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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): No. The Armed Forces (Terms of Service (Amendment) Regulation 2011) (Number 1523) became effective on 12 July 2011. This gives all service personnel under the age of 18 the right to leave the Armed Forces before their 18th birthday following an appropriate period of consultation or cooling-off. We believe that these arrangements provide the necessary opportunity for those who are unhappy with their career choice to exercise their right to leave. By doing so, there is no requirement for them to make a new commitment to service.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they have given to local authority learning disability teams in respect of the assessment of needs of, and provision of services to, people on the autistic spectrum with IQ scores over 70.[HL12328]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In line with the requirements of the Autism Act 2009, the department issued Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives, Statutory Guidance for Health and Social Care Bodies on 17 December 2010. The guidance makes it clear that if an adult is diagnosed with autism, they should be offered a community care assessment under Section 47(1) of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990, regardless of their IQ, and their carers will be informed of their right to a carer's assessment. If the person needs care services, they will be able to make choices about the services they receive, and are able to use a personal budget to pay for the services they want if they are eligible for a personal budget.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether restrictions exist within (a) United Kingdom, and (b) international, law to prevent the banding for air-passenger duty being changed from one which is based on taxing passengers to one that taxes planes.[HL12199]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Aviation is a global industry bound by international agreements. The UK is a signatory to the 1944 ICAO Chicago Convention and has air service agreements with over 150 countries. Many stakeholders have expressed concerns about the legality and feasibility of introducing a per plane duty under current international rules. The Government wish to proceed with consensus in this area and will not introduce a per plane duty in place of air passenger duty at the present time. However, we will continue working with our international partners to build understanding and support for this approach in the future.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will rule out selling their investment in Northern Rock to private equity and other financial purchasers at a valuation where the company's projected sustainable return on equity exceeds the Government's cost of equity.[HL12180]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to require any private equity-backed purchaser of their shareholding in Northern Rock to agree to a claw-back of any gain arising from an early disposal of shares in Northern Rock by the acquiring financier.[HL12324]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Sassoon on 10 October (Official Report, col. 1321), what guidance they have given UK Financial Investments on what is meant by realising value, and obtaining maximum value from the taxpayer interest in Northern Rock.[HL12327]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In order to achieve the best value for the taxpayer, the Government are not providing a running commentary on the sales process and cannot comment on specific bids.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government cannot comment on the affairs of particular taxpayers. However, the costs of running a banking trade will normally be deductible in computing a bank's trading profits for the purposes of corporation tax in the same way as they would be for any other trading company.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many individuals are receiving the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance; and what is the total annual cost of (a) the disability living allowance, and (b) the mobility component of this allowance.[HL12159]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): More than 70 per cent of the current DLA caseload has an indefinite award. Although we are able to reassess the level of award of any customer at any time, there is not currently any systematic way of ensuring that awards remain correct. This is one of the reasons why we are introducing a more transparent and objective assessment in personal independence payment and a system for regularly checking that the right support always goes to those who face the greatest barriers to leading independent lives.
There were 1,780,418 disabled people receiving the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance as at February 2011. Information on the annual cost of the benefit and its rates are contained in the tables below.
|Year||Disability Living Allowance Expenditure (nominal terms) (£ millions)||Mobility Component Expenditure (nominal terms) (£ millions)|
|Disability Living Allowance Rates-April 2011|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Local authorities have statutory duties to ensure that children in their care are supported by a social worker, an independent reviewing officer as well as an entitlement to an independent advocate if they wish one.
These practitioners have clearly defined responsibilities in listening to, advising and promoting the interests and welfare of the child as well as representing their views. Looked-after children are also entitled to the services of independent visitors, who are volunteers who befriend and support looked-after children. It is for local authorities to ensure that they have adequate provision of a range of services to meet the individual needs of their children.
Lord Hill of Oareford: Around half of the £6 billion spent on children's services in 2009-10 (excluding education spending) was spent on services for looked-after children. Costs vary significantly between individual children and types of placement, and there are various methods of calculating the average cost of a child in a residential placement. However, based on the University of Kent's 2010 report on social care costs, (available at http://www.pssru.ac.uk/pdf/uc/uc2010/uc2010.pdf), the estimated average cost of foster care in 2009-10 was £676 per child per week, and the estimated average care package cost per resident week in local authority children's homes was £2,881.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to increase the funding provided to local authorities to meet the cost of emergency accommodation and children placed in the care of local authorities.[HL12119]
Lord Hill of Oareford: Local authorities receive significant funding to support their looked-after children. Around half of the £6 billion spent on children's services in 2009-10 (excluding education spending) was spent on services for looked-after children. LAs have a duty to ensure that sufficient accommodation is commissioned to meet the needs of their looked-after population. This includes accommodation needed in an emergency.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what position they intend to adopt on a proposal to establish a green climate fund at the United Nations Climate summit in November 2011; and what steps they are taking to ensure (a) social justice in the operation of any such fund, (b) that the fund will have adequate financial resources for climate change adaptation measures, and (c) that the fund will have proper representation for women on its governing board. [HL12103]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The UK strongly supported the agreement made in Cancun in December to establish a green climate fund. The UK is playing an active role in designing the fund through membership of the transitional committee. We are working to ensure the fund operates according to internationally accepted social and environment safeguards; that it achieves a balance between funding for mitigation and adaptation; and that gender is appropriately considered throughout.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Bail Act 1976 establishes a presumption that a defendant will be granted bail, and this presumption applies even where the offence is of a sexual or violent nature. But the Act also sets out reasons that may justify withholding bail. The most important are that the court is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that if released the defendant would abscond, commit an offence, or interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice. It is for the court to decide in a particular case whether any of these exceptions to bail are present and whether the defendant may therefore be remanded in custody.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the way in which the educational benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism can be promoted by a greater recognition within the educational system of languages, other than English, which are learned in the home.[HL12231]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We have made no specific assessment of this issue. However, we are aware of research that has shown that bilingual individuals have an advantage in skills relating to problem solving, critical thinking, processing of information and other areas. We are also aware of evidence of the success of bilingual teaching in countries such as Spain and Singapore. We will take this into account as we develop our policy on languages teaching in schools.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government are working hard to build support for an EU-wide 30 per cent emission reduction target. This is a coalition commitment. We believe that in an increased target, the additional emission reductions will need to be shared fairly among the member states.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The UK, through its membership of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has strongly supported all recent steps to provide assurances of supply (of nuclear fuel) that help build confidence for those states considering nuclear power. These measures include the so-called IAEA fuel bank, approved in principle by the board in December 2010, with the financial backing of several partners including the EU, and the UK's own proposal for a nuclear fuel assurance.
Details of the modalities of this IAEA fuel bank, including its recommended location, are currently being worked out by the IAEA and will be presented to the IAEA board for approval in the near future. An appropriate host will be determined at that stage, once all the facts are known.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The new warm home discount scheme introduced in April this year requires energy companies by law to give a discount on energy bills to more of their most low-income and vulnerable customers. The poorest pensioners in receipt of pension credit guarantee credit will receive a £120 discount on their electricity bill this year. Other groups such as low-income families and those with long-term illnesses and disabilities may also receive this discount. The warm home discount scheme will help around 2 million households per year and will be worth up to £1.1 billion over the four years to 2015.
In addition there is a package of measures we have in place to support low-income vulnerable consumers with their energy bills over the winter period. This includes existing initiatives like winter fuel payments for pensioners and the cold weather payments which support low-income and vulnerable households in particular geographic areas during extended periods of cold weather.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have an independent and open procedure for regularly reviewing the reliability of the prediction methods for statistics of available wind energy, delivered energy, and noise impact at installations of wind turbines.[HL12205]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): As part of a planning application, a wind farm developer will provide information on the potential impact of the proposed development for consideration by the relevant planning authority. In the case of noise impact the planning authority is guided by government guidance ETSU-R-97.
The Government are committed to ensuring planning authorities and developers are clear on best practice to provide greater certainty within the planning system. The Institute of Acoustics at the request of the Government has agreed to produce best practice for industry on how to implement ETSU-R-97.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the net carbon savings of installed and projected wind turbine systems compare with those of the planned nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom over the next 10 years.[HL12207]
Lord Marland: Carbon savings are generated within the UK power sector when low-carbon generation displaces conventional fossil fuel technologies. However, as the UK power sector is part of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) which has placed a cap on emissions, any carbon savings achieved in the UK power sector have to be netted off by lower carbon abatement elsewhere in the EU-ETS.
The extent of carbon savings is dependent upon the assumed generation mix, which is dependent upon a range of factors, including fossil fuel and carbon prices, the economics of electricity generation, technological progress, and policies pursued (including those designed to meet climate change targets). DECC models different generation scenarios in order to develop policy, rather than forecasting a specific generation mix. The net carbon savings will depend on the scenario used.
For example, in DECC's recently published Updated Energy Projections central baseline scenario, 411TWh of electricity is estimated to be supplied from wind (onshore and offshore) in the next 10 years (2011-20). If we assume this displaces generation from the marginal plant1 it translates to 15MtCO2 net carbon savings. In this scenario, there is no new nuclear forecast until 2022. This scenario does not include the impacts of any proposed electricity market reform measures.
By contrast, under the central scenario commissioned by DECC from the consultancy Redpoint (to inform the electricity market reform White Paper and including EMR policy options), 445TWh of electricity is supplied from wind and 38TWh of electricity from new nuclear in the next 10 years (2011-20). By the same method as before, this translates to 17MtCO2 and 2MtCO2 net carbon savings respectively.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what studies they are conducting or planning to initiate on the health and environmental impacts of wind turbine installations; and how will the results be published and explained to communities affected by present and future installations.[HL12249]
Lord Marland: In June the Government published the result of research which analysed matters arising in the consideration of noise impacts when determining wind farm applications in England. The report is available on the DECC website at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/wind/onshore/comms_planning/noise/noise.aspx
The Institute of Acoustics, at the request of Government, has agreed to take forward recommendations from this research to develop best practice guidance on assessing noise impacts. This guidance will be disseminated to planning authorities and published on the DECC website.
In July the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published a report to aid local authorities investigating complaints regarding noise from wind
18 Oct 2011 : Column WA51
In March DECC published a report updating the Government's evidence base on shadow flicker. This report is available on the DECC website at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/wind/onshore/comms_planning/shadow_flicker/shadow_flicker.aspx.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what studies they are undertaking to investigate low frequency vibrations near wind turbine installations and their effects on people's well-being; and what data is currently publicly available for communities concerned about any such effects.[HL12251]
Lord Marland: A comprehensive study of vibration measurements in the vicinity of a modem wind farm was undertaken in the UK in 1997 by ETSU for the Department of Trade and Industry (ETSU W/13/00392/REP). The report found no evidence that ground transmitted low frequency noise from wind turbines is at a sufficient level to be harmful to human health.
These findings were confirmed by a study published in 2005 by the Applied and Environmental Geophysics Group of the School of Physical and Geographical Sciences at Keele University titled Microseismic and Infrasound Monitoring of Low Frequency Noise and Vibrations from Windfarms. The report is available at: http://geophysics.esci.keele.ac.uk/resources/docs/Final_Report.pdf.
In 2003 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published a report titled A Review of Published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects. This report is available at: http://archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/noise/research/lowfrequency/documents/lowfreqnoise.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their plans for credit easing will be sufficiently well developed to be properly considered by the Office for Budget Responsibility in advance of the autumn Statement. [HL12366]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): As set out in the Charter for Budget Responsibility, the Office for Budget Responsibility's published forecasts shall be based on all government decisions and all other circumstances that may have a material impact on the fiscal outlook.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether synthetic exchange-traded funds are suitable investments for marketing to retail investors in the United Kingdom
18 Oct 2011 : Column WA52
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The undertakings for collective investments in transferable securities (UCITS) directive provides a harmonised EU regulatory framework for collective investment schemes. It is designed to ensure that they are products which are appropriate for retail investors, providing high levels of investor protection. The Government believe that it is important for the UCITS brand that products sold under the UCITS directive are suitable for retail investors.
The Government are aware of the recent developments in the exchange traded funds industry and the concerns around the suitability of some of these products for retail investors. We are working closely with the Financial Services Authority and Bank of England to analyse the risks associated with these products.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 11 August (WA 405), whether the mean figure of 2.13 which they cited for decayed, missing and filled teeth among 12 year-olds within the unfluoridated Manchester Primary Care Trust area was derived from the correct table, or whether 1.12 is the correct figure from the website they cited.[HL12293]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I confirm the correct mean figure for decayed, missing and filled teeth among 12 year-olds within Manchester Primary Care Trust area was 1.12. I should like to apologise for the error.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in applying the recommendations of the Government Office for Science's report The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and choices for global sustainability.[HL12175]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The report's sponsoring departments, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Development (DfID), set out commitments in the report's action plan and have made significant progress on several fronts to ensure the consideration and take up of the report's findings.
Defra ensures that the UK leads the way on sustainable intensification of agriculture and champions a more integrated approach to food security and the development of a sustainable and resilient global food system through international fora such as the UN Conference on
18 Oct 2011 : Column WA53
DfID is promoting more effective, national and international approaches to global food security; for example, by funding studies which link agriculture and climate change; strengthening modelling through contributions to the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) programme; and through its support for the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research programme. DfID has strengthened international public policy by conducting systematic reviews of evidence and has invested in research and new technologies to support improved health, nutrition and hunger outcomes in developing countries. DfID continues to develop and pilot new ways of stimulating innovation and supporting the private sector.
The Government Office for Science is engaging with leading global stakeholders; for example, United Nations agencies, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank and the African Union to catalyse action in response to the report in areas which include global sustainability, hunger amelioration, green growth and knowledge transfer.
At a domestic level Defra has established a project called the Green Food Project which government will undertake jointly with the farming and food industry, consumer and environmental organisations, to consider some of the implications of the report in England. The project will consider how we might reconcile the goals of increasing food production and enhancing the natural environment, in order to lead the way on sustainable intensification.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the global impact of biofuel production on food production; what the consequences are for food storage across the world; and what action they are taking in multilateral institutions to address the issue.[HL12104]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government published the report Agricultural Price Spikes 2007/2008: Causes and Policy Implications1 earlier this year, prepared in response to the commodities price spikes in 2008. Within this report, annexe 5 considers the global impact of biofuels on agricultural commodities. Specifically, although the demand for the agricultural commodities used in biofuel production has increased substantially over the past 10 years, biofuel use remains a small proportion of overall commodities demand. Medium-term economic modelling suggests that this may lead to upward pressure on commodities prices, most likely leading to increased production.
The analysis also concluded that there is some evidence that increased demand for biofuels has led to lower stocks, but other factors such as active destocking policies by governments have been more important. We are currently unable to estimate the precise impact of biofuel production on food production or stock levels.
The European Commission must monitor and report every two years on the impact of biofuel policy and increased demand for biofuel on social sustainability. This includes reporting on the availability of foodstuffs at affordable prices, in particular for people living in developing countries. If necessary the Commission must propose corrective action. We are feeding our views into the Commission.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what studies the Department for International Development as made of the outcome of the Zero Hunger campaign in Brazil, and of whether there are lessons to be learned as a result.[HL12107]
Baroness Northover: For many years, the Government of Brazil have been striving to address the problems of extreme poverty and hunger, especially among children. From 2003-08 the Bolsa Familia program within the Zero Hunger campaign helped to lift 12.2 million people out of poverty, to contribute significantly to the overall decrease in inequality, and to reduce greatly levels of malnutrition throughout the country.
The Zero Hunger campaign has had distinct success. In the past 10 years, Brazil has cut the prevalence of underweight children in half and the country is on track to halve the rate of hunger before the 2015 millennium development goal deadline. The campaign was showcased at the joint Department for International Development (DfID) and United States Agency for International Development "Millennium Development Goals Countdown" event in the margins of the UN General Assembly in September. DfID is working to promote the dissemination and practical application of lessons from Brazil's experience in low-income countries, particularly in Africa.
Baroness Northover: The UK supports healthcare in Gaza through our financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA), and our core funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The PA provides
18 Oct 2011 : Column WA55
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): On 12 January 2011, we published Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer. It shows how the Government's reforms will improve outcomes for all cancer patients. The strategy sets out an ambition to save at least an additional 5,000 lives every year by 2014-15 through earlier diagnosis of cancer and improved access to screening and radiotherapy.
To support earlier diagnosis of cancer, the Government have committed over £450 million over the next four years. This money will be used to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer; fund increased general practitioner access to diagnostic tests; and pay for more testing and treatment in secondary care.
The strategy also sets out our commitment to work with a number of charities focused on rarer cancers to assess what more can be done to encourage appropriate referrals to secondary care and to diagnose rarer cancers earlier. Departmental officials have already met with a number of these charities, including a pancreatic cancer charity, with the aim of identifying some of the barriers to early diagnosis and to discuss potential solutions. This will inform our future work in this area.
On 16 September, we announced plans to roll out a regional awareness symptom campaign focusing on lung cancer in October and a national campaign focusing on bowel cancer next year. In addition, there will be local trial campaigns for less common cancers, namely oesophagogastric cancer and the symptom blood in urine (an indicator of kidney and bladder cancers). Work is also under way to test the feasibility of developing a more generic cancer campaign that could apply to all cancer types including pancreatic cancer.
Finally, Improving Outcomes in Upper Gastro-intestinal Cancers, published in 2001, makes recommendations on the treatment, management and care of patients with upper gastro-intestinal cancers including pancreatic cancer. The Cancer Outcomes Strategy makes it clear that the improving outcomes in cancer guidance, published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, will continue to be a feature of all commissioned cancer services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made any assessment of the numbers of people rejected for employment by potential employers, including voluntary organisations, as a result of the disclosure of very old or minor convictions. [HL12263]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Criminal records disclosure in England and Wales is provided by the Criminal Records Bureau and is only available to bodies seeking to ask questions for specific purposes listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 and subsequent amendments. Where such disclosure is made all convictions that appear on an individual's criminal record will be disclosed to the prospective employer; no distinction is made between the type or age of a conviction in the disclosure. It would be difficult to determine reliably the number of people rejected for employment solely as a result of disclosure of very old and minor convictions, or for other reasons unrelated to conviction information and therefore no such assessment has been undertaken.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 27 June (WA 374), whether they have received representations from individuals or companies adversely affected by the activities of receivers appointed under the Law of Property Act 1925 and who are believed to be operating contrary to the relevant guidance issued by the Council of Mortgage Lenders.[HL12261]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 27 June (WA 374), whether they have given further consideration to the need to strengthen the regulations applicable to Law of Property Act 1925 receivers in relation to conflicts of interest.[HL12262]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice has not received any representations from individuals or companies adversely affected by the activities of receivers appointed under the Law of Property Act 1925 (LPA) since the Written Answer given on 27 June. The Government have no plans to amend the law relating to the obligations of LPA receivers, but will continue to keep the situation under review.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Rawlings on 5 October (Official Report, col. 1127-8), whether they will take measures to ensure that the total funding for S4C to meet its statutory remit, as determined for each year by the Secretary of State, will be no lower in cash terms than that for the previous year unless the statutory remit has changed.[HL12242]
Baroness Rawlings: The S4C-BBC partnership arrangements will ensure a strong, sustainable future for S4C and Welsh-language broadcasting. S4C, the BBC and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are currently in discussion about the details of how the partnership arrangements will work, although we are not yet in a position to announce the finalised arrangements.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government have not asked the National Health Service to discontinue and amalgamate primary care trusts (PCTs). Instead, the Government have asked the NHS to form PCT clusters with a single executive team to sustain management capacity and a clear line of accountability during the transition to the new system, subject to parliamentary approval of the Health and Social Care Bill.
The Operating Framework for the NHS in England 2011-12 stipulated that strategic health authorities (SHAs) would oversee the development of PCT clusters and ensure local coherence across the local development of the new architecture.
East of England SHA informed the department of its proposed cluster arrangements at a meeting of the NHS Management Board held on 19 January 2011. Following this meeting, Sir David Nicholson visited East of England SHA with Jim Easton, National Director for Improvement and Efficiency, on 20 May 2011. This was one in a series of SHA assurance visits that Sir David and Jim undertook to consider, among other issues, SHA cluster arrangements.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they did not require the East of England Strategic Health Authority to hold public consultations before it started to implement its plans to (a) discontinue, and (b) amalgamate, primary care trusts.[HL12426]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether (a) discontinuing, and (b) amalgamating, primary care trusts without public consultation is in keeping with the policy of the Localism Bill and the importance the Health Minister attaches to local decision-making in the National Health Service.[HL12427]
Earl Howe: The Government have not asked the National Health Service to discontinue and amalgamate primary care trusts (PCTs). Instead, the Government have asked the NHS to form PCT clusters with a single executive team to sustain management capacity and a clear line of accountability during the transition to the new system, subject to parliamentary approval of the Health and Social Care Bill.
The operating framework for the NHS in England 2011-12 stipulated that strategic health authorities would oversee the development of PCT clusters and ensure local coherence across the local development of the new architecture.
Baroness Northover: The UK anticipated possible further flooding in Pakistan this year and pre-positioned thousands of tents, thermal blankets and hygiene kits. These are now being distributed by the International Federation of the Red Cross. The UK has also provided assistance to the International Organisation of Migration, which has helped to provide emergency shelter to more than 37,000 people. We are also supporting the World Health Organisation's Disease Early Warning System, which is helping to prevent outbreaks of major health epidemics.
We are working closely with the international community and our Commonwealth partners to provide co-ordinated humanitarian assistance to Pakistan. Australia is providing funds to the World Food Programme for food rations and international NGOs to focus on water sanitation and health projects.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): We estimate that the cost from 1 April 2011 to date of undertaking the boundary review under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 is approximately £814,000 in England, and approximately £181,000 in Northern Ireland. The total cost of the current boundary reviews across the UK is expected to be less than the total cost of the previous general reviews.
Earl Attlee: Gatwick Express services form part of the South Central franchise operated by Southern. Southern has challenging customer satisfaction targets to achieve in respect of the independently administered national passenger surveys. These are carried out on the network each spring and autumn.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Attlee on 4 October (WA 205-6), whether they consider the most economical solution to be to electrify as far as Swansea and Weston-Super-Mare, to include the Cheltenham and Cotswold Line service with the fleet of life-extended high speed trains within the West of England Fleet, and have no bi-mode trains at all on the Great Western franchise.[HL12269]
Earl Attlee: : I refer the noble Lord to my Answer of 4 October 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 206) (HL11149) for details of the deployment of rolling stock on the Great Western that the Department for Transport has calculated to be most beneficial and economical.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the contribution to the social and economic health of towns and communities made by independent local bookshops, and of the threat to their existence by the discounting of books by large chains and supermarkets and on the internet; and whether they have any proposals in this area. [HL12232]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government have made no assessment in this area. However, we are aware that booksellers, in common with many other specialised retailers, face strong competitive pressures coupled with changes to consumer preferences, and advances in technology.
The government-commissioned independent review of the high street, led by Mary Portas, will report to the Prime Minister later this year. The review is taking into consideration many factors which contribute to the economic and social performance of high streets, including diversity in provision of goods and services.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the operators of United Kingdom airports of plans to keep them open in the event of heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures this winter. [HL12343]
Earl Attlee: The Government have engaged with airport operators to discuss the lessons learnt from last winter's severe weather and the measures they have put in place to improve their response to future similar events. The Civil Aviation Authority is monitoring airport operators' progress in improving their resilience.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of recent policy decisions regarding the future of the Maritime Incident Response Group, who will provide the response to maritime fire incidents in future.[HL12179]
Earl Attlee: As announced in a Written Ministerial Statement on 15 September 2011, the Government will use commercial salvors to provide an assessment and advice capability for dealing with fires on ships.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what safeguards exist or are proposed to ensure that the crews of ships using British ports are paid in full and on time, that their working hours are reasonable and that their accepted health and safety rules are in place.[HL12139]
Earl Attlee: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has an inspection regime in place to ensure compliance with the relevant regulations, and appropriate sanctions are available for non-compliance, depending on the particular offence.
For UK-registered ships, the relevant requirements are set out in the Merchant Shipping (Seamen's Wages and Accounts) Regulations 1972, Merchant Shipping (Hours of Work) Regulations 2002 and the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997.
For non-UK-registered ships, European and international standards on wages, health, safety and working hours are applied through Port State Control inspections, which the MCA can conduct on non-UK ships visiting UK ports.
The Maritime Labour Convention 2006, which is expected to enter into force by the end of 2012, consolidates and updates over 60 existing International Labour Organisation instruments on living and working conditions for seafarers, with the aim of securing the right of all seafarers to decent employment.
Although the UK is already largely compliant with the requirements of the convention there are certain elements that will require amendments to existing legislation to make the UK fully compliant and allow it to ratify the convention.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to take measures to ensure that political obstacles to effective humanitarian and development assistance to the people of Somalia are removed. [HL12102]
Baroness Northover: The UK Government support an inclusive peace process based on the Djibouti agreement. This includes fulfilment of key tasks of the Transitional Federal Charter by 2012, such as the adoption of a draft constitution and increasing transparency. We will continue to support the Transitional Federal Government if they demonstrate results, and will hold them to account if they fail to deliver.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have studied the recommendations by Somalia South-Central Non-State Actors, funded by the Department for International Development, following its July 2011 consultation on the role of Somali citizens in the transitional period; and whether they intend to publish a response.[HL12176]
Baroness Northover: The UK Government have studied the report by Somalia South-Central Non-State Actors (SOSCENSA) on the role of citizens and civil society in the transitional period based on its citizens'
18 Oct 2011 : Column WA63
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Department for International Development's work in South Sudan includes measures to promote tribal tolerance in that country; and if so, what are those measures.[HL12036]
Baroness Northover: The UK's development programme in South Sudan includes specific measures to promote tribal tolerance. These include a programme to support grassroots peacebuilding, which is helping to build up community-based organisations, strengthen intercommunity dialogue and community mechanisms for dispute resolution, and to establish an early warning system in four key states. In addition, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) managed South Sudan Recovery Fund, to which the UK is a core contributor, is supporting local level investments to promote peace and stability in all 10 states of South Sudan.
Baroness Northover: We are greatly concerned at the humanitarian situation in Sudan. This is particularly acute in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State where conflict continues and where humanitarian access is limited. Refugees displaced from Southern Kordofan into South Sudan are reported as malnourished, underlining the urgency of the need for humanitarian access after four months of no international response being permitted.
There is also a significant ongoing humanitarian need for those displaced from Abyei and in Darfur. We are working closely with the UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations to press for greater access to those that need help the most and for the protection of civilians. In Sudan since May, we estimate that 110,000 people have been displaced from Abyei; 200,000 from Southern Kordofan; 25,000 from Blue Nile State, plus a further 25,000 out of the state to Ethiopia and a further 6,000 into South Sudan; and since January 2011 at least 70,000 in Darfur, with 1.9 million long-term displaced.
In 2011, the UK has provided £40 million to the UN-managed Common Humanitarian Fund which channels funds through UN agencies and non-governmental organisations, of which around 60 per cent will be spent in Sudan to alleviate the needs on the ground.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are investigating the role played by United Kingdom banks in marketing Structured Trust Advantaged Repackaged Securities as a method to avoid or evade tax.[HL12182]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) shares relevant information and intelligence about Structured Trust Advantaged Repackaged Securities (also known as STARS) with other fiscal authorities through the Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre, in accordance with the exchange of information articles in our double taxation treaties.
HMRC carries out risk assessments of its customers and where it identifies structured financial products, it reviews them as appropriate. Where HMRC takes the view that there is UK tax at risk, it will challenge such structures. Where it takes the view that there may be a threat to another fiscal authority, it liaises as appropriate with that fiscal authority.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the coach concessionary travel scheme costs; and what analysis they have made of the impact of removing this scheme on (a) the ability of disabled people and people over 60 to travel by coach, and (b) the frequency and ticket price of existing coach services.[HL12267]
A regulatory impact assessment relating to the ending of the BSOG coach concession in England will be published on the Department for Transport website and a copy placed in the Library of the House when the regulations which end the scheme come into effect.
Following the 2010 spending review announcement, National Express said it was already planning for the removal of the coach concessionary fares scheme in October 2011 and would announce new products aimed at the over-60s and disabled travellers in due course. National Express said that it believed the financial impact of the scheme's removal was manageable and would be mitigated by its own plans.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We are considering carefully how to design universal credit so that it provides the right support for self-employed people.
It is our intention that the new system works efficiently for self-employed people and does not impose any unnecessary burdens on them. We will balance this efficiency with the appropriate safeguards to make sure that public funds are distributed wisely. We will provide a self-reporting tool for all those who are outside the pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) system, such as the self-employed, to ensure that universal credit payments take into account all household earnings. The regularity with which information will be required and assessment made is being considered in order to balance obligations on the claimant and responsiveness to need.
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