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Baroness Verma: The latest data from Afghanistan's Ministry of Education for 2010-11 show that boys and girls are dropping out of education on a permanent basis in nearly equal proportions (15 per cent for boys and 14 per cent for girls).
Baroness Verma: Research by the Government of Afghanistan shows that the availability of female teachers is one of several factors-including security and access to education facilities-that impact on the number of girls attending school. The Government of Afghanistan's new National Priority Programme on Education for All includes commitments to build 200 secondary schools for girls; to construct school facilities with special features needed for girls (boundary walls and separate toilet facilities); and to expand community-based education activities to remote and un-served populations.
The latest figures from the Afghan Ministry of Education for 2010-11 show that there were nearly 50,000 female teachers in general education, up from virtually none under the Taliban, representing 31 per cent of the total number of teachers.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Success in Afghanistan is the highest priority in defence and countering the improvised explosive device (IED) threat is critical to making military progress in the campaign. We are completely focused on taking action to defeat this threat. We have deployed a counter-IED (C-IED) task force with the capability to detect, disable and exploit
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The range of C-IED skills, equipment, training and other capabilities employed by our Armed Forces in Afghanistan are widely recognised as being better than ever before; they are improving the safety of our forces-always our first concern-and improving their operational effectiveness. We will continue to invest in this area.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Reform and modernisation of police forces across Africa is a key element of our efforts to deliver this Government's security and consular priorities abroad. An effective police force is crucial in post-conflict environments and in countries at risk of instability.
The Government support police forces across Africa in a number of wide-ranging projects. They include training to combat terrorism, detect fraud, promote human rights, and provide policing equipment (eg radios and vehicles). Specific projects include: £20.6 million over a four year period to increase the effectiveness of the police and justice systems in Sudan; £60 million over five years for security sector accountability and police reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and £60,000 to support the development of a new community policing capability in Ghana.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Bovine neonatal pancytopenia (BNP) is a novel haemorrhagic disease of young calves which has emerged in a number of European countries in recent years. This disease is also known as bleeding calf syndrome or blood sweating disease. The first British case of BNP was confirmed in a calf in Scotland in April 2009.
Although it is possible to provide a very crude estimate of the prevalence of BNP in the British calf population, it is important to note that the true prevalence of this disease in British calves is unknown. There is no legal requirement for farmers to notify suspected cases of BNP to government veterinary authorities.
Since early 2009, farmers have been encouraged to submit suspected cases of BNP to their local Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) or Scottish Agricultural College Veterinary Services (SAC VS) laboratory for investigation and diagnosis. Up until the end of July 2010, in order to provide farmers with an incentive to submit suspected cases for diagnosis, AHVLA and SAC VS carried out these investigations free of charge.
As at 17 May 2011, AHVLA and SAC VS have confirmed 380 calf cases of BNP in Great Britain. In order to place this figure in context, the average number of calves in the at-risk age category (0 to 4-weeks-old) on British cattle farms during 2010 was 196,177 (Source: Rapid Analysis and Detection of Animal-related Risks Cattle Tracing System Database). These figures suggest that the prevalence of BNP in the British calf population is very low. However, it must be borne in mind that there may have been significant under-reporting of cases to AHVLA and SAC VS and it is also possible that there are unrecognised subclinical cases (calves that are affected but do not show any obvious signs of disease) of BNP on British cattle farms.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Defra officials are in regular communication with the industry, especially during difficult times, such as now, following the past winter's cold weather. Brassica growers are based across the country and grow a variety of different brassica crops. Consequently, the cold weather effects varied based on location, crop and where they were in their cropping cycle.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): In August 2010, the Fruit and Vegetable Task Force published its report on increasing fruit and vegetable production and consumption and in October followed this with an action plan for industry, growers, retailers,
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The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) is the UK's national innovation agency, with a goal of accelerating economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. The TSB's new Innovation Programme on Agri-Food is now the key vehicle for collaborative funding in this area and is an exciting opportunity for the industry. The programme has up to £90 million over the next five years to encourage industry innovation, including up to £30 million from Defra for joint funding with industry. The first call has already been launched on the issue of crop protection.
We are also encouraging increased consumption of fruit and vegetables with the 5 A Day Campaign, the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme and supporting projects to reconnect children and schools with farms and food production.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in making contingency plans for the introduction of genetically modified organisms into use in agriculture in the United Kingdom, they intend to provide for zoning and other measures to allay public concerns about biodiversity.[HL9364]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Under the European Union control regime, genetically modified crops will be authorised for commercial cultivation only if a robust assessment indicates that human health and the environment will not be compromised. We do not therefore expect that zoning or other measures would be required because crops which might have an adverse impact on biodiversity would not receive approval in the first instance.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Data from the published 2009 National Employer Skills Survey1 (NESS) show that in London Government Office Region, 5 per cent of employers2 offer
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Table 1 below shows apprenticeship programme starts for London Government Office Region and England from 2003-04, the earliest year for which we have comparable data, to 2009-10, the latest year for which we have final data.
|Table 1: Apprenticeship Programme Starts by Government Office Region, 2003-04 to 2009-10|
Information on apprenticeship starts is published in a quarterly statistical first release (SFR). The latest SFR was published on 31st March 2011 http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_current
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK, in its capacity as a state observer, attended the Arctic Council's biennial ministerial meeting that took place in Nuuk, Greenland on 12 May 2011 with representation from all eight Arctic states.
The key outcomes from the meeting included Arctic Ministers agreeing structural changes to the council, including a permanent secretariat (to be based in Tromso, Norway), an agreed budget, new communication/outreach arrangements and an intention to enhance the council's agenda. The Arctic Ministers also signed a search and rescue agreement which is intended to improve co-ordination between the Arctic states, and is the first legally binding agreement negotiated by the council, and which provides the council with another approach to doing business in the future.
Arctic Ministers also agreed a set of criteria for future applications for observers at the Arctic Council. This does not currently affect the UK's confirmed status as a state observer to the council, but the criteria will now be applied to new states seeking such status, including the outstanding applications from China, European Community, Italy, Japan and Korea.
In view of the noble Lord's interest in this issue, I will place in the Library of the House a copy of the information drawn from the annual audit of RAF accommodation prepared in October last year which detail the en-suite and non en-suite accommodation available at all RAF stations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what communications they have had with the Government of Bahrain since the beginning of public protests there; what communications they intend to have with that Government in the near future; whether they are emphasising the importance of due process for all persons arrested; and whether they have received information about allegations of disappearances and the outcomes of relevant cases.[HL9237]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have had regular communications with the Government of Bahrain since the beginning of public protests, and these communications are ongoing.
My right honourable friend the Prime Minister spoke by phone to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on 15 March 2011 and met the Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in London on 19 May 2011. On both occasions the Prime Minister expressed our concerns about the situation in Bahrain and stressed the importance of the Bahrain Government moving to a policy of reform rather than repression.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), spoke to the Bahraini Foreign Minister on 17 February, 16 April and 25 May and raised the UK's concern about the human rights situation. He made clear our concerns about arrests, deaths in detention and moves to investigate prominent licensed, political opposition parties. He made clear that the civil rights of peaceful opposition figures, the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly should be respected.
The Secretary of State for Defence, my right honourable friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox), spoke to the Crown Prince on 22 February 2011 and met the King and Crown Prince in Bahrain on 3 April 2011 and spoke to the King again on 16 May 2011, urging the Bahrain Government to create the environment in which dialogue can take place.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my right honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt), spoke to the Bahraini ambassador by phone on 1 April 2011 and raised our concerns about human rights. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever, met the Crown Prince in Bahrain on 23 February 2011 and urged all sides, including opposition groupings, to engage in dialogue.
Our ambassador has also regularly raised the UK's human rights concerns with Ministers across the Bahraini Government, including most recently with the Ministers of Justice, Interior and the Deputy Prime Minister. These include highlighting our concerns that due process should be followed and that those accused should have access to legal counsel and be tried before independent and impartial courts. The Defence Senior Adviser Middle East, Lieutenant General Simon Mayall, raised human rights with the Commander in Chief of the Bahrain Defence Force on 11 May 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the contribution of the International Development Association to the United Kingdom's development objectives with regard to gender. [HL9177]
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DFID) has been supporting and reviewing the progress of the World Bank's Gender Action Plan (GAP 2007-10), the aim of which is to mainstream gender into the bank's operations, with a particular focus on women's economic empowerment.
Our assessments have found that progress has been made in mainstreaming work on women's empowerment at the World Bank with, for example, a rise of approximately 20 per cent in the proportion of gender-informed projects, and significant public commitment has been made by President Zoellick with respect to gender equality. However, the multilateral aid review carried out by the Department for International Development (DfID) also highlighted the challenge of translating policy into results, and the need for the bank's performance to improve.
At the last replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA 16) gender was chosen as a cross-cutting theme. Specific gender targets were established to ensure that IDA delivers concrete benefits to girls and women. And the World Bank's next world development report will focus on gender.
At the World Bank spring meetings the Secretary of State sent a clear message to the bank that the report must demonstrate to policy makers and donors how to do things differently and deliver results for girls and women. DfID will follow up with the bank- both through engagement on the MAR and through monitoring the implementation of IDA 16-to ensure the bank delivers these important improvements.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Catering and Retail Services (CRS) did not run any special events to support British Tomato Week in 2011. However, CRS does support British Apple Week in October and will be supporting British Food Fortnight in September.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what meetings they have held with United Nations humanitarian agencies regarding the potential humanitarian crisis in Burma following the breakdown of the ceasefire agreement.[HL9418]
Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) has ongoing discussions with the United Nation Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs over the impacts that might arise from an increase in conflict in Burma. We are also in touch with local non-government organisations and community based organisations on both sides of the Thailand-Burma border.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have held with fellow members of the European Union regarding the intensified conflict in Shan State, Burma, and the risk of the conflict escalating. [HL9419]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We regularly discuss developments in Burma (including human rights and ethnic issues) with EU partners in Brussels, with EU head of missions on the ground in Rangoon, and with EU member states who follow the situation in Burma from Bangkok. Our embassy in Rangoon specifically discussed the ongoing conflict in Shan State with EU colleagues on 19 May. The UK also raised our deep concern about the situation in Shan State during a meeting of the Asia-Oceania Working Party on 25 May. The UK underlined the importance of the EU following the situation closely and standing ready to urge constraint.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reports they have received that the Burmese Army is launching military attacks against civilians in Shan State, Burma; and what is their response to the reports. [HL9420]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government are deeply concerned that the reported breakdown of a ceasefire agreement with the Shan State Army North has led to renewed conflict in Shan State. We have received reports which allege that the Burmese army has attacked local communities, whom they suspect of assisting the armed groups, and perpetuated human rights abuses. We understand that the fighting is taking place in the north-central area of Shan State, which is difficult to access and as such the information is hard to verify. In a Security Council debate on 10 May we called upon all armed actors, including the Burmese army and ethnic militia, to protect the civilian population. The Government secured a strongly worded human rights resolution at the March UN Human Rights Council which called on the Burmese Government to end continuing grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the targeting of civilians in conflict areas. The UK also highlighted our serious concern during a meeting with other EU member states on 25 May.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken, either on their own or in collaboration with other states and international organisations, to secure the release of 250 Buddhist monks detained in Burma.[HL9520]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The unconditional release of Burma's over 2,000 political prisoners, including at least 200 Buddhist monks, is an important benchmark by which the UK judges the Burmese Government.
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated cost to date of the Competition Commission's Local Bus Services Inquiry; and what is their estimate of the cost to (a) the industry, and (b) local authorities, in responding to this inquiry.[HL9329]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The costs to date incurred by the Competition Commission (CC) on the bus market inquiry are approximately £2 million. These are direct cost only.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether vulnerable elderly people occupying their care homes under a licence can be required to leave at four weeks notice; and whether it is permissible for an individual to be required to leave a care home on account of their personal beliefs.[HL9228]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): On 4 April 2011 the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), made a public statement outlining our concerns (http://ukinegyptSco.gov.ulden/news/?view-News&id=579056182). His statement called on the Chinese Government to clarify Mr Ai's situation and expressed the hope that he would be released immediately.
On 11 April 2011 my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister raised Mr Ai's case when he met Shanghai Party Secretary and Politburo Standing
6 Jun 2011 : Column WA12
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the transparency of the United Kingdom-China human rights dialogue; and what impact they attribute to transparency in promoting the effectiveness of the dialogue. [HL9482]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office values the experience and expertise of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and other civil society organisations and the input they can provide to our human rights work. The Minister of State, my honourable friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), met a group of NGOs specialising in China human rights issues in October 2010 and he has agreed to hold these meetings on a more regular basis, particularly in advance of future UK-China human rights dialogues. The meetings will provide the NGOs with a forum to raise suggestions and concerns in the context of the dialogue.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to broaden the United Kingdom-China human rights dialogue to involve expert non-governmental organisations, representatives from civil society in the United Kingdom and representatives of the Tibetan and Uyghur communities in exile.[HL9483]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office values the experience and expertise of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other civil society organisations and the input they provide to our human rights work. The UK delegation to the most recent round of the dialogue in January 2011 included representatives from UK civil society and academia, who participated in both the expert workshop and the main plenary.
The Minister of State, my honourable friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), met a group of NGOs specialising in China human rights issues in October 2010 and he has agreed to hold these meetings on a more regular basis, particularly in advance of future UK-China Human Rights dialogues. The meetings will provide NGOs with a forum to feed in ideas and raise concerns in the context of the dialogue.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what benchmarks they use to assess progress in the United Kingdom-China human rights dialogue; whether such benchmarks and the details of subjects discussed are published; and, if not, why not. [HL9484]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK-China Human Rights dialogue is a key part of our engagement with China on human rights. The dialogue focuses on building long-term momentum for change. In each round of the UK-China Human Rights dialogue we aim to build on the key principles which underpin respect for human rights, and on the areas China will need to address in order to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This includes the rights of detainees, migrant rights, capital punishment, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang, and co-operation with international human rights mechanisms.
We seek to be as transparent as possible in our human rights work. However, the effective conduct of the UK's international relations depends upon maintaining the trust and confidence of other governments. Our aim in the UK-China Human Rights dialogue is to achieve a free and frank exchange of information between the two Governments and their experts. These exchanges are based on the understanding that they will be treated in confidence.
Although topics for the dialogue have not yet been decided, we aim in each round to build on the key principles which underpin respect for human rights, and on the areas China will need to address in order to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). We also raise individual cases of concern.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to put in place safeguards to protect people with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis who are unable to work from being pressurised into unsuitable work or work-related activity prematurely when such a return to activity could be detrimental to their health.[HL9264]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We recognise chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis can be severely disabling. Where a
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People with limited capability for work will be placed in the work-related activity group. These individuals may be required to undertake work-related activity, which an adviser will discuss with them and will be detailed in their action plan. Work-related activity (WRA) may include work focused interviews (WFI) and other activities-for example, undertaking a training course or preparing a CV. Any activity the claimant is required to undertake must be reasonable in their circumstances. Advisers have the discretion to not impose work-related activity as they see fit. The purpose of work-related activity is to be of help to a claimant. Through these flexibilities we empowered advisers to support a wide variety of people, many of whom may have fluctuating conditions. At no time can an ESA customer be directed to seek, apply for or do work, nor to undertake medical treatment.
Safeguards are important for all ESA claimants rather than being condition specific. ESA customers have the right to ask for an activity to be reconsidered if they feel it is unreasonable. The reconsideration is undertaken by a Jobcentre Plus decision-maker. Customers also have the right of appeal, which is dealt with by an appeals tribunal.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to address the disruption to specialist services for chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis patients resulting from changes to the distribution of funding from primary care trusts' baseline budgets to the NHS bundle.[HL9405]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will designate chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis as a reportable health condition in order to obtain robust collection of data on (a) the number of children, young people and adults with the condition, (b) the degrees of severity of the condition, (c) demographic data, and (d) hereditability.[HL9406]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will commission research into the advice given to patients suffering significant viral or bacterial infections in order to prevent the incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.[HL9407]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Specialist services for those with chronic fatigue syndrome/ myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) are funded from primary care trust budgets. There are no plans to fund these services from the National Health Service bundle.
The department's position remains that the administrative burden on clinicians and others of the notification system means that it should be used only for a relatively small number of infectious diseases where monitoring is clinically necessary to identify
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The Medical Research Council has recently confirmed a commitment of up to £1.5 million to support research into the causes of CFS/ME. The new funding call will focus on six priority areas which have been identified by leading experts in the research community.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 22 May 2011 (WA 372), how treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis patients will be protected in the event of closure of a National Health Service hospital providing healthcare facilities to patients with CFS/ME from all parts of the United Kingdom; and who is responsible for safeguarding the treatment. [HL9621]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department It is the responsibility of individual primary care trusts to commission appropriate services to meet the needs of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking how many people have registered a civil partnership in each year in each local authority area up until the last year for which records are available. [HL9614]
The attached table shows the number of civil partnerships taking place in the UK by area of formation between 2005, the year the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force, and 2009, the latest year for which figures are available. Figures are presented by regions, counties, London boroughs, metropolitan districts and unitary authorities for England; unitary authorities within Wales; council areas within Scotland; and health trusts within Northern Ireland. Figures are not available for non-metropolitan districts in England.
3. Figures for England and Wales are based on date of formation-the date on which the civil partnership took place. Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland are based on date of registration -the date the civil partnership was entered onto the registration system. This date may be the same as the date of formation or a later date.
4. Figures are not available for non-metropolitan districts in England because this information is not available from the formation authority field used to compile civil partnership statistics by area.
5. The figures in the table are published for 2007 to 2009 at http://www.statistics.qov.uk/statbase/Product.asp? vInk=14675 and available upon request for 2005 and 2006.
|Civil Partnerships by area of formation, year and sex|
|United Kingdom, 2005-2009|
|United Kingdom by Countries and, Within England, Regions, Counties, London Boroughs, Metropolitan Districts and Unitary Authorities; Unitary Authorities Within Wales; Council Areas Within Scotland; and Health Trusts Within Northern Ireland||20051||2006||2007||2008||20092|
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