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19 May 2011 : Column WA355



19 May 2011 : Column WA355

Written Answers

Thursday 19 May 2011

Airports: Holding Rooms

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The UK Border Agency looked at options for balancing operational efficiency, cost saving to the public purse and detainee welfare by conducting a pilot closure of holding rooms overnight at the end of 2010.

This identified a number of issues that would need to be addressed to ensure detainee welfare is not adversely affected. These will be examined by the agency with the new escorting contractor.

The welfare of detainees remains a high priority for the agency.

Animals: Deer

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): In a challenging financial environment, the Deer Initiative provides a model of a successful public-private partnership that facilitates cost-effective management of wild deer in a sustainable manner. It has strengthened its position as the leading provider of independent, high-quality advice on deer management to the public and private sector.

The Government continue to value and support the Deer Initiative's partnership approach to collaborative wild deer and feral boar management at a landscape scale.

BBC: World Service

Question

Asked by Lord Higgins

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As a result of the changes that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service has made to its services, the following countries no longer receive radio transmissions: Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and Cuba. Online services

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will remain in Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish, as well as in English. These are part of the BBC World Service's changes which will save £46 million per annum by March 2014.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Customers who are undergoing reassessment will receive an initial notification informing them their reassessment journey is about to begin followed by a phone call explaining the process.

There are various interactions with the customer during the course of the journey ensuring the customer is kept fully informed about the various stages of the journey.

We have also developed information that our customers and customer representative groups can access directly from the DWP Adviser web page or www.direct.gov.uk/ibchanges.

Customers who are blind or visually impaired can have letters and leaflets in Braille, large print and audio format. Alternative formats for forms and guidance may be supplied upon request. Customers unable to use the telephone can contact Jobcentre Plus via the Texbox or RNID typetalk service. Wherever possible reasonable adjustments will be put in place to ensure that customers receive correspondence in the format they require.

The department has also commissioned external research with customers and staff involved in the reassessment trial in Aberdeen and Burnley, to examine their views and experiences of reassessment. This included questions about why they thought reassessment was happening. The findings have been used to enhance the reassessment process and a report of the research will be published in the research report series on 1 June 2011.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The training programmes for Atos Healthcare professionals refer to chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis. This was merely an omission from the Written Answer which should have clearly stated both, although-as I made clear in my Answer to the noble Countess on 9 May (Official Report, col. WA174)-assessment of entitlement to benefit does not depend on the condition itself, the underlying cause or how they are classified, but on the disabling effects of the condition(s) present.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Clinicians are responsible, within their area of competence, for diagnosing medical conditions and for advising patients on the treatment options available. They are expected to take account of best professional practice, guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and authoritative advice from other relevant bodies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The department has no obligation, or powers, to enforce recognition of WHO's classification throughout government.

Energy: Biofuels

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Government support the development of a sustainable biofuels industry through the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO). The RTFO requires fossil fuel suppliers over a certain size to supply a specified percentage of renewable fuel. The Government's targets for biofuel supply were met in both years one and two of the RTFO.

The department is currently consulting on amendments to the RTFO. Further information, including impact assessments, is available from www.dft.gov.uk/consultations. The impact assessments do not include the impact of

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the RTFO on the use of fossil fuels, but do include an assessment of the impact of the RTFO on fuel prices at the pump.

As a supply obligation the RTFO does not differentiate between the use of high blend or low blend biofuels. Obligated suppliers may deploy the biofuel through either route.

Extradition: Gary McKinnon

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is not able to decide where a case which is the subject of an extradition request should or could be tried. Decisions on whether and where a prosecution should take place are a matter for the relevant independent prosecuting authority. In this case the Crown Prosecution Service has decided on several occasions that the case is more properly tried in the US. Mr McKinnon's challenge to this decision was dismissed by the High Court on 31 July 2009 as set out in the judgment of Lord Justice Stanley Burnton to which the noble Lord refers.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Baroness Browning: Within the scheme of the Extradition Act 2003 my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is not able to consider the evidence or information submitted in support of an extradition request-this is a matter for the courts. The only issue which the Home Secretary must now determine is whether Mr McKinnon's extradition to the US would be compatible with his human rights.



19 May 2011 : Column WA359

Flood and Water Management Act 2010

Question

Asked by Lord Palmer of Childs Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government are committed to full implementation of the Flood and Water Management Act by 2015.

The 2010 Act amends the Reservoirs Act 1975 to allow the introduction of a more risk-based approach to reservoir safety. We intend to begin implementation of the provisions during 2012 by designating the risk level of reservoirs currently within the Reservoirs Act 1975. As a first step, reservoirs where a breach could threaten lives will be designated as high risk. Reservoirs designated as high risk will continue to be subject to the requirements of the 1975 Act.

Implementation will proceed as the risk-based approach is further developed. The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 allows extension of regulation to reservoirs in the 10-25,000 cubic metres above ground capacity range. We envisage that this extension would take place in the run-up to 2015 once the full risk-based approach has been developed in line with the department's structural reform plan.

Government Departments: Consultants

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Although the department can identify all staff who have left in the period of 2007-11, it has no central records and data on whether any of these former staff have been re-employed in any capacity of consultant. To identify whether any have been taken on would incur disproportionate cost. The department has a reducing headcount profile and a freeze on both recruitment and consultancy use has been in place in the department since May last year.

Government Departments: Fraud

Question

Asked by Lord Knight of Weymouth



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Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The purpose of the network of counterfraud champions (CFCs) is to co-ordinate counterfraud efforts across government. The network's primary focus is to identify and share good counterfraud practice between government departments, so that CFCs can efficiently and consistently tackle the estimated £21 billion lost to fraud in the public sector each year.

The National Fraud Authority (NFA) is supporting the work of CFCs. In order to ensure a co-ordinated response to inquiries about the work of the CFCs and to reduce the burden on them, information and contact requests are managed by the NFA. The NFA would be pleased to field any issues or requests on behalf of the CFCs to ensure efficient communication with and across government.

Health and Safety: Adventure Activities

Question

Asked by Lord German

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): HSE intends to begin a consultation on adventure activities in June 2011.

Lord Young's report Common Sense, Common Safety recommended the abolition of the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority and its replacement with a code of practice that HSE will oversee and monitor. Details of the consultation timescales can be found in DWP's structural reform plan at http://www.number10.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/DWP-Business-Plan1.pdf action 6.6.

Health Research Authority

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): As announced at Budget in the plan for growth, we will establish the Health Research Authority this year, in the first instance as a special health authority with the National Research Ethics Service as its core. In the mean time, the National Research Ethics Service remains part of the National Patient Safety Agency and other bodies continue to perform related functions.

The Government's aim is that the Health Research Authority will combine and streamline the approvals for health research which are at present scattered across many organisations. We will use next Session's Health and Social Care Bill to establish the Health Research Authority as a non-departmental public body (NDPB) at arm's length from Ministers. We will set out the proposed functions of this new NDPB Health Research Authority in a public consultation later this year on the transfer of functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Human Tissue Authority.

Health: Cancer

Question

Asked by Lord Walton of Detchant

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe):Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer published on 12 January sets out a range of actions to reduce mortality rates for all cancers in England, including breast and prostate cancer. A copy of this publication has already been placed in the Library. These actions include diagnosing symptomatic cancer earlier, helping people to live healthier lives to reduce the incidence of preventable cancers, screening more people, introducing new screening programmes as recommended by the United Kingdom National Screening Committee and ensuring that all patients have access to the best possible treatment, care and support. Through those approaches, we aim to save at least an additional 5,000 lives every year by 2014-15.

The strategy also sets out our plans to provide commissioners and providers with benchmarked data about their services and outcomes which will support the National Health Service to tackle inappropriate regional variations in cancer outcomes.

Actions to reduce variations in breast and prostate cancer mortality in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are a matter for the devolved Administrations of those countries.

Immigration: Detainees

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The UK Border Agency is committed to ensuring that returns from the UK comply with European obligations. To fulfil the requirement for forced return monitoring on all joint EU charter flights, the UK Border Agency has undertaken to work in partnership with the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), an independent voluntary organisation. The IMB has already carried out monitoring of removals up to and including the point of boarding an aircraft and has an established presence in immigration removal centres.

The IMB conducted monitoring on board a joint EU charter flight on 2 March, observing the complete return process from pre-departure to arrival and reception in the country of return. UK Border Agency officials are working closely with the IMB to develop a working proposal around future monitoring.

Northern Ireland Office: Taxis

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The details for taxi bookings made for official departmental business by staff on 3 May are as follows:

Belfast (residential address) to Stormont House, Belfast; and

Belfast City Airport to Stormont House.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office procures its taxi contract using government guidance which ensures value for money as a priority. The department keeps this contract under review.

Overseas Aid

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Baroness Verma: All UK official development assistance (ODA) to fragile and conflict-affected states contributes to development and poverty eradication. In line with the international standard definition agreed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), for aid to be classified as ODA it must be delivered with the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its primary objective. The Government have committed to spend 30 per cent of ODA on supporting fragile and conflict affected states by 2014-15. Details of UK aid expenditure are published in Statistics on International Development which is available in the Library of the House.

Population

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In its March 2011 Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) set out its most recent assessment of economic prospects, including the outlook for the UK and world economies. This assessment reflects expected changes in populations.

The OBR's November 2011 Economic and Fiscal Outlook included long-term projections for the UK's public finances, based on long-term population projections produced by the Office for National Statistics.

Sudan

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

Baroness Verma: Figures received from the International Organisation for Migration state that 300,000 people have voluntarily migrated from the north to south Sudan in the past five months. The International Development Secretary discussed the needs of the returnees with government officials both in Juba and Khartoum during his recent visit (7 and

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8 May 2011). The UK has already pledged £2.47 million to help with the immediate relocation and first arrival needs of the returnees, which could provide 66 new primary health care units for 990,000 additional users; 266 new boreholes to give 133,000 people access to water; or 186 classrooms for 9,300 children. The Government of southern Sudan have carried out reintegration assessments in the sectors of water, health, education, livelihoods and rule of law. These plans are due to be presented to the international community shortly.

In the context of the bilateral aid review and the plans for UK assistance to south Sudan over the next four years, DfID is exploring opportunities for providing support to help small and medium-scale enterprises, in order to begin to diversify the economy away from its dependence on oil and to provide much needed employment opportunities for unskilled and semi-skilled labour in southern Sudan. Further details will be published in DfID's operational plan for south Sudan, which will be made available on the department's website after south Sudan becomes independent in July 2011.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Smith of Finsbury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The immigration system provides different routes of entry for international artists coming to the United Kingdom, depending on their purpose in coming and intended length of stay. Tier 5 of the points-based system, for example, has a category specifically for creative artists coming for periods of up to a year where the purpose involves paid work. Most artists seeking to perform or exhibit would most likely apply under this category. Outside the points-based system, the entertainer visitor visa enables entry, for up to six months, for those coming to perform at or take part in important cultural festivals and for other specific purposes such as charity events and music competitions.

We have received some reports of abuse in these categories but we have not carried out a systematic analysis.

The Government are reviewing all immigration routes of entry and tier five of the points-based system will be looked at in the coming months as part of this work.


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