|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many apprenticeships have been created in the area formerly covered by the North East Regional Development Agency as a result of the Government's policy of encouraging the creation of 250,000 apprenticeships, according to each category of apprenticeship. [HL12478]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Table 1 shows the number of apprenticeship programme starts in the north-east region between May 2010 and July 2010 of the 2009-10 academic year based on final year data and full-year figures for the 2010-11 academic year based on provisional data, the latest period for which data are available.
|Table 1: Apprenticeship Programme Starts in the North-east Region, May 2010 to July 2011 (Provisional)|
|Quarter 4 May 2010 to July 2010 (Final)||Full Year August 2010 to July 2011 (Provisional)||May 2010 to July 2011 (Provisional)|
Information on the number of apprenticeship starts is published in a quarterly statistical first release (SFR). The latest SFR was published on 27 October 2011-http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_current.
To ask Her Majesty's government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 12 October 2011 (WA 235), whether any Victoria Cross or George Cross has been awarded in the circumstances referred to in the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 14 September (WA 58). [HL12467]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: For security reasons, the Government would not wish to comment on whether any Victoria Cross or George Cross has been awarded in the circumstances referred to in the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 14 September (WA 58).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the speech by Lord Turner of Ecchinswell to a banking conference in Southampton in which he advocated regulators taking control of commercial decision-making by the banks.[HL12522]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Lord Turner is the chairman of the Financial Services Authority board and a member of the interim Financial Policy Committee. These bodies are independent of Government.
The Government's proposals for financial regulatory reform, including the possible use of new macroprudential tools to protect and enhance financial stability, were published in a White Paper and draft Bill on 16 June. These are currently subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of Parliament.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 20 October (WA 91), how much compensation has been repaid to Landsbanki depositors; what they estimate the shortfall to be between what may be recovered and the amount owing to HM Treasury on such deposits; and whether they intend to levy any such estimated amount on the United Kingdom financial services sector.[HL12720]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The amount of compensation paid to depositors has been published in HM Treasury's accounts, which can be found online at the following webpage: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/annual_report_ accounts140711.pdf.
As at 31 March 2011, £4.5 billion had been paid to UK depositors. HM Treasury expects full repayment of the £2.3 billion loan to the Icelandic Depositors and Investors Guarantee Fund and of the £1.4 billion loan to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Recoveries on the £0.8 billion payment for deposit balances above £50,000 will be determined by the returns from the Landsbanki administration. Details of the administration can be found on the Landsbanki Resolution Committee's website: http://www.lbi.is/.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 17 October (WA 6) concerning the Belfast agreement, on what basis they are able to say that the creation of a Human Rights Commission in the Republic of Ireland benefits all those living in the Republic, including British citizens.[HL12577]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: As the noble Lord will recognise, national human rights institutions play a significant role in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms at national level and in developing and enhancing public awareness of those rights and freedoms.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 17 October (WA 6) concerning the Belfast agreement, what steps were taken besides the formation of the Irish Human Rights Commission to strengthen the protection of human rights in the Republic of Ireland.[HL12578]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received representations from Macmillan Cancer Support about their proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill on the employment and support allowance; and, if so, what response they have made and what action they will be taking.[HL12551]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): DWP Ministers have had a number of discussions with Macmillan Cancer Support, as we are determined that the benefits system should support people who are diagnosed with cancer in the most sensitive, fair and appropriate way. The department is committed to an ongoing process of review and improvement.
As part of his second independent review, Professor Malcolm Harrington asked Macmillan Cancer Support to look in detail at how the work capability assessment assesses people with cancer and to provide him with any recommendations for further improvements.
The department recently received these recommendations from Professor Harrington and is considering them carefully to understand whether they will improve the assessment further for individuals with cancer. The department will come forward with any proposals shortly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Adrian Beecroft was asked to contribute his thoughts to Government to support the work on examining the burden of cross-government employment-related law. This is part of a wider consultation with stakeholders for the red tape challenge. His views will feed into that process, and we do not plan to publish them.
Baroness Wilcox: Adrian Beecroft was asked to contribute his thoughts to Government to support the work on examining the burden of cross-government employment-related law, as part of a wider consultation with stakeholders for the red tape challenge. He was not paid for his contribution and he received de minimis support from Government on the work he has undertaken.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are seriously concerned at recent reports that young monks in Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province have immolated themselves.
My honourable friend the Minister of State, Jeremy Browne, wrote to the Chinese ambassador earlier this year raising his concerns regarding the situation at the Kirti Monastery. More recently officials have raised their concerns with the Chinese embassy in London and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, urging the Chinese Government to work with local monasteries and communities to resolve the grievances which have led to these self-immolations. Our embassy officials in China make regular visits to Tibetan areas, and have done so recently. We remain in frequent contact with the Foreign Affairs Office in Sichuan and local Public Security Bureau offices regarding access to these areas.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The aim of the Community First programme is to encourage more social action in neighbourhoods with significant deprivation and low social capital. It aims to encourage people to help others and themselves to improve the quality of life locally.
There are 77 eligible wards across the London boroughs and they will each receive between £16,995 and £101,730 of funding over the next four years. The full list of eligible wards and further details on the programme are available on the Community Development Foundation's website at: http://www.cdf.org.uk/web/guest/community-first.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether United Kingdom banks and investors will be subject to restrictions introduced by the European Union on the purchase of sovereign credit default swaps; whether they have supported these proposals; and whether they have carried out a cost-benefit analysis of them.[HL12640]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): A political agreement on the short-selling regulation has been reached. It includes restrictions around the purchasing of uncovered sovereign credit default swaps (CDS). The UK does not support bans on naked sovereign CDS. However, some member
31 Oct 2011 : Column WA196
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The number of persons found guilty at all courts in England and Wales for using a motor vehicle uninsured against third-party risks, from 2008 to 2010, can be viewed in the table below.
|Number of persons found guilty at all courts for using a motor vehicle uninsured against third-party risks(1), England and Wales, 2008 to 2010(2)(3)|
|Findings of guilt|
(2) The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
(3) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that parliamentary and presidential elections taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo in November 2011 are free and fair.[HL12548]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is committed to supporting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to help ensure that elections there are free and fair. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Henry Bellingham, confirmed this point at the launch event for the Free Fair DRC campaign in September.
The Government, through the Department for International Development, are offering significant assistance to DRC elections, aimed primarily at encouraging as wide a participation as possible. Through our UN-assessed contributions, the UK is also supporting critical logistics assistance provided by MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping force. We are aware of allegations of fraud in the electoral roll. However, these are yet to be substantiated. We have pushed the DRC's electoral commission to ensure that all parties have scrutiny of the electoral roll, and the commission publishes full voter lists on its website and in registration centres. All double entries, whether added through human error or otherwise, must be scrutinised locally and amended. We are also in close touch with internationally recognised monitoring experts in the EU and the Carter Center to ensure a high-quality network of observers will be in the country before, during and after the election.
As Director General I have been asked to answer your Parliamentary Question asking what the latest estimate is of the extent of the black economy in the United Kingdom in cash terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product [HL12565].
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study showing British teenagers to be 18 months behind Chinese teenagers and one year behind those from South Korea or Finland in terms of educational attainment. [HL12517]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The relative performance of pupils in English schools in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) trails behind that of their peers in high-performing systems such as Shanghai, Korea and Finland. Analysis by the Department for Education of the OECD PISA 2009 data shows that to match the attainment of pupils from Shanghai in the PISA reading assessment:the proportion of England's pupils achieving five A*-C grades (including English and maths) at the end of key stage 4 would need to increase by 22 percentage points; andfor all maintained schools in England this would be an increase from 55 per cent of pupils achieving the threshold measure (in 2010) to 77 per cent.
The Government are taking urgent action across the board to ensure that England can match the achievement of those countries which have closed the gap between rich and poor pupils, while raising the attainment of all. Specific actions to identify and address problems with reading include the introduction of a phonics check for six year-olds, a new spelling, punctuation, grammar and vocabulary test for 11 year- olds, and the reinstatement of marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar in relevant GCSE exams.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's decision to triple payments to egg donors on the number of vulnerable women seeking to become donors; and what assessment they have made of the health risks to such women donating eggs.[HL12634]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Compensation to donors, both financial and in kind, is a matter for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to determine under Section 12(1)(e) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended.
The HFEA has advised that it made its decision to change the way sperm and egg donors are compensated following detailed consideration of a substantial body of evidence gathered during a thorough and wide-reaching consultation. This evidence is publicly available on the HFEA's website at: www.hfea.gov.uk/6696.html.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's decision that egg donors should be paid fixed sums is consistent with a principle of compensation for loss of earnings; what the authority's stated commitment to "take a proactive approach" towards the acquisition of gametes will entail; whether it involves facilitating a market in eggs and sperm; and how this relates to the function of the authority as laid down in statute.[HL12678]
Earl Howe: Compensation to donors, both financial and in kind, is a matter for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to determine under Section 12(1)(e) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended.
The HFEA made the decision to take a proactive approach by establishing a national strategy group so that professional and patient groups can work together to improve awareness, donor customer service and retention of donors. The HFEA's view is that this is provided for under Section 8(1)c of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. The HFEA does not seek to facilitate a market in egg and sperm donation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 19 October (WA 71-2), when research licence R0122 permitted the specific creation of human embryos for research purposes.[HL12715]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that it first issued research licence R0122 on 21 June 2000. Activities permitted under a research licence, for the purposes of a specified research project, are set out in paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, and include bringing about the creation of embryos in vitro and keeping or using embryos.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Electricity generation companies are currently well incentivised to minimise losses in generation, as any losses directly impact sales revenues. A range of measures, including the EU Emissions Trading System, incentivise electricity generators to minimise their carbon emissions and can further encourage efficiency in electricity generation.
The Government also recognise the importance of keeping electrical losses from both the transmission and distribution systems to a minimum as this reduces the amount of electricity that needs to be produced and in turn results in lower carbon emissions and other costs. National Grid, as the system operator of the transmission system, and the distribution network operators are incentivised to minimise transmission and distribution losses respectively through reward or penalty payments based on performance against targets set by Ofgem, in its role as independent energy regulator.
The Energy consumer summit, held on 17 October 2011, agreed a range of steps that the Government, energy suppliers and the regulator Ofgem will take to help consumers. This will include clarifying bills, facilitating switching suppliers and increasing uptake of insulation to help consumers save money on their gas and electricity bills. The Government welcome Ofgem's proposals to simplify energy tariffs and standardise price information.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the comments by Lord Sassoon on 24 November 2010 (Official Report, col. 1157), whether they will meet their target "to make the first payments in the middle of 2011" to Equitable Life annuitants. [HL12606]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Payments began on 30 June 2011 and hundreds of payments have been made to date. Payment volumes will continue to increase over the coming months as the scheme's complex payment processes are refined further.
Baroness Northover: The latest European Commission annual report on development assistance was produced in 2011, covering commitments and spending for 2010. The full report, which includes data on all regions, countries and sectors, is available on the European Commission website at: http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/multimedia/publications/publications/annual-reports/2011_en.htm.
In 2010 the European Commission provided €33.61 million. The European Commission is reducing funding to China, from an average of €32 million (£28 million) per year committed for 2007-13 to an average of €15 million (£13 million) per year for 2011-13 to allow for increased allocations to other countries in Asia such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to take account of China's economic development.
The stated aims for the EU's aid to China are: support for areas covered by EU-China policy dialogues; global concerns over climate change, the environment and energy; human resources development; and cross-cutting issues including governance, the environment and gender.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord Sassoon on 17 October (WS 1-3), whether the agreement to a compromise text on the six legislative proposals for strengthening economic governance in the European Union will require the agreement of both Houses of Parliament. [HL12566]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): On 25 October 2010, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury submitted two Explanatory Memoranda (14496/10, 14497/10, 14498 /10 and 14520/10; 14515/10 and 14512/10) to the European scrutiny committees of both Houses. The memoranda summarised the European Commission's legislative proposals on strengthening economic governance and their policy implications and were subject to normal scrutiny processes. This House's European scrutiny committee conducted an inquiry into the future of economic governance in the EU, for which the Financial Secretary participated in an evidence session on 14 December 2010. The Explanatory Memoranda cleared scrutiny in the House of Lords on 16 June 2011, when the House debated the Government's response to the committee's report. They also cleared scrutiny in another place, following a debate on 10 November 2010. The parliamentary scrutiny process is therefore complete.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the statement by European Central Bank chief economist Jurgen Stark to Members of
31 Oct 2011 : Column WA202
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): It is not government policy to comment on the many statements and ideas on possible changes to European economic and financial policy-making. We would look carefully at any formal proposals in the event that they were put forward.
Any formal proposals for change to existing economic surveillance mechanisms must be compatible with the treaties. Changes to the EU treaties require the unanimous agreement of member states. Under the EU Act 2011, any new EU treaty amending or replacing the existing EU treaties would require an Act of Parliament and, if it proposed to transfer power or competence from the UK to Brussels, a referendum of the British people. However, the Government have committed that there should be no further transfer of competence or powers from the UK to the EU over the course of this Parliament.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the United Kingdom does not make any further payments to any new eurozone bail-outs, whether directly or through increased contributions through the International Monetary Fund.[HL12521]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK strongly believes that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must have adequate resources to fulfil its systemic responsibilities. This is particularly important given the current vulnerabilities in the global economy.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Transparency data covering all ministerial meetings, hospitality, gifts and overseas travel are published
31 Oct 2011 : Column WA203
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary has been invited to hold bilateral meetings with their counterparts in (a) Ashgabat, (b) Astana, (c) Baku, or (d) Tashkent; and, if so, what assessment they have made of the benefit to the national interest of such meetings. [HL12493]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK values its bilateral relationships with all of the countries concerned. Neither my right honourable friend the Prime Minister nor my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has been formally invited by host Governments to undertake dedicated bilateral visits to Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan. The Governments of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have invited both the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to visit in the future.
Central Asia and the south Caucasus remain important regions for the UK. We have significant commercial and energy interests, as well as interests related to regional security, including Afghanistan; and in encouraging adherence to international norms of human rights and democracy. Continued bilateral contact, including through high-level visits and meetings, is an important component of our engagement with countries in the region.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans the Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary have to hold bilateral meetings with their counterparts in (a) Ashgabat, (b) Astana, (c) Baku, and (d) Tashkent when travelling to or from Afghanistan; and how much longer a flight to Heathrow from Kabul would take if it went via each of those capital cities.[HL12494]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We continue to seek opportunities for bilateral meetings between my right honourable friend the Prime Minister or my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and their counterparts in central Asia and the south Caucasus whenever possible and appropriate.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): I refer the noble Lord to the answer given by my right honourable friend the Defence Secretary (Mr Philip Hammond) in the other place on 24 October 2011 (Official Report, cols. 30W-31W) to the honourable Member for North Durham (Mr Kevan Jones) and the honourable Member for Wrexham (Ian Lucas).
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): Official photographs of the Prime Minister are published on the Number 10 website (http://www. number10.gov.uk) and on the Number 10 flickr stream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/number10gov). They are indicated with a Crown copyright inscription.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): We aim to introduce a groceries code adjudicator Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows. A formal appointment will be made on commencement of the powers of the Bill.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government want the full range of health and care professionals to be involved in the new commissioning arrangements, supporting the NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups to design pathways of care and shape services. The Government's response to the NHS Future Forum report made clear that they would strengthen existing duties on clinical commissioning groups to secure professional advice and ensure this advice is from a full range of health professionals where relevant.
The Government have committed to retain and strengthen clinical networks and to use clinical networks to help ensure that a range of professionals play an integral part in the clinical commissioning of patient care. Clinical commissioning groups will also receive expert support and advice from clinical networks on the design and delivery of services. Clinical networks will have a wide range of multidisciplinary input and, subject to the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, the NHS Commissioning Board will be responsible for issuing guidance to commissioning groups on their duty to obtain appropriate professional advice, for example in relation to working with clinical networks.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has any plans to produce clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C; and, if so, when they expect these will be published.[HL12724]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There are currently no plans for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to develop a clinical guideline on hepatitis C.
NICE has issued or is in the process of developing technology appraisal guidance on a number of drug treatments for this condition and is currently developing public health guidance on ways to promote and offer testing for people at greatest risk of hepatitis B and C.
Further information is available on the institute's website at: www.nice.org.uk.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (a) single pensioners, and (b) pensioner couples, on housing benefit occupy rented accommodation with (1) one bedroom, (2) two bedrooms, (3) three bedrooms, and (4) four or more bedrooms.[HL12630]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Title: Pensioner benefit units (single or couples) in the private and social rented sector in receipt of housing benefit by family type and number of bedrooms:
|Pensioner Family Type (number of families)||Number of Bedrooms|
|1 Bedroom||2 Bedrooms||3 or more Bedrooms|
3. The figures from the Family Resources Survey are based on a sample of households which have been adjusted for non-response using multi-purpose grossing factors which align the Family Resources Survey to Government Office Region population by age and sex. Estimates are subject to sampling error and remaining non-response error.
10. A benefit unit is defined as a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple and dependent children; from January 2006 same-sex partners (civil partners and cohabitees) are included in the same benefit unit.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many meetings Intellectual Property Office representatives had with representatives from the British Library concerning copyright exceptions, commercial use
31 Oct 2011 : Column WA207
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The IPO has identified three meetings with representatives of the British Library from the period following the 2010 general election to the launch of the Hargreaves review in November 2010. These meetings formed part of the IPO's usual stakeholder engagement practices and represented an opportunity to share information, to listen to the concerns of stakeholders, and to discuss matters of mutual interest. At a meeting on 9 September, British Library representatives gave an update to the IPO on their ongoing work relating to orphan works.
To ask Her Majesty's Government to what extent they were advised by the Intellectual Property Office on the conformity with international and human rights law of the commercial use of orphan works and extended collective licensing, set out in clause 43 in the Digital Economy Bill in the 2009-10 session.[HL12574]
Baroness Wilcox: The Digital Economy Bill made its passage through Parliament under the previous Administration. The Government are, however, of the view that it is possible to create a scheme for the commercial use of orphan works and extended collective licensing schemes that are compatible with relevant human rights law.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what legal advice the Intellectual Property Office has received, either before the passage of the Digital Economy Act 2010 or after, particularly with regard to the Twentieth Century Fox v British Telecom ruling, with respect to proposed commercial use of orphan works and extended collective licensing; and how these can be aligned with Article 1 of the First Protocol in Part II of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998.[HL12576]
Baroness Wilcox: The Government believe that it is possible to create both extended collective licensing schemes and schemes for the commercial exploitation of orphan works that are compatible with relevant provisions of human rights law.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, given that the Intellectual Property Office is an executive agency which is required to run as a self-supporting organisation charged with achieving a
31 Oct 2011 : Column WA208
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Intellectual Property Office is an executive agency of a government department (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills). All of its employees are civil servants and are bound by the Civil Service Code and the principles of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. Staff are made aware of their obligations in this respect when they join the Civil Service and then routinely through our policies and procedures. There are clear processes in place to report and act on any suspected breaches of the code.
The IPO Steering Board advises the Secretary of State and Ministers on the IPO corporate plan, ministerial targets and annual report and accounts through the director-general of knowledge and innovation at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The IPO Steering Board is accountable to the Minister and the Secretary of State for BIS and is chaired by a non-executive director, and comprises of four non-executive director members, director-general of knowledge and innovation and chief executive of the IPO. On appointment non-executive directors undertake to declare any personal or business interest which may influence or may be perceived to influence their judgment. The Committee on Standards in Public Life defined seven principles, (selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership) which underpin the actions of the non-executive directors.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to uphold and implement United Nations Security Council Resolutions 452, 465 and 478 concerning the municipal boundary of Jerusalem and Israel's Basic Law of 1980.[HL12663]
We raise the issue of settlements, which we view as illegal under international law, with Israel on a regular basis. Most recently our ambassador to Tel Aviv raised the issue of Givat Hamatos with Communications Minister Kahlon on 18 October. My honourable friend Mr Burt raised this issue with the Israeli ambassador to London on 3 and 23 October, as did my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary with the Israeli Foreign Minister when he met him at the UN General Assembly on 23 September.
"I am dismayed by the Israeli announcement on 14 October of a new settlement at Givat Hamatos. This provocative step, which further encloses East Jerusalem, is particularly disappointing given the international condemnation of the expansion of the Mordot Gilo settlement just a few weeks ago. Settlements are not only illegal under international law, but also undermine the possibility of a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and those working for a sustainable peace. I call again for these announcements to be revoked. Together with our EU and other partners we will make very clear to the Israeli Government the strength of our concern".
Our embassy in Tel Aviv regularly raises the issue of prisoners in Israeli prisons, including elected members of the Palestinian Authority. We continue to call on the Israeli Government to take immediate action to ensure that all such cases are reviewed by a court in accordance with fair procedures, and that detainees' rights are upheld, particularly with regards to fair trial and family visits. All prisoners should have access to a fair trial, and Israel should ensure that it acts always in accordance with international law. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities and to issue statements when appropriate.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK regularly lobbies on issues relating to house demolitions, evictions and settlement building. We have raised our concerns with the Israeli authorities about evictions and the building of additional settler houses in Sheikh Jarrah, a predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood of east Jerusalem. Staff at our embassy in Tel Aviv and our
31 Oct 2011 : Column WA210
House demolitions and the eviction of Palestinians from their homes are deeply unhelpful when the focus should be on confidence-building steps between Israelis and the Palestinians. We view any attempt to change the facts on the ground in disputed areas as a serious provocation likely to raise tensions on the ground and cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, as well as being harmful to the peace process and in contravention of international law.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the Government of Israel concerning alleged violence by Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including the killing of Mr Samer MA Sarhan on 22 September. [HL12616]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is very concerned at the continued and increasing reports of settler violence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Officials at our embassy in Tel Aviv have discussed the issue with the Israeli authorities. It is vitally important that the same level of protection be afforded to both Palestinians and Israelis as they go about their everyday lives.
The UK regularly issues ministerial statements on this and related issues and calls on the Israeli authorities to bring those responsible for violence to justice. Responding to recent violence by settlers against Arab-Israeli communities, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Alistair Burt, said in his statement of 3 October 2011:
"I strongly condemn the attack on a mosque in Tuba Zangria, northern Israel last night. This intentionally provocative attack on a place of worship is appalling. I note that Prime Minister Netanyahu has also condemned this senseless act of violence. I welcome the stated determination of the Israeli authorities to pursue the criminals responsible and to bring them to justice".
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to ensure that the European Union fully implements its guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (2005/C 327/04) with regard to Israel, and to ensure that the Council, the Commission and the international community, especially the quartet, are active in upholding human rights within the occupied Palestinian territories.[HL12617]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The EU Foreign Affairs Council's conclusions of December 2009 urged Israel to act with "the full respect of international humanitarian law". See full text at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/111829.pdf.
The UK made clear the importance of a reference to these conclusions in the most recent October 2011 conclusions: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/125021.pdf.
The UK fully supports the inclusion in the October 2011 EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of a call for both the parties to resume negotiations under the terms and within the timelines indicated in the quartet statement of 23 September 2011. The quartet has consistently called for both sides to respect international human rights law, a call which the UK fully supports.
EU heads of mission in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well as officials in Brussels and Geneva, also regularly review and report on related human rights issues. We will continue to emphasise the importance of upholding human rights, including within the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to support calls by the EU and the UN for a genuine solution to the problems that the Bedouin communities in Israel and the West Bank face. We are concerned about the prospect of relocation, particularly of those communities whose schools and homes are under threat of demolition arising from action by settlers in occupied territory, which would be illegal under international humanitarian law.
We have raised the issue with the Israeli authorities, most recently with Defence Minister Barak (who formally oversees Israeli responsibilities for civil administration in the West Bank), using the school for Bedouin children at Khan al-Ahmer as an example and requesting that the demolition not take place. Senior officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development most recently visited the Khan al-Ahmer school on 6 October to give profile to the broader set of issues and discussed with Palestinian and UN officials how to respond to the threat of demolition and relocation.
Our embassy in Tel Aviv is in regular contact with Bedouin and activists, and continues to monitor developments, including the Prawer report, which seeks to provide an economic development plan for the Bedouin and was approved by the Israeli Cabinet on 11 September 2011. The Bedouin do not believe the report provides a solution to the problems facing their community. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office maintains that the plan is balanced, and an important part of the larger development strategy for the Negev. Legislation in support of the plan is due to be raised in the Knesset's winter session, starting in November. In
31 Oct 2011 : Column WA212
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Overseas victims of alleged corporate harm by UK multinational companies are currently able to bring civil claims in the UK where appropriate. These are claims for damages in tort or contract, rather than claims under the Human Rights Act or European Convention on Human Rights. I believe that these claims will continue to be brought following implementation of our reforms to civil litigation funding and costs. Conditional fee agreements (CFAs) will continue, although any success fee will no longer be recoverable from the losing party.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Through UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) we are focusing on the key commercial needs in post-conflict Libya, supporting the return to normality in the country. A full compliment of UKTI staff will shortly be in place and in due course we will again offer the full range of services for British companies seeking to do business in Libya, including support for trade missions which will reflect the needs of the Libyans.
UKTI recently hosted a conference, attended by over 150 UK businesses, aimed at helping co-ordinate efforts to reconstruct Libya's infrastructure and address its wider development needs-this followed my own visit to Tripoli the day before to assess the opportunities on the ground.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of all correspondence they have had with the Government of the Republic of Ireland concerning appointments to the Human Rights Commission for Northern Ireland in the past five years.[HL12763]
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Shutt of Greetland on 25 October (WA 139-140) concerning the appointment of Professor O'Flaherty as chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, in what way the professor's appointment to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, representing the Republic of Ireland, became a condition of his appointment; who decided he could continue this appointment; and whether the Republic's human rights record was considered in his appointment. [HL12849]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The circumstances surrounding this appointment were as detailed in my Answers of 12 October (Official Report, col. WA 243), 17 October (Official Report, col. WA 27) and 25 October (Official Report, col. WA 140). I have nothing further to add.
Baroness Northover: British aid is designed to benefit the poorest people in the world and make a real difference to their lives. The Department for International Development (DfID)'s projects database contains summaries of each project that is currently running or recently completed, including what the project aims to achieve and how much it costs. The database is available to the public and can be found at http://www.dfid.gov. uk/What-we-do/How-UK-aid-is-spent/Project-information. Publication is a key part of the Government's aid transparency guarantee, which aims to improve the effectiveness and value for money for aid by making
31 Oct 2011 : Column WA214
DfID also publishes annual statistics-http://www.dfid. gov.uk/About-us/How-we-measure-progress/Aid-Statistics/-showing how UK financial resources for international development are spent. Expenditure is broken down by destination country or organisation, type of assistance, how this money is channelled and the sector in question.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 12 October (WA 244), whether in the light of the statement in the questionnaire sent by the Pension Service to those in receipt of a United Kingdom pension resident in the Republic of Ireland, deposited in the Library of the House under reference DEP2011-1005 on 16 June 2011, that "if we do not hear from you we may have to carry out further checks to ensure we can still make payments to you", they will now carry out such checks on the 4.4 per cent of non-respondents.[HL12528]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Information is no longer held on those customers who did not respond, and further action is therefore not possible.
Information on the scrutiny of the non-respondents is also not held. However, if correspondence had been returned by the postal services, indicating that the customer was not at the address held, normal practice would have been to investigate further to establish whether payments could continue.
Lord Freud: The Pensions Act 2008 provides powers to limit administrative charges for workplace pensions used by employers to fulfil the duties to automatically enrol qualifying workers into a workplace pension established by the Pensions Act 2008. The Government are committed to ensuring individuals receive good value from pension saving, but currently are still considering the specific circumstances or manner in which these powers might be exercised.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have plans to limit the number of switches between different funds within an auto-enrolled pension plan possible per annum, and the charges for those switches.[HL12680]
Lord Freud: The Government have no plans to set a limit on the number of switches between funds in a workplace pension used by employers to fulfil the duties to automatically enrol qualifying workers into a workplace pension established by the Pensions Act 2008.
The Pensions Act 2008 provides powers to limit administrative charges for workplace pensions used to fulfil these duties. The Government are committed to ensuring individuals receive good value from pension saving, but currently have no plans for the specific circumstances or manner in which these powers might be exercised.
To ask the Leader of the House, further to the Written Answer on 13 October (WA 257), why the Department for Transport was unable to meet the target of 10 working days to answer Lord Bradshaw's two Questions for Written Answer tabled on 13 July.[HL12502]
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): The Department for Transport sets great store by providing accurate and informative answers to Parliamentary Questions, as do all government departments. There is a wide variation in the complexity of information sought, but departments always aim to answer within the timescales set by the House; however, where questions seek particularly complex or hypothetical information, as was the case with Lord Bradshaw's Questions at hand, rather more time is required to ensure that the quality of departments' answers is maintained.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the market price of renewable transport fuel obligation certificates (a) six months ago, (b) three months ago, and (c) today; and how a figure of twice these values compares with the 20p per litre tax discount now used by producers of biofuels.[HL12650]
Earl Attlee: The renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO) includes a certificate trading mechanism to increase efficiency of compliance. The scheme allows for the trading of renewable transport fuel certificates (RTFCs).
|Date||Price (pence per RTFC)|
These data show RTFCs for use in the 2011-12 obligation period selling for just over 20 pence per litre. As part of our consultation on implementing the transport elements of the renewable energy directive we proposed providing twice the financial support to waste-derived biofuels as will be provided to conventional biofuels, through the award of two RTFCs per litre of waste-derived biofuel. Under double certification for biofuels derived from wastes and residues, a litre of biofuel from wastes would yield around 40 pence per litre currently. This suggests double certification could provide a greater incentive than the duty differential.
1 Data taken from NFPAS Ltd: http://www.nfpas-auctions. co.uk/etoc/trackrecord.html
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they made any directions for retail banks as part of the conditions they set for their loan to the Government of the Republic of Ireland in 2010; and, if so, what they were.[HL12581]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The terms of the UK bilateral loan to Ireland are as set out in the loan agreement that was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 10 January 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government who was invited to the official reception for the President of the Republic of Ireland in Hillsborough on 18 October; how the invitees were selected; by whom; and against what criteria.[HL12668]
Lord Shutt of Greetland: The guest list comprised a broad cross section of the community including representatives of churches, education, health, local councils, sport, industry, media, arts and the voluntary sector and organisations which President McAleese has visited in recent years.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): It is for individual primary schools to determine what support should be available for children with dyslexia, according to the needs of the child. Schools have a statutory duty to do their best to ensure that necessary provision is made for any pupil who has special educational needs (SEN), including specific learning difficulties like dyslexia. In fulfilling this duty they should have regard to the SEN Code of Practice 2001.
In addition to this local activity the Department for Education has committed to ensuring support is available to every school for the teaching of synthetic phonics. This has been shown to be effective in helping dyslexic learners to read. We are working with initial teacher training providers to ensure that trainee primary teachers have the understanding and confidence to teach children to read using systematic synthetic phonics.
The Winter Resilience Network (WRN), facilitated by the Cabinet Office, brings together representatives from all relevant UK government departments, the devolved Administrations, and the Local Government Association. It has overseen cross-Government preparations to ensure that lessons from the past have been identified and addressed where possible for the coming winter. Ministers have been regularly briefed on progress, consulting colleagues where necessary.
Responsibility for contingency planning for the consequences of a severe winter in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is largely a devolved matter and rests with Ministers in the relevant devolved Administration. Nevertheless, through the Winter Resilience Network and other discussions the Government maintain regular contact with the devolved Administrations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether arrangements were in place in the northern waters of Scotland during the first two weeks of October to give cover for the coastguard's emergency towing vessels formerly stationed in Stornoway and Lerwick. [HL12665]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Secretary of State for Scotland announced on 14 October 2011 that an interim contract for emergency towing vessels had been awarded, and that the vessel "Anglian Sovereign" would operate in the area of the Northern Isles. The vessel was in position on 15 October. As part of the same contract, the "Anglian Monarch" was in position in the area of the Western Isles from 16 October.
In the preceding two weeks Her Majesty's Coastguard proactively monitored shipping traffic from co-ordination centres at Stornoway and Shetland. The option of contracting a towing vessel remained open to Her Majesty's Government if this had been deemed necessary.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 19 October (WA 86) concerning their recognition of a country, what political considerations are included in the "circumstances of each case" which are considered.[HL12671]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have projections for the total amount of tax to be paid by United Kingdom companies in each of the next three years, including corporation tax and business rates.[HL12471]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The table below is taken from the current receipts forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and can be found in the 2011 Budget (Table C3).
The table shows a breakdown of taxes that businesses are forecast to pay to the Exchequer. Added to the bottom of the table is the total forecast tax payment for each year. This is, however, not complete for two main reasons:this figure does not include employer national insurance contributions (NICs), as the OBR does not forecast these separately from other NICs categories; andthe incidences of the taxes are not displayed. This figure does not state whether the burden of the tax is passed along to the consumer or kept by businesses (and, therefore, shareholders and/or employees), so it is not possible to determine which parties ultimately pay the tax. For instance, the VAT exemptions will initially be borne by firms, owners and/or employees.
|Forecast (£ billion)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 11 October (WA 231), which key parties, other than the utility and light rail sector, they consult about the use of trams in future and whether the Local Government Association will be consulted.[HL12649]
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport is shortly to host a high-level tram summit with the light rail sector, chaired by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker, to discuss and agree a sector-led implementation plan for getting light rail on the right track. Participants will include representatives from local transport authorities that are involved in light rail.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In relation to the visit to the UK by the Leader of the Opposition of Israel, Mrs Livni, on 5 and 6 October, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) agreed on 27 September that she should visit the UK in order to discuss matters of mutual interest in relations between Israel and the UK. Detailed arrangements for the visit were then agreed between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the embassy of Israel.
In FCO practice, there are no prescribed formalities for consenting to a special mission, but such consent may be inferred from the circumstances of any given visit. The decision for special mission status for each visit is treated on its own merits.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We are using our current IT service providers on the early deployment of the universal credit build. These providers have developed the re-usable components which will be utilised and have significant experience in developing the technologies required for the new development.
DWP has framework agreements in place with service providers for the provision of IT. The service providers involved in the IT delivery for universal credit are currently: Accenture, IBM, Hewlett Packard and BT, plus input from Agile specialists emergn.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what public monies were paid to the charity called the Young Foundation last year; what are its charitable objectives; why its staff have been permitted to become members of the public sector pension scheme the Universities Superannuation Scheme; and at what annual cost to the Government.[HL12531]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In February 2010 a payment of £56,500 was made by the Department for Children, Schools and Families to the Young Foundation to work with the department and local authorities on the development of studio schools, which are schools with a strong emphasis on practical work and enterprise.
The Young Foundation brings together insights, innovation and entrepreneurship to meet social needs and its activities focus on areas such as health, ageing, education, communities, housing and well-being.
|Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|