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15 Mar 2011 : Column WA27



15 Mar 2011 : Column WA27

Written Answers

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our embassy officials in Kabul, alongside our international partners, continue to press the Afghan Government to implement their national and international human rights commitments, including the elimination of violence against women law and the UN Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. During his visit to Afghanistan in January 2011, my honourable friend the Minister with responsibility for Afghanistan, Alistair Burt, discussed women's issues with Dr. Hasn Banu Ghazanfar, Afghan Acting Minister for Women's Affairs.

Alveolar Echinococcosis

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

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.

Armed Forces: Repatriation

Question

Asked by Lord Davies of Stamford



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): I refer the noble Lord to the answer given by my honourable friend the Minister for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey) in the other place on 31 January 2011 (Official Report, Commons, col. 582W) to the honourable Member for Easington (Mr Morris).

Armed Forces: Royal Air Force

Question

Asked by Lord Davies of Stamford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): As the RAF's aircraft capabilities continue to evolve, the effect delivered by specific squadrons of aircraft also changes. For example, the forthcoming arrival into service of the additional Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft and the A400M will see squadrons stood up, while those currently operating C130 Hercules, VC10 and Tristar will either re-equip to these new aircraft types or will be disbanded as these aircraft go out of service. When squadrons are disbanded the number plate is placed on the dormant list, rather than being abolished. Those squadron number plates not currently allocated may be reissued, most notably when new capabilities enter service, based on seniority or their traditional role.

Last Autumn No. 6 Squadron stood-up operating Typhoon aircraft, which will replace the Tornado F3 in the air defence role this month. As a result No. 111(F) Squadron will disband and Tornado F3 will be retired as planned.

Following the strategic defence and security review (SDSR), the Royal Air Force Harrier squadrons (Nos. 1(F) and IV(R)) have been disbanded and the Nimrod MRA4 will not be brought into service which will mean that Nos. 42(R), 120 and 201 Squadrons will disband in May 2011. On 1 March 2011 we also announced the disbandment, in June 2011, of Nos. XIII and 14 Squadrons operating the Tornado GR4.

The SDSR decisions on Nimrod MRA4 and our fast jet fleet will also lead to a reduction in the size of our training pipeline. No. 76 (R) Squadron, which operates the Tucano training aircraft, will disband on 12 May 2011. We are still working through the full implications in this area and cannot therefore release further detail at this time.

Armed Forces: Safeguarding of Sites

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): We have specific measures in place to safeguard our establishments (especially airfield, technical sites and explosive storage depots) and these are tailored to the individual site and its topography.

Safeguarding of sites is covered by the provision of Planning Circulars 01/03 (England & Wales) and 02/03 (Scotland), and we publish statutory safeguarding consultation zones for the relevant sites.

Government policy for counterterrorist measures (CTM) are set out in the HMG Security Policy Framework published by the Cabinet Office which applies to all government departments and sets out a baseline set of measures that should be incorporated.

Defence Estates is responsible for representing the department in the UK planning system to manage safeguarding zones and maintain relevant safeguarding requirements for operational defence sites.

Armed Forces: University Air Squadrons

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There are currently 14 University Air Squadrons. The following table provides the name and flying training location of each squadron, known as a Flying Headquarters.

NameFlying Headquarters

University of Birmingham Air Squadron (UBAS)

RAF Cosford

Bristol University Air Squadron (BUAS)

Colerne Airfield

Cambridge University Air Squadron (CUAS)

RAF Wyton

East of Scotland Universities Air Squadron (ESUAS)

RAF Leuchars

East Midlands Universities Air Squadrons (EMUAS)

RAF Cranwell

Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Air Squadron (UGSAS)

Glasgow International Airport

Liverpool University Air Squadron (LUAS)

RAF Woodvale

University of London Air Squadron (ULAS)

RAF Wyton

Manchester and Salford Universities Air Squadron (MSUAS)

RAF Woodvale

Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron (NUAS)

RAF Leeming

Oxford University Air Squadron (OUAS)

RAF Benson

Southampton University Air Squadron (SUAS)

MoD Boscome Down

University of Wales Air Squadron (UWAS)

MoD St Athan

Universities of Yorkshire Air Squadrons (UYAS)

RAF Church Fenton



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Banking: Cheques

Questions

Asked by Lord True

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government do not collect these data. Much of this information is published by the Payments Council in its 2010 annual progress report on the cheque replacement programme. The report is available from the Payments Council and is also accessible on-line at www.paymentscouncil.org.uk.

Asked by Lord True

Lord Sassoon: The Government's investments in banks are managed on a commercial and arm's-length basis by UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI).

UKFI is required to carry out this role in a way that is consistent with the Treasury's aim not to be a permanent investor in UK financial institutions-the Government are clear that British banks are best owned and managed commercially.

UKFI's objective is to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder, with due regard to the maintenance of financial stability, and to act in a way that promotes competition.

Decisions on the continuation of the provision of cheques or suitable alternatives are a matter for the bank boards. Before a decision can be taken, it will be necessary for the banks to develop and implement a strategy to make users aware of alternative payment methods, and to help them to switch to the alternatives. The Payments Council will report on this, and the Government are monitoring progress.

Banking: Iceland

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The local authorities and charities are creditors in the administrations of the failed Icelandic banks. The timing and quantum of recoveries will be determined by the administrators.



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Contact details for the administrators in the various resolutions are available on the HM Treasury website: http://hm-treasury.gov.uk/fin_stability_icelandic _resolution.htm.

Certain charities may be able to claim through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Details are available on the FSCS website and via the Charity Commission: http://www.fscs.org.uk/industry/consumer- awareness-toolkit/questions-for-firms/2-q-as-for-deposit-firms/http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk.

Belarus

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We welcome the statement on Belarus by the International Democrat Union. The UK is at the forefront of efforts within the EU and the wider international community to bring pressure to bear on the Belarusian authorities. We have been vocal in advocating a tough EU response, such as re-imposing the travel ban on individuals responsible for human rights abuses. We have repeatedly demanded the release of those detained on political grounds and we are increasing our level of support to Belarusian civil society, political refugees and students who have been expelled from their universities.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The information requested is not available. The department does not routinely record the sexual orientation of benefit claimants. For benefit units (households) consisting of a couple, the datasets available for analysis do not hold information on whether housing benefit is paid into the claimant's own bank or building society account or into a joint account.

Channel Tunnel

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley



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Earl Attlee: For the financial year 2009-10, the cost of operating the UK side of the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission was £360,000 and that of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority £1,041,000. We do not hold figures for the French side.

Channel Tunnel: Intergovernmental Commission

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Formal measures are in place to ensure that the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) maintains the economic regulatory independence required by article 30 of Directive 2001/14/EC. Only the members of the UK delegation to the IGC appointed on the Office of Rail Regulation's (ORR's) advice, acting independently of the Secretary of State, make decisions on regulatory matters. This position is protected by a memorandum of understanding between the ORR and the Department for Transport.

No one on the UK IGC delegation, or working at the Office of Rail Regulation in support of the IGC or in the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority (CTSA), has any responsibility for Eurostar. Within the Department for Transport, policy responsibility for Eurostar is vested in a separate command which has no locus in, or responsibility for, the IGC.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The Channel Tunnel is subject to European Directive 2001/14. Compliance with the directive by Eurotunnel is monitored by the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) as the regulatory body for the Channel Tunnel under Article 30 of the directive.

The IGC draws up regulations applicable to the fixed link and has the powers of investigation, inspection and direction necessary for the performance of its functions.



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Charities: Mileage Allowance

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): If the volunteer driver concerned can demonstrate that the amount paid is the actual cost of the mileage incurred in carrying out their volunteering duties, there is no liability to income tax.

China

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Mao Hengfeng's case was included on a list of individual cases of concern that was handed to the head of the Chinese delegation at the UK/China Human Rights dialogue in January 2011. We urged the authorities to ensure that she receives all necessary medical care while in detention. In light of her age we asked that the authorities consider releasing Mao. To date we have not had a response.

We continue to press for Mao Hengfeng's release and will monitor her case closely.

Clothing and Textiles

Question

Asked by Baroness Quin

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government do not collect data on the proportion of clothing and textiles currently bought in the UK that can be classified as (a) sustainable or (b) ethical.

However, the Co-operative Bank's Ethical Consumerism Report 2010 contains useful expenditure figures on this area. It is available to view online at: www.goodwithmoney.co.uk/ethical-consumerism-report-2010.



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Criminal Justice: Compensation

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As I explained in earlier replies, it is the policy of the Ministry of Justice not to comment on individual applications for compensation unless the applicant has already put the matter into the public domain. The department's policy has been endorsed by the Information Commissioner. A copy of a decision by the Information Commissioner relating to a request for disclosure of similar information under the Freedom of Information Act has previously been placed in the Library.

I am not aware of any current civil proceedings against the Home Office or the Ministry of Justice in relation to these matters. Any civil actions against the police are a matter for individual police forces.

Economy: Monetary and Fiscal Policy

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) takes into account the path for fiscal policy in judging the outlook for growth and inflation and hence in its monetary policy decisions. As per a provision in the Bank of England Act 1998, a Treasury representative attends, and may speak at, the monthly MPC meetings. The non-voting representative plays a key role in ensuring appropriate co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy, including by briefing the MPC on the Budget.



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Electoral Register

Question

Asked by Lord Tyler

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have made no such estimate. There is no general legal requirement for a person to indicate when they are registering to vote that they are also registered in another local authority area.

An individual may be registered at more than one address if it appears to the electoral registration officer for the local authority area in which each address is located that they are resident in that area. A person registered in more than one area is not permitted to vote twice at a general or European parliamentary election. However, they are entitled to vote in local government elections in two different localities, as in doing so, they are not casting more than one vote in an election to the same body. It is an offence, potentially leading to a fine of up to £5,000, to vote more than once at an election for the same body.

Energy: Biofuels

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Biofuels from used cooking oil are currently supported through two mechanisms: the 20p tax differential which was introduced on 1 April 2010 and is set to run for a period of two years, and the renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO).

We are currently consulting on proposals to amend the RTFO. Our proposed amendment will provide additional support to biofuels from waste, including used cooking oil, by awarding twice the number of renewable transport fuel certificates to such biofuel as to biofuels from crops.

The research commissioned by the Department for Transport to assess likely scenarios for the availability of biofuels through to 2050 is due to complete this spring and will be published on the department's website. This research considers the availability of used cooking oil and other biofuels but does not specifically review the support mechanisms for these fuels.



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EU: Common Fisheries Policy

Question

Asked by The Duke of Montrose

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): There is no single solution to discards. They occur for a variety of different reasons, and so different solutions are needed to address the specific causes. It is not as simple as banning discards, as experience shows that it is difficult to enforce, and that discards still occur but are just not recorded. The focus must be on developing and implementing practical and effective measures in partnership with the industry that deliver results. In my earlier response to the Lord Eden of Winton, I outlined the excellent work that the UK Government are doing domestically on this issue.

A significant part of the problem is the way fisheries are managed and the Government have made clear that tackling discards must be a priority for common fisheries policy (CFP) reform. I am delighted that at the high level political meeting on discards on 1 March the EU Commission and other member states were able to agree on this too. It is now a matter for member states and the EU to agree the detail which will determine the solutions that are put in place for 2013. The UK Government will use their excellent experience to shape and influence the outcome of the reform.

Under a reformed CFP, the Government want to see a regionalised management framework, where those closest to the fishery have the flexibility to use a range of measures appropriate to local circumstances in order to meet high level objectives to reduce discards.

European Stability Mechanism

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK, along with all other member states, is participating in the discussions on the design of the European stability mechanism (ESM) in line with the conclusions of the December European Council. Although the ESM will be established by euro area member states, issues considered in the discussions on its design may have impacts that could affect the European Union as a whole, including the UK. The Treasury does not routinely provide estimates of the cost of participating in specific international negotiations.



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Finance: Scotland

Question

Asked by Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government promote financial services across the whole of the UK through UK Trade and Investment and in partnership with the industry-led body TheCityUK, which has Scottish Financial Enterprise within its membership. TheCityUK was established with the Government's encouragement to lead the work promoting the whole of the UK financial and professional services industry.

Food: Labelling

Questions

Asked by Baroness Byford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government are committed to honest and accurate information on where a food comes from. While there is no legal definition for the term "local" for labelling purposes, where it is used it must not mislead. Consumers are protected from misleading labelling by a number of pieces of legislation. If the labelling is found to be misleading, enforcement authorities have powers to take appropriate enforcement action.

A consumer survey commissioned by the Food Standards Agency and published in 2007 indicated that the term "local" is interpreted differently by UK consumers with some considering it a small geographic area (40 miles) and some considering it as food sourced from a wider area (eg county, region or country). A number of organisations have sought to define local food. However, these differ greatly in their criteria and on the size of geographic area considered local, making them unsuitable for an overarching definition for general use. Where it is used, businesses should be able to explain what it means. If consumers have concerns about the origin of their food they can ask for details at the point of purchase.

Finally, there are EU schemes which allow for the protection of certain food and drink products which carry the name of a geographical area and which owe their distinctive characteristics and reputation to the area in which they are produced. Scotch Whisky is probably the best known of these protected names but others include Cornish clotted cream, Scotch beef and Melton Mowbray pork pies. It is our policy actively to encourage more UK applications under these schemes.



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Asked by Baroness Byford

Lord Henley: The UK has been actively involved in EU negotiations on a new regulation for food labelling, the food information regulation.

We have been pressing for improved origin labelling in negotiations and have successfully included in the current text an extension making origin labelling compulsory to all fresh meat with the possibility, subject to a review, of extending origin labelling for other foods. We have also secured a requirement for origin information to be given for main ingredients when origin claims are made on food products (eg the origin of the steak in a steak pie labelled as made in the UK). EU member states have reached political agreement on this text and it will now be sent to the European Parliament for further consideration. We are not expecting the regulation to be adopted and published until early 2012.

In the mean time, we continue to work with the food industry, retailers and others to encourage better labelling. Indeed, I am pleased that the food industry launched its own voluntary principles on origin labelling on 24 November 2010. These principles have been agreed by trade associations representing manufacturers, retailers and the food service sector (British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation, British Hospitality Association, Dairy UK, British Meat Processors Association). All of the major supermarkets have signed up to this approach. We will be carrying out an evaluation of the effectiveness of these voluntary principles for meat and dairy products over the next few months to provide a baseline for future assessments of the effectiveness of the voluntary approach to origin information.

Forced Marriage

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Legal aid funding is available for forced marriage applications. They are subject to means and the merits criteria, set out in the Legal Services Commission's funding code.



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Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord McNally: Forced Marriage Protection Orders are British civil orders and are enforceable within the borders of England and Wales. There are no formal agreements in place between the UK and Pakistan, India, or Bangladesh for the mutual recognition of Forced Marriage Protection Orders. Most cases where the victim has already been taken abroad are heard in the Family Division of the High Court under the inherent jurisdiction. The form of order made respectfully invites the judicial and administrative bodies and police authorities in the country to which the child has been taken to render assistance in establishing the whereabouts of the person to be protected and/or to arrange for them to be put in contact with the British high commission in that country. The Forced Marriage Unit and the British high commissions work closely with the Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian authorities on a case by case basis to ensure the safety and (where requested) repatriation of victims, using, where appropriate, the provisions of a Forced Marriage Protection Order.

Forced marriage is not condoned by any major religion, and there are no indications of systemic problems or incompatibilities when working with the Pakistani authorities on this issue.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): There are currently no plans to make the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and no

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assessment has been carried out on the likely impact of extending the FOIA to the FSCS. However, the Government will keep the scope of the FOIA under review and may consider its extension to additional bodies in the future.

General Lighthouse Authorities

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Travel related expenditure is an operational matter for the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs).

The duties and responsibilities of the general lighthouse authorities and their relationship with the Department for Transport are set out in a framework document dated July 2008. The budget for the Research and Radionavigation Directorate of the General Lighthouse Authorities is set out in the corporate plans for the GLAs which are approved annually by the Secretary of State for Transport.

GPS Stations

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The General Lighthouse Authorities commenced a trial differential GPS service in August 1998. The service was funded from the General Lighthouse Fund. The Department for Transport made a financial contribution in order to investigate the potential benefits to other transport modes.



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Human Remains: Disposal

Question

Asked by Lord Swinfen

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The process of PromessionTM does not involve the burning of human remains so it falls outside the regulatory framework as provided in the Cremation Act 1902 and the Cremation (England and Wales) Regulations 2008. However, while PromessionTM is neither prohibited nor currently regulated, it would have to meet local planning, health and safety and environmental legislation.

Primary legislation would be required to give the power for Government to regulate PromessionTM. There are no plans to amend the law in England and Wales at present.

Cremation law in Northern Ireland similarly provides only for human remains to be burned. PromessionTM would therefore be unregulated until legislation was introduced. A similar situation pertains in Scotland.

International Criminal Court

Questions

Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have a long-standing reputation for promoting and supporting the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which we view as a cornerstone of international justice. We participate in discussions with an extensive range of non-governmental organisations and civil society groups, both domestically and internationally, and in particular those who are members of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), further to promote the work of the ICC.

For example, in May 2010, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office hosted a round-table in advance of the first ever review conference of the International Criminal Court, with civil society organisations including Redress, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as academics from institutions such as Oxford University and the London School of Economics.

Asked by Lord Ahmed



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Lord Howell of Guildford: In 2009, we provided funding of £4,300 to pay for three journalists from the Democratic Republic of Congo to attend the opening of the trial of Thomas Lubanga in The Hague as part of an initiative to increase victim engagement with the International Criminal Court (ICC) processes.

Also in 2009 we also provided £15,000 to the International Criminal Law Services to identify lessons learnt from other international courts and tribunals relevant to the ICC and where further lesson learning could be relevant to support the future development of the court.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: The United Kingdom has been a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court (ICC) since it was set up in 2002, and played a leading role in the international conference which led to the adoption in 1998 of the Rome statute, which established the court. Since 2002, we believe the court has made significant steps in fulfilling the mandate that was given to it by the international community in 1998. An opportunity to take stock of the achievements of the ICC was provided last year by the ICC's review conference. This was the first occasion since 1998 that the international community had come together to review the original statute, and allowed the court and its supporters to flag up the real impact that the ICC is having globally. This highlighted that the ICC has played a crucial role in:

establishing that justice is an important element of a lasting peace;recognising the rights of victims and enabling them to participate in judicial proceedings; andexpanding the judicial capacity of national jurisdictions to prosecute Rome statute crimes, in particular within Africa.

The global impact of the ICC is further underlined by the fact that 114 countries have ratified the Rome statute since 1998. The court's jurisdiction now covers all of South America and the European Union, and more than half of Africa. Many of these countries have also now adopted the necessary legislation that incorporates Rome statute crimes into their national legislation.

Despite the ICC being a relatively new institution, it is currently managing three trials with a number of other proceedings at the pre-trial stage. Judgment in the first full trial is expected during the course of this year. Furthermore, 11 situations remain currently under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor. We continue to engage with the ICC to ensure that it continues to develop as an efficient and effective institution. A further example of the primary role that the court has now established for itself within the international system was provided by the unanimous adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 on 26 February, which referred current events in Libya to the ICC.



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Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: All accused are innocent until proven guilty and have, therefore, the right to put the prosecution to the test by maintaining a plea of not guilty when defending themselves before an international court. In the absence of a definition of the term active denial and of details of the facts of any given case, it is not possible to comment on what would constitute a crime under international law.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and is watching with interest the trial of Thomas Lubanga, which is the first full case to be heard by the ICC.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are committed to ensuring that appointments made to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and to all international organisations are made on the basis of merit and the candidate's ability to perform the role. We encourage all international partners to do likewise, including at the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC. We are supportive of the initiative from the Coalition of the International Criminal Court (CICC), of which Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are members, to provide an assessment of all the nominations put forward for the role of judge at the ICC.

Asked by Lord Ahmed

Lord Howell of Guildford: The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent judicial body and we do not comment on the handling of proceedings before the court. However, we welcome any steps that court

15 Mar 2011 : Column WA44

officials take to ensure the highest standards of justice are delivered by the ICC. We are a strong supporter of the international justice system and regard the defendant's right to a fair trial to be an integral part of that process. After due consideration of a number of important legal questions, which have now been resolved, the trial has now resumed. We continue to monitor progress of his trial.

Libya

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of claims that UK-supplied equipment has been used to suppress protestors and demonstrators in Libya. We received a specific report on 19 February 2011 that armoured vehicles, supplied to the Libyan police by a UK exporter as part of a training programme, were being used by pro-Gaddafi forces in Benghazi. But, given the closure of our embassy, it has not been possible to confirm this report or other claims.

Given the deplorable and unacceptable levels of violence in Libya, all licences for equipment that could be used for internal repression have been revoked, and we will refuse all future applications for military and security-related goods and technology for the Gaddafi regime. This policy has now been reinforced by the implementation of a UN arms embargo against Libya.

Local Authorities: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The total amount of central government revenue grants local authorities have budgeted to receive in England in 2010-11 is £79,477 million. This includes £21,516 million of redistributed non-domestic rates. The total amount of capital expenditure local authorities are expected to finance through capital grants from central government in 2010-11 is £8,563 million.

Source: Department for Communities and Local Government Revenue Account Budget returns and Capital Estimates returns.

The definition of central government revenue grants used here is the sum of formula grant (revenue support grant, redistributed non-domestic rates and police grant), general GLA grant, area-based grant and specific grants inside aggregate external finance, ie revenue grants paid for councils' core services.



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Figures exclude grants outside aggregate external finance (ie where funding is not for authorities' core services, but is passed to a third party, for example, rent allowances and rebates), funding for the local authorities' housing management responsibilities and those grant programmes (such as European funding) where authorities are simply one of the recipients of funding paid towards an area.

Mexico

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have not made any direct representations to the Mexican Government about the Me'phaa Indigenous People's Organisation (OPIM).

However, our embassy in Mexico City participated in a visit by political counsellors from EU member states to the state of Guerrero, where the OPIM is based. While there, the political counsellors met members of the state of Guerrero's Government, the president of Guerrero's Human Rights Commission and members of OPIM.

Our embassy is also running a project to support the UN Human Rights Council's universal periodic review (UPR) recommendation that Mexico creates and implements a protection committee for journalists and human rights defenders, like OPIM.

National Insurance

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government intend to publish details of the take-up of the national insurance contributions holiday around the Budget later this month.

Nicaragua

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica, covers Nicaragua. It most recently raised the issue of rape and sexual abuse of girls and women with the Government of Nicaragua in December 2009. Our embassy has also expressed our concern at a judicial case brought against a group of nine Nicaraguan women who work on sexual health and women's and children's rights and work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Pakistan

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the response of 7 March 2011, given by my honourable friend Alistair Burt to the honourable Member for East Londonderry (Mr Gregory Campbell) in the other place (Official Report, Commons, col. 844W).

Papal Visit

Question

Asked by Baroness Turner of Camden

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office sent an invoice for these costs to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales on 25 February 2011. We expect to receive the funds in due course.

Prison Service: Medals

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): All full-time and part-time serving staff who are employed on operational duties in the prison services of the United Kingdom and who have the necessary qualifying service are eligible for the Prison Service's (operational duties) long service and good conduct medal.



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The medal will be available to eligible staff who were in service in an operational grade on or after 29 April 2008, including staff who have since retired, and who have not previously been awarded the Imperial Service Medal.

The qualifying service for the award is 20 years' continuous meritorious full or part-time operational service, or an aggregate of 20 years' continuous full and part-time operational service, completed by or after 29 April 2008.

Prisoners: Transfers

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice does not record separately prisoners who were sentenced abroad and who remain in custody here following their transfer to the United Kingdom. We cannot therefore provide details of the numbers who are still serving their sentences.

However, I can confirm that in 2010, 89 prisoners were repatriated to England and Wales to continue serving sentences. The table below sets out the offences, sentence lengths and the sentencing states of those prisoners transferred to England and Wales in 2010.



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Transferring StateOffence TypeSentence Length

Australia

Murder

Life

Belgium

Drugs

7 years

Brazil

Drugs

7 years 4 months

Brazil

Drugs

4 years

Costa Rica

Drugs

5 years 4 months

Cyprus

Theft

2 years 6 months

Cyprus

Drugs

2 years

Cyprus

Robbery

5 years

Cyprus

Manslaughter

3 years

Cyprus

Manslaughter

3 years

France

Drugs

5 years

France

Drugs

7 years

France

Drugs

5 years

France

Drugs

7 years

Germany

Drugs

4 years

Ghana

Drugs

15 years

Ghana

Drugs

20 years

Ghana

Drugs

10 years

Grenada

Drugs

4 years

Grenada

Drugs

2 years

Grenada

Drugs

3 years

Holland

Drugs

6 years

Hong Kong

Money Laundering

3 years 9 months

Hong Kong

Drugs

8 years

Republic of Ireland

Firearms

3 years

Republic of Ireland

Drugs

12 years

Republic of Ireland

Drugs

14 years

Republic of Ireland

Drugs

7 years

Republic of Ireland

Drugs

6 years

Republic of Ireland

Drugs

10 years

Republic of Ireland

Burglary

7 years

Republic of Ireland

Burglary

7 years

Republic of Ireland

Drugs

10 years

Republic of Ireland

Burglary

4 years 1 month

Republic of Ireland

Drugs

5 years

Republic of Ireland

Burglary

6 years

Republic of Ireland

Drugs

4 years 6 months

Republic of Ireland

Drugs

11 years

Japan

Drugs

10 years

Japan

Drugs

10 years

Japan

Drugs

5 years

Laos

Drugs

Life

Norway

Drugs

6 years

Panama

Drugs

6 years 8 months

Portugal

Drugs

6 years

Slovakia

Sex offences

5 years

Spain

Murder

12 years 9 months

Spain

Drugs

4 years 6 months

Spain

Drugs

3 years 4 months

Spain

Sex Offences

13 years 6 months

Spain

Drugs

3 years

Spain

Drugs

11 years 3 months

Spain

Drugs

9 years

Spain

Drugs

9 years

Spain

Sex Offences

4 years

Spain

Drugs

9 years

Spain

Drugs

5 years

Spain

Manslaughter

12 years

Spain

Sex Offences

6 years

Spain

Manslaughter

9 years

Spain

Drugs

9 years

Spain

Attempted Manslaughter

6 years

Spain

Drugs

9 years

Spain

Drugs

6 years 1 month

Spain

Drugs

7 years

Spain

Fraud

4 years

Spain

Manslaughter

28 years

Spain

Drugs

5 years

Sweden

Drugs

3 years 9 months

Sweden

Drugs

3 years 9 months

Thailand

Drugs

6 years

Thailand

Drugs

20 years

Thailand

Drugs

8 years 10 months

Thailand

Theft

3 years

Trinidad & Tobago

Drugs

6 years

Trinidad & Tobago

Drugs

4 years

Trinidad & Tobago

Drugs

2 years

Trinidad & Tobago

Drugs

3 years

Trinidad & Tobago

Drugs

4 years 6 months

Trinidad & Tobago

Drugs

4 years

Trinidad & Tobago

Drugs

2 years

Trinidad & Tobago

Drugs

4 years

Turkey

Drugs

5 years

Turkey

Drugs

6 years 3 months

USA

Fraud

2 years 6 months

USA

Air Piracy

12 years 6 months

USA

Drugs

5 years 10 months

USA

Sex offences

3 years 4 months

USA

Drugs

6 years 6 months



15 Mar 2011 : Column WA49

The repatriation of prisoners to Scotland and Northern Ireland is a matter for the respective devolved Administration.

Prisoners: Voting

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government are considering the next steps on prisoner voting rights in view of the strength of feeling on this issue in the UK, as demonstrated by the recent debates in Parliament. The Government have sought to refer the Greens and MT judgment against the UK to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. If the Grand Chamber agrees to the referral they will look again at the case and issue their own judgment.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord McNally: The Government are aware of the arrangements for prisoners voting in these countries. However, the Government are considering the next steps on prisoner voting rights in view of the strength of feeling on this issue in the UK. The Government have sought to refer the Greens and MT judgment against the UK to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. If the Grand Chamber agrees to the referral they will look again at the case and issue their own judgment.

Asked by Lord Christopher

Lord McNally: The Government are considering the next steps on prisoner voting rights in view of the strength of feeling on this issue in the UK, as demonstrated by the recent debates in Parliament. The Government have sought to refer the Greens and MT judgment against the UK to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. If the Grand Chamber agrees to the referral they will look again at the case and issue their own judgment. The Government will set out their intended approach in due course.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord McNally: The question of who is entitled to vote in any particular referendum will be considered and determined in the light of the subject matter of that referendum. The franchise for each referendum is commonly set out in the primary legislation which establishes that a referendum is to be held. For example, the franchise for the forthcoming voting systems referendum is based on the franchise for parliamentary elections. This means that some prisoners (those held on remand, for contempt of court, or for non-payment of fines) will be free to vote by post or proxy in the referendum to be held on 5 May, provided they are otherwise eligible.

Convicted prisoners detained in pursuance of their sentence are barred from voting in parliamentary (and other) elections under Section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. There is no duty on a person who is on the register to notify an electoral registration officer that he is no longer entitled to be registered, but it is a criminal offence under Section 61 of the 1983 Act to vote in a parliamentary election when knowingly subject to a bar and an equivalent offence is often applied in the context of voting in referendums (see, for example, Schedule 4 to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011).

Railways: Community Rail Projects

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Community rail projects have an important role to play in supporting the delivery of the community rail development strategy. Delivery of its four key aims of increasing revenue, reducing costs and supporting social and economic development has the potential to make a positive difference to local economies and communities.

Community rail projects also help encourage local participation in decision-making in relation to rail services and stations.

Railways: Franchises

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



15 Mar 2011 : Column WA51

Earl Attlee: Franchises will vary according to individual circumstances, but will usually be required to commit to trajectories for punctuality and reliability. The contractual approach for cleaning, maintenance and customer service will vary by franchise, and may include passenger satisfaction targets or mystery shopper approaches.

We anticipate that commitments will be measured either by the independent national passenger survey or by independently audited train operator systems, to which the Department for Transport will also have rights to audit.

Republic of Ireland: State Visit

Question

Asked by Lord Rana

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The President of Ireland has invited Her Majesty the Queen to pay a state visit to Ireland in 2011. The exchange of invitation and formal acceptance took place on 4 March. Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh are very much looking forward to their visit to the UK's closest neighbour.

Royal Family: Official Duties

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): In preparation for specific visits both overseas and within the UK undertaken by members of the Royal Family, the relevant government departments provide briefing packs, containing background briefs, objectives, suggested points for discussion and background material for individual meetings.

Schools: Religious Discrimination

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury



15 Mar 2011 : Column WA52

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Section 59 of the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998 (SSFA) maintains provision from the Education Acts of 1936 and 1944 when the context surrounding the teaching of RE was very different, and there was no legislation providing teachers with protection from discrimination in employment or associated employment rights.

The current requirements in relation to the teaching of RE in both community schools and non-faith academies are similar. All academies must provide religious education in accordance with their funding agreements. Funding agreements require that academies that do not have a religious designation must provide a curriculum which, while reflecting that religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian, takes account of the teaching and practices of all the principal religions represented in Great Britain. The intention is that pupils can acquire an understanding of the practices and beliefs of all the major religions and no teacher in an academy without a religious ethos will be in a position where they would be required to teach denominational RE, which might be contrary to their convictions or principles.

Whether a teacher in such an academy would ever be required to teach RE will be a matter that can be governed by their employment contract. However, if a teacher were able to demonstrate that being required to teach RE according to the locally agreed syllabus amounted to less favourable treatment on the grounds of their religion or belief then they would be protected by the non-discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010 (the legislation that implements the Employment Framework Directive (2000/78/EC)).

To the extent that Section 59 SSFA provides protection for staff on the grounds of their religion or belief, the Equality Act 2010 will do the same. This means that no teacher in an academy without a religious ethos can lawfully suffer less favourable treatment because of their religion or belief and this is what is required by the framework directive. It is not considered necessary to replicate the wording of Section 59 of the SSFA for academies without a religious ethos.

The Government are therefore satisfied that their approach is compatible with the Employment Framework Directive 2000/78/EC.

Schools: Uniform

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): School uniform plays a valuable role in contributing to the ethos of a school and setting an appropriate tone. Most schools in England have a school uniform or dress code and other rules on appearance. The Department for Education strongly encourages schools to have a uniform as it can instil pride; support positive behaviour and discipline; encourage

15 Mar 2011 : Column WA53

identity with, and support for, school ethos; ensure pupils of all races and backgrounds feel welcome; protect children from social pressures to dress in a particular way; and nurture cohesion and promote good relations between different groups of pupils. Above all, many schools believe that school uniform supports effective teaching and learning. The department's guidance on school uniform is available here: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/school ethos/a0014144/guidance-for-schools-on-school-uniform-and-related-policies.

Sudan

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The International Criminal Court (ICC) pre-trial chamber issued an arrest warrant for genocide against President Bashir on 12 July 2010. The UK supports the work of ICC as an independent judicial body and has repeatedly urged the Government of Sudan to co-operate with the ICC with regard to the arrest warrants of President Bashir and other regime figures. We continue to call on the Government of Sudan and all Darfuri armed groups to cease hostilities and reach a peaceful solution to the conflict through negotiations ongoing at Doha.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We consider that recent events in the south Mediterranean indicate a need to review the European neighbourhood policy, including a greater focus on conditionality and value for money. As the Deputy Prime Minister said in his speech in Brussels on 2 March 2011, "The EU should provide a more ambitious offer to those governments which work towards the values their people are insisting on, linked with tougher conditionality for those that ignore them". We are currently discussing these issues with other EU member states.



15 Mar 2011 : Column WA54

Tajikistan

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received such a list from Tajikistan. This flows from a successful visit to the United Kingdom in November by the Speaker of the Tajik Parliament under the auspices of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. We welcome the list as an expression of Tajikistan's interest in developing a deeper relationship with the UK. We are exploring in the context of our broader bilateral agenda how we can best take forward the areas for co-operation set out in the list. This will include work on strengthening parliamentary co-operation; developing trade and investment links and those in the field of education; as well as on other issues of mutual interest including Afghanistan and regional stability.

Taxis: Wheelchair Access

Question

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

Earl Attlee: It is up to individual licensing authorities to ensure that taxis are in proper working order and that taxi drivers carry out their duties competently. They can take enforcement action against licence holders who cannot fulfil their duties.

Transport for London: Value for Money

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Independent Investment Programme Advisory Group (IIPAG) began its work in May 2010 and its remit was expanded as part of the recent spending review in October 2010. The IIPAG plans to report on and publish the overall findings of its first year's work this summer. This will include the first full results from its newly-acquired benchmarking role.



15 Mar 2011 : Column WA55

Uganda

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As my honourable friend Henry Bellingham, the Minister for Africa, noted in his statement of 22 February 2011, we fully endorse the preliminary findings of the EU and Commonwealth observation missions to Uganda, which noted that while there have been improvements in the overall conduct and transparency of the elections, they were marred by avoidable shortcomings in their organisation. We share the observer missions' concern that the power of incumbency was exercised to such an extent as to compromise severely the level playing field between the competing candidates and political parties.

The Government will encourage all those elected and all Uganda's political stakeholders, including Uganda's Government, political parties and the Electoral Commission, to reflect on the assessments of the independent observers, build on positive developments, and address the shortcomings identified in order to strengthen pluralistic, multi-party democracy in Uganda.

Vehicles: Lorries

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency has over 30 different categories for mirror failure items. It is not possible to extract the specific safety mirror category without disproportionate cost being incurred.

However, of the 443,493 heavy goods vehicles annual tests that were carried out in 2009-10, 1.6 per cent was recorded as failed due to a mirror defect.

Mirror failure rates for previous years are not recorded.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



15 Mar 2011 : Column WA56

Earl Attlee: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency has over 30 different categories for recording mirror failure items. It is not possible to extract the specific safety mirror category without disproportionate cost being incurred.

The total number of roadside checks and overall mirror failure rate is shown in the table below:

Financial YearNumber of Heavy Goods Vehicles Roadside checksNumber of Mirror Prohibitions

2007-08

86,549

92

2008-09

107,329

119

2009-10

133,213

110

Vietnam

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have been monitoring Dr Nguyen Dan Que's case closely following his arrest on 26 February 2011. We take every opportunity to raise human rights issues with the Vietnamese Government. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised human rights when he met Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem on 8 September 2010 in London. My honourable friend the Minister of State, Jeremy Browne, raised human rights with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Cuong on 21 December 2010, as did my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at the ASEM summit on 4 October 2010 in Brussels.

Our ambassador also regularly raises human rights issues with the Vietnamese Government bilaterally, including our concerns about the arrest and imprisonment of peaceful activists.

Zimbabwe

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Whether or not to invest in Zimbabwe is a commercial decision for individual companies to make. However, we are aware of increasing interest from British companies in investing in Zimbabwe. We have clarified that there is no UK embargo on doing business there and have facilitated networking

15 Mar 2011 : Column WA57

events with the Minister for Africa so that British companies can discuss at first hand both the opportunities and the challenges of investing in the country.

We believe that improved international trade and investment will be vital to Zimbabwe's development. But it is up to the Government of Zimbabwe to create the conditions and environment that will attract such investment.



15 Mar 2011 : Column WA58

In this context, we believe that the recent threats to nationalise UK and other foreign companies in retaliation for the renewal of the EU restrictive measures are irresponsible. Such action would not only damage Zimbabwean livelihoods but deter much needed foreign investment at a time when the Zimbabwean economy has started to recover after years of negative growth.


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