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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether arrangements are in place to employ sufficient staff to carry out manual checking of single farm payments applications if there is a risk that they will not meet the 30 June deadline set by the European Union. [HL7779]
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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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times in the past five years Royal Air Force fighter planes have been scrambled to intercept aircraft from foreign powers as they approached United Kingdom airspace.[HL7727]
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 launched||Number|
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:
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the inquiry by the Secretary of State for Defence into the notification of Armed Forces personnel regarding their redundancies is complete; and whether it will be published.[HL7700]
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.
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
|Year||All Aeromeds due to injuries||Aeromeds due to musculo-skeletal injuries||Percentage (rounded)|
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the United Nations special procedures to make a statement on the alleged enlistment of foreign mercenaries to support the Government of Bahrain.[HL7689]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether HM Treasury or the Financial Services Authority were consulted on the assumption underlying the stress tests due to be conducted by the European Banking Authority; and whether they agreed that these assumptions should be weaker than those used in the 2010 tests.[HL7538]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take into account the findings of the report endorsed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services DLA mobility: sorting the facts from the fiction as part of their review of the funding required to meet the mobility needs of those living in residential care.[HL7590]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the 2011 census question on ethnic group in 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 or Irish Traveller which excludes the word "Irish"; and how overall United Kingdom figures will be calculated and displayed given those differences.[HL7713]
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
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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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review (a) the staffing of the National School for Government, (b) its accommodation, and (c) the education and training which it delivers. [HL7675]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 19 October (WA 142), in light of the fact that they do not have the information requested, on what information the Minister for Culture, Communication and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, based his comments at the Penrith and Border broadband conference on 18 September 2010 that "Cumbria was one of the first regions to provide community broadband and yesterday's opening of Nenthead Fibremoor connection is evidence of the region's determination to bring fast broadband access to those who do not have it"; and what was the definition used for "fast broadband".[HL7648]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government from which institutions they will obtain independent advice on environmental policies following the proposed abolition of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Sustainable Development Commission; and how that advice will be funded to ensure it is independent.[HL7777]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Verma on 8 March (Official Report, col. 1518-20) concerning the decision of the European Court of Justice on insurance and gender discrimination, whether they will bring forward a Bill to repeal Section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 to enable Parliament to set aside that decision.[HL7581]
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.
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.
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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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what level of display energy certificate was awarded to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport office at 2-4 Cockspur Street in each of the past three years.[HL7624]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the statement by the Prime Minister made on Al Jazeera TV that "I don't believe an in/out referendum is right, because I don't believe that leaving the European Union would be in Britain's interests" represents government policy.[HL7553]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address the slow progress on site provision for Gypsies and Travellers identified in the Equality and Human Rights Commission's research report 68.[HL7690]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many students studying full-time in higher education currently receive support for living costs through government grants and loans; and what is the total resource allocation.[HL7550]
|Table 1: Applicants Domiciled in England Paid or Awarded Student Support, Academic Year 2009/10|
|Applicants Paid or Awarded (000s) ||Cash expenditure or amount awarded (£m) |
|Table 2: Expenditure for Fulltime Students Domiciled in England Financial, Year 2009-10|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the impact of the measures taken by the French authorities to inhibit the movement of potential illegal immigrants from the Calais region to ports in Kent.[HL7750]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 9 March (WA 410), whether they will ask the United Kingdom ambassador to Iraq to establish the purpose of 200 loudspeakers put around the perimeter of Camp Ashraf.[HL7641]
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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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 9 March (WA 410), what is the proper title, purpose, membership and position within government of the government of Iraq's Ashraf Committee. [HL7642]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what budget provision they have made to meet compensation claims from those refused legal aid who subsequently take their case to the European Court of Human Rights and win.[HL7658]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will issue guidance that defence solicitors should be represented on local criminal justice boards to ensure that the boards are fully representative of local criminal justice communities.[HL7659]
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.
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.
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|
|Year||UK NHS Productivity Growth|
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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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Earl Attlee on 3 March (Official Report, col. 1172), what are the issues of ride quality and other technical issues associated with light railway vehicles.[HL7400]
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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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Earl Attlee on 3 March (Official Report, col. 1173), what changes Network Rail made to the infrastructure in order to improve the ride quality on light railways; and whether the track conformed to European and United Kingdom standards before and after work was undertaken. [HL7401]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether in any further discussions with the Government of the Republic of Ireland about possible loans to that government they will require any undertakings about the Republic of Ireland complying with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.[HL7711]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether in any further discussions with the Government of the Republic of Ireland about possible loans to that government they will require any undertakings that any officially sponsored celebrations concerning the murder of members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Royal Ulster Constabulary would end.[HL7712]
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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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 7 March (WA 374-5), why certain subjects are included in the English baccalaureate in order to encourage wider take-up; and whether any separate assessment has been made of the merits of each subject for inclusion.[HL7526]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what impact they forecast the omission of music from the English baccalaureate will have on the skills available to the United Kingdom's creative and cultural sector. [HL7801]
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.
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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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review information held about British nationals convicted of sexual offences both at home and abroad so that accurate lists of names and addresses are available to police and welfare authorities by the end of 2011.[HL7821]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what outcome they are seeking through their participation in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20 in 2012; and what consultations they will have with interested parties and Parliament in preparation for the conference.[HL7775]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their main objectives for Rio Earth Summit 2012; what preparations they are making for the summit; which departments are involved in preparing papers and briefings; and how many staff are working full-time on preparations.[HL7849]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision they propose to make available to voluntary and community organisations to help meet the costs of redundancy and severance payments incurred as a result of cuts in central or local government funding. [HL7577]
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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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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