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To ask Her Majesty's Government how much development assistance to Afghanistan has been provided by (a) the Department for International Development, (b) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (c) the Ministry of Defence and (d) the non-governmental organisations, during the past three financial years.[HL8351]
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|
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with professional institutions concerning planning a route to membership through apprenticeships, part-time study and practical experience.[HL7990]
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.
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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations for the inclusion of the instrument meteorological conditions rating in European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) safety mechanisms; and what assessment they have made of the likely impact on the United Kingdom safety record if the EASA proposals are implemented. [HL8049]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will instruct the Bank of England to extend or replace the special liquidity scheme if the interim report from the Independent Commission on Banking leads to funding uncertainties in the intra-bank deposit market.[HL8022]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, without the publication of results for liquidity stress tests, the proposed stress tests on European banks to be conducted by the European Banking Authority (EBA) can be credible; and whether they will press the EBA to publish liquidity outcomes.[HL7979]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the United Nations Department of Political Affairs to ensure that United Nations envoys to Burma meet and consult with ethnic Rohingya representatives.[HL8102]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times in 2009 and 2010 the Burmese ambassador to the United Kingdom has met with officials and Ministers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss human rights.[HL8104]
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
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 15 March (WA 32), what action the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission has taken to ensure compliance by Eurotunnel with European Directive 2001/14, in particular each of Articles 4, 6(2), 8(1&2), 11, 14, 17 and Annex 1.[HL7894]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many legal challenges have been made in the past year to the Department for Communities and Local Government's compliance with equality legislation; what were the outcomes; and what remedial action, if any, has been initiated.[HL8292]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (a) the €17 billion spent by the European Investment Bank on climate action projects in the European Union in 2010, and (b) the €16.5 billion spent on climate protection and environment projects by the KfW Bankengruppe in Germany in 2009; and what impact this has had on their plans for the Green Investment Bank.[HL7931]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the workforce of the Bank of England is based outside London; what are their principal locations; and what are the principal functions performed there.[HL8087]
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:
|Location||Staff numbers||Principal Functions|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the workforce of National Savings and Investments is based outside London; what are their principal locations; and what are the principal functions performed there.[HL8088]
|Location||Staff Numbers||Principal Functions|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the workforce of the Debt Management Office is based outside London; what are their principal locations; and what are the principal functions performed there.[HL8090]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether HM Treasury officials discussed changes to the rules relating to the use of year-end flexibility resources to fund new capital investment with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish administrations prior to their introduction.[HL8281]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 21 March (WA 110), how the operational independence of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) would be affected by publishing the FSA's answers to questions from Members of the House of Lords in the Official Report; and whether the publication in the Official Report of answers from the Office for National Statistics and the Office for Budget Responsibility limits the operational independence of those bodies. [HL8024]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have brought forward proposals for robust action to tackle unacceptable bonuses in the financial services sector as promised in The Coalition: Our Programme For Government; and whether those proposals have tackled individual payments.[HL8186]
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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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".
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 31 March (WA 296), how many civil servants in the Department for International Development are entitled to first-class rail travel when on official business. [HL8379]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 31 March (WA 296), how many civil servants in the Cabinet Office are entitled to first-class rail travel when on official business.[HL8380]
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).
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 23 March (WA 177) concerning the decision of the European Court of Justice on insurance and gender discrimination, whether they intend to take action to ensure that insurance and other companies covered by the ruling can continue to run their operations on the basis of risk and other non-gender considerations.[HL8152]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 21 March (WA 118-19), when they expect the figure for expenditure by the British Council in 2009-10 to be available.[HL7967]
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).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to the future government of Libya, in particular whether there should be a Libyan constitution; and what assessment they have made of the merits of the 1951 constitution and the extent to which it might form a basis for any future government.[HL8117]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of current tribal structures in Libya, in particular any changes imposed by Muammar Gaddafi; and what plans they have to support change back to traditional structures.[HL8118]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the ticketing system for public transport in London caters adequately for overseas visitors; and whether it will meet the needs of those who will visit London for the 2012 Olympics.[HL8203]
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).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they will give to plans to use water resource management as a means to socioeconomic development and peace in the Middle East, as suggested in the report by the Strategic Foresight Group The Blue Peace: rethinking Middle East water.[HL8185]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the March 2011 report of the United Nations World Food Programme on conditions in North Korea, in order to plan food aid to that country.[HL8324]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what account they and their partners have taken of (a) the reduced food provision in 2010-11 due to poor weather and funding, (b) the impact of global price rises in food and fuel in the capacity to import fuel, and (c) the recent reduction in bilateral food assistance, when planning food aid to North Korea.[HL8325]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of North Korea about levels of malnutrition and food shortages there, and in particular whether they have discussed improved monitoring and reporting of food distribution in that country.[HL8326]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Department for International Development forecasts to spend on faith based development projects in 2010-11; and what budgetary allocation has been made for 2011-12.[HL7964]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 23 March (WA 185-6) regarding race hatred in Palestinian schools, what specific reports they have received about the negative messages in Israeli and Palestinian textbooks.[HL8142]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask HM Inspectorate of Constabulary to undertake a risk assessment of the proposals for elected police commissioners in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill.[HL7807]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the salary scales or contract rates paid to all uniformed and plain-clothed grades, including police community support officers, police constable, police sergeant, inspector, chief inspector, superintendent, chief superintendent, assistant chief constable, deputy chief constable and chief constables in all constabularies and seconded positions in England and Wales, stipulating all extra duty payments, any bonus scales, incentive schemes, and pension schemes.[HL7203]
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.
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.
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.
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/.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 28 March (WA 225), what assessment they have made of whether the results of the Cambrian trial suggest that lines which are not likely to be used by international trains should be given a lower priority in future investment plans.[HL8205]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what evidence they have received, and from whom, in support of the statement by the Secretary of State for Transport to the Northern Echo that connecting a diesel locomotive to an electric Intercity express passenger train would take nine minutes.[HL7895]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the written answer by Earl Attlee on 22 March (WA 157), whether any changes to ticket office hours proposed by London Midland have to be agreed to by Her Majesty's Government.[HL8031]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 22 March 2011 (WA 157), whether they are seeking a reduction in operating costs for the London Midland franchise. [HL8032]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in any future discussions about lending funds to the Republic of Ireland, they will require the Government of the Republic to review (a) residency rights of non-Irish citizens, (b) admissibility criteria for public sector posts, and (c) the role of the Catholic Church in the police force, in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[HL7995]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 23 March (WA 187-8), whether the Government of the Republic of Ireland was required to comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or to end officially
5 Apr 2011 : Column WA368
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will instruct the General Lighthouse Authorities to provide information regarding travel-related expenditure, following their failure to supply this in response to enquiries.[HL7893]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 10 November 2009 (WA 152), why the documents referred to have not yet been placed in the Library of the House. [HL8019]
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.
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide material assistance and sufficient visas to support the proposal of the Government of South Korea to provide funding for collaborative high-level research projects in fields including medicine in the United Kingdom. [HL8241]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will divide statistics they hold on north and south Sudan after 9 July; and what sources of statistics they will use for south Sudan until information from the country is collected on an annual basis.[HL8069]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking, individually or with the international community, to encourage co-ordination of technical skills and training, particularly in healthcare, among the south Sudan ministries and within the aid agencies.[HL8070]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current political situation in Syria; and what discussions they have recently had with the Government of Syria on human rights and democratic reform.[HL8055]
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish self-defined ethnicity data of those examined or detained under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 currently held by the National Co-ordinator Protect for Ports.[HL8220]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what research they have commissioned regarding the viability of using only hydrogen fuel cells to power heavy goods vehicles (HGVs); what estimate they have made of the weight of hydrogen fuel cell powered HGVs compared to equivalent sized diesel engine HGVs; and what measures and incentives they have put in place to ensure commercially viable hydrogen fuel cell technology is developed to fuel HGVs.[HL8206]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government to what extent they took into account the United Kingdom's obligations to investigate effectively credible allegations of complicity in torture when establishing the inquiry into the treatment of detainees.[HL7789]
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.
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
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Turkey about the trial and detention of 151 Kurdish
5 Apr 2011 : Column WA373
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Turkey about the prohibition of the Kurdish language in the Turkish National Assembly and courts of law.[HL8115]
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.
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
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing to the Southern African Development Community in its efforts to ensure that the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe are free and fair.[HL8109]
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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