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5 Apr 2011 : Column WA343



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA343

Written Answers

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

Baroness Verma: Details of UK government expenditure in developing countries, including Afghanistan, are published in Statistics on International Development, which is available in the Library of the House and on the DfID website (www.dfid.gov.uk). The relevant figures are reproduced below.

Aid Expenditure in Afghanistan by DfID, FCO and through the Conflict Pool, 2007-08-2009-10, £000s
2007-082008-092009-10

Department for International Development (DfID)

108,926

147,455

133,367

Conflict Pool

10,620

42,446

62,011

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

27,176

7,746

10,309

All expenditure listed in the table is classified as official development assistance (ODA) under the rules set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD's) Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The Conflict Pool is jointly managed by DfID, FCO and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to ensure a coherent UK government response to conflict prevention. The MoD does not provide funds classed as ODA.

DfID does not hold information centrally on spending by UK non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Apprenticeships

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): We are determined that apprenticeships and vocational learning should provide navigable progression routes into the professions. We believe that membership of a professional body is something to aspire to and can signify recognition of apprentices' achievements.

5 Apr 2011 : Column WA344

We have not spoken directly to professional bodies because in each sector of the economy there is an enormous number and diversity of professional institutions and associations. But we are engaged in ongoing discussions with sector skills councils and the UK Commission for Employment in Skills about how professional bodies and guilds can be involved in developing professional apprenticeship routes-for example, through new higher apprenticeships at levels 4 and 5.

The Annex to the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) (Information Requirement) requires that apprenticeship frameworks specify progression routes that apprentices may follow after completion. This may include progression to professional qualifications involving membership of professional bodies.

Aviation: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

Earl Attlee: We have already made representations for an equivalent to the UK's instrument meteorological conditions rating to be included in the EU implanting rules on pilot licensing. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recognises the need for such a rating and has established a rule-making group to review this. If an equivalent to the IMC rating is not established this should not have an effect on the UK's safety record as private pilots would be restricted to flying in visual meteorological conditions unless they hold a full instrument rating.

Banking: Special Liquidity Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The special liquidity scheme (SLS) is a Bank of England scheme. The drawdown period for the SLS closed on 30 January 2009. The scheme will run until the end of January 2012 before it terminates. It will not be extended.

The Bank of England continues to provide liquidity insurance through its ongoing market operations, including in regular indexed long-term repos auctions and via the bilateral discount window facility.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA345

Banks: Stress Tests

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority (FSA), alongside the Bank of England, is represented at the European Banking Authority (EBA) and has engaged actively at working level in the design of the stress tests. The FSA highlights that this year's test is a significant improvement on last year's, in terms of the stress scenarios, the toughness of the capital threshold, the consistency of assumptions and the strength of the peer review process, bolstering the credibility of the exercise.

The thematic review of liquidity is a further development on last year's exercise. The EBA, which was established at the beginning of this year, works alongside members' national supervisory authorities to carry out its work, and its decisions take account of this broader constituency. Some members took the view that the absence of a current common international standard for liquidity requirements could lead to a misunderstanding of published results, and also reflected on the formative nature of the work in discussions over whether the first set of results should be published.

The EBA has already announced the decision not to publish the thematic review of liquidity. The detail of the capital stress test scenarios and methodologies has also been announced, on 18 March. Advance notice of the detail of the stress tests is vital for both banks and national authorities to carry out the work and plan for and prepare other measures related to the stress tests. Last year's Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS) stress tests clearly highlighted the risks to changing the scope of the exercise midway through the process.

The Government strongly support a high degree of transparency with regard to banks' balance sheets, and a key part of the overall EBA capital stress tests is the disclosure of bank exposures, which will allow market analysts to run their own tests.

British Telecom: Charges

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Garden of Frognal: None. Ofcom was not involved in British Telecom's decision to increase telephone charges.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA346

Burma

Questions

Asked by Baroness Goudie

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are deeply concerned about the situation facing the Rohingya people. Foreign and Commonwealth officials in London often meet with the Burmese Rohingya Organisation and the Arakan Rohingya National Organisation-most recently on 10 March 2011. Our embassy in Rangoon meets on a regular basis with a wide range of ethnic groups. The Government remain committed to advocating fundamental freedoms and greater respect for human rights for all ethnic groups in Burma including the Rohingya.

Asked by Baroness Goudie

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK Mission to the United Nations (UN) in New York most recently raised Burma with the UN Department of Political Affairs on 7 March 2011. The UK regularly speaks with the UN about the importance of national reconciliation across all ethnic groups in Burma and the need to address human rights abuses. The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma travelled to Rakhine state, where many Rohingya live, in February 2010. He has subsequently made specific references to the human right abuses the Rohingya have suffered in his three human rights reports. The UN special envoy to Burma met with several ethnic political parties, including the Rakhine political party in November 2010, and has discussed wider ethnic issues with our officials in New York. The Government are deeply concerned over the treatment of the Rohingya and other ethnic groups in Burma and continue to raise their situation in the UN and with international partners.

Asked by Baroness Goudie

Lord Howell of Guildford: Our officials and Ministers regularly meet the Burmese ambassador at Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) London Committee meetings. According to our records, the Burmese ambassador or the charges d'affaires attended seven ASEAN London Committee meetings between March 2009 and February 2011. During these meetings, the Government raised concerns over a number of

5 Apr 2011 : Column WA347

human rights issues: the detention of political prisoners, the suppression of the democratic and ethnic-based opposition and the lack of fundamental freedoms. The Government continue to make these points directly to the Burmese ambassador, with officials in Burma and with other ASEAN member states who have influence with the Burmese regime.

Channel Tunnel: Intergovernmental Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: As the regulatory body for the Channel Tunnel under Article 30 of Directive 2001/14, the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) draws up regulations applicable to the fixed link and has the powers of investigation, inspection and direction necessary for the performance of its functions. It is currently in discussion with Eurotunnel on a number of issues in relation to the company's compliance with the provisions of European Directive 2001/14.

Council Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Naseby

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The government scheme to freeze council tax applied to all billing (shire districts, metropolitan districts, London boroughs and unitary authorities) and major precepting authorities (county councils, fire and rescue authorities, police authorities and the GLA) in England.

Local precepting authorities such as town and parish councils were not eligible for the scheme as there are some 10,000 such councils in England and the Government did not consider it practical or efficient to introduce a system for allocating central government grants to the parish sector. Furthermore central government has no power to pay grant directly to them or power to give grant to another authority to pass to a local precepting authority.

Nevertheless, the overall rise in council tax this year will be 0.0 per cent on an average Band D bill in England. Thus average bills have been frozen, providing real practical help for families and pensioners with the cost of living. In real terms, this represents a cut in council tax.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA348

Crime: Knife Crime

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The last national knife amnesty was held in England and Wales between 24 May and 30 June 2006. A knife amnesty was held in Scotland from 25 May 2006 for one month and Northern Ireland from 25 May 2006 for three weeks.

According to figures supplied by the police, this national amnesty resulted in more than 89,000 items being handed in.

Diplomatic Service List

Question

Asked by Lord Steel of Aikwood

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There are no plans to reintroduce the Diplomatic Service List. The process of maintaining and collating details of staff movements and biographical data would be a year-round task and heavily labour-intensive, and the cost of producing such a document, whether electronically or in hard copy, cannot be justified given the limited take-up of the product in the past.

Drugs: Mephedrone

Question

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Home Office has not undertaken a formal assessment of the impact of the control of mephedrone under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on either public attitudes or consumption. A question on mephedrone use was added to the British Crime Survey in April 2010 and results from the first year's data are expected to be published in July 2011.

Energy: Fuel Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: Ministers and officials meet regularly with the rail freight industry. The price of fuel is sometimes one of the issues raised.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA349

Equality

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): There are four legal challenges which have been made in the past year to the department, three of which claimed discrimination on grounds of race and one on the grounds of age. Three of these claims are continuing and one has been withdrawn.

Any remedial action will be considered, if necessary, when any outstanding claims have been concluded.

EU: Climate Change

Question

Asked by Baroness Kramer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): No formal assessment of this expenditure has been made but we are continuing to examine and talk to national and supranational institutions in order to learn from their experiences. We are looking to build an enduring institution, able to catalyse investments in green infrastructure in areas where private-sector investment is currently constrained.

The Green Investment Bank will be capitalised by £3 billion of public money and we are taking steps to ensure borrowing powers for the GIB from 2015 to 2016, subject to public sector debt falling as a percentage of GDP.

Finance: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): At the end of February 2011 the Bank had 1,839 staff, of whom 193 (10.5 per cent) worked outside London. The following table sets out the locations and the functions:



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA350

LocationStaff numbersPrincipal Functions

Agencies

40

Intelligence gathering about regional economic conditions

Birmingham

3

Bristol

1

Cambridge

1

Cardiff

4

Exeter

3

Glasgow

5

Leeds

3

N Ireland

4

Newcastle

4

Nottingham

4

Southampton

4

Warrington

4

Debden

112

Cash centre and support functions

Leeds

41

Cash centre

Total

193

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: At the end of February 2011, National Savings and Investments had 146 staff, of whom 16 (11 per cent) worked outside London:

LocationStaff NumbersPrincipal Functions

Blackpool

4

Roles supporting the delivery of Head Office functions-customer services operations

Durham

6

Roles supporting the delivery of Head Office functions-customer services operations

Glasgow

6

Roles supporting the delivery of Head Office functions-customer services operations

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: At the end of February 2011 the UK Debt Management Office had 98 staff, none of whom worked outside London.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA351

Finance: Year-end Flexibility

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The changes to the end-year flexibility arrangements were discussed several times with the devolved Administrations prior to their introduction.

Financial Services Authority

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I have nothing to add to my previous Answers on this issue. Present practice follows that of the previous Government.

Financial Services: Bonuses

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As set out in the coalition agreement, the Government are committed to tackling unacceptable bank bonuses.

As a result of the Government's discussions, the total remuneration paid by the four largest UK banks in 2010 will be lower than it was in 2009 and lower than it would have been otherwise. The remuneration committee chair of each bank is writing to the FSA to confirm that this commitment has been met.

These banks have also committed to world-leading pay disclosure arrangements and the Government intend

5 Apr 2011 : Column WA352

to consult on a proposal to extend these disclosure arrangements across the UK banking industry from 2012 onwards.

The FSA has revised their remuneration code to ensure bonuses are deferred over a number of years and are linked to the performance of the employee and their firm. In addition, significant portions of any bonus will be paid in shares or other securities.

The FSA has also introduced a sector-wide remuneration disclosure regime that improves transparency and facilitates better oversight of the relationship between pay and risk.

Alongside this, the Government have developed world-leading policies that directly target the risks inherent in the banking sector and will work to increase competitiveness in the industry. Together these measures address the problems of remuneration and excessive risk-taking.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs underlined concerns at escalating violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in his public statement on 25 March. He noted that we have seen a surge in rockets and mortars launched at Israeli citizens from the Gaza strip. This is abhorrent. Three people have been injured and many more are living in fear.

He also noted that six Palestinian civilians, including four children, have been killed as a result of Israeli actions in the Gaza strip. We continue to call for a complete end to attacks on Israel. We have also urged the Israeli Government to ensure that everything is done to avoid further civilian casualties.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We do not have contacts with Hamas. However, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has underlined our view publicly that all rocket attacks on Israel must cease. We are also making our view on this clear to other regional partners who are in contact with Hamas.

Asked by Baroness Tonge



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA353

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have no plans to establish a no-fly zone over Gaza.

However, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary underlined our concern about escalating violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories in his statement of 25 March 2011. He stressed that rocket and mortar attacks on Israel must cease. Three people have been injured recently and many more are living in fear. Six Palestinian children have been killed as a result of Israeli actions in the Gaza strip. We have urged the Israeli Government to ensure everything is done to avoid further civilian casualties while calling for a complete end to attacks on Israel.

Asked by Lord Turnberg

Lord Howell of Guildford: I draw the noble Lord's attention to the statement made by my honourable friend the Minister for the Middle East, Alastair Burt, on 21 March:

"These (rocket) attacks come against the backdrop of last week's footage of Hamas security forces assaulting students and other peaceful demonstrators in Gaza. Over the weekend Hamas also targeted local and foreign media organisations. 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 their actions".

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We liaise with the Israeli authorities on all ministerial visits, including those to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Government Departments: Office Equipment

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Since the formation of the coalition Government, no furniture has been purchased for any Ministers within the Cabinet Office. Other government departments are responsible for giving their own answers to this Question.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA354

Government Departments: Travel Expenses

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Baroness Verma: No civil servants in the Department for International Development (DfID) are entitled to first-class rail travel when on official business.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 31 March (WA 296), and to the Answer given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office to the honourable Member for Birmingham, Hall Green on 18 March (Official Report, 672W).

Government: Shares

Question

Asked by Lord McFall of Alcluith

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): UK Financial Investments (UKFI) manages the Government's shareholding in Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland on an arm's-length and commercial basis.

UKFI's remit is to devise and execute a strategy for disposing of the Government's investments in an orderly and active way, in line with its overarching objective to create and protect value for the taxpayer as shareholder. As decisions on the sale of government shares need to be taken in the context of changing economic and market conditions, UKFI does not think it possible, or desirable, to make commitments on timing or other details.

Higher Education: Student Loans

Question

Asked by Lord Barnett



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA355

Lord Henley: At the end of financial year 2009-10 the total balance of student loans outstanding was £30,488.5 million, including loans not yet due for repayment. The value of loans which had some arrears was £291.4 million, and the value of arrears was £188.9 million.

Figures are taken from the Statistical First Release on Student Loans for Higher Education in England, available from the Student Loans Company website at http://www.slc.co.uk/pdf/slcsfr032010.pdf.

Insurance: Gender Discrimination

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are disappointed by this judgment. We made very clear our concerns about any move to prevent the use of gender as a risk factor in the pricing of insurance policies.

We believe that the ability of insurers to price on the basis of risk is integral to their need to conduct business efficiently.

The Government will continue to work closely with the Financial Services Authority and Association of British Insurers in order to ensure that the negative impacts for customers and industry are reduced as far as possible.

Intelligence Handling

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): HM Inspectorate of Constabulary expects to complete its review of intelligence gathering by national domestic extremism units within the next three to six months.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA356

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I draw my noble friend's attention to the statement made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 25 March.

"I am extremely concerned at the escalating violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories over the past week. We have seen a surge in rockets and mortars launched at Israeli civilians from the Gaza strip. This is abhorrent. Three people have been injured, many more are living in fear. Six Palestinian civilians, including four children, have been killed as a result of Israeli actions in the Gaza strip. We have urged the Israeli government to ensure everything is done to avoid further civilian casualties while calling for a complete end to attacks on Israel".

And we have seen the terrible sight-which we hoped belonged to the past-of a bomb at a bus station in Jerusalem. A British woman was killed and more than 30 injured. I condemn this attack in the strongest terms and call for those responsible to be held to account. Elsewhere, we have seen Israeli settlers opening fire on a Palestinian funeral procession wounding two mourners and another Palestinian was stabbed in an unprovoked attack.

We condemn the extremists who are instigating this violence and who are deliberately attempting to wreck the chances of peace. We call on all sides to do all that they can to prevent further loss of innocent life, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to reduce current tensions.

The Foreign Secretary also spoke about the human toll of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the course of a speech at Chatham House on 30 March, marking 60 years of British-Israeli diplomatic relations.

Lesotho

Questions

Asked by Lord German

Baroness Verma: Details of the Department for International Development's (DfID) expenditure in each country are published annually in Statistics on International Development (SID), which is available in the Library of the House and on the DfID website (www.dfid.gov.uk). The amount of UK bilateral aid to Lesotho in each financial year from 2005-06 to 2009-10 is reproduced in the table below.

Financial Year2005-062006-072007-082008-092009-10

£000s

4,305

6,752

3,896

6,209

5,075

Asked by Lord German

Baroness Verma: Details of the Department for International Development's (DfID) expenditure in each country are published annually in Statistics on

5 Apr 2011 : Column WA357

International Development
(SID), which is available in the Library of the House and on the DfID website (www.dfid.gov.uk). The UK's imputed share of aid from multilateral agencies to Lesotho in each financial year from 2005-06 to 2008-09 is reproduced in the table below.

Financial Year2005-062006-072007-082008-092009-10

£000s

3,948

5,334

6,303

3,607

Not yet available

Libya

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The British Council, working with the Department for International Development, is currently revising the methodology used to identify what elements of its work globally should be reported as aid under Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development definitions of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Under the methodology in use in 2009-10, none of the British Council's expenditure on Libya was reported as aid.

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Howell of Guildford: The form and content of any future Libyan constitution should be for the people of Libya to decide.

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Howell of Guildford: Tribal identity is one of several important features of Libyan society and one that has been used by Colonel Gaddafi to command loyalty. The potential of the tribes to play a role in future developments in Libya has indeed been considered, but it will be for Libyans to agree what that role should be.



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Local Authorities: Policy

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): It is for each local authority to satisfy itself as to the legality of its actions. An authority's auditor may take action where there are questions as to the lawfulness of a council's decisions or its items of account. Such action may include seeking a declaration from the court, the issue of an advisory notice, seeking a judicial review, or issuing a public interest report.

The Secretary of State's powers to intervene in a local authority are in Section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999, which provides for intervention where the Secretary of State is satisfied that an authority is failing to comply with its best-value duty.

London Transport: Ticketing

Question

Asked by The Earl of Clancarty

Earl Attlee: Transport for London is responsible for making appropriate ticketing arrangements for passengers on its network.

To encourage use of public transport for the 2012 Games sporting events in London, the Olympic Delivery Authority's Olympic transport plan provides that all spectators with tickets will receive a free Games travelcard for the day of their event. Information on transport to venues will be widely available in advance across and outside the UK, online, through National Olympic Committees and at appropriate stations on the network in both French and English (the official languages of the Games).

Middle East: Water Management

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA359

Baroness Verma: The Government recognise the significance of water resource management to development and conflict prevention. The Department for International Development (DfID) supports the Global Water Partnership, which helps to build knowledge and disseminate practical tools for effective management, which regional bodies such as The Arab Water Council can benefit from.

The UK is not directly involved in providing financial support for water resource management in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) or Yemen, where DfID will have ongoing bilateral programmes. There are other donors active in the water sector that have greater expertise. We do, however, lobby Israel to improve Palestinians' access to natural resources across the OPTs.

Music Industry: Piracy

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Government are well aware of the problems faced by the music industry as a consequence of online infringement of copyright, and that is one of the reasons why we continue to press ahead with the implementation of the relevant provisions within the Digital Economy Act 2010. In addition, Ministers from the Department for Culture Media and Sport have met with senior representatives from the music industry and other rights holders together with major internet service providers and intermediaries such as Yahoo and Google to see what progress can be made on a voluntary basis. Such discussions have been very encouraging.

National Savings and Investments

Question

Asked by Lord Ezra

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In line with other financial institutions offering ISAs, National Savings and Investments adheres to the "Guidance Notes for ISA Managers" issued by HM Revenue and Customs.

North Korea

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA360

Baroness Verma: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is in the process of preparing a response to the joint mission report by the WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund. They have not launched a formal appeal for humanitarian food assistance. If such an appeal is launched, the UK Government would then consider its position in response, taking into account any response from other donors.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Verma: The assessment mission carried out by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund in March 2011 reported that the harvest and production of winter wheat, spring barley, potato and pickled vegetables was likely to be reduced as a result of poor weather. The report stated that higher international food and fuel prices and reduced export earnings had diminished the country's commercial import capacity in 2010-11. It also reported that the reduction of bilateral food assistance in recent years has had a substantial impact on food and nutrition security.

The WFP is in the process of preparing a response to the mission report. If a formal appeal is launched, the UK Government would then consider its position in response, taking into account any response from other donors.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Verma: UK Government officials have had discussions with representatives of the Government of North Korea in London and through the British embassy in Pyongyang. We have stressed international concerns about the transparency, and in the monitoring and reporting of food distribution in the country.

Overseas Aid

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Exeter



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA361

Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) recognises the valuable work carried out by faith-based organisations in developing countries, especially their contribution in the areas of emergency and disaster relief, health, welfare and education. This was confirmed by the Secretary of State for International Development in his speech at the General Synod earlier this year, in which he announced that DfID would establish a steering committee to assist in developing a set of partnership principles for the department's work with faith groups.

In 2009-10, DfID provided over £36 million to faith-based organisations for their poverty reduction work overseas. Details of these allocations are summarised in Statistics on International Development (SID) 2010. A breakdown of costs allocated to these organisations through each funding mechanism can be viewed on DfID's external website. Figures for 2010-11 will be published in the next SID in October 2011. Faith-based organisations are required to compete for DfID funds using the same stringent criteria as other civil society organisations and, as with other types of organisations, they will be required to demonstrate how their work contributes to DfID's overall objectives. DfID does not provide forecasts of expenditure for work with civil society groups.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Exeter

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) manages a strategic programme fund for human rights and democracy, dedicated specifically to supporting human rights projects. In 2010-11, this fund allocated approximately £5.07 million to human rights and democracy projects around the world. It supported work on equality, strengthening civil society, freedom of expression, abolition of torture and the death penalty, among other issues. Other FCO 2010-11 programmes also fund human rights projects where these help to realise their core objectives.

In 2011-12 the FCO will have a £5 million Human Rights and Democracy Fund dedicated specifically to supporting human rights projects. In 2011-12 other FCO programmes may also fund human rights projects where these help to realise their core objectives.

It would be impossible to give a precise figure of how much FCO funding was spent on human rights programmes in 2010-11 or will be in future. This is because, (with the exception of the dedicated Human Rights and Democracy Fund), FCO programmes integrate their human rights activities with all other programme work. To unpick human rights allocations from within each fund and from within each individual project would require an enormous amount of work, and it would be hard to develop meaningful criteria which would allow us to do this effectively or efficiently.



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Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Turnberg

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have received various reports from a large number of respected research institutes and organisations. This includes: the Congressional Research Service's (CRS) report entitled, Palestinian Education and the Debate over Textbooks (2006); UNESCO's Studies on the Palestinian Curriculum (2006); reports by the Israel Palestine Centre for Research and Information (IPCRI); and the 2009 human rights report on Israel and the Occupied Territories by the US State Department.

As set out in my answer of 23 March, we take seriously any reports of textbooks being used to promote anti-Semitism. However, these recent independent studies indicate that the Palestinian Authority has made real improvements to its textbooks over the last decade and found no evidence of anti-Semitism. But at least one study has shown that both Israeli and Palestinian textbooks could do better and include more positive and balanced messages on these issues. We support that message.

Party Conferences: Costs

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Home Office has not and does not expect to receive contributions from political parties towards the costs of the security and policing operations for their spring conferences.

Police Commissioners

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): No.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA363

Police: Expenditure Cuts

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government believe that police forces can make savings while protecting the front line. We do not accept that reducing costs will cause an increase in crime. What matters is how resources are used and how officers are deployed.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Baroness Neville-Jones: I refer the noble Lord to my Answer given on 14 March 2011 (Official Report, col. WA21).

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Baroness Neville-Jones: This Government inherited the largest peacetime deficit in Britain's history. We have had no option but to take urgent action and the police service cannot be exempt from the requirement to save public money. The profile of funding reductions for the police, which was agreed with HM Treasury as part of the spending review, reflects this.

The settlement is challenging but fair and manageable, and this Government are committed to helping forces achieve the savings required.

Police: Salaries

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The nationally agreed arrangements for police officers' pay, including salaries, overtime arrangements, allowances and expenses are published in the Home Secretary's Determinations made under the 2003 Police Regulations. I have arranged for a copy of the Determinations to be placed in the House Library.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA364

In addition, there is a nationally agreed performance-related bonus scheme for chief officers which provides for payment of up to 15 per cent of salary for chief constables, 12.5 per cent for deputy chief constables and 10 per cent for assistant chief constables. Police authorities operate this scheme and determine payments in consultation with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). Police authorities determine benefits and payments other than those covered in the national agreements in accordance with legislative requirements.

Police officers are entitled to be members of either the Police Pension Scheme 1987 or the Police Pension Scheme 2006, as set out in the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 and the Police Pensions Regulations 2006 respectively.

The salary and any other payments made to police community support officers (PCSOs) are determined by the respective police authorities.

PCSOs, as members of police staff, are mostly entitled to be members of the Local Government Pension Scheme, as set out in the Local Government Pension Scheme (Benefits, Membership and Contributions) Regulations 2007. PCSOs (and other police staff) in the Metropolitan Police are entitled to be members of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme. The current rules for this scheme, which are set by statute under the Superannuation Act 1972, were most recently amended and laid before Parliament on 3 March 2011.

Population

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave on 26 July 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 297).

Ports and Harbours

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: An announcement on the transfer scheme put forward by Dover Harbour Board will be made in due course. At present, no further information is required.

Public Bodies

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA365

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The information requested is not held centrally. The Cabinet Office publishes annual statistics on those serving on the boards of public bodies in its annual publication Public Bodies. The latest version Public Bodies 2009 is available at www.civilservice.gov.uk/ndpb The Commissioner for Public Appointments also publishes information on those appointed and reappointed to bodies within his remit; this information is available at www.publicappointmentscommissioner.org/.

Railways: European Train Management System

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The current National Implementation Plan was based on an analysis that showed the deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) to replace life expired existing signalling to be more cost effective than replacement with conventional signalling.

The update of the UK ERTMS National Implementation Plan will review this earlier analysis and set out the priorities for future investment plans.

Railways: Franchises

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The financial terms for the two year period from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2014 were negotiated at the time the Southeastern franchise was let in 2005 by the previous Government. This two-year period covers years 7 and 8 of the potential franchise term.

The Department for Transport published the payment profile for the Integrated Kent Franchise at the time of awarding the franchise towards the end of 2005. This can be found at http://webarchive.nationalarchives. gov.uk/+/http://www.dit.gov.uk/pgr/rail/passenger/franchises/franchisepaymentprofiles.

Railways: Freight

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA366

Earl Attlee: Regulation 913/2010 concerning a European rail network for competitive freight entered into effect in the United Kingdom in October 2010.

Railways: Intercity Trains

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport consulted with Network Rail, train operating companies and other rail industry stakeholders on train coupling time assumptions. The figure of nine minutes that was quoted by the Northern Echo was at the upper end of the range of responses that were received. The appraisal work that led to the decision to take forward the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) modelled a seven-minute dwell for any manoeuvre involving coupling at one end and uncoupling from the other, and a shorter dwell for simpler coupling manoeuvres. The modelled time includes time for reconfiguring the train-borne systems as well as physical coupling/decoupling of locomotives and the additional increase in journey time because of the reduced approach speed into stations where coupling is to take place.

Railways: London Midland

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Regulated ticket office opening hours are listed in Schedule 17 of the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement that sets out two procedures, minor and major, for making changes to ticket office hours.

In this case the major change criteria are met requiring London Midland to consult with other operators, Passenger Focus, and London TravelWatch. In the event that Passenger Focus or London TravelWatch object to the ticket office changes and London Midland decides not to amend or withdraw the changes, then they may refer the matter to the Secretary of State for Transport to arbitrate on the change.

In addition, the London Midland franchise agreement requires Secretary of State for Transport approval to amend ticket office opening hours.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA367

Earl Attlee: At this point, no changes have been agreed to amend London Midland ticket office opening hours and therefore no reduction in subsidy has been sought. In the event that any changes to the ticket office opening hours are agreed, this does not necessarily require a change in subsidy payments to London Midland.

Republic of Ireland: Financial Support

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Although technically bilateral, the UK loan to Ireland forms part of a larger, multilateral financial package co-ordinated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union. It was not sensible for the UK to come up with its own stand-alone package.

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

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 21 December (col. WA310).

Shipping: General Lighthouse Authorities

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: Travel-related expenditure is an operational matter for the General Lighthouse Authorities. However, upon direct request for information such as this we expect the General Lighthouse Authorities to provide the relevant information as appropriate.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: It is not clear why the information was not placed in the Libraries of the House as was the stated intent in the Answer. I apologise for the oversight and confirm that the following information was placed in the Libraries of the House on 25 March 2011.

Research and Radionavigation Directorate overseas travel
YearNumber of visitsCostReasons

Actual

2007

IALA

7

£2,164

IALA

Other

21

£36,454

RTCM, IGC, Light Measurements (Cil), ENC, ION, ILA, SL, SM, CIE

2008

IALA

8

£19,645

IALA

Other

20

£61,202

Light measurements (Cil), RTCM, ILA, ION, ENC, SL, SM, IGC, CIE

Predicted

2009

IALA

8

£15,000

IALA

Other

15

£40,000

Light measurements (Cil), RTCM, ILA, ION, ENC, SL, SM, IGC, CIE

2010

IALA

9

£15,000

IALA

Other

15

£30,000

Light measurements (Cil), RTCM. ILA, ION, ENC, SL, SM, IGC

Glossary

IALA

International Marine Aids to Navigation & Light house Authorities

IGC

Inter GLA Committee

RTCM

Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services

Cil

Commissioners of Irish Lights

CIE

Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage

ENC

European Navigation Conference

ION

Institute of Navigation

ILA

International Loran Association

SL

Stakeholder Liaison in ROI

SM

Spectrum Management



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA369

South Korea

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The UK and South Korea are well established research partners, co-operating in fields such as polar research, life sciences, intelligent transport systems and health.

The Government support this relationship in several ways, including through their Science and Innovation Network and the Global Partnership Fund, which aim to facilitate international science and research relationships. For the financial year 2011-12 BIS has allocated £135,000 to support the UK-Korea science relationship. The Government will continue to work with UK Research Councils, other UK partners and the Government of South Korea to identify research projects of mutual benefit.

The coalition Government have committed to reducing net migration over the lifetime of the Parliament. The Home Secretary announced on 23 November that the first annual limit on non-EU economic migration will be 21,700. That limit came into effect on 1 April.

The Government recognise the value of scientists and researchers to the UK economy and has paid particular attention to their concerns in developing the new system.

For the 12 months from April 2011, 20,700 visas will be available through tier 2 of the migration system. Tier-2 visas are for skilled workers with a job offer in the UK. Measures have been taken to address concerns that under the previous points based migration system salary was given greater weight than academic qualification. Under the new system, when the number of applications exceeds the number of certificates of sponsorship available in any month, the applications with the highest points score will be granted. Those coming to fill scientific posts will be awarded additional points so that only those coming to fill shortage occupations or those earning over £75,000 will score more points than scientists and researchers.

Decisions on which individuals are successful in obtaining these visas are a matter for the Home Office and the UK Border Agency.

Sudan

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA370

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We will continue to work with the Governments in both Khartoum and Juba and with organisations such as the UN to collate statistics and other information, including in the period immediately after the establishment of the Republic of South Sudan in July 2011. A number of sets of statistics are already broken down by region, which will help provide continuity.

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

Lord Howell of Guildford: Development organisations, including the Department for International Development (DfID), work together to plan and deliver programmes in the health sector covering technical assistance, training and other aid. Similar arrangements exist for other sectors and DfID participates in all sectors that are priorities for UK aid.

Syria

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said on 31 March that we continue to watch the evolving situation in Syria closely, and are deeply concerned by continuing deaths and violence in Deraa and Latakia. We call on the Syrian Government to uphold their responsibility to protect protesters and to respect the right of peaceful protest and free speech. We call for restraint, particularly from the Syrian security forces.

We note the announcement of committees to study repeal of the emergency law, and to review the 1962 census that resulted in many Kurds in Syria being excluded from Syrian citizenship. We believe it is important for the Syrian Government to address the legitimate demands of the Syrian people. We call for serious political reforms to be brought forward and implemented without delay.

Syria's human rights record continues to deteriorate. We remain deeply concerned about arbitrary arrests, detention, intimidation, torture, travel bans, lack of freedom of expression, and lack of respect for the rights of the Kurdish minority. We raise human rights regularly with the Syrian Government, as my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary did with President Assad during his visit on 27 January 2011.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA371

Taxation: Corporation Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government have published a consultation document on rebalancing the economy of Northern Ireland, including a possible mechanism for varying corporation tax in the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland. No decisions have been made. The Government have no plans to devolve a corporation tax varying power to the Scottish Parliament or the National Assembly for Wales.

Terrorism Act 2000

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The police service has been collecting self-defined ethnicity data of those examined under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 since April 2010. We expect to publish self-defined ethnicity information, for those examined between April 2010 and March 2011, in October 2011.

Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Government are currently supporting the trial of fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies, including for road transport, with approximately £7 million of government funding managed through the Technology Strategy Board.

Hydrogen is one of a number of potential future low-carbon road transport solutions. The Government are working closely with industry to identify the technologies best suited to decarbonise the HGV sector.



5 Apr 2011 : Column WA372

Treatment of Detainees

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government's policy is clear: they stand firmly against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. We do not condone it, nor do we ask others to do it on our behalf.

The Detainee inquiry has been established to consider allegations of UK involvement in the mistreatment of detainees held overseas by other countries. The Government are confident that the inquiry will conduct a thorough and independent examination into these events as it has been asked to do by the Prime Minister. The inquiry will not establish legal liability, nor will it order financial settlement. It was not set up to comply with, or respond to, any perceived international legal obligations.

The Government hope that the Detainee inquiry will be free to begin its work very soon. However, when it will be able to do so is dependent on the conclusion of related police investigations, the timing of which is entirely a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Terms of reference and procedures for the conduct of the Detainee inquiry will be published when it launches.

In announcing the Detainee inquiry last July, the Prime Minister made clear that he intends to publish the inquiry's report and any supporting documents the panel recommend, with redactions only where necessary in order to avoid damage to the public interest. He also invited Sir Peter Gibson, as chair of the inquiry, to consider what can take place in public and to agree with the Government a protocol on the treatment of information and the balance of public and private evidence

Turkey

Questions

Asked by Lord Rea

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have not made specific representations to the Government of Turkey on this issue. Our embassy in Ankara regularly raises the treatment of Kurds in Turkey with the Turkish Government as part of its wider discussions on human rights and encourages them to make progress on respect for minority groups.

The EU Commission sends observers to the trial who report back on progress to other member states. Our embassy in Ankara does not plan to send additional observers but will keep in close touch with the Commission.

Asked by Lord Rea

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have not made specific representations to the Government of Turkey on these issues. Our embassy in Ankara regularly raises the treatment of Kurds in Turkey with the Turkish Government as part of it's wider discussions on human rights. We encourage them to make progress on respect for minority groups, including the protection of language.

Zimbabwe

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is clear that effective election monitoring will be critical if there is to be no repeat of the violence and irregularities of the 2008 elections. We are working with international partners, particularly the South African Development Community, to support their efforts to create an election road map leading to credible and properly monitored elections. The UK stands ready to assist in any election

5 Apr 2011 : Column WA374

monitoring effort, including through multilateral partners such as the EU or Commonwealth. However, any such efforts would have to be in response to an invitation by the Government of Zimbabwe.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Howell of Guildford: There is no evidence of any breaches of the EU arms embargo, and our assessment is that the EU arms embargo has been, and continues to be, effective.

The EU arms embargo only covers the 27 EU member states and does not stop other countries that do not have any measures in place against Zimbabwe from supplying arms.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Baroness Verma: In the current situation, it is difficult to be precise about how the Department for International Development (DfID) expects the bilateral development programme in Zimbabwe to evolve. Pre-election DfID's programme of £80 million (for 2011-12) will be delivered through the United Nations, non-government organisations and the private sector and is largely designed to provide basic services and protect livelihoods for the poorest Zimbabweans. In anticipation of the election of a Government who reflect the will of the people and are prepared to govern in the interests of all Zimbabweans, DfID stands ready to further widen our support.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Baroness Verma: The Government recognise the Southern African Development Community's important role as guarantors of Zimbabwe's global political agreement and we endorse its current efforts to create a road map leading to credible and properly monitored elections. We also continue to look for ways of using UK funding to strengthen regional forums to increase pressure for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, for example through civil society.


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