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13 May 2011 : Column WA249



13 May 2011 : Column WA249

Written Answers

Friday 13 May 2011

Children: Access

Question

Asked by The Earl of Shrewsbury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Where parents cannot reach their own agreements, they may apply to court for a contact order. In reaching a decision, the court is required to prioritise the welfare of the child.

A review of the whole of the family justice system is currently under way. The review panel, which is independently chaired, issued its interim report for consultation on 31 March. The panel's final report is expected in the autumn. Once the review has concluded, the Government will consider the recommendations carefully including any recommendations about how parental disputes should be handled.

Criminal Justice Act 2003

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): This question raises important issues relating to the role and powers of the police, and the Government will give it further consideration.

Cyprus: British High Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed



13 May 2011 : Column WA250

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our embassy in Athens and our High Commission in Nicosia are responsible for representing the British Government in Greece and Cyprus respectively. Each has a professional and experienced consular team offering support to British nationals visiting or resident within their consular district. Both teams are managed by a regional consul based in Athens, in line with consular management arrangements elsewhere in the world.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publication Support for British nationals abroad: A guide (available on the FCO website at http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/2855621/support-for-british-nationals-abroad) sets out the support we can provide to British nationals around the world. Although the UK does not recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, British citizens in Cyprus receive this support from consular staff at the High Commission in Nicosia irrespective of where they reside on the island. Our consular staff in Turkey offer support to British nationals visiting or resident within Turkey and are not responsible for assistance to British nationals resident in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Diplomatic Missions: State Recognition

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My Written Answer of 2 February (Official Report, col. WA 266) set out the criteria for recognition of states. This is separate from the question of compliance with international human rights obligations, which the Government expect from all states.

Driving: Mobile Phones

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Earl Attlee: A person is guilty of an offence under Section 41 D(b) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 if they drive a motor vehicle whilst using a hand-held mobile phone telephone.

It is also an offence under Section 41D(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, to drive a motor vehicle in a position that does not give proper control or has a full view of the traffic ahead.

We have no plans to amend these provisions but we are committed to ensuring that all regulations remain effective. The enforcement of such regulations is a matter for the police and Crown Prosecution Service.



13 May 2011 : Column WA251

Education: English Baccalaureate

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The English Baccalaureate is not a qualification in its own right. It is recognition of the achievement of a combination of GCSEs, or accredited versions of iGCSEs, in core subjects. The individual qualifications include arrangements for taking account of special circumstances in the awarding of grades. All candidates are able to continue to take the qualifications after the age of 16.

We intend in due course to issue certificates to recognise where students have achieved the English Baccalaureate. We are currently considering the mechanism for doing so and whether it will be feasible to issue certificates to those who achieve the combination of subjects after the age of 16.

EU: Republic of Cyprus

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are not aware of any such reports and see no connection between the preparations that the Republic of Cyprus are currently making to take on the presidency of the European Union in 2012, and their accession to the EU in 2004.

Falkland Islands: Queen's Birthday Celebrations

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Members of the military band of the 4th Battalion the Mercian Regiment travelled to the Falkland Islands on 16 April. The band's instruments were classified as freight rather

13 May 2011 : Column WA252

than passenger hold baggage and in error were not loaded on to the flight, the hold of which was full to capacity with other essential freight. The next flight to the Falkland Islands did not depart until 23 April, so the personnel were unable to participate as planned in the Queen's Birthday Parade. Instead they undertook a programme of familiarisation and training with British Forces South Atlantic Islands. The personnel travelled using spare capacity on the Ministry of Defence's South Atlantic Airbridge. This represented no extra cost to the department, other than the air passenger duty for the band's seats which amounted to a maximum of £2,040.

Female Genital Mutilation

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is committed to tackling female genital mutilation (FGM), which is a very serious problem in some parts of the world. In November 2010, we worked with civil society partners to develop an ambitious cross-government action plan for tackling FGM that aims to raise awareness of the issue, its illegality, and its severe health consequences, to ensure that professionals intervene to safeguard girls and women at risk.

In Kenya FGM is already outlawed under the Children Act of 2002. Under the new constitution, a Bill has recently been tabled and is currently under debate in the House to strengthen the existing laws and make prosecution for FGM under this act easier. The UK fully supports this process and is committed to raising human rights issues, including FGM where appropriate, as part of its ongoing dialogue with the Government of Kenya.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made clear in his Statement of 25 March 2011 our concerns about the recent violence in Gaza and southern Israel following a spike in rocket attacks and military strikes in early April 2011. We are pleased that relative calm has returned to Gaza and southern Israel more recently, but continue to monitor the situation closely.



13 May 2011 : Column WA253

We have made clear to the Government of Israel that while Israel has every right to protect its people, it is also important that in so doing that it also shows restraint and makes every effort to avoid causing civilian casualties.

We continue to call on all parties to act with restraint and do all they can to prevent loss of innocent life, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to reduce current tensions. We renew our calls on all sides to commit to peace talks.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We are aware that there are clearly other extremist groups present in Gaza in addition to Hamas, including those involved in rocket attacks against Israel. We have underlined the need for all groups, including Hamas, to end rocket attacks on Israel.

Government Departments: e-mails

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Email correspondence from parliamentarians to Ministers is treated in the same manner as other written correspondence, such as letters or faxes. They are all given ministerial responses within the time frame laid down by the Cabinet Office. In 2010, 90 per cent of ministerial correspondence was answered within the time frame of 20 days.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Boswell of Aynho

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), in partnership with the Scottish Human Rights Commission, is currently developing a human rights measurement framework in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, and the Government, which will be published during 2011.

The EHRC, working with the Government and other stakeholders, has also developed an equality measurement framework that can be used to assess equality and human rights across a range of areas.



13 May 2011 : Column WA254

Israel and Palestine: Quartet

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Since 2007 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has seconded three members of staff to work in the Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR).

However, we do not hold information on office costs and travel expenses of the OQR or the right honourable Tony Blair as the quartet representative.

The noble Lord may wish to contact the OQR.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We support Palestinians' legitimate right to non-violent protest against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. We also support Israel's right to defend itself. However, we are concerned by reports of disproportionate force in response to demonstrations. We continue to call upon the Israeli Government to act with restraint and in accordance with international law.

Kosovo

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government fully support an independent Kosovo within its current borders and we urge all countries to recognise Kosovo's independence. We are encouraged that 75 countries have already done so.

We are pleased that the Government of Kosovo have made a commitment to reviewing the need for electoral and constitutional reform. With the election of a new President, Atifete Jahjaga, in accordance with constitutional requirements, Kosovo's Government are now able to focus on the business of governing and in particular on taking forward the socio-economic reforms needed for Kosovo's continuing integration into the international community.



13 May 2011 : Column WA255

We continue to support the Kosovo Government in their effort to make progress towards fulfilling Kosovo's European perspective, in line with the European perspective of the entire western Balkans region. This includes taking forward the reforms recommended in the European Commission's 2010 progress report on Kosovo, and in particular in the priority areas of rule of law and organised crime.

The Government welcome the positive start to the EU-facilitated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade. Continued constructive engagement will be crucial for improving the lives of citizens of both countries and for helping both Kosovo and Serbia progress in a more stable manner towards EU accession.

We also welcome the decision by the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) to open a preliminary investigation into the allegations of organised crime contained in the report by Senator Dick Marty, and that the Governments of both Kosovo and Albania have promised full co-operation with the investigation.

Law Commission

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



13 May 2011 : Column WA256

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The protocol, which was agreed between the Government and the Law Commission in March 2010, aims to ensure that government departments are fully signed up to projects that the Law Commission undertakes and that there are prompt and open communications between departments and the commission during the course of the project. The intention behind this was to ensure full departmental commitment to Law Commission projects, thereby increasing the rate of implementation of Law Commission reports and ensuring a more productive relationship. While we are confident that the protocol will increase the rate of implementation of future Law Commission work, its full impact has not yet been felt because it applies only to projects which the Law Commission takes on after March 2010. There is only one project-European contract law-which formally falls under the terms of the protocol. The Government and the commission have, however, agreed to take the protocol into account in respect of ongoing projects in so far as it is practicable.

The Law Commission is currently in the process of developing its next programme of work and aims to put this to the Lord Chancellor (as prescribed by the Law Commissions Act 1965) for approval shortly. This will be the first programme agreed in light of the protocol and we expect that increased rates of implementation will become more apparent towards the end of this programme of work.

Five of the Law Commission's reports were implemented or the relevant legislation achieved Royal Assent during the period to which the report to Parliament relates. We also expect to take forward a further two Law Commission reports when parliamentary time allows-namely the reports on consumer insurance law; pre-contract disclosure and misrepresentation and capital and income in trusts; classification and apportionment.

In terms of the impact of the reductions in public expenditure on the Law Commission, the Government have informed the Law Commission that it must reduce its budget by 33 per cent by the end of this Parliament. While we accept that this will be difficult for the Law Commission, we are having to take very difficult decisions across the board in order to deal effectively with the budget deficit and this figure is consistent with what is being applied to administrative budgets generally. We are also of the view that this reduction can be mitigated by financial contributions from departments for projects carried out in their policy areas.

As for when the Government intend to respond to the Law Commission on a number of their reports:

The Government have considered the Law Commission's reports on the termination of tenancies and the illegality defence and are currently in discussion with the Law Commission with respect to these reports. We hope to communicate our position on both reports shortly.



13 May 2011 : Column WA257

The Government are still considering the implementation of the Law Commission's report, Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown. We hope to be able to respond to the Law Commission shortly.

The Lord Chancellor wrote to the chairman of the Law Commission in February to communicate the Government's decisions in respect of the reports on intoxication and criminal liability and on conspiracy and attempts.

The Government are minded not to implement the proposals contained in the Law Commission's report on intoxication and criminal liability, as we are not persuaded that implementation of the report would deliver improvements to the administration of justice. Whilst the reforms recommended by the Law Commission may resolve some uncertainty in the law they may also increase its complexity.

We have also decided not to implement the Law Commission's report on conspiracy and attempts. The Government accept the proposals contained within this report and think that it is a worthwhile project for the future. However we regret that implementation is not a priority in the shorter term given the pressure on departmental resources.

Libya

Questions

Asked by Lord Judd

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We remain in close contact and co-ordinate our efforts with our EU partners over displaced persons in Libya and around its borders. The UK has funded the repatriation of over 15,000 foreign migrant workers from Libya. We continue to work closely with the UN High Commission for Refugees, the International Organisation for Migration and the International Committee of the Red Cross in addressing these problems. The Department for International Development has humanitarian advisers at the border camps who are monitoring the situation closely.

Asked by Lord Judd

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Libyan people have clearly indicated their desire for change. The form that any new political settlement takes is for them to determine

13 May 2011 : Column WA258

for themselves, not for outsiders to impose. The Interim Transitional National Council, which we consider a legitimate interlocutor representing the aspirations of the Libyan people, has committed itself to inclusive and democratic principles and to a more accountable Government in Libya. We support their efforts to prepare for a Government in Libya who embody these principles.

Montenegro

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government fully support equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Montenegro, as it does worldwide.

Our ambassador to Podgorica regularly engages with her Montenegrin interlocutors to underline that respect for human rights and minority rights, including those of the LGBT community, is fundamental to the EU accession process.

The Government support and actively encourage the Montenegrin Government to implement reforms that are necessary for progress towards EU accession, in line with the acquis. These reforms include the implementation of the legal and policy frameworks on human rights and anti-discrimination in line with European and international standards.

We will continue to work on these issues and hope to see further progress from Montenegro with regards to LGBT issues, starting with its first Gay Pride march to be held on 31 May.

Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We renew our calls on both sides to commit to peace talks, leading to a Palestinian state that exists in peace and security alongside Israel. Britain hopes that the announcement of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas will lead to the formation of a Government who reject violence and pursues a negotiated peace, and we will judge a future Palestinian Government by their actions and their readiness to work for peace.

Intra-Palestinian reconciliation remains a critical component of the peace process. We are of course examining the detail of the recent announcement.



13 May 2011 : Column WA259

Panama

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport has no record of any such discussions.

Republic of Ireland: Celebrations

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our embassy in Dublin contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs

13 May 2011 : Column WA260

to ask if there was any government support for the event. It confirmed that this was a local initiative arranged by the local community. Press coverage at the time reported that the then Irish Minister for Defence attended the event in his constituency.

Schools

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The following tables show the current designation of schools, the designation at the time of opening is not held. The grant maintained designation type of schools was abolished in September 1999 and with the exception of academies and city technology colleges, schools returned to the categories listed below. There are no types of establishment listed on Edubase as trust schools; however there are state-maintained schools, included in the tables below who may have acquired a trust. The first free schools are not due to open until September 2011.

Year Established
Type of Establishment1988198919901991199219931994199519961997199819992000

Academy Converters

Academy Sponsor Led

City Technology College

1

1

1

6

3

1

Community School

2

1

2

40

109

58

66

99

93

Community Special School

1

2

5

15

15

10

11

18

Foundation School

1

2

2

3

9

5

10

6

Foundation Special School

LA Nursery School

1

2

1

1

2

1

2

Non-Maintained Special School

Voluntary Aided School

1

1

8

15

15

11

20

18

Academy Converters

1

11

5

4

4

7

Grand Total

1

1

3

7

9

6

4

55

154

102

98

145

144



13 May 2011 : Column WA261



13 May 2011 : Column WA262

Year Established
Type of Establishment20012002200320042005200620072008200920102011

Academy Converters

94

263

Academy Sponsor Led

3

9

5

10

19

37

47

70

67

6

City Technology College

Community School

112

85

87

92

76

86

117

67

42

36

5

Community Special School

17

7

10

13

24

22

9

14

6

8

Foundation School

6

5

2

4

9

7

9

4

7

8

Foundation Special School

1

1

1

1

LA Nursery School

3

2

1

3

1

2

Non-Maintained Special School

2

10

1

4

1

1

2

Voluntary Aided School

25

19

17

23

21

15

15

9

8

14

4

Voluntary Controlled School

10

6

11

5

12

11

21

9

8

8

Grand Total

176

137

139

146

155

162

209

154

143

235

278

Schools: Free Meals

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Information on the number and percentage of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals in London for 2002-10 is shown in the table. The answer includes full time pupils aged 0 to 15 and part time pupils aged 5 to 15.

Comparable information is not available prior to 2002.



13 May 2011 : Column WA263



13 May 2011 : Column WA264

(Maintained Nursery, Primary (1) State Funded Secondary (1)(2) and Special Schools (3): London number and percentage of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals(4)
January each year

London

Maintained nursery and primary schools (1)

State-funded secondary schools (1)(2)

Special schools (3)

Maintained nursery, primary (1), state-funded secondary (1)(2) and special schools (3)

Number on roll (4)(5)

Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (4)(5)

Percentage known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

Number on roll (4)(5)

Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (4)(5)

Percentage known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

Number on roll (4)(5)

Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (4)(5)

Percentage known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

Number on roll (4)(5)

Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (4)(5)

Percentage known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

2002

582,760

160,710

27.6

366,990

95,760

26.1

10,630

4.860

45.7

960,390

261,340

27.2

2003

580,980

161,050

27.7

371,280

95,720

25.8

10,870

4,840

44.5

963,130

261,610

27.2

2004

577,380

165,540

28.7

375,890

97,850

26.0

10,720

4,800

44.7

963,990

268,190

27.8

2005

576.910

166,400

28.8

376,480

98,450

26.1

10,570

4,640

43.9

963,950

269,480

28.0

2006

580,810

159,740

27.5

377,930

96,590

25.6

10,470

4,450

42.5

969,200

260,780

26.9

2007

580,720

158,100

27.2

377,490

94,670

25.1

10,320

4,380

42.4

968,530

257,140

26.5

2008

581,820

152,760

26.3

377,160

92,610

24.6

10,250

4,280

41.8

969,220

249,650

25.8

2009

585,520

150,260

25.7

377,590

93,720

24.8

10,280

4,250

41.4

973,400

248,230

25.5

2010

594.490

156,260

26.3

379.710

95,920

25.3

10,440

4,460

42.7

984,640

256,640

26.1

England

Maintained nursery and primary schools (1)

State-funded secondary schools (1)(2)

Special schools (3)

Maintained nursery, primary (1), state-funded secondary (1)(2) and special schools(3)

Number on roll (4)(5)

Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (4)(5)

Percentage known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

Number on roll (4)(5)

Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (4)(5)

Percentage known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

Number on roll (4)(5)

Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (4)(5)

Percentage known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

Number on roll (4)(5)

Number of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (4)(5)

Percentage known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals

2002

4,064,900

741,500

18.2

2,953,660

469,760

15.9

77,790

30,300

39.0

7,096,340

1,241,560

17.5

2003

4,023,390

719,430

17.9

2,992,630

463,600

15.5

84,240

30,610

36.3

7,100,270

1,213,640

17.1

2004

3,977,530

730,420

18.4

3,010,100

464,420

15.4

81,830

30,250

37.0

7,069,450

1,225,090

17.3

2005

3,939.760

708,250

18.0

2,993,920

453,390

15.1

80,240

27,950

34.8

7,013,920

1,189,590

17.0

2006

3,899,450

664,980

17.1

2,985,900

439,120

14.7

79,310

26,690

33.7

6,964,660

1,130,790

16.2

2007

3,860,420

654,290

16.9

2,955,210

425,110

14.4

78,760

26,290

33.4

6,894,390

1,105,690

16.0

2008

3,837,680

637,170

16.6

2,913,730

413,360

14.2

78,270

25,710

32.8

6,829,670

1,076,240

15.8

2009

3,825,480

652,310

17.1

2,883,250

417,970

14.5

78,030

26,250

33.6

6,786,750

1,096,520

16.2

2010

3.838,680

711,410

18.5

2,864,350

441,140

15.4

78,330

27,330

34.9

6,781,360

1,179,870

17.4

Schools: Independent Schools

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department does not collect information as to which independent schools are established and operated on a for-profit basis. It does collect information about those independent schools that do not have charitable status, and this information is shown in the table:

OpenedStill openNow closedTotal

1997

16

12

28

1998

6

14

20

1999

19

22

41

2000

15

28

43

2001

27

15

42

2002

12

15

27

2003

36

51

87

2004

22

11

33

2005

42

20

62

2006

70

27

97

2007

72

24

96

2008

65

12

77

2009

69

7

76

2010

69

2

71

2011

10

0

10

Schools: Music

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government are committed to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and to sing as part of a rich cultural education. They have allocated £82.5 million to music education in 2011-12 and will set out their detailed plans in a national plan for music education later this year. It is for a school to decide, in conjunction with instrumental experts, which instruments are most appropriate for its pupils.



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Schools: Performance

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The OECD Economic Survey of the United Kingdom 2011 used data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009.

The only school categories it is possible to report on are independent and state schools. In England, independent schools formed 7 per cent of the PISA sample and state schools 93 per cent. Independent schools had, on average, higher scores than state schools.

StateIndependentDifference

Reading

492

551

59

Maths

491

543

52

Science

511

581

70

Sri Lanka

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We consistently encouraged the Sri Lankan Government to work with the UN Panel and draw on the UN's knowledge to enhance their own domestic process prior to the report issuing. Since its public release, staff at our High Commission in Colombo have discussed the report with the Government of Sri Lanka on several occasions, most recently on 6 May 2011 with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister. We have urged the Government to respond constructively to the report. We are also in contact with other international partners about the report.

Syria

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey



13 May 2011 : Column WA266

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK, together with France, Germany and Portugal worked together to raise the situation in Syria at the United National Security Council (UNSC). The discussion on 27 April led to a broad condemnation of Syrian behaviour by a wide range of UNSC members, who expressed their grave concern at the situation in an unprecedented open council meeting.

In addition, the UN Human Rights Council passed a strong resolution on 29 April condemning Syria's conduct and launching a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights abuses. The UK actively supported this resolution, tabled by the US, which was passed by a clear majority of Human Rights Council members.

We will continue to work with our UN, EU and other international partners in an attempt to persuade the Syrian authorities to stop the violent repression and respect democracy and human rights. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said on 1 April, clearly in Syria we need to do more to step up the pressure on that regime to show, internationally, that this violent repression is not acceptable.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK, together with France, Germany and Portugal worked together to raise the situation in Syria at the United National Security Council (UNSC). The discussion on 27 April led to a broad condemnation of Syrian behaviour by a wide range of UNSC members who expressed their grave concern at the situation in an unprecedented open council meeting.

We also actively supported a strong, US-tabled resolution which the UN Human Rights Council passed on 29 April condemning Syria's conduct and launching a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights abuses.

The UK has worked closely with EU and other international partners to press the Syrian authorities to stop the violence and respect basic and universal human rights to the freedoms of expression and assembly. In collaboration with selected European partners, the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service summoned the Syrian ambassador in London on 27 April to set out UK concerns and the need for an end to violence and the implementation of genuine reform. The EU also decided on 29 April to implement an arms embargo against Syria, to take the offer of an association agreement off the table and to review all EU co-operation with Syria, including through the European Neighbourhood Partnership. The UK pressed strongly for these steps.



13 May 2011 : Column WA267

We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that those responsible for the violence are held personally to account. In this context, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) welcomed the EU's decision on 29 April to accelerate work on targeted measures against those responsible.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK has been in regular discussion with our partners in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey regarding the situation in Syria and its possible impact on neighbouring countries. In all our discussions we have been stressing the need for the Syrian authorities to stop using violence and respect basic and universal human rights. As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) said on 26 April, the only path to stability is through serious reforms, genuinely and speedily implemented, to address the legitimate demands of peaceful protesters.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is working closely with the US, the EU and other international partners to press the Syrian authorities to stop the violence and respect basic and universal human rights to freedoms of expression and assembly.

The UK actively supported a strong US-tabled resolution that the UN Human Rights Council passed on 29 April 2011 condemning Syria's conduct and launching a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights abuses. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said on 1 April, clearly in Syria we need to do more to step up the pressure on that regime to show, internationally, that this violent repression is not acceptable.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: At present the Government have no plans to deploy a stabilisation response team to Syria. We continue to monitor the situation closely.



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Yemen

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We remain concerned about the continuing political impasse in Yemen, the use of violence to disperse peaceful protestors, and the increasingly destabilising effect that events are having on a very fragile economy. Over 120 protestors have been killed and hundreds injured since demonstrations began in January and further violence risks escalating the situation beyond the control of the Government. The President still has the opportunity to follow a peaceful route to political transition. We, along with our EU and US partners, firmly believe that the political transition plan brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) represents the best route to a peaceful solution. The current GCC plan incorporates a road map for the formation of a national unity Government, resignation of the President in favour of the Vice-President, constitutional change and presidential elections. I urge all parties to work closely with the GCC and to pursue negotiations to reach a settlement without further delay.

Young Offenders: Education and Training

Question

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We are considering options for arrangements for the funding and commissioning of education in youth custody in the context of changes taking place in mainstream education and wider considerations about the future of the youth secure estate. Our aim is to design a system that is flexible enough to meet the learning needs of the young people, account for the complexities of delivering education in a custodial setting, and reflect arrangements in the mainstream as far as appropriate. We will consider carrying out a public consultation if appropriate.

Zimbabwe

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey



13 May 2011 : Column WA269

Baroness Verma: We recognise that robust civilian oversight of the armed forces, and indeed that the whole security and justice sector is an important component of a well functioning democracy. We also recognise that any international assistance must be requested and owned by the Zimbabwean Government. We stand ready to consider any requests for such assistance.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



13 May 2011 : Column WA270

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are deeply concerned by the arrests and treatment of a range of individuals in Zimbabwe, including civil society activists. Officials in Harare regularly attend and monitor court cases. They also have close contact with non-government organisations and civil society organisations throughout Zimbabwe.

We call regularly, both bilaterally and with EU member states, for an end to all such abuses and the restoration of internationally accepted human rights standards in Zimbabwe. Our ambassador issued a statement on 25 March 2011 calling for the culture of impunity and state-sponsored abuses to be addressed.


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