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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The coalition agreement contains a commitment to stop the sale of alcohol below cost price and as a result we have no intention of introducing minimum unit pricing. We feel duty plus VAT is the best starting point for tackling the availability of below-cost alcohol and stopping the worst instances of deep discounting.
We acknowledge the views of supporters of minimum unit pricing but recognise that there are a number of real challenges to delivering such a policy. These include issues of legality, proportionality and fairness and the cost and burden to businesses. However, we continue to keep all policy under review.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The United Kingdom's bilateral relations with Azerbaijan cover an increasing number of areas of mutual interest. We value our relations with Azerbaijan, as signified by the Minister for Europe's official visit there in October 2010. The Government hope to continue to strengthen our relationship with Azerbaijan across a range of issues, including shared commercial interests. At the same time, we will continue our support for a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and for Azerbaijan's efforts to meet its international human rights obligations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the talks between the European Commission and Azerbaijan to facilitate visa-free
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Lord Howell of Guildford: The European Commission and the Government of Azerbaijan will shortly launch negotiations concerning a draft agreement on a visa facilitation regime and on a readmission agreement. The UK is not part of the Schengen group and therefore any negotiations conducted by the European Commission regarding visas will not affect UK government policy. We are unaware of any linkage between this issue and that of future exports of gas from Azerbaijan to European countries.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they propose to reduce total executive compensation at United Kingdom banks as a percentage of revenue, profits and dividend compared with the previous year; and whether they will monitor those percentages. [HL5933]
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 be paid otherwise and 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 both Houses informed of all relevant policy developments.
Baroness Verma: The future aid budget for Burma is being considered as part of the wider review of the Department for International Development's (DfID's)
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has to promote enterprise and entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom following the decision to cancel grant-in-aid support to Enterprise UK.[HL6070]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government are committed to making this decade the most entrepreneurial and dynamic in our history. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is currently reviewing the way in which it promotes an enterprise culture and encourages start-ups.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills plans to provide for (a) enterprise promotion, and (b) enterprise education, following Spending Review 2010.[HL6071]
Baroness Wilcox: The Government are committed to making this decade the most entrepreneurial and dynamic in our history. Following the spending review, we are putting in place an approach to enterprise promotion and education to ensure that our funding will be targeted in the most effective way. Final decisions on funding have yet to be made.
Baroness Wilcox: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills keeps records of all projects that it funds. However, these cover a wide range of activities across the department and the relevant financial information is split between a number of areas of spend and a number of individual databases within the department. We cannot therefore readily separate out expenditure on projects specifically relating to entrepreneurship and enterprise.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government value highly the work of the Citizens Advice service but funding for citizens advice bureaux is not a matter for central government but for local authorities, which are better able to determine the structure and level of funding of advice services in their area to meet local needs.
Local spending decisions are, and will continue to be, for local authorities. However, the Government do not expect local authorities to respond to this freedom by passing on disproportionate cuts to other service providers, especially the voluntary sector.
Baroness Wilcox: Central government have not been notified of the closure of any citizens advice bureaux since the spending review settlement 2010. The Government are aware that local authorities that fund citizens advice bureaux are facing tough decisions but do not expect them when making those decisions to pass on disproportionate cuts to other service providers, especially in the voluntary sector.
Baroness Wilcox: Central government have not been notified of the closure or proposed closure of any citizens advice bureaux since the spending review settlement 2010. The Government are aware that local authorities that fund citizens advice bureaux are facing tough decisions but do not expect them when making those decisions to pass on disproportionate cuts to other service providers, especially in the voluntary sector.
We know that the umbrella body for the service in England and Wales (Citizens Advice) is working closely both with the membership of the bureaux and with the network of local authorities to ensure that this highly valued service has a sustainable future.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any assessment has been made of the impact on community relations, policing and public confidence in the inquest system of the events surrounding the deaths of 13 young Afro-Caribbean people in Lewisham in the New Cross fire.[HL5979]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Two public inquiries-namely, Lord Scarman's (1981) and the Macpherson inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence (1999)-are pertinent in that they looked at the relationship between young people and the police. However, no specific assessment has been made of the impact on community relations, policing and public confidence in the inquest system following the deaths of 13 young Afro-Caribbean people in Lewisham in 1981.
Following an order by the High Court in 2002, a second inquest was conducted into the deaths by His Honour Gerald Butler QC sitting as assistant deputy coroner in 2004. The inquest lasted 10 weeks and heard evidence from 210 witnesses. The coroner concluded that the fire was most probably deliberate but, as he could not be sure beyond reasonable doubt, he returned an open verdict.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of 13 young people from the Afro-Caribbean community in Lewisham on 18 January 1981 in the New Cross fire, with a view to strengthening community relations, and the enhancement of the safety of young people at social gatherings and places of entertainment.[HL5980]
Baroness Hanham: We are aware that a special church remembrance service was held at St Andrew's United Reformed Church in Brockley Road on Sunday (January 16) and a new commemorative memorial plaque was put on the house in New Cross Lane to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of 13 young people from the Afro-Caribbean community in Lewisham. Central government have no further plans to mark the 30th anniversary.
In terms of enhancing the safety of young people at places of entertainment, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires the "responsible person"
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To ask Her Majesty's Government how much has been spent by (a) central government departments, (b) local government, and (c) quangos on Criminal Records Bureau checks in the last 12 months for which records are available.[HL5697]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) does not hold this information. The bureau is responsible for processing applications that have been made in the prescribed manner under Part V of the Police Act 1997. Applications are made by registered bodies (organisations that are registered with the CRB for the purposes of using the CRB checking service) on behalf of employers who are entitled to ask exempted questions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions Order) 1975. Therefore, there is no central record of such costs.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In the schools White Paper The Importance of Teaching, published in November, we stated that there is much that children need to learn and experience that sits outside the traditional subject disciplines, so we will ensure that there is space in the school day to provide a rounded education for all. Dance contributes both to children's physical and to their cultural education and is deservedly popular.
Dance is an integral part of physical education within national curriculum physical education, which sets out the statutory requirement for all pupils aged five to 16 in maintained schools. We have just announced a review of the national curriculum, in which we have said that physical education will remain compulsory at all key stages. The first phase of the review will draft a new programme of study for physical education. This will be prepared and available to schools by September 2012, with teaching in maintained schools from September 2013.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): This is a commercial matter for gas shippers. However, an increasing proportion of our gas demand is likely to come via pipeline from Norway and via LNG terminals from Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, Algeria, Egypt and potentially a variety of other sources, including Australia. Currently, we import no gas directly from Russia and we are unlikely to do so in five years' time.
Twenty statutory instruments relating to the Equality Act 2010 have now been made and published and are listed on the Government Equalities Office website, at the following link, which also makes clear the purpose of each one: www.equalities.gov.uk/equality_act_2010/details_of_statutory_instrumen.aspx
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Figures for Council regulations adopted by the European Union are held on a yearly rather than a monthly basis. Between 2002 and 2009 inclusive, 2191 Council regulations were adopted by the European Union. Figures for 2010 are not yet available.
|Year||Full-time Equivalent||Published at:|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In modernising the National Health Service, we aim to create a patient-centred health service that achieves outcomes that are among the best in the world. The Bill contains the legislative changes necessary to best support this aim; every aspect of the Bill is designed to improve the quality of the care that patients receive, the efficiency of the services that provide them and the accountability of services to their populations.
Patients and the public will be put at the heart of the NHS, giving them more control over their care and a greater say in decisions about health services. Patient choice will stimulate improvements in the quality of health services and improve patient satisfaction with the care that they receive. The Bill supports this by creating HealthWatch at a local and a national level to ensure the patient's voice is no longer lost in the system. The new NHS Commissioning Board will also have a legal duty to promote patient choice in the NHS.
The NHS will focus on what matters most to patients-high-quality care, not narrow process measures, which have damaged patient care. A relentless drive to improve outcomes, supported by a new NHS outcomes framework, will enable health services to deliver better care for patients. The Bill supports this by placing a duty of continuous quality improvement (defined in terms of clinical effectiveness, safety and patient experience) on the Secretary of State, the NHS Commissioning Board and commissioning consortia. In addition, the Bill provides that the Care Quality Commission and Monitor in its new role as economic
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Providers and professionals will be empowered to innovate and drive up the quality of patient care, freeing them from bureaucratic control and making services more directly accountable to patients and communities. The Bill supports this by creating a coherent framework for the NHS that stops political interference in day-to-day decisions and improves accountability by conferring functions directly on the organisations responsible for exercising them. The Secretary of State will retain only those controls necessary to discharge core functions and, instead, transparent institutions-with roles and responsibilities clearly defined in legislation for the first time-will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the NHS.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people under the age of 18 are suffering from type 1 diabetes; and whether they have estimated the cost to the Exchequer of type 1 diabetes in under-18s.[HL6129]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The research report Growing up with Diabetes: Children and Young People with Diabetes in England states that, in January 2009, 22,783 children and young people aged nought to 17 years in England were recorded as having diabetes. Of these, 21,136 were classified by type and the vast majority (20,488) had type 1 diabetes.
It is extremely difficult to estimate the cost of treating type 1 diabetes in under-18s. Diabetes is a complex condition that affects all parts of the body, making it difficult to calculate an exact cost.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Primary care contractors enter into a contract with the National Health Service to deliver care and services for local people who choose to use the services offered based on the personal experience of the care that they receive from these contractors. This Government are committed to ensuring that all local communities have increased choice to access the care that they want, including their primary care provision.
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 cross-government working group on homelessness bringing together Ministers from eight government departments to address the complex causes of homelessness and rough sleeping. A new approach to evaluating rough sleeping levels has been introduced so that there is clear information in all areas, to inform service provision and action to address the problem.
We have protected homelessness grant funding, with £400 million over the spending review period. This will be made available to local authorities and the voluntary sector to support their work to tackle homelessness.
I also refer the noble Lord to the letter of 20 October 2010 from the right honourable Grant Shapps on the spending review's settlement for housing, which includes our plans to build more affordable homes and to renovate poor-quality social housing. A copy of the letter is available in the House Library.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 30 November 2010 (WA 436), how many people detained for immigration purposes are not free to leave detention by leaving the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom.[HL5674]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The number of people who might be detained for immigration purposes who are not free to leave the
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There are likely to be few, if any, cases at any given moment and generally these individuals will be kept in detention only if they pose a harm to the public or there is reason to believe that they will not comply with conditions of temporary release.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the joint declaration of a summit meeting of Iraqi religious leaders, made in Copenhagen on 14 January, concerning religious tolerance and co-existence; and whether they will propose it for consideration at the forthcoming meeting of the Arab League in Baghdad.[HL5923]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government welcome the initiative taken by Iraqi religious leaders to gather in Copenhagen on 14 January 2011 to promote tolerance between religious communities. It would not be appropriate for the British Government to tell the Government of Iraq what should be on the agenda at the Arab League summit. However, we can encourage the Government of Iraq to listen to the wishes of religious groups in Iraq.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, and in what circumstances, European Union procurement and competition rules would apply to the award of contracts to social enterprises or mutuals, whether composed of former public sector staff or others as appears to be encouraged under the Localism Bill and the proposed reorganisation of the National Health Service.[HL5884]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): When any employee co-operatives or mutuals are going to be awarded the opportunity to supply services to a contracting authority, the arrangement is likely to be viewed as a public contract for services and so will be captured by EU procurement rules unless the specific circumstances mean that the arrangement falls outside the rules or a general exemption applies.
There is no specific exemption for social enterprises or employee mutuals, so each procurement involving a "spin out" must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Circumstances where the rules might not apply to employee mutuals could include where there is no market for the services-eg where the services are very
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Social enterprises and mutuals are subject to European Union competition rules if they are undertakings for the purposes of those rules. Whether or not social enterprises and mutuals are undertakings will depend on the circumstances and in particular on whether they are engaged in economic activity, offering goods or services on a given market. The EU treaty prohibits anti-competitive agreements, concerted practices or abuses of a dominant position by undertakings that affect trade between member states. Anti-competitive practices are also prohibited by the Competition Act 1998.
NHS guidance addresses the application of EU and UK procurement law to the procurement of NHS-funded health services and reflects the overarching principles that procurement must be transparent, proportionate and non-discriminatory, with equality of treatment for different types of provider and providers from different EU member states. This guidance applies in the same way to the award of new contracts irrespective of whether the provider is an NHS body, social enterprise or other public, private or voluntary sector organisation. The proposals outlined in the Health and Social Care Bill (19 January 2011) would build on this approach by establishing concurrent powers for Monitor, as economic regulator, to enforce competition law within the health sector in England where this is needed to address conduct that restricts competition against the patient and public interest.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In Liberating the NHS: Legislative Framework and Next Steps (December 2010), the Government proposed a phased transition over four years, to allow enthusiasts to proceed early and to give them time to plan, test and learn under existing legal and accountability arrangements.
Pathfinders and early implementers are already coming together to test the new arrangements and share learning, ahead of the first full dry run of the arrangements in 2012-13. Subject to parliamentary approval, we intend the new system to be fully operational by 2013-14.
Earl Howe: The Government's commitment to deliver up to £20 billion of efficiency improvements will require National Health Service organisations to work together to ensure that patients are not unnecessarily admitted to hospital-for example, through better management of patients with long-term conditions in, or closer to, their own homes. This will be reinforced by the proposed modernisation plans, since by aligning general practitioners' (GPs') clinical decisions with the financial consequences of those decisions there will be a strong incentive to prevent avoidable, expensive emergency admissions to hospital.
In addition to reducing avoidable admissions, there is also scope for further increasing day case rates and reducing lengths of stay for patients who are admitted to hospital. This is a key way in which hospitals can meet the 4 per cent efficiency requirement that is incorporated in the tariff prices that they will receive in 2011-12. It is also supported by the extension of best practice tariffs, which base hospital payments on best and most efficient clinical practice, rather than simply average costs incurred.
However, hospitals must also ensure that patients are not discharged from hospital inappropriately quickly and, for that reason, from April 2011 hospitals will receive no payment for patients readmitted within 30 days of a previous elective admission.
The avoidance of unnecessary hospital admissions and enabling patients to return home quicker when they are admitted will also be supported by the additional investment to support social care-rising to £2 billion per year by 2014-15-announced in the spending review. This includes funding for reablement, which has shown significant benefits in helping people to regain independence after a crisis and in cutting emergency readmissions to hospital.
Earl Howe: The White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS (July 2010) set out the Government's vision of a patient-centred National Health Service. Patients should expect there to be "no decision about me without me", with greater choice and access to information that helps them be fully involved in decisions about their care.
A more active role for patients represents a significant change to the relationship that many patients have with their doctor. The Government consulted on how to support this change in Liberating the NHS: Greater Choice and Control. This consultation closed on 14 January and the Government will publish their response in due course.
The first duty of doctors and other clinicians will always be providing high-quality care to their patients. They will be helped to do this by a new focus on improving outcomes, the removal of top-down targets that do not benefit patient care and greater freedom to innovate and improve. Commissioning by general practitioners (GPs) will further strengthen the relationship between patients and the NHS. The Health and Social Care Bill places legal duties on GP consortia and the new NHS Commissioning Board about promoting the involvement of patients and their carers in decisions about their services and enabling patients to make choices.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what changes or events within the Department for Education have led them on 11 January to have 33 Questions for Written Answer remaining unanswered after the target time of 10 working days.[HL5802]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): I regret that so many Questions for Written Answer were late. Officials have been reminded of the importance of providing prompt answers. All outstanding PQs have now been answered.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the remedies available for citizens whose safety has been put in jeopardy by inflammatory religious or political statements about them; and what assessment they have made of whether those are sufficient and effective.[HL5559]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The police may carry out a risk assessment on any individual who may be at threat by such statements and offer adequate protection. It would not be appropriate to comment on details of protective security arrangements.
The Government are committed to ensuring that everyone has the freedom to live their lives free from fear of targeted hostility or harassment on the grounds of a particular characteristic, such as their religious beliefs, and are taking action to ensure that the criminal justice services and partners locally are equipped to prevent and tackle such targeted hostility. A range of legislation is in place to enable the police and probation service to take action against those making statements designed to inflame racial or religious hatred. We will continue to keep the effectiveness of these measures under review, including the regular collection and publication of hate crime incidents and prosecutions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 30 November (WA 444), whether the 18 per cent decline over the years 1995 to 2010 in the number of pupils entered for nine or more GCSE examinations is evenly spread throughout the school system, or whether it is significantly correlated with (a) region; (b) type of school; (c) parental socioeconomic status; (d) other factors.[HL5498]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In 1995, 361,797 pupils aged 15 entered nine or more GCSEs. In 2010, 253,342 pupils at the end of key stage 4 (typically those aged 15) entered nine or more GCSEs. This is a fall of 30 per cent.
|Percentage change in pupils entering nine or more GCSEs between 1995 and 2010|
The main reason for the decline in the number of pupils entered for nine or more GCSEs is the increased availability and take-up of equivalent qualifications. If equivalent qualifications are included, a greater proportion of pupils entered nine or more GCSEs or equivalent qualifications in 2010 (83 per cent) than entered for nine or more GCSEs when equivalent qualifications were not counted in 1995 (63 per cent). In 2004, non-academic qualifications were first treated as equivalents to GCSEs for performance tables purposes and included in the calculation of performance indicators.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): At the June 2010 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the 2011-12 income tax personal
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The June Budget estimated that the increase in the personal allowance will lift 880,000 of the lowest-income taxpayers out of income tax altogether and will be worth up to £170 a year for 23 million basic rate taxpayers. The Government's longer-term goal is to raise the allowance to £10,000, with real-terms steps in that direction every year.
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): It is too early to tell what effects the current situation in Tunisia will have on Britain's trade with Tunisia. It will be some time before useful assessments can be made. British firms remain involved in a range of business in Tunisia, notably in the energy sector.
We are of course keeping a close eye on the situation as it unfolds. The majority of the population is trying to get back to work. Public offices are reopening and the banking and transport systems are resuming. The country is heavily dependent on tourism and even a short-term disruption could have a significant effect.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 10 January (WA 415-6), why they do not plan to make representations to the Government of Turkey concerning the difficulties which British citizens encounter over Anglican worship in Turkey. [HL6006]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer my noble friend to the Written Answer that I gave him on 15 December 2010 (Official Report, cols WA201-02). Our embassy in Ankara raises the issue of respect for all religious minorities (rather than specific groups) with the Turkish authorities in their wider discussions on human rights. The Government support EU efforts to encourage reform in Turkey as part of the EU accession process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 10 January (WA 416), why they do not plan to make representations to the Government of Turkey concerning the difficulties which British citizens encounter over Roman Catholic worship in Antalya. [HL6007]
Lord Howell of Guildford: I refer my noble friend to the Written Answer that I gave him on 15 December 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 202). Our embassy in Ankara raises the issue of respect for all religious minorities (rather than specific groups) with the Turkish authorities in their wider discussions on human rights. The Government support EU efforts to encourage reform in Turkey as part of the EU accession process.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Turkey's accession to the EU is a key goal for the Government. This must, however, be subject to rigorous application of the EU's accession criteria. We believe that Turkish accession to the EU would contribute to the security, stability and prosperity of both the UK and the EU. We work closely with EU member states and with the European Commission to encourage and support progress in Turkey's accession process.
We also encourage Turkey to accelerate domestic reforms in line with the EU acquis. We support Turkey's engagement in support of the Cyprus settlement process and call for Turkey to implement the additional Ankara protocol.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Tuvalu held parliamentary elections in September last year, which saw Prime Minister Maatia Toafa elected. However, on 21 December 2011 he lost a vote of no confidence and was replaced by Prime Minister Willy Telavi. Demonstrations have taken place in the capital, Funafuti, as part of a political campaign to attempt another change in government. The new Prime Minister has issued a temporary public order banning public demonstrations as a precautionary measure to ensure public safety. We are following events carefully.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recent cash donations by Uganda's National Resistance Movement-led Government of over £5,000 per NRM MP for use during their election campaigns.[HL5983]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Sitting Ugandan Members of Parliament reportedly received 20 million Ugandan shillings (£5,500) each on 15 January 2011, allegedly to monitor the implementation of government programmes, including the National Agricultural Advisory Development programme, in their respective constituencies. There are concerns about how these funds will be used in the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections on 18 February and some Ugandan MPs have declared that they will return the money.
My honourable friend Henry Bellingham raised with President Museveni in July last year the importance of credible and peaceful elections. We will continue to urge the Ugandan authorities to ensure a level playing field for all political parties and, to this end, we are providing assistance, including technical support, to the Electoral Commission. We are also providing support to political parties, through a multi-donor (including the Department for International Development) Deepening Democracy Programme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of press and media freedoms in Uganda in the run-up to the presidential elections; and what conversations they have had with officials in Uganda's Broadcasting Council about its recent moves to prevent privately owned radio stations from live broadcasting a conference in late December organised by the Buganda Kingdom on the social, cultural, economic and development issues of the kingdom. [HL5985]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Uganda has a lively media whose coverage inspires active public debate on current issues and criticism of government policies. But we are concerned about administrative and legal curbs on freedom of expression, in particular the draft Press and Journalism Bill, and the pressures on journalists.
We are, however, encouraged that in August last year Uganda's Constitutional Court ruled that the criminalisation of sedition was incompatible with the constitution's guarantee of freedom of expression. The court abolished the crime of sedition and quashed 14 outstanding charges of sedition brought against journalists and opposition politicians.
Our high commission in Kampala regularly discusses issues relating to freedom of expression with the Government of Uganda and has raised the draft press Bill with the Ugandan Minister for Information. We were not aware that some radio stations were prevented from broadcasting the Buganda Kingdom's conference in December but can confirm that Central Broadcasting Service, the Buganda Kingdom's radio station, was reopened in October last year after being shut down in September 2009.
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