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To ask Her Majesty's Government, over the past five years, (1) how many referrals for abortion have been made by Pregnancy Advice Bureaux, and (2) how many women who have attended a Pregnancy Advice Bureau have chosen not to have a termination of pregnancy.[HL14364]
Earl Howe: The Procedures for the Registration of Pregnancy Advice Bureaux (PABx) set out the administrative requirements for places to be registered as PABx. The procedures request that PABx submit data each year on how many referrals for termination they have made and the number of women whom they are aware of who choose not to have a termination. However, this is not a legally binding requirement and PABx have chosen not to submit these returns for a number of years. Officials will be writing to all bureaux reminding proprietors that returns for 2011 are due by 1 February 2012. The results will be made available in the Library. The department is reviewing the role of PABx and the procedures and what information should be collected in relation to the referral for, and provision of, termination of pregnancy services. These matters are anticipated to be considered in a public consultation next year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many hours of specialist training a person must receive to provide counselling under the Procedures for the Approval of Independent Sector Places for the Termination of Pregnancy.[HL14365]
Earl Howe: The number of hours of training for which a counsellor working in either a clinic approved to undertake termination of pregnancy or a registered pregnancy advice bureau is not currently prescribed. However, the Procedures for the Approval of Independent Sector Places for the Termination of Pregnancy (a copy of which has been placed in the Library) state that a
10 Jan 2012 : Column WA2
The Procedures for the Registration of Pregnancy Advice Bureaux also state that women who are considering undergoing a termination of pregnancy should be able to discuss their choices and decisions with a trained counsellor. This document has already been placed in the Library.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many inspection visits were made to approved independent sector places for termination of pregnancy in 2010; and whether they will place in the Library of the House a summary of findings from those inspection visits.[HL14367]
When the Healthcare Commission was established in 2004, it was agreed that responsibilities for inspecting premises would be passed to that body. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is now the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. Independent sector providers are required to register with the CQC, in the first instance, before seeking Secretary of State approval to provide abortion services. To do so, they must show that they meet a wide range of essential safety and quality standards set out in guidance provided by the CQC to demonstrate compliance with the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and are subject to site visits. Termination of pregnancies falls within the regulated activities (Section 22) set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2009. The CQC inspection reports for individual independent sector places can be found on its website at: www.cqc.org.uk/public.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Astor of Hever on 18 July (WA 226) and 11 August (WA 456), how many Royal Navy aircrew will be on the first conversion course in February.[HL14407]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There will be 12 Royal Navy personnel comprising three air crews on the conversion course from the Sea King Mk 4 to the Merlin Mk 3, currently scheduled to commence at the end of March 2012.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 7 December (WA 157), whether they expect the level of support for projects in Armenia to increase or decrease in 2012; and whether they plan to encourage further applications.[HL14479]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Promoting normalisation of relations between Armenia and Turkey remains a priority for the Government. The allocation of bilateral programme funds to our embassy in Yerevan is therefore likely to remain broadly the same in financial year 2012-13 as in the current financial year.
Also relevant to the Government's objectives for the region is project work funded through the Conflict Pool (a programme fund administered jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development with the aim of preventing and managing conflicts). A key objective for the programme this year is to "strengthen the groundwork for a resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict through close engagement with civil society in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh". In the current financial year, £1.06 million has been allocated to this objective. Again, this is likely to stay broadly the same next financial year as this remains a priority for the Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Browning on 7 June (WA 88), for what reasons they accept that the findings of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of MSS v Belgium and Greece prevent the return of asylum seekers to Greece by the United Kingdom; and how many asylum seeker cases or returns to Greece are currently suspended awaiting improved conditions in that country and court outcomes.[HL14384]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): In MSS v Belgium and Greece, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights considered the evidence relating to the asylum system in Greece and concluded that any asylum seeker transferred there faced a real risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
It would be a breach of both domestic legislation (Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998) and our international obligations under the ECHR to remove someone to a country where he or she would face a real risk of a breach of his or her rights under Article 3 of the convention. It therefore follows that, while the Greek asylum system remains as described in MSS, transfers to that country will be unlawful.
The UK stopped transferring asylum seekers to Greece on 20 September 2010 following the referral of the case of NS and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Between then and 30 November 2011, the UK Border Agency has received 361 asylum applications that would ordinarily have been the responsibility of that country.
We have not suspended consideration of these cases but have instead considered them in our own asylum system, granting protection to those who qualify for it and seeking to remove to their country of origin those who do not. This saves the taxpayer the cost of keeping these applicants on asylum support for an indefinite period until they can be lawfully transferred to Greece.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they have spent to date on the extension of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme to help new start-up businesses with investment, as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Autumn Statement. [HL14349]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they estimate will be raised by the freeze on the capital gains tax threshold for next year, as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Autumn Statement.[HL14350]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Bahrain regarding the recent death of Ali al-Sheikh, and the alleged use of teargas and physical assault on Zainab al-Khawaja.[HL14481]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government regularly raise all human rights issues with the Bahraini authorities. Regarding the death of Ali al-Sheikh, we offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends. The Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), met His Majesty King Hamad on 12 December and urged him to implement all recommendations of the recent independent inquiry report. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North-East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), visited Bahrain on 13 and 14 December and was also able to discuss our concerns with the Bahrainis.
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The Government provide assistance and support to UK-based companies through UK Trade & Investment's dedicated trade and investment team based at the British high commission in Dhaka. UKTI is not presently providing any active assistance to United Kingdom-based companies engaged in or planning opencast coal mining in Bangladesh.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Rehypothecation of client securities is an issue which is linked to regulatory reform efforts taking place across the European Union. The Government will consider this issue in the round as these efforts progress.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria will be used in determining whether the non-United Kingdom operations of a United Kingdom-headquartered bank will be judged not to pose a threat to United Kingdom taxpayers and whether the countries in which such subsidiaries and branches operate will have to confirm to the Government that they would not look to the United Kingdom for support in the event of distress; and whether they are willing to make similar undertakings in respect of foreign banks operating in the United Kingdom through subsidiaries.[HL14494]
Lord Sassoon: As stated in the government response to the Independent Commission on Banking, the Government's view is that UK-headquartered global systemically important banks should have to meet minimum primary loss-absorbing capital requirements across their global operations, as well as in the UK, except where it can be shown that any non-UK operations do not pose a risk to UK financial stability and thus to the UK taxpayer. In this case, the loss-absorbing capacity of those foreign operations need not exceed any international or local standards. This would be evidenced by, for example, a robust, credible plan for the resolution of foreign operations separately from the resolution of UK operations. The Government intend to set out further details on this in their White Paper.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will investigate why the return of funds to clients of MF Global UK is taking longer than the same process in the United States; and whether they will review the working of the special administration regime in the light of this experience.[HL14496]
Lord Sassoon: The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is working closely with KPMG, the special administrators of MF Global UK, to ensure the return of client assets as soon as practicable and to monitor progress. The Government maintain a regular dialogue with the FSA on these matters.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Bank of England to match the European Central Bank in making three-year repurchase agreements available to United Kingdom banks.[HL14497]
Lord Sassoon: The Bank of England is responsible for operations in the sterling money markets. These are designed to implement the Monetary Policy Committee's decisions in order to meet the inflation target and to reduce the cost of disruption to the liquidity and payment services supplied by banks to the UK economy.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether banking activity displaced by the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking will shift to the unregulated shadow credit sector.[HL14498]
Lord Sassoon: The Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) factored the possibility for arbitrage into its analysis in calibrating its recommendations on ring-fencing as well as loss absorbency. There is no activity currently carried out by banks that the ICB recommendations will prevent from taking place. It is for banks themselves to decide where they should place their permitted businesses with respect to the ring-fence.
10 Jan 2012 : Column WA7
The Government agree with the ICB's reasoning that large non-ring-fenced banks should not be required to have equity requirements in addition to any globally systemically important bank surcharge, as this risks activities shifting from the regulated UK market to the shadow banking sector.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure senior banking positions in organisations with trades in the United Kingdom are not filled by anyone associated with terrorism. [HL14507]
Lord Sassoon: This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA), whose day-to-day operations are independent from government control and influence. This question has been passed on to the FSA, which will reply to you directly by letter. A copy of the response will be placed in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority have established that Banco Santander SA stands fully behind the group's United Kingdom banking and insurance subsidiaries.[HL14533]
Lord Sassoon: Santander UK plc is a subsidiary of Banco Santander SA, which is based in Spain and regulated by the Banco de España. Banco Santander SA's stated strategy is that subsidiaries operate on a financially autonomous basis from the parent company. Santander UK is a UK-regulated entity and must comply with Financial Services Authority rules, including on its capital and liquidity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they will ensure that banks based in the United Kingdom do not become over-extended in terms of capital or liquidity in support of wholly- or majority-owned subsidiaries incorporated outside the United Kingdom.[HL14534]
Lord Sassoon: The Financial Services Authority assesses UK banks' capital and liquidity requirements at the level of every legal entity within the banking group. UK banks are also subject to intra-group large exposure limits. These measures limit the ability of UK banking entities to become over-extended to other entities within the group, including those located overseas. The recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking will also help to prevent UK banks from becoming over-extended to foreign subsidiaries by further constraining intra-group exposures.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answers by Lord Freud on 12 December (Official Report, cols. 995-98), what is their estimate of the number of people entitled to disability benefits who
10 Jan 2012 : Column WA8
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Estimates of the rate of take-up are available only for income-related benefits, therefore estimates of the amount of unclaimed disability benefits-for example, disability living allowance, attendance allowance and contributory employment and support allowance-are not available.
Estimates are made for combined income support and income-related employment and support allowance (ESA). Small sample sizes do not allow for the production of both benefits separately. It should be noted that recipients of income support and income-related ESA fall into both the disabled and non-disabled populations.
The latest figures available for combined income support and income-related ESA take-up cover the 2008-09 financial year. They show that in 2008-09 between 78 and 80 per cent of the entitled population take up either income support or income-related ESA, representing a population of between 250,000 and 600,000 who are entitled to one or other of the benefits but do not take it up. It is not possible to infer why the entitled non-recipients do not claim what they are entitled to.
|Table 1: Caseload take-up of Income Support and Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance|
|Table 2: Expenditure take-up of Income Support and Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance|
The full publication covering the 2008-09 financial year can be found at the link: http://research.dwp.gov. uk/asd/index.php?paqe=irb.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 13 December (WA 231-2), what assessment they have made of the compatibility with their policy of making work pay of the decision to increase welfare benefits by 5.2 per cent at a time when wages and salaries are increasing by 2.3 per cent.[HL14416]
Lord Freud: Benefits linked to the labour market are set at levels designed to reward moving into work, and are intended to meet basic costs of living only. The increase in the cost of living faced by those receiving benefits is likely to be higher than for other groups, as those on the lowest incomes spend a greater proportion of their incomes on food, fuel and energy, the prices of which are rising particularly rapidly.
The Government have taken a number of steps to control welfare expenditure, such as introducing a cap on overall household benefits so that working-age households on out-of-work benefits can no longer receive more in benefits that the average weekly wage for working households. Those in work on low incomes may be eligible for in-work support via tax credits, housing benefit, council tax benefit and help with NHS costs, and the combined total of tax credits and other income should mean people will have a higher income in work than on out-of-work benefits.
Universal credit, which will be introduced from October 2013, will provide a new single system of means-tested support for working-age people who are in or out of work and is intended to top up earnings in a way that will make sure that there is a clear financial gain from working.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many pensioners have been in receipt of attendance allowance in (1) London, and (2) the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in each year since 2001, broken down between (a) higher rate and (b) lower rate. [HL14516]
|Number of Attendance Allowance recipients by award type in London region: Time series|
|Month||Total||Higher Rate||Lower Rate||Nil Rate|
|Number of Attendance Allowance recipients by award type in Tower Hamlets local authority: Time series|
|Month||Total||Higher Rate||Lower Rate||Nil Rate|
1. Figures for May 2001are taken from 5 per cent sample data. They have been uprated to be consistent with WPLS data and are rounded to the nearest 100. Figures from May 2002 onwards are taken from WPLS 100 per cent data and are rounded to the nearest 10. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
4. These data are available on the department's tabulation tool at http://184.108.40.206/100pc/tabtool.html
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the uptake of Attendance Allowance; and what steps they are taking to raise awareness of the benefit among pensioners.[HL14517]
Lord Freud: Estimates of the take-up rate are not available for attendance allowance. The department goes to considerable lengths to publicise benefits. Information leaflets are widely available from the department's offices, and from citizens advice bureaux and other advice agencies. In addition, information and advice about disability benefits is provided by the Benefit Enquiry Line. For people with internet access,
10 Jan 2012 : Column WA11
Through increasing outreach activity we are developing closer working relationships with a range of partners such as local authority social services and welfare rights organisations who are able to advise people about disability benefits in a far more targeted and personal way than would be possible through any mass disability awareness campaigns.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets have received the Winter Heating Allowance in each year since its introduction, broken down between those aged 60-80 years old and those aged over 80. [HL14518]
Lord Freud: The table below shows the number of winter fuel payment recipients in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets since 1999-2000. We are unable to provide the number of recipients broken down by age prior to 2002-03.
|Year||All aged 60 to 79||All aged 80-plus||All aged 60-plus|
4. The latest figures for Winter Fuel Payments are published at http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=wfp
|Year||Winter Fuel Payment expenditure in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (£million)|
1. The figures are taken from the Department for Work and Pensions Benefit Expenditure Tables published on the internet at: http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/la_expenditure.xls
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many pensioner households in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets have been in receipt of (1) the Guarantee Credit, and (2) the Savings Credit of Pension Credit, in each year since its introduction. [HL14520]
|Number of people in receipt of Pension Credit in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets|
|Year||Guarantee Credit||Savings Credit||Both Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit||Total in receipt|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate the Department of Energy and Climate Change has made of the number of pensioner households in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets who will be eligible under the Warm Homes Discount scheme; and what proportion of pensioners in the Borough that represents.[HL14521]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Eligibility for the warm home core group discount is linked to the type of benefits received. This winter, older people will be eligible for a discount of £120 off their electricity bill if they were, on the qualifying date of 11 September 2011:in receipt of the guarantee credit element of pension credit only; named on their electricity bill; andreceiving their electricity from a supplier participating in the scheme.
7,450 pensioners were in receipt of pension credit guarantee credit only in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in May 2011. We estimate that this is around 40 per cent of the pensioners in the borough.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham), on 9 September 2011 (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 874W) which sets out what qualifies a state to receive a British ambassador.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cost of maintaining the transmitter for Teilifis na Gaeilge in Northern Ireland each year since installation; and what steps they have taken to support Ulster Scots culture in view of the promise of equality made in the Belfast Agreement of 1998.[HL14504]
Responsibility for support for Ulster Scots language and culture is, in the main, devolved. The UK Government retain responsibility for broadcasting, and to that end will provide £1 million per year from 2011 to 2015 for the operation of an Ulster Scots Broadcast Fund.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government have upgraded the UK's relationship with the Commonwealth and its networks and we continue to work with partners to strengthen the organisation as a focus for promoting democratic values, development and prosperity for all members. We were pleased that Commonwealth Heads of Government in October adopted a series of reforms, including reform of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, to ensure the organisation can better protect its core democratic values and retain credibility. The Commonwealth modernisation agenda will remain our top priority for 2012. A number of other recommendations put forward by the Eminent Persons Group to make the Commonwealth more effective will be discussed during the course of 2012 and concluded when Foreign Ministers meet in September. We hope this will culminate in the adoption of a Charter for the Commonwealth, which will raise the profile of the Commonwealth. We plan to support and strengthen business engagement and prosperity within the Commonwealth through the Commonwealth Business Council, and examine how non-Commonwealth countries can interact with the organisation through this and the Commonwealth's other diverse networks and organisations. In the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year, we will also be supporting Commonwealth events to mark Her Majesty's 60 years as head of the Commonwealth, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Trust, which will sponsor projects across the Commonwealth.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 14 December (WA 266), whether they have reviewed whether the treatment of credit default swaps as insurance contracts would contribute to strengthening financial stability and reducing moral hazard; and, if so, what conclusions they have reached.[HL14451]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The latest relevant information relating to the number of substantive (paid) fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for speeding offences issued by officers from Lancashire and Merseyside constabularies in 2008 and 2009 is provided in the table. Fixed penalty notices for speeding issued by the police attract a penalty of £60.
The data provided cover FPNs initially paid (ie without referral to the courts for non-payment). Both fixed penalty income and the income from fines imposed by the courts go to the Consolidated Fund for general government expenditure.
|Substantive fixed penalty notices issued for speeding offences in Lancashire and Merseyside police force areas, 2008 and 2009|
|Police force area||2008||2009|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 8 December (WA 198), whether police authorities have provided them with information about the number of payments they have made to claimants under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 following the riots in August; and, if so, on what date each police authority last provided that information; and what that information was. [HL14317]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): There is no requirement for police authorities to provide information on riot damages claims to the Home Office. Whilst some police authorities have provided information on payments they have made, this is not the case for all; this information is not routinely collected.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): We strongly support the principle that no convicted criminal should benefit from their crime. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation can be applied to anyone convicted of any criminal offence, regardless of the nature of the offence and the amount of the benefit.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to make representations to their United Nations counterparts in order to press for the deployment of units of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to support the work of the mining police around key mine sites of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that have recently been demilitarised.[HL14548]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) has a role in helping the Congolese authorities prevent armed groups from profiting from the country's natural resources. The UK supported the inclusion of this in MONUSCO's mandate. As part of this work, MONUSCO is supporting the Congolese mining police and contributing to the security of mining areas in the three eastern provinces of the
10 Jan 2012 : Column WA17
To ask Her Majesty's Government how advice on discrimination cases currently provided by Citizens Advice Bureaux law centres and other voluntary organisations will be funded when the Government cease to fund the Equality and Human Rights Commission's grant funding programme.[HL14318]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Citizens Advice Bureaux, law centres and other voluntary organisations that give advice to the public receive their funding from a range of sources. Government funding is available for legal advice on discrimination cases through the civil legal aid scheme for England and Wales and through the separate legal aid system in Scotland. This will continue to be the case when planned reforms to the system for England and Wales are implemented, which is intended to be in April 2013. The Government will also be funding advice on discrimination cases through the new Equality Advisory and Support Service it is commissioning.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): I will write to the right reverend Prelate and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the decision was taken to postpone the curriculum review for a year, and whether new terms of reference have been prepared for the next stage of the review.[HL14502]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has been considering the evidence gathered by the national curriculum review and next steps, including the implications for the overall timetable, over recent weeks. His decision to postpone the implementation of phase 1 of the review was
10 Jan 2012 : Column WA18
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the recent recommendations from the Confederation of British Industry, the Incorporated Society of Musicians and the House of Commons Education Committee, they will amend the current formulation of the English Baccalaureate to include music.[HL14268]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government are committed to the provision of high quality music education and believe that every child should have opportunities to learn to play a musical instrument and to sing. We recognise the potential of good quality music education to improve behaviour, attention and concentration, and its positive effect on the development of numeracy and language skills. The Importance of Music-a National Plan for Music Education was published in November; the plan sets out how children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can receive the best possible music education in the future.
The English Baccalaureate was introduced to address concerns that the number of pupils who currently receive an education in a core set of academic subjects is far too small and has been in sharp decline. We encourage all pupils to study non-English Baccalaureate subjects as well as those within the core in order to benefit from a well rounded education. The range of subjects within the Baccalaureate is small enough to allow for that. Schools are in the best position to work with pupils to make choices that will allow them to achieve and progress, recognising the importance and value of achieving in these core areas, and also of study in other areas where they have an aptitude and interest. In December 2010, we set out the subjects which will count towards the English Baccalaureate measure and have no current plans to change its composition.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Egypt's elections for the Lower House of Parliament will not be completed until 11 January, and Upper House elections until 12 March. As the process has yet to conclude it is not possible to make a full assessment at this stage, but we welcome indications so far that turnout has been high and largely peaceful. Civil society organisations observing the elections have highlighted some areas in the process which will require attention as the elections move into the next phase.
However, we are deeply concerned by recent events, including the violent tactics of the security forces and violent actions of some of the protestors, which are inconsistent with the democratic process in which Egypt is now engaged.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which Commonwealth countries' citizens need leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom for the purpose of registering to vote as a "qualifying Commonwealth citizen".[HL14226]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Although the question tabled does not fall within the remit of the UK Border Agency, the answer to this question is available on the Electoral Commission's website at: www.electoralcommission.org.uk. Any enquiries relating to the information provided below should be directed to the Electoral Commission.
Qualifying Commonwealth citizens are Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK, who are entitled to register to vote provided that they also fulfil the age requirement for registration and are not subject to any other legal incapacity. Citizens of the following countries meet the nationality criteria to register in respect of all elections:
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 12 December (WA 209), what further information would be required by either the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) or Centre 0102 in order that respective records could then be appropriately checked; whether this specific information was ever held by the HFEA or Centre 0102, or if it was originally held but subsequently lost; and why such information is not retained.[HL14320]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that for a centre to retrieve the relevant records it would need the patient's or the donor's details. The personal details in the case to which the noble Lord refers would have been available on the day of inspection
10 Jan 2012 : Column WA21
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 14 December (WA 267), whether donors from overseas whose gametes might be passed on to Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) licensed centres must also provide the same personal identifying information as those registering at HFEA licensed centres; what were the HFEA licensed centres or other sources from which donor gametes had been obtained for use by centre 0102 at the time of the HFEA inspection on 2 May 2006; and whether the unannounced inspection of centre 0102 by the HFEA in February 2006 examined concerns about proper consenting procedures.[HL14467]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that in accordance with its General Directions 0005, all overseas donors used in treatment at HFEA licensed centres should be registered with the authority by the importing clinic and, therefore, provide personal identifying information. This can be found on the authority's website at: www.hfea.gov.uk/188.html.
HFEA licensed centres can recruit gamete donors themselves or source-donated gametes from overseas and other HFEA licensed centres in the United Kingdom. At the time of inspection on 2 May 2006, centre 0102 had obtained donor gametes via these routes.
The HFEA has also advised that the unannounced inspection carried out on 6 February 2006 of centre 0102 addressed issues relating to: workload, staffing levels and training; witnessing; intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection practices and cryopreserved material.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 12 December (WA 208-9) why at least 681 human eggs were used under research licence R0122 between August 2004 and March 2005 according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) chief executive, given that the progress report received by the HFEA in April 2004 indicates that the expected numbers of eggs to be used over that year would be 100; and whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the progress reports for research licence R0122 submitted to the HFEA by Centre 0017 in 2005, in which the numbers of eggs used were described.[HL14468]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the progress report that the noble Lord refers to gave an expected number of eggs to be used in the research project, which was an estimate. As the research progressed, more eggs were used.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 3 October (WA 105-6) and 12 December (WA 208-9), when the initial and revised copies of patient information and consent forms for research licence R0122 were submitted to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority; and in what way these documents inform patients regarding any use of their oocytes in that project.[HL14469]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that a search of the authority's records has identified patient information and consent forms, relating to research project R0122, submitted to the HFEA during 2000 and 2002. These documents refer only to the use of embryos in research.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 18 June 2007 (WA 8-9), why research licence R0153 was granted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in order to apply nuclear transfer techniques in human reproduction when the person responsible for this licence had stated in the progress report for research licence R0122 (received by the HFEA in April 2004) that "Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is a feasible option for detection of mitochondrial DNA mutations" where the extent to which these occur in oocytes and offspring from the same mother may vary considerably.[HL14470]
Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that whether proposed research satisfies the statutory requirements in order to be granted a HFEA research licence is a matter for the authority's research licence committee to determine.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 12 December (WA 209), whether the testing to detect chromosomal alterations during culture referred to in that answer is as comprehensive and robust as that described by a recent paper in Nature Biotechnology (2011) Volume 29, pp 1132-44; whether the commercially confidential details of these tests are the subject of any patents currently recognised within Europe; and whether the results of the most recent tests for chromosomal alterations will be made available on request to participants in the clinical trial at Moorfields Eye Hospital as part of the process of ensuring informed consent.[HL14471]
Earl Howe: The department does not hold this information centrally. Details of the derivation of the stem cells and the experimental procedures used in any clinical trial are matters for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I have taken equal fiscal treatment as a reference to the difference in the VAT treatment between lifeboat and air ambulance rescue services. I refer the noble Baroness to the Written Answer given on 16 June 2011 (Official Report, col. WA202).
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will introduce a moratorium on onshore and offshore exploration, development and production of shale gas at sites using hydraulic fracturing processes. [HL14487]
Following the seismic tremors experienced in Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire in April and May last year, DECC asked the operator Cuadrilla to carry out a geomechanical study to look specifically at the geological and seismic properties of the rock strata and shale in and around Poulton-le-Fylde, and any linkages between the seismic tremors and hydraulic fracturing operations in the area. The study, which confirms a connection between the hydraulic fracturing at the Preese Hall-1 well and the seismic activity which took place on 1 April and 27 May 2011, was submitted to DECC, and published by the company, on 2 November 2011.
No decision on the resumption of these hydraulic fracture operations will be made until the implications of this report, and of any further analysis which may prove necessary, has been fully considered, and appropriate practical measures have been approved by Ministers to minimise the risk of such events occurring again. Other key regulators will be consulted before any such decision is taken.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will list the names, organisations, dates, nature and purpose of meetings held by officials and ministers to discuss hydraulic fracturing in Lancashire. [HL14488]
Lord Marland: My honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy met Cuadrilla during a site visit on 11 March 2011, during which the company updated him on its shale gas exploration and development proposals in Lancashire. Since 2010, DECC officials have met Cuadrilla on the following dates:2010-22 April, 6 May, 15 November, 17 December; and2011-17 January, 4 April, 6 April, 20 June, 28 June, 6 September, 27 September, 11 October, 13 October, 28 November, 16 December.
DECC officials hold regular liaison meetings with other key regulators, including the Health and Safety Executive and respective environmental agencies, on shale gas exploration and development. Shale gas activities in Lancashire have been discussed within this context and these meetings took place during 2011 on the following dates: 11 February, 24 February, 4 March, 18 March, 4 May, 8 June, 29 June, 1 August, 20 September, 11 November, 12 December.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the views of local councils affected by hydraulic fracturing in particular in Lancashire; which councils supported the process; which councils approved the process; and whether they will publish any correspondence with local councils on this issue.[HL14491]
Lord Marland: DECC has not conducted specific consultations regarding hydraulic fracturing in Lancashire, but has responded to inquiries from individuals in Lancashire and has met officials from Lancashire County Council.
With regard to correspondence, along with other key regulators, DECC responded last year to a questionnaire from Fylde Borough Council relating to shale gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing. A copy of DECC's response has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Ministerial colleagues, officials and I meet regularly with the devolved Administrations to discuss a range of issues including fuel poverty and energy prices.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take steps to relieve any regressive impacts of their levy-funded energy and environmental policies under the European Union renewables target by ensuring that VAT is not charged on the portion of energy bills that arise from those levies.[HL14527]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The obligation to finance levy-funded energy and environmental policies is placed on the energy companies and it is then a cost-component of the price of electricity or gas charged to the customer. As such, the whole price is subject to VAT at either 5 per cent or 20 per cent, depending on the status of the customer.
Under long-standing formal agreements with our EU partners, it is not possible to relieve from VAT either the whole electricity or gas bill, or a component part of it. The UK has applied the reduced rate of 5 per cent as widely as these agreements permit.
The Government are committed to helping people, especially low-income vulnerable households, to heat their homes more affordably. This winter we are working with energy suppliers to deliver the Warm Home Discount scheme. We are also providing heating and insulation measures through the Warm Front and developing our proposals for the green deal and the energy company obligation.
To help ensure that policies achieve their objectives cost effectively and affordably, the Government introduced a framework to control levy-funded spending by the Department for Energy and Climate Change at Budget 2011. This framework, covering feed-in tariffs, the renewables obligation and the Warm Home Discount, forms part of the Government's public spending framework.
To ask Her Majesty's Government by what means the procurement process for smart meters and their technologies will ensure universal coverage of all households, especially those in remote and rural areas.[HL14439]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The purpose of the procurement processes for the data and communication services is to evaluate the technical capability and value for money of proposed solutions. For communication services this will include assessing the proposed coverage, efficacy and viability of different technologies across Great Britain, including any particular challenges posed by remote and rural areas.
Lord Marland: Our recent consultation on the Data and Communications Company sought views on, and evidence of the benefits of, the functionality that will facilitate the development of a smart grid. We are currently analysing responses to this consultation. We are also conducting procurements for the provision of data and communications services, which will enable us to explore the cost of different levels of functionality and capacity for both smart metering and smart grids requirements.
Lord Marland: We will consult on the consumer engagement strategy for smart metering in spring 2012, with decisions following later during 2012. Implementation of the strategy will begin during 2012, but full implementation is expected to take effect in the run up to mass rollout and continue throughout the period up to and including 2019.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The European Parliament has a consultative role in the legislative procedure but the own resources decision, which includes the detail of the UK abatement, is ultimately for the Council of Ministers, subject to unanimity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government which of the European Commission's 48 proposals and draft proposals for reform of financial regulation and financial services would be decided under (1) qualified majority voting, and (2) unanimity.[HL14304]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): All EU financial regulation is decided by qualified majority voting in the council. However, under Article 113 of the Treaty on the Functioning
10 Jan 2012 : Column WA27
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The coalition agreement sets out that Britain will not join, or prepare to join, the euro in this Parliament. As such, the Government have made no such estimate.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they or the Bank of England are planning how to respond to a disorderly collapse of the euro; and, if so, whether they intend to share their strategy with the United Kingdom banking and investment community. [HL14373]
Lord Sassoon: As the Chancellor of the Exchequer made clear in his Autumn Statement, the Government are undertaking extensive contingency planning to deal with all potential outcomes of the euro crisis. There are no plans to publish this work.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We currently have 20 live cases that have been referred for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice from a UK court or tribunal, and where judgment has not yet issued.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what they consider to be an appropriate euro/sterling exchange level in order to ensure the United Kingdom's competitiveness; what percentage of the United Kingdom's exports are destined for eurozone markets; what percentage and value of the eurozone's exports come to the United Kingdom; and what measures they will take to ensure that the competitiveness of the United Kingdom's export levels to eurozone markets maintains its pre-crisis level.[HL14363]
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The Government are committed to support UK exports and to foster UK competitiveness. A strategy to achieve this was presented in the Government's plan for growth and in the Autumn Statement 2011. The euro area is an important element of that strategy given that as a whole it represents UK's most important trading partner. In 2010 the euro area countries accounted for 41 per cent of UK's exports of goods and services (£172 billion) against £260 billion exported by the eurozone to the UK (amounting to 8.5 per cent of eurozone countries' total exports or 14.9 per cent of their exports outside the zone).
Regarding euro/sterling exchange rate, the Government's macroeconomic framework does not include an exchange rate target and it would be inappropriate for the Government to comment on the level of sterling at any given time.
Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint: The costs incurred in promoting exports by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) are set out below, together with the number of businesses assisted and the additional profit they have told us this helped generate. These figures are taken from UKTI's audited annual report and accounts (HC1005 and HC3).
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The covered bond review, launched in April 2011, set out the key strengths of the UK's regulatory framework for covered bonds and proposed several changes to the UK regime. The Government published their response to the review alongside the Autumn Statement in November. The changes to the regime, which will come into effect on 1 January 2013, will further increase the appeal of UK covered bonds to investors, making it easier for banks and building societies to raise funding in order to lend to households and businesses.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are aware that the cost of funding for banks has increased significantly and this is affecting credit conditions in the UK. To address this, the Government announced a package of credit easing measures of up to £21 billion in the Autumn Statement, with scope to increase the scale of this package in future, if necessary.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The UK Government fully support the efforts to reduce systemic risk in derivatives through the measures announced in the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR). This is currently
10 Jan 2012 : Column WA30
In its annual report, the Money Advice Service reports on the discharge of its consumer financial education function, including setting out the extent to which the body has met its objectives and priorities for the period covered by the report. The annual report for 2010-11 is available on the Money Advice Service's website. The service will publish its 2011-12 annual report later in the year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 13 December (WA 253), why they will not publish information about meetings that discuss the supply of United Kingdom public funds to a foreign Government. [HL14381]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any proposals for increasing regulation of the financial services sector in the United Kingdom; and, if so, what is their timetable for implementation. [HL14324]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government will establish a new system of financial services regulators comprising: the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) within the Bank of England, responsible for protecting and enhancing financial stability; the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), a new microprudential regulator with responsibility for ensuring effective prudential regulation of individual firms, as a subsidiary of the Bank of England; and a new independent conduct of business regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Draft legislation implementing these changes was published in June 2011. The draft Bill has been subject to pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Parliamentary Committee, which reported on Monday 19 December 2011. The Government will consider the Committee's report and introduce a Bill to Parliament in early 2012.
In addition, the Government established the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) to make recommendations to promote stability and competition in UK banking. The ICB published its report on 12 September 2011. The report made recommendations for the ring-fencing of vital banking services, improving the loss absorbency of banks, and measures to enhance competition. The Government published their response to the ICB on 19 December 2011, endorsing the ICB's recommendations and setting out the timetable for implementation.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many people are employed in the financial services sector in (1) Wales, (2) Scotland, (3) Northern Ireland, and (4) each of the regions of England (HL14321).
The attached table contains the seasonally adjusted number of Workforce Jobs in SIC2007 Section K (financial and insurance activities) for Q3 2011 (September 2011), the latest date for which information is available. Section K includes financial service activities, insurance, reinsurance and pension funding (except compulsory social security), and activities auxiliary to financial services and insurance activities.
Workforce Jobs is a quarterly measure of the number of jobs in the United Kingdom (UK) and is the preferred measure of the change in jobs by industry. It is a compound source that draws on a range of employer surveys, household surveys and administrative sources. WFJ is the sum of employee jobs (EJ) measured primarily by employer surveys, self-employment jobs (SEJ) from the labour force survey (LFS), and government-supported trainees (GST) and Her Majesty's forces (HMF) from administrative sources.
|Workforce Jobs SIC 2007 Section K|
|Seasonally Adjusted (Thousands)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what annual value the financial services industry contributes to the gross value added (GVA) measurement for (1) England, (2) Scotland, (3) Wales, and (4) Northern Ireland; and what proportion of the GVA of each country is provided by the financial services industry.[HL14322]
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what annual value the financial services industry contributes to the gross value added (GVA) measurement for (1) England, (2) Scotland, (3) Wales, and (4) Northern Ireland; and what proportion of the GVA of each country is provided by the financial services industry (HL14322).
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