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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government want to see more children in care adopted, where this is in their best interests, particularly those who in the past may have been overlooked-children who are older or have disabilities or very complex needs. We want local authorities to look very critically at their practice in respect of children who wait longest, such as black children, disabled children, older children and larger sibling groups.
To help drive change and steer a programme of reform, the Government set up last year a ministerial advisory group on adoption. We have already published revised statutory adoption guidance, which makes clear that the primary consideration for local authorities must be whether the prospective adopters can meet all or most of the child's needs. It is plainly unacceptable for a child to be denied loving adoptive parents solely on the grounds that the child and prospective adopters do not share the same background.
We also published, in March, an adoption data pack to help local authorities challenge and review their practices and outcomes, and to highlight the variations in outcomes between local authorities. In July the Government appointed Martin Narey, former chief executive of Barnardo's, as ministerial adviser on adoption. He is now visiting individual local authorities to identify and share good practice, and to challenge poorer practices. His remit specifically includes offering advice on how to reduce waiting times for black children in need of adoption.
Special guardianship orders were introduced in 2005 to provide another form of permanence for children who cannot live with their birth parents but for whom adoption may not be appropriate. This is particularly relevant for older children and children from some ethnic and minority communities who may have cultural and religious difficulties with adoption. The number of special guardianship orders has increased from 1,290 in 2010 to 1,740 this year.
EC Regulation 1107/2006 gives disabled air travellers and persons of reduced mobility access to air travel and assistance when they fly to and from Europe. It imposes legal obligations on airport managing bodies, air carriers, and their agents or tour operators. This is enforced by the UK's aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when advertisements will be published for the post of Governor of the Bank of England, to be appointed upon the incumbent's retirement in 2013; and what actions they will take to encourage the widest possible range of applicants.[HL12054]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Court of the Bank of England will be consulted prior to the placement of advertisements for the appointment of the next Governor of the Bank of England.[HL12100]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the bail-in requirements for both new and existing issues of unsecured debt by United Kingdom banks under the proposals of the Independent Commission on Banking will be no more onerous than conditions applied to similar issues by the European Commission to European Union banks.[HL12056]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether subordinated and senior debt issued by overseas subsidiaries of United Kingdom banks will qualify as primary loss-absorbing capacity as proposed by the Independent Commission on Banking. [HL12057]
To ask Her Majesty's Government where the power will be vested to trigger a bail-in conversion of primary loss-absorbing capacity issued by United
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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) proposed that UK banks, defined as globally systemically important (G-SIBs) and large ring-fenced banks, should be required to have primary loss absorbing capacity (PLAC)-made up of capital and long-term unsecured debt that is subject to a bail-in power recommended by the ICB-to be applied on a sliding scale and in the following way.1
UK G-SIBs with a 2.5 per cent G-SIB surcharge, and ring-fenced banks with a ratio of risk-weighted assets (RWAs) to UK GDP of 3 per cent or more, should be required to have a PLAC equal to at least 17 per cent of risk-weighted assets (RWAs).
UK G-SIBS with a G-SIB surcharge below 2.5 per cent, and ring-fenced banks with a ratio of RWAs to UK GDP of 1 to 3 per cent, should be required to have a primary loss absorbing capacity set by a sliding scale from 10.5 to 17 per cent of RWAs.
Under the ICB's recommendations, the PLAC requirements would be applied at group level, meaning that subordinated and senior unsecured debt issued by overseas subsidiaries would count towards this requirement if it is capital or can be bailed in under the power recommended by the ICB. However, the ICB also recommended that PLAC requirements be applied to UK-domiciled banks that are part of UK G-SIBs at a solo level, meaning that a ring-fenced bank that is part of a UK G-SIB would need to meet its own PLAC requirements on a standalone basis (though these could count towards the bank's group PLAC requirement).
The Government have welcomed, in principle, the recommendations brought forward by the ICB and will provide a full response by the end of this year. As part of this, the Government will consider the appropriate division of responsibilities within the proposed new regulatory architecture.
The European Commission consulted in January on proposals for an EU crisis management framework, covering a range of preventive powers, early intervention and resolution tools (including an EU-wide bail-in regime). The Government expect the Commission to publish a draft directive proposal on crisis management later this year. The Government will consider the relevant interactions between the ICB's recommendations and any contained within the EU crisis management framework once it is adopted by the European Commission.
A list of G-SIBs, and recommendations for additional regulatory capital above the Basel III baseline that they should be required to hold (the G-SIB surcharge referred to above), is currently being developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. These recommendations are due to be presented to the G20 for agreement later this year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to insist that all financial transactions between banks are subject to mandatory written confirmation within 24 hours of trade; and whether they consider that the absence of such confirmations played a role in the losses at UBS attributed to unauthorised trading.[HL12096]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The unauthorised trading losses in Swiss banking group UBS occurred in UBS's London-based equities department. Regulation of UBS is shared by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). The FSA and FINMA have launched a joint independent investigation into the events surrounding the trading losses incurred by UBS AG in its London operations.
The FSA does not impose mandatory rules on financial transaction confirmations between banks but has rules on the governance arrangements and general statements, known as principles of business. These provide fundamental obligations to which firms should adhere when conducting regulated financial activity.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government committed in the coalition agreement to introduce stronger consumer protections, including measures to end unfair bank and financial transaction charges. The Government are putting this into action through the joint Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and HM Treasury consumer credit and personal insolvency review. In July 2011, the Government published a summary of responses to the call for evidence to the review.
The call for evidence found that there have been significant developments in the market in recent years. As part of the Office of Fair Trading's work, banks have committed to introduce measures to improve the transparency of unarranged overdraft charges and many have also revised their charging structures in the last two years. This has already led to some reductions-the average unpaid item charge has fallen by more than half from £35 in 2007 to £14 in 2010. However, responses to the call for evidence showed that there are still serious concerns about how charges, including the new charging structure, affect consumers, particularly where charges may not be clear or transparent enough.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what, if any, inquiries they are considering into events surrounding travel plans by Mr Bat Khurts, then a head of department of the Mongolian National Security Agency, to the United Kingdom that led to his arrest on arrival under a German arrest warrant; whether in particular the then British ambassador to Mongolia was aware that a German warrant would be effected by British authorities being aware that Mr Khurts believed he was travelling with diplomatic immunity; and whether during the appeals process in the United Kingdom and subsequent extradition to Germany they asked the Government of Germany whether they were going to pursue this process before Mr Khurts was returned to Mongolia by Germany without the case being pursued; and whether their inquiries will be published.[HL12122]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The extradition of Mr Bat Khurts to Germany under a European arrest warrant was the subject of the usual judicial process that is conducted by the courts entirely independent of Government. During these proceedings the conduct of UK officials including the then ambassador to Mongolia was considered by the court, which concluded that no UK officials had acted unlawfully or improperly in any way. The findings of the court are published at: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2029.html.
It was the German judicial authorities, rather than the German Government, that initiated the extradition process and would take forward proceedings in Germany. Accordingly it was the German judicial authorities that instructed the Crown Prosecution Service to act on their behalf in the proceedings in this country. Whilst it is not for the UK Government to speak for the German judicial authorities, it is a reasonable
17 Oct 2011 : Column WA6
Khurts's detention in no way amounted to a diplomatic or political statement by the UK Government. The judicial authorities, which are wholly independent of Government, carried out their independent legal functions in accordance with the law. This case has had no impact on the Government's desire to strengthen bilateral relations with Mongolia.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their relations with Mongolia have been impaired by the arrest of Mr Bat Khurts, then head of the Mongolian National Security Agency, in the United Kingdom and the subsequent legal process within the United Kingdom; and, if so, what action they will take to repair those relations.[HL12124]
Lord Howell of Guildford:The case of Mr Bat Khurts has not affected our long-standing bilateral relationship with Mongolia. The Mongolian ambassador to the UK, Mr Bulgaa Altangerel, works closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and we anticipate the Mongolian President, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, visiting later this month for a speaking engagement. The Minister of State, my honourable friend the member for Taunton Deane (Jeremy Browne), visited Ulaanbaatar in late May.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 3 October (WA 100), why they will not give their reasons for indicating that the 1998 Belfast agreement was to the benefit of the British Community. [HL12154]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer of 4 July (Official Report, col. WA 3), which explained that the Belfast agreement refers to the Irish Government taking steps to strengthen further the protection of human rights in their jurisdiction and that these steps, which have included the formation of an Irish Human Rights Commission, benefit all those living in the Republic of Ireland, including British Citizens.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 3 October (WA 100), what method was used to calculate that the human rights of British citizens have improved in the Republic of Ireland since the Belfast agreement of 1998; who carried out the assessment; and when.[HL12240]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what emergency or other benefits will be accessible to families of individuals who have had their ordinary benefits reduced or withdrawn following a conviction for antisocial behaviour.[HL12115]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Benefits are not reduced or withdrawn following any conviction unless the offender is imprisoned, in which case, generally, entitlement to benefits ceases. In those circumstances, the claimant's family may be entitled to benefits as long as they meet the relevant entitlement conditions in their own right.
Following an application by the court, benefits may be reduced by recovering up to £5 per week in respect of court fines or compensation orders. In the case of a fine, the offender must have defaulted on a payment arrangement before the court may apply for the fine to be recovered from benefits.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 3 October (WA 112), given that the review of the effectiveness of treatment for alcohol problems by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse indicated that almost 75 per cent of those alcoholic clients who participated in the United Kingdom alcohol treatment trials did not show a successful outcome, whether they will institute research into the proportion and amount of social security benefits expended by alcohol dependent claimants on their addiction. [HL12301]
While a person's addiction may have led to unemployment or may have caused or exacerbated a medical condition, benefit payments are never made, or paid at an increased rate, solely because a person is dependent on alcohol.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Ministers are directly involved in the selection of items that appear on British embassy websites; and whether they have plans to encourage ambassadors to give greater prominence on British embassy websites to issues of direct beneficial interest to the United Kingdom.[HL12121]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The content on our websites overseas is the responsibility of the post, on the authority of the ambassador. Posts work according to broad strategic guidance from officials in London, which, like all other Foreign and Commonwealth Office activity, takes place under the authority of Ministers. Ministers are not normally involved in decisions about particular websites. All communications activity by our diplomatic missions is intended to promote UK interests abroad.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There is no right of abode in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), and anyone wishing to visit requires a permit. The only exceptions to this are members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, public officers and officers in the public service of the Government of the United Kingdom while on duty. The Government do not intend to resettle the territory, since we believe the arguments against resettlement-on the grounds of feasibility and defence security-are clear and compelling.
However, we acknowledge that many of those who formerly lived on the islands, and their descendants, wish to visit BIOT, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has organised and funded a number of trips to facilitate this. Recognising this, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has instructed FCO officials to increase the number of these sponsored visits so that as many members of the Chagossian communities as possible have the opportunity to visit Diego Garcia and the outer islands.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Colombian Government are implementing a welcome and ambitious programme of economic and social reforms. The UK is providing support and assistance in a range of areas. These include working with the Colombian Government to improve land registration processes following the passing of a new law on land and victims, working with local civil society to ensure effective implementation
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We also work with civil society and business to adapt the UN guiding principles on business and human rights to the Colombian context, and so help business create policies to ensure the principles are adhered to. We continue to monitor the human rights situation closely and to raise issues of concern when they arise.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): An unoccupied dwelling where the occupation is prohibited by law (including by planning law) is exempt from council tax. Occupied dwellings not exempt for another reason are chargeable, whether or not they have adequate planning permission.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the authorities in Japan concerning the abolition of the death penalty; and what assessment they have made on the progress of these discussions. [HL12258]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have made clear our concerns about Japan's use of the death penalty. Our ambassador in Tokyo raised the issue when he met former Justice Minister, Satsuki Eda, in February. Our embassy in Tokyo also has regular discussions at a working level with Japanese government officials on this issue. In addition to this, in October Lord Alf Dubs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Abolition of the Death Penalty met Senior Vice-Minister of Justice Makoto Taki to urge further action.
These discussions have been timely given that the Japanese Government have been reviewing their own policy towards the death penalty. Indicators of progress include: the establishment of a study panel in the Japanese Ministry of Justice to consider the death penalty; the media being given access to the execution chamber; and no executions in Japan for over a year. Furthermore, the recent statement by the new Justice Minister Hideo Hiraoka that he does not intend to approve any executions for the time being while discussions on the issue are ongoing is particularly welcome.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Palestinian Authority concerning the abolition of the death penalty; and what assessment they have made on the progress of these discussions.[HL12259]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK regularly raises the issue of the death penalty with the Palestinian Authority and is following closely the progress of the new penal code. The EU Heads of Mission also collectively condemn the use of the death penalty by Hamas in Gaza, most recently on 28 July 2011.
While the Palestinian Authority statute permits the use of the death penalty, an informal moratorium has been in place since the end of 2009 after Palestinian President Abbas undertook not to ratify any death penalty sentences. While there have been continued announcements of death penalty sentences, none has been carried out by the Palestinian Authority since then.
The Palestinian Ministry of Justice, working closely with Palestinian legal and human rights non-governmental organisations, is working on a new penal code. The current draft abolishes the death penalty. The new penal code is likely to require ratification by presidential decree to become law.
In 2010 five people sentenced to the death penalty for various crimes including murder and collaborating with Israel were executed by the de facto Hamas authorities in Gaza. A further 10 people were sentenced to the death penalty in Gaza during 2010 and remain on death row.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Official economic forecasts are produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The OBR will publish its forecast for household debt levels over the next five years on 29 November 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether quantitative easing has had a more beneficial impact on high-income and high-wealth population cohorts than on low-income and low-wealth population cohorts.[HL12184]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Quantitative easing (QE) is a macroeconomic policy tool that affects the economy as a whole. The purpose of QE is to provide the independent Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England with an additional tool to low interest rates to support nominal demand in the economy in order that it can meet the inflation target in the medium term. The Bank of England has stated in its quarterly bulletin published in September 2011 that QE carried out between March 2009 and January 2010 raised UK inflation by around three-quarters of a percentage point to one-and-a-half percentage points and increased real GDP by around 1.5 to 2 per cent.
Lord Sassoon: The Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) policy tools, including bank rate and quantitative easing, are macroeconomic policy tools designed to affect the economy as a whole. The tools support nominal demand in the economy in order that the MPC can meet the inflation target in the medium term.
The MPC takes into account many factors in its policy decisions, including the prospects for households, assessments of which can be found in the Bank of England's quarterly inflation reports and the MPC's monthly meeting minutes.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they propose to co-ordinate and measure the effectiveness of quantitative easing carried out by the Bank of England and credit easing carried out under the direction of HM Treasury.[HL12322]
Lord Sassoon: The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) and the Bank of England continue to assess the effectiveness of quantitative easing in ensuring that inflation remains on track to meet the inflation target.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): All Commonwealth citizens who reside in the UK are entitled to register to vote in UK elections. The following information on voting in Commonwealth countries has been provided by the relevant authorities.
British citizens cannot vote in the following Commonwealth countries: Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, the Gambia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nauru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to apply limits to the number of planning inquiries that can be held for any one wind turbine installation; and, if so, how the limit will be implemented.[HL12248]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): An applicant's right of appeal to the Secretary of State if planning permission is refused or not determined within the timescale set out in the development management procedure order is a fundamental part of our planning system. There are no plans to change the current arrangements in England.
Local authorities have discretionary powers to decline to determine repeat applications if they have previously refused permission for two or more substantially similar proposals on the site or if a substantially similar proposal has been rejected on appeal within the past two years.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to require local authorities considering planning applications for wind energy installations to publicise wind and other environmental data to local communities.[HL12250]
Baroness Hanham: There are statutory requirements to publicise planning applications, including those for wind energy installations. The environmental information supporting a planning application will be available for inspection from the relevant local planning authority. Where an environmental impact assessment is required, the applicant has to carry out an assessment and publish information on the likely significant environmental effects in an environmental statement and provide a non-technical summary. We have no plans to introduce any further requirements on publicity in England.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which European Union member states currently operate, or are committed to the introduction of, lorry road user charges; whether these are time- or distance-based; and whether they make any differentiation between lorries registered in the member state and those from outside that member state or the European Union.[HL12141]
Earl Attlee: This information is available in published documents, for example Road Pricing in Europe, which can be downloaded from the website of the Association of European Vehicle and Driver Registration Authorities: https://www.ereg-association.eu/downloads/public/subjects/Other%20subjects/Road%20Pricing/Road%20pricing%20in%20Europe.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the likelihood of the creation of a new European Union treaty within the next two years; and whether any such treaty would require a referendum before ratification.[HL12083]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There are currently no formal proposals for a new European Union Treaty. The EU Act 2011 has now come into force and its provisions apply to any new EU treaty amending or
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 15 September (WA 87), whether other treatments, such as surgery, which are not classified as medicinal products, require individual informed consent from the recipient.[HL12350]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): It is a general legal and ethical principle that valid consent must be obtained from an individual before starting a treatment or physical intervention such as surgery.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which local planning authorities in England (a) have completed the examination process and adopted their core strategies, (b) have completed the preparation of their core strategies and submitted them for examination, and (c) have not yet submitted their core strategies for examination. [HL12405]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): As of 5 October, 113 local planning authorities have adopted core strategies. A further 53 local planning authorities have submitted their core
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To ask Her Majesty's Government which of the official 20th anniversary celebrations for (a) Kazakhstan, (b) Kyrgyzstan, (c) Tajikistan, (d) Turkmenistan, and (e) Uzbekistan, Ministers attended or will attend; and, if none, why.[HL12120]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): UK Government officials have already joined Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan-both in London and in their respective countries-as they have celebrated this important milestone. We look forward to marking the occasion with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan in October and December. The UK Government have been and will continue to be well-represented at these events, although not as yet at ministerial level. While the noble Lord will be aware of the pressures on ministerial diaries, we continue to value our regular engagement with the Central Asian countries at ministerial level as part of our ongoing bilateral dialogue.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The consultation on the Government's draft planning policy for traveller sites closed in August. We intend to publish a new policy as soon as possible, following due consideration of the consultation responses.
The consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework is open until 17 October. We welcome views from everyone on all aspects of the framework. This includes views on the consistency of the draft framework with the draft planning policy for traveller sites, or any other comments about our intention to incorporate planning policy for traveller sites into the final framework.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to advise all appropriate authorities about how to include the needs of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in their joint strategic needs assessments. [HL12246]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government recognise that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers experience some of the worst health outcomes of any group, and continue to experience difficulties in accessing care and treatment. Addressing health inequalities is a top priority, and is at the heart of the reforms to the National Health Service and public health.
Subject to the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, clinical commissioning groups and local authorities will be required to perform joint strategic needs assessments and develop joint health and well-being strategies through local health and well-being boards.
The Government are developing statutory guidance and wider resources to support health and well-being boards in undertaking joint strategic needs assessments and joint health and well-being strategies, including the need to take full account of the needs of vulnerable groups, such as Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 3 October (HL11916), what steps they are taking to assist widows and dependants applying to the Skipton Fund who are unable to meet the criteria for payments due to records being destroyed or unavailable. [HL12059]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Skipton Fund is there to support those who are identified as having been affected by hepatitis C transmitted by contaminated NHS supplied blood or blood products before 1991. This must be established on the balance of probabilities. Individuals who are unable to meet the criteria may qualify for state benefits.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what the level of debt default on student loans has been in each of the past three years, in terms of (a) the numbers of those defaulting, and (b) the percentage of the whole loan book, broken down by the discipline of students' first degrees.[HL12041]
Baroness Verma: The information will be placed in the Library of the House, with the exception of the information on students' first degree, which is not available. At present there are no course subject categorisations available to report by within the Student Loans Company (SLC) data.
Student loans taken out since 1 September 1998 have income-contingent repayment where borrowers repay at a rate of 9 per cent of earnings above £15,000. This is usually collected either by employers alongside
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Where a borrower moves abroad, repayments are made direct to the SLC. From 2009 the SLC began to take action against those borrowers who moved overseas and did not provide the SLC with adequate information to allow the processing of repayments. Those borrowers who have moved abroad and fail to respond to the SLC will have default repayments automatically scheduled. This enables borrowers to be placed in arrears so that legal action may be brought against them to enforce the debt. This necessary change in the process has led to an increase in the number of borrowers residing overseas who are in arrears. It should be noted that the figures include UK borrowers who have moved overseas after completing their studies.
Borrowers with older mortgage-style loans repay instalments to the SLC, usually through direct debit, when their annual income exceeds the repayment threshold (currently £27,734, equivalent to £2,311 per month). Borrowers can apply to defer for 12-month periods if their income is below this threshold. Unless a borrower is either repaying or deferring, they are in arrears and therefore in default of their credit agreement. The SLC takes a number of steps to trace borrowers who are not repaying and to bring their accounts into order, and-as a last resort-will take cases to court. Exceptions are made for some vulnerable borrowers.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The following additional costs have been incurred for each sitting of the Grand Committee on the Welfare Reform Bill in Committee Room 4A. These are in addition to the usual costs which are incurred when the Grand Committee meets in the Moses Room.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government are currently exploring options for formalising the existing convention on debating military intervention in the House of Commons so that it is binding on, and clearly applicable to, both the current and future Governments. We intend to make progress in a timely and appropriate manner.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 3 October (WA 120), when they will publish the results of their consideration of the costs of elections to a reformed House of Lords.[HL12135]
Lord McNally: The costs of a reformed second Chamber will depend on a number of variables. The Government intend to consider the views of the Joint Committee, which is due to report by 29 February 2012, before finalising their proposals on House of Lords reform. This will allow us to publish an estimate of costs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions or meetings have been held with, or representations have been received from, the Northern Ireland Department of Social Development with regard to proposed changes to housing benefit.[HL12335]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department regularly discusses housing benefit matters with the Northern Ireland Department of Social Development. Recently meetings have taken place at both ministerial and official level.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Information on the number of evictions of local authority tenants for antisocial behaviour is not available.
Information on the number of evictions of housing association tenants for antisocial behaviour is collected by households (rather than individual tenants). Information is available for 2005 and 2010 only.
|Housing association evictions for antisocial behaviour, 2004-05 and 2009-10|
|Year||Evictions for antisocial behaviour|
Baroness Hanham: Landlords already have powers to seek to evict tenants if the tenant, a member of their household or a visitor has committed antisocial behaviour, or been convicted of an indictable offence, in the locality of the property.
In the light of the recent public disorder, the Government are proposing to extend landlords' powers in England to seek to evict tenants where the tenant, or a member of their household, has been convicted of a riot related offence, wherever that occurs, in the United Kingdom.
Tenants who are evicted for antisocial behaviour are likely to be deemed to have made themselves intentionally homeless. Where tenants who are found intentionally homeless are in priority need, for example because they have children, then the local authority will have a duty to provide them with temporary accommodation, but only for a sufficient period to give them a reasonable opportunity to find their own alternative accommodation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the incidence of violence against journalists in both conflict and non-conflict zones worldwide; what are the implications of this assessment for their policy on the defence of human rights; and what actions they are taking as a result of this. [HL12011]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are committed to supporting freedom of expression, which includes the protection of journalists. We are deeply concerned about harassment, intimidation, kidnapping and killing of journalists and strongly condemn such attacks. Journalists, bloggers, media organisations and individuals must be allowed to discuss and debate issues freely and safely within international standards, and operate in an environment free of fear.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has reported that more than 500 journalists and media workers have been killed worldwide over the past 10 years, and many more were wounded or injured while carrying out their professional responsibilities. Many acts of violence against journalists and media workers are perpetrated by non-state actors. Most casualties were local journalists working in their own countries. In most of these cases, those responsible act with impunity and avoid justice.
Our support for democratic freedom, universal human rights and the rule of law form the essential framework for the pursuit of our foreign policy. We encourage states to fully implement their international human rights commitments, comply with their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law and take the necessary measures to protect journalists. We do this through supporting international mechanisms, such as the special rapporteur on freedom of expression and the universal periodic review process, as well undertaking country or situation-specific activity including lobbying Governments for change on the ground and raising individual cases.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to promote the creation of independent international legal mechanisms to protect the safety of journalists and to ensure the public and transparent prosecution of those responsible for violence against journalists.[HL12012]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government are committed to supporting freedom of expression, which includes the protection of journalists. We are deeply concerned about harassment, intimidation, kidnapping and assassination of journalists and strongly condemn such attacks. Acts of violence, intimidation or threats against media personnel, property or premises of a media outlet must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to justice.
We believe that the creation of a separate legal mechanism is unlikely to be more effective or offer further protection to journalists than the existing framework of international human rights law. The difficulty remains enforcement and states' failure to fully implement their international obligations. We look to work through existing mechanisms, like the special rapporteur on freedom of expression and the universal periodic review process, as well as undertaking country or situation specific activity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what international discussions they have held regarding promoting the role of non-governmental organisations in the protection of journalists; and what was the outcome.[HL12013]
Lord Howell of Guildford: While we have not recently taken part in international discussion relating specifically to the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the protection of journalists, we believe that non-governmental organisations can play an important role in promoting and protecting universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the protection of journalists. NGOs monitor and report incidences of attacks and harassment, support those affected, and lobby Governments to uphold their international commitments. We believe that states should create an enabling environment for their work and provide protection where required.
Other independent forecasts of inflation are publicly available, including those of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in its economic and fiscal outlook. HM Treasury also publishes a compilation of independent forecasts, including for inflation, each month. These include forecasts made by the MPC, the OBR, international institutions and City firms and are available on the Treasury website: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK Government have not made specific representations to the Government of Iraq about the safety and welfare of Palestinians in Iraq. However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
17 Oct 2011 : Column WA22
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel about the arrest of Mr Ahmad Attoun, a deputy of the Palestinian Legislative Council; and whether they have been able to discover his subsequent situation.[HL12080]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware that Mr Ahmed Attoun was arrested on 26 September and he remains in detention. Two other Palestinian Legislative Council members continue their sit-in at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which now stands at over 400 days.
British consulate staff visited the ICRC on the day of the arrest and met with a member of the ICRC the following day. We continue to make clear to the Israeli authorities that the forcible transfer of people out of the city of Jerusalem for political reasons is illegal under international law.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Kimberley process certification scheme (KPCS) was established to tackle the problem of rebel groups financing conflict through the sale of rough diamonds. Thanks to the KP, conflict diamonds now represent less than 1 per cent of the global trade in rough diamonds, compared with 15 per cent in the 1990s.
The Government Diamond Office (GDO), based in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is responsible for overseeing UK implementation of the KPCS in the UK. The UK is represented in the Kimberley process by the European Commission (EC). UK officials work closely with EC officials and other EU member states, participate in quarterly EU meetings in Brussels, and regularly attend Kimberley process meetings in
17 Oct 2011 : Column WA23
Since 2008 when serious violence erupted around the newly discovered diamond mines in the Marange region, Zimbabwe has repeatedly failed to implement measures to bring it into compliance with KPCS minimum standards. Following the KP intersessional meeting in June 2011 the UK has been working with the EU to broker a robust agreement on the export of Marange diamonds in order to maintain the credibility and effectiveness of the KP. The UK, working with the EU, is looking at ways to reform the KP to ensure it remains a credible and effective mechanism. The UK supports reform of the KP that would enable it to take human rights abuses by states more explicitly into consideration.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government Diamond Office (GDO), based in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), is responsible for overseeing UK implementation of the Kimberley process certification scheme (KPCS), which seeks to combat the trade in conflict diamonds. The GDO has a dedicated telephone number for public inquiries about the importation of rough diamonds. The GDO also has its own page on the FCO website, containing information on the KPCS and conflict diamonds. The webpage contains links to an HM Revenue and Customs guide to importing and exporting rough diamonds into the UK, and the KPCS website. The GDO distributes an information pack about the KPCS and conflict diamonds to interested individuals and companies.
The GDO works closely with the UK diamond industry, which publicises the KPCS to its customers through its individual websites and the World Diamond Council's information site for retailers and consumers (diamondfacts.org). We also work closely with civil society, which plays a key role in raising public awareness of conflict diamonds.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK, along with international partners including the EU, continues to raise the issue of diamond smuggling with the Mozambique Government. My right honourable friend
17 Oct 2011 : Column WA24
The UK continues to be a strong supporter of the Kimberley process (KP). Development of a co-operation strategy between Zimbabwe and Mozambique to restrict smuggling is a key action point in the KP/Zimbabwe joint work plan.
The KP Civil Society local focal point reported in June 2011 that there has been a tightening of border controls between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, although there are still some concerns, e.g. during changes of shift of Zimbabwe border guards. Fewer people are travelling to Manica in Mozambique to sell diamonds. However pockets of illicit trade remain.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Mahmoud Jibril, chairman of the Libya National Transitional Council (NTC) executive board, has stated that resumption of oil production in Libya began on 10 September. Subsequently we understand that small amounts of oil have now been exported. The resumption of oil and gas production, albeit at reduced levels, has also been confirmed in statements by energy companies with concessions in Libya. The UK Government have offered to support the NTC in restoring production of oil and gas.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether an equality impact assessment was undertaken prior to publication of the best value statutory guidance; if so, whether they will publish that assessment; and, if not, what are the implications for equality, fair treatment and outcomes.[HL12074]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): An equality impact assessment was undertaken prior to the publication of the best value statutory guidance. This was published alongside the consultation on the guidance on 14 April and can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications /localgovernment/bestvalueequalities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to protect the public from any adverse effects arising from commercialisation and marketisation within the National Health Service. [HL12341]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government's vision is for a continuation of the mixed economy in the provision of National Health Service services, which exists now, not to establish a market for all services. The Health and Social Care Bill (the Bill) would not, therefore, extend competition in the provision of NHS services-its focus is on strengthening arrangements for regulating competition to protect patients' interests. It would remain a matter for commissioners to decide when and how to utilise competition in improving services, operating within a framework of regulations, which would be determined by the Secretary of State (see Clause 71).
The Bill would establish Monitor as a sector-specific regulator for healthcare whose overarching duty would be to protect and promote the interests of patients. The Bill also contains important safeguards to ensure competition is based on quality; to prevent cherry-picking; and to secure continuity of services for patients.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what has been the total cost incurred, since May 2010, in hiring external consultants in relation to the future work and organisation of the National Health Service; and what criteria were used in preparing individual contracts to ensure that the values, ethos and purpose of the NHS was central to each such consultancy. [HL12014]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what have been, since May 2010, the five most expensive external consultancies on the management and structure of the National Health Service, and what were the total fees of each consultancy.[HL12015]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many NHS Foundation Trusts are on Monitor's critical list or are otherwise regarded by Monitor as being at risk in terms of their financial position or the quality of their services.[HL12158]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We are informed by the chairman of Monitor (the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of Foundation Trusts) that Monitor publishes two risk ratings for each National Health Service foundation trust:financial risk rating (rated 1-5, where 1 represents the highest risk and 5 the lowest); andgovernance risk rating (rated red, amber-red, amber-green or green).
To ask Her Majesty's Government which hospital trusts constitute the handful whose performance has skewed the figures for diagnostic test waiting times, as reportedly claimed by the Department of Health; and what steps they propose to improve their performance.[HL12233]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the extent of the rising pressures on the National Health Service to which the Department of Health referred in responding to the increase in the numbers of patients waiting more than six weeks for diagnostic tests; and what steps are they taking to address those pressures.[HL12234]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Five National Health Service hospitals were responsible for over a third of all those waiting over six weeks for one of 15 key diagnostic tests at the end of August 2011. These hospitals were: Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust; Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust; Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust; and Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.
Nationally, the average waiting time for one of 15 key diagnostic tests in August 2011 was just two weeks. A year ago, the average waiting time was 1.9 weeks-this shows that waiting times for diagnostic tests remain low and stable.
The number of 15 key diagnostic tests in the three months to August 2011 increased by 4.9 per cent compared with the same period last year. This shows that patients are getting the tests they need, but increasing activity is adding pressure on our health services. This is why we need to modernise the NHS to protect it for future generations.
Waiting times form part of the department's performance discussions with strategic health authorities. These discussions will cover the causes of long waits, the action taken to deal with them and the timescales for improving performance.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Northern Ireland Office paid for one taxi journey on 3 October 2011. This journey was authorised by the relevant line manager in relation to two members of Northern Ireland Office staff who were required to travel to work during unsocial hours when public transport was unavailable.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord De Mauley on 3 October (WA 132), whether they consulted the Government of the Republic of Ireland over the appointment of Professor Michael O'Flaherty, the new chairman of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), and his continuing role as a nominated representative of that Government to the United Nations Human Rights Committee; and whether his appointment to the NIHRC will take precedence in the event of any conflict of interest.[HL12197]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: There was no such consultation about the appointment, which was made in accordance with OCPA guidance. Professor O'Flaherty, though originally nominated to the UNHRC by the Irish Government, serves on it in an independent capacity.
The Chief Commissioner's terms of appointment are clear that should a particular matter give rise to, or risk giving rise to, a conflict of interest he must inform the NIHRC Director and the Northern Ireland Office as soon as possible and withdraw from discussions or consideration of the matter.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Garden of Frognal on 4 October (WA 203), whether they will place in the Library of the House the names of the international and domestic political and business leaders who will be provided with a ticket to the Paralympic Games from the Government's allocation.[HL12254]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received any reports on the presence of Taliban fighters in Karachi; and what discussions they have had with the Government of Pakistan regarding any use of the city as a safe haven by the Taliban. [HL12019]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There are credible reports that both the Afghan Taliban and the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) have a presence in Karachi. The UK will continue to work with the Government of Pakistan to help them deal with the threat of violent extremists in Pakistan.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Mayor of London on the steps taken by the Greater London Authority to consult residents of Fish Island before designating their homes as falling within the boundary of the proposed Mayoral Development Corporation for the purposes of planning applications.[HL12073]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Localism Bill will decentralise power from Government to the mayor by enabling him to set up mayoral development corporations. The mayor is obliged to carry out a consultation on the boundaries of the development area covered by each mayoral development corporation, and the powers it will hold. These consultations have statutory consultees, such as the boroughs whose area is affected by the mayoral development corporation's development area, and the London Assembly, but equally are open to responses from individuals.
The mayor carried out a consultation for the mayoral development corporation intended to cover the Olympic Park and surrounding area between February and April 2011, inviting contributions from all respondents whether statutory or non-statutory. The Greater London Authority made it clear in both its press notice and on the dedicated webpage that responses would be welcomed from any individual or organisation. A formal statement from the mayor responding to the issues raised in consultation was published on the 12 October.
DCLG did respond to the mayor's consultation, on behalf of several government departments, but has not made any representations on the steps taken by the Greater London Authority to consult the residents of Fish Island.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why there is no specific reference to culture in the draft national planning policy framework; and whether they have plans to amend the draft framework to reflect the importance of culture to local environments, communities and wellbeing.[HL12172]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The draft national planning policy framework strengthens protection for community facilities. The proposed policy asks local councils to consider the availability and viability of community facilities as part of the plan-making process and to develop policies to safeguard against their unnecessary loss. This will include cultural facilities such as theatres, libraries and village halls.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Great Yarmouth port development received a total of £17.92 million funding from local, regional and national Government and the European Union, this was made up as follows:
All public monies were expressly for the construction of the breakwater and harbour infrastructure. No public funds were spent on equipment or cargo cranes. As such these awards were conditional on the quality, timescale, level of match funding, total costs of the harbour infrastructure, and the overall financial viability of the port. Public funders have a financial performance arrangement in place to monitor this.
This is a financial review and as such has triggers based on financial performance. As no public funds went into the operation of the port, traffic volumes were not an appropriate performance measure for the success or otherwise of the public funding.
Since 19 September 2011, East of England Development Agency interests and ongoing monitoring responsibilities in relation to the Great Yarmouth port development now rest with the Homes and Communities Agency.
Earl Attlee: Separate figures are not collected for the new development. Department for Transport port traffic statistics show the following total tonnages for freight traffic handled at the port of Great Yarmouth as a whole, incorporating traffic reported by both the Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd and the Asco UK Ltd Great Yarmouth Supply Base.
|Freight traffic handled at Great Yarmouth|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the adequacy of the number of counsellors and therapists engaged in addressing the psychological and mental health needs of prisoners.[HL12022]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the extent to which increasing the number of counsellors and therapists who work in prisons as part of secondary mental health provision could provide better value for money than present arrangements.[HL12023]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): No assessment has been made by the department of the contribution counsellors and therapists can make to addressing the psychological and mental health needs of prisoners. Psychological therapy services are provided by primary care trusts (PCTs) and are available for all who require these within a PCT's catchment, including prisoners. Each PCT is responsible for determining the number and type of psychological therapists required to provide these services within its catchment area and the department is not prescriptive about the numbers of therapists employed or where they provide their services.
In February this year the Government launched their mental health strategy No Health without Mental Health. One of the commitments made in the strategy is completing the rollout of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, and prisoners will benefit from this. The IAPT programme has produced good practice guidance on treating offenders, which can be found at the following link: www.iapt.nmhdu .org.uk/silo/files/offenders-positive-practice-guide.pdf
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the reason for the £5,914 million downward revision in public sector net borrowing in 2010-11 announced in September 2011; and how variations on this scale will be avoided in future.[HL12300]
As the Director General of ONS. I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking for the reason for the £5,914 million downward revision in public sector net borrowing in 2010-11 announced in September 2011; and how variations on this scale will be avoided in future (HL12300).
The downward revision of £5,914 million to public sector net borrowing in 2010-11, announced in the "Public Sector Finances-August 2011" statistical bulletin was split between the government sectors as follows
|Government Sector||2010-11 (£million)|
The revision of £1,233 million to central government net borrowing was driven by a £1.640 million revision to income tax data. This revision was due to the inclusion of an accrual adjustment between 2010-11 and earlier years, which related to repayments and recoveries identified through the introduction of HMRC's National Insurance and PAYE service (NPS). There was an offsetting downward revision of £450 million to central government net investment. About half of this revision related to revised data on capital grants to the private sector and half to revised data on the acquisition and disposal of fixed capital assets.
The revision of £4.156 million to local government net borrowing was driven by the replacement of budget forecast data by provisional outturn data. The largest revisions within these data were a downward revision of £1,963 million to current expenditure on goods and services and a £1,417 million downward revision to the net acquisition of fixed capital assets.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has recently introduced the Quarterly Revenue Outturn (QRO) data collection for English local authorities. The first quarterly dataset from this collection was published on 28 September 2011, and these and future QRO data will be used by ONS to inform the calculation of local government net borrowing. It is anticipated that the availability of this new data source will reduce the size of revisions to local government net borrowing at the point that provisional outturn data for the full financial year become available.
However, the monthly frequency of the public sector finances bulletin means that initial estimates of net borrowing will always be liable to revision as new and more comprehensive information sources become available.
As the Director General of ONS. I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how public accounts will treat the government, through quantitative easing, owning as an asset a public sector liability (HL12289)
The public accounts are published monthly in the Public Sector Finances statistical bulletin, produced jointly by ONS and HMT. This publication is based upon National Accounts principles set out in the European System of Accounts 1995 (ESA 95).
Quantitative Easing is the term commonly used to describe the purchase of gilts from the market by the Bank of England's Asset Purchase Facility Fund, financed by the creation of central bank reserves. (see http//www.bankofengland.co.uk/markets/apf/index.htm for more information).
The gilts purchased are treated as assets of the Bank of England and the central bank reserves that are created to pay for them as its liabilities. The gilts purchased remain as government liabilities For technical reasons, there is a small (in the context of the overall total) effect on public sector net debt, even though the value of assets purchased are matched by the liabilities created to pay for them. First, the gilts are purchased by the Bank of England at the prevailing market price, but by convention are recorded in the public sector finances at their nominal price. Secondly, interest payments flow from Government to the Bank and are therefore transfers within the public sector (whereas previously they left the public sector altogether). These interest flows also serve to reduce public sector net borrowing
The issue is explained in greater detail in Chapter 27 of the ONS article "Public Sector Interventions in the Financial Crisis" published in November 2009 and available here: http//www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/psa/financial- crisis-and-statitica1-classification/public-sector-interventions-in-the-financial-crisis/public-sector-interventions-in-the-financial-crisis-.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, since they made the bilateral loan to the Republic of Ireland in 2010, what discussions have taken place with the Government of the Republic of Ireland about the loan; what was discussed and decided; and why the full agreement for the loan was not deposited in the Library of the House as indicated in the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 3 October (WA 186). [HL12153]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Government Ministers meet regularly with their European counterparts, including Irish Ministers to discuss a range of issues. Following the 21 July 2011 agreement by euro-area member states to reduce the interest rates applied to loans from the euro area-only European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the Chancellor of the Exchequer notified his Irish counterpart that the UK was able to cut the interest rate applied to the bilateral loan. The new rate is yet to be agreed and the Government will update Parliament in due course.
The bilateral loan to Ireland agreement was deposited in full in the Library of the House by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 10 January 2011 The loan conditionality referred to by the loan agreement was provided in the answer given on 26 April 2011 (col. WA 95).
Baroness Rawlings: English Heritage, the Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment, provided advice to the Church Commissioners in August 2011 to inform their considerations about the future of Rose Castle.
Now that the Church Commissioners have decided, in principle, to sell Rose Castle, they have said that English Heritage will be formally consulted on the nature and terms of the proposed sale. English Heritage will work with the Church Commissioners, the Diocese of Carlisle and local interest groups and authorities during this period with the aim of ensuring that the archaeological, architectural and historic values of Rose Castle can be protected for the future.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many commercial ships have been detained in the United Kingdom in each of the past three years (a) because they were unseaworthy, or (b) because of the pay and conditions of the crew.[HL12138]
|Number of Detentions|
|Year||Non-Compliance with Merchant Shipping Legislation||Crew Working and Living Conditions|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government published their Tobacco Control Plan, Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England, in March this year. The plan sets out how tobacco control will be delivered over the next five years, within the context of the new public health system. The plan sets out a national ambition to reduce smoking rates in adults from 21 per cent to 18 per cent or less by the end of 2015.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is providing over £90 million a year for the next four years to help the people of South Sudan. This funding will support international efforts to promote peace and stability in South Sudan. Specifically, our assistance will help: build more accountable, inclusive and transparent government; deliver basic services (such as education, clean water and healthcare); support economic growth; provide humanitarian relief; and improve security and access to justice.
An important part of stability in South Sudan will be good relations with the wider region and in particular with Sudan. The UK remains committed to supporting the development of two economically viable and peaceful states, underpinned by good governance and respect for human rights with humanitarian access. We continue to urge both Sudan and South Sudan to find a way to resolve their remaining areas of difference, particularly on oil, citizenship and border demarcation and the status of the disputed region of Abyei. We also urge Sudan and South Sudan not to support proxy forces in each others' territory.
As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (William Hague) noted in his Written Ministerial Statement on 11 July 2011 (Official Report, cols. WS 44-45), we look forward to strengthening our relationship with the Republic of South Sudan and to helping it on the path towards stability, good governance and prosperity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission Inquiry launched by the Government of Sri Lanka following the end of the war there in 2009.[HL12255]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We share international concern about the credibility of the Lessons Learned Reconciliation Commission's (LLRC) process. We have encouraged the Sri Lankan Government to use this process to address past allegations effectively and allow all communities to live and work together in peace and security. We understand that the LLRC will address the material in the UN Panel's report and Channel 4 documentary. It is important that genuine action is taken by the LLRC to follow-up allegations of war crimes. The UK Government believe that the process of reconciliation between Sri Lanka's communities has a greater chance of success if investigations are Sri Lankan led rather than externally imposed.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Real time information will collect information about income taxed under pay as you earn (PAYE). This will be used to inform HMRC's self assessment process in the same way that PAYE information is currently used.
Lord Sassoon: HMRC will pilot real time information (RTI) from April 2012 to test the system. Around 300 volunteer software developers, employers and pension providers are taking part in this. The department is exploring whether more employers and pension providers could be brought into RTI during 2012-13, if the pilot is working well.
The remaining employers and pension providers will start using RTI from April 2013. HMRC expects all employers and pension providers to be using RTI by October 2013, in time for the introduction of universal credit.
Lord Sassoon: The real-time information (RTI) pilot will commence in April 2012 and the remaining employers and pension providers will start using RTI from April 2013. HMRC expects all employers and pension providers to be using RTI by October 2013 and appropriate data will be made available to DWP to support the administration of universal credit.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the statement by the European Union Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator on 12 September that there is no Kurdish terror risk in the European Union, they will meet representatives of the Turkish PKK.[HL12077]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK Government will not meet representatives of the Turkish PKK. The PKK has been a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK since 2000. The EU proscribed the PKK as a terrorist organisation in 2002.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Atlee on 13 September (WA 56), why they used a weighting of 100:1 for heavy goods vehicle and passenger service vehicle road damage; and what evidence they have which suggests that a factor of 100:1 is correct.[HL11998]
Earl Attlee: The 100:1 weighting is based on the approximation that damage to the road surface is a function of the 4th power of the axle weight. The relative needs formula was shared with the UK Roads Board and agreed by a number of local authority highway engineers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 4 October (WA 207-8), when they expect to publish the consultation document on the review of the Treasure Act Code of Practice and the definition of treasure contained in the Treasure Act 1996. [HL12171]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Turkey regarding the release on bail pending trial of Mr Muharem Erbey, President of the Diyarbakir Chapter of the Human Rights Association of Turkey.[HL12078]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government do not plan to make any specific representations to the Government of Turkey regarding this case. It is not general UK Government practice to comment on individual judicial processes. However, we expect Turkey to comply with its fair trial obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Our embassy in Ankara will continue to monitor the situation closely. The next hearing concerning Mr Erbey's case is scheduled for 6 December.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (a) members of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and (b) the Government of Turkey, regarding the re-opening of the Orthodox Patriarchate's Theological School on Halki Island near Istanbul.[HL12174]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government have not had any discussions with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) (or its participating states) or the Government of Turkey regarding the re-opening of the Orthodox Patriarchate's Theological School on Halki/Heybeliada Island. However, as a member of the OSCE we expect Turkey to comply with its Human Dimension Implementation (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) commitments. Our embassy in Ankara will continue to monitor the situation closely.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking whether ONS has recorded an increase in the number of Greek citizens moving to reside in the United Kingdom during the past 12 months (HL12306)
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces estimates of long-term international migration, primarily based on the International Passenger Survey (IPS) Unfortunately, the ONS does not have estimates for the time period requested. Our latest final estimates are for calendar year 2009, which were published on 25 November 2010. Final estimates for calendar year 2010 will be published on 24 November 2011.
The latest estimate of Greek citizens currently residing in the UK can be taken from the annual population survey. The number of Greek citizens in the UK in the calendar year 2010 was 29,000 (with a margin of error of +/- 7,000), and for calendar year 2009 was 31,000 (with a margin of error of +/- 7,000).
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much Youth Justice Board grant funding has been made available for youth offending teams or services in each London borough in each year since 2000-01, broken down by funding stream.[HL12071]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much each local authority in London has contributed directly to the costs of its Youth Offending Team or services from its Revenue Support Grant in each year since 2000-01.[HL12072]
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