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8 Feb 2011 : Column WA41



8 Feb 2011 : Column WA41

Written Answers

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Armed Forces: Convicted Personnel

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The information requested is only partially available. Data on British Army personnel convicted of offences while on active service in Northern Ireland are available only for the period 1986-2006 (with no data available for 1987). Furthermore, the noble Lord should note that this data reflect only offences committed while off duty. This information has been placed in the Library of the House.

Data relating to the number of RUC or PSNI officers convicted during the time period are not held by central government; the noble Lord may wish to write to the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland on this matter.

Aviation: Air Quality

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

Earl Attlee: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) advises that pilots are typically grounded (have their medical certificates suspended) on the basis of their own reports, or their doctors reports.

The CAA initially records the cause of the grounding in the same terms used by the pilot or their doctor, which may not be a standard or internationally recognised diagnosis. In the past 10 years, there have been approximately 30 initial reports which might be relevant.

After medical investigation, many cases are classified with specific recognised diagnoses, others fully recover. To the CAA's knowledge, no cases have been unequivocally attributed to exposure to toxic fumes on aircraft.

The CAA website is due to be updated to reflect these developments.

Aviation: Aviation Health Working Group

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

Earl Attlee: The notes of the Aviation Health Working Group (AHWG) meeting on 23 April 2007 show that the group decided then to meet three times a year. However, my right honourable friend the Minister of State has recently written to the Chair of the Science and Technology Committee to communicate the Government's decision to discontinue the AHWG.

The Department for Transport, like other public sector bodies, is prioritising its research and administrative expenditure. The Aviation Health Unit (AHU) in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will now be the main forum for aviation health issues. In future we would expect greater international co-operation in respect of researching any aviation health issues which are common to air travellers and airlines of all nationalities.

The CAA website is due to be updated to reflect these developments.

Barnett Formula

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Changes in the Welsh Assembly Government's overall budget were determined in the spending review in the normal way though the Barnett formula.

The Government recognise the concerns expressed by the Holtham Commission on the system of devolution funding. However, at this time the priority must be to reduce the deficit and therefore any change to the system must await the stabilisation of the public finances.

Benefits

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Contributory employment and support allowance, long-term incapacity benefit, disability living allowance, attendance allowance, carer's allowance and maternity allowance are not payable to people who live permanently outside the EEA or in countries without a reciprocal agreement.

However, these benefits may be paid in certain circumstances for temporary absence from Great Britain.

Winter fuel payments are not payable to people who live permanently outside the EEA and Switzerland.

Statutory maternity pay, ordinary statutory paternity pay and additional statutory paternity pay are payable by employers to qualifying employees in any country provided that employer is liable to pay the employers share of UK national insurance contributions in respect of that employee.

As outlined in my previous reply of 24 January 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 89), child benefit and child tax credit are only paid to persons outside the UK in limited circumstances, principally to meet our obligations under European Community law.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Lord Freud: The Department for Work and Pensions provides a range of services to people of working age including lone parents, jobseekers and disabled people, and to pensioners. The term customer was introduced with the establishment of the then Benefits Agency (formerly part of the Department of Social Security), to encourage an understanding the service we provided to citizens in need of our service could be and should be improved. It resulted in a change of culture in the way people who use our services were treated.

The current Government considered changing the term but decided that it was not a priority in the midst of wider departmental changes.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar



8 Feb 2011 : Column WA44

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We have no plans to establish referral networks for fatigue evaluation and management. It is the responsibility of primary care trusts to commission services to meet the needs of their local population living with fatigue, and based on assessment of population need and clinical evidence.

Community Relations: New Cross Fire

Question

Asked by Lord Boateng

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Home Office holds a small amount of material relating to the New Cross tragedy of 1981. this does not relate to the fire itself or actions immediately following the fire as the related functions and records are now, following machinery of government changes, with the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The remaining material with the Home Office relates to police liaison activities associated with requests for further investigation which led to the second inquest in 2004. Of this material, the Home Office cannot see any objection, subject to usual sensitivity review, to this information being disclosed on request.

Cybercrime

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Cyber security is a key priority for the Government and was recognised as a tier one risk in the National Security Strategy. Her Majesty's Government announced, as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, a £650 million transformative National Cyber Security Programme. The Government are also working closely with our international partners to establish norms of behaviour in cyberspace. At the Munich Security Conference on 4 February 2011, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary gave a speech "Security and freedom in the cyber age-seeking the rules of the road", which set out the emerging UK vision of a future cyberspace which upholds freedom and democratic values while determining cyberattack.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



8 Feb 2011 : Column WA45

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Technology Strategy Board receive their grant-in-aid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. BBSRC funds fundamental bioscience research, including work to understand the basic biology of stem cells. The MRC supports the full spectrum of biomedical research, including stem cell science. The Technology Strategy Board has a number of strategic programmes to incentivise technology innovation by UK business including in the area of stratified medicine and regenerative medicine.

In keeping with the Haldane principle, prioritisation of an individual Research Council's spending within its allocation is not a decision for Ministers. Similarly, the Technology Strategy Board operates at arm's-length from government with support for research and development directed to those areas which offer the greatest scope for boosting UK growth and productivity on the basis of business and academic strength.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Wilcox: Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Health speak regularly about public health issues, including matters concerning research and regulation.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Wilcox: The Minister of State for Universities and Science is responsible for innovation and science and research policy and funding for the Research Councils and for the Technology Strategy Board.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Technology Strategy Board receive their grant-in-aid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. BBSRC funds fundamental bioscience research, including work to understand the basic biology of stem cells. The MRC supports the full spectrum of biomedical research, including stem cell science. The Technology Strategy Board has a number of strategic programmes to incentivise technology innovation by UK business including in the area of stratified medicine and regenerative medicine.

In keeping with the long-standing Haldane principle, prioritisation of an individual research council's spending within its allocation is not a decision for Ministers. Similarly, the Technology Strategy Board operates at arm's-length from Government with support for research and development directed to those areas which offer

8 Feb 2011 : Column WA46

the greatest scope for boosting UK growth and productivity on the basis of business and academic strength.

The Secretary of State for Health has overall responsibility for health strategy and policy and has duties and powers under relevant legislation. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Public Health has policy responsibility for matters relating to biotechnology, which includes haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, stem cell research and its regulation through the relevant regulators such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Human Tissue Authority and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Quality has policy responsibility for health-related research and development.

Energy: Non-nuclear Power

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Successive Governments have maintained their commitment to the UK remaining a nuclear power. The Government have therefore not made any estimates of the changes to public expenditure that would arise from the United Kingdom becoming a non-nuclear power.

EU: Powers

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): This information is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. There have been no treaty changes which have resulted in a repatriation of competence to the member states. There is a distinction to be made between repatriation of competence and the situation where the EU repeals or terminates action taken under secondary legislation such as a directive or regulation.

EU: UK Membership

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): This Government believe that EU membership is in our interests. The Single Market is the world's most important trading zone, generating total GDP of over £10.5 trillion in 2009 and giving us access to 500 million consumers without the barriers of customs or tariffs. The resultant economic benefits for individuals are very real with approximately 3.5 million jobs, ie 10 per cent of the UK workforce, benefiting from exports to EU member states. The beneficial effect of EU trade on UK households is estimated at between £1,100 and £3,300 per year.

EU membership also gives us better leverage internationally. Collective action gives us more negotiating power and allows us to better achieve our international security objectives on issues such as conflict prevention, stabilisation, climate change, human rights and development. For British citizens, the benefits of EU membership are many and varied, from free movement across EU member states, to the option to study and work within the EU without requiring a work permit, to the European Health Card (EHIC), which enables UK holiday-makers and travellers to receive free or reduced cost healthcare on temporary visits to EU member states.

On this basis, and given the complexity and cost of measuring the many variables involved, the Government do not consider it appropriate to conduct their own cost benefit analysis of UK EU membership.

Government Departments: Websites

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Government websites should not provide links to political content. I refer the noble Lord to the response to his previous Question by Baroness Neville-Jones on 15 December for further detail on this matter.

Gulf War Illnesses

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 20 December 2010 (Official Report, col. WA251).

Houses of Parliament: Members

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Members of both Houses of Parliament are subject to the same scrutiny by HM Revenue and Customs as other United Kingdom taxpayers.

Housing Benefit

Questions

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We are making amendments to the discretionary housing payments good practice guidance, which include an addition to Appendix A to specifically cover assistance for customers affected by reductions in local housing allowance rates.

We have invited representatives from local authorities, welfare rights and homelessness charities, other government departments and the devolved Administrations to comment on and contribute to a draft of the guidance.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon



8 Feb 2011 : Column WA49

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The responsibility for responding to judgments of the European Court of Human Rights falls primarily to the government department responsible for the policy area to which it relates. Where it may be necessary to determine how to provide a remedy the Government would assess the impact in the usual way. For example, were the remedy to require legislation, an impact assessment would be carried out ahead of that legislation being introduced.

The Government periodically provide information to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the response to human rights judgments. The Government most recently responded to a Joint Committee report on this subject in July 2010. This is available on the Ministry of Justice website at: www.justice.gov.uk/publications/responding-human-rights-judgements.htm.

Human Trafficking

Question

Asked by Baroness Butler-Sloss

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): We are strongly supportive of the role played by the voluntary sector and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in working with us to reduce the incidence of human trafficking.

Home Office officials will meet non-governmental organisations and the APPG on Human Trafficking and take account of their expertise in developing the forthcoming strategy.

Met Office

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Met Office is a trading fund and provides weather and climate services under contract to a range of government and commercial customers. In 2009-10, revenue from these services, including maintenance of the underpinning infrastructure, amounted to £192 million, of which £157.4 million was from government customers. The Met Office returned a dividend of £4.5 million to the Ministry of Defence in relation to this period.

Parking and Traffic Restrictions

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas



8 Feb 2011 : Column WA50

Earl Attlee: Local authorities are best placed to determine the detail of restrictions within a traffic order to suit particular circumstances, including whether there should be any provisions for enforcing those restrictions.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Under the life certificate programme, we target those pensioners abroad who are aged 80 and over and living in all countries where they are not covered by our data-matching agreements.

Police

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): There is no formally agreed definition of frontline police services. Consideration is being given, with the police service, to the establishment of a common definition. Although no fixed definition exists, frontline officers and staff are generally those directly involved in the public crime fighting face of the force. This includes neighbourhood policing, response policing and criminal investigation. Forces should focus on maintaining and improving frontline services, while reducing costs as much as possible in middle and back office support functions, consistent with supporting frontline services. Police forces can also maintain and improve frontline services by enabling frontline officers and staff to work more efficiently and effectively.

Police: Funding

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Figures for Home Office funding to the Police Federation of England and Wales and the

8 Feb 2011 : Column WA51

Superintendents' Association of England and Wales in the last five full financial years are given in the table attached.

Any police authority funding is a matter for individual authorities.

Payments to Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales 2005-06-2009-10
Total

2005-06

618,139.00

2006-07

711,022.74

2007-08

826,207 27

2008-09

703,991.00

2009-10

700,731.00

Payments to the Police Federation of England and Wales 2005-06-2009-10
Total

2005-06

149,843.00

2006-07

155,105.04

2007-08

263,693.26

2008-09

208,270.00

2009-10

208,205.00

Prisoners: Sanitation

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): In the past six months of 2010 the night sanitation system at Bullwood Hall prison malfunctioned on three occasions. In each instance only one wing within the prison, holding 34 prisoners, was affected. Night staff were deployed to the wing and all prisoners had the opportunity to leave their cell to access sanitation. The prison does not record prisoners' use of chamber pots.

Prisons: Refurbishment

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Over the past two years (between January 2009 and January 2011), £969,183 has been spent on refurbishment at Ashwell prison. This includes maintenance and repair but excludes professional fees and contractor escort costs.



8 Feb 2011 : Column WA52

Railways: Northern Rail Franchise

Question

Asked by Lord Shipley

Earl Attlee: Demand forecasting will inform commercial negotiations between the Department for Transport and the current operator to implement additional capacity. It will also inform the specification for the new Northern franchise, which is due to begin in September 2013.

In October 2010, the Chancellor confirmed government support for significant electrification in the north west. This will allow for the introduction of additional electric vehicles to the Northern franchise. This in turn will release diesel units, which could potentially be retained for use within the Northern franchise. The specific number and quality of vehicles will depend on bidder proposals.

Railways: Passenger Compensation

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Passenger Charter mechanism is still in use on some older franchises. More recent franchises have included a different mechanism, whereby passengers can claim monetary compensation from a train operator in the event of substantial delays. The mechanisms for incentivising good performance, and for ensuring passengers are dealt with fairly for future franchises are still under consideration.

Transport: Motoring Costs

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Earl Attlee: The average annual motoring cost to households in the United Kingdom, including purchase of vehicle, tax and insurance, for the most recent three years for which data are available is given in the table below:

£ per annum
200720082009

£3,230

£3,320

£3,130



8 Feb 2011 : Column WA53

War of Aggression

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK has no specific statutory provision for crimes of aggression in domestic law, although depending on the details the conduct may be covered by other offences.


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