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5 July 2011 : Column WA31



5 July 2011 : Column WA31

Written Answers

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We support the Afghan Government's peace and reconciliation efforts. The Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme has established Provincial Peace Councils in 33 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces to enable dialogue at the local level. In addition, the High Peace Council has undertaken a number of visits to provinces across Afghanistan, including Herat, Helmand, Kandahar, Balkh and Nangahar, to discuss the Afghan Government's approach.

Armed Forces: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Chidgey

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): We do not currently hold information on all service personnel receiving in-patient treatment in NHS hospitals as, for example, those that enter of their own accord are placed under a generic category by the respective hospital, thus making them difficult to identify.

However, what can be provided are the numbers of service personnel medically evacuated currently either receiving, or waiting for, secondary healthcare within the hospitals that host our Ministry of Defence (MoD) Hospital Units (MDHUs) or at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. The data have been extracted from the Defence Patient Tracking System (DPTS) as at 23 June 2011.

There are 58 UK service personnel recorded as currently receiving in-patient treatment in NHS hospitals. In addition, there are 702 UK service personnel recorded with a future appointment expected, of which six have an in-patient appointment booked and 41 have a future appointment booked. It is not currently known whether the remaining 655 service personnel will be offered an in-patient or out-patient appointment.

The MoD also has contractual arrangements with several NHS trusts, where it commissions elective secondary healthcare against an accelerated pathway

5 July 2011 : Column WA32

of 10 weeks, primarily for personnel who are about to deploy on operations and who develop medical problems that place them in medically downgraded categories.

The data provided are provisional and subject to change as the DPTS is a live system and is subject to constant updates.

The 2011-12 budget for the treatment of Armed Forces personnel in NHS facilities is just under £21 million which includes in-patient and out-patient activity. The annual in-patient activity is projected to be approximately 9,000 personnel for 2011-12. In addition to these contracts service personnel can be treated in any NHS facility under NHS-funded arrangements, as mentioned above. The MoD does not have data for this activity and they could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Chidgey

Lord Astor of Hever: A total of 1,162 trained defence medical personnel are currently working within host NHS Trusts. This figure is fluid as a consequence of medical personnel being deployed on operations.

There are also a number of personnel on short-term detachments and/or locally arranged placements that have an honorary contract within an NHS hospital in order to maintain professional currency. These contracts are generally arranged by the individuals, therefore numbers are difficult to establish. There are also a number of medical personnel in training who have not been included in the figures above because they are yet to provide a service.

It is difficult to quantify the percentage of work related to non-military patients as Defence Medical Services (DMS) personnel are placed in host NHS trusts to develop and maintain their clinical skills in order to meet operational requirements. By definition military personnel are a fit group and normally require routine, non-urgent treatment whereas DMS personnel need exposure to very sick and/or complex patients. The predominance of their clinical focus is therefore civilian, the exception to this being the care provided to operational casualties at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Aviation: Air Quality

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

Earl Attlee: In the UK, EH40/2005 Workplace Exposure Limits (consolidated with amendments 2007), which is a Health and Safety Executive publication, lists workplace

5 July 2011 : Column WA33

chemical exposure limits. Some, but not all, of these chemicals are likely to be found in synthetic jet engine oils and will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. These exposure limits would be applicable to cabin and flight crew of aircraft operated by UK airlines.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

Earl Attlee: Copies of the Cranfield University report have been placed electronically in the Libraries of the House. The report has not been published in hard copy. The information we have on cabin air is in the Cranfield University report. With respect to the conditions of flight experienced during the study, the report concluded that there was no evidence that pollutants were occurring in cabin air at levels exceeding available health and safety standards and guidelines. The next step is for the research studies commissioned by the Department for Transport to be referred to the Committee on Toxicity. This will be done once the last study-swab test research-has been completed by the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh.

Bahrain

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK Government continue to urge the Government of Bahrain to meet all their human rights obligations and uphold political freedoms, equal access to justice and the rule of law. We also continue to raise specific cases of particular concern. We have made clear that we expect those who have been detained to be treated in accordance with international standards.

Asked by Lord Walton of Detchant

Lord Howell of Guildford: We remain deeply concerned by the arrest and trial of a large number of doctors, nurses and paramedics. We continue to urge the Government of Bahrain to ensure that medical personnel can treat their patients free from political interference.



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Asked by Lord Walton of Detchant

Lord Howell of Guildford: Our embassy in Bahrain has been able to attend some of the many trials currently taking place in the National Safety Courts, including the trials of the medical staff. We continue to urge the Government of Bahrain that due process is carefully and transparently followed in the trial of the 48 medical staff.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for ONS, to Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope, dated July 2011.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent question To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of household income was paid out in direct and indirect taxation by families in the lowest quintile of household income compared to households with median incomes and in the highest income quintile in the latest year for which figures are available (HL10497).

Our analysis is provided at the household rather than family level. The table provided shows average household direct taxes, and indirect taxes, as a proportion of average household gross income in the UK, for those households in the bottom income quintile, those in the top income quintile and the mean and median averages for all households. Gross incomes include income from employment, self-employment, pensions, investment income, and cash benefits and the quintile groups are based on households ranked by equivalised disposable income.

The mean estimates are taken from reference tables 1 and 3 of the Effects of Taxes and Benefits on Household Income dataset, which uses data from the Living Costs and Food Survey, which has a sample covering approximately 5,500 households in the UK. The data are for 2009-10 and are the latest available. The full version of these reference tables can be accessed at the following link: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_economy/all-fig-and-tabs-0910.xls.

The median estimates have been calculated from the same dataset, although are not included in the published analysis.



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These estimates, as with any involving sample surveys, are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

Table 1: Average gross incomes,1 and taxes by quintile groups of All households,2 2009-10
MeanMedian
Bottom quintileTop quintileAll householdsAll households

Average per household (£ per year)

Gross income

11,730

79,889

36,373

27,494

Total direct taxes

1,195

19,500

7,230

4,212

Total indirect taxes

2,965

7,441

4,743

3,882

Direct taxes as a percentage of gross income

10.2

24.4

19.9

15.3

Indirect taxes as a percentage of gross income

25.3

9.3

13.0

14.1

Background Note

1. The mean data provided are based on data from the annual analysis "The effects of taxes and benefits in household income". The latest analysis for 2009/10 was published on the National Statistics website on 19 May 2011 at http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/article .asp?lD=2690.

2. The median data are calculated from the same dataset, although are not published in the ONS analysis. Headline median income data from this analysis have been provided, when requested for previous PQs.

3. The analysis is based on data from the Living Costs and Food Survey, which is a sample survey covering approximately 5,500 households in the UK.

4. The figures are weighted by population.

5. The income decile groups are constructed using disposable household income, adjusted (or equivalised) for household size and composition, as a proxy for standard of living, using the modified OECD scale.

Children's Act 1989

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government do not hold information centrally on the costs to public funds of undertaking Section 47 enquiries under the Children Act 1989.



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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are committed to ensuring that children with long-term illnesses receive as normal an education as possible. Statutory guidance published jointly with the Department of Health in 2001 sets out the national minimum standards for the education of children who are unable to attend school because of medical needs. It also sets out the roles and responsibilities of mainstream schools in meeting the needs of children who are on their roll but are away from school due to illness. We do not publish separate guidance on managing specific illnesses and health conditions.

Further guidance for schools on Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years was published in 2005. This recommended, among other things, that there should be a clear policy in each school, an individual healthcare plan for any child with medical needs, and training for staff.

The Government will commence, from this September, the provisions in Section 3 of the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010. This will place a duty on local authorities to provide full-time education for all children who they place in alternative provision. The only exemption will be where, for reasons which relate to the physical or mental health of the child, it would not be in the child's best interests to be in full-time education.

Current guidance will be amended to reflect this change in legislation.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

Earl Attlee: The operation of aircraft in and over Great Britain is subject to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Consequently, the Control of

5 July 2011 : Column WA37

Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002 (as amended) do apply to aircraft in flight in airspace above Great Britain. However, the Civil Aviation Authority (Working Time) Regulations 2004 (as amended), also impose a duty on employers to ensure adequate health and safety protection of aircraft crew on British-registered aircraft at all times. These regulations cover aircraft in flight and are enforced by the CAA.

The Government require that the Civil Aviation (Working Time) Regulations 2004 (as amended) should be enforced in a proportionate and reasonable way. The CAA's approach is to liaise with industry, agree guidance and react to complaints as appropriate.

Electronic Communications

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Baroness Rawlings: The UK has met all its obligations in relation to implementation of the revised EU Electronic Communications Framework, in full and on time-one of the few member states to have done so.

In relation to the primary new provisions on equivalence for disabled end-users the UK has met its member state obligation to enable Ofcom to specify, where appropriate, requirements to be met by undertakings providing publicly available electronic communication services to ensure that disabled end-users have equivalent access and choice in relation to electronic communications services.

The UK has implemented these revisions by making changes to the Communications Act 2003 that make the requirements of Article 7, USD ("Measures for Disabled End-Users" within the context of Chapter II "Universal Service Obligations, including Social Obligations") contingent on Article 23a of the USD, which will allow Ofcom to make equivalence a general condition on all providers of networks and services.

Separately, Ofcom is currently undertaking a review which will assess whether current arrangements for the provision of relay services are adequate in delivering equivalence to voice telephony for hearing (including BSL users) and speech-impaired end-users. This review will involve looking at, amongst other things, the existing text relay service and additional relay services, including video relay. It will also include a cost benefit analysis of the different potential options. The Government believe this is the sensible way forward and we believe it would be inappropriate to try and anticipate or influence the outcome of that review. However, we are confident it will bring improvements for disabled end-users.

The changes that we have made to the Communications Act will enable Ofcom to deliver on the outcomes of their review.



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Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Baroness Rawlings: A new article in the Universal Service Directive (USD) required member states to enable relevant national authorities to specify, where appropriate, requirements to be met by undertakings providing publicly available electronic communications services to ensure access and choice for disabled end-users. The UK has implemented this in a way that will allow Ofcom to make equivalence a general condition on all providers of networks and services.

Ofcom is currently undertaking a review which will assess whether current arrangements for the provision of relay services are adequate in delivering equivalence to voice telephony for hearing (including BSL users) and speech impaired end-users.

This review will involve looking at, amongst other things, the existing text relay service plus additional relay services including video relay. It will also include a cost benefit analysis of the different potential options. The Government think this is the sensible way forward, and we believe it would be inappropriate to try and anticipate or influence the outcome of that review. However, we are confident it will bring about improvements for disabled telecoms end-users.

Article 26 of the USD requires "that access for disabled end-users to emergency services is equivalent to that enjoyed by other users". This will be a consideration in Ofcom's review of relay services. However, it is important to note that for those with speech and hearing disabilities access to emergency services is currently available through an emergency SMS facility which connects to 999 call handling facilities as well as via text relay.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Baroness Rawlings: The Government have not made any formal assessment of the benefits of introducing universal video relay in the UK.

We received a substantial number of contributions (including cost benefit analysis and impact assessments) in response to our consultation on implementing the revised EU Electronic Communications Framework, many of those lobbying for the mandating of universal video relay. These included a report by Europe Economics (commissioned by the American video relay provider, SorensonsVRS, and included in its response). Whilst these figures have been drawn up with a view to making a case for video relay, we do not doubt that the economic and social situation of many BSL users is improved by access to video relay. It should be noted

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that video relay is available on a commercial basis in the UK, financed for many users by the Department for Work and Pensions' Access to Work scheme.

Separately, Ofcom, the independent telecoms regulator, is currently undertaking a review of relay service provision in the UK. This review will look at relay services including video relay and will include the costs and benefits of the different potential options. The Government believe this is a sensible way forward but it would be inappropriate to attempt to anticipate or influence the outcome of this review. However, we are confident it will bring benefits and advances in equivalence for disabled end-users.

Energy: Fuel Poverty

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The fuel poverty indicator (NI187) imposed a burden on local authorities for the collection of data and did not measure fuel poverty consistently. As such, the obligation to collect and report these data was removed from local authorities in line with the announcement made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in October 2010. The indicator estimated the proportion of dwellings occupied by benefit recipients in each area that were either energy-efficient (SAP 65 and above), or energy-inefficient (SAP 35 and below) which is not a measure of fuel poverty. Modelled data, published by DECC and produced centrally, estimate fuel poverty consistently and on a similar basis to that used for the national statistics on fuel poverty. It places no burden on local authorities. In addition, users and local authorities responded positively to a consultation carried out in 2009 on the modelled sub-regional data.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Marland: Sub-regional fuel poverty estimates are not available split by economic status, ie for pensioners or other groups. The table below shows the number of fuel poor households in England containing someone aged 60 or over in each of the years 2003 to 2008 (the only years for which this information is currently available).



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Number of households containing someone aged 60 or over in fuel poverty in England (rounded to nearest thousand)

2003

634,000

2004

604,000

2005

794,000

2006

1,285,000

2007

1,462,000

2008

1,720,000

The following table shows the total number of households (ie regardless of economic status) and proportion of households in fuel poverty in each of the London boroughs in 2008:

BoroughEstimated number of households in fuel poverty (rounded to nearest 100)% of households fuel poor

City of London

300

7.0%

Barking and Dagenham

8,100

12.1%

Barnet

12,900

10.1%

Bexley

8,200

9.4%

Brent

12,900

12.7%

Bromley

11,200

9.0%

Camden

11,000

11.9%

Croydon

13,100

9.5%

Ealing

12,000

10.1%

Enfield

12,600

11.3%

Greenwich

10,900

11.2%

Hackney

12,100

13.5%

Hammersmith and Fulham

8,700

11.5%

Haringey

12,000

12.7%

Harrow

7,900

10.0%

Havering

9,200

10.1%

Hillingdon

8,500

8.9%

Hounslow

8,000

9.3%

Islington

11,000

12.5%

Kensington and Chelsea

9,200

11.7

Kingston upon Thames

5,400

8.8%

Lambeth

13,700

11.3%

Lewisham

11,600

10.9%

Merton

7,200

9.1%

Newham

13,000

13.7%

Redbridge

10,100

10.8%

Richmond upon Thames

6,500

8.6%

Southwark

12,300

11.3%

Sutton

6,600

8.7%

Tower Hamlets

9,900

11.2%

Waltham Forest

10,600

12.0%

Wandsworth

10,800

9.2%

Westminster

10,800

11.6%

Similar data for fuel poverty in London boroughs (and other sub-regional geographies) are available for 2006 on the DECC website at http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/statistics/fuelpovstats/archive/archive.aspx, and for 2003 at http: //www.fuelpovertyindicator.org.uk/newfpi.php?mopt=1&;pid-defining.



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Energy: Nuclear Power Stations

Question

Asked by Lord Reay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Load factors for individual stations are treated as commercially sensitive. However, DECC publishes aggregated load factors annually in the Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES). Table 1 gives the load factors for nuclear and combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) stations for the past five years. 2009 is the latest year available; data for 2010 will be published at the end of July 2011.

Table 1: Load factor (%)
YearNuclearCCGT

2005

72.4

60.9

2006

69.3

55.1

2007

59.6

64.3

2008

49.4

70.9

2009

65.4

62.8

Power stations do not operate at 100 per cent as the system needs to respond to changes in demand for electricity. CCGT output largely follows changes in electricity demand during the day and the relative price between gas and coal. The load factor fell in 2009 due to lower electricity demand, the increase in nuclear output and an increase in capacity as a new station opened.

Load factors at nuclear stations are lower in recent years compared to the peak of 80 per cent seen in the late 1990s. This is due to an increase in maintenance work. In 2008 the load factor was particularly low due to additional outages at Heysham and Hartlepool.

Energy: Nuclear Tests

Questions

Asked by Baroness Brinton



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence and its external agencies release records to the National Archives in accordance with the Public Records Act 1956. The MoD withholds from release to the public at the National Archives files that are over 30 years old, or extracts from them, if and for so long as their contents are judged to be sensitive.

In relation to nuclear test veterans and recent legal proceedings, the MoD has within the context of the High Court and the War Pensions Tribunal proceedings worked to ensure that all relevant material from classified documents can be used, subject to special security arrangements. As part of this process the MoD conducted a major disclosure exercise in 2008 which has continued into 2011 and over 12,000 documents have been disclosed. The Court of Appeal judgment on the nuclear test veterans' group action on 22 November 2010 noted that the MoD had taken its duty of disclosure very seriously.

EU: Budget

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Institute for Gender Equality received a total contribution from the EU budget of €7.5 million in 2011. The 2012 EU budget is still being negotiated. Staff numbers were 27 in 2011.

The EU Agency for Fundamental rights received a total contribution from the EU budget of €20 million in 2011. The 2012 EU budget is still being negotiated. Staff numbers were 72 in 2011.

The Human Rights Commissioner's allocation from the Council of Europe's 2011 ordinary budget was €4,756,600. In addition, the EU contributed €1,586,400. In 2011, it had a total of 31 staff: 22 permanent; four temporary; and five officials seconded from national Administrations.

EU: Financial Assistance to Member States

Question

Asked by Lord Myners



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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England has not guaranteed, or accepted, any debt issued by the Government of Greece or by institutions from that country, either as collateral or outright holdings in any of its operations.

The Bank's sovereign collateral policy for transactions conducted under the Sterling Monetary Framework is available at: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/marketnotice110211.pdf.

Debt issued by the Government of Greece, or by institutions from that country, is not eligible. The Bank has a swap line with the European Central Bank, where drawings are collateralised by euro cash (see http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/news/2010/148.htm).

EU: Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In 2010, HM Revenue and Customs provided the tax authorities of other member states with the number of records of savings interest payments, as set out below1:

Member State2010

Austria

8,636

Belgium

14,130

Bulgaria

1,770

Cyprus

27,523

Czech Republic

3,586

Denmark

5,151

Estonia

351

Finland

2,398

France

123,492

Germany

76,628

Greece

35,319

Hungary

3,504

Ireland

71,675

Italy

30,362

Latvia

896

Lithuania

2,499

Luxembourg

1,069

Malta

11,543

Netherlands

20,906

Poland

14,009

Portugal

16,138

Romania

2,741

Slovakia

1,913

Slovenia

347

Spain

101,735

Sweden

10,040

Total

588,361



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Exports

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my noble friend Lady Wilcox (Official Report, 22 June 2011, col. WA 304).

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

Earl Attlee: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my noble friend Lady Wilcox on 22 June 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 304)

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Wales Office works closely with both the relevant Whitehall departments and the Welsh Government to boost Welsh exports across a range of sectors.

Forestry Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): As with many other parts of the public sector, the Forestry Commission must work within a challenging spending review settlement, reflecting the Government's determination to tackle the nation's financial deficit.

Forestry Commission England has developed proposals to operate within a reducing budget over the spending review period. Resources will be focused on priority programmes set out in Forestry Commission England's corporate plan for 2011-15, which is available on its website.

Government Departments: Scientific Advisers

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): No such position exists within the Wales Office.

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): DECC's Chief Scientist and Secretary of State have met frequently between 31 May 2010 and 1 June 2011. It has been the practice of successive Administrations not to reveal details of such meetings.

Government: Ministerial Meetings

Question

Asked by Lord Knight of Weymouth

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Ministers regularly meet colleagues to discuss a range of issues as part of the process of policy development and delivery.

Health: Epilepsy

Question

Asked by Baroness Ford

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Local National Health Service organisations are responsible for the skill mix of their work force, including the number of specialist epilepsy nurses. They are best placed to assess the health needs of their local community and must have the freedom to train and deploy staff in ways appropriate for local conditions.



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Houses of Parliament: Visitors

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The Administration are aware that there are sometimes long queues at the Cromwell Green Entrance and the matter is currently under consideration by the Parliamentary Visitor Board, which is considering proposals to provide shelter for guests arriving at this entrance. Black Rod's Garden Entrance has recently been refurbished and a second search lane has been added. This has relieved pressure from the Cromwell Green Entrance as all Lords' banqueting guests can now be admitted via Black Rod's Garden Entrance. In order to further relieve pressure on the Cromwell Green Entrance, a trial is being conducted to assess the impact of some visitor route tours beginning at Black Rod's Garden Entrance, and a proposal is also being developed to make improvements to the search lanes in Portcullis House.

Isle of Man

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): DECC officials attend a number of forums at which representatives of the Isle of Man Government are present and discussions will have covered a number of issues, including those relating to the nuclear sector. We do not, as a matter of course, place copies of correspondence between the UK and other Governments in the Libraries of the House.

Israel: Property

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We make clear through our travel advice that there are risks involved

5 July 2011 : Column WA47

with purchasing property in Israeli settlements on land considered to be occupied under international law, in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan.

Potential purchasers should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property they purchase in these settlements. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not offer legal advice on or become involved in private property disputes.

We voted in favour of a key UN Security Council Resolution on settlements in February because our views on this issue are clear: settlements are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace and constitute a threat to a two-state solution. All settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, should cease immediately.

NHS: Productivity

Question

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave him on 4 July (Official Report, col. WA 19-21).

Northern Ireland Office: Correspondence

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The following letters between the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) during May 2011 will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses:

letter dated 18 May 2011 from PS/Secretary of State to the NIHRC Director;letter dated 24 May 2011 from Director-General NIO to NIHRC Director; andletter dated 31 May 2011 from PS/Secretary of State to NIHRC Director.

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Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: As previously stated in the Answers given on 10 November 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 89), and 23 November 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 313), all appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission are on merit and take place via open competition, regulated by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA). In accordance with the OCPA Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies, when setting the selection criteria, appointments panels must "ensure that these do not contain requirements which are unnecessary or may deter applications from a particular group within society". As my previous answer of 23 November 2010 (Official Report, col. WA 313), suggested, applicants' approval of particular individual or collective rights is not among the criteria required for appointment. The Government are not seeking a body of commissioners who are all of the same outlook. Knowledge and understanding of human rights issues is, however, a criterion for appointment.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office does not award bonuses to staff and members of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Baroness Garden of Frognal: No tickets will be allocated to FIFA. As with all international federations, FIFA is able to order a small number of tickets from the London Organising Committee for their sport and a limited number for the opening and closing ceremonies. This is a contractual commitment.



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Olympic Games 2012

Questions

Asked by Lord Watson of Invergowrie

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The London 2012 Games provide an opportunity for a sporting legacy across the UK. However, sport is a devolved matter and it is for the home sports councils to decide what resources to allocate to deliver a sporting legacy from the 2012 Games. Sport England's £135 million mass participation initiative Places, People, Play, includes Sportivate, a €32 million lottery programme that will give 14 to 25 year olds access to six-week courses in a range of sports. Sport England are also making £35.5 million available for the School Games in England up to 2014-15. The UK Government are hopeful that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will participate in this national event, building on the traditions of the current UK School Games. Sir Menzies Campbell was appointed as an ambassador for the School Games, with a focus on securing a UK-wide legacy for the School Games programme.

Asked by Lord Watson of Invergowrie

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Nations and Regions Group, established by the Government Olympic Executive and the London 2012 Organising Committee, works directly with each UK nation and region to help them realise and maximise the benefits from the economic, sporting and cultural opportunities offered by the Games. Places People Play is a Sport England initiative to deliver a mass-participation legacy for England, which Sport England has allocated a proportion of its National Lottery funding to deliver. As sport is a devolved matter, it is for the home sports councils to decide how to apply their National Lottery funding.

Pakistan

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We frequently engage the Pakistani authorities on the protection of minority groups, including specifically on the issues facing the

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Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. Most recently our High Commissioner to Pakistan stressed the importance of interfaith harmony with a range of religious leaders in the Punjab in June. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) discussed religious freedom with the newly appointed Pakistan Prime Minister's adviser on interfaith harmony and minority affairs in May. He also met with religious leaders from across Pakistan as part of the Ministry's Interfaith Council. Ministers and our High Commission in Islamabad will continue to maintain regular contact.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Pakistan about violence against the Ahmadiyya Muslims; and what assessment they have made of the threats and intimidation against that community in the United Kingdom. [HL10429]

Lord Howell of Guildford: We frequently engage the Pakistani authorities on the protection of minority groups, including specifically on the issues facing the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. Most recently our High Commissioner to Pakistan stressed the importance of interfaith harmony with a range of religious leaders in the Punjab in June. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt) discussed religious freedom with the newly-appointed Pakistan Prime Minister's Advisor on Interfaith Harmony and Minority Affairs in May. He also met with religious leaders from across Pakistan as part of the Ministry's Interfaith Council. Ministers and our High Commission in Islamabad will continue to maintain regular contact.

The Ahmadiyya community has raised their treatment in the UK with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and we have discussed this with the Home Office. The Government take very seriously their responsibility to protect religious groups in the UK.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: Pakistan ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on 17 April 2008. Pakistan signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on 17 April 2008 and ratified it on 23 June 2010. Pakistan signed the Convention against Torture and other forms of Cruel and Unusual Punishment (CAT) on 17 April 2008 and ratified it on 23 June 2010.

Pakistan lodged a number of reservations against the ICCPR and CAT upon ratification. The UK, along with EU partners, has worked with Pakistan to address these reservations. We welcome the statement issued by the Pakistani Prime Minister's office on

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22 June announcing that they would withdraw the majority of their reservations against both treaties. The UK lodged objections against Pakistan's current reservations on 28 June. Once Pakistan has formally lodged changes to its reservations, we will consider our response to their changes carefully.

Prisoners: Transfers

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Following allegations that prisoners had been transferred in advance of inspections between Pentonville and Wandsworth in 2009 and from Brixton in 2008 the National Offender Management Service conducted investigations which found that this had been the case. Disciplinary proceedings followed. The then Justice Secretary also commissioned a wider review of the transfer of prisoners prior to inspection which was published on 11 March 2010. The review was conducted by the director of analytical services at the Ministry of Justice and HMCIP.

Following this work, the report concluded that there was no evidence that the practice identified in the transfers between Wandsworth and Pentonville and also at Brixton took place at any other prison.

Public Sector: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: This information is not held centrally. To collate it in the form requested would incur disproportionate cost.

Railways: Ebbw Valley

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

Earl Attlee: Train services on the Ebbw Valley line are specified by the Welsh Government and it is for them to determine plans and identify costs to extend the current service from Ebbw Vale Parkway.



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Railways: High Speed 2

Questions

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: At this early stage in the Government's proposals for a high-speed rail network, no decisions have been made regarding the detailed specification of rolling stock. At this point however, the Government do not anticipate that trains operating on HS2 will be capable of tilting, either on the high-speed network or on the conventional network. This is because tilting trains are necessarily heavier than non-tilting trains, and increasing the weight of a vehicle ultimately results in a reduction of maximum speed. This means that a tilting train would not be able to operate at speeds of 225 mph or 250 mph as required by the HS2 route.

We tested our assumptions on tilting trains both with train manufacturers and with our technical challenge panel, who agreed with our conclusions. It is possible that future technology would permit a tilting high-speed train to be built, but no manufacturer could visualise and offer either credible costs or likelihood of successful commercial development of such a product. There are currently no tilting high-speed trains anywhere in the world.

Services running off HS2 onto the west coast main line to continue to Scotland would be speed-limited by the curvature of the route in a number of locations. However there is scope for increasing the non-tilt line speed from 110 mph to 125 mph or higher at a number of locations. Between Lichfield-where HS2 rejoins the WCML-and Glasgow, the difference in time between a non-tilting 110 mph train and a tilting 125 mph Pendolino is estimated to be 13 minutes. HS2 Ltd believes that by reviewing the assumptions behind the WCML upgrade works it should be possible to run non-tilting trains at 125 mph for lengthy sections, and thereby regain 6 or 7 of the lost 13 minutes. Similarly from Lichfield to Manchester a 110 mph non-tilt train would lose two minutes, of which we believe one minute could be regained. The HS2 business case is based on these journey time assumptions.

A high level assessment of journey times indicates that the London to Glasgow journey would take four hours using a London to the West Midlands high-speed line, reducing to three hours and 30 minutes once the Y network became operational. This compares to a current, standard journey time of four hours and 30 minutes.



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Roads: Dartford Crossing

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

Earl Attlee: The Highways Agency publishes accounts annually for the Dartford-Thurrock crossing charging scheme, which are laid before Parliament. Information for the periods 2003-04 to 2009-10 is available from the Library of both Houses and also available from the Highways Agency website at: http://www. highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/4068.aspx.

The latest published accounts for 2009-10 show for the year ended 31 March 2010, gross income was £71.8 million and net proceeds was £37.2 million.

Royal Yacht "Britannia"

Question

Asked by Lord Lexden

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There are no plans to refit the former Royal Yacht "Britannia". Since the ship's decommissioning and sale to Forth Ports Ltd in April 1998, "Britannia" has been preserved and operated by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust as a popular tourist attraction.

Schools: Free Schools

Question

Asked by Lord Knight of Weymouth

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): As at 27 June 2011, there are around 100 civil servants in the department's Free School Group employed on policy and implementation work in connection with free schools, and a further 15 involved with university technical colleges and studio schools.

Further support is provided by Partnerships for Schools (PfS) and the Young People's Learning Agency (YPLA). Neither organisation is structured to dedicate full time individuals or teams to any one policy but instead work across a broad range of projects in

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parallel. As a result, a number of officials from these organisations have been engaged in free schools work at different stages.

Sunday Trading

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Since September 2010, my department has received 2,695 responses about Sunday trading legislation, via the Government's Red Tape Challenge. These included representations from a trade union, small retail businesses, faith groups and individuals. In that period the department also directly received two representations from a trade union and three from individuals, two of which were sent via their Member of Parliament. The department has also responded to ten parliamentary Questions since September 2010 on the subject.

The Government have not commissioned any research into relaxing Sunday trading restrictions since September 2010 and at present have no plans to do so. The Government currently have no plans to change the law on Sunday trading.

Turkey

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK Government do not plan to make specific representations to the Government of Turkey and the Inter-Parliamentary Union on these cases. It is not UK Government practice to comment on individual judicial processes, but we expect high legal and judicial standards to be observed. Our embassy in Ankara will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Work on Providenciales Airport runway resurfacing and extension project began in July last year, and will soon be completed. Prior to the start of the project, commitments were secured from WestJet, Continental and Jet Blue, and all three airlines have commenced flights to the Turks and Caicos Islands since the project began. The Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority has also been in discussion with a number of other airlines that are awaiting the extension either to introduce flights, new aircraft types or to extend their operations.

Vehicles: Electric

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford



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Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport is working with international bodies to draft recommendations on adding artificial sound to quiet vehicles. Such recommendations may specify the characteristic of the sound and the speed up to which such sound should be generated. Tyre noise is an important source of noise at speeds found on rural roads where noise levels from electric and conventional vehicles are similar. The Department for Transport will soon be publishing the report of research on the audibility of electric vehicles.

Waste Management: Fly Tipping

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): We are working in partnership with the Environment Agency and a number of private landowners to improve the data available on incidents of fly-tipping on private land, given there is no reporting requirement. At present the data available do not permit us to make an assessment of the cost of these incidents to the UK economy. The partnership project with the Environment Agency includes the National Farmers Union and the Country Land Association, who have reported instances of fly-tipping on private land in pilot areas (West Midlands and the north-west) since April 2009, and later nationally, to the national fly-tipping database (Flycapture). There have been low levels of reporting to the database, and between April 2009 and March 2011 a total of 1,827 instances were recorded by all private landowners in the project. We are working with landowners and the Environment Agency to try to increase the number of landowners who report this data to the Flycapture database.


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