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16 Jun 2011 : Column WA201



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA201

Written Answers

Thursday 16 June 2011

Abortion

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There have been 6.26 million abortions performed on residents of England and Wales between 1968 and 2010. Between 1968 and 2002, 401 of these were performed under Section 1(4), in an emergency to save the life of the pregnant woman. For all of the years since 2003 the number of abortions performed under these grounds was less than 10 (between zero and nine) and the data have been suppressed in line with Office for National Statistics guidance on the release of abortion statistics, 2005.

Information about abortions due to rape is not collected by the department.

Afghanistan: Women's Rights

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Officials from the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand province regularly raise the issue of women's rights with provincial officials. We continue to support the Independent Commission of Women's and Children's Rights, which works to further the rights of women and children across Helmand province. We have not made a specific assessment of Kahn Neshin (which is outside the UK military's area of operation), but we incorporate the issues raised by the situation there into our work on women's rights.

At a national level we also continue to press the Afghan Government to implement their national and international human rights commitments, including the elimination of violence against women law and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA202

Air Ambulance Service

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): EU law provides a specific exemption from VAT for the supply of certain equipment and services used for sea rescue. There is no equivalent provision for air ambulance rescue services. There are a number of special VAT reliefs for charities that provide rescue or first aid services, from which the air ambulance rescue teams benefit.

These charities are able to purchase free of VAT: medicines, medical equipment (including first-aid kits and stretchers), and to purchase/lease free of VAT the air ambulance itself. All of these reliefs are derogations from the normal EU VAT rules and are not enjoyed by charities in other member states. EU VAT agreements, entered into by successive Governments, do not allow the UK, or any other member state, to extend unilaterally the scope of existing zero rates or to introduce new ones.

Alcohol Concern

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In 2009 the department completed a Strategic Investment Review of voluntary sector funding. As a result of this, the Section 64 general scheme of grants, which provided core funding to organisations, was replaced by the Innovation, Excellence and Service Development Fund. The purpose of the change was to make funding to the voluntary sector fairer and more transparent. It also means that organisations become more independent and less reliant upon statutory funding.

In 2010-11 Alcohol Concern received a grant of £300,000 to support the transition towards self-funding status.

Alcohol Concern made an application to the 2011-12 Innovation, Excellence and Service Development Fund but this was unsuccessful. The organisation has been provided with feedback to explain this decision. The competition for funding was intense, with over 350 applications for this scheme.

The grants paid to Alcohol Concern between 2007-08 and the current financial year are in the following table:



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA203

Funding year2007-082008-092009-102010-112011-12

Core Funding

£400,000.00

£400,000.00

£400,000.00

£0.00

£0.00

Project: Developing self-help groups for volunteers

£0.00

£50,000.00

£50,000.00

£0.00

£0.00

Transitional Funding

N/A

N/A

N/A

£300,000.00

N/A

£400,000.00

£450,000.00

£450,000.00

£300,000.00

£0.00

Asylum Seekers

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Data on the numbers of asylum applications since 1997 that have been accepted or been otherwise permitted to remain are not available, in particular due to a change in the database used to record asylum applications in 2000. Information on applications from later years that have been accepted or been otherwise permitted to remain could only be obtained by the detailed examination of records at disproportionate cost.

Data on numbers of principal asylum applicants between 2004 and 2009, as at May 2010, allowed asylum, humanitarian protection and discretionary

16 Jun 2011 : Column WA204

leave at initial decision and appeal are available in the published tables of the Control of Immigration statistics United Kingdom 2009. This does not include applications accepted at other stages of the process or those permitted to remain outside of the asylum process. This publication is available in the Library of the House and the Home Office science website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/research-statistics.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) remains committed to providing a safe haven for refugees and operates a firm but fair asylum system that is delivering faster decisions to identify those who genuinely need our protection as well as those who do not. All asylum and human rights claims are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with our obligations under the refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights against the background of the latest available information on asylum seekers' countries of origin.

However, where it is found by the UK Border Agency and the courts that an asylum seeker does not require international protection and there are no remaining rights of appeal or obstacles to return, we expect that person to return to their country of origin voluntarily. UKBA only returns those who both the agency and the courts are satisfied do not need our protection and refuse to leave voluntarily. We are determined to remove those with no right to be in the UK.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Browning: Numbers of asylum applications from nationals of European Union member states for 2001 to 2010 are in the table below:



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA205



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA206

Asylum applications (1) received in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, 2000 to 2010 from nationals of EU member states
Principal applicants
Country of nationality200120022003200420052006200720082009 (P)2010 (P)

Austria

-

-

*

-

-

-

*

-

-

-

Belgium

*

-

*

*

-

*

-

-

-

-

Bulgaria (2)

:

:

:

:

:

:

5

*

*

*

Cyprus (3)

:

:

:

-

-

-

*

-

-

-

Czech Republic (3)

:

:

:

*

*

*

5

*

-

*

Denmark-

-

-

-

-

-

-

*

-

-

-

Estonia (3)

:

:

:

-

-

-

-

-

-

*

Finland-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

*

-

-

France

15

5

5

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

Germany

*

*

-

-

*

-

*

-

*

-

Greece

*

*

-

-

*

-

-

-

-

-

Hungary (3)

:

:

:

-

*

*

-

-

*

*

Ireland

*

-

-

*

*

5

-

-

-

-

Italy

5

*

-

*

-

*

-

-

-

*

Latvia (3)

:

:

:

*

*

*

*

-

*

*

Lithuania (3)

:

:

:

5

5

5

*

-

*

*

Luxembourg-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Malta (3)

:

:

:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Netherlands

*

5

*

5

-

-

-

-

*

*

Poland (3)

:

:

:

*

*

5

*

-

*

5

Portugal

*

*

*

-

-

-

*

-

*

-

Romania (2)

:

:

:

:

:

:

10

*

5

5

Slovakia (3)

:

:

:

*

*

-

-

*

5

-

Slovenia (3)

:

:

:

-

*

-

-

-

-

-

Spain

10

5

-

-

-

*

-

*

-

-

Sweden*

*

-

-

-

*

-

-

-

-

*

United Kingdom

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

Data on asylum applications are available in the published tables of the quarterly Control of Immigration statistics United Kingdom Q1 2011. This publication is available in the Library of the House and the Home Office science website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/research-statistics.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Browning: The Government have made clear their willingness to provide practical assistance to Greece on asylum and migration matters and in the past six months have sent a number of asylum experts to Greece as part of EU teams co-ordinated by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). Three further UK experts from EASO's Asylum Intervention Pool are due to be deployed to Greece in the next few months to support implementation of the Greek Government's National Action Plan for Managed Migration and Asylum Reform (Greek Action Plan). Separately the UK has given £238,500 to UNHCR for projects related to asylum reform in Greece.

As a result of the judgment in MSS v Belgium and Greece, the European Commission, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other EU member states have placed increased pressure on Greece to reform its asylum system so that it meets their obligations under EU law. The Government note that reform of the asylum system, including improving conditions for asylum seekers, is high on the Greek political agenda and there is some evidence that progress is being made. But we will continue to monitor the implementation of the Greek action plan closely to ensure effective improvements are carried out.

Bahrain

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We believe that at least 20 demonstrators have been killed since the protests in Bahrain started in February, but we are unable to confirm exact figures. We have seen no reliable figures for people said to have disappeared in Bahrain this year.

Asked by Lord Patten

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK Government do not hold information on the number of Shias who have been removed from their posts in the public service in Bahrain this year.

We have made it clear to the Bahraini Government that the civil rights of all citizens, including the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression and the right of peaceful assembly, must be respected. We also expect them to meet all their human rights obligations, by ensuring that their citizens can exercise the universal human rights and freedoms to which they are entitled.

Energy: Wind Farms

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Crown Estate's competitive offshore renewable licensing rounds are subject to open terms and conditions, each notified at the time the licensing round is announced.

It is for those seeking permission to operate offshore renewable schemes to determine whether and how they should export any of the energy they generate. They are best placed to assess the competitive market and they tender for participation in the light of their assessments of the market with full knowledge of the commercial terms of the Crown Estate lease. The Crown Estate receives its revenue (rent) based on the amount of energy generated on the seabed under its control, regardless of the route of export. It makes decisions about participation in each licensing round, in line with its obligations under the Crown Estate Act 1961, to maintain and enhance the return obtained through the management of its property portfolio.

Details of the operation of the new sovereign grant will be announced when the Bill is published later this year.

EU: Budget

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The production of estimates of the net contributions to the EU budget of other member states or candidate countries is a matter for the country concerned.

EU: Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The proposed amendments to the savings directive would extend the scope of savings income to cover income substantially similar to interest from

16 Jun 2011 : Column WA208

bank accounts, such as income from life insurance products and low-risk securities. The directive, which has been in operation since 2005, provides for information on individuals' savings income to be provided by one member state to another member state where the individual is a tax resident of the latter member state. It does not provide for such information to be made available to the European Union institutions.

Government Departments: Research and Data

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): This information cannot be provided due to disproportionate costs.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): I refer the noble Lord to the reply given to the honourable Member for the Vale of Clwyd by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales on 7 June 2011 (Official Report, Commons, col. 30W).

Health: Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Questions

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): As announced in the Written Statement by the Secretary of State on 16 February (Official Report, col. WS 78-9), the Government have decided, jointly with the devolved Administrations, to establish a statutory register for practitioners supplying unlicensed herbal medicines. It is our intention to consult on draft legislation once it is prepared and, subject to parliamentary procedures, we will aim to have the legislation in place in 2012.



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA209

The Health Professions Council cannot establish the register until it has the powers to do so, but is working closely with the department on its preparatory work.

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

Earl Howe: Under the European directive on traditional herbal medicinal products, all manufactured herbal medicines placed on the market from 30 April 2011 must have either a traditional herbal registration or a marketing authorisation. Stocks of products that were legally on the market before 30 April 2011 do not need to be recalled and retailers and practitioners may sell through any such unlicensed stock purchased before 30 April.

A delay in establishing a statutory register would perpetuate the current situation for longer.

Health: Reciprocal Agreements

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The survey took the form of a questionnaire, sent by the Pension Service to those in receipt of a United Kingdom pension, resident in Ireland. A copy of the questionnaire has been placed in the Library.

In 2010, the United Kingdom paid Ireland €270 million in respect of healthcare costs. This includes an offset amount of £17 million for the value of UK claims. However, these amounts do not specifically relate to treatment provided in that year.

Several member states, including the United Kingdom and Ireland, use an average cost basis for calculating claims. Member states are required to submit their average costs to the European Commission for approval. The latest published average cost figure (2008) for the United Kingdom is £3,598.66. The latest published average cost figure for Ireland (2004) is €6,789.44.



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA210

High Energy Drinks

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department has not made any specific assessment on the effects of high energy drinks. However, these drinks tend to be high in sugar and caffeine. The department recommends that the intake of non-milk extrinsic sugars-ie, those added to food-should not exceed 60g/day or 11 per cent of food energy, which is based on expert advice from the Committee on the Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Government advice discourages giving babies sugary drinks and food, and older children and families are encouraged to substitute sugary drinks with water, milk (ideally semi-skimmed), sugar-free drinks, sugar-free squash, or unsweetened fruit juice.

The department is not aware of any evidence of a direct, long-term link between children's caffeine consumption and altered behaviour. For children who might substitute high caffeine soft drinks for other soft drinks, consumption might represent an increase in daily caffeine exposure compared with their previous intake. The Food Standards Agency advises that children and other people who are sensitive to caffeine should consume these and other food products with significant amounts of caffeine (such as coffee) only in moderation.

Industrial Action

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government have no current plans to change industrial action law and do not have a specific set of circumstances in mind which would prompt them to propose making any changes. The Government actively engage with trade unions on a wide range of issues, including employment law, and aim to resolve issues, wherever possible, through dialogue. For example, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills regularly meets TUC representatives.



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA211

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We welcome and support President Obama's recent speech making clear that negotiations should be on the basis of 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps and proper security arrangements.

We and E3 partners have long called for a return to negotiations based on clear principles. We are pressing the parties to return to the table on the basis set out by President Obama. This means discussions on borders and security first. We are in close touch with the Government of Israel on these issues.

Ivory Coast

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and my honourable friend the Minister for Africa have both spoken to President Ouattara on several occasions about the alleged human rights abuses and violations which followed the disputed November 2010 elections. They emphasised the importance of all allegations being properly investigated, regardless of whom is alleged to have committed them. Most recently, during bilateral discussions with President Ouattara on 21 May 2011, the Minister for Africa reiterated our concerns and sought assurances that those accountable for human rights abuses would be brought to justice. President Ouattara stated that there would be no impunity and building respect for human rights would be a key objective for his Government. We will look closely at the recommendations of the UN mandated commission of inquiry report when it is published and we will continue to actively work with international partners to ensure that those guilty, on both sides of the conflict, are accountable for their crimes and brought to justice.

Lebanon

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA212

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Baroness to the response given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), in the other place on 21 March 2011 (Official Report, Commons, col. 822W).

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Lebanese authorities, in conjunction with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), are currently investigating the bomb attack on the UNIFIL convoy which left six Italian peacekeepers injured.

Following the attack, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, my honourable friend Alistair Burt, issued a statement condemning the attack and expressing our thoughts to the victims and their families. Our ambassador in Lebanon has also raised the attack with the Lebanese Government.

UNIFIL plays a vital and positive role in maintaining peace and security in southern Lebanon through its mandate in support of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and needs to be afforded freedom of movement and the security necessary for it to do so.

NHS: Costs

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The National Health Service will be expected to deliver annual efficiency savings of up to £20 billion by 2014-15, while simultaneously improving outcomes for patients. The Government have pledged that funding for the NHS will rise by £11.5 billion over the same period, which means that all efficiency savings made will be available to reinvest in services for patients.

NHS: Health Centres

Question

Asked by Lord Hoyle



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA213

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The development of new primary care facilities is a matter for local commissioners to determine. Further information on the proposed development of a new healthcare facility in Chorley East can be obtained from NHS Central Lancashire.

NHS: Reorganisation

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The impact assessment for the Health and Social Care Bill estimated a total cost of £1.4 billion. The impact assessment is available at: www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsLegislation/DH_123583.

A copy has already been placed in the Library.

The Government will publish a revised impact assessment for the Health and Social Care Bill in due course, reflecting the changes we propose to make in response to the NHS Future Forum.

Offenders: Work

Question

Asked by Lord Dubs

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As part of the bidding process private sector companies and probation trusts will be required to demonstrate that their proposed operating models are able to deliver community payback to a high standard and safely supervise offenders in the community. Quality assurance procedures for the provision of community payback are detailed as mandatory procedures and guidance in the community payback operating manual.

Pakistan

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: As highlighted in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's annual Human Rights Command paper, we remain very concerned about the human rights situation in Pakistan and in

16 Jun 2011 : Column WA214

particular the potential for the blasphemy laws to be misused against both Muslims and non-Muslims. It is vital that Pakistan guarantees the rights of all its citizens, regardless of their faith or ethnicity.

We regularly raise the issue of religious tolerance and minority rights with the Pakistani authorities. The Minister for South Asia, Mr Alistair Burt, visited Pakistan between 16 and 18 May. He discussed this issue of religious tolerance with Dr Paul Bhatti, the Pakistan Prime Minister's adviser on interfaith harmony and minority affairs. He also met religious leaders from across Pakistan as part of the ministry's interfaith council. He highlighted the need to ensure that all of Pakistan's citizens are accorded their rights under the Pakistani constitution.

The issue of religious tolerance is part of a wider attack on Pakistan's democratic tradition. It is essential Pakistan supports political freedom wherever it is threatened.

We will continue to support the Government of Pakistan on this important subject.

Palestine

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made our position on UN recognition of a Palestinian state very clear during the visit of President Obama. He agreed with the President that in the end the Palestinian state will only come about if the Palestinians and the Israelis can agree to it coming about. That is the vital process that has to take place.

However, the UK does not believe the time for making a decision about a possible UN resolution is right yet. We want to discuss this within the European Union and try and maximize the leverage and pressure that the European Union can bring on both sides to get this vital process moving.

Railways: Electrification

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA215

Earl Attlee: Bimodal trains will be capable of operating on all main diversionary routes on both the GW and EC main lines, irrespective of whether these routes are electrified or not.

Railways: Great Western Railway

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The timetable for the refranchising of the Great Western franchise is currently under development and announcements will be made in due course. There will be a public consultation which will allow respondents to put forward their views.

Refugee and Migrant Justice

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 26 October 2010 (WA 274-75), 39 of the 64 providers in breach of the fixed fee margin key performance indicator (KPI) for their asylum work in 2009-10 were awarded asylum contracts in the 2010 civil bid round and were awarded 7,863 asylum matter starts in total. In terms of immigration cases, owing to a corruption of the data set a duplicate record has been produced which now indicates 53 immigration providers were in breach, and not 54 as previously stated. Of those 53 providers in breach of the fixed fee margin KPI for their immigration work in 2009-10, 33 were awarded immigration contracts in the 2010 civil bid round and were awarded 7,678 immigration matter starts in total.

Under the previous unified contract, key performance indicators were performance measures only and were not criteria for the award of contracts in the 2010 bid round. However, they are now requirements of the 2010 standard civil contract.



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA216

Republic of Ireland: Deportation

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): On 19 February 2007 the then Immigration Minister decided that the public interest would not generally be served by the deportation of Irish nationals save in exceptional circumstances. Therefore, the criteria under which an Irish national may be considered for deportation are where:

a court recommends deportation in sentencing, orthe Secretary of State concludes that due to the exceptional circumstances of the case it would be conducive to the public good.

The table below sets out the number of deportations of Irish nationals each year from 2006.

YearNumber of Irish Nationals Deported from the UK

2006

36

2007

18

2008

3

2009

0

2010

1

The exceptional circumstances for which an Irish national may be deported include where a person has been convicted of a terrorism offence, murder or a serious sexual or violent offence and is serving a sentence of 10 years or more. A breakdown of the reasons for deportation is not provided in this response due to the small number of individuals involved and to ensure that we comply with data protection rules.

South Wales Police

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): There have been no investigations by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) into whether or not the chief constable of South Wales Constabulary has allowed, or required, information or evidence to be withheld. If the noble Lord, or anyone else, believes they have such evidence they should make it available to the IPCC.



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA217

Sudan

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are committed to ensuring the most effective possible international presence along the intra-Sudanese border. The size and nature of this presence are the subject of negotiation at present.

UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): These expert-level meetings were aimed principally at non-governmental organisations and academics and attendance was by invitation only.

Further details can be found on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees website (http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4d22f95f6.html).



16 Jun 2011 : Column WA218

Yemen

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of ongoing fighting in and around Zinjibar between Government of Yemen security forces and militants which may include an element comprising al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP continues to represent a threat not only to the people of Yemen, but also to the UK and its allies.

Zimbabwe

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We agree that the state of the voters' roll in Zimbabwe gives cause for serious concern. It is crucial to the credibility of the next election that a thorough cleaning of the roll takes place, to ensure that it is up to date and accurate.

We did not make any specific representation to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) ahead of the summit but our views on the importance of reform, including the voters' roll, are well known and are shared by many in the region and the international community.


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