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29 Jun 2011 : Column WA432

Fire and Rescue Services

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The numbers of firefighters in full-time equivalents employed in Greater London by the Fire Authority for each year from 1996 up until the last year available are shown in the table.

Numbers of firefighters (full-time equivalents) at 31 March in Greater London 1996 to 20101
YearWholetime firefighters (full-time equivalents)

1996

6,235

1997

6,131

1998

5,909

1999

5,973

2000

5,639

2001

5,693

2002

5,913

2003

5,875

2004

5,986

2005

5,924

2006

5,953

2007

5,929

2008

5,910

2009

6,026

2010

5,900

Government: Official Hospitality

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The right honourable Baroness Warsi hosted a celebratory reception for over 120 representatives of different faiths, organisations and Buddhist traditions in recognition of the contribution that the Buddhist community makes to the United Kingdom. The Dalai Lama's representative was not included in the list of diplomatic invitees because he does not have diplomatic status.

Government Departments: Research and Data

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Research or data collection for the Ministry of Defence is provided internally by departmental experts or by commercial staff placing a wide range of external contracts on behalf of the relevant top level budget holders. Information on work initiated, terminated and amended for all Defence Ministers by either means is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



29 Jun 2011 : Column WA434

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): This information could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Government Departments: Scientific Advisers

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Communities and Local Government is Professor Jeremy Watson.

He was appointed in November 2009, for a period of three years.

His areas of expertise include the strategic management of research and innovation, including technology evaluation and transfer between higher education institutions and public and private sectors. He has worked across sectors to create and implement strategic research agendas, and has led research programme management teams for public, private and voluntary sector organisations. A chartered electrical engineer, he is technically qualified in applied physics, particularly building energy, control and automation, and has worked as an expert in industry in these areas (Eurotherm and the British Oxygen Company).

Before taking up the role of Chief Scientist in the Department for Communities and Local Government, Jeremy Watson worked as Technology Director for the

29 Jun 2011 : Column WA435

British Oxygen Company Edwards and as Research Director with Ove Arup and Partners. In this time, he additionally served on the governing board of the Technology Strategy Board, and as a founding trustee of the Institute for Sustainability. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Academic engagement is actively maintained through visiting professorships at the Universities of Southampton and Sussex in schools of Civil and Environmental and Engineering and Design, respectively. He is a member of advisory boards at the Universities of Cambridge, Imperial College and Reading.

He is a Grade 3/SCSPB2.

His post is part time, 0.5 full-time education, and he is also global research director at Arup.

The Chief Scientific Adviser meets Ministers and officials in the course of his duties.

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Treasury's Chief Scientific Adviser is Dr James Richardson, who was appointed on 2 June 2011. Dr Richardson has a PhD in labour economics from the London School of Economics and fulfils the post part-time alongside being Chief Microeconomist and Director of Public Spending. His rank is Senior Civil Service Pay Band 2. Dr Richardson will have regular meetings with Ministers in this role.

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Dr Bill Gunnyeon was appointed to the combined post of Chief Medical Adviser and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Work and Pensions in June 2005, on a permanent basis. An accredited specialist in Occupational Medicine, Dr Gunnyeon is a Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and holds Fellowships of the Royal College

29 Jun 2011 : Column WA436

of Physicians of London, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of General Practitioners. He is a Past President of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, the standard-setting body for the training of Occupational Physicians in the UK.

Dr Gunnyeon's post is full-time and is a Senior Civil Service Pay Band 2 (Director) level post. He is also the Director for Health, Work and Wellbeing-a role which includes responsibility for leading on health and work-related policy. Over the past year Dr Gunnyeon has had 68 meetings with the Department's Ministers. He has provided support to Ministers on a further 19 occasions.

Health: Hepatitis C

Question

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Health Protection Agency issued a press release on 21 June 2011 and published information on its website about health risks associated with attending outdoor music festivals, copies of which have been placed in the Library. This includes information about tattooing and piercing.

The National Travel Health Network and Centre has published parallel advice about attending music festivals abroad, a copy of which has also been placed in the Library.

Local National Health Service organisations and their partners are responsible for providing information and advice locally.

The Home Office has been working with festival organisers and police forces to take measures to tackle potential drug use. Advice for young people about drugs and the risks of drug-taking is available on the FRANK website at: www.talktofrank.com and from the associated confidential helpline (0800 776600).

Health: Nutrition

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

29 Jun 2011 : Column WA437

(NICE) in 2006 was accompanied by a national cost impact report, which calculated the annual saving of fully implementing the guideline to be £13.3 million.

The guidance also includes a cost impact template for local use, which enables organisations such as primary care trusts to estimate the impact locally and replace variables with ones that depict the current local position. A sample calculation carried out by NICE using this template showed that the average primary care trust with an adult population of 134,000 could expect to incur additional costs of £122,000, offset by potential annual savings of £150,000 resulting in a net saving of £28,000.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

Earl Howe: Financial incentives to improve quality are provided through the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) payment framework. This enables commissioners to reward excellence by linking a proportion of providers' income to the achievement of local quality improvement goals.

The NHS Operating Framework for 2011-12 confirms the extension of the framework to the new National Health Service standard contract for care homes. The new standard amount providers can earn will be 1.5 per cent on top of actual outturn value.

Commissioners must share agreed CQUIN schemes on the NHS Institute website. In addition, providers are also required, within their quality accounts, to state where details of their agreed CQUIN scheme(s) can be found.

HM Revenue and Customs: Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Harris of Haringey

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Correspondence from members of the public held in local Pay as You Earn and Self Assessment Offices at the end of May 2010 was 901,000 items. At the end of May 2011 there were 553,000 items on hand.

HMRC does not keep details of average times for reply. Correspondence is sorted into different priorities and different timescales apply to each workload. However, the 2010 figure represented approximately five weeks worth of receipts and the 2011 figure less than three weeks.



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Housing Benefit

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Using information from the department's 2009-10 Family Resources Survey, we estimate that the number of households claiming housing benefit who have a spare room is approximately:

(a) 1.0 million in the English regions outside of London;

(b) 0.2 million in Scotland; and

(c) 0.1 million in Wales.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Lord Freud: For the financial year 2011-12, £20 million of the discretionary housing payment fund is, as was the case in previous years, based on the mid-point between its discretionary housing payment spend for the latest year for which we have reliable data and its contribution for that year.

The remaining £210 million has been allocated differently and is based upon the department's estimates of the total gross reductions in housing benefit entitlement

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in each local authority that will result from the local housing allowance reforms that came into effect in April 2011. This has meant that London received around 40 per cent of the additional funding allocated as a result of these measures.

The department is reviewing the allocation of discretionary housing payments for 2012-13.

Further information about the likely impacts on specific local authorities can be found on the DWP website: www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/impacts-of-hb-proposals- tables.xls.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Lord Freud: The following table shows how many of 1,870 local housing allowance cases in Tower Hamlets in the 25 to 34 age group in February 2011 were (a) single people, (b) couples or (c) households including children.

LHA claimants in Tower Hamlets aged 25-34 split by family type, February 2011

All

1,870

Single no child dependants

1,020

Couple no child dependant

90

Single or couple with child dependants

770

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Lord Freud: Based on analysis of the local housing allowance case load in March 2010, it is estimated that 320 claimants in Tower Hamlets would have their local housing allowance reduced to the shared accommodation rate due to the extension of the age threshold to 35. The average loss per loser is estimated at £109 per week.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Lord Freud: The Department for Work and Pensions published a Discretionary Housing Payments-Good Practice Guide in March 2011. A copy of the guidance can be found on the website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/dhpguide.pdf.

The period of time for which a discretionary housing payment can be awarded is down to the discretion of the local authority.

Immigration: Deportation

Questions

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The number of enforced removals and deportations to Somalia in each of the past three years for which figures are available was as follows:

1 April 2008-31 March 2009 (13);1 April 2009-31 March 2010 (24); and1 April 2010-31 March 2011 (12)

We are unable to distinguish between Somalia and Somaliland when reporting on removals to this region. Our standard reports only record these removals as being to Somalia.

All figures quoted are internal management information only and are subject to change. This information has not been quality assured under national statistics protocols.

Asked by Lord King of West Bromwich



29 Jun 2011 : Column WA441

Baroness Browning: The table below sets out the number of liability to deportation letters served in each year. The liability to deportation letter is given to all foreign national prisoners (FNPs) who meet the criteria for deportation near the beginning of their sentence. It explains the FNPs' liability to deportation and gives them an opportunity to state why they should not be deported or, where applicable, why they are exempt from automatic deportation.

YearNumber of Liability to Deportation Letters served

2007

6330

2008

5225

2009

5635

2010

6110

This information is from internal management information systems and should therefore be treated as provisional and subject to change. Please note that data have been rounded to the nearest five.

The number of people served with letters of potential liability does not directly correspond with the number of people deported in each year as those served with liability letters may be deported in later years. It should also be noted that not all those served with a liability letter will be deported as some individuals may be able to remain in the UK on the basis of an allowed appeal or as a result of them being identified as a British citizen.

The table below shows the published figures for number of foreign nationals removed or deported from the UK. Please note that the data for 2006 are not considered to be reliable for publication.

YearNumber of foreign nationals removed or deported from the UK.

2007

4200

2008

5400

2009

5530

2010

5235

UK Border Agency management information shows that in 2010, for an average month, approximately 635 foreign national prisoners were detained in prisons and 1,135 detained in immigration removal centres beyond the end of their custodial sentence while deportation was considered. These average figures are based on internal management information and are subject to change.



29 Jun 2011 : Column WA442

The table below shows a snapshot of time served by FNPs detained under immigration powers in prison at the end of May 2011, by length of detention.

Length of time detained beyond the end of sentence in prisonNumber detained

Time Served 12-24 months

45

Time Served 24-36 months

30

Time Served 36 months +

10

This information is from internal management information systems and should therefore be treated as provisional and subject to change. Please note that data have been rounded to the nearest five.

We are satisfied that detention policies and practices comply with human rights legislation. All decisions to detain are taken on the basis of the individual circumstances of the person concerned, taking account of all factors arguing both for and against detention, and are kept under regular review. The UK Border Agency's detention policy starts with a presumption of liberty but the courts have held that it is appropriate to consider the risks of absconding, reoffending and subsequent harm to the public in making these decisions. Immigration Act powers to detain are not time limited. However, domestic and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) case law provides that detention must last for no longer than is reasonably necessary for the purpose for which it is authorised and must not be of excessive duration.

Immigration: Detainees

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The table below shows the number of nationals of the specified countries who were detained solely under Immigration Act powers as at 31 March 2011, having been held in detention for (a) 12 months to less than 24 months and (b) 24 months or more. This is the latest date for which published statistics are available.

Nationals of Eritrea, Iran, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Somalia in detention in the United Kingdom solely under Immigration Act powers as at 31 March 2011 (1)(2) who had been held for a year or longer (3)(M)
Number of detainees
Length of detention (3)12 months to less than 24 months24 months or more

Nationals of:

Eritrea

-

-

Iran

10

5

Occupied Palestinian Territories

*

-

Somalia

10

5



29 Jun 2011 : Column WA443

The Home Office publishes statistics on those detained as at the last day of each quarter solely under Immigration Act powers, which are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Science, Research and Statistics website at: http://homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/researchstatistics/migration/migration-statistics1/.

Figures for those detained as at 30 June 2011 will be published on 25 August 2011.

Immigration: Detention

Questions

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The current average cost of detaining an individual at an immigration detention centre is £102 per night.

Asked by Lord Avebury

Baroness Browning: The UK Border Agency (UKBA) does not hold the data requested.

The United Kingdom is a signatory to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The Government are satisfied that the UK meets its obligations under those conventions.

The UKBA is satisfied that those who find themselves at the end of the asylum process without having being granted protection status (or any other form of leave) have no need of protection in the UK and can return home.



29 Jun 2011 : Column WA444

Immigration: Detention of Children

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): Local records indicate that 367 children who were part of a family group left immigration detention between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2010.

These figures are based on local management information and are not subject to the detailed checks that apply for national statistics. They are provisional and may be subject to change.

The Home Office publishes statistics on the number of children detained solely under Immigration Act powers on a quarterly and annual basis, which are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office's Research, Development and Statistics website at: www. homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.

Israel and Palestine

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As I said in the House on 16 June (Official Report, col. 876) we remain deeply concerned about restrictions on freedom of movement between the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

According to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) there are now 505 obstacles that restrict Palestinian access, compared with 578 at the end of 2009. We welcome these improvements but it is clear that more could be done, particularly in the Jordan Valley and Palestinian land on the Israeli side of the separation barrier.

We continue to make our concerns clear to the Israelis through our embassy in Tel Aviv.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham



29 Jun 2011 : Column WA445

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We estimate that approximately 1,500 additional civil non-family cases per year will receive legal aid as a result of the policy changes we have made to our programme of legal aid reform following consultation. This relates to approximately £1.5 million spend.

It is more difficult to estimate the extra family cases that will be funded as we are bringing parts of categories back into scope. However, we estimate that approximately 9,000 more family cases will receive legal aid, at a cost of approximately £8 million. This is as a result of changes made to our proposals as a result of consultation, but some of the increase is the result of using the latest available data.

NHS: Hospital Beds

Question

Asked by Lord Reid of Cardowan

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We expect to see a continuing gradual decline in the number of general and acute hospital bed numbers.

We expect strategic health authorities to publish their integrated plans for investment and quality improvement for 2011-12, including forecasts of acute bed capacity up to 2014-15, in the summer.

The decline in bed numbers reflects advances in medical technology, shorter stays for routine operations and more day surgery, meaning that fewer beds are needed across the service-this is part of a long-term downward trend in the average length of stay in hospital.

We are committed to treating patients quickly and efficiently, delivering more care in the community, and supporting people with long-term conditions in their own homes. The experts all agree that this is the best way to deliver healthcare to patients. As fewer beds are needed, it is right that the number of beds available should be reduced so that funds can be reinvested into delivering high-quality patient care.

Parliament Square

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The Home Office does not hold this information. Section 134 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 sets out the criteria the Metropolitan Police would use for authorisation.



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Passports

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The numbers of passports issued by the Belfast regional office in each year are as shown in the following table.

20062007200820092010

Passports issued in Belfast

354,688

380,455

348,900

378,527

362,466

Piracy

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are aware of Mr Justice Mohammed Ibrahim's judgment that the Kenyan penal code did not allow for the trial of individuals indicted for committing acts of piracy outside Kenya's territorial waters. We await the outcome of the Kenyan Government's appeal of the judgment, which will be heard in July 2011. The Government hope the appeal will be successful.

It is our understanding that the Kenyan Merchant Shipping Act, effective from 1 September 2009, applies to cases against suspected pirates detained after this date.

We work closely with states in the region, such as Seychelles and Mauritius, who accept suspected pirates for trial and continue to encourage others, such as Tanzania, to do likewise.

Police: Elected Commissioners

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The Government continue to have constructive discussions with chief constables about the full range of their proposals for police reform.

Police: Pursuits

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The code was issued on 23 May. It has been presented to Parliament and is available on the Home Office website at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/police/police-pursuits.

Poverty

Questions

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Estimates of the number and proportion of people living in relative low income are published in the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) series.

The table below shows the numbers and proportions of working age people living in households with equivalised incomes below 60 per cent of contemporary median income in the UK between 1979 and 2009-10, provided both on a before housing costs and after housing costs basis.



29 Jun 2011 : Column WA448

Table: Numbers and proportions of working age people living in households with equivalised incomes below 60 per cent of contemporary median income
Before Housing CostsAfter Housing Costs
Number (million)Proportion (%)Number (million)Proportion (%)

1979

2.3

8

2.7

9

1981

3.0

9

3.4

11

1987

4.4

13

5.4

16

1988 and 1989

4.8

14

5.6

17

1990 and 1991

5.1

15

5.9

18

1991 and 1992

5.5

16

6.5

19

1992 and 1993

5.6

16

6.8

20

1993-94 to 1994-95

5.2

15

6.6

19

1994-95

4.8

15

6.6

20

1995-96

4.6

14

6.5

20

1996-97

5.0

15

6.8

21

1997-98

5.0

15

6.5

20

1998-99

5.0

15

6.6

19

1999-00

5.1

15

6.7

20

2000-01

5.1

15

6.6

19

2001-02

5.1

15

6.5

19

2002-03

5.1

15

6.7

19

2003-04

5.1

15

6.7

19

2004-05

5.0

14

6.5

19

2005-06

5.4

15

7.2

20

2006-07

5.3

15

7.3

20

2007-08

5.6

15

7.5

21

2008-09

5.8

16

7.8

21

2009-10

5.7

16

7.9

22

Republic of Ireland: Celebrations

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Press coverage of the event on 23 January 2011 reported that Tony Killeen who was the former Minister of Defence and the Teachta Data for the Clare constituency attended. Our embassy in its contacts with the Department of Foreign Affairs asked if there was government support for the event and was told that the local community organised it. We have not made representations regarding the presence of the former Minister for Defence as we understood he was attending in a personal capacity.

Safety: Electrical Fires

Question

Asked by Baroness Hamwee

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The numbers of deaths and injuries as a result of electrical fires in dwellings in England and Wales are shown for these periods in the table.

Casualties in electrical fires in dwellings, England and Wales, 2008-09 and 2009-10
FatalitiesNon-fatal casualties

2008-09

56

3,812

2009-10

60

3,316

Schools: Exclusion

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Soft exclusions, or unofficial exclusions, are unlawful. The department does not condone the use of unofficial exclusions by schools and has made it clear that unofficial exclusions

29 Jun 2011 : Column WA450

are unlawful. If a pupil has committed a disciplinary offence and needs to be removed from school, formal exclusion, whether fixed-period or permanent, is the only legal method of removal. The exclusion guidance sets out the only ways in which a pupil can be legally removed from the school premises. Guidance on the procedures to be followed is available on line at http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/pupilsupportlbehaviour/exclusion/ a0076478/exclusion-auidance.

In addition to the guidance, the department has also published a document on effective practice for local authorities in managing and eliminating incidents of unofficial exclusion, which is available on the department's website: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/pupilsupport/ behaviour/exclusion/a0076496/effecti ve-practice-for-local-authorities-and-schools-in-managind-and-eliminating-incidents-of¬unofficial-exclusion.

We do not have any research on the usage of unofficial exclusion. However, we will be testing a new approach to managing permanent exclusion-where schools take responsibility for finding and funding the pupil's placement-in almost 300 schools in 20 local authorities from this autumn.

One of the detailed issues to be assessed through the trial will be the prevalence, and impact on pupils, of unofficial exclusion. Evidence from the trial will directly inform future policy development.

The department does not hold statistics on soft exclusions or unofficial exclusions. The latest published statistics can be found in the "Permanent and Fixed Period Exclusions from Schools in England 2008-09" Statistical First Release at: http://www.education.dov.uk/rsdateway/DB/SFR/s000942/index.shtml. The 2009-10 statistics will be published at the end of July.

Schools: Parent Governors

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Guidance on the appointment of parent governors is set out in the Statutory Guidance on the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2007 and in Chapter 2 of A Guide to the Law for School Governors.

Parents (including carers) of registered pupils at a maintained school are eligible for election for parent governorship. Parent governors are elected by other parents at the school. However, if insufficient parents stand for election the governing body can appoint:

a parent of a registered pupil at the school, or if that is not possible;a parent of a former pupil at the school, or if that is not possible; anda parent of a child of under compulsory school age.

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State Recognition

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to my answer of 13 May 2011. As regards the Government's position on collective and individual human rights, it has been a longstanding position of successive Governments, and remains the position of this Government that, with the exception of the right of self determination, the UK considers that human rights belong to individuals and not to communities or groups.

Telephone Hacking

Question

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The Home Office does not hold the information requested. The Home Office provides funding to the Metropolitan Police Authority but it is a matter for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to decide how best to use these resources.

Tibet

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are deeply concerned by reports of violence at the Kirti monastery in a Tibetan area of Sichuan Province. We have raised these concerns both with the Chinese embassy in London and with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing. My honourable friend Jeremy Browne, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote to the Chinese ambassador on 3 May raising our concerns about recent human rights developments in China, including the situation at Kirti monastery.



29 Jun 2011 : Column WA452

At the 17th session of the UN Human Rights Council on 16 June, the EU statement called on the Chinese authorities to refrain from the use of force in dealing with the situation at the Kirti monastery, and to allow independent observers to the site. Officials in our embassy in Beijing and in our consulate in Chongqing will continue to press for access to Tibet and Tibetan regions.

UK Border Agency

Question

Asked by Baroness Valentine

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Browning): The UK Border Agency welcome innovative proposals from ports of entry to support or fund an enhanced service at the border provided that such proposals are cost neutral to the agency, take account of the need to ensure the security of the border and provide a benefit to all of the travelling public.

Universities: Social Mobility

Question

Asked by Lord Janner of Braunstone

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): The Government have not made such an assessment. We want a dynamic, responsive higher education system with increased competition driving improvements and giving students greater choice. Proposals for the future regulatory regime for higher education, including the promotion of fair access and widening participation, were set out in the higher education White Paper.

All UK higher education institutions are private autonomous bodies that are independently run.

Work Capability Assessments

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Entitlement to employment and support allowance (ESA) is based on an assessment of functional capability, not on medical condition or diagnosis. The medical condition recorded on a claim form does not therefore in itself confer entitlement to ESA. So, for example, a decision on

29 Jun 2011 : Column WA453

entitlement for a customer claiming ESA on the basis of a mental health condition would be based on their ability to carry out the range of activities assessed by the work capability assessment. It is also important to note that, where someone has more than one diagnosis or disabling condition, only the predominant one is currently recorded.

There were 132,800 Fit for Work decisions for new ESA claims made up to the end of February 2010, where the primary health condition was classed as mental and behavioural disorders. There have been 50,100 appeals heard against these decisions, of which 21,200 (42 per cent) were cases where the decision was overturned in favour of the appellant.

The data presented above come from benefit claims data held by the Department for Work and Pensions, functional assessment data from Atos Healthcare and appeals data from the Tribunals Service.

Data on appeals heard are published for new ESA claims starting between October 2008, when ESA was introduced, and up to the end of February 2010 (the latest month where there are sufficient volumes of appeals heard). Appeals data are included only where the person claiming has been found Fit for Work, they have subsequently appealed against the department's decision and the appeal has been heard by the Tribunals

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Service. Figures are only available for appeals that have been completed and not those that are currently under way.

Due to the time it takes for appeals to be submitted to the Tribunals Service and heard, it is likely that there are more appeals that have not yet been heard. As a result these figures should continue to be treated as emerging findings and not final at this stage.

Asked by Lord Bradley

Lord Freud: The main guidance for Atos healthcare professionals in respect of mental health conditions is contained in the Revised WCA Handbook ESA (LOW / LCWRA) Amendment Regulations 2011.

Additional guidance is contained in a variety of other training products. A list of all guides and training material for Atos Healthcare professionals is detailed in Schedule 28 to the contract between Atos Healthcare and the DWP. A copy of the list is in the House of Lords Library.


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