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26 Oct 2011 : Column WA149



26 Oct 2011 : Column WA149

Written Answers

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Bonn conference on Afghanistan will be hosted by Germany and chaired by the Government of Afghanistan. It will focus on three main themes: the political process; the international community's long-term relationship with Afghanistan; and the civilian aspects of transition. Our objectives are for the conference to revitalise the Kabul Process, make progress on the political track, and reiterate the international community's long-term commitment to Afghanistan. We are working with the Afghans and our international partners to help ensure that the conference will be a success and we look forward to participating.

Airports: Runways

Question

Asked by Lord Soley

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Government officials have discussed runway provision, as a factor contributing to the availability of landing slots at Heathrow, with the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority and Chinese airlines on several occasions. Chinese officials have made representations calling for additional landing provision at Heathrow in order to enable direct flights. We have not received representations on runway expansion specifically, either at Heathrow or elsewhere in the UK.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Chief of the Air Staff has accepted an offer from the United States Navy to place Royal Air Force personnel into the United States Navy maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft community. Discussions are ongoing with the

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United States Navy to agree the details of how best to exploit the UK's maritime patrol aircraft experience for the benefit of both nations.

Aviation: Passenger Duty

Question

Asked by The Duke of Montrose

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government undertook a consultation on the UK's air passenger duty from 23 March to 17 June 2011. The Government are reviewing the considerable number of responses submitted by interested parties and will publish a summary of responses later this autumn.

The Government believe that the entry of aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme from 1 January 2012 offers a good prospect for ensuring aviation meets its obligation to reduce global CO2 emissions.

Azerbaijan

Question

Asked by Baroness Goudie

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Queen sent a letter of congratulation to President Aliyev to mark Azerbaijan's national day on 28 May. Government representatives have participated in events to mark the 20th anniversary of Azerbaijan's independence on 18 October.

Bangladesh

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The UK has a policy of accepting all requests for visits by all special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council and regularly calls upon other UN member states to adopt a similar policy, as well as to accept specific requests for country visits. We believe it is important to respect the

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independence of UN special procedures in determining which countries they prioritise for country visits and have not therefore made representations. We are not aware of any outstanding request for a visit to Bangladesh by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. We are aware that Bangladesh did not accept recommendations made to it by three countries with regard to visits by special procedures during its universal periodic review in 2009.

Banking: Northern Rock

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): We are continuing to explore the sale of Northern Rock in the best interest of the taxpayer. The Government are unable to comment on the specifics of individual parties.

China

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Since November 2010, including the visit by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister to China, over 50 commercial signings worth more than £4.83 billion have been witnessed by Ministers or linked to ministerial visits. These visits are also used further to encourage China to open its domestic markets.

The Prime Minister's visit to China in November 2010 emphasised the UK and China as partners for growth, indicating the complementary nature of our two economies which, if exploited to the full, will provide a boost to both countries' growth.

To demonstrate the significant potential for collaboration, the UK and China agreed to increase the value of bilateral trade (goods and services) by 2015 to US$100 billion a year. Within this the UK intends to raise exports to China to US$30 billion per year over the same period.

Cyprus: Oil and Gas

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison



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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The UK is aware of the Turkish Cypriot proposal on the oil and gas exploration issue. It is for the leaders of the two communities to work together on any proposals to share the potential revenue from any oil or gas found in Cyprus's exclusive economic zone.

Drugs: Lethal Injections

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): At the request of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, the head of the export control organisation within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills wrote to the European Commission on 30 November 2010 to inform it that the UK had introduced national controls on the export of the drug sodium thiopental to the United States of America for use in lethal injection, and to make the case for the Commission to consider the introduction of equivalent EU-wide controls on the export of that drug.

Following the Government's decision to extend national controls to the other drugs that currently appear in the lethal injection protocols of some states in the United States, my honourable friend the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise wrote to the Commission on 12 April 2011, giving it notice of the UK's intention to introduce further national controls but reiterating that our preferred solution would be for an EU-wide control on the export of specified drugs to the United States (and indeed any other country that practises execution by lethal injection).

Education: Careers Advice

Question

Asked by Lord Janner of Braunstone

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Subject to the passage of the Education Bill, schools will be under a duty to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance for their pupils from September 2012. The guidance should contain information on the full range of 16 to 18 education or training options, including apprenticeships. Schools are free to determine how to fulfil the duty based on the needs and circumstances of their students.



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The department will publish statutory guidance to support schools in fulfilling their new duty. This will set a clear expectation that schools should secure face-to-face careers guidance where it is the most suitable support, in particular for disadvantaged children and those who have special needs. The guidance will also contain a clear description of the quality standard for careers guidance so schools have relevant information when they are commissioning independent support for their pupils.

An assessment of the effectiveness of careers guidance should focus on outcomes, not inputs. We will look to schools to ensure that their pupils achieve and progress, and monitor this by publishing data on the destinations that pupils move on to after school.

Egypt

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: There has been a resurgence of violence between Christians and Muslims in Egypt. The Coptic community has been calling for greater protection, equality and new legislation. We have raised our concerns about the dangers of sectarianism and extremism in Egypt with the authorities and urged that respect for human rights be enshrined in the constitution, including guarantees for minority rights.

On 10 October my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary issued a statement expressing his deep concern over the unrest and the loss of life that took place in Cairo on 9 October. He urged all Egyptians to refrain from violence, support the Egyptian Prime Minister's call for calm and for all sides to engage in dialogue. He said that the freedom of religious belief needs to be protected and that the ability to worship in peace is a vital component of a democratic society.

European Court of Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The three nominees submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council in 1998 were (as titled at that time):



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Nicolas Bratza QC;

Mr Justice (Sir Robert) Carnwath; and

Robert Reed QC.

This information is publicly available on the Parliamentary Assembly's website at: http://assembly.coe.int//Main.asp? link=http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/doc98/Edoc7985.4.htm.

The process for selection of nominees when Sir Nicolas Bratza is replaced next year will follow the model used in 2009 and will be an open competition, conducted by a five-strong panel.

The three nominations will be published on the Parliamentary Assembly's website once our selection process has finished and the nominations have been transmitted to the Council of Europe.

Finance: Credit Easing

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In his letter to the Governor of the Bank of England on 6 October 2011, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed that the asset purchase facility (APF) continues to include facilities for the purchase of private sector assets up to a maximum of £50 billion. Private sector assets which are eligible for purchase by the asset purchase facility (APF) are set out in the letter of 29 January 2009 sent by the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Governor of the Bank of England. Eligible private sector assets include paper issued under the credit guarantee scheme, corporate bonds, commercial paper, syndicated loans and asset- backed securities.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer will provide more details on credit easing at the autumn Statement on 29 November.

Government Departments: Consultants

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft:

Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development (DfID) spend on consultants in each financial year since 2007-08 is set out in the table below. The total spend figures cannot be broken

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down between UK and overseas without incurring disproportionate cost. Information on a comparable basis is not available prior to 2007-08.

YearConsultancy Spending £'000s

2007-08

21,200

2008-09

24,500

2009-10

19,100

2010-11

1,406

The drop in spend for 2010-11 is due to application of the central government definition of consultancy and the introduction of a stringent business case process to ensure consultancy is managed effectively and approved only where it is deemed to be an operational necessity.

Government: Ministerial Code

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Ministerial Code published by the Prime Minister sets out the standards of conduct expected of Ministers. The Prime Minister recently agreed to amend the code to include publication of all meetings with newspaper and other media proprietors, editors and senior executives. This information has been published for Cabinet Ministers back to May 2010. It is being published routinely for all Ministers as part of the quarterly publications by departments. The code is normally revised and reissued after a general election.

Government: Ministerial Meetings

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government publish details of Ministers' meetings with external organisations routinely. The Cabinet Office publishes this data online at: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/ministerial-gifts-hospitality-travel-and-meetings-external-organisations.

Government: Residences

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie



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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Chequers is administered by independent trustees who receive an annual grant from the Cabinet Office towards its maintenance and to cover civilian staff employed at Chequers in accordance with the Acts.

Information about the grant for 2011-12 will be included in the annual Cabinet Office report and accounts which will be published at the end of the financial year.

Chevening House is owned and administered by a private trust. Some residual costs are met by the public purse. For the financial year 2010-11 these total £3,695, excluding security costs.

Health: Podiatry

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We do not hold this information centrally, but in the case of England, we accept the estimates given on the NHS Choices website. This reports that there are, on average, 73 lower limb amputations a week in England because of complications of diabetes, of which 80 per cent are potentially preventable.

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

Earl Howe: It is for local National Health Service organisations to commission a comprehensive service for people with diabetes that includes podiatry services. Workforce planning is also a matter for local NHS organisations, on the grounds that they are best placed to assess the health needs of their local health community against guidance on good practice, and plan the workforce to meet those needs.

In March 2011, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published a guideline for the care of people with diabetic foot problems in hospitals. The guideline recommends that a multidisciplinary foot care team should manage the care pathway of patients with diabetic foot problems who require inpatient care, and that that team should normally include a podiatrist.

NICE has also published a commissioning guide for a foot care service for people with diabetes, and a clinical guideline on the prevention and management of foot problems for type 2 diabetes.



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Health: Resuscitation

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England and as such is responsible for developing and consulting on its methodology for assessing whether providers are meeting the registration requirements. The CQC can take independent enforcement action where a provider is not meeting these requirements.

The CQC has advised that if when carrying out the dignity and nutrition inspections, it identifed what appeared to be poor practice, it would bring the matter to the attention of staff on the ward and to the hospital's wider notice on the day of the inspection or through its compliance reports.

Where concerns have been identified, these will also be noted on the CQC's quality and risk profiles, informing the CQC's future inspections.

Higher Education: Tuition Fees

Question

Asked by Baroness Randerson

Baroness Verma: No such discussions have taken place between the Government and Welsh Ministers on this matter.

Homelessness: Rough Sleepers

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Rough sleeping figures are published by the department on the DCLG website at the following link: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/ statistics/xls/1845849.xls.



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The Government have acted decisively to introduce a more accurate assessment of rough sleeping levels so that there is clear information in all areas to inform service provision and action to address the problem. Previously only local authorities where there was a known, or suspected, rough sleeping problem were required to provide a count. All areas across England now provide counts or robust estimates, giving a national picture. Latest statistics show 415 rough sleepers in London on any one night in autumn 2010.

This Government are committed to tackling rough sleeping and preventing homelessness. We have maintained the level of homelessness grant, with £400 million for local authorities and the voluntary sector in England over the next four years. A cross-departmental ministerial working group has been set up to address the complex causes of homelessness and improve support for homeless people. It has pledged that for the first time no one should ever need to experience a second night sleeping rough. We also recently announced £42.5 million for the Homelessness Change Programme in England which will provide around 1,400 new and improved bed spaces to improve hostels for rough sleepers and ensure that those coming off the streets get the support they need.

House of Lords: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The total staff costs for each financial year are published in the House of Lords Resource Accounts available via http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldresacc.htm.

For the past seven years the costs were as follows:

YearStaff costs

2010-11

£23,286,000

2009-10

£21,883,000

2008-09

£22,964,000

2007-08

£20,976,000

2006-07

£19,651,000

2005-06

£16,547,000

2004-05

£15,535,000

The figures include wages and salaries, social security costs and pension costs, less recoveries in respect of outward secondments.

Houses of Parliament: Prorogation

Question

Asked by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock



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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): The current Session of Parliament will end in spring 2012. The dates for prorogation and State Opening are conventionally announced shortly before the end of the Session.

International Year for People of African Descent

Question

Asked by Lord Boateng

Baroness Northover: As Lord Howell said, the Government have no specific plans to mark the United Nations International Year for People of African Descent.

UK delivery of overseas development assistance includes working with civil society organisations and the African diaspora. DfID is committed to increasing its work, much of it related to conflict resolution, in fragile and conflict affected states. Civil society plays a vital role in supporting citizens to improve their lives. Civil society organisations are central to delivering services, enabling citizens to be more active in their development and ensuring that policies benefit ordinary people. Through our work with Comic Relief we are supporting the common ground initiative to increase funding to small and diaspora organisations to create real and sustainable change for some of the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in Africa. DfID is planning closer engagement with UK-based African diaspora during the autumn and to build further on links already made, including, most recently, with the Somalian diaspora.

Iran: Public Execution

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The UK remains concerned by Iran's increasing use of the death penalty. Our embassy in Tehran and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London make regular representations to the Iranian authorities on their use of barbaric methods of execution, including stoning and suspension strangulation, urging Iran to cease their use and implement a moratorium on the death penalty. The UK is aware that approximately 12 people remain under sentence of stoning in Iran and we have made clear that these sentences must not be carried out and would invoke a strong international reaction if they were.



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Justice: Third Party Litigation

Questions

Asked by Baroness Goudie

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have not made any assessment of the potential impact of third party funding.

Third party funding is an arrangement whereby a third party with no direct interest in the proceedings agrees to fund litigation in return for a percentage of the damages awarded if the case is successful. I am aware that courts in England and Wales now recognise that some claimants are able to pursue claims through third party funding.

Following Lord Justice Jackson's recommendations, a working group at the Civil Justice Council has been working on a draft voluntary code of conduct for third party funders. I understand that, following an earlier public consultation, the working group expects to report shortly.

Ministry of Defence: Expenditure Cuts

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Significant work has been undertaken by the department to understand better the cost of the forward programme, and agreement has been reached with the Treasury for a real-terms increase in the level of resources likely to be available for the equipment plan beyond the end of the current spending review period. This will give the department the necessary stability to plan on a long-term basis. The strategic defence and security review and the further work announced on 18 July 2011 (Official Report, cols. 643-645) has brought the defence programme broadly into balance, and the detailed implications are being worked through as part of the department's annual planning round.

We will set out our future policy on technology, equipment and support for defence and security in a White Paper later this year. The Chief of Defence Materiel is providing a materiel strategy for implementation from next year onwards. This is being

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designed to ensure that we maximise the value we get from every pound we spend on defence equipment, to assist in balancing our demand to the available resources, and to equip our buying organisation, defence equipment and support, for the task it faces.

Morocco

Question

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary visited Morocco and Algeria between 16-19 October, where he discussed the situation in Western Sahara with the Governments of both countries.

Following UK efforts to encourage international support for human rights monitoring in Western Sahara, this year's Security Council Resolution stresses for the first time the importance of improving the human rights situation in Western Sahara and the Tindouf camps and encourages the parties to work with the international community to develop independent and credible measures to ensure full respect for human rights. The Security Council will discuss the situation in Western Sahara, including progress on implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1979, later this month.

British officials are closely involved in the enhanced dialogue conducted by the EU delegation in Rabat with human rights defenders from Morocco and Western Sahara. We will continue to raise these issues with Morocco.

National School of Government

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Cabinet Office will take all reasonable measures to avoid compulsory redundancies. Measures to assist staff to find other civil service jobs will include:

priority access for National School staff for Cabinet Office vacancies;priority access to jobs within the wider Civil Service via the Civil Service single jobs portal;exploration of redundancy swaps within the Cabinet Office and wider Civil Service to allow National School staff to take suitable jobs elsewhere when the current post holder would be prepared to exit the post on a voluntary basis;

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contacting other government departments, particularly those with a presence in the Sunningdale Park area, to alert them to the fact that NSG has surplus staff; andfacilitating and supporting interdepartmental loans of staff where the Cabinet Office would remain the home department.

NHS: Primary Care Trusts

Questions

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Each cluster of primary care trusts (PCTs) has a cluster chief executive who has been appointed as the accountable officer for each PCT within that cluster. This appointment will have been confirmed by each PCT board. The chief executive is expected to exercise the full range of responsibilities associated with being the accountable officer.

As stated in the PCT Cluster Implementation Guidance, published in January 2011, the role of the statutory boards of PCTs remains key. The guidance set out four potential models for PCT cluster governance to ensure that the statutory role of PCT boards continued to be respected. Early experience of PCT cluster working has suggested that in most localities model 2 within the guidance has most effectively and efficiently provided governance arrangements with absolute clarity about responsibility and accountability. Features of this model include:

a single board meeting transacting, as far as is practicable, the board business of all of the constituent PCTs;a single executive team with single chief executive; anda single individual as chair of the cluster.

A PCT cluster board can only take decisions in areas where a PCT board has delegated functions to it, and allows that delegation to continue. It is a key role of the cluster chief executive and their single executive team to resolve any differences between a PCT cluster board and any of the PCT boards.

Northern Cyprus

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The UK considers that the status quo in Cyprus is unacceptable. We support all efforts to build co-operation. trust and mutual respect between the two communities on the island.

The UK supports the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, bringing it closer to Europe through both financial aid and trade liberalisation. The EU financial aid regulation, which is currently being implemented, represents the EU's biggest per capita aid programme. This regulation has allocated €259 million to fund projects in Northern Cyprus aimed at bringing Turkish Cypriots closer to EU standards and increasing the potential for future Cypriot reunification.

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Maintaining the register of interests is a matter for the commission and the noble Lord may wish to write to it directly.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: I refer the noble Lord to my Answer of 12 October (Official Report, col. WA 242).

Asked by Lord Laird



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Lord Shutt of Greetland: Lord Wallace of Saltaire's Answer of 3 October (Official Report, col. WA 131-2) makes clear that the Secretary of State approved the panel membership for the chief commissioner appointment process. It is usual practice for a senior official within a department responsible for making public appointments to an arm's-length body to chair the selection panel, in line with OCPA's code of practice.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: In recent months, the noble Lord has regularly asked for specific correspondence to be placed in the Library. This has been done except where there were clear reasons against its release.

However, disproportionate cost would be incurred in collating all earlier correspondence and considering it for release.

Nuclear Weapons

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Government share with Kazakhstan the ultimate objective of a world without nuclear weapons. Our ambassador to Kazakhstan attended the Astana conference on 12 October to show our support for this goal. The Declaration on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World rightly highlights some of the major achievements over the past 18 months, including the successful 2010 non-proliferation treaty (NPT) review conference. We agree with the declaration's assessment of some of the challenges ahead, not least the need to break the deadlock in the conference on disarmament in order to start negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. The UK looks forward to working with Kazakhstan and our other international partners on the urgent tasks of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and making further progress on disarmament.

Overseas Aid

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Northover: The Government brought in new partnership principles in July this year to ensure that the UK now provides aid directly to Governments only when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to:

reduce poverty;respect human rights and other international obligations;

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improve public financial management;promote good governance and transparency; andfight corruption.

When we have specific concerns about a Government's failure to protect their citizens' rights, including those of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, we raise these either directly or in conjunction with international partners at the highest levels of the Government concerned. We may judge that specific human rights concerns are sufficiently serious to merit a suspension of our financial assistance to the Government. If budget support is suspended, we make sure those funds are provided in alternative ways so that the poorest and most marginalised do not suffer as a result.

The Government's policy statement on LGBT rights and equality, Working forLesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality, was published in June 2010 and updated with an action plan in July 2011.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Northover: The Government brought in new partnership principles in July this year to ensure that the UK now provides aid directly to Governments only when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to:

reduce poverty;respect human rights and other international obligations;improve public financial management;promote good governance and transparency; and fight corruption.

When we have specific concerns about a Government's failure to protect their citizens' rights, including those of minority groups, we raise these either directly or in conjunction with international partners at the highest levels of the Government concerned. We may judge that specific human rights concerns are sufficiently serious to merit a suspension of our financial assistance to the Government. If budget support is suspended, we make sure those funds are provided in alternative ways so that the poorest and most marginalised do not suffer as a result.

We work closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure that UK concerns about the treatment of minority groups are registered at senior levels.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Northover: The Government brought in new partnership principles in July this year to ensure that the UK now provides aid directly to Governments only when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to:

reduce poverty;



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respect human rights and other international obligations;

improve public financial management;

promote good governance and transparency; and

fight corruption.

When we have specific concerns about a Government's failure to protect their citizens' rights, we raise these either directly or in conjunction with international partners at the highest levels of the Government concerned. We may judge that specific human rights concerns are sufficiently serious to merit a suspension of our financial assistance to the government. If budget support is suspended, we make sure those funds are provided in alternative ways so that the poorest and most marginalised do not suffer as a result.

The majority of UK Aid is provided to countries indirectly, through multi-lateral agencies or non-governmental agencies. This provision is essential to lifting millions out of poverty, to preventing unnecessary deaths through disease or inadequate medical treatment, and getting children into school.

Patrick Finucane

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

Lord Shutt of Greetland: It is clear from the work carried out by Lord Stevens and Judge Cory that, no matter what definition is used, collusion took place in the murder of Patrick Finucane. The Government accept the conclusions of these reports and we do not seek to impose our own definition.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: It is clear from the work carried out by Lord Stevens and Judge Cory that, no matter what definition is used, collusion took place in the murder of Patrick Finucane. The Government accept the conclusions of these reports and we do not seek to impose our own definition.

Asked by Lord Laird



26 Oct 2011 : Column WA167

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Sir Desmond de Silva QC will be supported by a small team of staff for his work on the Finucane review, which will include staff seconded from the Civil Service. The appointment of this team is a matter for Sir Desmond and the Northern Ireland Office will assist him as required.

Population

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I refer the noble Lord to the reply given by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 23 June 2011 (Official Report, col. WA 349).

Public Sector: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Christopher

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The public sector pay bill accounts for around half of departmental resource spending, so deficit reduction will inevitably impact on the public sector workforce. Not tackling the deficit would be the worst thing for jobs in the medium term.

HM Treasury does not centrally manage changes to public sector workforces. It is for individual employers to decide what would be the most cost-effective workforce to enable them to deliver public services and live within their spending review settlements.

Employers have been reforming their workforces since the spending review to make the necessary savings and maximise value for money within their settlements. Different workforces have approached the task in different ways. For example, in the Civil Service, a recruitment freeze has been in place since May 2010.

Railways: Procurement

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Earl Attlee: Department for Transport officials met Bombardier to give high level feedback on its tendered bid for the Thameslink rolling stock project contract.



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Other discussions between the department and Bombardier have focused on the company's future operations with limited references to the Thameslink contract.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: On the 14 September, London Midland announced the preferred manufacturer and financier that it had selected to provide the additional electric multiple units for its fleet.

At present, commercial negotiations between the parties are ongoing. A full public announcement will be made when a successful conclusion has been reached and the negotiations between London Midland and the Department for Transport have resulted in an overall proposal that is affordable and represents value for money. This is expected to be in early 2012.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

Question

Asked by Lord Dholakia

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government welcome the introduction of Unlock's criminal records disclosure calculator, which they see as a helpful tool for individuals to interpret how the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act applies to them, and will recommend it to relevant criminal justice agencies.

Republic of Ireland: Irish Language

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: On 1 February 2010, the former Government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Irish Government that, among other things, will ensure the widespread availability of the Irish language channel TG4 in Northern Ireland following the digital switchover. The Government see no inconsistency with obligations in respect of equality.



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South Sudan

Questions

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Baroness Northover: The UK has provided funding through the Joint Donor Office in Juba to support work to build the capacity of South Sudan's Audit Chamber, specifically to support the development of a legislative framework and build capacity. The UK is now expanding its anti-corruption and accountability programme in South Sudan. In collaboration with other donors and in consultation with the institutions themselves, we will consider how to increase support to accountability institutions in South Sudan.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

Baroness Northover: Through the Joint Donor Office in Juba the UK has provided technical support to the Public Accounts Committee of the South Sudan Legislative Assembly in order to enhance its oversight of Government of South Sudan expenditures. In addition, through its defence transformation programme the UK has provided support to help the Public Security Committee to develop public enquiry mechanisms and enhance oversight of the security sector. This support has included deploying a parliamentary clerk from the UK Houses of Parliament.

St Andrews Agreement

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Most policy responsibility for matters relating to the promotion and protection of Ulster Scots language and culture now resides with the Northern Ireland Executive. The Government retain responsibility for a limited number of policy areas relating to regional, minority and lesser-used languages, and liaise with the relevant Northern Ireland Ministers on matters of mutual interest as appropriate.



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Taxation: Fuel Duty

Question

Asked by Lord Janner of Braunstone

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government's taxation decisions, including on fuel duty, support their objective to achieve strong, sustainable growth. The Chancellor of the Exchequer keeps all taxes under review as part of the Budget process.

Ukraine

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The UK is deeply concerned at the conviction of Ms Tymoshenko, as my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary set out in his press statement on 11 October 2011.

Independent, international experts monitoring several Ukrainian court cases, including Ms Tymoshenko's, have found that the judicial process has not been independent, transparent or fair.

The UK supports Ukraine's aspiration eventually to join the EU. If it fails to apply the rule of law objectively and impartially, Ukraine will not qualify for EU membership. The handling of the cases against Ukrainian opposition figures has exposed the extent to which Ukraine is lagging behind EU standards and expectations in the areas of democracy and the rule of law. More immediately, Ms Tymoshenko's sentence could put in jeopardy the signature and ratification of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA).

We continue to monitor the situation closely and to use every opportunity to urge the Ukrainian authorities to respect EU standards.

UN: Rio+20

Question

Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

Baroness Northover: The UK supports the focus of the two themes of the Rio+20 conference; namely, (a) green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) institutional framework for sustainable development. Defra is the Whitehall lead on Rio+20 and we are working closely with it in the development of the UK position.



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Western Sahara

Question

Asked by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington



26 Oct 2011 : Column WA172

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The UK supports the UN Secretary General and his personal envoy, Ambassador Christopher Ross, in their efforts to find a negotiated political settlement, providing for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. As set out in Security Council Resolution 1871, we regard the Moroccan Autonomy Plan as a serious and credible contribution to those efforts.


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