Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA235



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA235

Written Answers

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Animal Welfare: Rabbits

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The welfare of farmed rabbits is adequately protected by the general provisions in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007, which have a specific schedule relating to rabbit welfare. Additionally, Defra has a welfare code for rabbits which provides good husbandry advice and which producers are required by law to have access to and be familiar with.

We have no current plans to publish a code of practice on the welfare of pet rabbits.

We consider that the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to provide for the welfare needs of animals are sufficient to ensure the necessary protection for the welfare of pet rabbits.

Animal Welfare: Sanctuaries

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): We have no current plans to specifically regulate animal sanctuaries. However, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal and to treat an animal in a way that fails to meet its welfare needs. We consider the requirements of the Act to be sufficient to ensure the necessary protection of the welfare of animals in sanctuaries.

Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The setting of the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) by the British Bankers' Association (BBA) and the contributions made by banks to that process are not regulated activities under the Financial

29 Mar 2011 : Column WA236

Services and Markets Act 2000. However, the conduct of firms regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) when contributing to the setting of LIBOR is a matter for the FSA to consider in certain circumstances. The mechanisms used by the BBA to detect manipulation of LIBOR are a matter for the BBA.

Asked by Lord Barnett

Lord Sassoon: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is aware of the issues and maintains strong relationships with other regulators. The FSA discloses information where there are permitted gateways in accordance with Memoranda of Understanding.

Banks: Lending

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government continue to monitor closely a wide range of data around the availability and cost of credit to UK businesses.

The Bank of England will publish quarterly data on the banks' total new lending to businesses under the Project Merlin definition. The Government will consider the banks' performance against the commitment in due course.

In addition, the Business Finance Taskforce, led by the British Bankers' Association, has agreed to 17 new commitments in order to improve the banks' relationship with their business customers. The banks will provide a new lending code and a transparent appeals procedure for declined loan applications, among other actions. These commitments will be evaluated by a regular survey of small businesses and their experience of access to finance, which will be published by the British Bankers' Association.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: On 9 February the Chancellor announced a new lending commitment by the UK's biggest high-street banks. As part of these commitments the banks will make available £190 billion of new

29 Mar 2011 : Column WA237

credit to businesses in 2011, up from £179 billion in 2010. If demand exceeds this, the banks have the capacity to lend more. Some £76 billion of this lending will be to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This is a 15 per cent increase on 2010 lending of £66 billion.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: This is a commercial matter for the market and not a matter for the Government.

Care Quality Commission

Questions

Asked by Lord Colwyn

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): All primary dental care providers who have submitted a valid application to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) by Wednesday 23 March will appear in the register on the CQC's website on 1 April 2011. The CQC estimates this to be over 88 per cent of those providers who were invited to register.

Asked by Lord Colwyn

Earl Howe: The Secretary of State approved on March 24 the Care Quality Commission's registration fees provision to apply from 1 April 2011.

Civil Service: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Between 31 March 2010 and 30 September 2010 there has been a 3 per cent reduction in the number of senior civil servants in pay bands 1 to 3.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA238

The number of band 1, band 2 and band 3 senior civil servants in post in May 2010 and now are not held centrally but data are available at 31 March 2010 and at 30 September 2010. These data are presented in table 1.

At 1 May 2010, there were 40 Permanent Secretaries in post and as of 1 April 2011 there will be 41 Permanent Secretaries. The latter number includes a post previously held by a senior military official but now held by a senior civil servant.

Table 1: SCS pay bands 1 to 3, as at 31 March 2010 and 30 September 2010
Pay band31 March 201030 September 2010

Pay band 1/1A

3,322

3,231

Pay band 2

795

767

Pay band 3

189

181

Driving: Car Test

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: We want to see all learner car drivers facing a challenging and realistic test which examines whether they have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be safe and responsible on our roads. Following our announcement that we shall cease to publish questions in the theory test, we shall keep the test under review after our recent improvements such as introducing case studies into the theory test, driving independently in the practical test and no longer publishing practical test routes.

Drugs: Trafficking

Question

Asked by Baroness Hooper

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government are in discussion with the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat, all of which are looking into what is needed to implement the Agreement Concerning Co-operation in Suppressing Illicit Maritime and Air Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the Caribbean Area 2003, and fulfil the obligations required. We stand ready to lay the agreement before Parliament with a view to ratification once all the requirements are met.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA239

Education: Careers Advice

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Education Act 1997, as modified by the Education (Extension of Careers Education) (England) Regulations 2003, requires secondary schools to provide all pupils in years 7 to 11 with a programme of careers education. The Education and Skills Act 2008 introduced a requirement that schools, in discharging their statutory duty to provide careers education, must provide impartial information and give advice which promotes the best interests of their pupils.

The 1997 Act also requires secondary schools and institutions in the further education sector to provide pupils and students with access to guidance materials and a wide range of up-to-date reference materials relating to careers education and opportunities. The Education Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament, seeks to amend these provisions.

Asked by Lord Beecham

Lord Hill of Oareford: Subject to the passage of the Education Bill through Parliament, from September 2012 schools will be responsible for securing access to independent, impartial, careers guidance for their pupils aged 13 to 16. They will be free to decide how to do so, including what resources may be required. We have signalled our intention to consult in due course on extending the duty in the Education Bill to cover all students up to the age of 18, whether they are in schools or in further education institutions.

We committed in the White Paper The Importance of Teaching to establishing a destinations measure for schools as part of our commitment to transparency. This will help parents to hold schools to account for the work they do in preparing young people for success post-16 and in helping them to make choices that are right for them.

Asked by Lord Beecham



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA240

Lord Hill of Oareford: The provision of careers advice and guidance services for young people under the age of 18 is currently the responsibility of local authorities, under Section 68 of the Education and Skills Act 2008. In addition, young people have access to web-based resources and a national helpline.

Education: Nurseries

Questions

Asked by Lord True

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Providers are free to decide whether they wish to offer parents the free nursery education which is funded by LAs.

There are no restrictions on what providers may charge parents for additional hours of early education outside the universal free 15 hours. This is a private matter between provider and parent. Where providers have, however, chosen to accept public funding for free places, parents' access to those free places should not be made conditional on the purchase of additional hours.

Funding for free entitlement places is just one part of a broader package of public support that providers can access. Many receive training and other assistance from their local authority to support improvements in quality and secure sufficient childcare provision. The Government hope that providers will continue to choose to be part of the free entitlement scheme, providing valuable early learning to children. However, the Government also accept that, for some, delivering the free early education may not fit with their business models.

Energy: Coal Miners

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA241

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

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

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking the average number of miners employed in the coal industry in each year from 1984 until 2010. HL7974

The available information is provided in the attached table and is derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Estimates prior to 1992 are not available. It is not possible to provide reliable estimates from 2001 onwards because the sample sizes for this survey are not sufficiently large enough for the coal industry.

Number of miners employed in the coal industry. Three months ending December, 1992 to 2010. United Kingdom, not seasonally adjusted
Thousands

1992

29

1993

18

1994

10

1995

14

1996

11

1997

12

1998

7

1999

7

2000

7 ****

2001

..

2002

..

2003

..

2004

..

2005

..

2006

..

2007

..

2008

..

2009

..

2010

..

KeyCoefficient of Variation (CV) (%)Statistical Robustness

*

0 = CV< 5

Estimates are considered precise.

**

5 = CV < 10

Estimates are considered reasonably precise.

***

10 = CV < 20

Estimates are considered acceptable.

****

CV = 20

Estimates are considered too unreliable for practical purposes



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA242

Energy: Fuel Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: Ministers and officials have had regular meetings with the road haulage industry, when the issue of fuel prices and duty has sometimes been raised.

Energy: Nuclear Fusion

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The prime focus of UK fusion research is helping to ensure the success of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project which is the vital next step towards practical fusion power stations.

The Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) undertakes the vast majority of fusion research in the UK. CCFE operates the Joint European Torus (JET), the fusion research facility based at Culham, under the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) for the benefit of European scientists, conducting experiments that are crucial to the early success of the ITER.

CCFE also conducts experiments on the UK's Mega-Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST), which examines important physics issues for ITER, and it collaborates on materials research for fusion power plants.

There is some interest in combining fusion and fission for energy production or waste disposal-so called fusion-fission hybrids-but there are still major difficulties in marrying fusion and fission technologies. Furthermore, the hybrid system requires an efficient fusion operating system, which is the focus of the current fusion research programme. The UK will, however, keep a watching brief on further technology developments.

Extremism

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA243

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): In addition to the £145,400 already agreed for 2010-11 the Home Office has agreed to provide Quilliam transitional funding of £40,490 over three months (March-May 2011). Quilliam is welcome to bid for project funding in the future.

Flexible New Deal

Questions

Asked by Lord Knight of Weymouth

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The latest full year figure for the number of people who have started the Flexible New Deal (net of re-referrals) is 299,200 (this covers the period 5 January 2010 to 4 January 2011).

Some 605,000 customers expected to be supported by the Work Programme in its first year of operation (figures for 2011-12 are based on a full year of volumes assuming contracts begin in April 2011. A later contract start date will result in lower volumes).

Further information regarding this was placed in the House of Commons Library on 1 March 2011.

Food: Standards

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Chief Veterinary Officer is the UK delegate at the Office International de Epizooties (OIE). He is the current speaker for the Commission on the animal welfare chapters at the general sessions of the OIE.

A permanent OIE working group on animal welfare already exists. It is anticipated that an ad hoc group on animal welfare and broiler chicken production will be convened in 2011, as it was in 2010. A draft standard chapter for meat chicken welfare is under discussion at OIE.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA244

The reason it is not considered appropriate for HM ambassador in Bangkok to assess chicken welfare standards in Thailand is because the assessment of animal welfare standards requires specialist knowledge.

General Lighthouse Authorities

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The framework document for the general lighthouse authorities sets out the financial controls and financial authorities applicable to the general lighthouse authorities. The framework document dated July 2008 is scheduled to be updated in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance, and will be reissued in autumn 2011.

Government Departments: Business Plans

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Government are committed to publishing monthly updates on departments' progress against key actions and milestones of business plans. The latest updates were published on 4 March 2011. My right honourable friend the Minister for Government Policy (Oliver Letwin) meets with Secretaries of State on a quarterly basis to discuss the implementation of their business plans. I refer the noble Lord to his evidence to the Public Accounts Select Committee on 9 February 2011.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Every department publishes a monthly update that details progress against the business plan. This update shows the status for all the actions that were due to start or complete that month, and provides an explanation for any actions that are overdue. These updates are available on the Number 10 website, departmental websites and at the Vote Office.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA245

Government Departments: Energy Certificates

Questions

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The level of display energy certificate for the Department of Health building Richmond House for the past three years is as follows:

Sept 08-Sept 09

Band F, 139

Sept 09-Sept 10

Band F, 146

Sept 10-Sept 11

Band F, 140

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The level of display energy certificate awarded to the Home Office building at 2 Marsham Street in each of the past three years, showing reduced energy use in each year, was:

2008-09

Band F (144)

2009-10

Band F (132)

2010-11

Band F (128)

No. 2 Marsham Street has many energy-saving features in its design. Energy consumption is constantly monitored and reviewed monthly. Savings have been achieved by adjusting office temperatures, reducing plant operating times, widening humidity levels and a number of other measures.

Government Departments: Wheelchair Access

Question

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The medical services contract is delivered from over 140 assessment sites, the majority of which are co-located with DWP or other government buildings. There are 28 sites which are not located on the ground floor, where customers, particularly those with mobility issues, cannot be assessed as emergency building evacuation procedures prevent the use of lifts.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA246

Appointment letters request that customers with restricted mobility, who are unable to use stairs, contact Atos Healthcare prior to the assessment when they are offered the option of a domiciliary visit by an Atos Healthcare healthcare professional or are redirected to a site with ground floor facilities.

Health: Contaminated Blood Products

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I refer the noble Lord to paragraph 2.2 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, copies of which have already been placed in the Library.

Health: GP Commissioning Groups

Question

Asked by Lord Harris of Haringey

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Health and Social Care Bill places a duty on general practitioner (GP) consortia and the NHS commissioning board to ensure that people who receive a service are involved in its planning and development, and to promote and extend public and patient involvement and choice. Our meetings with GP leaders show there is a commitment to patient and public involvement within emerging GP consortia and a desire to keep existing structures that have worked well, as well as a desire to forge strong links with local HealthWatch, which will replace the existing Local Involvement Networks.

Some consortia may choose to use GP practice patient participation groups to involve patients and the public; however, we do not plan to prescribe the precise mechanisms by which practices or consortia need to engage with the public. We want to ensure that the focus is on developing behaviours and cultures that will encourage and facilitate public involvement and patient voice.

Higher Education: Tuition Fees

Question

Asked by Baroness Hollins



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA247

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): From autumn 2012 universities in England will be able to charge fees of up to £6,000. Those charging between £6,000 and £9,000 per year will be subject to meeting much tougher conditions on widening participation set by the Office for Fair Access. No eligible full-time student in England entering higher education for the first time in 2012, including those studying for medicine, will have to pay their fees up front. Subsidised loans will be made available to cover the full cost.

In addition there is a more generous package of living cost support of loans and non-repayable grants for those students from households with incomes of up to £42,600. In the later years of a medical course, responsibility for providing support to medical students is shared with the Department of Health.

Students from families with an income no greater than £25,000 per annum may also be eligible for support from the National Scholarship Programme. Universities will determine their own eligibility criteria for the programme.

House of Lords: Reform

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The cross-party Committee on House of Lords reform, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, has been considering what options are necessary to bring about a more accountable wholly or mainly elected second Chamber. The Government will publish their proposals in a draft Bill shortly.

Houses of Parliament: Legislation

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government are committed to bringing forward legislation to introduce a power to recall Members of Parliament where they have engaged in serious wrongdoing. We are currently considering what would be the fairest, most appropriate and robust procedure.

Housing Benefit

Question

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA248

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The information as requested is not available.

Justice: Pre-trial Detention

Question

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Commission has held exploratory meetings with experts drawn from across EU member states to help inform their thinking on the possible content of the Green Paper. These were attended by UK officials. We expect the Green Paper to be published in spring or summer this year, when we will respond to its recommendations, but would not expect to see a draft until then.

Media: Plurality Rules

Question

Asked by Lord Smith of Finsbury

Baroness Rawlings: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will consider the scope of the public interest test as part of the wider review of the communications sector announced by the Secretary of State in January of this year.

Mongolia

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): UKTI recently reviewed how it should support UK businesses in Mongolia. Whilst the review concluded that there was insufficient business demand to justify a permanent UKTI presence, UKTI will now assess high-value opportunities for British companies in Mongolia and consider the scope for a short-term business attachment to the embassy to further explore commercial

29 Mar 2011 : Column WA249

opportunities in market. This will be in addition to the support already available to British businesses, where appropriate, from the ambassador.

More broadly, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UKTI are considering, as part of the commitment to commercial diplomacy, what other support may be provided to business in countries such as Mongolia without a dedicated UKTI presence.

Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

Question

Asked by Lord Stewartby

Baroness Rawlings: With the exception of the export licensing team, the Acquisitions, Export and Loans Unit (AELU) of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) moved to Birmingham in April 2010. Until the future location of the export licensing team has been decided, following the transfer of functions from the MLA to the Arts Council later this year, it is not possible to assess the full impact on public expenditure of the move of the whole of the AELU.

National Employment Savings Trust

Question

Asked by Lord Hollick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) is being designed to support automatic enrolment by meeting the needs of employers and individuals that existing pension providers find unprofitable to serve at low charge levels. NEST also has a public service obligation to accept any employer that wishes to use it to automatically enrol eligible jobholders into a workplace pension scheme. This means that NEST has to bear costs purely commercial pension providers do not face.

In recognition of this, the Government have decided that the loan to NEST to fund its initial establishment costs should attract a rate of interest equivalent to the Government's own cost of borrowing. This will enable the scheme to deliver low charges to its members and be delivered at no overall cost to the taxpayer in the long run, while not being unfairly advantaged compared with other schemes.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA250

The exact amount of loan finance required to establish NEST will depend on its final costs and the nature and size of its membership. The annual contribution limit is a key policy lever designed to ensure that NEST remains focused on its target market. It is only one factor that will influence scheme volumes and its effect on the NEST loan cannot be measured in isolation.

National Insurance

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Nationality data have only routinely been collected since 2002 in respect of foreign nationals registering for a NINo. The table below shows the 20 most common countries of origin for NINo registrations to adult overseas nationals entering the UK since 2002.

Individuals who apply for a NINo under the adult NINo allocation process are subject to a comprehensive range of checks in order to verify the individual's identity. These include robust face-to-face interviews to establish the individual's circumstances, document examination checks to ensure the authenticity of documentary evidence provided, and corroborative checks with other government departments and third parties to verify information supplied during the NINo interview. Checks are also made against the DWP customer information (CIS) IT system to ensure that the individual, once identity has been established, does not already have a NINo.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA251

NINo Registrations to Adult Overseas Nationals entering the UK (Thousands): by country of origin-January 2002 to September 2010 (Thousands)
Country of OriginNumber of National Insurance registrations (thousands)

Poland

925.78

India

402.40

Pakistan

191.71

Australia

171.39

Republic of Lithuania

156.74

France

152.22

Slovak Republic

143.35

South Africa

134.12

China People's Republic

113.27

Italy

108.26

Germany

107.72

Spain

105.40

Nigeria

101.92

Portugal

101.86

Romania

90.46

Bangladesh

90.14

Republic of Latvia

89.10

Republic of Ireland

88.17

Philippines

83.36

USA

80.42

NDPBs: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

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

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

As director-general for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what proportion of the workforce of the Office for National Statistics is based outside London; what are their principal locations; and what are the principal functions performed there. (HL8091)

The proportion of the workforce of the Office for National Statistics based outside London is 93.74 per cent and their principal locations are Newport, South Wales; Titchfield, Hampshire; remote home workers geographically spread across the UK.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA252

The Newport office is the corporate headquarters of ONS. The work here focuses on the collection and analysis of economic statistics, with a growing emphasis on social analysis. A range of corporate services, such as Human Resources, Information Management, Communications and Finance are based here.

The work of the Titchfield office focuses on population, demography, geography and regional and local statistics. This includes responsibility for the 10-yearly census of population. In addition, staff at Titchfield support remote workers responsible for data collection for a range of surveys.

New Zealand: Earthquake

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In response to a request by the New Zealand Government, we sent out a team of 63 search and rescue experts drawn from the British emergency fire and rescue services. In addition to this we provided a specially tailored 10-man disaster identification team to provide essential support and expertise in helping to identify any potential British victims and to bolster the New Zealand authorities in their wider identification process. We will be meeting the full costs of these two deployments.

Parliaments: Salaries and Expenses

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): The expenses payable to Members of the House of Commons are determined by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. Responsibility for setting their salaries currently rests with the House, but will soon be transferred to the IPSA on a statutory basis. The salary and expenses for Members of the European Parliament are determined by the Parliament, subject to the provisions of the Statute for Members of the European Parliament.

Differences in the remuneration and expenses arrangements for Members of the House of Commons and Members of the European Parliament reflect the facts that they have different roles and responsibilities and their remuneration and expenses are determined by different bodies.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA253

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Patel of Blackburn

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We recognise the inequalities that exist in the current state pension system. We will shortly be publishing a paper that outlines options for delivering a simpler and fairer state pension and one that provides a better foundation for saving. We will be consulting on the options set out in that paper.

Asked by Lord Hollick

Lord Freud: The coalition agreement set out the Government's commitment to help reinvigorate occupational savings by encouraging companies to offer high-quality pensions to all employees and through introducing automatic enrolment. My department estimates that around 7 million people are not saving enough to provide the income they are likely to want or expect in retirement.

The new employer duty requires employers to automatically enrol eligible workers into a qualifying workplace pension scheme. Workers will have information about automatic enrolment, the scheme their employer has chosen and the contributions they will need to make to remain in pension saving. Individuals will be able to opt out if they believe that pension saving is not for them and they will be provided with information about how to do this. Guidance to be issued by the Pensions Regulator will set out how employers must signpost their workers to an independent source of further information about planning and saving for retirement.

The Government recognise that for some people it may not be appropriate to redirect money into private pension saving. Those on very low incomes will get a high replacement rate from the state pension without additional saving. We have therefore included measures in the Pensions Bill 2011 to increase the earnings threshold for automatic enrolment. This will exclude those individuals most likely to achieve a high replacement rate without saving.

It may reassure you to know that most people will be better off for saving. DWP analysis has found that over 99 per cent of people can expect to be better off in retirement having saved than if they had not. For over 95 per cent that improvement is greater than the cost of contribution, even after allowing for inflation.

The Government will consult shortly on options to simplify the state pension system. The intention is to reinforce the role of the state pension as a foundation

29 Mar 2011 : Column WA254

for private saving by providing much greater clarity about what people will receive from the state when they reach state pension age.

Pensions Bill [HL]

Question

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): There are currently 115,370 persons entitled to carer's allowance who have a birth date for whom the state pension age would change as a result of the Pensions Bill 2011.

People Trafficking

Questions

Asked by Baroness Goudie

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The forthcoming strategy on human trafficking due to be published in the spring will set out our future plans for tackling and preventing human trafficking.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA255

Prisons: Riots

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Although events that may have contributed to the disturbance began before midnight on 31 December 2010, concerted indiscipline commenced at approximately 12.20 am on 1 January 2011. The intervention to resolve the incident commenced at 9.20 am, which was the point at which those commanding the incident assessed that intervention was possible without serious risk of injury to staff or prisoners. Intervention consisted of the deployment of staff trained in advanced control and restraint techniques, both from Ford and other establishments, and other national resources. Assistance was also provided by the police and fire services.

Damage was caused to B Wing accommodation, the gym, chapel and the induction wing. Total cost of the damage including replacement buildings was approximately £2 million.

Railways: Intercity Trains

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The scope of the project is the design, manufacture, financing, servicing and maintenance of the Intercity Express solution over the life of the fleet. Commercially confidential negotiations are ongoing between the department and Agility Trains. Summary details of the eventual contracts will be published.

Roads: A1

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: In October 2010, the Department for Transport set out its plans for investment on the strategic road network in the document Investment in Highways Transport Schemes. The A1 Dishforth to Leeming improvement, which sees a section of the A1 upgraded to motorway standard, is a continuing scheme.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA256

Beyond the Dishforth to Leeming scheme, there are no current plans for additional upgrades to the A1. However, the Highways Agency is taking forward a number of small scale improvements along the length of the A1.

Schools: Academies

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Academies are classified as central government public sector organisations and each academy is therefore subject to government accounting, reporting and monitoring requirements, including the whole of government accounts, clear line of sight and the principle of transparency.

The Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA) is conducting a review to address how academies' current accounting, reporting, assurance and financial monitoring arrangements need to be changed as result of these new requirements. The aims of the review are to simplify the current arrangements and to support the development in the academy system of a high degree of financial competence. The YPLA will also use the review as a vehicle to address the recommendations flowing from the National Audit Office report published on 10 September and the issues flowing from the Public Account Committee report in January 2011 on the academies programme.

The YPLA will report to me on the final outcome of the review, setting out detailed proposals and recommendations, in summer 2011.

Schools: Admissions

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In November 2010 we published the White Paper The Importance of Teaching, which announced our intention to review the school admissions and appeals codes with a view to deliver a simpler, more streamlined admissions process.

We want to deliver a process that removes unnecessary burdens on schools and other admission authorities, as well as helping parents better understand and navigate the admissions system. The current codes are 130 pages long, and contain more than 660 mandatory requirements.

We will shortly launch a national consultation so that parents and other interested parties can respond to our proposals to enable a simpler, fairer and more transparent admissions framework.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA257

Schools: Costs

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department does not hold comparable information on independent school costs. The available information on the average cost of educating primary and secondary pupils in England is contained within the table below:

Expenditure per pupil figures for local authority maintained primary and secondary schools in England from 2008-09 to 2009-10
2008-092009-10
Primary EducationSecondary EducationPrimary EducationSecondary Education

England

3,780

4,890

3,920

5,070

Schools: Independent Sector

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): All schools can make a valuable contribution to helping improve social mobility, including independent schools. Many independent schools are doing this by opening up their facilities to local communities and sharing their facilities and expertise with schools in the state sector. We will continue to encourage independent schools in their collaborations with the state sector.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA258

Schools: Support Services

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Local authorities and maintained primary and secondary schools cannot charge for admission to any maintained school; education provided during school hours (including transport and the supply of any materials, books, instruments or other equipment); education provided outside of school hours if it is part of the national curriculum, or part of a syllabus for a prescribed public examination that the pupil is being prepared for at the school, or part of religious education (again this includes transport, supply of any materials, books, instruments or other equipment); and examination re-sit(s) if the pupil is being prepared for the re-sit(s) at the school.

Local authorities and schools can charge for any materials, books, instruments, or equipment, where the child's parent wishes him to own them; and optional extras, such as school visits outside of school time and music and vocal tuition, in limited circumstances. Schools can make a charge for board and lodging on residential trips, but the charge must not exceed the actual cost. When a school informs parents about a forthcoming trip, they should make it clear that parents of pupils eligible for free school meals will be exempt from paying the cost of board and lodging. No charges can be made unless the governing body of the school has drawn up a charging and remissions policy, giving details of the activities that they intend to charge for and the circumstances in which they will remit the cost.

The department's guidance on charging for school activities can be found at http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/adminandfinance/financialmanagement/goodpractice/b0011770/charging-school-activities/.

Taxation: Inheritance Tax

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

Baroness Rawlings: Under the acceptance-in-lieu scheme (AIL), there is no absolute limit to the amount of inheritance tax that can be settled in any one year. The AIL panel, which is serviced by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, may advise Ministers to approve the settlement up to £20 million in inheritance tax in any one financial year. However, where it is proposed to exceed that figure, Treasury approval is required.



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA259

On only two occasions in the past 10 years has it been necessary to obtain Treasury approval in this way. This was in 2001, when £16 million in tax was settled and the approval level stood at £10 million; and in 2002, the year in which the approval level was raised to £20 million and tax of £26.6 million was settled.

Asked by Lord Boswell of Aynho

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Inheritance tax receipts in 2009-10 were £2,396 million, and this is published in the National Statistics table "HM Revenue and Customs Receipts" available on the HMRC website at: http://www.hmrc.gov. uk/stats/taxreceipts/tax-receipts-and-taxpayers.pdf.

Evidence on tax arising from potentially exempt transfers is limited, but the tax impact of potentially exempt transfers that are made within seven years of death is broadly estimated to be in the region of 10 per cent of receipts.

Transport: Appraisals

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: It is difficult to separately identify costs of NATA development because some of the work jointly feeds into the development of strategy, policy and general transport planning best practice.

It is estimated that in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 financial years approximately £1,038,000 and £266,000 respectively was spent on projects that made a direct or indirect contribution to the development and maintenance of NATA guidance and software.

These cost estimates exclude the costs of applying NATA by scheme promoters and their consultants. The cost of applying NATA across all transport proposals could be estimated only at disproportionate cost.

The following consultancies were paid to do work on the aforementioned projects:

AECOM/ Faber Maunsell;

Atkins;

David Simmonds Consultancy;

Denvil Coombe Practice;

Geospatial;

Hartley McMaster;

Hyder Consulting;

Imperial College;

ITS Leeds;

John Bates Services;



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA260

Katalysis;

Lionbridge;

Mott MacDonald;

Peter Davidson Consultancy;

TRL;

University of Leeds Consulting;

Urban and Regional Policy; and

WSP.

Information is not held centrally on how much each independent contractor was paid for individual work streams.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Rosser

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): From 6 April 2011, new entrants through the tier 2 (general) category of the points-based system must be paid at least £20,000 per annum or the appropriate UK rate for the job in question, whichever is higher, as stated in codes of practice published by the UK Border Agency. Tier 2 migrants must be able to support themselves as they do not have access to most public funds.

Waste Management: Textiles

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Through our sustainable clothing roadmap, Defra is working with industry to take action to improve the environmental and ethical impacts of clothing across its entire lifecycle.

Defra commissioned research to look at the sustainability impacts of clothing and to identify where further actions could be effective. The Maximising Reuse and Recycling of UK Clothing and Textiles report, published December 2009, found that in 2007:



29 Mar 2011 : Column WA261

2 million tonnes of textile waste (including clothing, carpets and footwear) is generated annually (of which approx 1 million is clothing); and24 per cent (523,000 tonnes) is collected for reuse and recycling in the UK and overseas.

Following the report's findings, a joint government-industry task group was convened in September 2010 to discuss and agree further commitments to improve

29 Mar 2011 : Column WA262

the sustainability of clothing. The task group will continue to meet twice a year to develop solutions.

For other textiles, such as carpets and carpet tiles, existing collection infrastructure facilitated by Carpet Recycling UK is being further developed through Material Action Plans, led by the Flooring Sustainability Partnership, in conjunction with the Waste and Resources Action Programme.


Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page