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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 1 April (WA 309), why they cannot reveal the particular category of documents on Abdul Baset al-Megrahi described in the Cabinet Secretary's report; and what are the reasons why the two particular documents referred to cannot be released.[HL8587]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they are supporting a regional approach to political reconciliation in Afghanistan; and what action they are taking to build support for this approach among other members of the International Security Assistance Force.[HL8831]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As a member of the International Contact Group (ICG) we encourage Afghanistan's neighbours and wider regional countries to support the Afghan Government's work towards an inclusive political settlement. The UK will play an active role in the work of the ICG's regional working group in the run-up to the Bonn conference in December 2011.
We also re-iterate the importance of the regional approach through our regular bilateral contact with Afghanistan's neighbours, the wider region, and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners. Pakistan is a particularly important player. The role of the region in supporting an Afghan-led political settlement was a key message during my right honourable friend the Prime Minister's visit to Islamabad in April 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to remove the cap on compensation for injuries incurred by serving members of the military, or to put their compensation on an equal footing with civilians.[HL8994]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 5 May 2011 (Official Report, col. WA163) to the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Manchester.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their involvement in the setting up in Australia of the independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal to consider posthumous eligibility for the Victoria Cross.[HL8615]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 22 March (WA 136), why they have not made any assessment of the decisions by Germany, France and the United States to introduce legislation to control the re-export of arms; and what discussions they have had with officials from those countries on that issue.[HL8616]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): There has been no assessment by the UK of the actual decisions of these countries to adopt re-export control measures, but the UK has actively engaged in discussions with our international partners on the subject of re-export controls in the appropriate international fora. Discussions on arms export controls take place between EU member states in the Council Working Group on Conventional Arms and between participating states in the Wassenaar arrangement. The information we have received from EU partners-including France and Germany-on their re-export controls only serves to confirm the Government's view that there are very real problems with the enforcement of such controls that are common to all states that seek to operate them. These problems stem principally from the fact that breaches of re-export provisions occur outside the legal jurisdiction of the exporting state and the avenues for effective legal remedy are limited or non-existent.
The Government therefore have not considered it necessary to conduct any additional consultations with international partners on this subject and remain convinced that fully examining the risk of diversion of arms before deciding whether or not to grant an export licence, coupled with the negotiation and implementation of a robust and effective arms trade treaty, is the most effective way to address the issue of re-export.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the timescales for consultation with non-governmental organisations, Parliament and the United Kingdom defence industry as part of the review of arms exports.[HL8654]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is leading this internal review in close consultation with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Ministry of Defence. The Government will report back on the review to Parliament, as the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) said to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 16 March 2011. Any decisions arising from the review will be discussed in Parliament once the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has fully considered the findings of the review.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 26 April (WA 8), whether they will publish their proposals for the agenda for the forthcoming P5 conference on 30 June in Paris.[HL8757]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): UK officials are working closely with the French hosts and our other P5 partners to prepare for a successful conference in Paris that both builds on progress made at the 2009 London P5 conference and takes forward the recommendations of the action plan agreed at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May 2010. The detailed proposals for the agenda and the discussions themselves will remain confidential, but we expect the P5 to release a communiqué after their conference.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The UK Border Agency promotes a continuous improvement in the quality of all its asylum decisions through a detailed audit process developed in conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In addition to auditing at least 10 per cent of all first asylum decisions, specific
10 May 2011 : Column WA184
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 1 March (WA 292), whether they have received any further news concerning the welfare of Dr al- Singace following his release from detention and subsequent re-arrest.[HL8657]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We remain concerned at events in Bahrain. Although the immediate situation appears calmer, there continue to be credible reports of human rights abuses.
We urge the Government of Bahrain to meet all their human rights obligations and uphold political freedoms, equal access to justice and the rule of law, including in the case of Dr al-Singace, on whose welfare we have not heard anything further. These obligations do not run contrary to security, but are integral to longer term stability.
We encourage the Bahraini Government and leaders of both communities to show real leadership in promoting tolerance and to demonstrate a shared commitment to the future of Bahrain. Dialogue is the way to fulfil the aspirations of all Bahrainis. We urge all sides, including opposition groupings, to engage.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK has made clear to Governments in the region, including Bahrain, that they need to respond to the legitimate aspirations of peaceful protestors with reform not repression if they
10 May 2011 : Column WA185
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 1 April (WA 309-10), whether senior bank officials at the Bank of Scotland (Ireland) operate in the United Kingdom without vetting by a British authority. [HL8821]
As part of the approvals process, the Financial Services Authority assesses the fitness and propriety of senior management exercising significant influence within the firms it regulates. In the case of subsidiaries, it is the responsibility of the home state regulator (in this case Ireland) to ensure the firm's senior management is fit and proper, in line with directive requirements.
Earl Attlee: Cycling on the pavement is not permitted. It is an offence under Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835 and this is set out clearly in the section relating to cyclists in the Highway Code. In this case "pavement" refers to the footway, which is the path with right of way for pedestrians running alongside the road. The road and the footway together comprise the highway.
A footpath does not run alongside a road and is a highway in its own right. A footpath is a public right of way for pedestrians and cyclists do not have any right to ride on one. However, there is no specific offence relating to this. Local highway authorities can enact a traffic order or by-law should they wish to make cycling on a particular footpath an offence.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Decisions on the provision of accommodation for victims of domestic abuse are a local matter and it is the responsibility of the individual local authority to identify any gaps in service provision and put in place appropriate solutions to address this. We would expect local authorities to build services based on the needs of their communities, taking account of locally available data sources.
There is a range of support for victims of domestic violence. Some victims will be accommodated in refuges, but sanctuary schemes and mainstream local authority accommodation may be an option for others, while some victims will pursue independent solutions with help and advice from support schemes as necessary.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the report by Professor Alex Kemp of Aberdeen University, what is their assessment of the impact on employment and domestic production of oil and gas of the increase in tax on North Sea operators. [HL8907]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): We do not expect a significant impact on investment and therefore on production and jobs as a result of this measure.
Professor Kemp's analysis suggests that at a high oil price, and using the hurdle rate most commonly reported to us by companies, the long-term impact would be about 2 per cent of projects-the price of oil is a much more significant determinant. This analysis does not take into account any potential changes to the field allowance, which would support investment.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The EU Budget is set in euros, but the UK makes its monthly contributions in sterling. The process by which member states' contributions to the annual EU Budget are determined is detailed in technical annexe 1 to the annual European Union finances
10 May 2011 : Column WA187
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Neville-Jones on 26 April (HL8207), how many measures were adopted before 1 December 2009 under the Police and Criminal Judicial Co-operation legal base (Title VI) of the Treaty on the European Union; and what was the subject of each such measure.[HL8673]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: There are between 80 to 90 Acts currently in force that were adopted before 1 December 2009 under the Police and Criminal Judicial Co-operation chapter (Title VI) of the Treaty on the European Union. Article 10(4) of the Protocol on Transitional Provisions (Protocol 36) to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union applies to these Acts. This list is subject to change, as Acts that are repealed and replaced or amended by new instruments cease to fall within the scope of Protocol 36. Officials will be liaising with the European institutions to establish a definitive list. In accordance with the Minister for Europe's WMS on 20 January 2011, Parliament will be kept informed of developments.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether steps have been taken to ensure that it would be possible to publish the report commissioned by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) under Section 166 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 into the Prudential's failed takeover of AIA if the FSA or HM Treasury wished.[HL8737]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Reports commissioned under Section 166 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) are a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which is independent from government. If the FSA requires a firm to commission such a report, its contents would be protected by the statutory confidentiality provisions in FSMA.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will introduce legislation to secure macroprudential regulation; and what steps are being taken in advance of this legislation to avoid the risk of asset bubbles. [HL8739]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government will shortly publish draft legislation for pre-legislative scrutiny, setting out their planned reforms to financial regulation. These include the creation of the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) within the Bank of England, which will be responsible for macroprudential regulation. In February 2011, the Bank of England's Court of Directors established the interim FPC, which includes four external members appointed by the Chancellor. The interim FPC will undertake, as far as possible, the statutory FPC's macroprudential role in the period before the legislation comes into force.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): In the financial year 2010-11 the Government provided £37,500 to the charity Karma Nirvana, which supports victims of forced marriage and honour-based abuse by means of its Honour Network Helpline.
Karma Nirvana has applied for funding for the three years to March 2014. The grant process has yet to be completed, but I can confirm that the organisation has been offered funding for the helpline for that period.
Earl Attlee: Sponsors can withdraw their sponsorship of a spouse visa at any stage in the process. Sponsors who are victims of a forced marriage can get further
10 May 2011 : Column WA189
The FMU was established in 2005. The role of the unit is to provide support and information to victims of forced marriage and to those at risk of being forced into marriage. The FMU works closely with the UK Border Agency to ensure, where possible, that foreign nationals are not granted entry to the UK on the basis of a forced marriage.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Counter fraud champions (CFCs) have been appointed to co-ordinate departmental efforts against fraud. This system of cross-learning is in the initial stages and working effectively. There are no plans to publish the list of counter fraud champions appointed in each government department.
The National Fraud Authority (NFA) is supporting the work of CFCs and has held events for CFCs to share good practice in tackling fraud as well as to listen to presentations from suppliers of counter fraud solutions. The NFA would be pleased to field any issues or requests on behalf of the counter fraud champions to ensure efficient communication across government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the specific responsibilities of each individual minister for aspects of the big society; and which Ministers are responsible for the co-ordination and delivery of the programme as a whole.[HL8840]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The big society is more than a government programme or collection of policies, and it goes beyond a single government department-it is an approach which is at the heart of the Government's reforms across all policy areas. Cabinet Office, like other government departments, has a range of specific programmes which will contribute to growing the big society. These programmes are aimed at achieving the big society's central goals of catalysing social action, decentralising power and opening up public services, and Ministers at the Cabinet Office are committed to the success of these programmes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 27 April (WA 131), why they do not compile centrally information of how many service men and women lost a limb or limbs, or were left with another long-term illness or disability, arising from service in the first Gulf War; and whether they will now do so.[HL8779]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): While detailed information on individuals who lost a limb or limbs, or were left with another long-term illness or disability, is held in personal and medical records, data on where such injuries were sustained are not held centrally, because no requirement to do so was recognised at the time. There are currently no plans to conduct a retrospective exercise to extrapolate this information.
The Defence Analytical Services and Advice organisation now publishes statistics on personnel who have suffered amputations relating to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but only holds data from April 2006 onwards.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The last national firearms amnesty took place between 31 March 2003 and 30 April 2003. A total of 43,908 guns and 1,039,358 rounds of ammunition were handed in. Between 16 April and 4 June 2010, a targeted national amnesty for Olympic .380 BBM blank-firing revolvers took place to address the threat posed by the conversion and criminal use of this firearm.
Local gun amnesties have also taken place. The Government believe that individual police forces, local authorities and other partners are best placed to assess the impact an amnesty could have in their locality and to decide whether or not an amnesty would be an appropriate response in their area.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The review of children's heart surgery units, the Safe and Sustainable review, is being conducted by the NHS Specialised Commissioning Team. We have however been following its progress.
The service standards developed by the Safe and Sustainable Steering Group, against which current services have been assessed and are proposed as designation standards for future services, include 30 standards (out of a total of 156) relating to the co-location of other paediatric services and a further two on services for adolescents. Eight criteria were used to score current centres for the assessment and these include one on interdependent services (or co-location). This criterion was ranked four and carried a maximum score of 70 out of 685. This process is set out in the pre-consultation business case, pages 50 to 56. The scoring of centres fed into a wider evaluation of the options for future services.
The criteria against which the options for future services were evaluated included the consideration that "the negative impact for the provision of paediatric intensive care and other interdependent services is kept to a minimum". This was part of the deliverability criterion, which was weighted 22 out of 100. This is set out in the pre-consultation business case on page 65 and is available at: www.specialisedservices.nhs.uk/library/ 30/Safe_and_Sustainable_Review_of_Childrens_ Congenital_Cardiac_Services_in_England_Pre_ Consultation_Business_Case_l.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the interests of personalisation and patient choice and in the light of the experience in Nottinghamshire, they will provide guidance in relation to referrals for physiotherapy.[HL8762]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): It is for local National Health Service organisations to decide how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health and to commission services accordingly. People can give their views on patient choice to the NHS Future Forum at: http://healthandcare.dh.gov.uk/listening-exercise-how-to-get-involved/.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Any student entitled to grant or loan support from BIS, administered by SLC, will receive the appropriate level of financial support. It will not be known until
10 May 2011 : Column WA192
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to restrict the number of students entering universities in the light of a predicted shortfall of funds available to the Student Loans Company. [HL8639]
Lord Henley: We do not expect there to be a need to restrict student number allocations in 2012-13. The costs to government will depend on student borrowing behaviour and the average fee loan once waivers and bursaries have been taken into account. We do not yet have robust information on either of those things. At this stage, we see no reason to revise our spending review assumptions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to publish the report commissioned in 2010 by the Department for Communities and Local Government from the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York, about effective practice and the implementation of "Lifetime Neighbourhoods". [HL8674]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): I can confirm that we expect to be able to publish the Lifetime Neighbourhoods report in June. The report will offer a range of practice examples to prompt thinking about developing Lifetime Neighbourhoods and can be used as a reference by individuals, communities, planners, and local practitioners.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many individuals are currently held in immigration detention; from which countries they arrived; and what was (a) the cost, and (b) the average length of detention, for each of the past three years for which figures are available.[HL8829]
However the latest published figures show that as at 31 December 2010 2,525 people were detained in immigration removal centres solely under Immigration Act powers. It is not possible to say which countries they arrived from. The average direct cost of holding someone in an immigration removal centre for 2010-11 was £105 per day.
Rather than calculate the average statistic for time spent in detention, the Home Office presents the data as ranges because this is a more informative overview and is not subject to distortions by a small number of cases with large values. The table below shows the length of detention of persons detained solely under Immigration Act powers at immigration removal centres as at the last snapshot date in each of the past three years.
|Persons in detention in the United Kingdom solely under Immigration Act powers, by length of detention (1)(2)|
|Length of detention (3)(4)|
|As at 27 December 2008||As at 31 December 2009||As at 31 December 2010|
The Home Office publishes statistics on detention, solely under Immigration Act powers on a quarterly and annual basis, which are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Science, Research and Statistics website at: http://homeoffice. gov.uk/science-research/research-statistics.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the security situation in Iraq and the ability of Iraqi forces to operate following the planned United States troop withdrawal.[HL8682]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The US combat mission in Iraq ended in August 2010. The Government of Iraq now lead in maintaining security throughout
10 May 2011 : Column WA194
More widely, the security situation in Iraq has been transformed since 2006-07. Nationally, reported daily incidents-defined as the attempted use of deadly force in attacks against civilians or the military-have declined significantly since 2005. People then spoke about the possibility of civil war. They do not do so now. This is despite attempts by extremists to provoke sectarian violence by targeting civilians specifically belonging to a religious community.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of religious freedoms and sectarian violence in Iraq; and what discussion they have had with the Government of Iraq regarding the protection of religious minorities.[HL8683]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The rights and freedoms of minorities are guaranteed under the Iraqi constitution. However, I remain concerned about the number of attacks against religious minorities in Iraq. In the past six months my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) have all urged the Government of Iraq to protect the rights of all Iraqi citizens, including minority groups targeted in attacks.
Lord Howell of Guildford: We have read Amnesty International's report with interest and share concerns on many of the issues raised. Our embassy officials in Baghdad maintain a regular dialogue with the Government of Iraq on human rights issues, and will continue to raise issues of concern when appropriate to do so.
In February, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) issued a statement condemning heavy handed tactics employed by the Iraqi Security Forces at a provincial demonstration in southern Iraq. Our consul general in Erbil has also raised concerns about the handling of demonstrations with the Kurdistan regional government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Government of Ireland regarding the alleged cleansing and murder of 60,000 British citizens in the 1920s in Cork and West Cork.[HL8701]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The events of this period are now a matter for history and for debate between historians. We do not see any grounds for raising this issue with the present Irish Government.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Israeli Government and the quartet representative announced a package of confidence-building measures in February 2011 that included an Israeli agreement to fast-track plans for construction of schools and health clinics in Area C. Implementation is now key. We also want to see this agreement extended to allow new housing in Area C to accommodate the growth of the Palestinian population.
As the noble Baroness is aware, we are concerned at the level of demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem and Area C and continue to lobby hard on these issues. We view any attempts to change facts on the ground as a serious provocation likely to raise tensions, cause unnecessary suffering and damage the peace process.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): While we have not sought a UN-mandated exclusion zone as such, on 15 April my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, together with President Obama and President Sarkozy, called for a genuine end to violence and for the Gaddafi regime to pull back its forces from the cities they are
10 May 2011 : Column WA196
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they, with other European Governments and the European Union collectively, are taking to protect bona fide Libyan students in Europe, and to ensure the continuity of their studies.[HL8708]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have been careful to implement the UN sanctions regime so as to minimise any adverse effects on Libyan students in the UK. Where necessary, HM Treasury has issued licences allowing the release of frozen funds to meet Libyan students' educational and maintenance expenses in the UK. We are also working with the universities and the Libyan People's Bureau in London to ensure that Libyan students continue to receive funding. We are dealing with this as a bilateral issue; there are no plans to address it collectively on an EU-wide basis.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much public funding is made available to the national bodies representing local government; and whether any restrictions on lobbying are imposed as a result of such funding.[HL8766]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The department provides funding to the Local Government Group for the delivery of improvement services to all local authorities by top-slicing revenue support grant. The Local Government Finance Settlement for 2011-12 and draft settlement for 2012-13 set out that, in those years respectively, £32.5 million and £29.25 million would be paid to the Improvement and Development Agency (part of the Local Government Group, and trading as Local Government Improvement and Development) through top-slice. The Local Government Group has published a prospectus setting out the improvement services to be provided with this resource and the outcomes to be delivered. This is available online at: http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/aio/14340861.
The department also provides funding for the Planning Advisory Service through Local Government Improvement and Development; £3 million will be paid in 2011-12 and £2.65 million in 2012-13. Other government departments may also provide funding to the Local Government Group from time to time to tackle specific improvement needs.
These resources are separate from the Local Government Association's activities on behalf of its members, which are funded from other income, including subscriptions. In this context, it would be inappropriate for central government funds to be used to lobby the Government.
Earl Attlee: Any decision to extend the London Underground network would be for the Mayor and Transport for London, who would also be responsible for identifying any funding needed if such a scheme were to go ahead.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Following the strategic defence and security review and the comprehensive spending review, we are currently considering a range of options that will determine the future requirement for the civil policing services provided by the Ministry of Defence Police on the defence estate. No final decisions have yet been made and it is therefore inappropriate to comment further at this stage.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): A range of measures to determine the future requirement for guarding at defence establishments is currently under consideration. No final decisions have yet been taken and it is not appropriate to comment further at this stage. However, we will continue to safeguard defence sites, people, assets and information and will never take any measures that place these at undue risk.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people have applied for asylum in the United Kingdom in the past 10 years; from which 25 countries the most applications have been received; and how many such nationals from each have applied. [HL8893]
Further information on asylum is available from the control of immigration publications available in the Library of the House and the Home Office science website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/ research-statistics.
|Applications(1) received for asylum in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, by the top 25 countries of nationality between 2001 and 2010|
|Number of principal applicants|
|Country of nationality||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009(P)||2010(P)||Total 2001-2010(P)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, when publishing the discussion paper on organophosphates poisoning by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, they will also publish the list of scientific literature reviewed by the committee.[HL8960]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): A complete list of scientific literature reviewed for the discussion paper on organophosphates for consideration by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment will be published.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the British Council about the possibility of developing education and cultural programmes in Panama; and what was the outcome. [HL8730]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is involved in discussions with the British Council at a strategic level about their priorities overseas, including in Latin America. Any announcements about the British Council's future programmes overseas will be made once those discussions are completed later this year.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK regularly hosts official visits by Heads of State and Government from other countries, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently considering the options for such visits over the next twelve months. All decisions will be announced at the appropriate time.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague)'s Canning House lecture of November 2010 set the terms of the Government's ambition to renew and revitalise the UK's relationships with Latin America. Panama is an important part of that ambition. For example, we recognise Panama's emergence as a Latin American trade and logistics hub where there are significant opportunities for UK companies. In the past six months both the Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), and the trade adviser to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, the noble Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, have visited Panama. This demonstrates the priority we accord our relationships with Panama across a wide range of issues, including trade, crime and regional issues such as drugs trafficking. In addition,
10 May 2011 : Column WA201
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 6 April (WA 404), what were the total employee and employer contributions in the past three years for the civil service pension scheme, distinguishing, where possible, accruing superannuation liability contributions from employer contributions.[HL8895]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Employers' and employees' contributions are shown in note 9, pension contributions receivable, in the Resource Accounts for Cabinet Office: Civil Superannuation for 2007-08 to 2009-10. The employer contributions shown in note 9 are all accruing superannuation liability charges.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government's decision follows a rigorous procurement process. A competitive tender was launched in December 2010 and included an open dialogue with six interested organisations. A detailed specification, informed by the dialogue stage of the process, was published in March. Six organisations, including Eaves Housing, which runs the Poppy Project, submitted bids.
All unsuccessful bidders received detailed feedback explaining the panel's decision and were given the opportunity to attend debrief sessions. The debrief information is commercially confidential to the unsuccessful bidders.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 6 April 2011, the Portuguese caretaker Prime Minister gave a televised speech stating Portugal was seeking international financial assistance, and made a formal request to her international partners. The request was discussed on 8 April at the informal ECOFIN, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Financial Secretary to the Treasury attended.
Baroness Garden of Frognal: The public sector funding package available for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is £9,298 million. This is used mostly to fund the Olympic Delivery Authority's construction programme, and to ensure the safety and security of the Games. It includes funding to convert venues and infrastructure to legacy use after the Games. Although the majority of this expenditure is on the Olympic park in east London, suppliers are based throughout the UK. The funding package also includes £290 million held and distributed by the home country sports councils between 2004-05 and 2008-09 to provide for elite and community sport and for training facilities.
The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is a national programme and, with the exception of the £290 million from the home country sports councils, expenditure is not broken down on a country or regional basis. To end March 2011 expenditure by year (excluding the £290 million funding from the home country sports councils) was as follows:
|Financial Year||Expenditure from the Public Sector Funding Package (£ million)|
|Country||Elite Sport Support (£ million)||Sports Training Facilities Support (£ million)||Community Sport Support (£ million)||Total (£ million)|
The purpose of the lottery contribution from the home country sports councils to the Olympic budget was to maximise the benefit to British sport of hosting the 2012 Games. It was not new money but a commitment from the sports councils from within their existing lottery allocation to spend the money on continuing support for elite athletes and coaches, facilities for elite and community use, and community programmes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 6 April (WA 405), whether they have made any inquiry of the train operating companies about the value of compensation vouchers that are not cashed. [HL8811]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord De Mauley on 26 April (WA 93), what is the estimated cost of the modifications needed for the line between Newport and the Severn tunnel to be fully compliant with electrification immunity requirements.[HL8813]
Earl Attlee: The immunisation costs are currently being developed by Network Rail and we expect an estimate at the end of the GRIP3 stage of development work, which is now under way. Costs are not expected to be significant, as the new signalling in the Newport area was immunised for electrification.
|Casualties killed and injured in reported personal injury road accidents in London, 2000-09|
The British embassy in Rome stopped producing passports in June 2009 as part of the passport rationalisation programme. All applications from Italy are now processed in the Regional Passport Processing Centre in Paris.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the revenue accruing to the Scottish Government from the devolution of taxation powers under the Scotland Bill will be deducted from the total grant allocated to Scotland on an annual basis by HM Treasury. [HL8858]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Scottish block grant will be adjusted to take account of the revenues accumulated by the Scottish Government. The precise mechanism for adjusting the block grant will be determined in consultation with the Scottish Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 28 March (WA 230), whether they have received any further news concerning Prageeth Ekneligoda; and which are the civil society organisations with whom they have held discussions.[HL8658]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Unfortunately there is no further news on the whereabouts and welfare of missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda. Our high commissioner raised media freedom with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in March and we continue to engage with a wide range of civil society organisations to discuss concerns on human rights. In our 2010 Human Rights and Democracy Report (www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/human-rights/around-the-world/human-rights-report) Sri Lanka is listed as a country of concern. The report highlights areas of progress, as well as challenges that remain.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to ensure that a United Nations peacekeeping mission continues in south Sudan after independence in July; and what major objectives they will recommend.[HL8828]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We supported the technical extension of the UN mission in Sudan mandate from 30 April to 9 July 2011. The UN is now planning for a future peacekeeping mission, in consultation with the Sudanese. We will work with partners to ensure any such mission supports peace and stability in south Sudan.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 6 April (WA 408) concerning second-hand tobacco smoke, what funding they propose to use in this financial year to promote smoke-free homes and cars.[HL8771]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In mid-2011, the department will publish a new marketing strategy for tobacco control, which will set out further plans to encourage people to recognise the risks of second-hand smoke and to make their homes and private cars smoke-free. While the detail of these plans is not yet available, the work will be funded through the department's public health communications budgets.
Earl Attlee: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) is continuing to improve how it deploys resources. With improved targeting and use of intelligence we do not expect any reduction in the effective enforcement for the heavy goods and passenger carrying industries. There has been a minor reduction in the budget provided by the Department for Transport to VOSA in 2011-12 for goods and passenger operator enforcement, down from £19 million to £18.7 million. In addition to this budget provided by the Department for Transport, VOSA receives additional funding for enforcement through test fees that is in the order of £19 million.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether an impact assessment, or any other analytical work, was undertaken of the recent change in emphasis from enforcement to education regarding traffic commissioners' work with heavy goods vehicle and passenger carrying vehicle operators; what were the results of any work undertaken; and what are the expected effects of this change in emphasis.[HL8787]
Earl Attlee: There have been no significant changes in the way in which traffic commissioners fulfil their regulatory role. Enforcement and the role that education has within encouraging compliance remain core functions of the Vehicle Operator and Services Agency (VOSA). The aim of VOSA and the traffic commissioners in taking a more educative approach is to improve the compliance of the industry through improved understanding. No impact assessment has been conducted to date by the traffic commissioners.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The current Government in the Turks and Caicos Islands have taken a number of steps to stimulate economic activity including the introduction of a progressive system of stamp duties on property purchases; significantly reducing rates for all but the most expensive properties; simplifying the highly complex system of customs duties, and in so doing reducing some significant burdens to the benefit of many businesses and of social welfare; approving the investment of $70 million on an expanded international airport to ensure it remains compliant with international standards and to increase airlift; generating interest from external investors seeking to develop internationally recognised hotels; and introducing a support package and reforms to stimulate and support local agriculture and fishing.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Following the introduction of three additional airlines flying from the US and Canada into Providenciales (WestJet, JetBlue and Continental), the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board is now looking at other markets. These include Europe, South America and the Caribbean, where a significant growth in two-centre holidays is anticipated. The board is confident that the 2010-11 growth in tourist numbers will be maintained and enhanced.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration has been given to the appointment of a politician or a businessman as governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands on the replacement of the current governor in August.[HL8612]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Prior to confirmation of appointment, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not comment on the recruitment of individual officers to specific posts. The next governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands will be announced in due course.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Department for International Development Written Ministerial Statement of 9 December
10 May 2011 : Column WA208
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Protecting vulnerable women and children is a priority for this Government. It is essential that we continue to take a strong lead on this issue, demonstrating nationally the priority it merits locally.
In challenging times we are freeing local authorities to focus on essential front-line services, and to invest in early intervention and prevention in order to produce long-term savings and better results for those who are most vulnerable. This work includes:the early intervention grant, which provides funding for early intervention and preventive services for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in society, will be un-ring-fenced and worth more than £2.2 billion per annum;commitments made as part of the government action plan supporting our strategy to end violence against women and girls, which includes providing over £28 million of stable Home Office funding for specialist services to support victims of domestic and sexual abuse and piloting new domestic violence protection notices (DVPNs) and orders (DVPOs), which will provide new powers for the police, allowing them to step in and protect the victim when they are at their most vulnerable;secured investment of £6.5 billion for the Supporting People programme over the next four years under which approximately 1 million vulnerable people are supported at any one time; and a review by the Department of Health of the legal framework for the provision of services to people who need social care services, through its work with the Law Commission; this includes clarifying the local authority duty to safeguard vulnerable adults.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Sojourner project was set up to support applicants who apply for settlement under Rule 289A of the Immigration Rules on victims of domestic violence. The provisions of Rule 289A apply only to those who were admitted or given an extension of stay in the UK as the spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner of a person present and settled in the UK.
Persons who are in the UK as the partner of a person present and settled have entered the UK with a view to settlement. Their ability to continue their route to settlement depends solely on the continuation of their relationship with that person. If that relationship becomes abusive, the applicant may be pressured to remain in that relationship as a result of their immigration status. It is for this reason that applicants who are in the UK on the basis of a relationship are offered an alternative route to settlement if they are a victim of domestic violence.
Persons who are in the UK on other routes are not relying directly on their relationship for their immigration status, and have not entered the UK with a specific view to settlement. Therefore it would not be appropriate to grant settlement under the domestic violence rule in these cases. However, it is open to such individuals to make an application for settlement outside the rules.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why students from outside the European Economic Area changing their sponsor college can commence studies at a new college before receipt of the UK Border Agency's decision on their application for permission to study with a different sponsor; at what point their passport visas are adjusted; and how many such changes were made in the last six months.[HL8990]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Students who applied for entry clearance or leave to remain under tier 4 on or after 5 October 2009 are subject to a condition tying them to their sponsoring education institution. Students subject to this condition who wish to change institution are required to make an application to the UK Border Agency to vary the condition of their leave; that is, to allow them to study at another sponsor.
Since 23 July 2010, students who wish to move to a new tier 4 sponsor have been permitted to commence study at the new sponsor institution when it has highly trusted sponsor status and where the student has submitted an application to the UK Border Agency to vary their leave, before they have received a decision on their application. This amendment means that a student can commence study promptly at the highly trusted sponsor institution without breaching the condition of their leave, should the course commence before they have received a decision on their application.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the research on central government funding of the voluntary and community sector commissioned by the Cabinet Office for the years 2006-07 and 2007-08.[HL8670]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Cabinet Office is currently in the process of finalising Estimates of Central Government Expenditure on Third Sector Organisations, 2006-07 to 2007-08 and will publish this shortly.
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