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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 10 March (WA 425), how Marie Stopes International (MSI) uses funding provided by them; what recent discussions they have had with MSI about the use of British Government funds; and what response they received from MSI during those discussions.[HL7693]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Marie Stopes International (MSI) is a registered charity and provides sexual and reproductive healthcare services including family planning, abortion, sexually transmitted infection treatment and HIV testing both in Great Britain and worldwide.
MSI does not receive funding directly from the Government for abortion provision in GB. It is required to compete for National Health Service contracts and is subject to local NHS tendering processes. As part of this process, it is required to demonstrate that it is able to provide a quality, cost-effective service, which meets local needs and which has a focus on wider sexual health provision. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health, Anne Milton, met representatives from MSI on 29 November 2010 and discussed:future commissioning arrangements;use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) and the need to reduce repeat abortions; andthe quality of abortion provision and wider sexual health provision more generally.
From 2010 to 2014, the Government are committed to providing £783,106.00 to MSI for its work in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Funds are being used to raise awareness and to provide access to sexual and reproductive health information and family planning supplies and to improve maternal health.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government have made no assessment of the decisions by those countries to introduce legislation to control the re-export of arms.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 8 March (WA 342), how many (a) asylum seekers, and (b) dependants, have made asylum applications since 2000; and how many applications in each category have been accepted.[HL7709]
|Asylum applications (1)(2) received in the United Kingdom, including dependants, and grants of asylum (3) on applications 2000-10|
|Applications (4)||Initial decisions|
|Year||Total||Main applicants||Dependants||Total decisions (5)||Grants of asylum||Grants of exceptional leave to remain (6)||Grants of humanitarian protection||Grants of discretionary leave||Grants of asylum or exceptional leave to remain under the backlog criteria (5)||Total decisions (6)||Grants of asylum||Grants of exceptional leave to remain (6)||Grants of humanitarian protection||Grants of discretionary leave|
Data on asylum applications and decisions are available in Control of Immigration: United Kingdom Statistics 2009 and Control of Immigration: Quarterly Statistical Summary Q4 2010 available from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the disclosures made by banks of high-level remuneration, including the format and content of such disclosure, and the process by which banks have decided which positions to disclose and which to exclude; whether the disclosure process will be subject to review; and whether investors have been consulted on their views.[HL7496]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As a result of the Government's discussions, the four largest UK banks have committed to world-leading pay disclosure arrangements, which, when taken together with the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) sectorwide regime, make the UK's disclosure arrangements the toughest of any major financial centre. The Government intend to consult on a proposal to extend disclosure arrangements to all large banks from 2012 onwards.
Sectorwide remuneration disclosure rules came into force on 1 January 2011. These rules were subject to consultation and views were taken from a range of participants including in the investment management industry.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 8 February (WA 42-3), what is the definition of temporary absence from Great Britain when social security benefits may be paid in certain circumstances; and how many people are in receipt of such benefits in non-European Economic Area countries while so absent.[HL7511]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to help parents meet the cost of the mobility needs of their disabled children during term-time weekend visits if the mobility component of disability living allowance is no longer available.[HL7030]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): As was announced at publication of the Welfare Reform Bill on 17 February, the Government will now consider the reform of the mobility component for people in
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Lord Freud: The Government have listened to what disabled people, charities and other stakeholders have said and will not now remove the mobility component of the disability living allowance for people funded by the state in residential care in October 2012.
We want to ensure that the help available is properly targeted to reflect the different circumstances in which disabled people live and will now do this as part of the wider DLA reform, not beforehand. We want to put in place proper support for care home residents that takes full account of their individual needs and safeguards the most vulnerable members of our communities.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government do not encourage trade and investment in Burma. Our international partners are well aware of our concerns over investing in a country with an appalling human rights record where money goes directly into the pockets of the regime. EU sanctions include a ban on imports, exports and investments in the Burmese timber, gems and precious metals sector, which are key sources of revenue for the military regime. My right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for Europe and senior UK officials have all held talks with EU counterparts to ensure that sanctions are rolled over in April.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has no plans to develop a new strategy to combat carbon monoxide poisoning and is not aware of any similar moves across government.
HSE already has arrangements in place to ensure the availability of information to consumers and others relating to gas safety issues and carbon monoxide. Information is provided via free printed material, HSE's website and its telephone advice infoline service. HSE also provides a specific gas safety advice freephone service, which it does not do for any other hazard. In past years, HSE has run both targeted and general gas safety and carbon monoxide awareness campaigns.
The gas safe register was established by HSE in 2009 to maintain a register of competent gas businesses and operatives, drive improvements to gas safety and add value for consumers and engineers. It also provides consumers with a clear route to locate competent engineers and works to promote better public awareness of gas safety risks and the dangers arising from carbon monoxide, through consumer awareness-raising campaigns in various media formats, including TV advertising.
In 2009, HSE reconstituted the cross-government group on gas safety and carbon monoxide awareness. The objective of this group was to ensure a joined-up approach across departments, devolved Administrations and other government bodies to improve gas safety and tackle carbon monoxide risks from all fuels.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will bring forward regulations to ensure that the national gas emergency service will provide their operatives with personal alarm monitors for carbon dioxide.[HL7685]
Lord Freud: The Government have no plans to bring forward specific legislation relating to the provision of personal monitors/alarms for detecting carbon monoxide (CO) for the operatives of the national gas emergency service providers.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 already requires employers to consider the risks to employees from their work and protect them appropriately. In applying this legislation, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires employers to use a proportionate and measured approach to assessing risks to their employees and to mitigate those risks accordingly, including the
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This is the same principle that applies to all industries for which HSE has enforcing authority responsibility and is a reflection of the goal-setting nature of health and safety legislation, which allows an employer to choose the most appropriate equipment for the task in hand. It also allows employers to update their protective equipment as new items become available, without requiring the Government to make legislative changes to reflect any technological or other advances.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will press for the publication of the European Commission report on sovereign credit default swaps; and what they estimate to be the cost of that publication.[HL7605]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Following a freedom of information request, the report of the European Commission task force on sovereign credit default swaps was released by the Commission to the Het Financieele Dagblad newspaper in the Netherlands in December 2010. The report has since been published in other media including the Financial Times. The cost of publication is a matter for the Commission.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Cuba to end the house arrest of Pastor Omar G Perez and to allow full freedom of conscience and worship to the Apostolic movement.[HL7555]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We welcome Pastor Omar Gude Perez's conditional release on 28 January. While he is currently at home with his family, he is not under house arrest, as our embassy in Havana established when it spoke to him on 10 March. We will continue to closely monitor Pastor Perez's case as well as respect for religious freedoms and continue to raise our concerns over human rights with the Cuban authorities.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): As part of the strategic narrative Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls, published on 25 November 2010, and the supporting action plan published on 8 March 2011, the Government committed to implementing Section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 by April 2011.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): This Government are determined to champion the effective promotion of human rights at the core of all of our foreign policy. We have a responsibility to raise our concerns about alleged human rights abuses wherever they occur. Our embassy in Cairo raised concerns about the remaining Eritrean hostages with the Egyptian Government at the end of last year. We will continue to pursue this issue with them.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 9 December 2010 (WA 77), whether they can account for the continued delays in producing the report pertaining to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's internal governance review.[HL7694]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The publication of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) internal governance review is a matter for the authority itself. The HFEA has advised that it has nothing to further to add to the Written Answer given to the noble Lord on 9 December 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 77).
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 28 February (WA 218-19) and 8 March (WA 389), whether information referred to or contained in records held by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority provides a complete record of all information considered by the authority as potentially relevant to its decision-making process; and, if so, whether concerns regarding the culture of embryos beyond 14 days in relation to cloning proposals were not considered.[HL7696]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that decisions made by HFEA licence committees are, on each occasion, made in accordance with the procedure and applying the criteria prescribed in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended. This includes an understanding of the law governing the period of time for which it is lawful to keep human embryos.
As I advised the noble Lord in my Written Answer of 24 January 2011 (Official Report, cols. WA 96-97), the HFEA has confirmed that it makes decisions in the light of the best scientific evidence available at the time. Agreed records of the decisions made by the HFEA and its committees are contained in the minutes of relevant meetings, which are routinely published on the authority's website at: www.hfea.gov.uk.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, invited the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to consider recommending pronuclear transfer between embryos in advance of data demonstrating complete safety.[HL7735]
Earl Howe: The Secretary of State has not asked the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to consider recommending pronuclear transfer between embryos. He has asked the HFEA to co-ordinate an expert scientific and clinical group to assess the effectiveness and safety of a new technique designed to prevent serious mitochondrial disease and to report to him by mid-April. This is in response to a request by researchers that regulations be introduced under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, to permit the technique to be used in treatment. Commissioning of the report is without prejudice to taking any further steps on this. He has asked the HFEA to co-ordinate the expert group, as the authority is the national regulator of the use of human embryos treatment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 16 February (WA 170), why there was not a change in the number of IVF treatment cycles where more than 20 eggs were collected at centre 0017 after the publication of related data in the journal Human Fertility (volume 10, issue 3, pages 183-7); why no eggs were retrieved from most patients; how treatment of those women differed; what discussions the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has had with the centre about its treatment of women and the steps taken to minimise risks of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome; when those discussions last took place; and what was the outcome. [HL7737]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 16 February (WA 170), why there were increases in the number of IVF treatments cycles where more than 20 eggs were collected at centre 0076 and a rise in reported cases of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) after the publication of related data in the journal Human Fertility (volume 10, issue 3, pages 183-7); what discussions the Human Fertilisation and
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 16 February (WA 170), why there was a greater number of IVF treatment cycles cancelled due to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome at centre 0076 compared to centre 0017; and to what extent either centre might have been responsible for related data published in the journal Human Fertility (volume 10, issue 3, pages 183-7).[HL7739]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that it does not hold information on the reason for a particular number of eggs being collected during an in vitro fertilisation treatment cycle. The treatment of individual patients is a matter for the judgment of the clinician or clinical team providing the treatment. The prescription of fertility drugs and ovarian stimulation are not licensable activities under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended.
The HFEA has advised that, with respect to the licensed centres referred to, no specific discussions have been held. The HFEA has also advised that because cases of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) can occur in connection with licensed fertility treatment, it requires licensed centres to have documented procedures for the management of OHSS, which may be reviewed on inspection. It refers clinics to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' guidance on the management of OHSS and monitors reports of incidents involving OHSS.
With regard to the origin of the data reported in the study published in Human Fertility, the HFEA has advised that it has nothing further to add to the information given to the noble Lord in my Written Answer of 3 December 2010 (Official Report, cols. WA 492-3).
Earl Attlee: The Carbon Plan, a new cross-government action plan on climate change, was published on 8 March 2011. It sets out, department by department, what the Government will do over the next five years to meet their existing greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Later this year, the Government will also publish their plans for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases for the decade beyond 2020. The Carbon Plan can be found on the DECC website at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/lc_uk/carbon_plan/carbon_plan.aspx.
In addition, the Pathways to 2050 analysis published by DECC in July 2010 included a number of illustrative scenarios through to 2050, including for the transport sector. These ranged from a continuation of current
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The analysis can be found on the DECC website at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/lc_uk/2050/2050.aspx.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Marland on 28 February (WA 220-1), whether they will consult on changing their definition of fuel poverty to take account of the effect winter fuel payments have on personal circumstances; how many households in (a) the United Kingdom overall, and (b) Northern Ireland, were in fuel poverty before winter fuel payments were started; and how many there are (1) assuming winter fuel payments are used to meet energy bills directly, and (2) assuming they are not.[HL7714]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government announced at the October 2010 spending review that to ensure that available resources are focused most effectively in tackling the problems underlying fuel poverty, they intended to initiate an independent review of the fuel poverty target and definition. The Government announced on 14 March 2011 that Professor John Hills will undertake the review. The terms of reference for the review can be found at: http://www.decc.aov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/consumers/fuel_poverty/hills_review/hills_review.aspx.
Winter fuel payments were introduced in the winter of 1997-98. In 1998, it was estimated that there were around 4.75 million households in fuel poverty in the UK; no separate estimate exists for Northern Ireland for that year.
If winter fuel payments were used to meet energy bills directly, around 850,000 fewer households in England (and around 1.25 million fewer households in the UK as a whole) are shown to need to spend more than 10 per cent of their income in order to meet the remaining costs of heating their home adequately in 2008. There are no separate estimates available for Northern Ireland.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has no plans to review the priority given to the promotion of gas safety, as a range of work is already in place.
HSE already has a number of routes to promote gas safety, including free printed material, HSE's website and its telephone advice infoline service and a specific gas safety advice freephone service (which it does not provide for any other hazard). In past years, HSE has run both targeted and general gas safety and carbon monoxide awareness campaigns.
HSE is committed to the continued enforcement of domestic gas safety offences. Approximately 10 per cent of all prosecution cases taken by HSE are taken in relation to gas safety offences. As part of this enforcement regime, HSE takes a proactive approach to obtaining maximum media coverage of cases in both trade and public media.
The gas safe register was established by HSE in 2009 to maintain a register of competent gas businesses and operatives, drive improvements to gas safety and add value for consumers and engineers. It was given a specific responsibility to focus on consumer awareness and has run a number of campaigns in various media formats.
The gas safe register also promotes gas safety to gas engineers and the industry by providing relevant technical bulletins and safety alerts and produces a monthly industry news and information magazine, the Registered Gas Engineer.
In recent time, representatives of the charity have met with two members of HSE's executive board-the chair of HSE's board, Judith Hackitt, in October 2009 and board member Robin Dahlberg in November 2010.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees about providing protection to the Eritrean refugees held hostage in the Sinai desert and others in similar situations. [HL7558]
Baroness Verma: The British embassy in Cairo raised concerns about the Eritrean hostages at the end of last year with the Egyptian authorities and plans to follow up with the local office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The EU has made it clear that any upgrade of the EU-Israel association agreement, which covers issues of trade, must be linked to resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict. The 2011 EU Israel Association Council statement reiterates this: http://ec.europa.eu/delegations/israel/press_corner/all_news/news/2011/20110222_01_en.htm
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Currently there is no formal proposal for the future of the EU financing system including the UK abatement. Formal negotiations on the next financial framework (2014-20) will not start until the Commission issues its proposal, expected in June 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 14 February (WA 108-9), when they expect their review of the European Union's competences to be completed; and whether they will publish the results. [HL7517]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): This Government's priority in relation to issues of competence is the EU
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In this context, while we have begun the examination of the balance of the European Union's existing competences and what they mean for Britain, we do not yet have a specific timetable for its completion. It is too early to say what form the results of this examination will take.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In respect of tax avoidance and evasion, I refer the noble Lord to the Answer that I gave him on 24 January 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 123).
It can be found in the House of Lords Library or online at www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/tackling-fraud-and-error.pdf.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Lead ministerial responsibility for physical activity lies with Anne Milton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health. Physical activity policy falls under her broader health improvement responsibilities.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In the 1970s and early 1980s, we believe that approximately 1,200 people
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 30 November 2009 (WA 14) which stated that the Government would "imminently" amend the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, whether and if so when they plan to do so.[HL7679]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): This matter has been inherited from the previous Government. This Government are committed to enabling the NHS to deliver services more flexibly and efficiently. The necessary work is currently being finalised for the consideration of the Minister for Crime Prevention, with a view to the statutory instrument incorporating other amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (as amended) to facilitate the non-medical prescribing and mixing of medicines in palliative care and in other areas of clinical practice as they relate to controlled drugs.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The UK Commission for Employment and Skills is responsible for Investors in People and is not planning a full review of the standard. Our skills strategy for England, Skills for Sustainable Growth, sets out the importance that the Government attaches to Investors in People and we want to see greater numbers of employers take up the offer and achieve accreditation.
The UK Commission is committed to repositioning Investors in People so that it becomes the "improvement tool of choice for businesses wishing to grow" and helps to support organisations with growth ambitions. This will include enhancing the offer ensuring that the Investors in People standard is made more accessible to employers-particularly SMEs with growth potential -and focused on the individual needs of industry sectors.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the Government of Israel not to renew a residency permit for Anglican Bishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem and his family. [HL7497]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are very concerned by the Government of Israel's decision to revoke the residency permit of Bishop Suheil. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised this with the Prime Minister of Israel last November. Our embassy in Tel Aviv continues to press regularly. In his recent press statement, Bishop Suheil publicly thanked the Foreign Secretary, the British ambassador to Israel and the British consul-general in Jerusalem for their efforts with the Israeli authorities on his behalf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel regarding the recent approval by the Jerusalem municipality for the construction of 14 apartments for Jewish settlers in an Arab neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.[HL7498]
Lord Howell of Guildford: As the noble Baroness is aware, the Government are strongly opposed to the creation of any new settlements in occupied East Jerusalem-as we are to all settlement activity. We voted in favour of the recent draft Security Council Resolution on 18 February because our views on settlements, including in East Jerusalem, are clear: they are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and constitute a threat to a two-state solution. We continue to underline our views to the Government of Israel.
Lord Howell of Guildford: We are aware of the incident following the demolition of residential structures in the Bedouin village of al-Arakib. Our embassy in
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We are concerned that Israel's minority Arab population, including Bedouin Arab minorities, are suffering institutional, legal and societal inequality and discrimination. We remain concerned that the Israeli Government's Goldberg commission's 2008 recommendations, which included a recommendation to recognise most of the remaining unrecognised Bedouin villages, has not brought about an end to the demolition of Bedouin houses and villages.
During a UN Human Rights Committee hearing in Geneva along with UN colleagues, we raised these concerns with the Government of Israel. Israel told the committee that it was in ongoing discussions with Bedouin leaders about housing access and housing rights. We continue to support calls made by the EU and the UN for a genuine and satisfactory solution to these problems that the Bedouin communities face. We have made it clear that Israel should take the steps necessary to ensure that the rights of these minorities are protected.
Walid Sharaf was arrested in December 2010 by the Israeli Defence Force for stone throwing and is currently being detained in Ofer prison. Staff from our consulate in Jerusalem are in close contact with his family and we have been informed that his trial has been postponed until 3 May.
All Palestinian prisoners should have access to a fair trial and Israel should ensure that it acts always in accordance with international law. We both encourage and expect Israel to adhere to its obligations both as a member of the international community. It is through our position as a friend of Israel that we are able to effectively express our expectations. We will continue to follow this case.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many emergency and rescue personnel have been deployed from Great Britain to Japan to assist in the aftermath of the recent earthquake and associated events. [HL7751]
Baroness Verma: In response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the UK Government deployed 59 UK search and rescue specialists from the UK fire and rescue service, a four-person medical support team and two rescue dogs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government on what source of information the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs based his suggestion that President Gaddafi was en route to Venezuela. [HL7537]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the reply given in the other place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to the right honourable Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mr Douglas Alexander) (Official Report, Commons, 8 March 2011, col. 1044W).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The provisions in the Localism Bill will give community organisations and others the power to nominate an asset (either publicly or privately owned) for the local authority to consider listing as an asset of community value.
When the owner decides to sell a listed asset, they will not be able to dispose of it during a specified period, a "window of opportunity", which will give interested community interest groups time to prepare a business case and raise funding to make a bid, thereby helping to level the playing field with other bidders. Subject to the current consultation on the detail of the scheme, we also propose that the regulations should permit sales to community interest groups within the window of opportunity at a price agreed between seller and buyer to maximise the benefit of the scheme to community groups.
Baroness Hanham: The definition of an asset of community value, as referred to in the Localism Bill, will be set out in regulations, following completion of the consultation process that we are currently conducting on the details of the community right-to-buy scheme in the Bill and subject to the Bill receiving Royal Assent. In the consultation document, we have proposed an approach that would give local authorities the power to decide what constitutes an asset of community value based on a broad definition of local community benefit and a list of excluded assets that will be set out in the regulations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the timetable for the implementation of the outcome of the referendum held in Wales on 3 March under the provisions of the Government of Wales Act 2006. [HL7601]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): Following an affirmative referendum vote, Section 105 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 enables the Welsh Ministers by order to make provision for the Assembly Act provisions to come into force on a specified date, subject to the approval of the National Assembly for Wales.
The Welsh Ministers laid an Order-the draft Government of Wales Act 2006 (Commencement of Assembly Act Provisions, Transitional and Saving Provisions and Modifications) Order 2011-before the Assembly on 8 March. If approved by the Assembly on 29 March, the order will bring the Assembly Act provisions into force on 5 May 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what correspondence they have had with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission during February 2011; and whether copies of such correspondence and the responses will be placed in the Library of the House.[HL7461]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The following letter between the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) will be placed in the Library of the House: letter dated 14 February 2011 from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to chief commissioner.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 31 January (WA 235), why the Office of Tax Simplification review on tax relief recommended that Regulation 145(3) of the Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 2001 should be removed and not Regulation 145(2); and whether they will consider also removing the latter regulation exempting certain non-European Union posted workers from paying national insurance contributions as they have free access to the National Health Service.[HL7716]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested, as to why the Office of Tax Simplification review on tax relief
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The Government agree with the decision of the Office of Tax Simplification not to review Regulation 145(2) further at this stage. Regulation 145(2) can simplify requirements on overseas employers, whose employees may be in the UK for only a matter of days. Its repeal is not among the Government's priorities for simplification at this time.
Lord Laird has asked a question about the Office of Tax Simplification's final report of the review of tax reliefs, which was published on 3 March 2011. The question was about national insurance, and asked why our report recommended that regulation 145(3) of the Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 2001 should be removed and not regulation 145(2). Regulation 145(3) exempts, from class 1 national insurance, apprentices and students coming to the UK from countries outside the EU; also such people coming to the UK from countries with which the UK does not have a double contribution exemption. Our report identified that it was originally enacted to enable individuals from the then British Empire to learn skills in the UK and then take those back to their home country. We recommend its abolition on the basis that this rationale is somewhat outdated and its use is minimal. We did, however, say that it should not be abolished without consultation with various bodies (e.g NFU, DWP and DoH) that may still use it.
We did not look in detail at Regulation 145(2), as we did not have the time and resources to analyse each relief (indeed we only analysed 155 out of 1,042) and had to make a decision on which reliefs to concentrate on. We therefore picked a representative group to concentrate on. This relief exempts certain non resident individuals, who are sent to the UK by their (overseas) employer, from paying UK national insurance. It was excluded from our review on the basis that it is a simplification for both the individual and the employer, and therefore abolishing it would make the tax system more complex. This is especially true if the individual is in the UK for a very short time. In such cases this relieves the employer from having to incur the costs of setting up a UK payroll system for what would be minimal tax. It is not within the remit of the OTS to abolish any reliefs. It is the Chancellor's decision, to be made in the light of our recommendation and input from interested parties following the publication of the report.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government support the Minsk group of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is the primary mechanism for mediation on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The Government fund confidence-building measures and conflict prevention projects in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, including funding the assistant to the personal representative of the chairperson-in-office on the conflict dealt with by the OSCE Minsk conference. Details of the project work that we fund can be found on the websites of our embassies in Yerevan and Baku (www.ukinarmenia.fco.gov.uk and www.ukinazerbaijan.fco.gov.uk).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cost to public funds of providing (a) the security fence, (b) police officers, (c) Security Industry Authority accredited security personnel, (d) security checks during the accreditation process, and (e) any other miscellaneous costs, at the Liberal Democrats spring conference in Sheffield.[HL7667]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cost to public funds of providing (a) the security fence, (b) police officers, (c) Security Industry Authority accredited security personnel, (d) security checks during the accreditation process, and (e) any other miscellaneous costs, at the Conservative Party spring conference.[HL7668]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Home Office does not hold information on the costs of the security and policing operation for the 2011 Liberal Democrat and Conservative spring conferences.
Special grant funding is available to help to meet costs where necessary additional expenditure incurred would otherwise create a serious threat to a police authority's financial stability and its capacity to deliver normal policing. We have not received an application from either South Yorkshire Police or South Wales Police.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Government have no plans to make special arrangements in respect of First Trust Bank. Members of defined benefit pension schemes based in the UK are generally protected by the Pensions Regulator and the Pension Protection Fund.
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport does not hold these data. However, many local authorities continue to support their local community rail partnerships either through direct grant funding to support the delivery of individual projects or other assistance such as administrative support or access to facilities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 10 March (WA 434), whether they will consider modifying passenger charters to allow vouchers issued as compensation to be used online or in ticket vending machines.[HL7743]
Earl Attlee: We have no plans to modify passenger charters to require that vouchers can be used online or in ticket vending machines. The detailed arrangements for the operation of compensation schemes are a matter for individual train operators. If train operators make any proposals to allow vouchers to be used in this way, we will consider these.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 10 March (WA 434), whether the invitation to tender for the inter-city west coast franchise included stations such as Telford, Shrewsbury and Wrexham.[HL7742]
Earl Attlee: The consultation on the inter-city west coast franchise will not be completed until 21 April 2011. The Department for Transport has received representations regarding previous Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone services as part of this consultation. The invitation to tender is expected to be published in early May 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 10 March (WA 435), apart from setting the broad requirements of the new timetable for the inter-city east coast
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Earl Attlee: The development of the new timetable for the east coast main line took well over a year from inception to finalisation to ensure that the timetable was being developed in line with the Government's objectives. It was necessary for officials to attend a number of meetings and comment on draft proposals. No central record was kept of how much time was involved.
Earl Attlee: Department for Transport officials had been notified by London Midland that it would shortly be proposing changes to ticket office hours. However, no discussions had occurred on the detail of the proposal prior to the announcement on 1 March.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether open access operators should fund some of the cost incurred by capacity upgrades carried out as part of the Route Utilisation Strategies, when they benefit from such upgrades.[HL7389]
Earl Attlee: The Office of Rail Regulation will be reviewing the principles underlying access charges for all operators using the network, including open access operators, as part of the next periodic review.
Earl Attlee: Details of historic government support to the rail industry are published by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) in National Rail Trends (NRT). This is available on the Office of Rail Regulation's website at: http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1863. Copies of National Rail Trends are also available in the Libraries of the House.
In addition, a report on strategic alternatives to a national high-speed rail network has been prepared. It considers a number of rail upgrade scenarios on the main north-south lines out of London. It is available at:http://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk/library/documents/strategic-alternatives.
Earl Attlee: In recognition of the abnormal damage caused by the exceptional winter weather at the end of 2010, we announced on 23 February 2011 that we will be allocating at least £100 million of extra resource funding to local highway authorities in England for repairing potholes.
The Secretary of State for Transport has written to leaders of all local highway authorities setting out the conditions for this exceptional additional funding. For authorities that responded by 16 March 2011 confirming their acceptance to these conditions, we undertook to inform them of their allocations shortly after this date. As the damage caused by severe weather was widespread across the country, and in order to minimise administrative burdens for all concerned, we intend to distribute the funds formulaically based on the Department for Transport's existing highways maintenance capital funding formula, which takes into account road length and condition.
The extra funding has been made possible because the department is expected to deliver a saving on its budget for 2010-11, as a result of our prudent financial management, including additional efficiencies made this financial year. It remains the responsibility of local highway authorities to prioritise their resources and build in appropriate resilience as part of their overall maintenance programmes.
Funding decisions for roads in Wales are a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government. However the Welsh Assembly Government announced on 1 December 2010 an extra £7 million and, in February 2011, a further £15 million for local authorities in Wales to help them tackle the numerous potholes left by the recent snow storms. This funding, which is additional to the annual grant already allocated, will allow work to begin immediately.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many applications have been received to establish free schools; how many of those applications are for single-faith schools; and how many are from each faith group.[HL6808]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): As at 14 March 2011, the Department for Education has received 323 proposals from groups and individuals interested in setting up a free school. The breakdown by religious character is as follows:
|Number of proposals received|
Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport commissioned the Sport and Recreation Alliance to review regulatory burdens which affect sports clubs in the UK. The review will examine what prevents or hinders sports clubs and volunteers providing sport, and the department anticipates them coming forward with a range of policy recommendations with the objective of cutting red tape at grass-roots level. The review is due to conclude in March.
The £135 million sport legacy strategy, Places People Play, launched in November, will be funded by lottery money and has been developed in partnership with Sport England, the London Organising Committee of
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As part of the programme, the Inspired Facilities fund will see Sport England invest £50 million in creating a tangible legacy by improving up to 1,000 local sports facilities. Applications for funding will be open in the summer for the first of five £10 million funding rounds, with the final one in 2014-15. Community sports clubs will be eligible to apply for the fund.
In addition, the Iconic Facilities fund will support innovative and sustainable large-scale multi-sport facilities projects that will become beacons for grass-roots sports. Thirty million pounds of capital National Lottery funding will be invested by Sport England over three years. Applications for the first £10 million funding round were accepted until December 2010 with further funding rounds opening in autumn 2011 and 2012.
The department would also encourage every club to consider registering as a community amateur sports club (CASC). The scheme has provided valuable funding to sports clubs which allows them to benefit from certain tax reliefs, similar to those normally given to charities.
Access for humanitarian agencies has improved recently, although some restrictions remain in place which can lead to delays and interruption. The UK Government continue to encourage the Sri Lankan authorities to ease these restrictions further and allow aid to be delivered more efficiently.
Since 2008, the Government have provided £13.5 million to meet immediate humanitarian needs resulting from the conflict in Sri Lanka. While this programme is now coming to an end, we will continue to provide aid for north-east Sri Lanka through a £3 million demining programme over the next three years.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reports they have received about the political situation in Sudan following the announcement by Omal al-Bashir that he will not seek another term in office; and what is their assessment of that situation.[HL7591]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): President Bashir's announcement that he would not seek re-election is in line with Sudan's constitution, which imposes a two-term limit on any President. As the next presidential elections are not due to take place until 2015, the full impact of his announcement is yet to be seen. Other factors will influence the political situation over the coming months, including the likely amendments to Sudan's constitution following the completion of the comprehensive peace agreement and the secession of south Sudan in July.
Lord Howell of Guildford: We are very concerned at the recent clashes in the Abyei region, including those on 27 and 28 February 2011 and 1 and 2 March 2011 between northern and southern groups in the area. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary issued a joint statement with his US and Norwegian Troika colleagues on 15 March 2011 urging both parties to resume their dialogue on post-referendum issues including Abyei. We urge all parties to work to secure full implementation of the agreements made in Kadguli in January this year in order to reduce instability and tension.
Lord Howell of Guildford: While we have not raised this issue specifically, we regularly raise issue of human rights and specifically protection of minorities with the Government of Sudan, in line with both the Sudanese constitution and with their international human rights obligations.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is providing developmental assistance of £140 million to Sudan this financial year, approximately half of which is spent in the south, focused on conflict resolution, security, anti-corruption measures, basic service delivery and governance. We continue to play an active role in supporting the implementation of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the European Commission's proposals to create a common corporate tax base; and whether
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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 16 March the European Commission presented a proposal for a council directive on a common consolidated corporate tax base. The Government are yet to make a full assessment of the proposal. Direct tax legislation falls within the ambit of Article 1(15) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Measures adopted on this legal basis must be agreed unanimously.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make bilateral representations to the Government of Turkey concerning the recent arrests of journalists, and the state of press freedoms there.[HL7546]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The EU made a statement on 10 March 2011 expressing its concerns about the arrest of journalists in Turkey and urging Turkey to fulfil its Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe commitments on media freedom. The Government do not plan to make separate bilateral representations in addition to the EU statement.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Uganda is well versed on Commonwealth issues, principles and values, having hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 2007 and having held the chair-in-office role for the next two years.
In July 2010, my honourable friend Henry Bellingham underlined to President Museveni the importance of free, fair and peaceful democratic elections. The Commonwealth Observer Group was invited by the Government of Uganda to observe the February 2011 elections. In a statement issued just after elections, my honourable friend Henry Bellingham urged all political stakeholders in Uganda to reflect on the assessments of the EU and Commonwealth observers, build on the positive developments, and address the shortcomings identified in order to strengthen pluralistic, multi-party democracy in Uganda.
Furthermore, we have lobbied Ugandan Ministers, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs and Information, on specific human rights issues including respect for the rights of sexual minorities, media freedoms and freedom of assembly. We also continue to engage with the Government of Uganda on international security and peacekeeping priorities. As a troop-contributing country to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Uganda is making a major contribution to the international community's goals in Somalia.
We and our partners were concerned about allegations of corruption around the financing of CHOGM, and are continuing to urge the Government of Uganda to act on the report of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Our high commission in Kampala reports regularly on all aspects of the UK's bilateral relationship with Uganda. This has included full assessments of each stage of the recent electoral process, our bilateral trade, investment and development relationships, the situation with regards to respect for human rights, and security and prosperity in the East Africa and Great Lakes regions.
We also receive representations and reports on all of these areas from key stakeholders in Ugandan politics, including the Ugandan Government, opposition parties and interested non-governmental organisations. Last month, my honourable friend Henry Bellingham, the Minister for Africa, met MPs and Peers to discuss our assessments of the political situation in Uganda.
Lord Howell of Guildford: We have made clear to the Government of Uganda on several occasions that we are opposed to actions that will have a negative effect on the human rights of Ugandans, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. This includes our opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, tabled by a private Member, which would further criminalise homosexuality if passed into law. We have also raised our concerns to the Ugandan Government over an article that appeared in a Ugandan tabloid newspaper late last year, which apparently incited violence against homosexuals.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My honourable friend Henry Bellingham noted in his statement of 22 February 2011 that 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 mission's 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.
We 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.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Implementation of Section 19 of the UK Borders Act 2007 is currently being planned by the United Kingdom Border Agency. We expect to be in a position to commence implementation of Section 19 later this year.
Section 57: On introduction of a Bill into the House of Commons any provision which gives rise to a charge on public funds should be printed in italics, indicating that its inclusion in the Bill is provisional, pending approval of that expenditure by the House of Commons. Where expenditure is incurred across a number of provisions, each of which would normally require italicisation, the inclusion of a clause, such as Section 57 of the 2007 Act, is an alternative to italicising each section of a Bill which would attract expenditure. Once the Bill is enacted the clause is no longer relevant, as it will have been approved by the House of Commons, and does not require explicit commencement.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any study has been made of the implications for road surfaces of allowing longer lorries to use the United Kingdom road network, particularly the "scrubbing" effect that such lorries may have on roundabouts, damaging road surfaces; and, if so, what were the findings.[HL7447]
Earl Attlee: The road safety aspects and potential infrastructure impacts of allowing longer lorries have been considered in two recent, related studies. The first, which reported in 2008 (reference: TRL Report PPR 285), included an assessment of the structural road pavement wear associated with longer and/or longer and heavier goods vehicles (LHVs) but did not consider the scrubbing effects that such vehicles might have on roundabouts. Copies are available in the Libraries of the House.
The second study has considered a range of potential impacts of allowing a small increment in the length of semi-trailers to permit articulated goods vehicles with a loading length up to 15.65 metres, which is the same as is already permitted for rigid truck/drawbar trailer combination lorries. This includes consideration of pavement wear caused by turning lorries. The Government are looking carefully at the economic, safety and environmental arguments for and against such an increase and hope to publish the results of the study shortly. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House when published.
Baroness Verma: The coalition Government are committed to putting girls and women at the heart of our development assistance. All of the Department for International Development's (DfID's) education programmes will have a focus on girls and young women. We will particularly concentrate on enabling girls to progress through to secondary school, where the largest benefits for themselves, their families and society are achieved. DfID supports national priorities and where these include the provision of education services to adult women we will support that.
We will increase the numbers of girls in primary and secondary school in all 23 country programmes where we give support to education, and will assist girls to stay in school beyond primary level to ensure they get the full benefits from education which will transform their lives and opportunities. Draft country
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their stance on European Union proposals to extend the droit de suite to works produced by deceased artists; and whether they have assessed the impact of the scheme on London's role as a centre for the sale of works of art.[HL7733]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The extension of droit de suite (artist's resale right) to the works of deceased artists is not a recent proposal by the European Union, but rather a requirement of directive 2001/84/EC ("the directive"), that entered into force in September 2001.
The UK took advantage of a derogation under the directive, which was available to member states which previously did not have resale right arrangements. This derogation enabled us to delay the application of the resale right system to sales of in-copyright works by deceased artists. This derogation initially ran to January 2010, but the previous Government exercised an option under the directive to extend the derogation period for a further two years to January 2012. There are no further extension options available under the directive.
The most recent work done for the Government to assess the impact of the directive on the art market in the UK is to be found in a report commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office from the Intellectual Property Institute and carried out by Professor Stefan Szymanski. Copies can be found at: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/study-droitdesuite.pdf.
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