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The Environment Agency has made direct payments of £5.9 million to RSPB over the past five years, £3 million of this relates specifically to the Wallasea Island Habitat Project in the Anglian Region. The remainder has been for collaborative projects and contributions to a range of sustainability initiatives.
The table below details the payments Natural England have made to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds over each of the past four years. We do not have details of grants for the financial year 2006-07 as Natural England was not vested until October 2006.
|Rural Development Programme for England spend to RSPB|
|Grant In Aid grant spend to RSPB|
Baroness Garden of Frognal: Twickenham station currently already serves passengers attending large rugby events on a regular basis. It is for Stagecoach Southwest Trains as the train and station operator at Twickenham to work with the British Transport Police, the Rugby Football Union and the local authority, to manage passenger flows at the station during special events. The operator has a significant amount of experience of major rugby internationals that take place at the stadium.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the rights of women in Saudi Arabia; and whether they have made representations to the Government of Saudi Arabia about how they could improve these.[HL9588]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): 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 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Human Rights Report. We have four priority areas, one of which is women's rights. At the root of the problem of the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia is the guardianship system, which grants a male relative authority over every woman. The male family member can refuse permission for the woman to study, travel or work. There is also an extensive system of segregation which limits women's ability to play a full part in public life. Women, with some exceptions, may not work in a workplace with men. They may not drive.
On 15 May 2011 King Abdullah opened the largest female university campus in the world. There has been progress on female education in recent years. In 2009 King Abdullah opened the Kingdom's first co-education university north of Jeddah. And the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme is educating tens of thousands of Saudi women at universities worldwide. While the number and quality of female universities continues to rise, many subjects are not deemed appropriate and are unavailable to women. Employment opportunities are still limited, and major challenges remain. Local elections will be held in September 2011, but despite promises made when the elections were held in 2005, women are again excluded from voting or standing as candidates.
The Saudi Government have so far failed to remove the main institutional barriers to women, most notably the guardianship system. We continue to take every opportunity to urge the Saudi Government to remove the guardianship system of women, as the UK
6 Jun 2011 : Column WA66
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any records are kept of the numbers of children who are long-term absentees from school for medical reasons; and whether the medical condition is recorded.[HL9409]
The department collects information on the reason pupils are absent from school. Data on reasons include illness (not medical or dental appointments) but the medical condition is not recorded. Information is collected on the total number of sessions for which a pupil is absent. It is not, however, known how many of these sessions are continuous.
Further information on absence can be found in the Statistical First Release "Pupil Absence in Schools in England, Including Pupil Characteristics: 2009-10" which can be accessed at http://www.education.gov.uk/rsqateway/DB/SFR/s000994/index.shtml.
|Maintained Primary, State-funded Secondary and Special Schools (1)(2)(3): Distribution of Enrolments by length of absence due to illness (not medical or dental appointments)|
|Maintained Primary Schools (1)||State-funded Secondary Schools (1)(2)||Special Schools (3)||Total|
|Pupil enrolments in schools during 2009-10 (4)||Percentage of absence due to illness (5)||Pupil enrolments in schools during 2009-10 (4)||Percentage of absence due to illness (5)||Pupil enrolments in schools during 2009-10(4)||Percentage of absence due to illness (5)||Pupil enrolments in schools during 2009-10 (4)||Percentage of absence due to illness (5)|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department for Education does not hold information on private medical provision for academies staff as it does not routinely collect information about employee benefits that academies may offer to their staff.
As part of their freedoms to innovate and raise standards, academies are free to set their own pay and conditions for staff, and are not required to report these to the Department for Education or the Young People's Learning Agency. However the department is aware that some academies do provide private medical provision for their staff.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they did not consult the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council about the replacement of school exclusion independent appeal panels before publishing The Importance of Teaching: The Schools White Paper 2010.[HL9246]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): There is no requirement for the Government to consult arm's-length bodies before publishing a White Paper. The Schools White Paper: The Importance of Teaching was agreed by the Home Affairs Cabinet Committee prior to its publication. The Ministry of Justice, which is the sponsor department for the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, is represented on that Cabinet Committee.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Guidance on how to open a free school is available on the Department for Education's website: www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/freeschools.
That guidance sets out that free schools are required through their funding agreements to adopt practices and arrangements, which can include the use of catchment areas, that are consistent or in accordance with the school admissions code, the school admission appeals code and admissions law as it applies to maintained schools.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to evaluate the impact of the pupil premium in addressing the attainment gap between children from more and less affluent backgrounds. [HL9232]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government believe that schools are best placed to decide how to support their most deprived pupils and the pupil premium will be spent by them in ways that they judge to be most effective.
It is important that we should monitor the impact of this additional investment, which will rise to £2.5 billion each year by 2014-15, and learn from those schools which are making the most effective use of it. From this year, performance tables will publish data showing the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers for every school. The tables will show for each school the test or exam results for children who attract the pupil premium. They will allow us to compare results for these children with those of all other pupils in the school.
From September 2012 we will require schools to publish online details of how they have used the pupil premium to ensure that parents and others are made fully aware of the progress and attainment of those pupils it covers.
There is no evidence yet about how schools are choosing to spend their pupil premium, as it has only been available since April 2011. We will publish more information about what works to raise the attainment of deprived pupils in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to ensure that schools are using the pupil premium on measures which have been
6 Jun 2011 : Column WA70
Lord Hill of Oareford: We believe that schools are best placed to make decisions about how to use the Pupil Premium and they will be free to do so. To help inform those decisions we will share with schools evidence about what makes the most difference for pupils from deprived backgrounds, including, for example, intensive support in reading, writing and mathematics.
It is important that schools should be accountable for how they have used their Pupil Premium funding. We will include new measures in the performance tables to capture the achievement of those pupils covered by the premium. From September 2012, we will also require schools to publish online details of how they have spent the Pupil Premium so that parents and others are fully aware of the progress and attainment of those pupils it covers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many schools in each of the London Boroughs and the City of London were refurbished under the building Schools for the Future Programme in each year until the programme was stopped.[HL9615]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The table below sets out the number of schools in each of the London Boroughs that were refurbished or rebuilt under the Building Schools for the Future programme. Although the programme was stopped in July 2010, a number of projects continue to receive capital support. We have therefore included figures for projects completed each calendar year to April 2011.
|London Borough||2006||2007||2008||2009||Jan- 5 July 2010||6 July-Dec 2010||Jan-April 2011||Total|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department for Education, with other parts of government, is working on a range of initiatives to develop a positive culture of sensible and proportionate risk management in schools. A number of these measures were recommended in Common Sense, Common Safety (HMG October 2010) and agreed by the Prime Minister. The department's summary response to the report appears on the department's website at http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/adminandfinance/healthandsafety.
We will be issuing brief advice that will help school employers and staff to a clearer knowledge of what must be done for a reasonable and proportionate observance of the duty of care, both in school and during off-site visits, without imposing inappropriate burdens on schools proposing such visits. We will also be making available an optional generic consent form to last for the pupil's stay at a school, with an opt-out facility for individual visits. We will inform maintained schools that parental consent is not legally required for off-site activities during the normal school day. It is for schools to use their judgment as to whether consent should be sought from parents depending on the activity planned.
Bureaucracy is an issue which many staff in schools are concerned about when planning off-site educational visits, and we have heeded their concerns. We have also taken into account research evidence which showed some teachers being discouraged by too much paperwork.
Baroness Garden of Frognal: Through Whole Sport Plans, Sport England is investing £480 million through 46 national governing bodies over the next four years. The governing bodies work closely with their network of sports clubs to invest funding at a local level. In addition, the mass participation Olympic Legacy-Places People Play, will provide funding opportunities for sports clubs with £10 million for playing fields and £50 million for community sports facilities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the European Union's decision to impose a travel ban and a freeze of assets on members of the Government of Syria; and what impact this will have whilst it excludes President Assad.[HL9166]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK was heavily engaged in the European Union decision to impose a travel ban and assets freeze on 13 individuals in the Syrian regime who are responsible for the violence. On 13 May 2011 the Syrian Ambassador to London was told that if the violence does not stop immediately and all political prisoners released, the EU would take further measures including sanctions targeted at the highest levels of the Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Syria's Christian community has been subjected to attacks by protestors; and whether they will conduct and publish an appraisal of the recent attacks which have been made on the ancient churches throughout the Middle East.[HL9203]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have not heard of any reports of Syria's Christian communities or churches being subjected to any form of attack during the recent protests. Reports from Syria suggest that in Horns, Aleppo and Damascus, young Muslims have offered to protect churches, providing security cordons around the buildings to prevent criminal acts.
We are, however, aware of the difficulties faced by Christian minorities in the Middle East and other countries around the world. All of our Embassies and High Commissions have a responsibility to monitor
6 Jun 2011 : Column WA73
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Department of Energy and Climate Change received any representations from Tata Steel about the costs of European Union and United Kingdom carbon legislation, before it announced the partial closure of its Scunthorpe steel plant; and whether they will publish any such representations from the company. [HL9539]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Ministers and officials at the Department for Energy and Climate Change and across Government are in regular contact with Tata Steel, UK Steel and other industry bodies on a range of issues and receive representations from time to time on a range of issues. Last year DECC worked closely with the steel industry and other industries covered by the EU Emissions Trading System when negotiating the free allocation rules for Phase III (2013-20) of the system. These rules maintain significant free allocation for steel and other industries at risk of carbon leakage. Similarly the department is in regular contact with industry representatives on the current simplification of climate change agreements which offer significant tax discounts to the steel industry. The department will continue, working closely with BIS, to discuss the impact of current and future climate and energy legislation with the steel industry and other energy intensive industrial sectors.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will seek from the Government of Turkey figures for those arrested since 1 March 2011, stating how many have been charged with offences and how many are still in custody.[HL9310]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government do not plan to seek these figures from the Turkish Government. We expect the Turkish Government to follow the highest standards of human rights and justice at all stages of police and judicial processes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ascertain from the Government of Turkey the names of those disqualified from standing in this year's parliamentary elections, and the reasons for their disqualifications.[HL9311]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Turkish Supreme Election Board (YSK) publicly announced the final list of candidates for June's election on 18 April. It also announced the names of the 12 disqualified candidates and the reasons for their disqualifications. Seven of 12 disqualified candidates were backed by the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), and were subsequently re-instated.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the recent arrests and disqualifications of previously elected persons contravene Turkey's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights; and, if so, what action they will take.[HL9357]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Turkey is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. Accordingly, individuals who consider that their rights under the Convention have been breached by Turkey may take their case to the European Court of Human Rights if there is no effective national assistance available to them. It would be inappropriate for the Government to comment on whether the actions of the Turkish Government breached the European Convention on Human Rights until judicial consideration of any such complaints had been completed. We expect the Turkish Government to follow the highest standards of justice and human rights at all stages of police and judicial processes. Our Embassy in Ankara will continue to monitor the situation closely.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the Government of Turkey following the report by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe that 57 journalists are in prison there.[HL9494]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Minister for Europe, my right honourable friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington) raised the issue of the arrests of journalists in Turkey in his meeting with Egemen Bagis, Minister for European Affairs and Chief Negotiator, on 31 March 2011.
The EU made a statement on 10 March 2011 expressing its concerns about the number of imprisoned journalists in Turkey and urging Turkey to fulfil its commitments to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on media freedom. The OSCE made a statement on 4 April 2011 following the publication of its report on the matter. No further representations have been made since by the Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received any representations about the visit of the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Libya in December to receive the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.[HL9495]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have not received any representations about the visit of the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Libya in December to receive the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.
Our embassy in Ankara regularly raises issues relating to freedom of the media in the context of wider discussions on human rights with its Turkish counterparts. The EU made a statement on 10 March 2011 expressing its concerns about the large number of imprisoned journalists in Turkey and urging Turkey to fulfil its Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) commitments on media freedom. The Government do not plan separate bilateral representations in addition to the EU statement.
The last Government provided Uganda with budget support; the coalition Government have recently reviewed our overall approach to providing budget support. We are implementing a shift towards targeted funding to important sectors, such as health and education, and reducing general budget support. Over the next four years, general budget support provided by the UK Government is set to decline by 43 per cent. Our budget support to Uganda will be consistent with this approach. Further details of DfID's programme in Uganda can be found on our website (http://www.dfid. gov.uk/where-we-work/africa-eastern--southern/uganda/).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to modify restrictions on government departments and agencies and to encourage them
6 Jun 2011 : Column WA76
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The Government have set out a very clear ambition for the UK's trade and investment agenda. Trade and inward investment was one of the themes in the first phase of the Growth Review.
Working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) is the government department that helps UK based businesses succeed in the global economy and assists overseas companies to bring their high-quality investment to the UK. UKTI's new Strategy, Britain Open for Business, launched in May 2011, sets out plans to provide practical support to exporters and inward investors over the next five years. Its purpose is to help our economy grow by boosting exports and encouraging foreign companies to invest in the UK.
UKTI showcases UK strengths in sectors, including high technology sectors, where we have world-beating capability and this can pay big commercial dividends, particularly in the more challenging emerging markets. UKTI also uses its network of staff to compile overseas business opportunities. These are then publicised via an online Business Opportunities Service providing several hundred global sales leads every month-companies can sign up to receive online alert messages about particular markets or sectors.
Baroness Verma: The UK played an important role in the creation of UN Women; we now want the new agency to get off to the best possible start. The Government look forward to the agency presenting its Strategic Plan to the Executive Board in June. The plan will outline UN Women's operational priorities, including its approach to working with UN country teams. The Secretary of State and other Ministers discussed this with Michelle Bachelet, head of UN Women, when she visited the UK on 16-17 May.
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) performed poorly in the Multilateral Aid Review. We found it had a weak results culture and struggled to demonstrate delivery, including in working with UN Country teams. DFID is working closely with UN Women to ensure these shortcomings are addressed.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): A snapshot of the number of unfilled Jobcentre Plus vacancies will understate the opportunities available to benefit claimants because it misses the new vacancies that are coming up and being filled all the time, as well as vacancies available in the wider local labour market or advertised through other recruitment channels.
However, the Government recognise that in many local communities across the country there remain pockets of entrenched worklessness made worse by benefit dependency and, in some cases, too narrow a base of private sector jobs. Only by tackling the deficit, reforming welfare, improving the competitiveness of the economy and encouraging the growth of new businesses will it be possible to achieve the lasting growth in wealth and jobs that these communities need.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 10 February (WA 88-90), what assessment they have made of the results of the Central Lancashire Business School survey on Union Learning Representatives' (ULR) activity, impact and organisation in which 54 per cent of respondents agreed that ULR activity had helped to close skills gaps; and whether the funding of £177,000 for the National Union of Journalists in 2009-10 to develop the skills of its ULRs to work with employers to encourage workers to participate in continuing professional development provided value for money.[HL9317]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Central Lancashire Business School survey on Union Learning Representatives' (ULR) activity in England demonstrates the increasingly important role that ULRs play in the promotion of training and skills development in many workplaces. The Government consequently remain committed to supporting the work of ULRs and the Union Learning Fund in helping to drive up workforce skill levels and the important contribution they make to improving management-union relations in the workplace.
The survey included responses from over 950 active ULRs, 78 per cent of whom reported that their activity increased the number of colleagues receiving training and 80 per cent of whom reported that their activity had helped workers with little prior experience of learning. Two thirds reported improved management-union dialogue and almost 60 per cent reported improved
6 Jun 2011 : Column WA78
The funding of £177,000 for the National Union of Journalist's (NUJ) Union Learning Fund project in 2009-10 produced a wide range of positive outcomes, the vast majority of which were above the project's original outcome profile. Through increasing the skills of the union's network of learning representatives the project was able to provide opportunities for 848 learners to improve their own skills. This included 277 learners undertaking information, communication and technology courses to improve their computer skills, 137 learners accessing literacy and numeracy training to improve their basic skills and over 350 learners participating in continuing professional development to enhance their existing skill levels. The project also developed an on-line learning centre which provides a bespoke careers advice service for workers in the industry, offering quality information, advice and guidance on career development and opportunities. This enabled the project's ULRs to offer structured information, advice and guidance on learning and skills to over 2,300 learners over three times higher than the profiled target of 650.
A key purpose of the funding awarded to the NUJ for this ULF project was to help develop the union's capacity to provide ongoing support on learning and skills development to workers in the sector by helping to pump prime initial activity. Since the end of this project the NUJ has continued the learning and skills work initiated by the project, including sustaining the on-line learning centre using its own resources.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many representations they have received in response to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs waste review; and whether they will place a copy of the responses in the Library of the House.[HL9515]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Defra Ministers and officials have held a number of meetings with stakeholders regarding the Government's Review of Waste Policy.
The review's call for evidence received over 300 detailed responses from a mixture of local authorities, businesses, private individuals and civil society organisations, emphasising the diversity of local circumstances. These are already publicly available in the Defra Information Resource Centre.
To support the review's call for evidence, Defra also hosted an interactive debate on its website, which received 374 published comments, and a short online survey which around 1,500 respondents completed.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Welfare Reform Bill makes several changes to the benefits available to people with health conditions such as cancer.
In relation to Employment and Support Allowance, the Welfare Reform Bill provides for a one year time limit for those claiming contributory employment and support allowance in the Work Related Activity Group. The time limit will come into effect in 2012.
People with the most serious disabilities and health conditions, including many people with cancer, will not be subject to time limiting. People with the most severe disabilities or heath conditions are placed in the Support Group: this includes people who are terminally ill and people who are receiving certain types of chemotherapy. We have just amended legislation so that individuals awaiting or between courses of certain types of chemotherapy will also automatically be placed in the Support Group.
We are required to commission five annual independent reviews of the work capability assessment, the process by which entitlement to employment and support allowance is determined. As part of his second independent review, Professor Harrington has asked Macmillan Cancer Support and other cancer charities to look into how the work capability assessment assesses people with cancer and to make recommendations for
6 Jun 2011 : Column WA80
The Welfare Reform Bill also provides for the replacement of disability living allowance for people of working age with a new personal independence payment, a new, more transparent benefit and objective assessment of individual need. This change will be introduced in 2013. The personal independence payment will provide automatic and immediate entitlement to people who have a progressive disease such as cancer, are terminally ill, and are not expected to live for more than six months.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the warning by the United States to Zimbabwe that it could face international penalties if it helped Iran's nuclear programme, they have issued a similar caution; and in what terms.[HL9396]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of the United States of America approaching the Government of Zimbabwe to warn them that they could face further international penalties if they support Iran on its nuclear programme. The UK Government have not raised any such issues with the Government of Zimbabwe.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Zimbabwe along with international partners to allow international observation of their forthcoming election.[HL9609]
Lord Howell of Guildford: No date has been set for elections in Zimbabwe. Effective monitoring will be an important element of a credible poll. International observers require a formal invitation from the Government of Zimbabwe. The authorities are aware that the United Kingdom and international partners stand ready to participate in an international monitoring effort.
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