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6 Apr 2011 : Column WA375



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA375

Written Answers

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Afghanistan

Questions

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The British Council leads on cultural engagement with Afghanistan on behalf of the Government. Both the British Council and our embassy in Kabul have provided support for the British Museum's exhibition Afghanistan: The Crossroads of the Ancient World.

Current British Council projects provide development opportunities for Afghans and also broaden the UK view of Afghanistan. Specific projects include: the professional development of young Afghan arts practitioners; the Cultural Leadership International project, which will bring leading Afghan cultural entrepreneurs into an international network of cultural leaders mentored by specialists; and initiatives which help Afghans reclaim their cultural legacy and re-explore their cultural identity, such as providing support for an Afghan Shakespeare production to be presented at the Globe Theatre in London in 2012.

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

Baroness Verma: Provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) will continue to evolve as Afghans take ownership of security for their own country. Over time the PRTs will increasingly shift from direct implementation to support for Afghan delivery of government priorities across the provinces. This process of transition has already started.

The UK-led Helmand PRT supports the Government of Afghanistan by helping to build governance capacity at the provincial and district level, and supporting Afghan-led efforts to deliver basic services, rebuild basic infrastructure, and stimulate economic regeneration.

Airports: Runways

Question

Asked by Lord Adonis



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Earl Attlee: We have made clear that we do not support the construction of additional runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. Proposals for expansion at other airports will be judged on their merits.

Aviation: Fuel Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: The Government have had no specific meetings with the airline industry to discuss the price of fuel since May 2010. However, in our frequent meetings with the airline industry, there are often discussions about the full range of costs associated with operating an airline.

Aviation: Light Aircraft

Questions

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

Earl Attlee: Under the Air Navigation Order any occurrence which endangers an aircraft, its occupants or any other person has to be reported to the Civil Aviation Authority. In 2010 the CAA received 114 reports related to occurrences involving US registered aircraft with a maximum take of weight of less than 2,730kg. In 2009 it received 123 such reports.

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

Earl Attlee: In accordance with EU Regulation 216/2008, US registered aircraft based in the UK will be subject to the same safety requirements as UK registered aircraft. The European Aviation Safety Agency is responsible for developing the applicable safety requirements. I would encourage the owners, operators and pilots of US registered aircraft based in the UK to respond to EASA consultations on the development of those requirements.

The need for US licensed pilots of US aircraft based in the UK to obtain an EU licence is a particular cause of concern for these pilots.

The Government wish to minimise the administrative burden caused by the implementation of the requirement to obtain an EU licence.

The European Commission has indicated that it intends to negotiate an aviation safety agreement with the US Federal Aviation Administration. If such an agreement is reached it should help minimise the requirements for US licence holders to obtain an EU licence.



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Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

Earl Attlee: The EU has no proposals to prohibit US registered aircraft based in the UK from flying in the EU. However, under EU Regulation 216/2008 the pilots of such aircraft are required to be licensed to the same standards as pilots of aircraft registered in the EU. The US Government understand the reason for this requirement and have given no indication that it will affect UK/US trade relations.

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

Earl Attlee: No assessment has been made of any potential loss of revenue from training for the UK instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) rating. The European Aviation Safety Agency has been given the responsibility for establishing a rating which is broadly equivalent to the IMC rating.

If such a rating is established there will be opportunities for existing providers of IMC rating courses to become approved to provide training for the new rating and to develop that business both in the UK and in other member states.

Aviation: Regulations

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

Earl Attlee: The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has consulted on draft implementing rules establishing flight time limitations for EU airlines. These have been reviewed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and it has submitted a large number of detailed comments to EASA. The CAA has also published its comments on the CAA website.

The CAA believes that overall the EASA proposals are a significant improvement on the current EU rules. However, it believes that the draft rules need to be strengthened in three areas: (i) the maximum flight

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duty period for overnight operations; (ii) the number of recovery days; and (iii) the maximum number of duty hours in any 14 day period.

Aviation: Restricted Airspace

Questions

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport commissioned an air traffic review and airport capacity assessment study in late 2009. This estimated that between 17 July and 16 August 2012, the Games could be expected to generate approximately 240,000 additional commercial passengers over and above baseline traffic levels at the five core London airports. This would equate to approximately 200 additional commercial aircraft movements on peak days, an increase of approximately 6 per cent above baseline levels.

In addition, the study forecast over 10,000 business and corporate aircraft movements and approximately 240 heads of state flights during the Games period. On top of this, an as yet unquantified number of general aviation leisure flights might seek to operate in the airspace over the south-east of England during this period.

The study concluded that the forecast commercial, business and heads of state traffic could broadly be accommodated, but only by making efficient use of all existing airport infrastructure across the wider south-east. In order to maximise available capacity, of both airports and controlled airspace, the department is currently consulting on proposals temporarily to extend full airport slot co-ordination, currently only applicable at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City airports, to some 40 airports across the region expected to attract Games related traffic.

Separately, NATS, the air navigation service provider, is consulting on proposals temporarily to extend controlled airspace in certain parts of the region to provide increased airspace capacity for commercial air traffic in order to help manage the anticipated additional demand during the peak Games period.



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As part of the commitment to deliver a safe and secure Games, the Government also announced, on 7 March, plans to impose certain temporary restrictions on the use of airspace over London and the south-east of England during the Games period. Most aircraft seeking to operate in the planned restricted and prohibited zones will be required to file a flight plan, establish and maintain two-way radio communication with the relevant control authority, transmit a discrete transponder code and follow air traffic control instructions. The aim of these security-driven measures is to enable all air traffic in this area to be monitored during this period. NATS and others are currently working to establish a flight plan reception process to deal with the anticipated additional demand. Significant enhancements to existing lower airspace radar service capacity are also planned to facilitate flying within the restricted zone in accordance with the announced requirements for operation in this area.

Initial work to assess the effect of the planned airspace restrictions on the aviation community as a whole has been undertaken and, through the CAA and others, we are now engaging with them further to ensure the impacts are fully understood. We are encouraging members of the aviation community to help us in this, and we will consider whether certain adaptations to the planned restrictions might be feasible, consistent with the overarching security considerations, before the measures are finalised in a statutory instrument to be made later this year.

There are no plans to provide compensation to those affected by the temporary airspace restrictions. However, as already mentioned, the Government, together with the Civil Aviation Authority and NATS, will work with the aviation community to see if local arrangements might be possible, in some cases, to limit the impact of the restrictions.

Aviation: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

Earl Attlee: Under EU Regulation 216/2008 the European Aviation Safety Agency has responsibility for establishing harmonised safety standards for most areas of civil aviation. Details of the rulemaking programme can be found on EASA's website: www.easa.europa.eu.

Regulation 216/2008 requires that where third country aircraft are operated by persons resident or established in the EU the pilots must hold licences issued or validated in accordance with the relevant EU implementing rules.

The Government are working with the Commission with a view to minimising the administrative burden that might be generated by the regulation.



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The European Commission has indicated that it intends to negotiate an aviation safety agreement with the US Federal Aviation Administration. If such an agreement is reached it should minimise the requirements for US licence holders to obtain an EU licence.

Aviation: United States

Question

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

Earl Attlee: The Secretary of State for Transport met Susan Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs from the US Department of Transportation, on 24 June 2010.

Banking: Cheques

Questions

Asked by Lord McFall of Alcluith

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The development of alternatives to the cheque, and the preparation of a cost benefit analysis, is a matter for the Payments Council, which is independent of government.

Asked by Lord McFall of Alcluith

Lord Sassoon: I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave to Lord Lucas on 8 July 2010 (Official Report, col. WA67) setting out the Government's position on cheques.

Treasury Ministers and officials have discussions with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions.



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Benefits

Questions

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): All 1,700 customers were sent the initial notification informing them of the changes.

Customers who were either found fit for work or allowed employment and support allowance were contacted by letter to inform them of the decision.

Telephone contact was attempted for all customers at both the initial stage and prior to the decision being issued.

Asked by Lord German

Lord Freud: On the 11 February the department published interim findings from the trial. These showed that 1,347 decisions had been made at that time. Of these:

399 individuals were disallowed employment and support allowance (30 per cent); 422 individuals were allowed employment and support allowance and placed in the support group (31 per cent); and, 526 individuals were allowed employment and support allowance and placed in the Work Related Activity Group (39 per cent).

These findings were broadly in line with the department's estimates. However, at that time not all 1,700 trial customers had been through the reassessment process. There will be a formal research publication available in due course.

The trial has shown that the reassessment process is working well. It has also provided very valuable feedback and will enable us to enhance a number of areas of the reassessment process.

British-Irish Council

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The UK Government's expenditure on the British-Irish Council summit meeting which was hosted by Isle of Man on 13 December 2010 was £4,320.33.



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Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The total amount spent on the British-Irish Council over the past five years is widely spread across a number of government departments and the information is therefore not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The costs of the British-Irish Council are covered by all eight members of the council through the work of the different work-streams and members' attendance at meetings of officials and Ministers. In addition, the UK Government and the Government of the Republic of Ireland are currently providing the Secretariat for the British-Irish Council. The council is in the process of establishing a Standing Secretariat which will be based in Edinburgh. Member administrations will each contribute annually to the costs of the Secretariat. The UK Government have no specific plans to reduce spending on the British-Irish Council, to which they continue to attach importance.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The British-Irish Council was established as part of the Good Friday agreement 1998, as a mechanism "to promote the harmonious and mutually beneficial development of the totality of relationships among the people of the islands". Members are: the UK Government, the Irish Government, the three devolved Administrations, and the Governments of Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man.

Performance of the British-Irish Council is monitored at regular summit meetings attended by heads of Administrations or, in the case of UK, at other suitable level.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: There is no specific accounting officer for the British-Irish Council as it has no separate corporate identity.

Broadcasting: Smoking

Question

Asked by Lord Laird



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Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Government have not issued guidance to Ofcom concerning warnings about smoking. The Written Answer from Baroness Rawlings of 23 March (WA 173) to the noble Lord explained Ofcom's statutory responsibility for such matters.

Business Growth Fund

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Business Growth Fund is a commercial fund with no financial input from the Government. It is therefore not appropriate for BIS to take a seat on the board. We will maintain strong links with the fund's senior managers to ensure that it fulfils our expectations of becoming a major source of growth capital funding for smaller businesses.

Businesses: Technology

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): We will support business-led technology innovation through the Technology Strategy Board which is moving forward to establish a network of elite Technology and Innovation Centres to commercialise new and emerging technologies and TSB will also deliver a national grant for R&D scheme, which is focused on supporting R&D projects in SMEs.

To complement this, the Skills Strategy, Skills for Sustainable Growth, sets out the Government's strategy for improving skills at the intermediate and technical level. It is why we have put apprenticeships at the heart of the FE and skills system and why we are expanding the number of places available.

Recognising that they are a key component in delivering our ambitions for a dynamic and competitive economy, we are increasing skills investment in SMEs by developing the leadership and management skills of managers in SMEs with high growth potential. We are also continuing to provide the SME leadership and management development programme with support focused on SMEs and social enterprises from April 2011.

Carers: Support Breaks

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): On 16 November 2011, we announced additional funding of £400 million to the National Health Service over the next four years to support carers to take breaks from their caring responsibilities in the way a carer chooses.

The Operating Framework for the NHS in England 2011-12 said:

"The Spending review has made available additional funding in primary care trust (PCT) baselines to support the provision of breaks for carers. PCTs should pool budgets with local authorities to provide carers' breaks, as far as possible, via direct payments or personal health budgets. For 2011-12, PCTs should agree policies, plans and budgets to support carers with local authorities and local carers' organisations, and make them available to local people".

Census

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

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

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for ONS, to Lord Laird, dated April 2011.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking: (i) further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 23 March (WA 173-4), what are the "sensitivities" in Scotland relating to the wording of the category "Gypsy/Irish Traveller"; why those sensitivities do not occur or apply in England; and, (ii) what are the numbers and percentages of Polish nationals in each part of the United Kingdom. (HL8121)

(i) In England and Wales there was strong evidence of need for information on Gypsies and Irish Travellers to be collected in the 2011 Census. "Irish Travellers" are recognised as a distinct group by that name under Race Relations Act case law and the term is now widely recognised and more commonly used by members of those communities themselves. However, the term "Irish Traveller" which is intended to specifically exclude "New Age travellers" in England and Wales is not generally used in Scotland. The census in Scotland is a devolved matter, and the responsibility for the wording of the questions there rests with the Scottish Government. The Registrar General for Scotland has advised that the term "Gypsy/Traveller" is used in the census in Scotland instead because that is the specific term that was used by the Scottish Parliament when it was agreed that such people should be treated as a separate ethnic group for race relations purposes.



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(ii) The Office for National Statistics collects data on nationality from the Annual Population Survey (APS) which is a household survey of residents of the UK. The latest available estimates of Polish nationals relate to the 12-month period of July 2009 to June 2010 and are provided for each constituent country of the UK in the table below. Percentages have been created using the total estimated resident population for each constituent country of the UK, derived from the APS as a denominator. It should be noted that the survey does not include people living in most types of communal establishment.

Table 1: Polish Nationality by Countries of the UK
Average 12 months-June 2010Thousands
estimateConfidence Interval +/-Percentage

United Kingdom

541

31

0.9

England

454

31

0.9

Wales

15

3

0.5

Scotland

56

8

1.1

Northern Ireland

17

6

1.0

Source: Annual Population Survey (APS)/Labour Force Survey (LFS), ONS

Totals may not sum due to rounding

Confidence interval as shown here is a range within which the true value of a population count is likely to lie, and in this case, at the 95 per cent level, is defined as 1.96 x standard error. The standard error is a measure of the uncertainty associated with making inferences from a sample.

Credit Default Swaps

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The report is already publicly available, including at; http://media.ft.com/cms/100e2d86-4994-11e0-b051- 00144feab49a.pdf.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The Government recognise that credit default swaps are used not only by banks but also by non-bank entities for financial hedging and investment purposes.



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In line with the G20 commitment which calls for all standardised over-the-counter (OTC) derivative contracts to be cleared through central counterparties by end-2012 at the latest, the Government are now engaged in negotiating European legislation which will require standardised OTC derivatives, including credit default swaps, to be cleared through central counterparties. Details of the entities and instruments covered by this legislation are still in negotiation.

Debt

Question

Asked by Lord Higgins

Lord Henley: I will write to my noble friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Education: ESOL

Questions

Asked by Lord Bilston

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The equality impact assessment published alongside Skills for Sustainable Growth (November 2010) found that, at the aggregate level, there are unlikely to be disproportionate impacts on protected groups. A separate assessment of how the changes to skills funding may affect English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) learners is currently being carried out by my department, and I expect to be able to publish the assessment in due course.

Since the publication of Skills for Sustainable Growth, a large number of organisations and individuals have made representations to my department about the impact of our proposals for ESOL. They have included correspondence from learners and their representatives and principals of further education colleges. I also hold regular meetings with the Association of Colleges, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education and trades unions representing the further education sector, including University and College Union. The topics that we have discussed include ESOL. I have also recently met the Refugee Council.



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All of the views and supporting information offered by these groups have been collated and are being taken into consideration as part of the ESOL impact assessment.

Energy: Biofuels

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: We are currently consulting on proposals to amend the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). These proposals include amending the RTFO so that biofuels from waste may be awarded two renewable transport fuel certificates (RTFCs) per litre, as opposed to one RTFC now.

Our expectation is that double certification for waste-derived biofuel under the RTFO will provide a level of support broadly equivalent to the duty differential currently in place. The most recent publicly quoted renewable transport fuel certificate price is 24 pence. At this price level, issuing an additional certificate for used cooking oil biodiesel is slightly more generous than the 20 pence duty differential. However, the value of RTFCs is determined by the market and may fluctuate over time.

Energy: Gas Safety

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has in-house expertise such as offshore gas safety inspectors, gas and pipelines specialists, process safety inspectors and domestic gas specialists, who are all supported by regulatory and legal advisers to ensure the effective regulation of the gas industry in Great Britain.

HSE also has access to expertise within the Health and Safety Laboratory, which includes analytical and research scientists, Gas Safe registered engineers and chemical, process and risk assessment experts. HSE also works with Gas Safe Register inspectors and technical experts in the inspection and investigation of domestic gas work, as well as Gas Safe Register communications team to raise consumer awareness of gas safety issues.



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Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Lord Freud: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) employs a wide range of staff to cover its broad range of regulatory and advisory activities. HSE staff include offshore gas safety inspectors, gas and pipelines specialists, process safety inspectors and downstream gas specialists, who are all supported by regulatory and legal advisers to ensure the effective regulation of the gas industry in Great Britain.

Energy: Nuclear Power

Question

Asked by Lord Boswell of Aynho

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The 1988 report of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), The Chernobyl Accident and its Consequences, set out the cause of the accident and three main lessons for the United Kingdom, which are listed below with an explanation of the position today in each case:

"There needs to be a strong nuclear safety regulator, independent from the organisations responsible for operating and promoting nuclear power".

The UK's nuclear regulatory system and its delivery are regularly examined by the IAEA's International Regulatory Review Service which has noted, in particular, the maturity and transparency of the regulatory system and advanced review process, and that it is backed up by highly trained, expert and experienced nuclear inspectors. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) took over the role of nuclear regulator from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of the Health and Safety Executive from 1 April and is intended further to enhance the regulator's independence, flexibility and accountability so that it maintains a world leading reputation as a strong regulator in the face of the current and future challenges of the nuclear sector.

"The nuclear safety regulator needs the technical capability to assess and challengeoperators' safety analyses".

The Chernobyl reactor design was reviewed by the UKAEA against the then current safety assessment principles issued by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) and found to have a number of major shortcomings that would have precluded its licensing in the UK. NII (now part of the ONR) has revised these principles twice in the intervening period to ensure that they continue to reflect modern practice, and international standards and guidance. The ONR has been established

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such that it will have the flexibilities it needs to develop and capitalise on its technical capability to promote high standards of nuclear safety and security for UK citizens and society.

"Operators must ensure that a proper safety culture permeates all activities on their nuclear site".

For many years, the UK nuclear regulator has worked with the nuclear operators at the most senior levels to ensure that excellence in leadership and management for safety is given the appropriate high priority. The creation of the ONR provides a platform to give renewed impetus to this.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has asked UK Chief Nuclear Inspector Dr Mike Weightman to provide a report to the Government on the implications of the unprecedented events in Japan and the lessons to be learned for the UK nuclear industry.

He has asked for an interim report by mid-May 2011 and a final report within six months. The reports will be published in the public domain.

The Chief Nuclear Inspector made a statement on 29 March outlining the broad areas that would be included in the scope of his report: http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/fukushima/statement-290311..htm.

EU: Asbestos

Question

Asked by Lord Boswell of Aynho

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The EU's direct acting regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), prohibits the import, supply and use, including second hand, of asbestos and articles containing asbestos. The regulations are enforced by the co-ordinated action of regulators including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Environment Agency, local authority trading standards, HMRC Customs officials and UK Border Agency. These all work to detect and prevent the use or importation of new asbestos materials and the exchange or re-sale of articles containing asbestos which may remain in position if installed in service before 1999 when the UK banned all asbestos use. When taken out of service such materials must be disposed of to approved sites under European Hazardous Waste requirements regulated by the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

The EU directive on asbestos worker protection was transposed by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 in Great Britain (Northern Ireland has equivalent regulations). These regulations are enforced by the HSE and local authorities and require contractors to

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be licensed by HSE for work on higher risk materials. The purpose of licensing is to facilitate performance monitoring against the detailed requirements of the directive to detect where improvement is needed so appropriate action can be taken. The current regulatory approach is based on evidence of risk and allows a proportionate risk based approach to controls to protect health. Work on lower risk materials must also be carried out by suitably trained workers, with no need for a licence, but who either exactly follow HSE's task guides or carry out the required risk assessment to identify their own measures to control exposure. Comprehensive guidance is published by HSE. HSE takes enforcement action where it finds workers (or the public) have been, or are likely to be, put at significant risk. HSE's awareness-raising media activities which targeted building maintenance workers, now those considered most at risk, are currently in a phase of assessment and evaluation.

EU: Judiciary

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are all members of the EU's Eastern Partnership. They began negotiations on association agreements in July 2010. As part of this process the EU delegations in each of the three countries have undertaken projects to strengthen democracy, good governance, security and judicial institutions, including the training of the judiciary. Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are also all members of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) which runs projects to support criminal justice and judicial reforms. Further details of these projects can be found on the respective countries' EU and OSCE web pages. I am not aware of any EU funds being used to fund the salaries of the judiciary in any of those countries.

EU: Membership

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Currently accession negotiations are underway with the candidate countries Croatia, Turkey and Iceland. Croatia has opened 34 (out of 35) and has closed 28 chapters of its accession negotiations. Turkey has opened 13 chapters of its negotiations and closed one. Iceland is in the early stages of its accession process and is undergoing the

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screening process. The Commission has recommended opening accession negotiations with candidate country Macedonia but the council has not yet taken a decision on this. In November 2010 the Commission gave its opinion on Montenegro and Albania's membership applications. The Commission recommended that Montenegro be granted candidate status-this was approved by the European Council in December 2010-and set seven key reform priorities for it to meet before it can open accession negotiations. The Commission also set 12 key reform priorities for Albania to meet before the Commission can give an opinion on candidate status and opening of accession negotiations. Serbia's application was referred by the Council to the Commission for its opinion in October 2010.

Finance: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), and I have asked the OBR to reply.

Letter from Robert Chote, Chairman, Office for Budget Responsibility, to Lord Myners, dated April 2011.

As Chair of the Budget Responsibility Committee of the Office for Budget Responsibility I have been asked to reply to your recent question,

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the workforce of the Office for Budget Responsibility is based outside London; what are their principal locations; and what are the principal functions performed there. HL8089

All staff employed directly by the OBR work in our London office.

The OBR contracts some administrative human resource and financial management support services from HM Treasury. Some of HM Treasury's staff providing these services are based in Norwich.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Travel Advice

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Current travel advice for Egypt and Tunisia can be found on our website www.fco.gov.uk Our travel advice aims to help British

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nationals make informed decisions about travelling to a particular country. It includes information on threats to personal safety arising from a wide variety of incidents, including civil unrest and demonstrations. The information is reviewed on a regular basis and also following any significant incident.

Government Departments: Official Photography

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: This information is not collected centrally.

Government Departments: Travel Expenses

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: An historical entitlement to first class UK rail travel is retained by higher grades in the central department and five of its seven agencies. However, the current policy of this department and its agencies is to require all travel to be booked at standard class, irrespective of grade, unless there are compelling reasons to travel first class or where a first class discount or advance ticket is cheaper.

Health: GP Commissioning Groups

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The NHS Commissioning Board will be responsible for assessment of the performance of general practitioner (GP) consortia. This must include an assessment of how well the consortium has discharged its duties relating to quality improvements and management of its finances. The Health and Social Care Bill will introduce clear powers to enable the NHS Commissioning Board to intervene where a GP consortium is failing to discharge its functions or where there is a risk of it failing to do so.



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The NHS Commissioning Board will draw on the national outcome goals in the NHS Outcomes Framework to develop a new Commissioning Outcomes Framework. Measures from the Commissioning Outcomes Framework will be used by the board to hold GP consortia to account for the quality of services they commission and the health outcomes they achieve for patients. The NHS Commissioning Board will also hold consortia to account for their financial performance.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

Earl Howe: As now, general practitioners (GPs) following our reforms may hold financial interests in organisations to which they refer patients or contract services. However, the Health and Social Care Bill proposes clear statutory duties on commissioners in relation to procurement and in relation to anti-competitive behaviours. A clear set of underpinning rules and guidance will be developed to apply to GP consortia, so that they have the necessary support to make decisions that are fair and transparent and avoid any perceived conflicts of interest.

In addition, the Bill also includes a requirement that each consortium's constitution sets out arrangements for decision-making and managing potential conflicts of interest.

Our proposed approach is that GP consortia should be able to proceed on the basis of assumed responsibility rather than earned autonomy. This will mean that consortia are free, within the legislative framework, to make the decisions that they judge are right for patients and value for money. However, there will be a clear duty on the NHS Commissioning Board, or if necessary, the economic regulator, to intervene if there are concerns that a consortium has not met its duties in relation to fairness and choice or has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour.

In addition, GPs have to follow ethical guidance published by the General Medical Council, Good Medical Practice. This sets out that any commercial interests GPs have in organisations related to healthcare must not affect the way they prescribe, treat or refer patients. GPs must also inform the patient if they are referring them to an organisation in which they have a commercial interest.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

Earl Howe: It will be for general practitioner (GP) consortia to decide within the legislative framework how they carry out their functions. In light of our

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proposals to liberate the National Health Service, the department does not plan to recommend or monitor the amount of time spent by GPs on administrative tasks.

We have proposed that it would be a requirement for every GP practice to be part of a consortium and to contribute to its goals. However, our proposed model will mean that not all GPs have to be actively involved in every aspect of commissioning. Their predominant focus will continue to be on providing high quality primary care to their patients. It is likely to be a smaller group of GPs who would lead the consortium and play an active role in the clinical design of local services.

Consortia will also receive a management allowance. They will be able to use this to secure support for discharging their responsibilities from a range of sources; this could include support to assist with administrative and commissioning duties.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

Earl Howe: The Health and Social Care Bill makes provision for regulations to be issued to ensure that general practitioner commissioning consortia, in commissioning health care services for the National Health Service, adhere to good practice in relation to procurement including in the use of tendering. It is expected that the NHS Commissioning Board, when established, will issue clear guidance on procurement to consortia which reflect the regulations. As is the case now, commissioners will need to comply with United Kingdom and European Union procurement law.

Health: Infection Control

Question

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The provision of microbiological advice will be reviewed as part of the establishment of Public Health England and a decision on how to cover the Inspector of Microbiology and Infection Control's functions will be made later this year.

Health: Influenza Vaccination

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA395

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department has reviewed the lessons learnt from last winter's seasonal flu immunisation programme and is taking steps to achieve higher vaccination coverage rates in 2011-12. On 14 March, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) wrote to the National Health Service setting out next winter's planning assumptions, and seeking assurances that preparations are in hand at local level to run a successful immunisation programme. In particular, the CMO has asked for assurances that sufficient vaccine has been ordered and that robust arrangements are in place for general practitioners to contact those who are most at risk from the effects of flu. The CMO stated that the NHS should plan locally to:

reach or exceed 75 per cent uptake for people aged 65 years and over as recommended by the World Health Organisation; andreach or exceed 75 per cent uptake for people under age 65 with clinical conditions which put them more at risk from the effects of flu, and pregnant women, as recommended by the European Union. A reasonable trajectory for increases in uptake in clinical risk groups and pregnant women might be 60 per cent in 2011-12, and 70 per cent in 2012-13, so that an uptake of 75 per cent can be reached or exceeded in 2013-14.

A copy of the CMO's letter has been placed in the Library.

Health: Organ Donation

Question

Asked by Lord Mitchell

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Organ Donation Taskforce Programme Delivery Board was established in July 2008 to oversee the implementation of the Organ Donation Taskforce recommendations published in January 2008. The board noted at its final meeting in January 2011 that organ donor rates had increased by some 25 per cent since the implementation process began and agreed that the taskforce recommendations had been largely implemented. The board therefore agreed that its work was complete. The board also agreed that the focus in the future should be on ensuring that the new infrastructure and support mechanisms, developed under the board's leadership, become embedded as a usual part of healthcare.

This is being achieved by a variety of means, including through the clinical leads for organ donation, donation committees and donation chairs in acute trusts driving improvement locally, and ongoing work to raise the profile and benefits of organ donation and transplantation with the National Health Service, professional groups and the public.

Leadership will continue to be provided through the department's National Clinical Director for Transplantation, the Organ Donor Organisation within NHS Blood and Transplant and the relevant professional bodies.



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House of Lords: Allowances

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The maximum allowance for members of the House for journeys by car, motorcycle or bicycle was set by resolution of the House on 10 November 2004. Under that resolution, the allowance is payable at the rate which is applicable to the vehicle under subsection (2) of Section 230 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003. The allowance is accordingly directly linked to a statutory scheme administered by HM Revenue and Customs. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget Statement announced that, from 6 April 2011, the maximum car mileage allowance would be increased to 45 pence per mile for the first 10,000 miles. The increase in the allowance is therefore a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Houses of Parliament: Members

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I refer the noble Lord to the answer given to the noble Lord Grocott on 6 December 2010 (Official Report, col. WAl2).

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) last met on 26 February 2007. Joint Communiqués issued after each BIIGC are available on the Northern Ireland Office website.

India: Detention

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware that in Indian administered Kashmir, the Public Safety Act (PSA) and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act

6 Apr 2011 : Column WA397

(AFSPA) provide for detention (which can include house arrest) without trial for up to two years. According to state government figures, 4,064 people were arrested from March 2010 to January 2011 and 3,900 of those arrested have been released. During a recent visit to Indian administered Kashmir, officials from our high commission in New Delhi discussed this issue with the Jammu and Kashmir state police and human rights groups. The issue of security legislation operating in certain regions of India, including the AFSPA, was raised with the Indian Government during the recent EU-India Human Rights dialogue.

We also note the findings of a recent report by Amnesty International. This estimates that between 8,000 and 20,000 people have been detained under the PSA or AFSPA over the past 20 years.

We welcome and are closely following the initiative of the Indian Government to appoint three interlocutors to take forward a dialogue between Delhi and Srinagar to help resolve the situation in Indian administered Kashmir. Prime Minister Singh issued a statement last summer that violations of human rights abuses by security forces in Kashmir would not be tolerated. The UK continues to call for an improvement in the human rights situation on both sides of the line of control and for an end to external support for violence in Kashmir. UK funding supports human rights, conflict prevention and peace building efforts on both sides of the line of control.

Iraq: Camp Ashraf

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The security situation around Camp Ashraf remains volatile. The safest way for embassy officials to visit is by helicopter. We no longer have such assets in Baghdad and we therefore rely on the US to provide transport to the camp.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Lord Howell of Guildford: Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice advises against all travel to Baghdad and certain provinces, including Diyala in which Camp Ashraf is located. The UK does not have the resources or capability to support parliamentarians wishing to visit Camp Ashraf in an observer capacity. In addition, the UK is reliant on US assets to provide transport to Camp Ashraf for consular visits.



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The UK will continue to offer consular assistance to any individuals that are entitled to receive such support.

Legal Aid

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The impact assessments and equality impact assessments published alongside the consultation paper contain estimates of the potential impacts of the proposals.

Asked by Lord Touhig

Lord McNally: We are still considering the responses to the consultation and have not made any final decisions on policy. However, we did not anticipate our consultation proposals having an impact in terms of reducing the share of a couple's estate recovered by the wife. Indeed, we sought to protect the materially disadvantaged party in divorce proceedings through our proposal to empower the court to make an interim lump sum award to cover the legal costs where one party cannot afford to do so.

Asked by Lord Touhig

Lord McNally: The consultation on the Government's proposals for the reform of legal aid closed on February 14. We have received around 5,000 responses to that consultation from members of the public, lawyers and their representative bodies, advice providers, charities, and many others.

Libya

Questions

Asked by Lord Hoyle

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our dialogue with the Interim National Council (INC) and other elements

6 Apr 2011 : Column WA399

of the opposition both within Libya and outside the country continues to develop. My right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary met Mahmoud Jabril, the envoy of the INC, on 29 March 2011. A British diplomatic mission also visited Benghazi on 28 and 29 March 2011, headed by a senior British diplomat, Christopher Prentice. The purpose of the mission was to meet key Libyan opposition groups in eastern Libya, including the INC and its military council; to gain a greater insight into the political and security situation; to explain government policies towards Libya; and to discuss future governance arrangements in Libya, including identifying what Britain can do to help. The team met the president of the INC, Mustafa al-Jalil, among others. We support the efforts of the council to prepare for a more democratic and accountable Government in Libya.

We have made clear the importance of the Libyan opposition ensuring that they are not infiltrated by al-Qaeda or other extremist elements. They are very conscious of this. It is clear from our engagement with the INC that it is sincere in its wish for an inclusive, democratic Libya which rejects extremism, as shown by its manifesto and public statements rejecting extremist ideas and committing to combating them in all circumstances and to implementing UN Security Council Resolutions on counter-terrorism.

The conference on Libya held in London on 29 March 2011 agreed the need for a political process, led by the Libyan people, that helps to create the conditions in which the people of Libya can choose their own future, supported by the international community. The announcement of a political programme by the INC was an important first step in that process. The participants in the conference were agreed that the Gaddafi regime had lost all legitimacy, and that the Libyan people have clearly indicated their desire for change.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Baroness Verma: The UN is co-ordinating humanitarian aid and leading the planning for building longer-term stability in Libya. Britain recognises that early preparation for the future is vital, and will continue to play its part. The situation is still unfolding. We stand ready to work with the UN and others to make an assessment of longer term stabilisation support needs in Libya, as conditions allow.

Currently the Department for International Development (DfID) has a rolling team of approximately 15 people working on the response to the Libyan crisis, including on humanitarian, international engagement and stabilisation issues. In addition DfID has six humanitarian advisers deployed to the field (two at the Tunisian border, two at the Egyptian border, one in Cairo and one in Ankara).

The tri-departmental Stabilisation Unit (consisting of staff from DfID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence) has a rolling team

6 Apr 2011 : Column WA400

of approximately 10 people in London working on Libya issues. It has deployed five advisers to the region at different points over the past two months to support government efforts on Libya.

Details of DfID's material contributions in response to the Libya unrest (as of 4 April 2011) are detailed in the table below.

DfID Bilateral Contributions in Response to Libya Unrest
ActivityPurposeRecipientAmount

To assist people within Libya

Support to ICRC

Medical supplies to assist people within Libya

ICRC

£2m

Shelter Supplies

Tents and blankets for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Libya

To be distributed by the Libyan Red Crescent

£0.765m

To assist people seeking to leave Libya

Shelter Supplies

Shelter supplies for people at the Libyan borders

IOM/UNHCR

£0.84m

Repatriations

Repatriation flights for people at the Libyan borders (35 flights to move 6,195 Egyptians and 521 Bangladeshis) and support to IOM operations

IOM (including in kind contribution of flights)

£3.1m

Support to IOM (repatriations)

Funding for additional repatriation flights for approximately 6,000 people

IOM/UNHCR

£4m

Air Operation Advisers (including extension agreed April 2011)

Advisers seconded to UNHCR

UNHCR

£0.175m

Total

£10.88m

DFID Indirect Contributions
ActivityRecipientAmount

EC

15% of €30m EC Funds Committed

Various

£3.87m

Total

£3.87m

Grand Total

£14.75m

In addition, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has contributed £500,000 to the United Nations Department for Political Affairs for activity to encourage a positive political and stabilisation process in Libya.



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA401

Asked by Lord Touhig

Baroness Verma: The UN is co-ordinating humanitarian aid and leading the planning for building longer-term stability in Libya. Britain recognises that early preparation for the future is vital and will continue to play its part. The situation is still unfolding. We stand ready to work with the UN and others to make an assessment of longer-term stabilisation support needs in Libya, as conditions allow.

To date, the UK has provided over £10 million for humanitarian purposes, supporting a range of activities including flights for the repatriation of poor economic migrants fleeing Libya; tents and blankets for people in need, and ICRC medical teams and medical supplies to assist war wounded.

Across the region, the UK's immediate priorities remain the welfare of British nationals, as well as the need to support dialogue and political reform. We continue to press governments bilaterally and through the EU and UN to respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people for greater political and economic freedom.

London Underground: Line Extensions

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: Ministers have regular discussions with the mayor on a range of issues, but we have no record of this matter being discussed.

Migrant Workers: Employment

Question

Asked by Baroness Cox

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961

6 Apr 2011 : Column WA402

(VCDR) foreign diplomats accredited in the UK are entitled to employ domestic workers (foreign or British). Under Article 41(1) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations it is the duty of all diplomats "to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state". This applies to the terms and conditions of employment for all domestic staff.

NHS: Competition

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department received over 6,000 responses to the White Paper consultation Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. Responses contained a broad mix of support, suggestions for improvement, and critical challenge; which were drawn on to develop our proposals and translate them into legislative provisions in the Health and Social Care Bill. In relation to our modernisation programme, many respondents support our direction of travel and the changes we are making.

NHS: Reform

Question

Asked by Lord Pendry

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Secretary of State regularly meets the chairman of the British Medical Association Council (BMA) and other senior representatives of the BMA.

NHS: Trade Unions

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Ministers meet regularly with representatives of National Health Service

6 Apr 2011 : Column WA403

trade unions through the meetings of the National Stakeholder Forum and the Social Partnership Forum. Meetings also take place between Ministers and a number of individual trade unions including the British Medical Association, UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing, Unite and the Royal College of Midwives.

A variety of issues are discussed and include NHS reform, workforce issues, value based pricing, the public health White Paper and social care.

Northern Ireland Office: Taxis

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Decisions on use of taxis by staff in the Northern Ireland Office are made by line managers following departmental guidance, which seeks to ensure value for money. The taxi journeys identified in my previous Answer of 21 March, Official Report, col. WAl21, from Belfast residential addresses to Belfast City Airport were all for work-related purposes.

Opiate Poppy Production

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Opium poppy eradication policy is owned and conducted by the Afghan Government, as set out in its National Drug Control Strategy. This strategy makes clear that it is for the governors of the individual poppy-growing provinces to carry out eradication.

UK and coalition forces do not directly eradicate opium poppy themselves, but assist the Afghan Government by providing logistical support (ensuring the eradication teams can carry out their tasks) and targeting support (ensuring that eradication is only aimed at those farmers who have access to genuine alternatives to poppy).

In 2010 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's Afghan Opium Survey reported that 2,316 hectares of opium poppy were eradicated across Afghanistan.



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA404

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The report of Independent Public Service Pensions Commission makes no specific recommendations on the level of employee contributions in the Civil Service superannuation scheme.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The employer contribution to the Civil Service pension scheme was determined following completion of the valuation of the scheme as at 31 March 2007. This will be revised as necessary at future valuations and following the announcement by the Government of their proposals for implementing the recommendations of the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission.

The total employee and employer contributions for 2009-10 are shown in the Cabinet Office: Civil Superannuation Resource Accounts (HC245).

Peru

Question

Asked by Baroness Coussins

Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) directly supports 12 projects in Peru run by non-government organisations (NGOs) through the Governance and Transparency Fund and the Civil Society Challenge Fund. Support through these NGOs totals nearly £30 million over five years (2008-13). Several DfID Programme Partnership Arrangements with civil society organisations also support activities in Latin America, including Peru.

Details on all of these activities can be found at: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/About-DfID/Finance-and-performance/Project-information/.

In addition, the UK supports work in Latin America through contributions to multilateral organisations, including the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, European Commission and UN.



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA405

Prisons: Privatised Services

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): When HMP Birmingham is run privately, it will perform functions of a public nature within the meaning of Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. In the YL case, the House of Lords confirmed that privately run prisons perform functions that fall within that provision.

Railways: Audits

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Service quality management systems that are set out in franchise agreements may be audited independently at the Secretary of State's request, at the franchisee's cost. Typically this right of audit would be used if there were concerns about the delivery of contracted outputs. Some older franchise agreements require passenger charter data published by train operators to be independently audited in order to ensure accuracy, at the franchisee's cost. The department does not keep a record of how much is spent by franchisees on such audits.

Railways: Compensation

Question

Asked by Lord German

Earl Attlee: The arrangements for the payment of compensation to passengers in respect of delays to train services are set out in each train operating company's passenger's charter.

Schools: Building Programme

Question

Asked by Baroness Whitaker



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA406

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The capital review team will report to Ministers shortly.

Scotland: Devolution

Question

Asked by Lord Boyd of Duncansby

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The information requested by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Boyd of Duncansby, is provided in the following table:

Financial YearTotal number of devolution issues received (civil and criminal)

1999-2000

575

2000-2001

660

2001-2002

301

2002-2003

344

2003-2004

423

2004-2005

658

2005-2006

901

2006-2007

699

2007-2008

564

2008-2009

326

2009-2010

3292

2010-2011

2620

The database recording the devolution issues does not distinguish between those arising in civil proceedings as from those in a criminal context.

Shipping: e-Loran Project

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA407

Earl Attlee: e-LORAN is envisaged as a terrestrial based navigational system that complements satellite based equivalents. The General Lighthouse Authorities intend to publish the e-LORAN business case on the Research and Radionavigation Directorate section of their website in the near future.

The e-LORAN budget is reviewed annually as part of the General Lighthouse Authorities' corporate planning round and the total expenditure for the project to date stands at £1.9 million. The precise allocation and use of this budget is an operational matter for the Research and Radionavigation Directorate of the General Lighthouse Authorities.

Shipping: Steel Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Since May 2010, the Ministry of Defence has had discussions with members of the shipbuilding industry about the price of steel in regards to the Type-26 global combat ship programme, and as part of the ongoing competition to procure tankers under the military afloat reach and sustainability programme.

Skilled Migration

Questions

Asked by Lord Pendry

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The choices that British nationals make about where they live and work are personal and subject to the immigration laws of the country in which they are seeking to locate.



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA408

Government policy on skills, growth and migration aim to retain and attract skilled workers from the global talent pool.

Smoking

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We have at present no plans to introduce further legislation to prohibit smoking in particular places or in cars not already covered by the 2006 smokefree legislation in England. However, we fully recognise the need to take action to prompt smokers to change their behaviour so that they do not smoke near children. The evidence of the danger to the health of children from second-hand tobacco smoke is irrefutable and we have, therefore, set out in The Tobacco Control Plan for England, published on 9 March 2011, a number of key actions, which the Government will take to reduce exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. In particular, we will work with national media to raise awareness of the risks in exposing children to second-hand tobacco smoke and support local areas to encourage smokers to change their behaviour so that they do not smoke in their homes or in family cars. The department's new marketing strategy for tobacco control will set out further details of how we will support efforts by local areas to encourage smokefree homes and family cars.

Sport: Sports Clubs

Questions

Asked by Lord Pendry

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Government will continue to work with the Sport and Recreation Alliance and Sport England to encourage eligible sports clubs to sign up to the Community Amateur Sports Clubs scheme.

Asked by Lord Pendry

Baroness Garden of Frognal: In November 2010 the Minister for Sport and the Olympics launched the Places People Play programme-the Government's sports legacy from London 2012. The Inspired Facilities and Protecting Playing Fields strands of the legacy programme will assist community and voluntary sector clubs access lottery funding.



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA409

To maximise the impact of the lottery funding and to make applying for a grant as easy as possible for clubs, Sport England are preparing a catalogue of many of the standard facility improvements clubs would like to make if they had funds available. Sport England will also enter into framework arrangements with suppliers to ensure that they can benefit from economies of scale. In removing the need from clubs to procure suppliers, Sport England believe that this will lower the barriers to entry for clubs and lessen the burden on those who are running clubs.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I can confirm that Mazen Darwish (Director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression) was arrested on 23 March and released on 24 March 2011 without charge.

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.

Transport: Appraisals

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA410

Earl Attlee: Work was undertaken during spending review 2010 to update the value for money information held on major capital schemes. It is not correct to say that there has been a reduced carbon adjustment in appraisals under the New Approach to Appraisal of major road schemes between 2002 and 2010. The adjustments made are undertaken for three main reasons.

First, when assessing value for money during transport appraisal, it is standard practice to consider a broader range of factors than are captured within the central New Approach to Appraisal net present value (NPV). DfT appraisal guidance on wider impacts, reliability and landscape is still evolving, but these factors are considered when assessing value for money. They were therefore incorporated into information provided to the Treasury during the spending review to ensure it reflected recent developments in appraisal methods and provided the fullest possible representation of the value for money of transport schemes.

Secondly, there was a need to ensure consistency across schemes. This was particularly important given that data for schemes in the spending review were produced over a period of many years. It would have been disproportionately costly to reassess all spending review schemes using the detailed calculations and models held by scheme promoters, so high-level adjustments were made to individual business cases. These adjustments were evidence based and typically informed by tests on a sample of schemes. While these adjustments do not necessarily replicate the results that would be obtained from applying the relevant appraisal guidance in full, they provide an indication of the scale of additional impacts and the effect their inclusion may have on the relative value for money of different schemes.

Thirdly, the Treasury requested information to inform an analysis of value for money across government departments. To facilitate the comparison of DfT information with that of other government departments, NPVs were uprated to a 2010 price and discount base year. In addition, carbon impacts were uplifted to reflect values published by DECC in 2009.

Full details of the adjustments made are set out below. These adjustments were made purely for the purposes of the 2010 spending review and should not be considered changes to the department's Transport Appraisal Guidance (WebTAG). Stakeholders have had, and continue to have, the opportunity to comment on WebTAG units before they become definitive.

Because the adjusted NPV methodology was used only in the 2010 spending review, no comparable adjusted NPV figures are available from 2002. It is not therefore possible to assess the number of road schemes for which the adjusted NPV has reduced between 2002 and 2010.

Detailed description of adjustments made to NPV information used in the 2010 spending review

Wider impacts

Unless directly estimated by the promoter, wider impacts were proxied as 10 per cent of consumer and business benefits for those schemes falling predominantly within a functional urban region (as defined in WebTAG

6 Apr 2011 : Column WA411

unit 2.8C). Previous analysis of wider impacts suggests this is likely to represent a conservative assumption for most schemes.

Reliability

Where available, reliability estimates provided by scheme promoters were used to adjust net present value information for local authority major schemes. For other local authority schemes, reliability impacts were monetised based on the qualitative assessment of schemes at programme entry. Additional benefits of 5/10/20 per cent of time savings were added to those schemes with slight/moderate/significant beneficial impacts respectively. These uplifts are based on the judgment of DfT analysts and the top of the range is broadly consistent with the findings of the Eddington review which identified that reliability benefits could be worth 20 to 30 per cent of time savings.

For Highways Agency (HA) schemes, reliability impacts were included where they had been modelled as part of an original scheme appraisal. For other HA schemes, uplifts were applied to business and consumer user benefits as follows:

no uplift for junction improvement schemes;20 per cent uplift for regional road schemes; and50 per cent uplift for motorway schemes.

These uplift factors were based on analysis undertaken during development of the specialist software (incident cost-benefit assessment, or INCA) used to estimate reliability impacts in road scheme appraisal.

Landscape

The value of landscape impacts was added to benefits if they were estimated by DfT at the time of programme entry award (local authority schemes) or as part of the scheme appraisal process (Highways Agency schemes). The appraisal methodology for landscape impacts takes values from the ODPM report Valuing the External Benefits of Undeveloped Land and has been adapted to take account of factors such as existing man made features or mitigating improvements.

Adjustment to the price of carbon

We have not reduced the valuation of road vehicle carbon emissions in the New Approach To Appraisal between 2002 and 2010. Adjustments were made in the spending review analysis to ensure consistency with the latest DECC carbon values. These new values for road transport emissions are not only significantly larger than those used before, but also represent a year on year increase for each and every year of the appraisal period.

The definitive WebTAG guidance (and the unadjusted NPVs that informed the spending review) includes the Shadow Price of Carbon published by Defra in 2007. For the spending review, the carbon impact component of the NPV was uplifted to ensure consistency with newer values released by DECC in 2009. Where modelled estimates of carbon impacts based on both old and updated values were available, the difference between these two values was used as the carbon uplift adjustment.

Where modelled values were not available, pre-existing estimates of the value of carbon impacts were increased by 150 per cent to proxy the impact of the new values. This was informed by an analysis of the carbon impacts

6 Apr 2011 : Column WA412

of schemes which had been appraised using both the new and old values, and separate analysis which examined the value of one tonne of carbon abated over a 60 year period. No adjustment was made to schemes that did not estimate carbon impacts as part of their original business case submission (eg because they used a fixed demand modelling method).

Upscaling to 2010 price and discount base year

DfT's WebTAG appraisal guidance requires values to be expressed in 2002 prices and discounted to a 2002 base year. To facilitate comparison across government departments during the spending review, DfT values were uplifted to a 2010 price and discount base year by multiplying the adjusted NPV by 1.61.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The adjusted net present value (NPV) methodology was used during spending review 2010 to appraise Highways Agency major schemes, local authority major schemes and Crossrail.

Tables containing details of the calculations made for Highways Agency major schemes and Crossrail have been placed in the House Library.

The NPVs for local authority schemes are available on the internet at the following address: http://www.dft.gov.uk/adobepdf/165237/706167/transportschemesupdate.pdf and associated landscape impacts are available at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/foi-responses/698001/711145/E0007380.zip. This information can also be made available in the House Library. Final funding approval has been granted to two of these schemes: Mansfield Interchange and East of Exeter. A table containing further details of the spending review NPV calculations for these two schemes has been placed in the House Library. Details of the spending review NPV calculations for other local authority major schemes will be published once final decisions on the projects have been made.

Transport: Taxis

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Earl Attlee: The legislation already allows licensed taxi drivers to carry passengers at separate fares in certain circumstances; for example, where the licensing authority has set up a taxi sharing scheme or where the taxi owner has registered a local bus service.



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The Department for Transport's best practice guidance urges taxi licensing authorities to facilitate the provision of these flexible services.

Turkey

Question

Asked by Lord Rea



6 Apr 2011 : Column WA414

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our embassy in Ankara regularly raises the Kurdish issue with the Government of Turkey in wider discussions on human rights. The EU General Affairs Council conclusions of 14 December 2010 called on Turkey to follow up on the democratic opening. This is aimed at facilitating progress on minority rights, including the Kurdish issue.

The Government have not made an assessment of the impact of the discovery of mass graves in Turkey on the resolution of the Kurdish issue. We do, however, support thorough investigations into this matter. We encourage the Turkish authorities and Kurdish community to work together for justice and to use this development to prompt further work on improving Kurdish rights in Turkey.


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