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12 May 2011 : Column WA225



12 May 2011 : Column WA225

Written Answers

Thursday 12 May 2011

Alcohol

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Data showing how many people have been cautioned, prosecuted and convicted for selling alcohol to those who are under the legal age each year since 2000 is provided in the table which will be placed in the House Libraries. The data for the persistent sales offence came into effect in 2008.

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Negotiations on the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement were concluded in November last year. The Government will consider their position on signature and ratification of the agreement following the publication later this year of the European Commission's proposals. We expect that this process will include a period of national parliamentary scrutiny.

Anti-social Behaviour: Databases

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The eight police forces were selected by a panel which included Home Office officials and representatives from the Association of Chief Police Officers, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group. The participants-including South Wales Police-were selected on the basis of a range of considerations, such as evidence of local partners' support for the work and commitment to providing a better service to repeat and vulnerable

12 May 2011 : Column WA226

victims of anti-social behaviour, as well as the need to ensure the trials covered a mixture of rural, semi-rural and urban force areas.

Apprenticeships

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): We believe that apprentices should have something to aspire to and be awarded recognition for their work, to create a sense of pride in modern crafts and occupations. We are keen that professional bodies and guilds are involved in developing a professional apprenticeship route and discussions with sector skills councils and the UK Commission for Employment in Skills about how this can be achieved are ongoing. We have had some preliminary discussions with a small number of professional bodies, but because of the number and diversity of professional institutions and associations we cannot engage with all of these organisations individually.

In addition we support the Technicians Council, founded by Lord David Sainsbury, which continues to provide a strong advocacy for apprenticeships for the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) community and enables a wide range of professional associations and learned societies to explore the opportunities offered by the apprenticeship programme.

This Government also recently launched the prospectus for a new growth and innovation fund (GIF), inviting proposals from employers, including professional bodies, to address skills issues in their sectors. As part of the GIF, we are encouraging proposals that position apprenticeships at the centre of enhanced professional or occupational standards.

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

Baroness Wilcox: The Government do not set specific objectives for the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education publish online their commitments for the apprenticeships programme in their business plans. The National Apprenticeship Service is held to account through quarterly review meetings with senior officials and a separate quarterly

12 May 2011 : Column WA227

review meeting with the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning. These discussions address progress and expenditure against the priorities for the service that are set out in the annual skills investment strategy and the annual funding letter from the Secretary of State to the Skills Funding Agency.

Armed Forces: Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has no plans to provide a funded, elective fertility preservation service for service personnel prior to operational deployment. Procedures to preserve sexual and reproductive function have been developed and are available for the relatively small number of injured service personnel who require them on return from operations. Specifically, when deemed appropriate, access to NHS-funded sperm harvesting and storage is offered and this process will continue to be funded by the MoD. However, it is important that service personnel also have access to sound impartial advice about the options open to them prior to an operational deployment, and guidance has recently been issued to commanding officers to this effect.

All deployed personnel are provided with the clothing and equipment needed to undertake operational tasking. In 2010, a new, multi-tiered pelvic protection system entered service, which helps to mitigate the effects of improvised explosive device blasts. This clothing and armour consists of three tiers, including special protective underwear and detachable armoured groin protection and trousers.

Armed Forces: Homecoming

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There have been no discussions between Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers and the Government of the Republic of Ireland regarding a homecoming march by the Royal Irish Rangers on their return from Afghanistan. The issue of a homecoming march was discussed in the other place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on 27 April 2011 (Official Report, Commons, col. 174 to 175).



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Bahrain

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Saudi Arabia is an important partner for the UK in the Middle East and our relationship encompasses vital work on counterterrorism, regional security, including the situation in Yemen, energy security, trade, defence and education.

We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and we have made our views well known, including through the universal periodic review process and in discussions with the Saudi Government. Our embassy regularly raises our concerns, including the death penalty. Our concerns are also set out clearly in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office human rights report each year. In 2010 we worked both bilaterally and with the EU in four priority areas: women's rights; the death penalty; rights of foreign workers; and judicial reform. The UK funded a number of projects in 2010 including training to female entrepreneurs.

We are also concerned about the situation in Bahrain, and are deeply concerned at reports of ongoing human rights abuses there.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and the Saudi Foreign Minister met in London on 22 March and had a constructive discussion on Bahrain. The Foreign Secretary and Prince Saud agreed that the Gulf Co-operation Council forces, who are in Bahrain at the legitimate invitation of the Bahraini Government, should work to create the right conditions for a successful dialogue. We have seen no evidence that GCC forces in Bahrain have done anything other than safeguard installations.

We will continue to make our concerns known to the Bahraini Government, working closely with international partners. We will keep the situation under constant review.

Banking: Royal Bank of Scotland

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Her Majesty's Government are not aware of any details related to any superinjunction granted to Sir Fred Goodwin, including whether any such superinjunction relates to events during his term as chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Banks: Regulation

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority (FSA) supervises and regulates Irish-owned banks incorporated in the UK in the same way as any other UK bank. These banks are required to comply with FSA rules including capital, liquidity, complaints and requirements to participate in the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Under European law, banks incorporated in Ireland have the right to passport into the UK and provide financial services and products to UK customers. These banks are authorised by the Irish Financial Regulator. For the UK business of these branches, the FSA has responsibility for the supervision of conduct of business, money laundering, financial crime and branch liquidity.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): This Government recognise that too many people are on benefits as a result of drug and alcohol addiction, often for many years having been failed by the system. As a consequence, they are determined to take tough action to address this issue.

People in receipt of benefits as a result of a drug or alcohol dependency will be expected to work where they can, while those unable to work will be offered every support to overcome their dependency. The Government are currently in the process of reassessing all incapacity benefit claims in order to identify claimants who have the potential to return to work and offer them the necessary support to do so.

The department does not routinely record the information requested in this parliamentary Question on its systems. It did however commission a one-off research report in 2008 to look at precisely this issue in respect of opiate or crack cocaine dependency, and a similar research report in 2010 in respect of alcohol dependency. These reports are publicly available on

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the Department for Work and Pensions website, and the relevant figures have been reproduced in table 1 below.

It should be noted that drug dependency does not of itself confer entitlement to disability benefits. In the case of incapacity benefit and employment support allowance, this is determined by a person's capability or capacity for employment. For disability living allowance entitlement relies on the care and/or mobility needs arising from a particular condition. Where individuals with a substance dependency are in receipt of such benefits it will be because they have other diagnoses, for example mental illness.

The department does routinely record the numbers of people in receipt of disability benefits who record drug abuse or alcoholism as their main disabling condition. This information is presented in table 2. These figures represent a subset of all claimants with a drug or alcohol dependency, as not all such claimants will have declared this as their main condition.

Table 1: Estimated number of working age claimants who are opiate (eg heroin) or crack cocaine users or dependent drinkers by benefit type in England
BenefitNumber of opiate or crack cocaine users in 2006Number of dependent drinkers in 2008

Incapacity Benefit

87,000

99,200

Disability Living Allowance

25,000

29,400

Table 2. Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance (IB/SDA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) recipients with Alcoholism and Drug Abuse recorded as the main condition-August 2010
BenefitTotal number with Alcoholism and Drug AbuseNumber with AlcoholismNumber with Drug Abuse

DLA

23,000

n/a

n/a

IB/SDA

n/a

42,360

37,480

ESA

n/a

14,700

9,870



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Birds of Prey

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The most recent estimate of the breeding population of kestrels in the UK is 36,800 pairs in 2000. This was derived from the results of the 1989-92 British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) atlas of breeding birds, updated using information on annual population trends as recorded by the BTO/RSPB/Joint Nature Conservation Committee breeding bird survey. The results of the 2007-11 breeding atlas, expected to be published in spring 2013, will provide a contemporary assessment of the status of the kestrel population in the UK.

Care Homes

Questions

Asked by Lord Warner

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): This Government recognise how upsetting it can be for people to have to move from a care home that they see as their true home. It is important for people who need care and support to be accommodated in appropriate settings, and it is clearly not desirable if someone is forced to move from a care home where they are happy and settled and their needs are being met.



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No assessment of the implications of older people required to leave a care home has been carried out by government. This is because the responsibility for providing or arranging residential care rests with local authorities, not central government. Local authorities have a duty to protect the interests of the people they are responsible for in care homes. In addition, the regulator-the Care Quality Commission (CQC)-has a role in ensuring care is meeting the necessary standards and that quality is maintained. If a person were evicted from a care home-for any reason-we would expect the local authority, CQC and the person's family to collaborate to ensure that the person was placed in a suitable setting at minimal disruption.

It is unlawful for a public body to breach any person's human rights. The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. Under Article 9 of the Convention, everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Under the Health and Social Care Act 2008, "public body" includes any provider that supplies accommodation together with nursing or personal care on behalf of a local authority.

The Human Rights Act 1998 does not give residents a guarantee they can remain in a care home for life. The details of the contract, including the arrangements for ending the contract, are a matter for negotiation between the care home and the person or organisation commissioning the care.

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a person on the grounds of religion or belief in the provision of its services (including the termination of the provision of the service).

Information on older people evicted from care homes is not collected centrally.

Care Services: Day Centres

Question

Asked by Baroness Turner of Camden

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The responsibility for addressing the social care needs of their local community rests with local authorities.

The Government recognise the importance of social care services and have taken steps to ensure that local authorities have sufficient funds to provide them. In recognition of the pressures on the social care system in a challenging fiscal climate, we have allocated an additional £2 billion by 2014-15 to support the delivery of social care. With an ambitious programme of efficiency, there will be enough funding available both to protect people's access to services and deliver new approaches to improve quality and outcomes.

A Vision for Adult Social Care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens, published on 16 November 2010 and a copy of which has already been placed in the

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Library, includes examples of how councils, working in partnership with local organisations and people, can develop alternative high-quality care and support services that are also innovative and efficient.

Having a personal budget can give people greater choice and control over their care and can open up many more opportunities than attendance at a day centre.

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 May 2011.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) I have been asked to reply to your recent Question asking: further to the Written Answers by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 6 April (WA384-5) and 23 March (WA174), (i) why the Polish population in Scotland and England of 1.1 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively was not considered sufficiently large to justify a separate tick-box category in England's census form, (ii) what is the estimated proportion of the Gypsy and Irish Traveller population in the United Kingdom; and (iii) what particular efforts were made to enumerate such nomadic peoples. (HL8922)

(i) The questions and response categories in the 2011 census take account of an extensive programme of user consultation, question research, testing and development. There were many more demands for additional tick-boxes than could possibly be accommodated on the space available on the census questionnaire. Although the ethnic group question for the 2011 census was allocated more space than that for the 2001 census, there was not enough to enable tick-boxes to be provided for all the groups present in significant numbers in the UK. With space for only two new tick boxes, a set of principles was developed by which requirements for new tick-box categories for ethnic groups could be assessed and prioritised. These covered:

strength of need for information;lack of alternative sources of information;clarity and quality of the information collected and acceptability to respondents; andcomparability with the 2001 census data.

Polish scored well in the prioritisation exercise but not as well as the two new ethnic group categories that have been included. However people who want to

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record their ethnic group as Polish will be able to do so via the write-in option. They will also be able to record their national identity as Polish via the write-in option in the national identity question. Statistics from the 2011 census will include analysis of written-in responses, so all those who record themselves as Polish will be counted as being so in the resultant statistics.

Information about the prioritisation method is published on the census website in an information paper Deciding which tick boxes to add to the ethnic group question in the 2011 England and Wales Census. To coincide with the laying of the census order before Parliament in October 2009, additional material covering the questions to be asked in the 2011 Census was placed on the census website: http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/2011-census/2011-census-questionnaire-content/question-and-content-recommendations-for-2011/index.html.

(ii) It is too early for the census to indicate yet what the estimated population of Gypsies and Irish Travellers is. I understand that the Department for Communities and Local Government do have some estimates.

(iii) Special arrangements were made to enumerate Gypsies, Travellers and people in travelling fairs. In developing the plans to do so ONS worked closely with local authority Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officers, as well as with Gypsy and Traveller community groups. The enumeration of these groups seems to have gone well although we are not yet in a position to report on the numbers involved.

Children: Obesity

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We will be publishing a document on obesity before the summer that will set out how obesity will be tackled in the new public health and National Health Service systems, and the role of key partners.

We want people to know that they can change their own and their families' lifestyle and in doing so they can make a difference to their health. What the Government can do is give the public clear, consistent messages on why they should change their lifestyle, and how to do so; and put in place ways to make this easier. However, we cannot tackle obesity alone: it is an issue for society as a whole. We all have a role to play.

Cornwall: EU Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Laird



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): For the period 2007-13, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has been allocated €458 million from the European Regional Development Fund and €196 million from the European Social Fund. Expenditure is eligible from 1 January 2007 and can take place up until 31 December 2015.

Education: Overseas Students

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Professor Smith's evidence highlighted the important contribution made by higher education students taking science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses, towards the development of a strong knowledge economy within the UK.

Her Majesty's Government recognise the value of a strong supply of STEM graduates and the Departments for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and for Education work closely together to ensure that policies and measures supporting the development of a strong STEM pipeline are coherent. Indeed, in 2009-10, 43 per cent of UK-domiciled first degree students took science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses.

BIS supports a range of measures promoting STEM careers and occupations, including funding STEMNET and the STEM ambassadors programme. STEMNET is a UK-wide organisation, whose purpose is to ensure that all young people, regardless of background, are encouraged to understand the excitement and importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their lives and the career opportunities to which these subjects can lead.

BIS also contributes to the cost of the Big Bang Fair and supports the National Science and Engineering Competition in partnership with a number of organisations, and funds opportunities to engage in National Science and Engineering Week.

Government aim to ensure that STEM, and higher education courses in general, better equip students with the skills to help maximise their employment chances. All universities have now set out in employability statements the range of support they provide to students to help develop the skills employers value.

This Government will enable prospective students to make better informed decisions concerning career choices. The Higher Education Funding Council for

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England is working with the higher education sector to ensure that all institutions publish, on a course-by-course basis, a standard set of 17 key information items. Four such will help prospective students to better understand where their course might lead in employment terms.

BIS continues to work closely with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, giving employers a lead role in a skills system that is more responsive to their needs. The science cluster of sector skills councils undertake strategic planning and review of activity across sectors dependent upon STEM skills, and aim to provide a responsive fit between STEM skills provision and the needs of employers in their sectors.

Finance: Interest Rates

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government are having to take some very difficult decisions on public spending to tackle the fiscal deficit. Confronting the deficit prevents erosion in the confidence that the UK will continue to be able to service its debt obligations leading to higher interest rates on our public borrowing. Spiralling interest rates ultimately benefit no one due to the wider impacts on the economy.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We regularly raise our concerns about Gaza, including on movement and access issues, with the Government of Israel.

We will continue to work with the quartet representative, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to reopen Gaza for business. We believe that a strong economy in the Occupied Territories is key to promoting peace, stability and prosperity.



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Government: Red Tape Challenge

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Red Tape Challenge aims to take a comprehensive approach, looking widely at regulation that affects businesses, members of the public and voluntary organisations. It seeks views on where regulations are working well, as well as where they are imposing unnecessary burdens on businesses, members of the public or voluntary organisations or restricting personal freedoms. The presence of a particular regulation or law on this website should not be read as implying any intention on the part of the Government to remove that regulation or law from the statute book. The regulations available for comment can be found on www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Health: Diabetic Macular Oedema

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We have no current plans to make an assessment of the prevalence of diabetic macular oedema.

However, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's draft scope for the proposed appraisal of Ranibizumab (Lucentis) for the treatment of diabetic macular oedema estimated that of the 2.4 million people diagnosed with diabetes in England and Wales in 2009, approximately 14 per cent (336,000) have diabetic macular oedema. The prevalence of diabetic macular oedema is estimated to increase to 29 per cent (696,000) for people with diabetes who have used insulin for more than 20 years.

Health: Homeopathy

Question

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The content on the NHS Choices website is currently under review in the context of the department's policy on complementary and alternative medicine therapies, which is that decisions on commissioning and funding such services are the responsibility of the National Health Service. Relevant information will be taken into account in the review.

Health: Kidney Transplants

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The number of kidney transplants in the United Kingdom, 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2011, is given in the following table. There is no upper age limit for accepting patients for kidney transplants.

Financial yearDonor typeTotal
Donation after Brain DeathDonation after Circulatory DeathLiving donor

Recipients aged 60+

2006-07

161

61

76

298

2007-08

167

77

107

351

2008-09

169

145

139

453

2009-10

210

185

163

558

2010-11

214

232

170

616

Total

921

700

655

2,276

All recipients

2006-07

1,164

276

690

2,130

2007-08

1,116

335

831

2,282

2008-09

1,095

474

927

2,496

2009-10

1,107

550

1,038

2,695

2010-11

1,100

568

1,011

2,679

Total

5,582

2,203

4,497

12,282

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Earl Howe: Information provided by NHS Blood and Transplant indicates that the latest average waiting times for kidney-only transplant is 1,088 days (three years).



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Health: Mental Health

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Incidence and prevalence rates for the majority of mental illnesses have remained remarkably static. However, the numbers of people being treated are increasing and the reasons for this are complex. Doctors are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the treatments available for mental illness, including psychological therapies, and confident in prescribing medication. Improvements in medication such as antidepressants, in terms of them having fewer side effects and withdrawal symptoms, make them more likely to be prescribed. People are also more aware of common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety as being treatable conditions and are prepared to seek help.

Illicit drug use can be associated with an increase in the risk of developing a mental health problem, especially where an individual already has a pre-existing mental illness or a genetic predisposition to mental illness.

Health: Paediatric Cardiology

Question

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The review of children's heart surgery units (Safe and Sustainable review) is being conducted by the NHS Specialised Commissioning Team.

The National Health Service has undertaken robust engagement with the stakeholders, including NHS hospital trusts, throughout the review process to date. NHS hospital trusts helped develop the proposed service standards and model of care, as well as the options appraisal process.

As part of the assessment process against service standards carried out by an independent expert assessment panel chaired by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, each children's heart surgery centre was invited to submit an application demonstrating how they would meet the service standards. They were also asked to supply the evidence that helped in the assessment process.

Visits to the centres by the panel last year provided hospital trusts with further opportunities to directly participate in the process of collecting evidence.

In addition, hospital trusts had an opportunity to participate in the development of the criteria for assessment and scoring of the reconfiguration options.



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Immigration

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The decision whether to grant bail, and if so, on what terms and on what procedure to adopt, is a matter for the judgment of immigration judges of the First-tier Tribunal in the individual cases that come before them in accordance with tribunal rules and guidance issued by the chamber president. Immigration judges have to make difficult judgments, on limited information, often in respect of people whose identity cannot be verified and whose links to the community may be fragile. Nevertheless, they aim to refuse bail only in cases where there is both statutory authority and a demonstrated justification for doing so. I understand that the president of the Upper Tribunal and the president of the First-tier Tribunal are working together to provide further guidance to immigration judges to help ensure that this aim is acknowledged and applied throughout the jurisdiction.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We remain concerned that Israel's minority Arab population, including Bedouin Arab minorities, are suffering institutional, legal and societal inequality and discrimination. We continue to support calls made by the EU and the UN for a genuine and satisfactory solution to these problems.

I raised this issue with Foreign Minister Lieberman when I met with him in Israel in January 2011. Officials have also raised the issue with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the EU delegation office in Israel wrote to the Government of Israel in March 2011 about the demolition of Bedouin villages in the Negev.

Justice: Family Justice Review

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Review is due to be published in the autumn. Once the review has published its final report, the Government will set out their response to the review's findings and recommendations.

The Government have no plans to introduce any legislation on the subject matter of the review prior to the final report, and the Government's response, being published.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government's recent consultation on legal aid reform proposed that legal aid be retained for those seeking orders to protect themselves from domestic violence or forced marriage. This included retaining the power to waive the upper financial eligibility limits in these cases. The Government are currently considering the response to the consultation, and will publish their response in due course.

Human trafficking is a criminal offence and legal aid is not normally available for the victim in criminal proceedings.

Libya

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We cannot provide details of security arrangements for our personnel.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Howell of Guildford: We undertake planning, together with our international partners, for a range of contingencies as the situation in Libya develops. It is clear in UN Resolution 1973 that there should be no foreign occupation of any part of Libya. We will adhere strictly to that, as to all other parts of the resolution.



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Medical Practitioners: Non-EU Nations

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The non-consultant, non-training, medical staff posts recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and subsequently agreed by government for inclusion on the tier 2 shortage occupation list (SOL) effective from April 2011 were in the following specialties: anaesthetics, paediatrics and general medicine specialities delivering acute care services. In addition paediatrics at speciality training level 4 was also recommended.

The MAC has now begun a review of the United Kingdom labour market following a commission from the Government in order to recommend occupations and job titles to be added to and removed from the tier 2 UK and Scotland shortage occupation list.

National Crime Agency

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The Home Office has, and has always had, responsibility for establishing the National Crime Agency. Decisions have not yet been made on the future structures for economic crime. We did, however, decide last autumn that criminal powers in relation to market abuse should remain with the FSA's successor body, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), at this time, ensuring that the FCA's markets unit will have powers to both regulate and prosecute market abuse.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence: Clinical Trials

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The identification of an unlicensed comparator for a technology being appraised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) does not constitute a recommendation by NICE for the use of the unlicensed product in question.

Clinical trials will often inevitably involve the administration of products that are, at the time of the trial, unlicensed. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency oversees a rigorous process for the authorisation of clinical trials, including whether or not the product is licensed for use in the clinical condition being investigated in the trial. The potential risks associated with participating in a clinical trial should be explained clearly to potential participants and is part of the process of obtaining their consent to participate in the clinical trial.

National Insurance

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The official statistics provided relate to national insurance number (NINo) registrations, which are the result of a successful NINo application. This information is only available from 2002. The information available has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

NHS: Allied Health Professional Services

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We are not aware of any intention to collate information about the number of redundancies, vacancies, average caseload, referrals and waiting times for ancillary medical professions such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and midwifery in the National Health Service in England.



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The average caseload, referrals and waiting times for allied health professionals (AHPs), including physiotherapy and occupational therapy, are not collected centrally.

The Transforming Community Services: Allied Health Professional Referral to Treatment Guide, published in March 2010, sets out a framework of rules for clock starts and clock stops to measure waiting times for patients when accessing National Health Service AHP services. A copy of the guide has been placed in the Library. Nationally, AHP referral to treatment data collection and reporting was due to be mandated from April 2011. However, as part of the public health spending reviews the implementation date for collecting data is being reviewed. In the mean time, there is nothing to prevent local NHS organisations from continuing to collect these data locally to help them identify where service improvement is most needed.

NHS: Primary Care Trusts

Question

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information requested has been placed in the Library.

NHS: Trusts

Question

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available has been placed in the Library.

The department does not collect data from National Health Service foundation trusts. Where an NHS trust obtains foundation trust status part-way through any year, the data provided are only for the part of the year in which the organisation operated as an NHS trust.

Railways: Caledonian Sleeper

Question

Asked by Lord Glenarthur



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Earl Attlee: No discussions have been held with the Scottish Government on this subject. The Caledonian Sleeper service is sponsored by Transport Scotland, not by the Department for Transport.

Railways: Franchises

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport is taking the following steps in reducing the costs of tendering as follows:

to the public purse-increased use of departmental expertise, particularly in respect of preparation of financial information for bidders and evaluation of bids; letting longer franchises will reduce the number of franchise competitions and hence deliver savings in the ongoing cost of the refranchising programme;to bidders-simplification of the prequalification process and the scope of the components in the plans required to demonstrate capability to deliver the franchise; andto passengers-the refranchising process does not impose direct costs on passengers but the savings made to the public purse which are set out above will contribute to the overall financial sustainability of the railways and hence deliver indirect benefits to passengers.

Schools: Race Equality

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We do not have data on the proportion of appeals lodged, or the proportion that are successful and lead to reinstatement, for any specific ethnic group. The information available to us, and of which we took account was:

in 2008-09, there were 6,550 permanent exclusions (down from 8,130 in 2007-08, a fall of 19.4 per cent);in only 60 cases did an appeal result in the independent appeal panel ordering reinstatement; andpermanent exclusions of black pupils fell from 700 to 540, a reduction of 23 per cent.

12 May 2011 : Column WA246

Black pupils are still overrepresented statistically among those permanently excluded, but the gap is narrowing.

Shipping: Irish Lights

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: : The timetable agreed with the Republic of Ireland for the Commissioners of Irish Lights to become self-financing was set out in the Written Statement of 18 January 2011 (Official Report, cols. WS 11-12).

The Government have asked the joint strategic board (JSB) for the GLA to develop proposals to address the issue of GLA pension arrangements.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have not received any further news from the Syrian authorities concerning Ms Hassan.

No accurate figures exist for the number of political prisoners in Syria, but in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2010 human rights Command Paper we state that reports vary from 1,000 to 3,000 held in detention.

We condemn utterly the violence perpetrated by Syrian security forces against civilians who are expressing their views in peaceful protests. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said on 1 May 2011, the killing of civilians by the Syrian regime is disgraceful and unacceptable and must stop. We are clear that individuals responsible for the violence will be held accountable if the violence persists.

We are also extremely concerned by reports from human rights organisations that the Syrian authorities have detained more than 7,000 people since protests began in mid-March. The Syrian Government and the security forces must respect the civil rights of peaceful protestors, the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.



12 May 2011 : Column WA247

Tobacco

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



12 May 2011 : Column WA248

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The number of persons proceeded against at the magistrates' court under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 as amended by the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991, England and Wales, 2000 to 2009, can be viewed in the table.

Court proceedings data for 2010 are planned for publication on 26 May 2011.

Number of persons proceeded against at the magistrates' court under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 as amended by the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991(1), England and Wales, 2000-2009(2)(3)
StatuteYearProceeded against

Children and Young Persons Act 1933 as amended by Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991

2000

152

2001

110

2002

100

2003

111

2004

74

2005

79

2006

66

2007

61

2008(4)

102

2009

199


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