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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We welcome the decision of the Algerian Government to lift the 19 year-old state of emergency on 24 February 2011. The authorities have also announced economic and social measures and have committed to lifting restrictions on the TV/radio broadcast media. We look forward to further steps as the Algerian Government respond to the people's legitimate aspirations for social and political reforms.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they propose to take to prevent alveolar echinococcosis entering the United Kingdom when the European Union derogation permitting the United Kingdom to impose a worming requirement on dogs entering the country expires in December.[HL7372]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The risk of introducing the tapeworm echinococcus multilocularis into the UK is considered to be negligible.
We recognise that without our current treatment regime there would be an increased risk of disease introduction and the disease could become established in the UK rodent or fox population. We are currently in discussion with the European Commission with regard to the long-term tapeworm treatment requirements for pets entering the UK and certain other member states.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following recent action by the Armed Forces in rescuing British citizens from Libya, the United Kingdom retains sufficient military capability to meet its national and international obligations. [HL7353]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Yes. Although our future forces will be smaller than now they will retain their geographical reach and the ability to operate across a spectrum from high-intensity intervention to
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what part (a) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (b) the Department for International Development, (c) the Ministry of Defence, (d) the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and (e) Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs are playing in preparations for a successful outcome to the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations by 2012.[HL7181]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK Government remain fully committed to securing a robust and effective Arms Trade Treaty by 2012 and played a full and active role during the preparatory committee meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty that took place from 28 February to 4 March 2011 in New York.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office leads a cross-Whitehall team, including representatives from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Department for International Development (DfID) and Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), that are developing the UK position on the Arms Trade Treaty, with input from other relevant departments, such as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Home Office. This work is undertaken in consultation with UK defence industry and non-governmental organisations (NGO). The UK is also funding NGO projects in support of the Arms Trade Treaty.
The UK continues to engage, both bilaterally and multilaterally, with key international partners, such as the EU and the US, to co-ordinate our approaches to securing the treaty and we are actively engaging with those states that still have concerns about the Arms Trade Treaty and how it might work.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury regularly engages with the Bank of England, the Financial Services Authority and stakeholders about regulatory issues, including liquidity, in the interests of sensible prudential standards that support financial stability and strong and sustainable growth and promote internationally consistent standards.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Food and Environment Research Agency's National Bee Unit (NBU) has undertaken a risk assessment of the Asian hornet for the GB Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS) which will inform consideration of policy options if the hornet arrives in Great Britain. This risk assessment is being peer reviewed and will be published for stakeholder comments.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration is given in determining entitlement to benefits to married couples who both have a disability and neither can be presumed to be the carer of the other. [HL7144]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Entitlement to income replacement or disability benefits is not determined by marital status but by a person satisfying the relevant conditions of entitlement to the benefit in question.
In the income-related benefits account can be taken of whether, but for the award of the relevant benefit, a person would have been entitled to carer's allowance. If so, a carer's premium can be paid to supplement the benefit in question.
People with disabilities are entitled to the full range of benefits appropriate to their circumstances, including disability living allowance or attendance allowance provided that the conditions of entitlement are met.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 25 January (WA 131), how many disabled people not living in residential care they expect will lose their existing benefit in consequence of projected cuts in spending on mobility help.[HL7185]
Lord Freud: As the new assessment for personal independence payment and the process for reassessing the existing DLA caseload are still being developed, I am unable, at this stage, to provide a precise estimate of the numbers of people the new benefit will support.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people they estimate now live in poverty in (a) the city of Manchester, (b) Greater Manchester, (c) Greater London, and (d) the United Kingdom as a whole; and whether any of the people living in poverty will have their incomes reduced by the projected changes to the disability living allowance. [HL7186]
Lord Freud: Estimates of the number and proportion of people living in relative low income are published in the households below average income (HBAI) series. HBAI uses household income adjusted (or equivalised) for household size and composition, to provide a proxy for standard of living.
The table below shows the numbers of people living in households with equivalised incomes below 60 per cent of contemporary median income in (a) the north west; (b) Greater London and (c) the United Kingdom as a whole. Figures for Manchester and Greater Manchester alone are not possible to produce. This is because the sample size available for UK cities apart from London is too small to produce relative low income estimates. However, it is possible to examine the numbers of people in relative low income in the region of the north west, which includes Manchester and Greater Manchester. It should be noted that due to small sample size, figures on relative low income by region are provided as three-year averages.
|Table 1: Number and percentage of people living in households with equivalised incomes below 60 per cent of contemporary median income in the North West of England, London and in the United Kingdom, 2006-07-2008-09|
|Number of individuals (millions) and percentage|
|Before Housing Costs||After Housing Costs|
These statistics are based on households below average income (HBAI) data for the years 2006-07 to 2008-09 sourced from the Family Resources Survey (FRS). This uses disposable household income, adjusted using modified OECD equivalisation factors for household size and composition, as an income measure as a proxy for standard of living.
All estimates are based on survey data and are therefore subject to uncertainty. Small differences should be treated with caution as these will be affected by sampling error and variability in non-response.
Figures have been presented on both before and after housing cost bases. For before housing costs figures, housing costs (such as rent, water rates, mortgage
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Disposable incomes have been used to answer the question. This includes earnings from employment and self-employment, state support, income from occupational and private pensions, investment income and other sources. Income tax, payments, national insurance contributions, council tax / domestic rates and some other payments are deducted from incomes.
From 2013-14 we will replace disability living allowance with personal independence payment. Personal independence payment will support disabled people to lead full, active and independent lives and the assessment will consider their ability to carry out a range of key day-to-day activities. We are still developing the assessment and the detailed criteria will be in regulations. We are, however, clear that the assessment should look at people as individuals, rather than labelling them as part of a group, such as those with a particular health condition or impairment. That is why the assessment is being designed to consider an individual's personal circumstances and the support they need. We are, therefore, unable to predict the outcome of the assessment on individuals and whether any of the people living in poverty will have their incomes reduced as a result.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): During his meeting in January with Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary expressed his concern about Mr Chen's treatment. My honourable friend Jeremy Browne also raised the case with the head of the Chinese delegation to the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue on 13 January 2011.
We remain concerned about the treatment of Chen Guangcheng and his family, whose detention appears to violate Chinese laws. We continue to monitor his situation and are working with EU partners to maintain the profile of his case.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will amend Section 1 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 so as to enable a man and a woman of sufficient age to establish a valid partnership which confirms their mutual responsibilities and rights and protects any children they have.[HL7216]
Baroness Verma: On 17 February 2011 the Government announced that we will be implementing Section 202 of the Equality Act 2010 to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 by removing the ban on civil partnership registrations being held on religious premises. This will allow those religious organisations that wish to do so to host civil partnership registrations on their premises.
This is the first step in our work in this area. Having listened to stakeholders it is clear from many that there is a desire to move towards equal civil marriage and partnerships. We will consult further on how legislation can develop, working with all those who have an interest in this area.
However, parents do not need to be married to each other to obtain parental responsibility; in cases where a child's parents are not married to each other, the mother will have parental responsibility but the father may acquire it either by jointly registering the birth with the mother, through an agreement with the mother, or as the result of a court order.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister visited Egypt on 21 February 2011. In his meetings with Field Marshal Tantawi, the Head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and former Prime Minister Shafiq, he focused on the need for Egypt to seize this opportunity to make a genuine transition from military to civilian democratic rule. He welcomed the statements from the military leadership that they intend to bring about this transition. But he also urged the interim Government to make progress towards democracy, including by setting a clear timetable for free and fair elections, to convince the people that the process was genuine and irreversible. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister also met members of the opposition in Egypt.
The Government have been clear, throughout the recent developments in Egypt, that it is in the UK's as well as Egypt's national interest for there to be a successful transition to a broad-based Government and an open and democratic society.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Older people in England can already receive residential care if they need it. Local
9 Mar 2011 : Column WA405
In recognition of the pressures on the social care system in a challenging fiscal climate, the Government have allocated an additional £2 billion by 2014-15 to support the delivery of social care. This will mean that, with an ambitious programme of efficiency, there will be enough funding available both to protect people's access to services and deliver new approaches to improve quality and outcomes.
The CQC does not collect occupancy information. However, the independent health and social care analysts Laing and Buisson reported that, in 2010, the national occupancy rate in homes stood at around 89 per cent, which equates to some 50,000 vacant places.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord Sassoon on 28 February (WS 87-9), what is their assessment of the practical effect of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden withholding their consent on the discharge of the 2009 European Union budget.[HL7295]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government abstained from the vote on the discharge recommendation at the ECOFIN Council meeting on 15 February, with strong support from Sweden and the Netherlands. The UK, Sweden and the Netherlands submitted a joint declaration setting out expectations for improvements in financial management in the near future. In particular, the joint declaration called for concrete improvements in terms of enhancing member state responsibility, improving transparency of financial management data, and encouraging the European Court of Auditors to move towards a more risk-based approach to auditing.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the contract process for family and relationship support has been suspended; what proposals they have for a new timescale and process for contracting family and relationship support; and, if the new contract is to commence after 1 April, what action they will take to ensure specialist parenting helplines funded by the Department for Education will be able to continue in the interim.[HL7112]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The procurement process for new family and relationship online and telephone support services for parents and families in England was delayed in January while we considered the full implications for the family sector after the Department for Education's spending review settlement.
On 25 February, departmental officials contacted organisations about the outcome of their applications under the first stage of the procurement process. For those organisations invited to submit bids under the second stage of the process, officials also provided full details of the tender and a revised procurement timetable. The procurement process remains unchanged and is fully in line with best practice set by the EU procurement directives and government procurement rules.
On 25 February officials also contacted those organisations currently in receipt of telephone helpline service grants under the department's Family Information Direct programme offering them extensions for up to three months from 1 April 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in view of the financial situation of AssetCo reported in the Financial Times on 21 February, what assessment they have made of any risk that London could be without a full fire service.[HL7226]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Fire and rescue authorities are responsible for ensuring that appropriate arrangements are in place to enable them to continue to fulfil their statutory duties, not central government. This responsibility holds even in the event that private companies experience financial difficulties while under contract to lease fire engines. As a consequence it is for the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to undertake the necessary risk assessments and put in place any remedial action. The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority have given assurances regarding the ability to maintain a full fire service at all times.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 9 February (WA 63-4), why they did not transpose Council Directive 2007/43/EC on minimum welfare standards for meat chicken production by the 30 June 2010 deadline; whether they will adopt a policy at the World Trade Organisation of restricting imports on the grounds of other countries' low welfare standards; and whether they will instruct HM ambassador in Bangkok to assess chicken welfare standards there. [HL7198]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The delay in transposing Council Directive 2007/43/EC which sets minimum welfare standards for conventionally reared meat chickens was caused by the general election last year, the subsequent delay to the parliamentary timetable and the need for careful consideration by the coalition of all new legislation.
The Government view animal welfare as a matter of high priority. As well as promoting high animal welfare standards in this country, we are keen to encourage high animal welfare standards internationally, both in other European Union countries and in third countries. World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules do not allow members to ban imports on the grounds of the welfare standards applied in third countries and there are no current plans to adopt such a policy. However, we are working with other countries within the OIE (Office International des Epizooties) to develop and progress internationally recognised standards for animal welfare.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Last year's Strategic Defence and Security Review confirmed the commitment of Her Majesty's Government to the defence of Gibraltar and to the continued maintenance by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the permanent joint operating base there. The MoD will maintain in Gibraltar the facilities, forces and readiness levels required to support these outcomes, while further reducing its land and estate holdings and continuing to transfer services to the Government of Gibraltar as agreed under the 2007 global agreement.
The early release scheme to which the noble Lord refers was introduced via the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998. Any prisoner who successfully applies for early release under the scheme remains
9 Mar 2011 : Column WA408
To ask Her Majesty's Government what level of display energy certificate was awarded to the Department for Communities and Local Government office at Eland House in each of the past three years. [HL7369]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The level of the display energy certificates awarded to the Department for Communities and Local Government headquarters, Eland House, for the past three years are shown below. The new Government are taking a series of steps to improve energy efficiency across Whitehall and reduce the carbon emissions of their estate, including Eland House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the announcement by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, in a speech on 25 February to the Universities UK spring conference that the Department of Health's education and training budget will increase by 2 per cent in 2011-12, what was the total multi-professional education and training budget (MPET) budget in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12; how much of the MPET budget was paid to each strategic health authority for each of those years; and what was the total allocation of the MPET budget for (a) non-medical education and training, (b) undergraduate medical education, and (c) postgraduate medical and dental education for each of those years. [HL7334]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The multi-professional education and training (MPET) component of the National Health Service central budget bundle was as follows:2009-10-£4,646 million;2010-11-£4,781 million; and2011-12-£4,879 million.
The MPET budget is no longer issued as separate non-medical education and training, undergraduate
9 Mar 2011 : Column WA410
|NHS North East||NHS North West||NHS Yorkshire & Humber||NHS East Midlands||NHS West Midlands||NHS East of England||NHS London||NHS South East Coast||NHS South Central||NHS South West||England Total|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 16 February (WA 180) on psychological therapies, whether the plans being drawn up by primary care trusts to implement the operating framework for improving access to psychological therapies will bind the relevant commissioning bodies envisaged by the Health Bill; and how they "will hold strategic health authorities to account for managing" the delivery of those plans when the strategic health authorities are to be abolished.[HL7180]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The commissioning plans drawn up by primary care trusts (PCTs) relate to the year 2011-12, as does the NHS operating framework. PCTs and strategic health authorities remain in place for this period. In subsequent years, subject to the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, it will be for the Secretary of State to set a mandate for the National Health Service and for the NHS Commissioning Board to monitor the performance of commissioning bodies in delivering the priorities set out by the Secretary of State.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Plans for the cleaning and conservation of stonework in the Palace are split into two separate stages. As the first stage, it is hoped that work in Cloister Court and Star Chamber Court in the Commons will begin in 2012. Detailed proposals for this work are being developed but are still subject to approval by both Houses. Work on the remainder of the courtyards (including State Officer's Court and Chancellor's Court) is currently on hold due to the current economic climate and will be reviewed in 2012.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reasons for the current rate of inflation, in particular the impact of external factors such as energy prices, and how that compares with rates of inflation in other countries.[HL7259]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government consider a range of factors when making their assessment of inflation in the UK and the world economy. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is responsible for producing independent economic and fiscal forecasts. The OBR will publish a full analysis of recent developments and the prospects for inflation in its forecast for the forthcoming Budget.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the alleged psychological torture of Iranian refugees at Camp Ashraf in Iraq through the continuous use of multiple loudspeakers surrounding the camp; whether such a use of loudspeakers constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention; and what representations they have made to the United Nations on the matter. [HL7189]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of reports that loudspeakers are being used outside the camp by family members of the residents. On 20 February 2011, UK representatives met with the UN and the Iraqi Government's Ashraf Committee to discuss the situation at Camp Ashraf. We urged the Iraqi Government to ensure the residents' human rights are respected
9 Mar 2011 : Column WA411
The Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply in this case. Protection afforded by the designation of protected persons is applicable only where there is an international armed conflict or a situation of occupation under international humanitarian law. Neither of these scenarios is relevant to Iraq now.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in light of alleged psychological torture of Iranian refugees at Camp Ashraf in Iraq through the continuous use of multiple loudspeakers, they intend to arrange a visit to the camp by United Kingdom observers; and, if so, whether they have sought support from the Government of the United States for such a visit.[HL7190]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We have no intention to arrange a visit to the camp by UK observers. Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice clearly advises against all travel to Baghdad and the provinces listed, including the one in which Camp Ashraf is located. The UK is entirely reliant on US and UN support to provide transport, security and access to the camp. If there is a need for a consular visit to the camp, the UK will discuss options with the US and the UN.
Our embassy officials continue to discuss the situation at the camp with the EU, US, UN and the Iraqi Government's Ashraf Committee. We receive regular updates from the UN who visit the camp on a weekly basis and are in telephone contact with representatives of residents in the camp.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement given on 3 March 2011 (Official Report, Commons, col. 35-36WS) by my honourable friend the Minister for Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, on "Libya: Consular Response", in which he updated the other place on the efforts the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made to help British nationals depart Libya.
Lord Howell of Guildford: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement given on 3 March 2011 (Official Report, Commons, col. 35-36WS) by my honourable friend the Minister for Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, on "Libya: Consular
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what stage they have reached in their negotiations with the Government of Libya about compensation for those in Northern Ireland who were injured by arms and explosives allegedly supplied to the Provisional IRA by the Gaddafi Government during Operation Banner. [HL7290]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have reached agreement with the Government of Libya on the provision by that Government of financial resources to persons or organisations within the United Kingdom who suffered personal or corporate loss as a result of terrorism enabled by arms allegedly supplied by Libya.[HL7291]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will propose that the United Nations establish a commission of inquiry to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed by the Government of Myanmar, as recommended by the United Nations special rapporteur. [HL7204]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government support the UN special rapporteur's recommendation for the UN to consider the establishment of a UN commission of inquiry to investigate human rights abuses in Burma. We are working with partners to build further international support but this is likely to take time. We recently secured a toughly worded resolution at the UN General Assembly which supported the implementation of all the proposals made by the special rapporteur. We are currently working towards achieving a similar outcome at the March Human Rights Council.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The EU, the US and others have had a comprehensive arms embargo in place for many years. We remain committed to the view that no one should be selling arms to a military regime with an appalling human rights record and the high likelihood that arms supplied will be used for internal repression. Our international partners are well aware of our concerns over arms sales to a country where the military is involved in violent suppression of its citizens.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will propose that the United Nations initiate a tripartite dialogue between the Government of Myanmar, the National League for Democracy and ethnic groups.[HL7207]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We support the UN in its efforts to achieve tripartite dialogue. We have consistently made clear that only a process of genuine inclusive dialogue between the regime and all of Burma's democratic opposition and ethnic groups can bring peace and stability. In recent months, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary have met the UN Secretary General and underlined the UN's importance in re-invigorating the stalled political process in Burma. We welcomed the visit to Burma by the UN Secretary General's special adviser, Vijay Nambiar, and urge the junta to work with the UN and all of Burma's political actors towards national reconciliation.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Officials from our High Commission in Wellington, led by our High Commissioner, were quickly deployed to Christchurch to liaise with the New Zealand authorities and provide consular assistance to British nationals. In response to a request from the New Zealand Government, the UK immediately sent a self-sufficient search and rescue team of 63 experts drawn from the British emergency fire and rescue services.
In addition, the New Zealand Government have accepted the UK offer of support in the process of disaster victim identification. A 10-man team, specially tailored to support the New Zealand authorities, is in Christchurch and is providing essential support and expertise in helping to identify any potential British victims and bolster the New Zealand authorities in their wider identification process.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Officials from our High Commission in Wellington, led by our High Commissioner, were quickly deployed to Christchurch to liaise with the New Zealand authorities and provide consular assistance to British nationals. In response to a request from the New Zealand Government, the UK immediately sent a self-sufficient search and rescue team of 63 experts drawn from the British emergency fire and rescue services.
In addition, the New Zealand Government have accepted the UK offer of support in the process of disaster victim identification. A 10-man team, specially tailored to support the New Zealand authorities, is in Christchurch and is providing essential support and expertise in helping to identify any potential British victims and bolster the New Zealand authorities in their wider identification process.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of couples for whom, as a result of changes in the qualifying date for state pension proposed in the Pensions Bill, the female partner will not be able to claim before her male partner.[HL7232]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the cost of retaining the existing state pension age for women to determine the age of eligibility for pension credit, in each financial year to 2020-21.[HL7233]
Lord Freud: Under existing legislation the qualifying age for pension credit was set to increase from 60 to 65 by 2020 along with women's state pension age under the Pensions Act 1995. The cost of retaining this timetable to determine the age of eligibility for pension credit-rather than the timetable proposed in the Pensions Bill 2011-for each financial year to 2020-21 is presented below.
|£ millions, 2010-11 prices|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the cost of limiting increases in women's state pension age to a maximum of 12 months in addition to the timetable set by the Pensions Act 2005, in each financial year to 2020-21.[HL7234]
Lord Freud: The cost would depend on the precise timetable which would be applied. The costs presented in the table below assumes that women's state pension age is increased by 12 months, relative to the timetable set by the Pensions Act 1995, following the timetable proposed in the current Pensions Bill, and thereafter is increased at the same rate as under the 1995 Act timetable, so maintaining a constant differential of one year, reaching 66 by April 2021.
|£ millions, 2010-11 prices|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have protocols on prison riots; and, if so, whether they state at what point intervention by prison officers should commence and what restrictions are in place on early intervention.[HL7200]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The strategy for managing and controlling the most serious operational incidents that may occur in prisons is contained in restricted Prison Service Order 1400-Incident Management Manual. This includes acts of concerted indiscipline involving the hostile activities of a group or groups of prisoners.
Where intervention may be necessary to resolve an incident prison, plans are formulated in consultation with staff trained in advanced control and restraint techniques. Intervention plans will be adapted and reassessed as the nature of the incident changes or as more resources become available to the prison. Plans will be approved by an establishment-based silver commander, or by a national gold commander where the incident requires the support, advice and guidance of the national gold command suite.
Intervention will only be authorised when there is a known risk to the safety of any person, to prevent an escape, to regain control of all or part of an establishment and/or to prevent the destruction of property. The timing of an intervention will vary dependant on the individual circumstances of each incident.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the delay in answering 29 Questions for Written Answer to the Department for Education is due to the parliamentary section of that department being closed during parliamentary recesses; and, if not, why that department has not provided answers within the target of 10 working days.[HL7314]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The delay in answering written questions has occurred as a result of a technical failure in the IT system that the department uses to track parliamentary questions. The problem has now been identified and fixed and we will provide responses to all outstanding questions as quickly as possible.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the document Strategic Rail Freight Network: The Longer Term Vision, published by the Department for Transport in 2009, reflects current rail freight policy; and, if so, whether bidders for the West Coast Main Line franchise are required to take it into account when preparing their bids.[HL7320]
Earl Attlee: The Strategic Rail Freight Network: The Longer Term Vision document reflects the current rail freight policy of the Department for Transport. It is referred to in the InterCity West Coast consultation document and will be included in the data site for franchisees to consider when preparing their bids.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Health and Safety Executive plans to amend the minimum reporting time for minor injuries from three to seven days in industries subject to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (SI 1995/3163). [HL7399]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is currently consulting on the proposed amendment to Regulation 3(2) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). The proposal seeks to increase the period for reporting injuries that lead to a worker being incapacitated for work from over three to over seven days. As part of the consultation HSE will consider whether to increase the time by which the report must be made to the enforcing authority.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received a request from the Government of the Republic of Ireland to re-negotiate the terms of the £7 billion loan provided by the United Kingdom Government to assist the Republic of Ireland in managing its financial deficit.[HL7292]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to extend to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution the exemption from investigation or prosecution under health and safety legislation for the police and fire service under specified circumstances, as recommended in the report Common Sense, Common Safety.[HL7335]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud):Common Sense, Common Safety makes a recommendation that individual police officers and firefighters should not be at risk of investigation or prosecution under health and safety legislation as a result of a heroic act and that HSE, the police and the CPS should produce further guidance on this matter. The report does not recommend any exemption from legal requirements for the police or fire and rescue services.
The Government have accepted Lord Young's recommendations and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service regarding guidance on the application of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure that it is consistent with, and reflects, the principles already agreed with the two services, as set out in HSE's high level statements Striking the balance between operational and health and safety duties in the Police Service and Striking the balance between operational and health and safety duties in the Fire and Rescue Service".
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will encourage charities to participate in promoting the safeguarding of children in place of local authorities who have reduced or removed their budgets.[HL6745]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In June last year, the Secretary of State for Education announced the appointment of Professor Eileen Munro to carry out an independent review to improve child protection. On 1 February 2011, Professor Munro published her interim report, TheMunroReview of Child Protection-Interim Report: The Child's Journey. In the report Professor Munro confirms the long tradition of children and their families drawing on support from a range of sources outside the state, from core frontline services provided by some of England's largest charities to groups of local volunteers assisting social care to enhance the service it provides. The Government endorse this approach and look forward to her final recommendations in April to which we will respond.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they are assisting local authorities who may be experiencing difficulties in placing looked-after children in schools when they have been re-located from other local authorities, such as happened in Kent with children relocated from London.[HL6718]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Looked-after children, with some limited exceptions, have top priority in any school admission oversubscription criteria and schools cannot therefore refuse to admit them.
Outside the normal admission round local authorities are able, if necessary, to direct the admission authority of a maintained school to admit a child they look after, even where the school is full. A local authority can ask an academy to admit a looked-after child. Where the academy refuses to admit the child the local authority can ask the Secretary of State to consider whether to direct the academy.
There will sometimes be good reasons why looked-after children need to be placed away from their communities although in most cases children benefit from being placed close to home. From 1 April 2011 local authorities will be required to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that there is sufficient accommodation within their local authority area to meet the needs of the children under their care.
In addition, the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 and accompanying statutory guidance require that a placement is the most appropriate available, that it meets the child's needs identified in his or her care plan and that the independent reviewing officer reviewing the child's case has had an opportunity to discuss the proposed arrangements before any final decision has been made. This includes where the child should go to school or obtain his or her education. The discussion should in most circumstances take place after the child has visited the proposed education setting.
Where a local authority makes an out-of-authority placement it should work closely with all relevant bodies, including the local authority where the child will be living, to ensure that the child's identified needs can be met effectively.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote sunscreen protection using the recommendation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's report Skin cancer: prevention, using public information, sun protection resources and changes to the environment that sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 is an appropriate level, or the British Association of Dermatologists recommendation to use sunscreen with a SPF of 30.[HL7255]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department promotes sunscreen protection through Sunsmart, a national skin cancer prevention campaign run by Cancer Research UK.
Sunsmart raises awareness amongst the public and healthcare professions about the causes of skin cancer, how to prevent it, and the importance of early detection, presentation and treatment. The campaign recommends buying sunscreens with a sun protection factor of at least 15.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Local authorities are currently considering their budgets for next year, including how best to allocate resources to local services. It is for them to determine, in consultation with local communities, the most effective way of delivering future services to meet local need.
The Government have ensured there is enough money in the system to maintain a network of Sure Start children's centres, accessible to all, but focused on those families in greatest need. Local authorities continue to have duties to consult before opening, closing or significantly changing children's centres, and to secure sufficient centre provision to meet local need, so far as is reasonably practicable.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have forecast the likely level of closures of Sure Start centres in 2011; whether they maintain a record of centres which local authorities propose to close; and which centres they are currently aware are scheduled for closure.[HL6968]
The Government have ensured there is enough money in the system to maintain a network of Sure Start children's centres. However it is for local authorities, in consultation with local communities, to determine the most effective way of delivering future services to meet local need. They have a duty to consult before opening, closing or significantly changing Sure Start children's centres and to secure sufficient children's centres provision to meet local need so far as is reasonably practicable.
Many local authorities have not yet made final decisions about changes to their children's centres, which will depend partly on the outcomes from local consultation. Together for Children is currently assisting local authorities in making plans to keep children's centres open.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have carried out studies to determine (a) the proposed locations of the surface access shafts for the Thames Tunnel between Hammersmith and Beckton, (b) the volumes of spoil to be removed, (c) the amount of imported materials to be transported to and from each site, and (d) the means of transport. [HL7173]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): These matters fall to Thames Water to consider as part of its requirement to consult on the proposed route and associated construction sites for the Thames tunnel. We have indicated that planning consent for the Thames tunnel will be dealt with under the regime in the Planning Act 2008 for nationally significant infrastructure projects. Any application from Thames Water for planning consent will need to demonstrate that adequate consultation with local communities and local authorities on the impact of the development has taken place.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the competition implications for European exchange-traded financial derivatives of the proposed merger of Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext; and whether they intend to make proposals to ensure all trading houses have equal access to Eurex derivatives exchanges.[HL7164]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have considered the competition implications of vertical silos where derivative exchanges also own clearing houses; and whether they propose to take any action.[HL7418]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are mindful of the potential implications for competition of the proposed merger, which triggers the thresholds under the EU merger regulation.
The Government support fair and open access between trading platforms and central counterparties. Proposals to make progress on this are included in the forthcoming EU regulation on derivatives transactions, central counterparties and trade repositories.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken as a result of the feasibility study for a Road Vehicle Biomethane Demonstration Project completed for the Department for Transport in June 2010; and what plans they have for developing the future use of biomethane in road vehicles. [HL6619]
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport (DfT) recognises the importance of biomethane made from waste (eg through anaerobic digestion) as a sustainable renewable transport fuel, particularly in the heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) sector where there are few other options for reducing carbon emissions.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will be publishing an anaerobic digestion strategy in spring 2011. DfT is working with Defra on a specific part of this strategy that is developing an action plan to address the question of how we ensure that operators can make the best use of biomethane as a transport fuel.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the present arrangements for licensing the operating centres for public service vehicles and heavy goods vehicles; and to what extent those arrangements take into account the local roads used to access those operating centres.[HL7319]
Earl Attlee: The licensing of public service vehicles is covered by the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, and goods vehicles (exceeding 3,500kgs) by the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995.
Both of these statutes require an applicant for an operator's licence to nominate an operating centre to keep authorised vehicles when they are not in use. Neither statute gives a traffic commissioner any jurisdiction to directly consider the suitability of public road networks, but the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 does allow a traffic commissioner, either when an application for a licence is made, or at five yearly intervals following a licence first being issued, to consider the suitability of an operating centre at the point where authorised vehicles first join a public road on their way from an operating centre and on any road (other than a public road) along which the vehicles travel between such a point and the operating centre.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The gender impacts have been published as part of the equality impact assessment for the Welfare Reform Bill, which was published on 8 March 2011. The equality impact assessment is available on the DWP website.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Rawlings on 28 February (WA 284), whether they have initiated or resourced any activities in support of World Book Day.[HL7297]
Baroness Rawlings: On Thursday 3 March as part of World Book Day, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport ran an event on Twitter focusing on the favourite books of people from the worlds of culture, media and sport, and also solicited tweets from followers about their favourite books too.
In addition, the department carried a news item on their website to promote the day which can be viewed here: http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/7895. aspx.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government recognise that many local authorities are making difficult decisions to prioritise funding between different services for children and young people. We have made it clear to local authorities that they will need to consider how best to target the available resources for youth services on early interventions that ensure support for those who need it most.
Lord Hill of Oareford: From April 2011, local authorities' funding from central government for services for children, young people and families will be provided via the
9 Mar 2011 : Column WA424
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