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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government have not made an assessment about the growth of casual anti-Semitism, which makes an automatic link between the United Kingdom's Jewish community and the state of Israel but remains concerned and has tasked the cross-government working group on anti-Semitism which also has representatives from the three leading Jewish communal organisations to look into the matter and report back later this year.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Adult Learners' Week is led by NIACE (the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education) which is part-funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
BIS is delighted to be a partner in Adult Learners' Week. Every year, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people discover the pleasures and benefits of learning for personal, family and community development.
BIS Ministers and officials work closely with NIACE to ensure that year on year Adult Learners' Week becomes ever more successful in raising the profile of adult learning and encourages more people to improve their lives through learning.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The acquisition of Halifax Bank of Scotland plc (HBOS) in early 2009 by Lloyds TSB Group plc
28 Mar 2011 : Column WA208
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 28 February (WA 211), how many depositors in each of the failed Icelandic banks have left a total of £420,000,000 unreclaimed; how many of those accounts contain over £50,000 and in which banks; and how many of those accounts are frozen.[HL7707]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The summary of the unclaimed balances over £50,000 by bank as at 4 January 2011 is shown in the table below. The Government do not hold information on which accounts may be frozen.
|Default||No of accounts not claimed||Amount (£)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the number and proportion of (a) men, and (b) women, affected by the imposition of a time limit on contributory employment and support allowance who will be eligible for means-tested benefits in compensation.[HL7987]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The policy is expected to affect around 690,000 people in total by 2015-16. Of these early estimates indicate around 350,000 to be men and 340,000 to be women.
Further information can be found in the equality impact assessment which has been published here: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/eia-esa-time-limit-wr20l1.pdf.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Guidance on the diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning, including carbon monoxide testing, was the subject of an updated joint letter from the then interim chief medical officer, and the chief nursing officer, on 11 November 2010. This guidance was sent to every general practitioner and emergency physician in England together with an updated diagnostic flow chart prepared by the Health Protection Agency. No further guidance is planned. The letter and flow chart can be found at: www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publications andstatistics/Lettersandcirculars/Professionalletters/Chiefmedicalofficerletters/DH_121502.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 9 March (WA 403), what steps they are taking to ensure that cohabiting couples know their parental rights and responsibilities; and whether they will ensure that the legal position is better known, particularly concerning joint registration of births.[HL7628]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Information around parental rights and responsibilities is available from a range of sources, including the Directgov website and information given to new parents before they register their child's birth.
We will be considering the need for clearer information for parents as part of our response to wider changes resulting from the family justice review which is currently under way. The review panel is due to publish its interim report at the end of March, and a final report in the autumn.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): Individual police forces, local authorities and other partners are best placed to assess the impact a knife amnesty will have in their locality and to decide whether or not an amnesty would be an appropriate response.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are a strong supporter of Croatian EU accession. We look forward to seeing Croatia join the EU once all benchmark requirements have been met. We welcome Croatia's intensification of efforts to achieve this. The timing of the conclusion of Croatia's accession negotiations depends on how quickly Croatia is able to demonstrate irreversible reform against these benchmarks, thereby enabling the Commission to make a positive recommendation to the council. The Government have supported Croatian reform efforts through many UK-funded projects and by sending UK experts to assist through the EU twinning scheme. The Government remain committed to Croatia's transition to EU membership.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what process will be put in place to monitor effectively the pay of headteachers, teaching staff and non-teaching staff in academies and free schools; and how this information will be made publicly available.[HL7506]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): One of the freedoms that academy status brings is the ability to set individual pay and conditions for all staff. However, as academies receive broadly the same funding as maintained schools they will need to set pay levels for their staff within this budget.
The School Workforce Census (SWF), run for the first time in November 2010, requires all schools, including academies and free schools to supply data on many factors including staff pay. Schools supply data at individual staff member level, and actual salary details for all teachers in maintained schools and academies are collected, which allows the department to publish the number of teachers by grade and in 5,000 and 10,000 salary bands. The first results are scheduled to be published in a Statistical First Release on the 20 April 2011 and will be available on the DfE website.
All academy trusts are required to publish annual accounts in accordance with the Companies Act 2006. In addition to this, the Charity Commission has published a Statement of Recommended Practice which clarifies how charities should prepare their accounts in order to reflect these legal requirements. This states that charities which are subject to a statutory audit should include a note in their accounts disclosing the number of employees whose emoluments were £60,000 or above, presented in £10,000 bandings. The department expects academy trusts, as charitable companies, to comply with this.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority publicly issued its call for evidence on the safety and efficacy of techniques to avoid mitochondrial disease through assisted conception; why the call for evidence stated that submissions must be completed by 15 March 2011; and who was personally notified of this call for evidence in order to ensure that wide-ranging evidence would be received from experts in any relevant field.[HL7858]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that it publicly issued its call for evidence on the safety and efficacy of techniques to avoid mitochondrial disease through assisted conception on Monday 28 February 2011. The deadline for submissions was 15 March 2011 to ensure a report is prepared according to the timetable set by the Secretary of State. The HFEA has also advised that in addition to being advertised on its website, the call for evidence was sent to more than 30 individual experts in the field known to the authority, funding bodies and professional societies, with an invitation to distribute it more widely, if relevant.
The HFEA has been asked to assess the effectiveness and safety of a new technique designed to prevent the transfer of serious mitochondrial disease. This report has been commissioned without prejudice to the Government taking any further steps to make new regulations to allow this technique to be used in treatment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in light of the estimate by the UK Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance that there is the potential to produce ten times current volumes of biodiesels from used cooking oil, what proposals they have to encourage the recycling of used cooking oil into biodiesel.[HL7989]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government are interested in the potential of used cooking oil to generate renewable energy and welcome evidence from the UK Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance.
28 Mar 2011 : Column WA212
The renewable energy directive provides that the contribution of biofuels from waste towards national transport targets, including used cooking oil (UCO), are double counted. The Department for Transport is currently consulting on proposals to amend the renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO). The proposed amendment will provide double support to biofuels from waste, including UCO (currently one renewable transport certificate is awarded per litre of biofuel).
The supply of UCO is currently encouraged by a duty differential. The rate of excise duty for biodiesel produced from UCO is 20 pence per litre less than the rate of duty for ultra low sulphur diesel. This 20 pence tax differential was introduced on 1 April 2010 and is set to run until April 2012.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The table below shows the percentage of imported coal used for UK energy in each year from 1984 until 2010. These statistics are not available for Great Britain.
|Year||Net Imports||Total Supply||Import Dependency1|
4 Provisional 2010 statistics have been provided. These are sourced from Table 2.5 and 2.6 of the online monthly statistical release. The figures for 2010 will be updated and published at 09.30 am on Thursday 31 March 2011 as part of the quarterly statistical release, Energy Trends March 2011.
* The statistics used to compile this table can be found on the DECC website, http:decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/source/coal/coal.aspx.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, with input from the shadow Nuclear Centre of Excellence and others, recently co-ordinated an assessment of the prospects for research into advanced thorium reactors. This is available upon request from the Government Office for Science. Additionally, the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) undertook a recent, independent assessment, in which it assessed a number of claims made by proponents of thorium fuel. The report can be found at: www.nnl.co.uk/positionpapers.
Both reports suggest that the thorium fuel cycle has a number of potential advantages in reducing the cost and radiotoxicity of nuclear power generation, if used in current reactor designs and without full fuel reprocessing. However, both say that the realistic benefits are likely to be too marginal to justify investment in developing thorium technology.
If a full thorium fuel breeding and recycling operation were to be used, the NNL believes that a substantial reduction in radiotoxicity would be achieved and that this might provide a significant enough incentive in the long term to justify the investment. However, both reports warn that a full thorium cycle reprocessing
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The Secretary of State has also asked the NNL to investigate the wider benefits of next generation reactor designs and to compare the use of thorium and uranium fuels in them. Results should be available by the summer of 2011 and will include an assessment of these systems' radiotoxicological safety.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many legal challenges have been made in the past year about their failure to comply with statutory duties under equality legislation; what were the outcomes; and what remedial action, if any, has been initiated. [HL7971]
Baroness Verma: Information on legal challenges made to government departments in the past year is not held centrally. It is not possible to identify this information without incurring disproportionate cost.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the proposed removal of the requirement for public bodies to provide evidence of their consideration of the fair treatment of groups protected under the Equality Act 2010 in the discharge of their function does not undermine the advancement of equality and fair treatment of those groups.[HL7970]
Baroness Verma: The proposed changes to the regulations supporting the public sector equality duty will give public bodies more flexibility in how they demonstrate their compliance with it. But they will still need to publish evidence on an annual basis to demonstrate how they have had due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between different groups. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is working closely with the Government Equalities Office to ensure that public bodies are aware of their responsibilities under the equality duty, including preparing a statutory code of practice and non-statutory guidance.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 31 January (WA 224), what is the estimated annual cost to public authorities in fulfilling their duties under the Equality Act 2010 (Statutory Duties) Regulations 2011; and how they will monitor the application of the guidance of the Equality and Human Rights Commission on those duties.[HL7844]
The Government estimate these proposed new specific duties will result in an annual cost to the public sector of approximately between £20.6 million and £26 million, compared with the annual cost of complying with the existing duties of approximately £40 million and £45 million, thus resulting in a net saving to the public sector of approximately £l58 million over 10 years. In addition there are expected to be one-off transitional costs of between £6.8 million and £9.4 million.
The Government plan to undertake a post-implementation review of the Equality Act. As part of the evaluation that underpins this review, work will be undertaken to explore the use and effectiveness of guidance.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of footage of Hamas security forces assaulting students and other peaceful demonstrators in Gaza during demonstrations on 15 and 16 March 2011. The people of Gaza, like the people across the region, have an absolute right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Hamas should not think that while the attention of the world is elsewhere we will turn a blind eye to its actions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what level of display energy certificate was awarded to the Department for Education office at Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, in each of the past three years.[HL7626]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The display energy certificate at the Department for Education's office at Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, has been rated as G in each of the past three years.
While the rating has remained constant, the DEC score has been reduced from 219 to 202 during the period. The department has recently completed a number of projects to improve the energy efficiency of Sanctuary Buildings. This is projected to reduce the CO2 consumption by 565 tonnes per year. Further work to improve the operation and use of the facility is being developed to reduce energy consumption further.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Display energy certificates have been awarded to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office building at King Charles Street in each of the past three years as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what level of display energy certificate was awarded to the Department for International Development building at 1 Palace Street in each of the past three years. [HL7886]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House their reply to the letter from the chair of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of 10 March 2010 urging them to suspend the eviction of Gypsy and Traveller families from Dale Farm, Essex.[HL7874]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The chairman of the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination wrote to Her Majesty's Government about the Dale Farm traveller site on 12 March 2010. The Government replied on 10 May explaining that the United Kingdom had not recognised the committee's authority to receive and consider individual complaints and so would not be replying to the substance of the committee's letter. I have arranged for a copy of the correspondence to be placed in the Library of the House.
I also refer the noble Baroness to the answer Baroness Wilcox gave Lord Avebury on 21 December 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 295) about a separate letter on the Dale Farm site from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing. The Special Rapporteur's summary of that correspondence has now been published and I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why there is a deadline for applications for payments in respect of people who died before 29 August 2003 as a result of having contracted hepatitis C from contaminated NHS blood and blood products.[HL7808]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people will benefit from the decision to allow payments in respect of people who died before 29 August 2003 as a result of having contracted hepatitis C from contaminated NHS blood and blood products. [HL7809]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that everyone entitled to apply for payments in respect of people who died before 29 August 2003 as a result of having contracted hepatitis C from contaminated NHS blood and blood products (a) are aware that they are entitled to apply, and (b) will be able to apply before the deadline for applications.[HL7810]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): A deadline of 31 March 2011 was set in order to encourage those with a valid claim in respect of people who died before 29 August 2003 to come forward as soon as possible. We considered this would give sufficient time for people to register their intention with the Skipton Fund, although we fully appreciate that it may take longer to compile the necessary medical evidence to support the claim. Registration is the part of the process that is required by 31 March 2011.
Since the announcement on 10 January 2011, these new payments have been widely publicised in a variety of ways such as by a press release, by relevant internet sites, by campaign groups such as the Hepatitis C Trust, and by Twitter. A full list of the electronic communications that have been utilised has been placed in the Library.
Annexe 2 of the Review of the Support Available to Individuals Infected with Hepatitis C and/or HIV by NHS Supplied Blood Transfusions or Blood Products and their Dependants, which has already been placed in the Library, estimates the number of individuals infected in the United Kingdom with chronic hepatitis C (over the period 1970 to 1991) as 24,539; of whom it is estimated that 4,907 would go on to develop serious infection such as cirrhosis.
The footnote of table 2 of Section 5 of the review report details the assumptions that were made in respect of how many new claims to the Skipton Fund might come forward for those who died pre-2003.
28 Mar 2011 : Column WA218
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The White Paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People committed to setting up an appropriate mechanism to ensure that the income generation activities of the Health Protection Agency can be maintained when it is absorbed into Public Health England and consideration is being given to the most appropriate mechanism to enable this.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what resources are made available to local authorities for transport for students over 16 attending (a) full-time, and (b) part-time, further education colleges, sixth form colleges or school sixth forms.[HL7547]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Local authority statutory responsibilities for transport in relation to post-16 students are funded through revenue support grant and through income generated by councils, including council tax. Formula grant is not hypothecated to a particular service. Local authorities are free to use the funding in line with the wishes of their electorate to meet local needs while taking into account their statutory responsibilities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to make the provision of subsidised transport a mandatory requirement for students aged 16-19 attending further education colleges, sixth form colleges or school sixth forms.[HL7548]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): It is estimated that a figure in the order of around £24,000 (net of VAT) will be spent on flowers and plants in the House of Lords in 2010-11. This figure includes the cost of flowers for banqueting rooms (around £10,000 up to the end of February) which is recharged to the organisers of the events to achieve a gross profit of at least 30 per cent. There is no single designated budget for flowers and plants and the amount spent largely depends on the banqueting bookings that are arranged. Therefore it is not possible to provide an estimate for the next two financial years.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (a) private tenancies, and (b) social housing tenancies, for dwellings occupied by couples are held (1) by men as individuals, (2) by women as individuals, and (3) jointly by couples.[HL7986]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The table below provides estimates of the number of households in each of the requested categories in England in 2009-10. These estimates are based on data from the English Housing Survey.
|Tenancy holders in households with couples, England, 2009-10|
|Renting households with couples|
|Tenancy holder||Social renters||Private renters|
|Thousands of households|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the river measuring stations on the Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq, destroyed or damaged in 2003 or thereafter, have been replaced wholly or partly; and, if not, whether they will help the Iraqi authorities to do so. [HL7701]
Baroness Verma: An official Government of Iraq publication noting water flow in the Tigris and Euphrates indicates that the river-measuring stations in the two rivers were working in 2009 (Report on Environmental Statistics, 2009, Department of Environmental Statistics, Central Statistics Organisation and Ministry of Planning).
As a result of the Department for International Development's (DfID) recent Bilateral Aid Review, DFID will close its office in March 2012. In 2011 DfID will focus on completing three existing programmes covering governance, private sector development and higher education. Other donors including the European Union, Japan, the World Bank and United National Development Programme (UNDP) are providing assistance to the Iraqi authorities on water resource management.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the written answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 9 March (WA 410-11), what practical steps they have proposed to the Iraqi government's Ashraf Committee "to ensure the residents' human rights are respected".[HL7670]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to monitor the situation in Camp Ashraf closely, and regularly discuss any concerns with US, EU and UN colleagues and the Iraqi Government. On 20 February 2011 UK representatives met with the UN and the Iraqi Government's Ashraf Committee and urged the Iraqi Government to ensure the residents' human rights are respected.
Ultimately Camp Ashraf is in a sovereign Iraq and responsibility for the residents lies with the Iraqi Government. We will continue to encourage the Iraqi Government to treat the residents in line with international humanitarian standards and raise concerns where appropriate.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 9 March (WA 410-11), on how many occasions United Kingdom diplomatic representatives have visited Camp Ashraf in 2011; what use of loudspeakers they observed; and what reports they made about the impact of the loudspeakers on residents. [HL7671]
We have received reports from camp residents of loudspeakers operating within the camp. During the consular visit, our officials were aware of the presence of some loudspeakers. The Government of Iraq have
28 Mar 2011 : Column WA221
We are in regular dialogue with the UN about Camp Ashraf and have raised the issue of the use of loudspeakers with them. UK representatives have also met the Iraqi Government's Ashraf Committee and urged them to ensure the residents' human rights are respected.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the Government of Israel about their refusal to renew the temporary residency status in Jerusalem of the Anglican Bishop, the Right Reverend Suheil Dawani.[HL7824]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are very concerned by the Government of Israel's decision to revoke the residency permit of Bishop Suheil. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary raised this with the Prime Minister of Israel last November. Our embassy in Tel Aviv continues to press regularly. In his recent press statement, Bishop Suheil publicly thanked my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, the British ambassador to Israel and the British consul-general in Jerusalem for their efforts with the Israeli authorities on his behalf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Israel about the 222 children held in Israeli prisons at 31 January 2011, and about access to them for their parents.[HL7902]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is concerned about the number of children currently being held in Israeli prisons. We raise our concerns with the Israeli Government about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees, including where children are involved, on a frequent basis. Most recently, our ambassador in Tel Aviv has raised the issue of Israel's treatment of Palestinian children with Education Minister Saar and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Principal Legal Adviser Daniel Taub.
As the noble Lord is aware, the Government are supporting a project run by Defence for Children International, to monitor, defend and promote the rights of Palestinian children, as protected under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UK also supports No Legal Frontiers, which aims to ensure greater access to justice, through the publication of Israeli laws and military orders in Hebrew, Arabic and English and to carry out advocacy work. No Legal Frontiers reports on the functioning of the juvenile military courts and provides legal defence for juvenile defendants.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Palestinian leadership to respond positively to Israel's offer to negotiate a peace agreement without preconditions. [HL7811]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the Middle East peace process with President Abbas during his recent visit to the UK. He underlined the need for both sides to recommit to negotiations on the basis of clear principles supported by the international community.
The Foreign Secretary underlined the UK's view, shared with France and Germany, that the parameters for negotiations should include 1967 borders with equivalent land swaps, appropriate security arrangements for Israelis and Palestinians, a just fair and agreed solution for refugees and Jerusalem as the future capital of both states.
Lord Howell of Guildford: We remain convinced that there is an urgent need for negotiations to achieve a lasting solution which resolves all final status issues on the basis of clear parameters supported by the international community. The UK, France and Germany have set out their views on what those parameters should be: we continue to discuss these issues with partners.
We support Israel's proposal to extend the Palestinian authority in areas of the West Bank and to ease roadblocks and other restrictions in line with core road map commitments, which both sides should meet. But interim solutions will not suffice. We call on both sides to return to the table as soon as possible.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the murders that occurred in Itamar, saying that they were despicable, immoral and inhuman. We welcome his clear stance and his commitment to non-violence in order to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. President Abbas underlined this approach during his recent press conference with my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have offered humanitarian assistance, disaster victim identification and nuclear expertise to the Japanese Government and we stand ready to assist in any way we can. At their request, a 63-strong UK search and rescue team, including medical personnel, was deployed to north-east Japan.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with other states and international organisations about ways and means of evacuating foreign workers and families currently trapped in Libya.[HL7556]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Britain took on a leading role on co-ordinating the evacuation effort. Our Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft directed international aircraft involved in the evacuation. We also set up a temporary joint headquarters in Malta to oversee the military evacuation operation. The UK co-ordinated closely, in particular with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well as the EU. We directly assisted some 819 nationals of 43 different countries on UK Government-assisted evacuations.
We have also, through the Department for International Development, provided logistic extensive support for foreign workers leaving Libya, including paying for flights to secure the return home of 6,716 people from Tunisia to Egypt and Bangladesh. The International Development Secretary announced last week additional support to the International Organisation for Migration for a further 6,000 people.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 15 March (WA 44), what are their proposals for allowing parliamentary accountability for the expenditure of £88 billion of central government funding to local authorities.[HL7927]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The expenditure in question is voted by Parliament and there are accounting officers in all departments which give grants to local authorities. Over a third of this funding is provided through formula grant, which
28 Mar 2011 : Column WA224
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 15 March (WA 46) regarding the share of the costs of the Papal visit to be paid by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, whether interest is payable on the amount.[HL7864]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): No interest is to be paid by the Church. Charging interest would not be appropriate given that Pope Benedict XVI visited the UK as a head of state at the invitation of Her Majesty the Queen and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister.
The Government believe that maintaining a police service which is reflective of the society it polices is as important as ever. This view is shared by the Department of Justice and the PSNI themselves and they will continue to work to this end.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which argues that spending, rather than income, is the best measure of poverty. [HL7703]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Her Majesty's Government welcome the recent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on the use of expenditure as a measure of living standards and poverty.
Her Majesty's Government agree that expenditure is a valuable complementary measure of standards of living, in addition to traditional analysis by income levels. The Government set out in the 2011 Budget report the reasons why expenditure may be a better measure of standards of living than income. Analysis of the income distribution alone can be potentially misleading. Among the reasons for this is that for some households, predominately in the bottom decile, expenditure exceeds current income. This could be because some households-typically those containing students, self-employed and unemployed individuals-experience temporary periods of low income and fund their expenditure from savings or borrowings. Because such households are smoothing their lifetime consumption, expenditure may be a better indicator of their standard of living. In line with this, our distributional analysis for the June Budget 2010 and Budget 2011 included analysis by income decile and expenditure decile, going further than any government before in providing a picture of the impacts on households.
The Government are keen to explore complementary indicators of poverty that ensure that the policy response is not just focused on lifting those in poverty above an arbitrary income line, but also tackles the root causes of poverty and deprivation.
However, the Government are also aware that there are a number of difficulties with collecting data on low-expenditure households. Officials are in discussions with the IFS about extending data collection on expenditure, but these are at a very early stage.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in light of cost over-run and delays in introducing the European Train Management System on the Cambrian Railway line, they are reconsidering their plan to extend the system.[HL7647]
Earl Attlee: The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) is mandated for all new lines, substantial renewals or upgrades by EU directive and should enable the rail industry to make long-term cost reductions.
The purpose of the Cambrian deployment was to better understand the detailed issues of installing a system of this type in the UK. The experience gained on the Cambrian has already led to a number of very valuable lessons being learnt.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what impact the additional borrowing requirement by the Republic of Ireland will have on United Kingdom public
28 Mar 2011 : Column WA226
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The terms of the UK bilateral loan to Ireland are as set out in the loan agreement that was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses by the Financial Secretary on 10 January 2011. The specific policies that the Irish Government have undertaken to implement, including with respect to fiscal consolidation, are outlined in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies agreed with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, which is available on the IMF's website at http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2010/cr10366.pdf.
"In preparation for Budget 2013, we will review progress on deficit reduction, and draw up a plan which will achieve the objective of reaching the 3 per cent of GDP target for the general Government deficit by the target date of 2015".
This is one year later than the deadline of 2014 set by the previous Government's national recovery plan, but is consistent with the fiscal consolidation targets set by the Irish adjustment programme as referred to above.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): All relevant factors are taken into account when considering proposals for state visits overseas, including relevant political and social issues. The Government are committed to promoting and protecting human rights around the world. Our high commissions and embassies have a responsibility to monitor and raise human rights in their host countries. They routinely raise our concerns with other governments to uphold universal standards and, where possible, take action on individual cases where persecution or discrimination has occurred and lobby for changes in discriminatory practices and laws. We will continue to defend the human rights of all people.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what response they have made to the concerns of the National Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children that the proposed changes to child protection measures could put children at risk.[HL7805]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government have considered carefully the representations received from the National Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC ) and a number of meetings have been held with officials. The Home Secretary's letter of 11 March to the right honourable Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleton (Yvette Cooper) sets out the Government's policy on remodelling the vetting and barring scheme and has been provided to the NSPCC. A copy has been placed in the House Library.
Lord Hill of Oareford: For 2010-11, we are deducting amounts of revenue funding from each local authority with a relevant academy. These amounts are shown in column L of the worksheet entitled 2010-11 Final DSG Allocations in the published spreadsheet at the following link: http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/ files/
28 Mar 2011 : Column WA228
We are also deducting from local authorities' formula grant £148 million and £265 million in 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively. This is to avoid academies and local authorities being funded for the same services. The adjustments in respect of each local authority are available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at:http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/1112/1011adjusteds.xls http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/1112/1112adjusteds.xls.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they have removed £413 million from local authorities' non-school budgets to pay for services for new academies, including local authorities in areas without academies; and why that amount exceeds by £350 million the Department for Education's estimate of the amount required by the new academies.[HL6807]
Lord Hill of Oareford: We provide academies with additional funding in recognition of the additional responsibilities they have, which would previously have been borne by their local authority. There are two elements to the grant: the proportion which the department can recoup from the dedicated schools grant that would otherwise go to local authorities, and the proportion that the department cannot recoup because it is in respect of services normally paid from other local authority funds. For the latter, to avoid academies and local authorities being funded for the same services, we have calculated a total cost, and this is reflected in the amounts transferred from local authorities' formula grant of £148 million and £265 million in 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively.
The adjustments were based on national averages and estimates applied equally to all local authorities, including those without academies, as we cannot predict at this stage how many academies will be in each particular local authority over the next two years. An exact figure was given for the next two years to give local authorities greater certainty about the deductions they need to manage. The deductions do not affect the schools budget in each local authority, which is funded through the dedicated schools grant direct from the department, rather than through formula grant.
The Academies Bill impact assessment published on 16 July 2010 identified the present value of local authority central services costs, over a four-year period from 2010-11 to 2013-14, at £430 million. The annual cost was higher at the time of the later formula grant
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Lord Hill of Oareford: These questions have now been answered. The delay was caused by officials in the department failing to collate the information required to provide the answer sufficiently quickly to meet the parliamentary deadline. I have asked the Permanent Secretary to investigate why this happened.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the total departmental budget set aside for the funding of new free schools; and what is the projected number of new free schools starting in the academic years 2010-11 and 2011-12.[HL7508]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): £50 million has been set aside in the financial year 2010-11 to meet the capital needs of free schools. Beyond that, provision forms part of the overall spending review settlement for schools. Allocations for free schools have yet to be decided.
The Secretary of State has recently signed the first funding agreement with the proposers of a free school-to open the West London free school in September 2011. We are also working with a further 40 groups to set up other free schools, a number of which should open in September 2011.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Tobacco Control Plan for England, published on 9 March 2011, sets out the action Government will take across the six internationally recognised strands that make up a comprehensive approach to tobacco control. This includes protection from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.
The plan is informed by The Impact of Smokefree Legislation in England, an academic review of the evidence on the effectiveness of the 2006 smoke-free
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 23 November (WA 321), whether they now have knowledge of the whereabouts and welfare of Mr Ehneligoda; and whether they intend to make further representations concerning his case.[HL7946]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK has expressed its concern about the disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda. We do not have any knowledge of his whereabouts or his welfare.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Revenue and Customs publishes statistics on trading losses from previous years, offset against current year trading profits, and trading losses, offset against other income, for financial sector companies including banks. This information is regularly updated and published in table 11.2, on the HMRC National Statistics website. The latest update is available here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/corporate tax/table11_2.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Turkey about the release of Mr Nedim Sener and Mr Ahmet Sik, and other recently arrested journalists, and in particular regarding the provision of information to their lawyers of evidence justifying charges against them.[HL7702]
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have not made specific representations to the Government of Turkey about the release of Mr Nedim Sener, Mr Ahmet Sik or other recently arrested journalists.
Our embassy in Ankara regularly raises issues relating to freedom of the media in the context of wider discussions on human rights with their Turkish counterparts. The EU made a statement on 10 March 2011 expressing its concerns about the arrest of journalists in Turkey and urging Turkey to fulfil its Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe commitments on media freedom. We do not plan to make separate bilateral representations in addition to the EU statement.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they ensure a broad representation of United Kingdom interested parties and experts at meetings of United Nations technical and specialist agencies; and whether they plan to alter their practice and follow that of the United States of restricting representation to civil servants and occasionally ministers.[HL7776]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our delegations to UN meetings invariably comprise officials and Ministers from a range of relevant government departments and agencies. In practice, lead policy departments have an ongoing dialogue with their colleagues from other government departments as well as with other stakeholders, including those from professional and academic research bodies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and civil society. Individuals from these groups have and continue to form part of the UK's delegation to UN meetings. In general, it is common practice for government departments to undertake consultation with such stakeholders before and after governing body meetings of UN technical and specialised agencies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government who will provide the appropriate budgeting support referred to in Universal Credit: welfare that works for people on low incomes who may have difficulties managing their financial affairs should universal credit be paid monthly; and what form that budgeting support will take.[HL7780]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department is carefully considering the frequency with which universal credit will be paid. No decisions have yet been made on this matter.
As part of the design process for universal credit, the department is undertaking a broad programme of customer engagement. This work will inform decisions about how best to provide budgeting support for those who need it.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Universities are independent and autonomous organisations and as such are responsible for their own admissions decisions. The Government have no legal power to interfere in university admissions.
Lord Henley: The Director of Fair Access is charged with promoting and safeguarding fair access to higher education. Every university intending to charge more than the basic level (£6,000 from September 2012) must have an access agreement agreed with the director. The director publishes annual monitoring reports setting out the outcomes of his annual monitoring of access agreements. These are available on the website of the Office for Fair Access www.offa.org.uk.
The Government published guidance to the Director of Fair Access about his approach to approving and monitoring access agreements applying from September 2012 in February. That guidance says that institutions should agree with the director a programme of defined progress each year-set within a five-year timeframe-in relation to appropriate benchmarks. Access agreements will be reviewed annually. The director published his own guidance to universities on 8 March.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether during the negotiations on the draft Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence they have objected to the proposed wording that "violence against women is understood as a violation of human rights".[HL7533]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): We are supportive of the work of the Council of Europe in raising awareness of violence against women and girls and keen to see the adoption of a strong convention. We are seeking to clarify the meaning of the wording in article 3a on violence against women to ensure that international human rights protection remains robust and effective for all individuals.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what contacts they have had with Margot Wällstrom, the United Nations Special Representative on combating violence against women, since her visit to London earlier this year; who has contacted her; and when. [HL7757]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our Permanent Representative to the UN in New York represented the UK at an informal session of the Security Council on 18 February 2011, where Margot Wallström briefed the Security Council on her portfolio. Ahead of that session experts at the UK Mission to the UN in New York were in contact with her office on the important issue of combating violence against women and have also facilitated contact with other member states.
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