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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether local authorities have the power to lease land which they own to allotment societies or co-operatives on long leases in the case of (a) land used as statutory allotments, and (b) other land used for allotment gardens or intended for such use.[HL7587]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Local authorities lease land to allotment societies or co-operatives on long leases using their general power to dispose of land in Section 123 or 127 of the Local Government Act 1972. The Secretary of State must consent to statutory allotment land being leased for other purposes and to disposals for a tenancy of more than seven years for less than the best consideration that could reasonably be obtained.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) operates a range of measures to tackle mental health issues among the Armed Forces, and we train our people and their commanders about the need to recognise mental health issues, one of which is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and to seek help if necessary.
The first level of clinical assessment of mental health problems is provided by primary care services and the unit medical officer. Diagnosis or suspicion of PTSD would nearly always lead to referral to one of the military departments of community mental health (DCMH). There are 15 DCMHs across the UK, which provide out-patient mental healthcare exclusively to service personnel. These teams are made up of psychiatrists and mental health nurses, with support from clinical psychologists and mental health social workers. A wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments are available, including medication, psychological therapies, including cognitive behaviour therapy and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy, and environmental adjustment. The MoD works with a group of NHS trusts, led by Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust, to provide in-patient care in specialised psychiatric units. These arrangements mean that most patients can be treated near their units.
Reservists once demobilised are able to access the MoD-provided mental health services through the Reserves Mental Health Programme (RMHP). The RMHP is open to any current or former member of the UK Volunteer and Regular Reserves who has been demobilised since 1 January 2003 following an operational deployment as a reservist, and who believes that the deployment may have adversely affected their mental health. Under the RMHP, we liaise with the individual's GP and offer a mental health assessment at the Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre at Chilwell in Nottinghamshire. If diagnosed to have a combat-related mental health condition, we then offer treatment via one of the MoD's DCMHs.
We are working with the Department of Health further to develop healthcare services by implementing recommendations made by the honourable Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison) in the other place in his report into the health of our Armed Forces. These include more NHS veterans mental health nurses providing outreach and treatment; follow-up of service leavers 12 months after discharge, a 24-hour mental health helpline and enhanced service medical procedures to help identify mental health problems during service and prior to discharge, and where necessary treatment at DCMHs for up to six months following discharge.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to abolish the Audit Commission; and what measures are in place to provide external, transparent and objective auditing and advice to local government and the National Health Service thereafter.[HL7477]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government intend to introduce legislation at the earliest opportunity to disband the Audit Commission and put in place a new local audit framework that is founded on the principles of public audit. We will shortly be consulting on proposals for the new local audit framework, following which we will publish a draft bill on local audit for scrutiny by Parliament.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 16 February (WA 160), whether the criteria they used when deciding whether to agree to the BBC World Service's request to provide £13 million per annum to fund its contributions to the BBC's pensions deficit took account of them having no details of the BBC World Service's superannuation contribution rates and its redundancy arrangements, nor the reasons for the BBC's £2 billion pensions deficit.[HL7340]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The BBC World Service requested help with its share of the BBC pension deficit, the size of which had been well-publicised in the months before the spending review.
My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary decided that it was right that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should provide money to help the World Service meet its obligations, as part of a balanced settlement and to avoid the World Service having to find greater savings.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 24 January (WA 115) and the letter of Darra Singh, Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, what assessment they have made of (a) whether details of social security benefits paid to deceased terrorists should be made public, (b) whether there is a public interest in such disclosure, and (c) whether the Data Protection Act 1998 applies in the case of the late Mahmoud Abu Rideh.[HL7341]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): My department has considered carefully whether details of any social security benefits paid to deceased terrorists, or those suspected of terrorism, should be made public. We have decided that they should not.
The Data Protection Act 1998 does not apply to a deceased individual's personal data. However, DWP treats the data of all of its customers, including the deceased, as confidential. Section 123 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, which is a statutory bar to disclosure of social security information without lawful authority, applies to deceased individuals' personal data as well as those of the living.
In reaching this decision, we considered whether the public interest in such disclosures outweighs our duty of confidentiality and the public interest served by preserving confidentiality. However, we are not persuaded that this is the case.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Reliable estimates of the number of people in receipt of the disability component of working tax credits that are in receipt of the higher rate of disability living allowance are not available.
Baroness Rawlings: Parliament has charged the Office of Communications (Ofcom) with maintaining standards in broadcasting, notably to protect the general public from harmful and offensive material. The Ofcom Broadcasting Code sets out the rules with which broadcasters must comply and includes clear guidelines in relation to smoking in programmes in particular to protect those under 18. Within the framework of the code it is the responsibility of each broadcaster to make judgments about what individual programmes should contain and at what time they are broadcast. Enforcement of the code is a matter for Ofcom, which operates independently of government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 8 March (WA 389), whether healthcare professionals providing fertility treatment and services that are subject to the provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 are permitted to assist patients seeking the services of Dr Panayiotis Zavos for
16 Mar 2011 : Column WA63
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, (1990 Act), makes it an offence to place an embryo in a woman if that embryo has been created using a technique not permitted in the Act. The 1990 Act does not permit reproductive cloning.
No activities prohibited by the 1990 Act may be carried out within the United Kingdom, even if they are to prepare a patient to travel abroad to continue their treatment. However, the 1990 Act cannot be invoked to prevent healthcare professionals taking part in activities that are not prohibited by its provisions nor prohibited by the provisions of other domestic legislation.
As I stated in my Written Answer of 8 March 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 389) where National Health Service resources and facilities are to be used for any private practice, the healthcare processionals involved must first have the approval of the NHS trust.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): All allowances representing one tonne of CO2 traded within the EU Emissions Trading System have unique serial numbers enabling identification of their point of creation. It is not possible for third parties to create and introduce tradeable allowances as the United Nation's international transaction log (ITL) will issue and track each unit by registry account. From 2013, for EU allowances, this function will be taken over by the single community registry being built by the European Commission.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 16 February (WA 171-2), what form of parliamentary scrutiny there will be of the proposal for a European Directive on the use of passenger name records; and how they plan to consult specifically English opinion.[HL7519]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The European Commission published on 2 February a proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime. As with all such proposals it was deposited for scrutiny in both Houses followed, on 16 February, by a letter from the Minister of State for Immigration and an Explanatory Memorandum setting out the Government's initial views on the text. It remains subject to consideration in both scrutiny committees.
The measure is subject to the UK's Justice and Home Affairs opt-in and consequently enhanced scrutiny arrangements apply. There is a standing commitment that the Government will not notify their decision on the UK's participation within the first eight weeks of publication to ensure the scrutiny committees have the opportunity to opine. Both scrutiny committees have now requested debates on the proposal; the debate in the House of Lords is scheduled to take place on the Floor of the House on 17 March. In line with the undertakings given by the Europe Minister on 20 January, the Government will also report the final decision to Parliament.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 8 February (WA 46-7), what plans they have to review the impact of European Union legislation on United Kingdom economic activity not directly involved with the European Union.[HL7458]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government will hold the European Commission to account on its commitment to ensure that all significant proposals for new or revised legislation are based on review of what is already in place.
The Government have set out new principles that they will use when introducing EU measures into UK law. These will end so-called gold-plating so that British businesses are not disadvantaged relative to their EU competitors.
To further address concerns about EU legislation, the Prime Minister also recently announced ambitions to bring in a one-in, one-out rule for new EU regulations; set a new and tougher target to reduce the total regulatory burden over the life of the current European Commission; and give small businesses-engines of job creation-an exemption from big new EU regulations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 8 February (WA 46-7), whether third countries have equal access through the World Trade Organisation to European Union markets without the necessity of European Union or European Economic Area membership.[HL7457]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Third countries do not have the same access to EU markets as EU member states or members of the European Economic Area. Third countries which are members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) pay a standard rate of duty which applies equally to all WTO members, or preferential duty rates if they have negotiated preferential access to the EU. No customs duties are levied on least developed county (LDC) imports under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in deciding whether to introduce spray-water systems to suppress smoke in buildings, ships and aircraft, either in isolation or in conjunction with water sprinkler systems; and what international research they have reviewed in making their decision. [HL7453]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Fire protection standards for new buildings in England and Wales are set out in building regulations which are the responsibility of my department. There are separate provisions in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Fire safety standards for ships, on the UK Ship Register, are the responsibility of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency which is sponsored by the Department for Transport. Design and construction standards for UK registered aircraft are now set by the European Aviation Safety Agency. These technical standards and regulations vary considerably and are developed using a wide range of national and international research, a complete and detailed summary of which could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
A recent review of building regulations, for England and Wales, concluded that it was not necessary to revisit the current standards for fire safety which do include provisions for sprinkler systems and do allow for alternative systems such as water-mist systems to be used.
The Department for Communities and Local Government published a guide in 2006 titled An independent guide on water mist systems for residential buildings. This guide details current knowledge to assist regulatory bodies in assessing water-mist systems where they are proposed to be used to satisfy building regulations.
Fixed water sprinkler and high pressure water-mist fire-extinguishing systems are well proven methods of fire protection onboard ships. The Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Regulations already include provisions for their use in certain circumstances.
The Civil Aviation Authority published a paper in 2003 titled A Benefit Analysis for Cabin Water Spray Systems and Enhanced Fuselage Burnthrough Protection (ISBN 0 86039 902 8). The paper sets out an analysis of the potential benefit, in terms of lives saved, from enhanced fuselage burnthrough protection and the implementation of cabin water-spray systems.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): As at 31 March 2009, there were 138,728 firearm certificates and 574,946 shotgun certificates on issue in England and Wales. Data for 2009-10 are being published on 24 March 2011.
Baroness Neville-Jones: The firearm certificates on issue in England and Wales at the end of March 2009 covered 435,383 firearms. Shotgun certificates in force at the end of March 2009 covered 1,366,082 shotguns. Breakdowns by weapon type cannot be provided.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in proposing that local authorities should in future be the lead commissioners for water fluoridation schemes in line with section 3.9 of the public consultation on the White Paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People, they will also provide that no new scheme should be introduced unless it can be shown that the local population is in favour.[HL7428]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We will publish our proposals in due course. We have already indicated that we will be considering how account can be taken of the views of the people that would be affected by any proposed new fluoridation scheme.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to reach an agreement with relevant interest groups on a substantial reduction in the salt content of United Kingdom foodstuffs, including restaurant meals.[HL7651]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Public Health Responsibility Deal was launched on 15 March 2011. A wide range of businesses, including caterers, have committed to the following salt reduction pledge to deliver a substantial reduction in the salt content of United Kingdom foodstuffs, including restaurant meals:
"We commit to the salt targets for the end of 2012 agreed by the Responsibility Deal, which collectively will deliver a further 15 per cent reduction on 2010 targets. For some products, this will require acceptable technical solutions which we are working to achieve. These targets will give a total salt reduction of nearly 1g per person per day compared to 2007 levels in food. We recognise that achieving the public health goal of consuming no more than 6g of salt per person per day will necessitate action across the whole industry, Government, NGOs and individuals".
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In line with the overall social work reform programme, we want to strengthen the regulation of social workers. Currently the General Social Care Council (GSCC) is an arm's-length body (ALB) subsidised by, and answerable to, government. The ALB review concluded that an independent GSCC was not sustainable.
We believe the transfer of the regulation of social workers in England to the Health Professions Council (HPC) is the most cost-effective means to deliver effective and sustainable regulation of social workers in England through a regulator that is independent of government and employers.
In recognition of its wider remit the HPC will, subject to the Health and Social Care Bill, be renamed the Health and Care Professions Council with the strap line "regulating health, psychological and social work professionals".
The HPC is an experienced regulator of 15 professions. It is working closely with the General Social Care Council (GSCC) to ensure a smooth transfer of functions and has established a professional liaison group which includes representatives of the social work profession and employers and educators of social workers, to consider the professional standards of practice for social workers, which will be consulted on later in the year.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Global navigation satellite systems such as global positioning systems (GPS) are widely used within industry systems in the UK and have brought significant benefits to applications and services. There is substantial resilience across the systems including the availability of back-ups and use of alternative methods such as atomic clocks which help to reduce over-reliance on GPS.
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) provides advice and guidance to organisations on protective security measures to reduce vulnerability to national security threats including terrorism. This includes advice on the use of space technologies such as GPS. CPNI also facilitates an information exchange which enables member organisations to share vulnerability information on space-derived services.
Her Majesty's Government are taking steps to counter interference with GPS systems. These measures include Project SENTINEL which aims to provide the capability to detect and locate the source of GPS interference, warn critical users and enable law enforcement agencies to take action when criminal activity is involved. This
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government are committed to decentralisation and distributing power and opportunity to people, communities and local institutions. Local public bodies should assess the economic, social and environmental impact of the local services for which they are responsible. Government departments use independent evaluation to assess the economic, social and environmental impact of particular policies and programmes.
Baroness Hanham: The Government are committed to distributing power to people, communities and local institutions. This power shift will empower people and communities and give them opportunities to take action on the issues they care about in their communities.
Any community or local institution influencing, developing or delivering a public service will need to comply with all relevant legislation, including equality legislation. This means they will need to work in a way that eliminates discrimination, advances equality of opportunity and fosters good relations between different groups.
As powers are devolved, government will consult communities and local institutions on proposals for specific and appropriate safeguards. For example, the community right to challenge in the Localism Bill will empower voluntary and community bodies, parish councils and local authority employees to express an interest in running a local authority service, which may trigger a procurement exercise for the service. The Government published a consultation document on the detail of the right on 4 February.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all Ministers with commercial interests have sold their investments or placed them in trusts with no restrictions on their trustees' ability to sell the investments.[HL6663]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Ministers manage their financial interests in line with the requirements of the Ministerial Code which makes clear that Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or could reasonably be perceived to arise, between their public duties and their private interests, financial or otherwise. A blind trust is a well established mechanism for ensuring individuals are not involved in any decisions on the management, acquisition or disposal of items in the trust. A list of Ministers' interests was published by the Prime Minister on Friday 4 February (Official Report, col. 60WS).
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many civil servants in the Department for Communities and Local Government earn over £100,000 per year; and whether they propose to subject the appointments to those posts to parliamentary scrutiny.[HL7218]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): As at 28 February 2011, 15 civil servants in the Department for Communities and Local Government earned over £100,000 per year.
As I outlined in my Answer of 15 February (Official Report, col. WA 137) my department is taking a series of steps to increase transparency on senior salaries, which will facilitate scrutiny by Parliament, press and the public.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): £60 million has been allocated to the Traveller Pitch Funding Scheme in the spending period 2011-15.
The scheme will be operated by the Homes and Communities Agency and will be a competitive process whereby local authorities or registered partners will bid for funding for proposed schemes against published criteria.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure that the proposed Health and Care Professions Council will require all students to register with the council before they begin practice placements with service units.[HL7311]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The General Social Care Council currently maintains a voluntary register of social work students, while, as part of its approval process, the Health Professions Council ensures that students in the professions it regulates are subject to assurance systems, including criminal record checks and fitness to conduct procedures, overseen by the providers of education.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will ensure that the transfer of social worker registration to the proposed Health and Care Professions Council will not affect the movement of social workers between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.[HL7312]
We have made provisions in the Health and Social Care Bill which will enable the Health Professions Council (HPC) to recognise or assess training or experience gained in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as sufficient for admission to its register as a social worker in England.
We have also provided in the Bill that individuals registered with one of the care councils of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who are working in England as a social worker on a temporary basis, will not have to register with the HPC.
The HPC is an experienced regulator of 15 professions. It is working closely with the General Social Care Council (GSCC) to ensure a smooth transfer of functions and has established a professional liaison group, which includes representatives of the social work profession and employers and educators of social workers, to consider the professional standards of practice for social workers, which will be consulted on later in the year.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Health and Social Care Bill upholds and strengthens the principle of universal access to healthcare. It maintains the overarching responsibility of the Secretary of State to promote a comprehensive health service, a key duty dating from the original National Health Service Act of 1946.
The Bill also reaffirms the Government's commitment to the NHS Constitution, which sets out the principles and values of the NHS in England. The NHS Constitution states that "the NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all", and that "access to NHS services is based on clinical need, not an individual's ability to pay". All providers and commissioners of NHS-funded services are required to have regard to the constitution in performing their functions, and the Bill extends this duty to the new NHS Commissioning Board and commissioning consortia.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what would be the maximum number of working days within which consultant histo-pathologists in NHS laboratories should be expected to issue a report to the clinician on specimens taken from cancer patients for histological examination.[HL7531]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There is no nationally set maximum number of working days within which consultant histopathologists in National Health Service laboratories are expected to issue a report on tissue taken from cancer patients for histological examination. NHS histopathology laboratories provide a rapid turnaround service for urgent cases, as agreed locally with their cancer services having regard to the national waiting times standards for cancer care. The aim will always be to issue clinically appropriate guidance within the shortest possible time. However, a definitive report may often require additional molecular or ultrastructural investigations beyond the initial report.
NHS Improvement published guidance in November 2010, based on work with nine pilot sites in the NHS, on improving turnaround times in histopathology. This demonstrated that up to 95 per cent of test results were available for treatment decision with seven days,
16 Mar 2011 : Column WA73
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has made clear on a number of occasions, we are appalled by the levels of violence in Libya and we call on Colonel Gaddafi to leave and for his regime to end the violence against its own people. To this end, the UK has been leading international efforts to isolate the Gaddafi regime and ensure that all those responsible for human rights abuses in Libya will be held to account.
On 28 February 2011, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution, drafted by the UK, which demanded an immediate end to the violence and killing of protestors and referred Libya's current leaders to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to face justice. The resolution also imposed a travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo on the Libyan regime.
We continue to look at ways of stepping up pressure on the Libyan regime. On 3 March 2011, the EU adopted a tough package of sanctions against Libya, including an asset freeze, visa ban, arms embargo and embargo on equipment used for internal repression and expanded the scope of these measures on 11 March. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has said, we must also prepare for all eventualities. We are therefore doing contingency planning and preparation so that we are ready to respond very quickly to the situation on the ground as required.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on music tuition of the delay in informing local authorities in England of the grant allocations they will receive for the financial year 2011-12 from the proposed £82.5 million fund for that purpose; and when details of the method for and amounts of those allocations will be published.[HL7307]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department for Education published details of the 2011-12 music education grant allocations for local authorities on 28 February 2011 and has asked the Federation of Music Services (FMS) to administer the music education grant on its behalf. A letter advising the individual allocation for each LA was sent from the FMS on 1 March 2011, along with a proforma for completion in order to draw down the funding.
The announcement of the financial settlement was delayed because of the need to consider the findings of the review of music education conducted by Mr Darren Henley published on 7 February 2011, and the implications for the department's overall spending review settlement in 2011-12. That is why, in responding to the Henley review recommendations on 7 February, the Secretary of State made clear that no local authority's funding would fall by more than 10 per cent. That gave LAs a reasonable basis for planning music services in 2011-12.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Hanham on 7 March (WS 144-5) about the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, why they did not include the London Borough of Tower Hamlets among the London boroughs to which the Corporation's planning functions will be returned from 1 April 2011.[HL7565]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government have decided that the transfer of the functions of the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation to other bodies, as described in the Arm's-Length Body Review, should take place in two phases.
The London Thames Gateway Development Corporation Planning Functions (Amendment) Order 2011 gives effect to the first phase and transfers planning functions from the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation in the area known as London Riverside to the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Newham. The London Riverside area is not within the boundary of the London borough of Tower Hamlets.
Decisions on the way forward in other parts of the corporation's area, including that within Tower Hamlets, will be taken in due course, once the Mayor of London has decided whether to establish a Mayoral Development Corporation in part of the area, on which he is currently consulting.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the total resource allocated to meet the redundancy costs of employees working for primary care trusts in each of the years 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14.[HL7608]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The estimated costs of the proposed changes in National Health Service commissioning were published in the impact assessment alongside the Health and Social Care Bill 2011. The redundancy costs of employees working for primary care trusts are estimated at £390 million in 2011-12 and £378 million in 2012-13. It is not anticipated that the proposed changes will result in any further redundancies in 2013-14.
The impact assessment is available at: www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsLegislation/DH_123583.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are planning to take in response to representations by the British Medical Association about the changes proposed to the National Health Service by the Department of Health.[HL7408]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government have been engaging with the British Medical Association (BMA) about the proposed changes to the National Health Service since publishing the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS in July 2010.
The Government consulted from July until October 2010 on how best to implement the White Paper and received more than 6,000 responses from a wide spectrum of individuals and organisations, including the BMA.
For example, in its consultation response, the BMA suggested that maternity services should be commissioned not by the NHS Commissioning Board but by general practitioner (GP) consortia. This view was also expressed by other respondents, and following consideration of the issues, we amended our proposals accordingly.
Respondents to the consultation, including the BMA, also suggested that GP consortia should be given a stronger role in supporting the NHS Commissioning Board to drive up quality in primary care. As a result of this feedback we have included an explicit duty in the current Health and Social Care Bill for all GP consortia to support the board in continuously improving the quality of primary medical care services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government (a) what is their forecast of the reduction in the number of NHS employees which will be achieved by the proposed NHS reforms, and (b) what is the number of such reductions which will be achieved through redundancies.[HL7438]
As part of the 2011-12 operating planning process, the department is collecting plans and projections on the hospital and community health services workforce up to March 2015 from strategic health authorities. This information will be published in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much has been paid to the staff of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) in bonuses and payments in addition to salaries in the current financial year; and to what percentage of NIO staff they were paid.[HL7397]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: During the 2010-11 financial year, the Northern Ireland Office made reward and recognition payments totalling £13,650 to staff working in the department through the in-year reward and recognition scheme. The reward payments were made to 23.9 per cent of staff in the department.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: Details of salary information in the Northern Ireland Office are available from the resource library section of the Cabinet Office website: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/structure-charts-northern-ireland-office.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which of the 16 countries which will cease to receive Department for International Development bilateral aid by 2016 (a) receive development aid from the European Union at present, and (b) will continue to receive aid from the European Union after 2016; and whether they will continue to contribute to European Union development aid and those 16 countries after 2016. [HL7336]
Baroness Verma: All of the 16 countries which will cease to receive bilateral aid from the Department for International Development (DfID) by 2016 currently receive development aid via the General Budget of the European Union and also the European Development Fund (EDF).
Negotiations on the next EU financing period from 2014-20 will begin in summer 2011 to be finalised in late 2012 or early 2013. As part of that process, agreement will be reached on where future EU development aid spending will be focused.
The recent UK Multilateral Aid Review found the EDF to be the most effective, flexible and poverty-focused of the EU's external instruments. As a result it is likely that UK funding to the EDF will continue as well as our commitment to monitor and push for greater effectiveness, value for money and evidence of impact and results.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 9 February (WA 70), what follow-up action to recover funds was taken in respect of the 9,374 state pension recipients living abroad who were discovered to be dead in 2010; what was the overall loss from continuing to pay those pensions after the recipients had died; and whether the data-matching procedures involved could be extended to those aged between 75 and 80. [HL7514]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Where an overpayment is identified we seek to recover the debt direct from the bank if the funds are still in the deceased's account, and, if not, from the next of kin or the estate. If unsuccessful, we may, where viable, pursue recovery through civil action.
1,798 of the 9,374 state pension cases were identified through life certificates. From these we have identified overpayments totalling £50,041, of which, £7,390 has been recovered to date. Not all cases will result in an overpayment of benefit. Overpayments identified through other means, ie data matching or death reported by next of kin, are not recorded separately. However, any that did result in overpayments will have been referred for recovery action.
Following a review of the life certificate process, plans are being drawn up to require customers to complete a life certificate at age 75, and then on a regular basis from age 80 and above. This new requirement is scheduled to start in July 2011.
Lord Freud: The United Kingdom has full reciprocal social security agreements, which include provisions on state pension, covering the following countries and territories: Austria; Barbados; Belgium; Bermuda; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Croatia; Cyprus; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Guernsey; Iceland; Ireland; Isle of Man; Israel; Italy; Jamaica; Jersey; Kosovo; Luxembourg; Malta; Mauritius; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; the Philippines; Portugal; Serbia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; the USA and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much money was paid out in 2009-10 under the provisions of the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979 to (a) former slate quarrymen and their dependants, (b) former coal miners and their dependants, and (c) others.[HL7602]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We do not have information that shows the amounts paid to slate quarrymen and others under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979 in 2009-10.
The department does collect management information on Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act that shows the number of claims made by and the amounts paid to coal miners, but to assess the completeness of recording and quality assure the figures would incur disproportionate cost.
The total amounts paid out under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act will be published on 18 May 2011 in accordance with the pre-announced timetable for the release of the DWP statistical summary.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will regularly publish data for each police force showing the impact of funding cuts on (a) specialist units, (b) front-line services, and (c) middle and back office support functions.[HL7029]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Home Office collects data annually about the number of police officers and police staff in each force and how they are deployed to different functions. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary makes use of these data and publishes value for money profiles for each force which provide comparisons with a force's most similar family of forces as well as comparisons with all forces in England and Wales. The Government do not accept that the total numbers of officers and staff should affect the quality of front-line services.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): No assessment has been made of the case for introducing a property scrappage scheme. The Government's priority is to bring empty homes back into use wherever possible. To that end, the Government have allocated £100 million to help get empty homes back into productive use, and the Homes and Communities Agency has recently sought expressions of interest from those interested in this work.
To ask Her Majesty's Government to which countries, and on what dates, the Duke of York made official visits in his trade promotion role in each of the past three years; and to which countries further visits have been planned.[HL7528]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): A list of overseas visits undertaken in each of the past three years by HRH the Duke of York in his role as the UK Special Representative for International
16 Mar 2011 : Column WA81
Overseas visits undertaken in each of the past three years by HRH the Duke of York in his role as the UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, in agreement with and in support of, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) objectives.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what response they intend to give to the research published by the Religious Education Council of England and Wales on the value attached to the teaching of religious education in schools in England and Wales. [HL6615]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We believe that the study of RE is important both to pupils' wider knowledge and to society as a whole. We value the benefits of RE in contributing to the spiritual, moral and cultural development of pupils. RE offers them the opportunity to develop their understanding and appreciation of the beliefs and views of others as well as their own. This is why the teaching of the subject remains compulsory for pupils throughout their schooling.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the work of the Social Work Reform Board will be aligned with the development of proficiency standards by the proposed Health and Care Professions Council. [HL7310]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Social Work Reform Board is developing a professional capabilities framework in line with the Social Work Task Force's recommendation that there should be a single authoritative framework for social work professional standards, which apply to social workers.
It is extremely important that the Health Professions Council's (HPC's) standards of proficiency and the reform board's professional capabilities framework fit together. We expect the future standards of proficiency being developed by the HPC, through a professional liaison group, to be reflected within this capabilities framework.
Representatives from HPC sit on the Social Work Reform Board and the chair of the Social Work Reform Board also sits on the Social Work Regulation Oversight Group, which is charged with advising Ministers on actions to support a smooth transfer of responsibility for the regulation of social workers in England.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We are looking at the options for strengthening the law in relation to squatting in residential and non-residential properties and the way in which it is enforced, but we are yet to reach any firm conclusions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask the United Nations General Assembly to include mental health in the forthcoming UN summit on Non Communicable Diseases in New York in September.[HL7425]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The scope for the United Nations (UN) meeting, as set out in the relevant UN resolutions, does not specifically exclude mental health. While wanting to ensure a clear focus for the meeting to ensure maximum progress, the department is currently considering how best to ensure that mental health is highlighted as a key topic for discussion at the UN meeting and that the linkages between mental health, the four groups of diseases highlighted in the resolution and the main risk factors are clear.
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