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Written Answers

Thursday 15 December 2011

Armed Forces: Compensation

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Service personnel who are blinded as a result of service before 6 April 2005 receive compensation under the war pensions scheme. Where the blindness is caused by service on or after 6 April 2005, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme provides a range of awards dependent on the degree of blindness. All cases will receive a tax-free lump sum and for those with serious visual impairment and total blindness a tax-free, index-linked monthly income stream, the guaranteed income payment, is paid from the day after discharge for life.

Autumn Statement

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Decisions on public sector savings in 2015-16 and 2016-17 are a matter for the next spending review.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast is based on the Government's current policy. In its November 2011 Economic and Fiscal Outlook the OBR explains:

Duchy of Cornwall

Question

Asked by Lord Laird



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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have not announced a review into the status of the Duchy of Cornwall, nor do they intend to undertake any such review. The review cited in the Written Answer of 23 November was undertaken by the Duchy with reference to the recent first-tier tribunal ruling. The Duchy has since sought and been granted leave to appeal against the decision of the first-tier tribunal that it should be considered a public authority for the purposes of the environmental information regulations.

Elections: Commonwealth Citizens

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for ONS, to Lord Ashcroft, dated December 2011.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to respond to your Parliamentary Question asking for the estimated number of qualifying Commonwealth citizens resident in the United Kingdom who are entitled to register to vote in all United Kingdom referendums and elections (HL 14208)

ONS does not maintain statistics of the number of people entitled to vote. However, the most recent estimate of the number of Commonwealth nationals aged 18 and over residing in the UK is 1,157,000 with a corresponding margin of error of +/- 46,000. This estimate excludes UK nationals.

The margin of error refers to the 95 per cent confidence interval and is a measure of the uncertainty associated with making inferences from a sample.

The figure provided is the closest approximation available for the number of qualifying Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK who are entitled to register to vote in UK elections and referendums. It is based on the Annual Population Survey (APS) and relates to the 12-month period from April 2010 to March 2011.

The estimate may not be exactly the same as the requested figures. The APS is a household survey which excludes most communal establishments and therefore some qualifying Commonwealth citizens may not be included. However, the estimate provided may include some Commonwealth citizens who are not eligible to register to vote. This is due to the following reasons:

there may be some Commonwealth citizens who require but have not been granted leave to remain in the UK;in Northern Ireland all persons must be resident for three months before they are eligible to register to vote. The estimate of Commonwealth nationals

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resident in the UK includes all persons regardless of duration of residence; and some Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK may be subject to a legal incapacity to vote (for example, detained convicted prisoners and offenders detained in mental hospitals).

Estimates provided in this response include Malta and Cyprus citizens. Although now EU member states, citizens of these countries are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections in the UK. Further information on qualifying Commonwealth citizens can be found on the Electoral Commission website: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/qlossary/g.

EU: Finance

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The announcement on Commissioner Rehn's responsibilities concerns a change to internal Commission procedures and to his portfolio. It does not alter or affect the Government's accountability to Parliament.

Financial Services Authority

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England's Financial Stability Report produced under the guidance of the interim Financial Policy Committee, recommends a number of policy actions to mitigate risks to financial stability.

The Government expect that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) will give due consideration to these recommendations in accordance with its statutory objectives, which include maintaining confidence in the UK financial system and contributing to the protection and enhancement of stability of the UK financial system.

The FSA has a range of powers in respect of the firms that it regulates, including powers to set prudential requirements and to make conduct of business rules. In doing so, the FSA is also required to have regard to the principle that any burden or restriction imposed should be proportionate to the benefits.



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Gilts

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Data published by the Office for National Statistics show that at that end of June 2011 the market value of gilts held by UK resident investors totalled £746.3 billion and accounted for 69.8 per cent of the outstanding stock of gilts, in line with that of previous quarters.

The Government continue to benefit from a diverse investor base with strong demand for gilts from both domestic and foreign investors. Ongoing gilt purchases by non-UK resident investors are testament to sustained investor confidence in the Government's actions to maintain economic stability and meet their fiscal rules.

The principal route for individual retail investors is through National Savings and Investments (NS&I), where the total amount held is £103.5 billion. Since 2007, NS&I has contributed £20 billion to overall net financing for Government.

Government Departments: Procurement

Questions

Asked by Lord Prescott

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have published information on transactions over £500 for 2011-12 for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on our website and will continue to do so on a monthly basis: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/publications-and-documents/transparency-and-data1/Spend/gov-procurement-card-data/.

Information on transactions over £500 for 2010-11 will be published by the end of March 2012.

The other information requested is available only at disproportionate cost.

Asked by Lord Prescott



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The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): This Government are committed to transparency and we believe the information regarding government procurement cards for this financial year is the most relevant.

During October we began to publish information on transactions over £500 for 2011-12 for the Scotland Office on our website and will continue to do so on a monthly basis: http://www.scotlandoffice.gov.uk/ scotlandoffice/16203.html.

Information on any transactions over £500 for 2010-11 will be published by the end of March 2012.

The cost of work required to obtain, contextualise and report data for central government departments from the previous three years, and for transactions under £500, would exceed the cost limits of a Freedom of Information request or a Parliamentary Question.

Asked by Lord Prescott

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The data requested, in the format requested, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

In October 2011, HM Treasury began publishing information on 2011-12 government procurement card (GPC) transactions over £500 and will continue to do so on a monthly basis. This information is available online at: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/about_transparency _gpc_spend.htm.

Information on HM Treasury's GPC transactions over £500 for the period from 2008-09 to 2010-11 can be found at: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/foi_spending_gpc _500.htm.

Health: Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease

Question

Asked by Lord Walton of Detchant

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Human prion diseases not classified as variant (v) Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) include sporadic CJD, iatrogenic CJD and familial CJD (including Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker (GSS) syndrome). While there are no reliable data on the prevalence of these conditions, in total they affect about 1:1,000,000 of the population per

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annum. Data on deaths due to all forms of CJD are published monthly by the United Kingdom Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease Research and Surveillance Unit and can be found at: www.cjd.ed.ac.uk/figures.htm.

The P-Capt filter is marketed by Macopharma for the removal of prions from leucodepleted blood to reduce the risk of transmission of vCJD. While there is evidence of presumed transmissions of vCJD via blood transfusions from donors who later went on to develop clinical vCJD, there is no evidence of other forms of CJD being transmitted by transfusion.

The potential use of the P-Capt filter, to reduce the risk of potential transmission of vCJD, is under consideration by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) and will be on the agenda for the SaBTO's first 2012 meeting to be held on 9 March 2012.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Ministers have no knowledge of any payments which may have been made to this litigant for legal support. Recovery of any such payments would be a matter for the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission, which is sponsored by the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland.

Libya

Question

Asked by Lord Janner of Braunstone

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The UK's support to NATO's Operation Unified Protector in Libya has ended. In terms of bilateral military support to Libya, we have a small defence advisory team in Tripoli and a separate small team of military counterproliferation experts working with the Libyan authorities and United States to locate, disable, and secure man-portable surface to air missiles. We stand ready to respond to any formal request for defence and security assistance from the Libyan Transitional Government, and will ensure that any assistance is co-ordinated with key partners.



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Loughall Incident

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government were ordered to pay £10,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damages to each of the applicants and a global sum of £30,000 in respect of costs and expenses in the case of Kelly and Others v the United Kingdom in May 2001. The nine applicants were the next of kin of those killed in the Loughall incident. The case remains under review by the Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg, which oversees the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. I am advised that the historical enquiries team is examining the case of Kelly and others and expects to deliver its findings to the families in due course.

NHS: Debt

Questions

Asked by Lord Warner

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): National Health Service trusts have a statutory duty to ensure that revenue is not less than sufficient, taking one year with another, to meet outgoings properly chargeable to the revenue account. This is known as the break-even duty. The value of the cumulative deficit reported by NHS trusts aggregated to strategic health authority (SHA) level at the end of the 2010-11 financial year for the purposes of this duty was £629 million, as shown in the table.



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NHS Trusts historic debt by Strategic Health Authority, as at 31 March 2011
Strategic Health Authority£000s

East Midlands Strategic Health Authority

8,527

East of England Strategic Health Authority

41,942

London Strategic Health Authority

344,846

North East Strategic Health Authority

0

North West Strategic Health Authority

11,549

South Central Strategic Health Authority

28,048

South East Coast Strategic Health Authority

45,533

South West Strategic Health Authority

65,833

West Midlands Strategic Health Authority

43,036

Yorkshire and The Humber Strategic Health Authority

39,222

England

628,536

NHS foundation trusts are not subject to the same statutory break-even duty, and do not, therefore, have cumulative or historic debt. Accumulated losses and retained earnings as at 30 September 2011 (unaudited) are shown in the table. NHS foundation trusts do not report to SHAs, but are referenced in the table to make the geography clear.

Strategic Health AuthorityAccumulated losses (000s) *Retained Earnings (000s) **

North East Strategic Health Authority

-390,106

57,926

North West Strategic Health Authority

-158,340

270,663

Yorkshire and The Humber Strategic Health Authority

-12,981

515,664

East Midlands Strategic Health Authority

-233,092

19,256

West Midlands Strategic Health Authority

-360,446

273,439

East of England Strategic Health Authority

-67,683

54,588

London Strategic Health Authority

-63,301

103,005

South East Coast Strategic Health Authority

-41,944

217,724

South Central Strategic Health Authority

-411,608

80,767

South West Strategic Health Authority

-66,626

89,951

England

-1,806,127

1,682,985

Asked by Lord Warner

Earl Howe: As part of being authorised as a National Health Service foundation trust, a NHS trust must show that it is clinically and financially viable with a sound business plan, alongside other requirements in relation to quality of services and governance. As part of the viability test, NHS trusts holding historic debt on their balance sheets are required to achieve the criteria set by the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts (Monitor).

As part of the Government commitment to deliver an all NHS foundation trust sector, the department is currently exploring the potential provision of support to specific NHS trusts which may need support to achieve foundation trust status because of historical financial issues but which are able to present a sustainable plan going forward. The framework and process by which such support might be provided has not yet been finalised.

In relation to any support provided to NHS trusts four key tests have been established that would have to be met:

the problems they face must be exceptional and beyond those faced by other organisations;they must show that the problems are historic and that they have a clear plan to manage their resources in the future; they must show that they are delivering high levels of annual productivity savings; and they must deliver clinically viable, high quality services, including low waiting times and other performance measures.

One means by which such financial support may be provided is to assist NHS trusts in meeting the liquidity requirements for authorisation as a foundation trust once all the other assessment criteria are met.

NHS foundation trusts are independent health bodies and not subject to direction by the Secretary of State. As self-governing organisations, foundation trusts retain any surpluses they make to reinvest in the local health economy for the benefit of patients.

Northern Ireland Office: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Those staff in the Northern Ireland Office receiving the revised environmental allowance are staff seconded from the Northern Ireland Department of Justice. Seconded staff remain on the terms and conditions of their parent department. Any review of the allowance is a matter for the DoJ (NI).

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Shutt of Greetland: Two funding requests were received by the department from the NIHRC in the financial year 2010-11. These were:

a joint bid with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to access £17,800 of Office for Disability Issues (ODI) funding was received in August 2010. Funding was in relation to work for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD); anda request to access funding from Atlantic Philanthropies was received in early 2011 to develop a human rights training programme for the Northern Ireland Civil Service. The level of funding and date it may be made available is still to be agreed with Atlantic Philanthropies.

Olympic Games 2012

Questions

Asked by Baroness Coussins

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Volunteer recruitment is a matter for the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG), a private company operating independent of government, responsible for staging the Games. LOCOG has informed the department that it has received 240,000 applications and is now interviewing 100,000 of these at ExCeL and other Games maker selection centres across the UK. Interviews continue from February this year through until March 2012, so that LOCOG secures the up to 70,000 Games makers that it requires next summer. The first offers have now been made.



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LOCOG is recruiting some 850 specialist interpreter volunteers across both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Between them, these Games makers will be proficient in around 30 languages and will be deployed primarily at competition venues dealing with language demands on the spot. As well as these specialists, around 3,000 of LOCOG's other Games makers have some level of skill in a foreign language and will be deployed to roles where those skills can best be used, such as National Olympic Committee assistants working with overseas teams or dignitary assistants working with visiting Sports Ministers.

Asked by Baroness Coussins

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Government are not providing specific financial support to businesses and public services to prepare them for using languages other than English during the Olympic Games.

As a matter of course, London businesses and public services already deal with a wide range of languages. Government have published general planning information for businesses to assist them in keeping running during 2012 and to ensure that they make the most of the opportunities provided by the Games. This document can be found at the following link: http://www.london2012.com/documents/business/preparing-your-business-for-the-games.pdf.

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Her Majesty's Government have, to date, been involved in a series of discussions with pension funds on a wide range of issues to help facilitate and increase their investment in UK infrastructure. The Treasury has entered into a memorandum of understanding with pension funds to continue and take forward more detailed discussions to increase pension fund investment in UK infrastructure. However, required rates of return will, as with other investors, be a matter for the pension funds themselves. A public statement of progress will be announced at the Budget.

Asked by Lord MacKenzie of Culkein

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): It is not possible to segregate pensioner payments by job type. Analysis of this data would involve disproportionate costs.

The average retirement pension for 2010-11 is £7,373.

Shipping: Tonnage Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Prescott

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The table below shows estimated tax liabilities due to tonnage tax for each year from 2000 to 2009 (the latest year for which full data are currently available):

YearTax Liabilities

2000

£1.2m

2001

£2.1m

2002

£2.8m

2003

£3.0m

2004

£3.4m

2005

£3.7m

2006

£4.1m

2007

£4.3m

2008

£4.4m

2009

£4.6m

Smoking

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department believes there is currently insufficient published evidence to show that people smoking outdoors around the entrance to buildings presents a significant threat to public health. The department continues to keep a close watch on evidence about the health impacts of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Asked by Lord Laird



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Earl Howe: Data on deaths attributable to exposure to secondhand smoke in England are not routinely collected.

Estimates of deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke in the United Kingdom were made by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in its 2005 report Going Smokefree: The Medical Case for Clean Air in the Home, At Work and in Public Places.

This report is available from the RCP's website at: http://bookshop.rcplondon.ac.uk/contents/pub4-fc 8ce703-7a85-4fle-a579-1151971a5157.pdf.

A copy of the report has been placed in the Library.



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Vagrancy

Question

Asked by Lord Browne of Belmont

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): At this stage we have no plans to reform the law on vagrancy, but we are looking at whether any additional measures are needed to deal specifically with the issue of unauthorised encampments, such as the one outside St Paul's. No decisions have been made yet.


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