approach on school sports. Schools will receive funding to allow PE teachers to embed competitive sport in schools across the country and raise participation. Every secondary school will receive funding up to the end of the academic year in 2013 to pay for one day a week of a PE teacher's time to be spent out of the classroom, encouraging greater take-up of competitive sport in primary schools and securing a fixture network for schools to increase the amount of intra- and inter-school competition. The detail of the time-limited funding announced is:the department will pay school sport partnerships for the full school year to the end of the summer term 2011 at a cost of £47 million from our 2010-11 budget. This will ensure the partnerships and their service can continue until the end of this academic year; anda further £65 million from the department's spending review settlement will be paid to enable every secondary school to release one PE teacher for a day a week in the school years 2011-12 and 2012-13. This will ensure all the benefits of the current system are fully embedded.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will examine all numerical data supplied by South Wales Constabulary to the Home Office for its
19 Jan 2011 : Column WA53
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Figures used in the production of Home Office statistical bulletins are subject to checks prior to publication. On receipt, numerical data provided by forces to the Home Office go through a suite of validation checks and any errors identified are resolved with the appropriate force. Additional checks are carried out during the production of the statistical reports produced by statisticians within the Home Office.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements they have made to maintain the safety of Department for International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Stabilisation Unit staff during and following the referendum in Sudan.[HL5592]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The safety of UK nationals including Her Majesty Government's staff is always our highest priority. In common with all our posts, our embassy in Khartoum, and Juba office maintain extensive, well tested plans covering the whole range of potential emergency situations which include the provision for evacuation in the most extreme cases. Regional posts are currently providing extra consular staff in Juba.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): CHADEMA leaders Freeman Mbowe, Dr Wilbroad Slaa and other senior leaders were released under caution a few hours after their arrest on 5 January, pending a court case later this month.
Our high commissioner has spoken to the Government of Tanzania at the highest level to express concern at the handling of the protests and to stress the need for a peaceful resolution of differences through dialogue. She and her team have also spoken to opposition leaders.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The cost to the public purse of terminating the e-Borders contract with Raytheon will not be quantified until the dispute is concluded. The dispute is the subject of a confidential arbitration under the jurisdiction of the London Court of International Arbitration and I am unable to comment further.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Turkey about the current trials of 19 Kurdish parliamentarians and 28 mayors, from the Peace and Democracy Party, and about threats to close down that party.[HL5650]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is not government practice to comment on other countries' judicial processes. However our embassy in Ankara is monitoring the trial closely, and we expect high judicial standards to be observed throughout.
We supported an EU presidency statement in December 2009 when the Democratic Society Party was closed down by the Constitutional Court. The statement made it clear that the closure of political parties for political reasons was unacceptable.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Our embassy in Ankara is not planning to send a representative to the trial of Ms Aysel Tugluk. We will however be closely monitoring proceedings. We expect high judicial standards to be observed throughout the trial.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 15 December 2010 (WA 202), whether they will make direct representations to the Government of Turkey to extend the freedom of worship to United Kingdom expatriates resident, or those holidaying, in Turkey.[HL5667]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Our embassy in Ankara raises the issue of respect for all religious minorities in its wider discussions on human rights with its Turkish counterparts. Respect for religious minority groups was also raised in the 2010 Progress Report on Turkey's EU Accession process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 15 December 2010 (WA 201-2), whether they will make direct representations to the government of Turkey about the problems facing Anglicans exercising their freedom of worship.[HL5669]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Our embassy in Ankara raises the issue of respect for all religious minorities in its wider discussions on human rights with its Turkish counterparts. Respect for religious minority groups was also raised in the 2010 Progress Report on Turkey's EU Accession process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 15 December 2010 (WA 202), whether they will make direct representations to the Government of Turkey about the problems facing United Kingdom Roman Catholics exercising their freedom of worship. [HL5670]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Our embassy in Ankara raises the issue of respect for all religious minorities in its wider discussions on human rights with its Turkish counterparts. Respect for religious minority groups was also raised in the 2010 Progress Report in Turkey's EU accession process.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The British Government require all Turkish nationals to obtain a visa prior to arriving in the UK. As Turkey is not a member of the European Union, its nationals are also required to obtain a Schengen visa before travelling to any of the EU Schengen member states.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Neville-Jones on 3 December 2010 (WA 506), whether their policy is to continue to allow employers to bring in an unlimited number of non-EEA workers for up to a year using intra-company transfer visas if their earnings are under £24,000 per annum; and what is the advantage to the economy of allowing such migrants to compete with unemployed information technology workers in the United Kingdom. [HL5890]
Baroness Neville-Jones: No non-EEA workers paid less than £24,000 per annum will qualify for Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visas. Those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will only be allowed to stay for up to 12 months. The ICT route is intended for skilled posts requiring an established company employee.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what efforts they will make to bolster the United Nations-led peace talks scheduled for late January 2011 in light of the recent failure to reach a solution to the ongoing dispute over the Western Sahara.[HL5618]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My honourable friend the Minister for Africa, Alistair Burt, visited Algeria in November and Morocco in December of last year where he raised the issue of Western Sahara with the relevant authorities. He reiterated the UK's support for the UN Secretary-General's personal envoy to Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, and called on parties to re-engage with the negotiation process.
The Government also continue to support the development of confidence-building measures and independent verification of the human rights situation. We welcome the recent resumption of family visits by air between Western Sahara and the refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to ensure that, before women are imprisoned or remanded in custody, satisfactory care and support for their children are always provided to ensure the wellbeing of those children.[HL5597]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Children Act 2004 requires inter agency co-operation to safeguard the well-being of the child. Probation staff working in court or preparing pre-sentence reports have a responsibility to consider the impact of custody on an offender's children. If there is a likelihood of custody then children's services will be alerted to ensure arrangements are in place to safeguard the well-being of any children.
Officials are currently working to ensure that this system of assessment and referral is as robust as possible by establishing minimum standard specifications for both pre-sentence report assessment and court practice. The court specification sets an expectation that processes are in place to ensure responsibilities regarding safeguarding are fulfilled appropriately by court staff which would include conducting post-sentence interviews with women offenders where there may be childcare issues.
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