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23 Mar 2011 : Column WA167



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Written Answers

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Afghanistan and Iraq: Civilian Deaths

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We deeply regret all civilian casualties. The Government do not record figures for insurgent or civilian casualties in either Iraq or Afghanistan because of the immense difficulty and risks that would be involved in collecting robust data. The UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its own report on civilian casualties in March 2011, which recorded a total of 2,777 civilian deaths in 2010, 75 per cent of which were attributed to anti-government forces.

Throughout its military engagement in Iraq, the UK has sought at all costs to avoid civilian casualties and took seriously its responsibilities and obligations under the Geneva convention. The prevention of civilian casualties is of paramount concern to force commanders operating in Iraq and the risk of this occurring is minimised by the tactics and training of our forces.

Protecting the Afghan civilian population is a cornerstone of the International Security Assistance Force's mission, and all British troops undergo comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement. This contrasts directly with the attitude of the insurgents, whose indiscriminate use of suicide bombs, roadside explosive devices and human shields cause the majority of civilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan.

Agriculture: Single Farm Payments

Question

Asked by The Duke of Montrose

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government remain committed to making outstanding payments under the 2010 single payment scheme as soon as possible and to do so with a focus on accuracy so as to help address the legacy of errors and EU fines. With the exception of a small numbers of claims, for example involving probate, the intention is that all payments will be made within the regulatory payment window ending on 30 June. The Rural Payments Agency

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is considering a number of options, including manually validated payments for the full claim value, to help ensure that this happens in practice. Part of that consideration involves confirming that the necessary resources are available to deploy each of the options.

Airports: Thames Estuary

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport has not made any recent assessment of the merits of a new airport in the Thames estuary. This is not an option we are considering.

Our priority is to get the most out of existing airport infrastructure in the south-east, which is why we have established the South East Airports Task Force to improve operations at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The number of days on which Royal Air Force Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft have been launched in each of the past five years is contained in the following table:

Number of days QRA launchedNumber

2006 (1)

2

2007

19

2008

15

2009

14

2010

14

Armed Forces: Foot Patrol

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): This information is not held in the format requested.

Armed Forces: Joint Military Exercise

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The countries with which the United Kingdom intends to conduct joint military exercises between now and 2014, subject to changes that might be made to current planning assumptions, are as follows:

Australia

Belgium

Brazil

Brunei

Canada

Chile

Czech Republic

Denmark

Egypt

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

India

Israel

Italy

Jordan

Kenya

Latvia

Lithuania

Malawi

Malaysia

Morocco

Netherlands

New Zealand

Norway

Oman

Pakistan

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Russia

Saudi Arabia

Singapore

Slovakia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Turkey

United Arab Emirates

Uruguay

USA

Yemen



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Armed Forces: Medals

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Yes. To be eligible, personnel must have served at least 45 days service in total under the command of the UK Joint Task Force commander on a designated operation within the qualifying area.

Armed Forces: Redundancy

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence fully recognises the distress that this caused the individuals and their families, and I take this opportunity once again to apologise unreservedly for this error.

It is not normal practice to publish the outcome of internal investigations and we do not intend to do so. The investigation was completed on 23 February 2011 and has confirmed that this was the result of a genuine and isolated error, which meant that the normal staffing procedures were not followed. This meant that the 38 individuals affected had not been informed of this decision by the chain of command before they received the email from the Army Personnel Centre (APC), which would usually be the case. As a result of the investigation, every effort has been made to minimise the risk of this sort of thing happening again. These measures include clearance at APC branch colonel level of all communication that is about or may result in termination.

Armed Forces: Seriously Injured Personnel

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Between 8 October 2007 and 28 February 2011, the defence patient tracking system (DPTS) recorded 2,116 aeromedical evacuations from Op Herrick due to injuries, of which 140 (7 per

23 Mar 2011 : Column WA171

cent) were shown as being due to musculoskeletal injuries. The following table provides a breakdown by year:

YearAll Aeromeds due to injuriesAeromeds due to musculo-skeletal injuriesPercentage (rounded)

20071

79

3

4

2008

469

34

7

2009

703

58

8

2010

762

39

5

20112

103

6

6

All

2,116

140

7

The number of aeromedical evacuations as a result of musculoskeletal injuries recorded on the DPTS should be treated as a minimum. It is likely that some other service personnel would have been aeromedically evacuated from Op Herrick with a musculoskeletal injury but may have been placed under a different category on the DPTS. In addition, service personnel that suffer multiple injuries may be categorised under the injury that is the most serious or requires specific nursing support rather than the musculoskeletal injury.

Bahrain

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): UN special procedures are independent mechanisms and member states cannot direct those mandated under special procedures to focus on particular areas of concern. If those mandated as special procedures were to ask the UK to assist, we will help in the most appropriate way we can.

We are gravely concerned at the situation in Bahrain and are monitoring the situation closely. We have called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and avoid violence so that a political dialogue can begin.

Banks: Stress Tests

Question

Asked by Lord Myners



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Bank of England are represented at the European Banking Authority (EBA) and have engaged actively at working level in the design of the stress tests. The stress tests have also been discussed at the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) of the European Union, where HM Treasury is represented. The FSA is of the view that the assumptions are not weaker than those used in the 2010 Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS) stress tests. On the contrary, the FSA highlights that a number of lessons have been learnt and that this year's stress test is a significant improvement both in terms of stress scenario and in terms of consistency of assumptions, definitions and stress testing methodologies.

Benefits: Disability

Question

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): I have read this report, and the coalition of charities' follow-up report, DLA Mobility: sorting the facts from the fiction with interest.

We will be considering the points raised by the report. My officials have asked for the data underlying the report and would be very interested in receiving these.

Big Society

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Many Ministers take individual steps to support the big society, for instance, through their support for civil society in their constituency, and it is not for government to direct this work.

Government support Ministers in embedding the principles of the big society within their ministerial portfolio, for instance, through the operation of the Informal Ministerial Group on Big Society and Localism.



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Broadcasting: Smoking

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Rawlings: Parliament has charged 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. It is a matter for Ofcom and broadcasters to consider any case for viewer warnings.

Census

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for ONS, to Lord Laird, dated March 2011.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking why the 2011 census question on ethnic group on England and Wales had five options for "White" when the Scottish version had nine options which included Polish, and has a different wording for Gypsy and Irish Traveller which excludes the word "Irish", and how overall United Kingdom figures will be calculated and displayed given those differences. (HL7713)

In England and Wales the form and content of the ethnicity questions have resulted from extensive consultation with users and other key stakeholders as part of a formal consultation exercise on census topics generally in 2005, and a further consultation focused on ethnicity, identity, language and religion issues from November 2006 to March 2007, including a round of public meetings. This consultation aimed to determine not only requirements for information but

23 Mar 2011 : Column WA174

also changing public attitudes towards the acceptability of the question among particular ethnic minority communities.

In Scotland, a wide-ranging review of the way that ethnicity was classified was undertaken following the 2001 census, to ensure the development of a classification for use in Scottish surveys that reflected modern circumstances, met users' information needs and had broad community support. The Scottish Government worked in partnership with the General Register Office for Scotland to conduct the review. The result was an ethnicity classification recommended for use in Scottish surveys and Scotland's 2011 census.

Some amendments were then made to the classification for use in the census in Scotland, following parliamentary consideration of the draft Census (Scotland) Act, in April 2010. These changes included, in the "White" category, the replacement of separate tick boxes for English, Welsh and Northern Irish, with an "Other British" tick box. As a result, the "White" category in Scotland's 2011 census ethnic group question has six tick boxes.

While the National Statistician and the Registrar General for Scotland have sought to retain as much comparability in questionnaire design and question wording for the censuses in England and Wales and in Scotland, some small variations must inevitably occur to reflect significant socio-demographic differences and user requirements north and south of the border. The ethnicity question is a good example of where such differences have occurred in each census since it was first introduced in 1991.

The "White" categories are broadly equivalent, only differing, in Scotland, in the addition of a "Polish" category-where this group form a significantly larger proportion of the ethnic minority population than in England and Wales, justifying a separate tick box-and a separate category for "Scottish" to provide consistency with the 2001 question. The omission of "Irish" from the title of the new "Gypsy/Traveller" group reflected particular sensitivities to the wording of this category in Scotland.

Consultation with users is currently under way to determine the scope and detail of the statistical outputs to be produced including those for a set of harmonised UK tabulations. However, although slightly different forms of the question are being adopted. the variants will, nevertheless, as noted in the White Paper Helping to Shape Tomorrow, allow statistics to be produced which will be broadly comparable both throughout the UK and with statistics from the 2001 census.

Children: Sexual Exploitation

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Child sexual exploitation is an appalling crime. It is a form of child sexual abuse and tackling it is an absolute priority for the Government.



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Officials across a number of government departments are currently considering the steps that would be required to ratify the Council of Europe convention.

Civil Service: Education and Training

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The National School of Government was considered as part of the Government's Review of Public Bodies which produced proposed reforms in October 2010. The Minister confirmed in a Written Statement on 16 March 2011 (Official Report, col. 9-10WS), that the national school will no longer be a non-ministerial department, with some functions transferring to another government department. Further decisions about the national school, its staff and sites are expected in due course.

Consumer Prices Index

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government will undertake a formal consultation on consumer prices index (CPI)-linked gilts once it has published its response to the Department for Work and Pensions' consultation paper on the use of CPI to uprate occupational pension schemes' liabilities for inflation.

Cybermoor Ltd

Question

Asked by Lord Laird



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Baroness Rawlings: The Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries made his remarks at a conference on the day after he had opened the fibre-optic connection to Nenthead Primary School and supported by information readily available in the public domain. No specific definition of fast broadband was used on that occasion.

Employment: Work Programme

Question

Asked by Lord Knight of Weymouth

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The expected work programme volumes will be kept under review throughout the life of the contracts. Volumes are updated as more information becomes available, including Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts for the claimant count.

Environment: Policy

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government will use a number of mechanisms, including working through its Foresight Programme and with the Royal Society and the Living with Environmental Change Partnership to obtain independent advice to inform environmental policies. The Government will continue to fund scientific research to provide advice required for evidence-based policy making.

In terms of sustainable development, Defra has contributed the major share of funding to the Sustainable Development Research Network since 2006, which brings together more than 500 private and public organisations and over 2,000 individuals with an interest in sustainability both nationally and internationally. It provides cost effective access to academic and business expertise, shares knowledge and disseminates best practice. Due to the cross-cutting nature of sustainable development, Defra will be seeking funding contributions from other government departments for the network to continue to build upon what has been achieved so far.



23 Mar 2011 : Column WA177

European Communities Act 1972

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Section 2 of the European Communities Act enables UK law to recognise obligations within the treaties which are to be given legal effect without further enactment. A Bill such as that described would therefore undermine the legal basis of our membership of the European Union. As this Government believe that EU membership is in the UK's national interest, we do not intend to bring forward such a Bill.

Food: Allergies

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Food Standards Agency is currently funding research to determine whether changes in skin barrier function and mutations in the filaggrin gene are linked to the development of food allergy, including peanut allergy.

This could allow those at high risk of developing food allergy to be identified and result in specific advice being given to reduce risk.

The results of this research are expected in 2013.

Gibraltar

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK Government's position is that we will not enter into arrangements under which Gibraltar will pass into the sovereignty of another state against the freely and democratically expressed wishes of the people of Gibraltar. Moreover, we will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content. Gibraltar's right

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of self-determination is not constrained, except through Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht. Should Britain renounce sovereignty over Gibraltar, Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht makes clear that Spain would be given the right of first refusal.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Lord Howell of Guildford: Gibraltar could become independent from the UK if this were the freely and democratically expressed wish of the people of Gibraltar. We note that there are currently no proposals or discussions on Gibraltar for a referendum on this or any other constitutional issue. There have been referendums on major constitutional issues on three previous occasions and this is likely to continue as the most appropriate way to assess the wishes of the population on any proposed constitutional changes.

When considering the results of a referendum, the UK would be obliged to comply with obligations under the Treaty of Utrecht in which the UK undertakes that should Britain renounce sovereignty of Gibraltar, Spain is given the right of first refusal. However, the Government will not enter into arrangements under which Gibraltar will pass into the sovereignty of another state against the freely and democratically expressed wishes of the people of Gibraltar. Moreover, we will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.

Government Departments: Energy Certificates

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Baroness Rawlings: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport office at 2-4 Cockspur Street has been awarded the following display energy certificate rating for each of the past three years.

DateRating

Aug-08

G (187)

Aug-09

G (178)

Aug-10

G (166)

The numeric indicator, or operational rating (OR), is a measure of the annual CO2 emission per unit of area of the building compared to a value that would be considered typical for the particular type of building, a rating of 100 is the average.



23 Mar 2011 : Column WA179

Government Departments: Records

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Records retained in departments, if selected for permanent preservation, are listed in the National Archives catalogue and are subject to the provisions of the Public Records Act. According to the National Archives Catalogue there are 22,318 files retained in departments that are over 30 years old.

Retained records are still subject to the Freedom of Information Act. It is not possible therefore to identify how many are unavailable to the public, but members of the public may make a request to have the file made available under the Freedom of Information Act. Records are listed in the catalogue by their creating body (not that which currently has custody) and machinery of government changes over time mean it is not possible to provide a detailed breakdown by department.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord McNally: The oldest files retained on the grounds of confidentiality are Metropolitan Police files containing architectural plans and drawings (the National Archives file reference MEPO 9). The files relate to police stations and married quarters. While the buildings are still in police use the plans and drawings are retained by the department under Section 3(4) of the Public Records Act 1958 and are closed to the public for security reasons; but they are transferred to the National Archives when the buildings have ceased to be used by police, as the result of either demolition or passing out of police ownership.

Of these the oldest file is MEPO 9/98, New Police Court, Lambeth (1868).

Government: Policy

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Yes, this represents government policy.



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Gypsies and Travellers

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): We are committed to encouraging sustainable development and it remains very important that local authorities continue to plan for the future of their communities. Regional strategies and the top-down targets they imposed did not work. The opposition generated by regional strategies meant that they were badly delayed. This and the associated uncertainty meant that they failed to provide a clear basis for planning and development decisions. The Localism Bill proposes to abolish regional strategies. Instead, local authorities will be responsible for determining the right level of site provision in their area to meet local need and historical demand, in consultation with local communities.

From April 2011, councils will be given incentives through the new homes bonus scheme to deliver new housing, including Traveller sites.

We have secured £60 million Traveller pitch funding over the spending review, starting from this April. Authorities will be able to bid for a share of the funding for the development of new sites and the refurbishment of existing sites.

Higher Education: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The most recent year for which student numbers are available is academic year 2009-10.

Applicants and related cash expenditure or amount awarded is shown in the table below.



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Table 1: Applicants Domiciled in England Paid or Awarded Student Support, Academic Year 2009/10
Applicants Paid or Awarded (000s) [1]Cash expenditure or amount awarded (£m) [2]

Maintenance Loans

819.5

2,946.0

Maintenance, HE and Special Support Grants

545.7

1,213.2

Disabled Students Allowance (Provisional) [3]

40.4

82.6

Other Targeted Support [4]

39.2

118.3

The nearest comparable year for resource funding is financial year 2009-10:

Table 2: Expenditure for Fulltime Students Domiciled in England Financial, Year 2009-10
£k

Maintenance Loans-RAB terms [5]

725,253

Maintenance, HE and Special Support Grants

1,155,162

Disabled Students Allowance

87,635

Other Targeted Support

118,265

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Following the signing by UK and French Ministers of immigration agreements in 2009 and 2010, we have co-operated closely with the French authorities to fight illegal migration and trafficking networks by implementing a number of measures to jointly strengthen the common border.



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These measures have included the closure by French authorities of the illegal encampment known as the jungle in Calais in September 2009, increased joint working between the French authorities and UK Border Agency at the northern French ports, and the use of improved technology. The French authorities have continued to take swift action to dismantle any illegal camps that spring up in the Calais area.

These measures have led to a sustained reduction during 2010 of approximately 75 per cent in the number of attempts to penetrate illegally the UK border through the ports of Calais, Coquelles and Dunkerque. Our two countries continue to work together very closely to ensure our strong border is maintained.

Inflation

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): UK inflation has been elevated due to temporary factors, such as the past depreciation of sterling, high global commodity prices and the increase in the standard rate of VAT to 20 per cent. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is responsible for producing independent economic and fiscal forecasts. The OBR has published a full analysis of recent developments and the prospects for inflation alongside today's Budget.

It is the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England which is responsible for maintaining price stability. The MPC sets policy based on its judgment of the balance of risks to inflation in the medium term.

Iraq: Camp Ashraf

Questions

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of reports that loudspeakers are being used outside the Camp Ashraf entrance. The Government of Iraq have publicly stated that the purpose of the loudspeakers is to allow family members to communicate with residents inside Camp Ashraf, as they have apparently been forbidden any contact by the camp's leadership.

On 20 February 2011, our representatives met UN representatives and the Iraqi Government's Ashraf Committee to discuss the situation at Camp Ashraf.

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We urged the Iraqi Government to ensure the residents' human rights are respected and we continue to encourage both sides to engage in constructive dialogue leading to a lasting, and peaceful, resolution.

Asked by Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

Lord Howell of Guildford: We understand that the Iraqi Government's Ashraf Committee is composed of members from the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Immigration and Displaced People. The Ashraf Committee reports directly to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki. The Ashraf Committee is responsible for implementing the Iraqi Government's policies regarding Camp Ashraf.

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): According to the UN, in 2010 the Israeli authorities demolished 113 residential structures in the West Bank displacing 478 people, and they knocked down a further 240 Palestinian structures (for example, animal shelters). This represents a 60 per cent increase in demolitions compared to 2009.

The UN reports that thus far in 2011 the Israeli authorities have demolished 96 Palestinian structures, including 32 residential buildings, in the West Bank. One hundred and seventy-five people, more than half of them children, have lost their homes.

We have a strong record of lobbying hard on issues relating to house demolitions and settlement building and we continue to pursue this. Our embassy in Tel Aviv has further raised these issues with the Government of Israel over the past week and we have also raised these issues with the Israeli embassy in London.

Ivory Coast

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The situation in Cote d'Ivoire remains volatile. The Government continue to be very concerned at the deteriorating security situation and the increasing levels of violence. We are monitoring events closely and working with our international partners in support of the African Union's efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis which respects democratic principles. The UK urges Mr Gbagbo to respect the recommendations of the African Union and stand down to allow President Alassane Ouattara to take his place leading a unity government as Cote d'Ivoire's legitimately elected head of state.

Justice: Compensation

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have no specific budget provision to meet compensation claims in such cases. These cases are considered as contingent liabilities (ie liabilities that may or may not be incurred depending on the outcome of a future event). So, in line with HM Treasury guidance, they are dealt with separately from the budgeting process. All departments are expected to cover any compensation costs by making offsetting savings from their departmental expenditure limit.

Justice: Local Criminal Justice Boards

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): All local criminal justice boards are expected to have arrangements to engage and involve the defence community. This ranges from regular meetings with defence representatives, defence membership of sub-groups of the board to co-option of a defence representative on to the board.

Michael Savage

Question

Asked by Lord Laird



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Michael Savage was excluded from the UK for making statements that brought him within scope of the published unacceptable behaviour policy. He expressed views that seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts and foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.

Exclusion decisions are taken personally by the Home Secretary using her non-statutory power which enables her to exclude from the UK non-UK nationals whose presence she considers would not be conducive to the public good.

NHS: Productivity

Question

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): United Kingdom National Health Service productivity, as measured by the Office for National Statistics, is given in the following table.

Growth in UK NHS Productivity 1996-2008
YearUK NHS Productivity Growth

1996

-1.1%

1997

0.2%

1998

-0.5%

1999

0.5%

2000

-0.5%

2001

1.2%

2002

-2.0%

2003

-1.6%

2004

0.0%

2005

0.1%

2006

1.6%

2007

-0.3%

2008

-0.7%

Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Turnberg

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We take seriously any reports of textbooks being used to promote anti-Semitism. We also recognise this is a controversial area. However, recent independent studies have shown that the Palestinian Authority has made real improvements

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to its textbooks over the past decade and found no evidence of anti-Semitism. But at least one study has shown that both Israeli and Palestinian textbooks could do better and include more positive messages on these issues. We support that message.

We condemn all instances of violence and discrimination against individuals and groups because of their race, faith or belief.

Political Parties: Cranborne Money

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): The amount of "Cranborne money" that was paid to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties from May 1997 to May 2010 is shown in the table below.

ConservativesLiberal Democrat

1997-98

£94,151.31

£30,780.00

1998-99

£107,089.00

£31,758.00

1999-2000

£177,748.00

£67,707.00

2000-01

£230,811.00

£61,181.00

2001-02

£226,552.00

£68,278.00

2002-03

£390,210.00

£194,998.00

2003-04

£343,873.00

£201,045.00

2004-05

£358,353.00

£206,272.00

2005-06

£426,236.42

£212,863.00

2006-07

£430,177.00

£217,982.00

2007-08

£436,399.00

£228,445.00

2008-09

£462,485.00

£237,126.00

2009-10

£474,927.00

£237,126.00

Total

£4,159,011.73

£1,995,561 00

Railways: Light Rail Vehicles

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Light rail vehicles tend to be sensitive to lower quality track as they have less sophisticated suspension systems.

In the case of the class 139 Parry People Mover, the wheelbase is short compared with the length of the vehicle and it has a simple rubber chevron suspension system that gives it a relatively hard ride. This vehicle

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has proven to be sensitive to features of jointed track common in secondary line such as dipped and misaligned joints.

The Stourbridge Town branch had many dipped and misaligned joints at the time the class 139 Parry People Mover was introduced, although this was not a serious problem for class 153 single car diesel unit that had traditionally provided the service.

Further information can be obtained from: Network Rail, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Network Rail has undertaken work on the Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town branch in order to improve ride quality for the class 139 Parry People Mover. The type of work undertaken includes joint straightening and spot sleeper replacement.

This line is maintained in accordance with its standards for a category 6 line. This category is suitable for lines with low speed (20 mph) and low tonnage <2.5 EMGTPA (equivalent million gross tonnes per annum) and provided an adequate ride for typical heavy rail rolling stock such as the class 153 single car diesel unit.

Network Rail has indicated that for future introductions of rolling stock such as the Parry People Mover, it would propose that jointed track be relayed with cascaded continuously welded track, eliminating potential faults at joints.

Further information can be obtained from: Network Rail, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG.

Republic of Ireland: Financial Support

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Although technically bilateral, the UK loan to Ireland forms part of a larger, multilateral financial

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package co-ordinated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union. It was not sensible for the UK to come up with its own stand-alone package.

The policy conditionality for the international support package-agreed by the Eurogroup, the ECOFIN Council and the IMF-is critical to the achievement of the stated macroeconomic goals of the package and reflects the economic nature of the problems, which the package aims to address.

Salt Awareness Week

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): There are no plans to promote Salt Awareness Week in the House.

Schools: GCSEs

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): A focus on studying a core of academic subjects to age 16 is seen across many high performing countries, such as France, the Netherlands and Singapore. We have used the approach in these countries of having an academic core as the basis for the English baccalaureate. Moreover, subjects included in the English baccalaureate have been included to ensure that all pupils have the opportunity to study such a broad core and that doors are not closed off to them in terms of progression to further and higher education. We very much welcome the Russell Group guide on making informed choices for post-16 education1 that explicitly points to the value of studying these subjects.

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff



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Lord Hill of Oareford: We are concerned that the number of pupils, especially those in disadvantaged areas, who receive a broad education in core academic subjects is far too small. We want to encourage more pupils to take these core subjects and to bring about greater fairness of opportunity.

The English baccalaureate does not include all the subjects worthy of study. We recognise that study in other subjects will be just as valuable to pupils and we encourage all pupils to study non-English baccalaureate subjects alongside the English baccalaureate in order to benefit from a well rounded education. This is why we have kept the number of core subjects in the English baccalaureate small enough to allow wider study. Subjects, such as music, which do not count towards the English baccalaureate, can and will play a part in a well rounded, rigorous education. Achievement in these subjects, as with all GCSEs, will continue to be recognised in the performance tables as part of the A*-C measure. However, we remain open to arguments about how we can further improve every measure in the performance tables-including the English baccalaureate.

We recognise the importance of music. That is why we commissioned Darren Henley's review of music education. We will respond to his recommendations with a new national plan for music education in the summer. We would encourage all schools to make opportunities available for their students to study music to GCSE as a valuable subject in its own right and to support those who want to progress to further study in the subject and to associated careers.

Schools: Sex Education

Question

Asked by Lord Patel of Blackburn

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The coalition Government believe that all children need high quality sex and relationships education (SRE) so they can make wise and informed choices. There is no requirement on primary schools to provide sex education but many choose to teach it because they see age-appropriate SRE as an important aspect of children's learning and development, as well as keeping them safe and healthy.

SRE is taught as part of non-statutory personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education. In the schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, we announced our intention to conduct an internal review of PSHE, including SRE, to determine how we can support schools to improve the quality of all PSHE

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teaching, including giving teachers the flexibility to use their judgment about how best to deliver PSHE education.

Sex Offenders

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Details of sex offenders convicted in the UK are stored on the ViSOR database, which holds information on a range of offender types who are considered to pose a risk of harm to the public, including registered sex offenders (RSOs). This information is available to the police and other public protection agencies.

Notifications of British nationals convicted outside the United Kingdom are received by the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office (ACRO) and placed on the police national computer. Where appropriate, offenders' details are placed on ViSOR. ACRO also makes extensive enquiries to ensure that accurate lists of names and addresses are available to the police and welfare authorities. ACRO in conjunction with the National Offender Management Service at the Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing arrangements between the UK and other countries on the exchange of information held on sexual offenders.

Turkey

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As a matter of long-standing policy and practice, the Government will neither confirm nor deny the existence of an extradition request until such time as a person has been arrested in relation to the request.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The central demand of the demonstrators during the recent demonstrations in the Turks and Caicos Islands was that a date be set for elections.



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In their joint Written Ministerial Statement made on 9 December, the Minister for the Overseas Territories and the Minister of State for International Development set out the milestones that the British Government currently assess would need to be met before elections could take place. These milestones do not include everything that will need to be done before elections take place, but they are, in the Government's view at this stage, the minimum preconditions before the Turks and Caicos Islands can return to elected government. It is hoped that these milestones will be met in time for elections to take place in 2012.

The governor remains open to dialogue with responsible community representatives to discuss their concerns.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association said in a statement on 10 March 2011 that the demonstrations had in no way disturbed the main tourism areas on the island of Providenciales.

The airport remained open and operated normally, and we understand that no flights were cancelled as a direct result of the actions by the demonstrators.

Uganda

Question

Asked by Lord Sheikh

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): An important part of our continuing development agreement with the Ugandan Government, as my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Stephen O'Brien) made clear when informing them of the outcome of the UK's bilateral aid review, is their commitment and actions to strengthen public financial management and tackle corruption. This includes sanctioning and prosecuting those found guilty of corruption related offences.

We and other development partners were concerned at the lack of response from the Ugandan Government to allegations of abuse and misappropriation of funds for the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and failure to act on the Public Accounts Committee's report. The UK has withheld a total of £7.5 million in budget support during the previous two financial years due to that lack of responsiveness.

A significant part of our development aid to Uganda is dedicated to helping improve accountability in the spending of public funds. We are helping the Government of Uganda implement a financial management and

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accountability programme (together with other development partners) that will improve the transparency and comprehensiveness of the budget process, streamline public procurement procedures and provide technical support to key oversight mechanisms, such as the Office of the Auditor General. We have also provided technical assistance to the Inspectorate of Government and the Director of Public Prosecutions properly to investigate CHOGM related corruption offences.

Our development aid is now being targeted to support local accountability mechanisms and civil society organisations to work more constructively with the Government of Uganda, in order to ensure that corruption and accountability issues remain high on the political agenda.

UN Summits

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Rio+20 offers a good opportunity to deliver our objectives on the two themes of the meeting: the green economy, in the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction; and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

We want Rio+20 to agree specific measures which will contribute to low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient growth. And we are working with our EU partners to strengthen the arrangements for sustainable development, and international environmental, governance.

We will be consulting Parliament and interested parties as we develop the UK's objectives.

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Lord Henley: Rio+20 offers a good opportunity to deliver our objectives on the two themes of the meeting: the green economy, in the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction, and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

We want Rio+20 to agree specific measures which will contribute to low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient growth. We are working with our EU partners to strengthen the arrangements for sustainable development and international environmental governance.



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We will be consulting Parliament and interested parties as we develop the UK's objectives.

An inter-departmental group, chaired by Defra, is charged with the preparations for Rio+20, and includes members from FCO, HMT, DECC, DfID and BIS. In Defra there are currently two full-time equivalent employees working on Rio+20.

Voluntary and Community Sector

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The big society presents a great opportunity for voluntary and community organisations as we open up public

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services and devolve power. However, we fully recognise that in the short-term many organisations may be concerned about potential budget cuts.

The Government have therefore put in place a £100 million Transition Fund to support those organisations most reliant on state funding to make the transition to new opportunities. Successful applicants are currently determining how best to spend this funding to reshape their organisations. Therefore, it is not currently possible to say what proportion of this fund will be spent on redundancy payments.

Spending decisions are a matter for local authorities. However, at the start of February, the Minister for Decentralisation wrote to local authorities to gain a better understanding as to how they are strengthening their ties with the voluntary and community sector. In addition, the Secretary of State said, at the start of this month, if councils were being high-handed and disregarding reasonable expectations, Ministers would take action. We are paying close attention to what local authorities, individuals and community groups have been telling us, and we are considering how best to respond.


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