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1 Dec 2011 : Column WA85



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA85

Written Answers

Thursday 1 December 2011

Arab Partnership Fund

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Northover: There are no current plans to assist the Center for Mediterranean Integration.

The UK has established a dedicated Arab Partnership Fund to support political and economic reform and transition in the Middle East and North Africa over the next four years. This comprises a £40 million Arab Partnership Participation Fund to support political reform managed by the FCO, and a £70 million Arab Partnership Economic Facility (APEF) managed by this department. The APEF will support job creation, economic growth and effective and accountable financial institutions. Programming of this funding is currently under way.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The minimum state support would be the single person's standard minimum guarantee in pension credit of £137.35 per week for those with no other income plus, in most circumstances, £200 annual winter fuel payment.

Most pensioners, however, receive a state pension based on their national insurance record. Those with a full record of contributions or credits receive a basic state pension of £102.15 plus, in most circumstances, £200 annual winter fuel payment. They may also receive some additional state pension. Those bereaved may be able to use their late spouses' or civil partners' national insurance contributions to improve their own state pension. If necessary the state pension may be topped up by pension credit.

The main benefits available as at November 2011 are in the table below.



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA86

BenefitRateIncome-related

Attendance Allowance

Higher rate £73.60

No

Lower rate £49.30

Carer's Allowance

£55.55

No

Christmas Bonus

Annual payment £10.00

No

Council Tax Benefit

Variable according to Council Tax liability

Yes

Disability Living Allowance (Care component)

Highest rate £73.60

No

Middle rate £49.30

Lowest rate £19.55

Disability Living Allowance (Mobility component)

Higher rate £51.40

No

Lower rate £19.55

Housing Benefit

Variable according to rent liability

Yes

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Variable

No

Over 75 TV Licence

Free

No

Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

£137.35

Yes

Pension Credit Savings Credit

Up to a maximum of £20.52

Yes

Social Fund

Variable

See note 6

Basic State Pension

£102.15

No

Additional State Pension and/or Graduated Retirement Benefit

Variable

No

Winter Fuel Payment

Annual Payment (winter 2011-12)

No

Anyone who has reached women's State Pension age up to age 79 £200.00

Aged 80 or over 300.00



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA87

Children: Playgrounds

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government do not expect local authorities to address their financial challenges simply by increasing fees and charges. We have given local authorities much greater financial autonomy and flexibility to manage their budgets and have encouraged them to share back-office services, join forces to get better value from their buying power, cutting out excessive chief executive pay and rooting out overspending and waste. I would note that in some local authorities, such as the London Borough of Islington, playgrounds levy charges for extra services, such as providing supervised care.

Committee on Standards in Public Life

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government welcome the Committee on Standards in Public Life's thirteenth report. It is a valuable contribution to the debate. We remain committed to limiting donations and reforming party funding, and to that end we plan to continue cross-party discussions based on the principles identified by the committee and the Government's reform commitments.

Cyclists

Questions

Asked by Lord Wills

Earl Attlee: The Government recognise that there is value in training cyclists to ride safely and confidently on the road. That is why we supported the development of the National Standard for Cycling and the related Bikeability training scheme. We have made a firm commitment to support Bikeability for the lifetime of the current Parliament and are providing £11 million this year to local authorities and School Games Organisers to train up to 275,000 children.

However, the Government consider that the costs of a formal testing and licensing system for cyclists would outweigh the benefits. The safety case for a

1 Dec 2011 : Column WA88

testing/licensing system is not as strong as that for drivers since, by contrast with motorised vehicles, bicycles involved in collisions on the highway are highly unlikely to cause serious injury to other road users. Furthermore, cycling has clear benefits for cyclists themselves (particularly in terms of health) and for wider society (tackling congestion, reducing CO2 emissions and improved air quality) and the introduction of a licensing system would significantly reduce these benefits, especially over the short term. Over the long term, it would prohibit children and young adults from enjoying the mobility and health benefits cycling brings until they were old enough to pass a formal test.

Asked by Lord Wills

Earl Attlee: The National Cycle Network, managed by Sustrans, is a network of cycle routes across the UK. It currently runs within two miles of 75 per cent of the UK population and covers 12,600 miles of walking and cycling routes.

However, cycling is best suited to local journeys, and most cycling provision is provided by local authorities. We therefore support local authorities in England in providing local transport infrastructure through the formula grant, Integrated Transport Block settlement (from DfT) and the £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund (also from DfT).

The Government are currently providing funding to Sustrans to improve walking and cycling links to schools, and in many cases this will connect schools to the National Cycle Network. In addition, a number of local authorities have successfully bid to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund with schemes that will also link up to the National Cycle Network.

Asked by Lord Laird

Earl Attlee: The Highway Code has a specific section on cycling which details the legal responsibilities for cyclists. Rule 69 states that cyclists, "Must obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals" (Section 36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Regulation 10(1) of the Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions 2002).

The enforcement of cycling offences is, of course, an operational matter for the police. We support any action taken by the police to deter and reduce the number of cycling offences.

Cyclists: Deaths

Questions

Asked by Lord Wills



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA89



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA90

Earl Attlee: Information regarding reported pedestrian casualties, killed or injured by pedal cyclists, in road accidents: Great Britain, 2001-10 is given below.

Pedestrians
2001200220032004200520062007200820092010

Killed

0

4

4

1

3

3

4

1

0

4

Seriously injured

60

47

45

49

61

47

48

52

66

77

Slightly injured

198

158

210

186

215

176

177

208

226

260

Total

258

209

259

236

279

226

229

261

292

341

The information requested regarding pedal cycle casualties killed or injured is available on the department's website at the link below: http://www.dft.gov.uk/statistics/tables/ras30065.

These statistics are based on personal injury road accidents that are reported to the police. It is known that a considerable number of personal injury road accidents are unreported; in particular it is known that less serious accidents involving pedal cycles are particularly reliable to underreporting. Further information is available from: http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/releases/road-accidents-and-safety-annual-report-2010/rrcgb2010-06.pdf.

Cyclists: Helmets

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Earl Attlee: In certain circumstances (eg low-speed collisions and where no other vehicle is involved), helmets can be effective in reducing the likelihood of death or the seriousness of the injury suffered by a cyclist. However, most cyclist fatalities occur as a result of collision with a motorised vehicle, and therefore helmets cannot be seen as a panacea for reducing cyclist fatalities. We do, however, encourage cyclists-especially children-to wear helmets to protect them if they have a crash. However, we believe this should remain a matter of individual choice.

Disabled People: Grants

Questions

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Despite the need to tackle the budget deficit that we inherited from the last Administration, we are increasing spending on disabled facilities grant over the spending review period, from £169 million in 2010-11 to £180 million in 2011-12, rising to £185 million in 2014-15. This reflects the priority this Government attach to protecting the vulnerable, and the value of this scheme in helping disabled people to live as comfortably and independently as possible in their homes.

The coalition Government are also committed to decentralisation and greater freedoms for local government, which is why we have freed funding from Whitehall ring-fencing.

This decentralisation will give local authorities the ability to commission services innovatively, for example by linking up with other related funding streams and programmes to produce better outcomes from the available resources.

Education: Sixth-form

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The closest data we have to monitor numbers in sixth-form education are the number of GCE A-level entries. Students can of course enter more than one A-level.



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA91

The number of entries for each GCE A-level subject group for 2009-10 and 2010-11 is provided in the table below. This information was provided in the recent publication GCE/Applied GCE A/AS and Equivalent Examination Results in England, 2010-11 (Provisional).

GCE A-level entries in each subject group for 2009-10 (final) and 2010-11 (provisional)1
2010 (final)12011 (provisional)1

Biological Sciences

52,728

54,734

Chemistry

40,379

43,256

Physics

27,786

29,216

Other Science

4,283

4,229

Mathematics

69,803

75,492

Further Mathematics

10,813

11,400

Design and Technology

15,244

14,871

Computer Studies

3,683

3,518

ICT

9,359

8,830

Home Economics

358

368

Accounting and Finance

3,808

3,496

Business Studies

30,971

28,764

Economics

20,314

20,826

Geography

29,225

28,192

Government and Politics

12,629

13,303

History

45,146

45,319

Law

14,261

13,129

Psychology

53,080

52,947

Sociology

27,177

27,500

Other Social Studies

4,267

4,134

Art and Design

42,784

42,617

Drama

15,262

14,589

English

84,037

83,072

Media/Film/Television Studies

24,228

24,213

Other Communication Studies

10,022

9,874

French

12,324

11,475

German

5,055

4,550

Spanish

6,564

6,390

Other Modern Languages

5,912

6,802

Classical Studies

5,919

5,754

Religious Studies

17,895

18,536

Music

8,841

8,706

Physical Education

21,304

19,614

General Studies

47,886

42,868

Total

783,347

782,584



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA92

Finance: Virgin Money

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Virgin Money has made a number of commitments in its announcement about Northern Rock plc on 17 November 2011. These are public commitments which are made in writing by Virgin Money.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: As part of the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) approval of the transaction, the FSA is undertaking a change in controller process which includes appropriate assessment of shareholders in the Virgin consortium, the new proposed controller of Northern Rock Plc.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: Virgin Money will issue to HM Treasury, on completion of the sale, tier 1 capital notes with a par value of £150 million and an annual coupon of 10.5 per cent.

Virgin Money has indicated that it intends the notes would be exchanged, or purchased by the acquirer, upon an initial public offering or sale, without reducing the amount and quality of the firm's capital resources, which would allow HM Treasury to exit its investment.

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: The transaction remains subject to approval by the Financial Services Authority and receiving European Commission merger clearance.



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA93

Asked by Lord Myners

Lord Sassoon: This is a matter for the parties to whom you refer, namely Sir Richard Branson and the Financial Services Authority.

Fire Safety

Questions

Asked by Lord Harrison

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): None. But my department is currently considering a number of research proposals.

Government Departments: Buildings

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Scotland Office occupies one building in Edinburgh and one in London. There are no plans to install photovoltaic solar systems, however the office keeps the energy efficiency of the buildings under constant review, in the light of the Green Government Commitments, and have introduced a range of energy efficiency measures consistent with value for money.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA94

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Within the UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is considering a trial solar photovoltaic project, with a view to assessing if it is effective and cost-efficient. Where this is the case, we will look to roll it out as a standard feature in a number of properties across our estate.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Some solar photovoltaic (PV) schemes have already been installed on the defence estate. The Ministry of Defence will continue to exploit opportunities to install solar PV panels and other low carbon energy generation technologies where compatible with defence activities, environmental constraints and value for money in terms of cost and carbon emissions reduction.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): There are currently no plans for photovoltaic installation on buildings owned or occupied by the Ministry of Justice.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Baroness Rawlings: The department has no plans to install photovoltaic solar systems.

Gypsies and Travellers: Dale Farm

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): In its offer of grant to Basildon Council, the Department for Communities and Local Government made clear that the grant was a one-off payment for costs incurred by the council in relation to the clearance of the unauthorised traveller site at Dale Farm and would be paid once the clearance had been completed given the exceptional nature of this site. It did not further define the words "clear-up costs".



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA95

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government's recently published housing strategy is underpinned by a thorough assessment of the problems it seeks to address. This includes the failure of housing supply to keep pace with demand over the past 15 years, which contributed to volatile and rising house prices. Median house prices are now seven times median earnings, compared with three and a half times in the mid-1990s.

The long-term pressures are such that house prices (and the value of the housing stock) look set to increase. The Government's housing strategy includes a package of measures which will help to boost supply and moderate house price rises to more sustainable levels. In the short run this will provide a much needed boost to the construction industry and help enable conditions whereby more households can meet their aspirations to buy a home.

Irish Language and Ulster Scots Language

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: As stated previously, the Government recognise the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, including in relation to Irish and Ulster-Scots.

Legislation

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The table annexed provides details of primary legislation which received Royal Assent in the period in question, which is the responsibility of DWP, and which has yet to be brought into force, either in full or in part. The table includes details of primary legislation which has

1 Dec 2011 : Column WA96

been prospectively commenced. DWP has joint responsibility with other government departments for parts of the Equality Act 2010, and the table summarises the position for the whole Act.

Within the period of 2005-10 over 700 statutory instruments were signed by Ministers of the department. We cannot provide details of all provisions of secondary legislation which have yet to be brought into force as this would require detailed checking of each statutory instrument which would incur disproportionate cost.



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA97

Primary Legislation
TitleRespective sectionsFuture commencement?

Pensions Act 2007

Section 15(1)

06 Apr 2012 (SI 2011/1267)

Schedule 4 (Part 2);

SI 2011/1267 brings some of the paras in Part 2 into force in April 2012 and 2015, but paras 44, 45, 48, 50-53, 56-58 remain uncommenced.

Schedule 7 (Part 7)

06 Apr 2012 (SI 2011/1267)

Welfare Reform Act 2007

Sections 29, 37, 40 56-57, 61(1)(a), 63, 67

Schedule 3 (paras 5, 7(2)-(6), 9(5), (12), 21);

Schedule 4 (paras 3(a), 4-6, 9);

Schedule 5 (para. 13);

Schedule 7 (para. 1)

Schedule 8 repeals relating to: Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979, Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988, Criminal Justice Act 1991, Social Security Administration Act 1992, ss 2A, 2AA, 130, 132, 150 Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, ss 20, 21, 30A-30E, 40-42, 44, 47, 61, 61A, 84, 86A, 87, 89, 93, 150, 171ZP, 171A-171G, 176, Schs 3, 4, 11, 12, 13 Disability (Grants) Act 1993, Pension Schemes Act 1993, Social Security (Incapacity for Work) Act 1994, Jobseekers Act 1995, Sch 2, paras 19(5), 25, 26 Pensions Act 1995,Social Security Act 1998, ss 31, 77, Sch 7, paras 73, 103 Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999, ss 61-64, Sch 8 State Pension Credit Act 2002, National Insurance Contributions Act 2002, Tax Credits Act 2002, Sch 3, paras 25, 30 Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003, Civil Partnership Act 2004, Sch 24, paras 14, 15

Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008

Sections 16-19, 21, 25-30, 32-34,37, 39-42, 60(2)

Payments Act

Schedules 4;

Schedule 5;

Schedule 7 (paras 1(1)-(6), (8), (11)-(18), (22)(b), (23) - (24), (25), (27)-(31), 5-6)

Schedule 8 repeals relating to: Debtors (Scotland) Act 1987, Child Support Act 1991, ss 32-34, 36(1), 37, 39A, 40A, 40B, 47, Schs 1, 5 Child Support Act 1995, Sch 3, para 10 Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000, ss 16, 28, Sch 3, para 11(17) Employment Act 2002 Civil Partnership Act 2004, Welfare Reform Act 2007, Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007

Pensions Act 2008

Sections 1, 6, 19, 30-31, 33-36, 39, 42, 44-51, 53, 55-57, 59, 61, 66, 87-95, 102 - 104, 122, 124(4) - (5), 127, 129, 137, Schedule 3, Schedule 4, Schedule 8 (paras. 10-12, 15), Schedule 10 (paras. 1 3, 6-9), Schedule 11 Parts 1 and 5 and some of the repeals listed in Part 6.

Sections 2-5, 7-18, 20-29, 32, 37 38, 40-41, 43, 52, 54, 58, 60, 77, 96-98, 107, 109-112, 114-119, 121, 124(2) - (6), Schedule 5 Part 3 para. 11 are in force for regulation-making powers only but not in force for other purposes.

s. 106, Schedule 11 Part 3

06 Apr 2012 (SI 2011/1266)

Welfare Reform Act 2009

Sections 3(1) and (4), 4-7, 9, 12(5), 13(5),16-22, 25, 29-32, 36, 51-54, 55(1) and (2), 56, Schedule 1, Schedule 2, Schedule 5, Schedule 6, Schedule 7Parts 1 and 5

Equality Act 2010

Sections 1-3, 14, 28-31, 36(1)(d), (5) and (6), 78, 100-107, 160-165, 167(1)-(5) and (7), 191, 196-201, 211, Schedule 2, Schedule 3, Schedule 4 paras 5-8, Schedule 13 paras 2 and 5, Schedule 16, Schedule 20, Schedule 22, Schedule 23

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): None.

Migrant Workers: Bulgarians and Romanians

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The difference between the two figures does not necessarily mean that a proportion of those given authorisation to work have not paid tax. The number of national insurance numbers issued to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals will, because the same number is kept for life, correspond to the number of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals allocated such a number. By contrast, the figure of 174,577 includes both work authorisations and registration certificates issued to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and it is possible that any individual Bulgarian and Romanian national may have been issued more than one such document over the period in question.



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA98

Organophosphates

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): As I explained in my Answer of 16 November (WA 165), the Ministry of Defence (MoD)'s understanding of the adverse health effects of exposure to organophosphate (OP) compounds is informed by the published peer-reviewed literature including reports by independent scientific advisory bodies. The short and longer-term effects of acute high-dose exposure to OP compounds are established but this is not so for low-dose exposure.

In 2002 the report by the Department of Health's Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) reviewed the evidence on possible links between exposure to OP compounds, in doses insufficient to cause overt toxicity and adverse health effects. They concluded that the substantial body of evidence that had by then accumulated gave little support to the hypothesis. They recommended further research and a second report, reflecting contemporary evidence including the outcomes of the research programme, is awaited. If appropriate, the MoD would consult the COT on OP effects.

Railways: High Speed 2

Question

Asked by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe

Earl Attlee: As the Secretary of State for Transport and her predecessor have both made clear, the Government welcome the strong cross-party consensus that exists on our plans for high speed rail. The Secretary of State intends to announce the Government's response to the recent public consultation shortly, and look forward to working constructively with HM Opposition on these matters in the future.

Surveillance: Telecommunications

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA99

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are seeking to gather further information on recent allegations made in the media and I will write to the noble Lord in due course.

The Government look into all credible allegations of breaches of sanctions involving UK companies. However, in this case, the equipment in question is not currently prohibited by sanctions or export control legislation. But given the recent allegations of such equipment being used for internal repression or human rights abuses by repressive regimes including Syria, the UK firmly supports action being taken by the European Union to restrict the export of such goods to Syria.

Transport: Certificates of Professional Competence

Question

Asked by Lord Willoughby de Broke



1 Dec 2011 : Column WA100

Earl Attlee: This requirement will have no effect on any current holders of operator licences. All existing certificates of professional competence, national and international, remain valid after the 4 December.

From 4 December this year, the current examination for the national-only certificate will be abolished, from that date all examinations for new certificates of professional competence will be at the international standard.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The requested information is in the table below. Statistical information is not available before 2004. Work permits were replaced by the points-based system (PBS) from 2008.

Visa CategoryYear
20042005200620072008200920102011 to September

PBS Tier 1

4

29

15

17

PBS Tier 2

0

58

53

32

PBS Tier 5

0

28

38

32

Work permit

140

143

113

123

100

26

6

2

These data are based on management information. They are provisional and subject to change.

The Government have committed to applying transitional controls on labour market access as a matter of course for all new member states. Croatia's accession to the EU is not anticipated until July 2013.

Under the terms of Croatia's accession negotiations, member states are able to apply the same type and length of restrictions to Croatian workers as those that apply to Romanian and Bulgarian workers. The controls the UK will apply for Croatia have not yet been determined. They will be informed by an assessment of the UK's labour market conditions and the likely volume and impact of migration from Croatia post-accession. We will announce our decision on transitional controls closer to Croatia's date of accession.

War Memorials

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

Baroness Rawlings: Since the start of the scheme in 2005, the Memorial Grant Scheme has paid out grants to 85 charities. This figure includes the faith groups that have supplied a charity number in their application. The highest single grant paid out to a charity is £162,967.71 to the Armed Forces Memorial Trust (charity number 1100521). This charity has also received the highest total grant of any charity with £1,129,687.30 being paid through the scheme to date.

Winter Fuel Payments

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The information requested on eligibility is not available. The department can only assess eligibility for those people whose circumstances are known. The vast majority of winter fuel payments are made automatically without the need to claim. But those people whose circumstances we are not already aware of, for instance because they

1 Dec 2011 : Column WA102

are not on state pension or other benefits administered by DWP, need to make a claim so that their eligibility can be assessed.

Information on the number of households which received a winter fuel payment in winter 2010-11 (the latest winter for which information is available) is provided in the document Winter Fuel Payment Recipients (number of households) 2010-11 by Parliamentary Constituencies and Gender (All). This is available in the Commons Library and on the internet at http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?paqe=wfp.


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