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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they propose to protect humans and canines against alveolar echinococcosis (AE) following the end of the requirement for the treatment of dogs with praziquantel 48 hours before admission into the United Kingdom.[HL7554]
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.
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).
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the "stand-off" and elevation safeguards applicable to military establishments in regard to planning applications at or adjacent to the periphery of such establishments; how the safety and security interests of the services are protected; and who has responsibility to make representations on their behalf.[HL7431]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many cheques were presented in the last year for which statistics are available; what types of organisations or businesses were the main users of those cheques; and what assessment they have made of the use of cheques by different age groups.[HL7485]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether banks in which the Government have a controlling shareholding have given any consideration to the continuation of the provision of cheques; and what discussions Ministers or their officials have had with those bank boards on that subject.[HL7486]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government in how many heterosexual couple households in receipt of housing benefit the benefit is paid to one person rather than jointly; and in how many of those cases payment is made to the woman.[HL7331]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission, as an arm of the United Kingdom and French governments, which have major shareholdings in Eurostar, can comply as a Regulatory Body with Article 30 of European Directive 2001/14, which states that the body shall be independent of any application for an operator's licence.[HL7365]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Channel Tunnel infrastructure is subject to European Directive 2001/14; and, if so, what action the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission has taken to ensure compliance by Eurotunnel with that directive, in particular Articles 4, 6(2), 8(1 and 2), 11, 14, 17 and Annex 1.[HL7366]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether persons who are paid more than 40 pence per mile for the use of their private cars to do unpaid voluntary work for charities are liable to income tax on the excess paid over 40 pence per mile.[HL7530]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Phillip Skipper, who was acquitted at trial, was ever compensated; if so, under what scheme; whether he received compensation following a civil action against the police or Home Office; and if he was not compensated, why not.[HL7378]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the defendants in the first Damilola Taylor murder trial, who were acquitted at trial, were ever compensated; if so, under what scheme; whether they received compensation following a civil action against the police or Home Office; and if they were not compensated, why not.[HL7379]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Steven Puaca, who was acquitted at trial, was ever compensated; if so, under what scheme; whether he received compensation following a civil action against the police or Home Office; and if he was not compensated, why not.[HL7380]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 3 March (HL6759), whether the commissioned work is likely to be completed in time for consideration to be given to extending the lower rate of fuel duty for biodiesel produced from used cooking oil beyond April 2012.[HL7385]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 28 February (WA 224), what further steps are required to abolish the policy of discards in the fishing industry; and when they can be taken.[HL7350]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 7 February (WA 15), why they plan to participate in the work to design the European Stability Mechanism; and what costs to the United Kingdom will be incurred as a result.[HL7518]
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.
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure, in accordance with the judgment of Mr Justice Singer in Re SK (An Adult) Forced Marriage: Appropriate Relief  3 All ER 421, that sufficient public funding is made available so that forced marriages cases "can be investigated by the court properly".[HL7444]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the enforcement of Forced Marriage Protection Orders in Pakistan is being hampered by a view that the definition of forced marriages in the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 is incompatible with Sharia law there.[HL7440]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legal mechanisms are in place to ensure, in cases to which the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 applies, the mutual recognition of legal remedies and the swift repatriation of United Kingdom and United Kingdom-Pakistani nationals from Pakistan to the United Kingdom.[HL7441]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legal mechanisms are in place to ensure, in cases to which the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 applies, the mutual recognition of legal remedies and the swift repatriation of United Kingdom and United Kingdom-Bangladeshi or United Kingdom-Indian nationals from Bangladesh or India to the United Kingdom.[HL7445]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to make the Financial Services Compensation Scheme subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and what assessment they have made of the likely impact on levels of confidence among those contributing to payments and those relying on the scheme for assurance.[HL7494]
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
15 Mar 2011 : Column WA40
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 15 February (WA 153), whether there has been a change in policy on disclosing information on public expenditure by (a) executive non-departmental public bodies, (b) advisory non-departmental public bodies, and (c) public corporations.[HL7361]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 15 February (WA 153), why the travel and related expenditure of the Research and Radionavigation Directorate of the General Lighthouse Authorities is now deemed an operational matter; and whether the decision to designate it as such took account of the fact that in previous years the information was provided, such as in the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 3 November 2009 (WA 52).[HL7362]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 15 February (WA 153), whether (a) Ministers, or (b) officials, have discussed, agreed, vetoed, or sought further guidance on any travel and related expenditure of the Research and Radionavigation Directorate of the General Lighthouse Authorities in (1) 2009, (2) 2010, and (3) 2011.[HL7363]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which of the 14 differential GPS stations in the British Isles were funded by (a) the General Lighthouse Fund, and (b) the Department for Transport, when they were first established in 1997-98.[HL7263]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 31 January (WA 230), with which non-governmental organisations and civil society groups in the United Kingdom and internationally they are involved in promoting the work of the International Criminal Court.[HL7344]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 31 January (WA 220), what funds they have provided since 2008 to non-governmental organisations and civil society groups involved in promoting the work of the International Criminal Court.[HL7345]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in December 2009 that the active denial of an alleged crime being pursued by the ICC could itself be an international crime.[HL7347]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the allegations by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that full judges are being appointed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the basis of vote-trading amongst state parties; and whether they have raised that issue at meetings of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC.[HL7349]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the statement made on 8 July 2010 by Sir Adrian Fulford, chairman of the bench in the trial of Thomas Lubanga at the International Criminal Court, that "the fair trial of the accused is no longer possible, and justice cannot be done". [HL7393]
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
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have been provided with any evidence to suggest that military equipment and armaments sold to the government of Libya by United Kingdom manufacturers over the past 10 years were used in suppressing protesters and demonstrators.[HL7279]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Sassoon on 2 February (Official Report, cols. 1431-2) stating that it is too early to have reliable data on the take-up of the regional national insurance holiday since June 2010, how many employer applicants there have been; and whether they still forecast that 400,000 employers will apply for the holiday by June 2013.[HL6717]
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.
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).
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Bishops' Conferences of England, Wales and Scotland on behalf of the Catholic Church have refunded to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office their share of the costs of the Papal visit, due by the end of February.[HL7266]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisoners in United Kingdom prisons were sentenced abroad and subsequently transferred to the United Kingdom; from which countries they were transferred; what are the types of crimes for which they were convicted; and what are the average lengths of their sentences.[HL7406]
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.
|Transferring State||Offence Type||Sentence Length|
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in formulating their policy on granting prisoners the vote, they have taken account of practical arrangements for prisoners to vote in the Republic of Ireland, Belgium, and France.[HL6839]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to using the granting of the right to vote to prisoners as a constructive step in the rehabilitation of prisoners; and how that might be achieved.[HL7222]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 15 February (WA 152), whether prisoners registered in their home constituencies can vote by post in referenda if
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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).
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 16 February (WA 195), whether bidders for new railway franchises have to commit themselves to measurable and rising standards of quality improvements in their bids; and, if so, who will be responsible for measuring those standards.[HL7321]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Government of the Republic of Ireland about a possible visit by HM the Queen to the Republic of Ireland later this year.[HL7351]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the protection against religious discrimination given to staff in community schools under Section 59 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 is removed when they convert to academies; and what advice they have taken as to whether that removal is compatible with the European Union Employment Directive when it takes place on a large scale. [HL7175]
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 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
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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Howell of Guildford on 1 March (HL6987, HL7114, HL7115 and HL7116), whether they will propose that the European Union makes all neighbourhood policy and development aid to Syria conditional on (a) the end of the state of emergency, (b) the restoration of full citizenship to all Syrians of Kurdish descent, and (c) respect for all minorities and freedom of expression and non-violent protest.[HL7296]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received a list of priority areas for co-operation between the United Kingdom and Tajikistan from the Government of Tajikistan; if so, what is their reaction to its contents; and what they are doing to take forward those priorities.[HL7316]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received sufficient assurance from the Independent Investment Programme Advisory Group (IIPAG) to determine whether Transport for London delivers value for money to the taxpayer; what improvement in efficiency savings and other areas the IIPAG have identified; and when they will publish the findings of the IIPAG.[HL7317]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 8 March 2011 (WA 397-8), how many lorries underwent an annual vehicle test in each of 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and how many lorries failed the safety mirror requirements that came into effect in January 2007 and March 2009.[HL7574]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 8 March 2011 (WA 397-8), how many roadside checks of (a) United Kingdom lorries, and (b) foreign registered lorries, were conducted by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency in conjunction with the police in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and of those checks how many (1) United Kingdom lorries, and (2) foreign registered lorries, failed the safety mirror requirements that came into effect in January 2007 and March 2009.[HL7575]
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.
|Financial Year||Number of Heavy Goods Vehicles Roadside checks||Number of Mirror Prohibitions|
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.
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
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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.
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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