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10 Jan 2012 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Abortion

Questions

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): This information is not collected centrally.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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

person trained and experienced in counselling in this field must be available to attend clinics/hospitals if required. All clinics/hospitals must demonstrate that they have effective services providing advice, medical assessment and counselling. All clinics must also comply with the Care Quality Commission guidance Essential Standards of Quality and Safety.

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.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Earl Howe: No inspection visits were made by the department to approved independent sector places for termination of pregnancy in 2010.

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.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

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.



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA3

Armenia

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

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.

Organisations will be invited to submit bids for bilateral programme and Conflict Pool funding for financial year 2012-13 in February-March 2012.

Subject to the bids received and other priorities, we would expect support for projects for work on Armenia-Turkey relations to be similar to previous years.

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

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.



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA4

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.

Autumn Statement

Questions

Asked by Lord Barnett

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The new Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme will commence in April 2012.

Asked by Lord Barnett

Lord Sassoon: Estimates of how much will be raised by the freeze on the capital gains tax threshold can be found in the Autumn Statement 2011, page 46, table 2.1: measure 10.

They are as follows:

2011-122012-132013-142014-152015-162016-17

£m

0

0

25

25

25

30

Bahrain

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA5

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.

Bangladesh

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

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.

Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

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.

Asked by Lord Myners



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA6

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.

Asked by Lord Myners

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.

Asked by Lord Myners

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.

Asked by Lord Myners

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.

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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.

Asked by Lord Laird

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.

Asked by Lord Myners

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.

Asked by Lord Myners

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.

Benefits

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

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.

This represents between £590 million and £1.6 billion pounds in unclaimed benefits in 2008-09.

Table 1: Caseload take-up of Income Support and Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
YearAll Families

(Thousands)

Number of Recipients

2006-07

2,090

2007-08

2,080

2008-09

2,170

Range of Entitled Non-Recipients

2006-07

230:500

2007-08

280:600

2008-09

250:600

(Percentages)

Take-up Ranges

2006-07

81:90

2007-08

78:88

2008-09

78:90



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Table 2: Expenditure take-up of Income Support and Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
YearAll Families

(Millions of Pounds)

Total Amount Claimed

2006-07

9,060

2007-08

8,930

2008-09

8,690

Total Range Unclaimed

2006-07

500:1,290

2007-08

630:1,550

2008-09

590:1,630

(Percentages)

Take-up Ranges

2006-07

88:95

2007-08

85:93

2008-09

84:94

Notes:

1. Figures are presented as ranges to reflect the uncertainty caused by both sampling and non-sampling error.

2. Amounts claimed and unclaimed are rounded to the nearest £10 million.

3. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest 10,000.

4. Take-up percentages are rounded to the nearest percentage point.

5. Totals may not equal the sum of their parts due to rounding.

6. Full-time self-employed cases are excluded from all results.

7. Those not living in private households are excluded from all results.

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.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

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 than 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.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA10

Lord Freud: The information requested is contained in the following tables.

Number of Attendance Allowance recipients by award type in London region: Time series
MonthTotalHigher RateLower RateNil Rate

May-11

140,060

78,600

61,460

-

May-10

139,260

76,680

62,580

-

May-09

135,830

73,710

62,120

-

May-08

132,130

70,460

61,660

-

May-07

128,880

67,350

61,530

-

May-06

126,380

64,960

61,420

-

May-05

123,070

63,130

59,930

-

May-04

120,270

61,020

59,250

-

May-03

115,260

57,420

57,840

-

May-02

113,250

54,730

58,520

-

May-01

112,800

52,100

60,600

-

Number of Attendance Allowance recipients by award type in Tower Hamlets local authority: Time series
MonthTotalHigher RateLower RateNil Rate

May-11

3,470

1,950

1,520

-

May-10

3,410

1,900

1,500

-

May-09

3,320

1,820

1,490

-

May-08

3,340

1,810

1,530

-

May-07

3,310

1,790

1,520

-

May-06

3,350

1,770

1,580

-

May-05

3,330

1,720

1,610

-

May-04

3,430

1,760

1,660

-

May-03

3,320

1,620

1,700

-

May-02

3,270

1,500

1,770

-

May-01

3,300

1,500

1,900

-

Source: Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 100 per cent WPLS. DWP Information Directorate: Sample data (5 per cent).

Notes:

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.

2. " -" denotes nil or negligible.

3. Figures show the number of people in receipt of an allowance and exclude people with entitlement where the payment has been suspended, for example if they are in hospital.

4. These data are available on the department's tabulation tool at http://83.244.183.180/100pc/tabtool.html

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

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

information about all benefits and how these may be claimed is available on the DWP website and direct.gov.uk

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 which 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.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

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.

YearAll aged 60 to 79All aged 80-plusAll aged 60-plus

1999-2000

N/A

N/A

22,530

2000-01

N/A

N/A

23,110

2001-02

N/A

N/A

22,660

2002-03

18,500

3,770

22,270

2003-04

17,930

3,810

21,740

2004-05

17,240

3,770

21,010

2005-06

16,810

3,870

20,680

2006-07

16,520

3,870

20,390

2007-08

16,370

3,930

20,300

2008-09

16,220

4,000

20,220

2009-10

16,070

4,070

20,140

2010-11*

15,850

4,220

20,070

Source: Information Directorate, Department for Work and Pensions.

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10 individuals.

2. High-level summary statistics are available for the earlier years of the benefit, but reliable breakdowns by age and geographical area are available from 1999-2000 only.

3. Local authorities are assigned by matching postcodes against the relevant ONS postcode directory.

4. The latest figures for Winter Fuel Payments are published at http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=wfp

5. * From April 2010 the qualification age for the Winter Fuel Payment started increasing in line with state pension age for women.

6. The additional payment for those aged 80 or over was introduced in 2002-2003.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Lord Freud: The table below shows the total winter fuel payment expenditure in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets since 1999-2000.



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA12

YearWinter Fuel Payment expenditure in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (£million)

1999-2000

3.9

2000-01

4.2

2001-02

3.9

2002-03

3.9

2003-04

4.1

2004-05

5.2

2005-06

5.7

2006-07

4.1

2007-08

4.1

2008-09

5.2

2009-10

5.1

2010-11

4.9

Source: DWP Statistical and Accounting Data.

The figures are expressed in millions of pounds, cash terms, and are rounded to the nearest £100,000.

Notes:

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

2. High-level summary statistics for expenditure are available for the earlier years of the benefit, but reliable breakdowns by geographical area are available from 1999-2000 only.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

Lord Freud: The information requested is in the table below:

Number of people in receipt of Pension Credit in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
YearGuarantee CreditSavings CreditBoth Guarantee Credit and Savings CreditTotal in receipt

Nov-03

7,150

330

3,010

10,490

May-04

7,150

760

3,190

11,100

May-05

7,260

940

3,180

11,380

May-06

7,240

900

3,100

11,230

May-07

7,290

870

2,950

11,120

May-08

7,470

840

2,680

10,990

May-09

7,550

870

2,540

10,960

May-10

7,600

830

2,470

10,910

May-11

7,450

830

2,370

10,650

Source: DWP Information Directorate: Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study 100 per cent data.

Notes:

1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

2. Pension credit was introduced on 6 October 2003.

3. Pension credit household recipients are those people who claim pension credit either for themselves or on behalf of themselves and a partner.



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4. These data are available on the department's tabulation tool at http://83.244.183.180/100pc/tabtool.html and https://www. nomisweb.co.uk/Default.asp

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

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.

In addition to the core group, pensioner households may also benefit from assistance with their energy bills through the broader group and legacy spending elements of the warm home discount scheme.

British Embassies

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

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.

Broadcasting: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Laird



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA14

Lord Shutt of Greetland: The Government have not incurred any maintenance costs associated with the transmission of Teilifis na Gaeilge.

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.

Commonwealth

Question

Asked by Lord Lexden

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.

Constitutional Change

Question

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): As at 30 November 2011, 72 staff were working in the Constitution Group.



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Credit Default Swaps

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): I refer to my Written Answer on 14 December (WA 266).

Asil Nadir

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): While there are current legal proceedings it would be inappropriate for me to comment.

Crime: Motoring Convictions

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

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.

Data for 2010 are scheduled to be published in April 2012.

Substantive fixed penalty notices issued for speeding offences in Lancashire and Merseyside police force areas, 2008 and 2009
Police force area20082009

Lancashire

41,678

34,710

Merseyside

34,894

34,983



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Crime: Rioting

Question

Asked by Baroness Sherlock

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.

Criminal Justice System

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

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.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by Lord Chidgey

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

Democratic Republic of Congo (Orientale, North Kivu and South Kivu). We will lobby to ensure this work continues.

Discrimination

Question

Asked by Lord Boateng

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.

Economy: Manufacturing

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

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.

Education: National Curriculum

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

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

announced in a Written Ministerial Statement issued on 19 December (Official Report, cols. 138 WS to 140 WS). This will allow further time for consideration and debate of the important issues that have arisen to date.

An updated remit for the review will be published shortly and a copy placed in the Library of the House.

Education: English Baccalaureate

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

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.

We will continue to monitor the impact of the English Baccalaureate on GCSE subject choices, including through review of GCSE entries in 2012.

Egypt

Question

Asked by Lord Janner of Braunstone



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA19

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.

Elections: Commonwealth Citizens

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

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:



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA20

Antigua and Barbuda

Australia

The Bahamas

Bangladesh

Barbados

Belize

Botswana

Brunei Darussalam

Cameroon

Canada

Cyprus*

Dominica

Fiji Islands

The Gambia

Ghana

Grenada

Guyana

India

Jamaica

Kenya

Kiribati

Lesotho

Malawi

Malaysia

Maldives

Malta*

Mauritius

Mozambique

Namibia

Nauru

New Zealand

Nigeria

Pakistan

Papua New Guinea

Rwanda

St Kitts and Nevis

St Lucia

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Samoa

Seychelles

Sierra Leone

Singapore

Solomon Islands

South Africa

Sri Lanka

Swaziland

Tonga

Trinidad and Tobago

Tuvalu

Uganda

United Kingdom

United Republic of Tanzania

Vanuatu

Zambia

Zimbabwe

* Although also EU member states, citizens of Cyprus and Malta are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections held in the UK.

Note: Citizens of the above countries retain their voting rights even if their country is suspended or expelled from the Commonwealth organisation.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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

five years ago. Patient or donor identifying material is not retained any longer than necessary, in line with good practice on data protection.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA22

The HFEA has also advised that a search of records held by the authority has not identified a progress report submitted by centre 0017 in 2005 for research project R0122.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

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.

As I advised the noble Lord in my Written Answer of 7 February 2011 (Official Report, col. WA14), the HFEA has stated that it will not comment on licensing decisions made by its licence committees.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA23

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.

Emergency Rescue Services

Question

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

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).

Energy: Fracking

Questions

Asked by Lord Hoyle

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government have no plans to introduce a moratorium on shale gas activities in the UK.

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.

Asked by Lord Hoyle



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA24

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.

In addition, DECC officials met officers from Lancashire County Council on 25 November 2011 to discuss shale gas activity in Lancashire, and with the Planning Officers Society on 14 September 2011.

Asked by Lord Hoyle

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.

Energy: Fuel Poverty

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

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.



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA25

Energy: Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

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 of 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.

Energy: Smart Meters

Questions

Asked by Lord Teverson

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.



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA26

Asked by Lord Teverson

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.

Asked by Lord Teverson

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.

EU: Finance

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

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.

EU: Finance Regulation

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

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

of the European Union, measures to harmonise tax legislation, such as the proposed financial transaction tax, must be decided by unanimity.

Euro

Questions

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

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.

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

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.

European Court of Justice

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

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.

The cases where judgment is still awaited are as follows:



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA28

1.

C-147/10 British Sugar

2.

C-393/10 O'Brien

3.

C-629/10 TUI Travel

4.

C-604/10 Football Dataco

5.

C-591/10 Littlewoods

6.

C-35/11 Test Claimants in the FII Group Litigation

7.

C-83/11 Rahman EA

8.

C-307/10 CIPA

9.

C-130/11 Neurim Pharmaceutical

10.

C-406/10 SAS Institute

11.

C-147/11 & C-148/11 Czop & Others

12.

C-173/11 Football Dataco

13.

C-225/11 Able UK

14.

C-260/11 Edwards

15.

C-300/11 ZZ

16.

C-392/11 Field Fisher Waterhouse

17.

C-428/11 Purely Creative

18.

C-424/11 Wheels

19.

C-426/11 Alemo-Herron EA

20.

C-500/11 Fruition PO

Exports

Questions

Asked by Viscount Waverley

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.

Asked by Lord Empey

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).



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA29

Year2008-092009-102010-112011-12
OutturnOutturnOutturnBudget

Trade support (Exports)

£255.5m

£264.3m

£256.3m

£262.0m

Number of businesses significantly assisted

20,700

23,600

23,400

(25,000*)

Additional profit generated

£3.6bn

£5.2bn

£6.0bn

-

* target

Finance: Covered Bonds

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

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.

Finance: Credit Easing

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

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.

Finance: Derivatives

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

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

being negotiated in the EU. EMIR sets out rules on which counterparties are expected to clear and report over the counter derivatives, as well as collateral requirements.

Finance: Money Advice Service

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Money Advice Service is an independent body and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) approves its business plan and budget.

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.

Finance: UK Contributions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): It has been the practice of successive Governments not to provide details of all such meetings with European and international counterparts.

Financial Services Regulation

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

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).



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA31

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.

Financial Services Sector

Questions

Asked by Lord Wigley

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 Wigley, dated December 2011.

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.



10 Jan 2012 : Column WA32

Workforce Jobs SIC 2007 Section K
Seasonally Adjusted (Thousands)
Q3 20111

North East

30

North West

98

Yorkshire and The Humber

98

East Midlands

43

West Midlands

73

East

83

London

351

South East

123

South West

86

Wales

27

Scotland

93

Northern Ireland

20

1 Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand

Asked by Lord Wigley

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 Wigley, dated December 2011.

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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