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25 Jan 2011 : Column WA129

Written Answers

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Abortion

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Verma: The amount spent specifically on maternal health over the last five years (2005-06-2009-10) is £186 million. This includes support for a range of activities including antenatal care, safe birth, emergency obstetric care, post natal and newborn care, as well as prevention and management of consequences of abortion and safe abortion. It is not possible to disaggregate how much was spend on the latter two categories.

Details of all UK aid expenditure are published in Statistics on International Development, which is available in the Library of the House.

Safe abortion reduces recourse to unsafe abortion and saves maternal lives. Each year 65,000 to 70,000 women die following unsafe abortion. The Department for International Development's (DfID's) policy position on safe and unsafe abortion is set out in the practice paper Safe and Unsafe Abortion, which will be placed in the Library of the House.

Airports: Heathrow

Question

Asked by Lord Birt

Earl Attlee: The Government are considering the impact of the disruption arising from December's severe weather. Alongside this, the Government are drawing up proposals for a Bill to reform the framework for the economic regulation of airports. This would introduce a new licensing regime that would give the aviation regulator more flexibility, where appropriate, to require an improvement to airports' resilience preparation in relation to factors such as severe weather that adversely affect air passengers. The Government plan to bring forward a Bill when parliamentary time allows.



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA130

Alcohol

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The evidence supports a link between a rise in the price of alcohol and a reduction in crime (particularly violent crime) and government modelling suggests that approximately 7,000 crimes (of which 2,000 are violent crimes) per year could be averted by introducing a ban on the sale of alcohol below duty plus VAT.

Duty plus VAT is a starting point for tackling the availability of below-cost alcohol. The impact of alcohol prices on crime is complex and we will continue to consider further how to tackle this issue.

Armed Forces: Parachute Operations

Questions

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): During the period 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2009, 22 UK regular Armed Forces service personnel were medically discharged with an external cause of injury code relating to injuries sustained in a parachuting air transport accident. Medical discharge data for 2010 are currently being validated.

Asked by Lord Moonie

Lord Astor of Hever: Across the three services, 3,119 regular personnel are qualified to parachute on operations.

Information on Special Forces has been excluded to protect operational capability.

Banks: Lending

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As the Chancellor stated on 11 January, we are working with the banks to ensure that they make a greater contribution to lending. We will provide details to Parliament when the negotiations have been finalised.

Benefits: Disability

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We estimate that approximately 80,000 people who claim Disability Living Allowance and live in residential care will be affected by the measure to cease paying the mobility component in Great Britain from October 2012.

Savings from withdrawing the mobility component of Disabled Living Allowance for those living in residential care funded by the state are estimated to be £140 million (GB, real terms) each year.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

Lord Freud: Local authority contracts with care homes cover activities of daily living, which may include providing access to doctors, dentists and local services such as libraries and banks. In addition, care homes are required where practicable to promote the autonomy, independence and community involvement of their residents.



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA132

Broadcasting: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Rawlings: The installation costs of the Divis transmitter in 2005 for the provision of Telefis na Gaeilge (TG4) was approximately £268,000. This was paid for by the UK Government. The original annual running costs, subject to inflation, totalled approximately £16,000. The costs of the new low-power TV multiplex will be met by RTÉ and the UK Government. The UK Government will pay for the provision of TG4 to enable it to continue broadcasting in line with undertakings given in the Belfast agreement. The costs of the work on the new arrangements have not been finalised.

Buses

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Detailed figures for local bus service registrations, variations and cancellations by traffic area are made publicly availably by traffic commissioners in their annual report, which is published on the Department for Transport website: www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tpm/trafficcommissioners/annualreports/.

It is not possible to provide a rural/urban split, as many services often run between cities, smaller towns and villages. Furthermore, the number of deregistrations should not be viewed in isolation, as these can often be reregistered by another operator, or by a local authority as a tendered service.

Business Travel: Private Car Allowance

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA133

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As I set out in my Answer of 10 January, the Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAPs) scheme was introduced in 2002 and caters for a wide range of car drivers, taking into account a number of factors. Following the established procedure under successive Administrations, it would not be proper for me to see or comment upon any advice that might have gone to the previous Government as part of the calculation of the AMAPs rate.

Civil Service: Salaries

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: It is for individual departments to make their own estimates of their likely expenditure in the light of their workforce plans.

Egypt

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As my right honourable friend Alistair Burt said on 1 January 2011, we were deeply saddened by the attack, which we believe was designed to provoke further violence and division between the Christian and Muslim communities of Egypt. We send our sincere condolences to all those involved. Our ambassador and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Director-General Political, Sir Geoffrey Adams, who visited Cairo on 10 January, have also offered their condolences to a number of Egyptian Ministers and officials. The Egyptian Government have welcomed Minister Burt's statement, which called for unity in the promotion of common values of tolerance and for us all to stand against the terrorist philosophy of violence. We continue to inquire about the progress of the Egyptian authorities' investigations into the attack, which are ongoing.



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Embryology

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the legislation established following the 1984 report of the committee of inquiry into human fertilisation and embryology, chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, enshrines controls on the use of human embryos in research, which were confirmed by Parliament in 2008. The HFEA administers these controls to ensure that the use of human embryos in research meets the conditions set out in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended.

The HFEA has further advised that the Act places no requirement on the authority to record the numbers of human embryos used or not used in research.

Employment: New Mothers

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The current support for mothers through in work tax credits and-out-of work benefits will be brought together in a single universal credit. The structure of disregards and tapers in the universal credit will make it easier for mothers to return to work gradually as their circumstances dictate without losing their benefit entitlement. This will give mothers more choice as to how they make a smooth and positive transition back to work.

The new Work programme will be built around the needs of individuals. It will offer providers higher rewards for helping people with a wide variety of skills and requirements back into work with appropriate employment support. There is also specific help available for lone parents, including outreach initiatives at jobcentres around the country.

It is important that mothers are able to balance their caring responsibilities with their work commitments so their child's well-being is not adversely affected. They also need to rely on high-quality, affordable childcare when they are at work, which in itself can significantly improve the outcomes for children too. The Government are continuing to work with key stakeholders to establish how support for childcare could best be delivered as part of, or alongside, universal credit.



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In addition, we are committed to introducing a new system of shared parental leave to give parents a choice and flexibility over how to manage childcaring responsibilities and to extending the right to request flexible working to all employees. The Government will be consulting shortly on this issue.

Employment: Women

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): We believe the best approach to enabling parents to remain in employment is to enable choice and flexibility in the how they manage their childcare responsibilities.

This is why the coalition agreement commits us to:

encourage shared parenting from the earliest stages of pregnancy-including the promotion of a system of flexible parental leave; andextend the right to request flexible working to all employees, consulting with business on how best to do so.

Energy: Electricity

Question

Asked by Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): According to information published on National Grid's website, imports through the GB-France interconnector have been 3.1 per cent in 2006, 2.5 per cent in 2007, 3.6 per cent in 2008, 2.1 per cent in 2009 and 2.2 per cent in 2010 as a percentage of annual demand in Great Britain. These figures do not reflect exports from GB to France.

Future imports through the electricity interconnector with France are not modelled separately from other interconnectors. The most recent projection is that around two per cent of the UK's needs will be met from imports. The actual level of import over the next five years will depend on the differences in price between GB and French markets, and the capacity of new interconnectors that become operational over that period. Interconnector capacity is expected to develop over the next five years, for example the GB-Netherlands interconnector, which should become operational in early 2011.



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Energy: Gas

Questions

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government consider that long-term gas supply contracts will have an important role in meeting our future gas demand, providing greater security of access to supplies, and we shall continue to work to provide the conditions for shippers/suppliers to sign long-term commercial contracts with producers. Domestic demand can vary sharply, at the instigation of consumers. The Government recognise that the spot market will continue to play an important role in balancing our gas supply, including the portfolios of shippers/suppliers active in the domestic (household) market, and we have no ambition for the market to rely exclusively upon long-term contracts.

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Marland: The past 10 years have seen strong progress towards a globalised gas market, particularly in the LNG spot market, as the result of sharply increased arbitrage in LNG trade across the Atlantic, as well as between the Atlantic and Pacific Basins. Increasing LNG export and import capacity around the world, together with increased production of unconventional gas in some major consumer countries, will help to continue this trend. However, gas is inherently more expensive to transport than oil, and at present it seems unlikely that the gas market will ever globalise to quite the same extent as the oil market.

Energy: Microgeneration

Question

Asked by Lord Reay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): During the first six months of the FITs scheme, Ofgem reported a total of 11,370 accredited installations with a total installed capacity of 44MW. This represents 114 hydro, 10,552 photovoltaic, 699 wind

25 Jan 2011 : Column WA137

and five Micro CHP installations. No anaerobic digestion plant has applied for FITs accreditation since the launch of the scheme.

Live data on FITs uptake can be viewed at: www.renewablesandchp.ofgem.gov.uk/Default.aspx.

However, information on number of applications made for FITs is not available.

EU: Budget

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell of Alloway

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government consider it unacceptable that the European Court of Auditors, in its report on implementation of the 2009 European Union (EU) Budget, was unable to grant a positive Statement of Assurance for the sixteenth year in succession. The Government agree that the objective of pressing for improvements to the financial management of EU funds should be to secure a positive Statement of Assurance from the European Court of Auditors on the EU Budget as a whole.

In particular, the Government consider that the rules and regulations on implementing EU funds are often complex and unclear, and therefore continue to work closely with the European Commission to propose simplification of these rules. The Government also work closely with like-minded member states to bring about improvements to financial management in the EU, and is one of only four member states to publish an annual voluntary statement on the use of EU funds.

Ministers will vote at the ECOFIN Council on 15 February 2011, on a recommendation to the European Parliament on whether or not to grant discharge. The European Parliament is then expected to vote on discharge in the spring.

EU: Financial Stability

Question

Asked by Lord Willoughby de Broke



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, attended the ECOFIN meeting of 9 May, which agreed, by a qualified majority of member states, to the creation of the European financial stability mechanism. No member state voted against the mechanism, or abstained.

Flooding: Australia

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister spoke to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on 12 January 2011 and offered UK assistance, should it be required.

My right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary met their Australian counterparts in Sydney on 18 January. They agreed that the UK will provide experts in flood recovery management and in advanced flood forecasting methods.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary visited one site of the flooding in Brisbane with his Australian counterpart on 19 January. He praised the Australian authorities' response and emphasised that the UK is keen to do what it can both to help manage the effects of the floods and to help with future planning.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Howell of Guildford: My right honourable friend the Prime Minister spoke to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on 12 January 2011 and offered UK assistance should it be required.

My right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary met their Australian counterparts in Sydney on 18 January 2011. They agreed that the UK will provide experts in flood recovery management and in advanced flood forecasting methods.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary visited one site of the flooding in Brisbane with his Australian counterpart on 19 January 2011. He praised the Australian authorities' response and emphasised that the UK is keen to do what it can both to help manage the effects of the floods and to help with future planning.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA139

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary met Gilad Shalit's family during his visit to the region in November last year, making clear that we continue to call for Hamas to release Gilad Shalit unconditionally and that we consider it unacceptable that the International Committee of the Red Cross is denied access to him.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made the following statement on 25 June 2010, the fourth anniversary of Shalit's capture:

"Today marks the fourth anniversary of the abduction of Israeli soldier, Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit. My thoughts are with Gilad's parents today. I sincerely hope that they will soon be able to welcome their son home.

The UK has long called for Gilad Shalit's immediate and unconditional release and we reiterate that call today. It is also vital that Hamas allows the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit Gilad immediately and ensure that he is in good health.

His continued captivity without any ICRC access and with only very occasional, minimal contact with his family is utterly unacceptable. We continue to call on Hamas to renounce violence and take immediate and concrete steps towards the Quartet principles and to free Gilad Shalit without delay. "

Government Departments: Official Meetings

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

Baroness Rawlings: In the course of his engagement with the department's sectors, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport has met and spoken with a wide range of organisations and individuals since May 2010. Civil servants accompany the Secretary of State to the majority of meetings, but upon coming to office the Secretary of State held a number of introductory one-to-one meetings with key individuals across the sectors.

Health: Contaminated Blood Products

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In 2010-11, 277 haemophilia patients who have been infected with HIV by contaminated National Health Service supplied blood products received additional discretionary payments from the Macfarlane Trust. Payments range from £518 for individuals, to £3,625. The average discretionary payment is £3,018. Information from the Eileen Trust is not available at present, but I will inform the noble Lord of those details as soon as I receive them.

At this stage it is impossible to estimate the number of applications to the new discretionary scheme for those affected by hepatitis C. We expect the scheme to begin operating after Department for Work and Pensions regulations have been amended in October 2011, to enable discretionary payments to be disregarded for the purpose of benefits assessment. £2 million will initially be made available to the discretionary scheme in 2011-12. The department will keep the funding under review.

Health: Influenza

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Chief Medical Officer wrote to all general practitioners (GPs) on 23 June 2010 advising that all pregnant women should be offered vaccination against seasonal influenza, which this year includes H1N1 (swine flu). On 16 December, the Director of Immunisation wrote to the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to reinforce the message that pregnant women should be offered the vaccination. Ministers, the Chief Medical Officer and the Director of Immunisation have made frequent media appearances to advise all people in risk groups, including pregnant women, to take up the offer of vaccination.

The department has announced that it is making the stockpile of H1N1 pandemic influenza vaccine available to those parts of the National Health Service that are experiencing localised shortages of seasonal influenza vaccine. This will ensure that there is sufficient vaccine for everyone who needs it to protect against the most prevalent type of influenza this season.

Health: Midwifery

Questions

Asked by Baroness Nye



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Local healthcare organisations know the healthcare needs and priorities of their local populations. They are best placed to determine the midwifery workforce required to deliver safe patient care within their available maternity resources.

It is for local employers to decide what skill mix they need to deliver their services. Strategic health authorities (SHAs) working with National Health Service organisations and education providers will be planning for and determining the future numbers of midwives they need.

Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS signalled a new approach to workforce planning that should give employers greater autonomy and accountability for planning and developing the workforce. The Department of Health has published a consultation document about how to put these principles into action. Advice on workforce planning, education and training will set out how the new system will develop. Providers will need to work in partnership with SHAs to ensure that suitable local arrangements are in place by April 2012.

The operating framework for the NHS in England sets out the national priorities for 2011-12 and states that the Centre for Workforce Intelligence will support local employers to take a strategic approach to workforce planning, developing a more flexible and responsive workforce.

SHAs will be producing operating plans for the next two years-2011-12 and 2012-13-and quality innovation productivity and prevention plans for 2013-14 and 2014-15, with forward projections.

Asked by Baroness Nye

Earl Howe: The latest data from the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care non-medical census shows that 53 per cent of midwives worked part time as at 30 September 2009. Part time is defined as any staff working less than 37.5 hours a week.

We will continue to monitor the numbers closely.

The following table shows the number of midwives working part time in the last five years.

NHS Hospital & Community Health Service (HCHS) Qualified Midwives in England as at 30 September each specified year
headcount
England20052006200720082009

Qualified Midwives

24,808

24,469

25,093

25,664

26,451

Full time

10,362

10,277

10,199

10,093

10,422

Part time

12,783

12,836

13,329

13,566

13,891

Bank staff

1,663

1,356

1,565

2,005

2,138



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A national analysis of the impact of the trend towards part-time working among midwives has not been undertaken.

Asked by Baroness Nye

Earl Howe: The department is working with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Royal College of Midwives to achieve more flexible career frameworks.

The final report Midwifery 2020: Delivering Expectations (September 2010) underpins the vision of how midwives can lead and deliver care in a changing healthcare environment in line with the proposals in the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS and the supporting consultation document, Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce.

Asked by Baroness Nye

Earl Howe: According to the latest annual census at 30 September 2009 there are 26,451 midwives working in the National Health Service. Our latest training figures show that in June 2010 there were 5,644 student midwives in training. We expect there will be a sustained increase in the number of new midwives available to the service over the next few years.

Homeless People

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Department for Communities and Local Government does not produce forecasts of the number of households likely to present as homeless in future years. Statutory homelessness statistics are published quarterly and can be found on the department's website at: www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingresearch /housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/homelessness statistics/.

This Government are committed to tackling and preventing homelessness. We have protected homelessness grant funding, with £400 million over the spending

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review period. This will be made available to local authorities and the voluntary sector to support their work to tackle homelessness. We have made an additional £190 million available for discretionary housing payments and other forms of practical support alongside the Government's package of welfare reform measures.

Homelessness: Rough Sleepers

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This Government are committed to tackling and preventing homelessness. We have established a new cross-government working group on homelessness, bringing together Ministers from eight government departments, to address the complex and multiple causes of homelessness and rough sleeping. We have also protected homelessness grant funding, with £400 million over the next four years to help local authorities and the voluntary sector tackle homelessness, including rough sleeping. We are also continuing to invest in the next Places of Change programme to improve rough sleeper hostels and ensure that those coming off the streets get the support they need.

Housing: Rented Homes

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The private rented sector provides affordable and flexible housing to a wide range of income groups including those on low incomes. We estimate that, in 2008-09, 34 per cent of households in the private rented sector had a gross income of £15,000 a year or less.

The housing benefit system helps those whose incomes are insufficient to access rented accommodation. From 1 April 2011, housing benefit will provide funding to eligible households equivalent to the thirtieth percentile of local rents in a given area. This means that roughly a third of properties in a local area will be available to people on housing benefit.

Government are making £190 million of additional funding available to help local authorities to provide support where it is needed to support households affected by changes to the housing benefit regime, for example by helping people to stay in their home or to move to cheaper accommodation, including through discretionary housing payments.



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Asked by Lord Knight of Weymouth

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): I have written to the noble Lord to correct an error in this letter. There are fewer than 700,000 private rented sector homes in total in London, and a conservative estimate is that about 250,000 of these will still be affordable after the housing benefit reforms have been implemented.

Housing: Squatters

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We are reviewing the options for strengthening the law in relation to squatting in residential and non-residential properties and the way in which it is enforced, but we are yet to reach any firm conclusions.

Index-linked Savings Certificates

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): National Savings and Investments (NS&I) expects index linked savings certificates to remain off sale for at least the rest of this financial year (end March 2011). Sales volumes in the first part of this financial year far exceeded those either anticipated or required by NS&I under its net financing target.

NS&I continues to follow a policy of acting transparently and balancing the interests of its savers, the taxpayer and the stability of the wider financial services market. The position will be kept under regular review and sales will be resumed when NS&I can be confident that conditions will enable it to operate within and to its publicly agreed targets.



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Israel

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are making inquiries into this issue. I will revert to my noble friend once a response has been received.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: Mr Wasfi Kabha was arrested in the West Bank in December 2010. We are not aware of whether he is still being held in detention. We have made no representation about this particular case. However we regularly raise our concerns about Israel's actions in the Occupied Territories and in particular the detention of Palestinian prisoners through our own diplomatic channels and through the EU. On 21 December 2010, our ambassador in Tel Aviv met Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon to raise our concerns.

The UK will continue to monitor the situation with regard to all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. We call on the Israeli Government to take immediate action to ensure that all cases are reviewed by a court in accordance with fair procedures, and that detainees' rights are upheld. All prisoners, Palestinian or otherwise, should have access to a fair trial, and Israel should ensure that it acts always in accordance with international law. We shall continue to raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities as appropriate.

Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have not received any reports from these organisations on the issues mentioned.

We continue to monitor the human rights situation in the West Bank, including the issue of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. Where we have concerns, we raise them with the Israeli Government, underlining

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our view on the need for immediate action to ensure all cases are reviewed by a court in accordance with fair procedures, and that rights, particularly the rights to a fair trial and family visits, are upheld.

We will continue to raise these points with the Government of Israel as necessary. As 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.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are aware of reports of mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and continue to monitor the human rights situation in the West Bank, including the issue of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. We are also aware of the two cases that my noble friend refers to and that the investigations into their deaths were inconclusive.

Where we have concerns, the UK, along with EU partners, raises them. As previously mentioned to my noble friend, we regularly raise our concerns with the Israeli Government about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: During my right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Middle East's visit to the region on 16-19 January 2011, he raised human rights issues in general with a number of Israeli interlocutors, including those in government. Following his visit, our consulate general in Jerusalem and our embassy in Tel Aviv will continue to monitor the situation with regard to all human rights concerns including our concerns over the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. We continue to call on the Israeli Government to take immediate action to ensure that all cases are reviewed by a court in accordance with fair procedures, and that detainees' rights are upheld. All Palestinian prisoners should have access to a fair trial, and Israel should ensure that it acts always in accordance with international law.

Asked by Lord Hylton



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA147

Lord Howell of Guildford: We have made no representation regarding this particular case. However, we regularly raise our concerns about Israel's actions in the Occupied Territories and in particular regarding the detention of Palestinian prisoners through our own diplomatic channels, and the EU. On 21 December 2010 our ambassador in Tel Aviv met Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon to raise our various concerns.

The UK will continue to monitor the situation with regard to all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. We call on the Israeli Government to take immediate action to ensure that all cases are reviewed by a court in accordance with fair procedures, and that detainees' rights are upheld. All prisoners, Palestinian or otherwise, should have access to a fair trial, and Israel should ensure that it acts always in accordance with international law. We shall continue to raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities as appropriate.

Lebanon

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): This is a bilateral issue between Israel and Lebanon and I would encourage them to resolve the issue of their maritime border bilaterally, through arbitration or through the International Court of Justice.

Libya: Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have noted the Senators' report, which contained no evidence to demonstrate a link between the pursuit of Britain's legitimate commercial interests in Libya and the Scottish Executive's decision to release Mr al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made clear that he believes that the decision to release Mr al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds was wrong. However, the decision was solely for the Scottish Executive to take as a wholly devolved responsibility.



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Local Government: Finance

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Formula grant will be reduced in 2011-12 by £3,243.426 million on a like-for-like basis in cash terms, which equates to £3,960.734 million in real terms based on 2010-11 prices.

Reductions to council spending reflect the urgent need for the public sector to help put the country's finances back in order, keep interest rates down and prevent national debt escalating to £1.4 trillion of taxpayers' money.

Ministers have taken a progressive and fair approach to calculating how the £29 billion of central taxpayer funding for local government grants this year will be allocated. More money is being channelled at those areas of the country that have the highest levels of need.

Ministers have also sought to deliver a fair deal to local taxpayers and all councils by limiting the average spending power reduction across all councils to 4.4 per cent in 2011-12 and ensuring that no council faces a reduction of more than 8.9 per cent in spending power in 2011-12.

Non-executive Directors

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Non-executive board members are appointed by, and accountable to, the Secretary of State as chairman of the departmental board.

Departmental boards will carry out periodic evaluations of their collective performance. The method of board evaluation will be standard across government, and is currently being developed under the direction of Lord Browne of Madingley.

It will be for the chairman of the board to make a regular assessment of the effectiveness of individual non-executive board members, in the context of the wider board evaluation. Assessments of individual effectiveness will take attendance into account and will use consistent, locally determined criteria appropriate to the requirements of the board. We expect that the chairman of the board will choose to discuss this evaluation with the lead non-executive board member for the department where appropriate.



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Office for Budget Responsibility

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The independence of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is central to its design, and the basis on which it has been established. The Government's Budget Responsibility & National Audit Bill establishes a broad remit for the OBR, and subject to its other statutory duties and guidance, provides complete discretion over how it performs its duties.

The Bill states that the methods of the OBR's analysis may not be specified by HM Treasury, and the OBR will have a right to access all relevant government information. The OBR's analysis is undertaken by its own staff, who report to the chairman. The conclusions of this analysis and the contents and programme of its publications will be determined by the independent Budget Responsibility Committee, whose appointment and dismissal is subject to the consent of the Treasury Committee.

In addition to the provisions set out in the Bill, the Office has discretion to manage its own resources within a transparent, multi-year budget settlement. The OBR is located outside of HM Treasury, following the decision by the Chairman of the OBR, Robert Chote.

Overseas Representation

Question

Asked by Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Information relating to the 1977 review of overseas representation is not held centrally, but has been released under the '30 year rule' by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to the National Archives, and can be accessed in classes FCO 8, FCO 13, and FCO 79.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA150

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Around seven million people are currently not saving enough to meet their retirement aspirations. Automatic enrolment of individuals into a workplace pension is the right way to encourage savings habits, and the workplace pension reforms enable this.

Under these reforms, from 2012, employers will be staged in over a four year period. They will be required to automatically enrol all eligible workers into a qualifying workplace pension scheme.

Employers will initially be required to contribute a minimum of one per cent of a band of earnings, rising to 2 per cent from October 2016 and 3 per cent from October 2017. We expect 5 million to 8 million people to start newly saving, or saving more, in all forms of workplace pension schemes.

The Pensions Bill introduces a higher earnings threshold than previously set out under the reforms which means that employers will no longer need to automatically enrol lower earners. It also enables employers to use a waiting period of up to three months before automatically enrolling eligible individuals. We estimate that these changes will save employers £170 million in annual contribution costs and £6 million in annual administration costs, than originally set out in the workplace pension reform legislation.

Total additional employer contributions to individuals' pensions including the Pensions Bill changes are estimated to be £3.3 billion per year once contributions are fully phased in.

Railways: Fares

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Department for Transport Officials use a monitoring system called FIRM (Fares Increase Regulatory Mechanism), which incorporates fares regulation rules into its software. The FIRM system was reviewed and adjusted in 2008-09. The data in fares baskets was updated with 2010 fares and revenue during 2010.

Railways: Sewage

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA151

Earl Attlee: Whilst the Department for Transport recognises the importance of toilet retention systems, it is a matter for individual operators to develop programmes to install them on existing trains. All new trains now have them.

The Department for Transport does not hold the information requested. The Noble Lord may wish to contact the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) at the following address for this information:

ATOC Ltd

3rd Floor

40 Bernard Street London WC1 N 1 BY

The Rolling Stock Leasing Company (ROSCO) could also be contacted for this information.

Although there is no current target date for the cessation of sewerage discharge on to railway tracks, the number will reduce as the older fleets are withdrawn. There may also be a reduction if train operators fit retention systems to their older fleets, but this is a matter for them.

Retirement Age

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government intend to proceed with the abolition of the default retirement age as set out in the Government's Response to its consultation on Phasing out the Default Retirement Age. This was confirmed in the ministerial statements to both Houses on 13 January 2011 by The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr Edward Davey) and I (see HL Official Report Col(s): WS209-WS210 and HC Official Report Col(s): 21 WS). Accordingly we intend to bring in legislation on 6 April, triggering a transitional period ending with full abolition of the default retirement age from 1 October 2011. The Government's response has been published on the department's website www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/emplovment-matters/docs/p/11-536-phasing-out-default-retirement-age-government-response.pdf

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Wilcox: The Government announced on 13 January that the default retirement age will be phased out over a six-month transitional period beginning

25 Jan 2011 : Column WA152

on 6 April this year. This means that it will no longer be possible for an employee to be forced to retire simply because he or she has reached the age of 65. About two-thirds of employers already operate without fixed retirement ages, but for those that still use them, the Government recognise that they may need help and support in order to adapt to the change. Acas has therefore produced guidance on managing without the default retirement age: www.acas.org.uk/(CHttpHandller.ashx?'id=2976&;p=0. It is not compulsory for employers to have a performance management procedure, although they may find such a procedure helpful in addressing underperformance, not just for older workers but, as a matter of good practice, for all their employees regardless of their age. Where appropriate, dismissal will still be possible under ordinary fair dismissal rules, and the majority of employers already manage this effectively without recourse to fixed retirement ages.

Revenue and Customs: Approved Mileage Allowance

Questions

Asked by Lord Marlesford

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As I set out in my answer of 10 January, the approved mileage allowance payments (AMAPs) scheme was introduced in 2002 and caters for a wide range of car drivers, taking into account a number of factors which can include the cost of vehicle purchase, depreciation, servicing and fuel efficiency. Following the established procedure under successive administrations, it would not be proper for me to see or comment upon any advice which might have gone to the previous Government as part of the calculation of the AMAPs rate.

The Government receive a range of representations from on employee travel. As was the practice under previous administrations, it is not the Government's policy to comment on the details of such representations.

Roads: A1

Question

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

Earl Attlee: The Highways Agency intends to complete two small-scale safety improvement schemes this financial year, at a cost of approximately £193,000.

The A1 Blagdon interchange safety improvements, costing £82,000, will improve the layout of the northbound merge on to the A1. This will include improving visibility and improving the signing and lining.

The A1 single/dual carriageway transition improvements, costing £111,000, will improve the signing and lining at the southern end of the A1 Felton bypass, bringing it up to current design standards and providing consistency with other single/dual transitions on the route.

Russia

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government, along with our EU partners, have closely monitored the recent detentions following the demonstrations in Russia on 31 December 2011. We raised our concerns about protection of civil liberties and the right to freedom of assembly with the Russian Government at our annual bilateral human rights consultations on 18 January 2011, and will continue to do so.

Asked by Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government, along with our EU partners, have closely monitored the recent detentions following the demonstrations in Russia on 31 December 2010. We raised our concerns about protection of civil liberties and the right to freedom of assembly with the Russian Government at our annual bilateral human rights consultations on 18 January 2011, and will continue to do so.

Schools: GCSEs

Question

Asked by Lord Quirk

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In 1995, 259,291 pupils aged 15 entered for GCSE geography. In 2010, 169,216 pupils at the end of key stage 4 (typically those aged 15) entered for GCSE geography. This is a fall of 34.7 per cent.

The percentage fall in London was 24.9 per cent while outside London it was 35.9 per cent.

While it is not possible to compare all school types between 1995 and 2010, those that are possible are given below.

Percentage change in number of pupils entered for GCSE geography between 1995 and 2010

Community schools*

55.5% fall

Voluntary aided schools

13.0% rise

Voluntary controlled schools

42.2% fall

City Technology colleges

79.8% fall

Independent schools

10.2% fall

* Called county schools in 1995

In 1995, performance data were not matched to any parental socioeconomic information. Therefore, a comparison is not available.

Schools: Sport

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Physical education and sport is an important issue for the coalition Government, and we have high aspirations for the growth of competitive school sport. Following the publication in October 2010 of the Government's report, Common Sense Common Safety, we are working with the Health and Safety Executive on a range of measures to reduce bureaucracy that hinders schools from engaging in sport or adventure.

We see competition as healthy and recognise that it plays an important part in instilling values in young people. This is why the Secretary of State announced the creation of a national school games competition to encourage more young people to participate in competitive sport.

We will work through Sport England with the national governing bodies of individual sports to encourage

25 Jan 2011 : Column WA155

volunteer sports leaders and coaches into schools to encourage wider participation.

We are also determined to support volunteers, practitioners and clubs by removing the barriers preventing them from delivering more sporting opportunities. The Minister for Sport and the Olympics has asked the Sport and Recreation Alliance to consider what further measures can be undertaken to remove such barriers and review the red tape that prevents so much good activity.

Shipping: General Lighthouse Authorities

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the Government have undertaken to provide such marine aids to navigation as the volume of traffic justifies and the degree of risk requires. SOLAS sets out international recommendations and guidelines on the provision, standards and uniformity of marine aids to navigation.



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA156

The Merchant Shipping Act 1995 places responsibility for achieving this in practice on the general lighthouse authorities (GLAs).

The Merchant Shipping Act also requires the GLAs to locate, mark or remove wrecks that pose a danger to navigation outside harbour authority and conservancy areas.

The GLAs have designed their emergency response criteria to ensure that the appropriate resources are available to provide a timely and effective response to mitigate the risk of new and existing dangers.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Public bodies continue to have the authority to recruit and redeploy front-line posts subject to the agreement of the relevant chief executive. Trinity House has utilised fixed-term contracts for reasons including covering staff on maternity and study leave.

Trinity House has supplied the Department for Transport with the following information.



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA157



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA158

(A)(B)(C)(D)
Contract LengthAny Other Payments
PositionAnnual Salary as at 1st August 2010Start DateEnd DateBusiness CaseBonusOvertimeTravel

Apprentice

11745.00

02-Aug-10

02-Aug-14

Apprentices are not permanent posts-they are development fixed term placements and therefore classed as fixed term contracts

0.00

627.45

Buoy Yard Team Member

23490.00

13-Sep10

08-Dec-10

To provide cover between an employee leaving and a new appointment

0.00

HR Administrator

18791.00

07-Jun-10

31-Mar-11

As a result of maternity leave

0.00

289.78

Light Dues Administrator

18791.00

23-Aug-10

23-Feb-11

To cover maternity leave

0.00

LH Support Team Member

18791.00

25-Oct-10

29-Apr-11

To provide cover between an employee leaving and a new appointment

0.00

319.62

Marine Assistant

15845.00

26-Jul-10

31-Mar-11

Temporary assistance to implement software

0.00

Second Officer

33405.00

05-May-10

29-Jun-11

All to cover various periods of study leave

0.00

3128.95

1033.55

Second Officer

34160.00

04-Aug-10

08-Dec-10

0.00

869.12

Second Officer

33042.00

29-Sep-10

16-Mar-11

0.00

Trainee Catering Rating

13076.00

08-Sep-10

07-Sep-12

Not permanent posts-training posts

0.00

Trainee Deck Rating

13076.00

26-May-10

26-May-12

Not permanent posts-training posts

0.00

550.11

Trainee Deck Rating

13076.00

26-May-10

09-Aug-10

0,00

130.20

Shipping: THV "Patricia"

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: How Trinity House deploys and utilises its fleet is an operational matter. Her Majesty's Government expect Trinity House to carry out all its activities in the most cost-effective way that it can, while complying with its statutory duties.

Trinity House considered the potential cost and benefit of using the spot charter market when assessing its vessel provision needs as identified during the last general lighthouse authorities' fleet review.

Sport: Cricket

Question

Asked by Lord Williams of Elvel

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Allegations of corruption in the game of cricket are a matter for the national and international cricket authorities to regulate and investigate as they deem appropriate. Both the International Cricket Council and the England and Wales Cricket Board have reaffirmed their zero-tolerance approach to corruption.

Domestically, the Government continue to work with sports bodies and the betting industry to eradicate all forms of corruption in sport through the implementation of recommendations in the Parry report including setting up the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit within the Gambling Commission and a more comprehensive player education strategy.

The Minister for Sport and the Olympics will be attending the IOC session on corruption in sport in March.

Transport: Nottingham Express Transit

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA159

Earl Attlee: Nottingham City Council, the promoter of this scheme, is currently assessing the bids that it has received for the concession contract. An announcement on the choice of preferred bidder is expected shortly and is subject to Department for Transport Ministers confirming that the project is affordable in accordance with the announcement made following the comprehensive spending review. This will include a discussion of the appropriate timetable for construction of the scheme.

Unemployment

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The information is not available in the form requested.

The Government are committed to increasing levels of participation in education and training and helping young people make a successful transition into work. Young people under 25 who are not in education, employment and training are a very diverse group. Our schools, further education and skills, higher education, guidance services and employment programmes all play an important role in helping them get into and stay in education, employment and training in a way that reflects their circumstances.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Tables have been placed in the House of Lords Library which show the number of nationals of each country in the Americas region who, in 2009:

were (a) issued, and (b) refused a visa for the UK;were given leave to enter the UK; andclaimed asylum in the UK.

Nationals of the following countries in the Americas region require a visa to visit the UK: Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela.



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA160

Visas issued / refused-2009
NationalityIssuedRefused

ANGUILLA

1

0

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

28

5

ARGENTINA

762

115

BAHAMAS

109

25

BARBADOS

226

41

BELIZE

34

11

BOLIVIA

933

145

BRAZIL

5879

1561

CANADA

10691

781

CHILE

724

83

COLOMBIA

19551

2867

COSTA RICA

78

11

CUBA

1624

252

DOMINICA

49

10

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

1298

155

ECUADOR

2961

442

EL SALVADOR

37

8

GRENADA

89

22

GUATEMALA

55

16

GUYANA

1082

275

HAITI

201

38

HONDURAS

46

9

JAMAICA

8598

3340

MEXICO

1835

511

MONTSERRAT

1

0

NICARAGUA

22

3

PANAMA

54

20

PARAGUAY

43

8

PERU

4668

529

Saint Kitts and Nevis

19

5

Saint Lucia

161

71

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

100

20

SURINAM

116

26

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

895

133

UNITED STATES

35896

3543

URUGUAY

66

9

VENEZUELA

4198

623



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA161

Passengers given leave to enter the United Kingdom (1), by country of nationality, excluding EEA and Swiss nationals, 2009 (P)
Number of journeys
Geographical region and country of nationalityTotal admitted
Total Americas5,310,000

Argentina

80,800

Barbados

12,800

Brazil

260,000

Canada

907,000

Chile

29,600

Colombia

45,100

Guyana

3,640

Jamaica

28,300

Mexico

117,000

Peru

10,200

Trinidad & Tobago

28,700

USA

3,690,000

Venezuela

27,500

Other Americas

67,600

of which

Aruba

65

Netherlands Antilles

90

Antigua and Barbuda

2,620

Bahamas

3,000

Belize

1,370

Bermuda

170

Bolivia

3,410

Costa Rica

5,720

Cuba

4,090

Cayman Islands

25

Dominica

1,660

Dominican Republic

2,350

Ecuador

7,280

Falkland Islands

5

Grenada

3,200

Guatemala

4,200

French Guyana

5

Guam

10

Honduras

2,540

Haiti

460

St. Kitts And Nevis

1,030

St. Lucia

4,020

Montserrat

55

Martinique

15

Nicaragua

1,640

Panama

3,320

Puerto Rico

20

Paraguay

1,880

El Salvador

2,120

St Pierre and Miquelon

Surinam

270

Turks and Caicos Islands

30

Uruguay

7,170

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

3,330

Virgin Islands

365



25 Jan 2011 : Column WA162

Applications(1) received for asylum in the United Kingdom, including dependants, nationals of Americas, 2009(P)

Number of applicants, including dependants

Country of nationality

Total

Of whom:

Port

In country

Antigua and Barbuda

*

-

*

Barbados

*

-

*

Bolivia

15

-

15

Brazil

30

5

25

Canada

10

5

*

Chile

5

*

*

Colombia

25

5

15

Cuba

5

-

5

Dominica

*

-

*

Dominican Republic

*

*

-

Ecuador

5

-

5

Grenada

5

-

5

Guatemala

5

5

-

Guyana

15

-

15

Honduras

15

-

15

Jamaica

220

20

200

Mexico

5

5

5

Nicaragua

5

*

5

Peru

5

*

5

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

5

*

5

St. Lucia

5

-

5

Trinidad And Tobago

35

5

35

Uruguay

*

-

*

USA

20

10

15

Venezuela

5

5

5

Total America

440

65

375


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