|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 6 February (WA 3) which stated that "safe abortion reduces recourse to unsafe abortion and thus saves lives", whether their policy position is also that safe abortion is a suitable option to reduce the risk of physical and mental harm where a child has been conceived as a result of rape.[HL15542]
Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development's (DfID) position is that safe abortion reduces recourse to unsafe abortion and thus saves maternal lives. The July 2011 DfID practice paper clearly outlines the UK policy position on safe and unsafe abortion in developing countries. However, access to safe and legal abortion in the circumstances above depends on an individual country's legislation and policy.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Government were disappointed that the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) decided to bail Abu Qatada. However, the bail conditions are among the most stringent imposed for anybody facing deportation from the UK. Abu Qatada will only be allowed out of his house for two one-hour periods each day. He will not be allowed to access the internet or any electronic communication devices. He will not be allowed to travel outside an approved boundary. Visitors will need to be approved under very strict conditions. He will be subject to a specific condition stopping him going to mosques or leading group prayers. There is very little prospect of successfully challenging SIAC's decision to bail, but if Abu Qatada breaches any of these conditions he will be arrested.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Abu Qatada is a British citizen; when Abu Qatada was first convicted in Jordan for his purported role in bomb plots; when Abu Qatada entered the United Kingdom; when the wife and family of Abu Qatada entered the United Kingdom; and whether Abu Qatada and his family were given the right to become resident in the United Kingdom.[HL15616]
Lord Henley: Abu Qatada is not a British citizen and does not have the right to reside here. He came to the UK in 1993 on a false passport. Qatada was tried in absentia by the Jordanian authorities in two separate trials in 1999 and 2000. He was found guilty of terrorism offences, including involvement in the bombings of the American School and the Jerusalem Hotel in Amman in 1998 and conspiracy to cause explosions at western and Israeli targets in Jordan to coincide with the millennium celebrations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the recent call by the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents for the Government to tackle the "hidden epidemic of home accidents".[HL15875]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government are taking steps to improve the health and well-being of the population through their reforms to the health and social care system and through policies across government to support health and safety, including home safety.
Local authorities, advised by directors of public health, and supported by ring-fenced public health budgets, will have responsibility for improving the health and well-being of their local populations, including through injury prevention in the home. This will involve working in partnership with local organisations, and developing local strategies with the support of health and well-being boards and the use of joint strategic needs assessments. This is supported by the published Public Health Outcomes Framework, which includes indicators on reducing hospital admissions due to injury for under-18s and reducing falls for the over-65s.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to build upon their efforts to encourage employers to take on young apprentices in aerospace-related industries, especially in small and medium-sized aviation firms.[HL15872]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Aerospace and aviation is one of the sectors we are targeting in the second round of bidding for a share of the £6 million Higher Apprenticeship Fund recently announced by the Prime Minister. Small firms in these industries will also be able to access the new incentive of £1,500 to hire their first young apprentices.
Backed with £6 million of financial support from BIS (via the Skills Funding Agency) Rolls Royce is developing a new, state-of-the-art apprentice academy. This will enable the company to train additional apprentices, beyond its own requirements, to feed the wider supply chain. We are also working closely with SEMTA (the sector skills council) and ADS (the national trade association for aerospace), through a Sector Skills Group, to help the UK aerospace industry to secure the workforce it needs.
Baroness Wilcox: Many of our aerospace companies have close links to schools and arrange visits and talks with pupils and students about the UK aerospace industry, the nature of the highly skilled jobs involved, the opportunities for careers, and the range of routes to entry; including through apprenticeships and at technician and graduate level.
As part of the Aerospace Growth Partnership, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is working jointly with industry on a range of issues. These include looking at ways in which government and industry can work together to increase public understanding of the sector and the opportunities it offers.
To build on this activity, and to highlight the diversity of careers available, we are working with businesses across the UK advanced manufacturing base to open their doors to young people, teachers and careers advisers through the "See Inside Manufacturing" programme. As part of this, it has been agreed that the aerospace sector will hold a series of special events for schools in June.
BIS is also a sponsor of Futures Day to be held on Friday 13 July at the Farnborough International Airshow. This will host 10,000 young people (aged 11 to 21) from schools, universities and youth groups. They will participate in a range of interactive events showing how STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects have a direct impact in the real world, as well as conferences, and a careers fair.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any British companies are negotiating with the Government of Afghanistan concerning mining or metallurgical projects; and what action they are taking to ensure that all future contracts and concessions will be transparent and comply with the European Union transparency directive, taking into account the reasonable interests of local communities.[HL15425]
At the international conference on Afghanistan, held in December 2011 in Bonn, the international community committed itself to support Afghanistan's efforts to develop a transparent and accountable regulatory framework to guarantee that its mineral wealth directly benefits the Afghan people. The UK, along with other member states, is currently considering a proposal for improving transparency in the extractives industry as part of the revisions to the European Union accounting and transparency directives.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many premature deaths are caused by poor air quality in London each year. (HL15817)
The accurate reporting of mortality statistics depends on the complete recording of all relevant causes of death by medical practitioners and coroners. Medical practitioners are required to complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) to the best of their knowledge and belief. Internationally accepted guidance from the World Health Organisation requires only those conditions that contributed directly to death to be recorded. The MCCD is not designed to collect information on risk factors or exposures related to the development of disease, such as exposure to air pollution. It is
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA191
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) states that the most important air pollutant in terms of health effects is particulate matter (PM-i.e. particles emitted from vehicle exhausts or chimneys or formed in the air from reactions between other pollutants). Estimates indicate that air pollution reduces life expectancy in the UK by an average of six months. Further information on the health effects of air pollution can be found on the Defra website and in the following reports: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/air/air- quality
Long-term exposure to air pollution: effect on mortality (2009), the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP), available at: http://www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/comeap/pdfs/finallongtermeffectsmort2009report.pdf
An Economic Analysis to inform the Air Quality Strategy (2007) Defra, available at: http://archive. defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/air/airquality/publications/stratreview-analysis/index.htm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government will set out their proposals on tackling the problems associated with alcohol misuse in the forthcoming alcohol strategy. We expect to publish the Government's alcohol strategy in the first months of this year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide an estimate of the additional revenue that would be raised by an increase in duty of 20 per cent on all alcoholic drinks; whether they estimate that such an increase would reduce the consumption of alcohol, and if so, by how much; and what they estimate would be the impact on expenditure on healthcare and criminal justice. [HL15677]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The estimated revenues from increasing alcohol duties are published after duty rate decisions have been made and the estimates have been approved by the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The Government's assessment of the available evidence on the impact of increasing alcohol prices on social outcomes has been set out in the Home Office report available online at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.ik/publications/alcohol-drugs/alcohol/impacts-alcohol-price-review?view=Binary.
On balance, the evidence suggests that increases in alcohol prices are linked to decreases in harms related to alcohol consumption. However, these relationships are not always straightforward and there is no automatic mechanism translating duty rates increases to savings in public expenditure.
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): Information on the number of apprenticeship starts is published in a quarterly statistical first release (SFR). The latest SFR was published on 31 January 2012 at: http://www. thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_current. The supplementary tables for the SFR contain data on apprenticeship starts and completions by age, gender, ethnicity and learners with learning difficulty and/or disabilities (LLDD).
Her Majesty's Government are taking steps to increase equality of access to apprenticeships. The National Apprenticeship Service has established a number of pilots with the specific aim of increasing diversity in the background of people applying for apprenticeships. The pilots will finish this spring. The pilots focus on three areas: gender, black and minority ethnic groups and vulnerable young people, including those with learning disabilities and/or difficulties. They are trialling a number of activities aimed at reducing inequalities within apprenticeships.
The Minister for Apprenticeships, John Hayes, has received regular updates on the progress of the diversity pilots and will consider the recommendations from the final report due next month. My department will work closely with all our partners to implement recommendations from the pilots to improve equality of access to apprenticeships. Any new policies will be subject to an equality impact assessment.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): We continually make infrastructure improvements to Kandahar airfield. It is not possible to isolate specific costs related solely to Tornado.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 14 February (HL15261), whether they consider the Royal Navy Merlin Mk 2 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) force a high-end airborne ASW platform. [HL15765]
Lord Astor of Hever: The Merlin Mk2 Helicopter is a high-end airborne platform for localised Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). Merlin plays an important role in the United Kingdom's layered approach to ASW and, as part of a High Readiness Task Group, Merlin can provide airborne persistence.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 14 February (HL15261), whether they intend to create a new RAF capability for anti-submarine warfare (ASW); or whether they intend to extend the Royal Navy's existing ASW capability to embrace any future need for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or fixed-wing capability.[HL15766]
Lord Astor of Hever: Following the removal of Nimrod from service, the department has conducted a number of studies into the resulting capability implications, but no decision has been made on whether a long-term manned or unmanned replacement for the Maritime Patrol Aircraft is required.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 7 February (WA 31), when they expect to conclude their deliberations and reach a decision in connection with the wearing of the Merchant Navy Medal. [HL15622]
Earl Attlee: Further to my Answer of 7 February, Her Majesty's Government are actively taking forward this issue. The granting of honours and decorations is a prerogative power of the Sovereign and due process must be followed.
|Appointments at Three Star and Above|
|Appointments at Two Star|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what they assess to be the transitional and planning costs associated with the introduction of 400 tanks of a new advanced type not already in an existing inventory.[HL15770]
Lord De Mauley: Introduction of any new equipment capability to the defence inventory, including tanks, must take into account the planning and resourcing of all associated defence lines of development. These include training, infrastructure, logistic and technical support, doctrine and personnel, as well as initial acquisition costs. For a programme of 400 tanks, these costs would be significant, although it is not possible for the Ministry of Defence to estimate them with any accuracy without significant additional information about the equipment programme and related defence infrastructure, not least because the UK has not undertaken an equivalent programme in recent years.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is fully committed to securing a robust and effective arms trade treaty (ATT). The UK delegation has played an active and constructive role in all the preparatory committee meetings and good progress has been made towards an ATT; including securing a joint P5 statement in support of the United Nations process. We continue to engage with key states, both bilaterally and multilaterally, ahead of the crucial negotiating conference in July 2012; while also working closely with civil society and the UK defence industry to build widespread support for the treaty.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 7 February (WA 31), whether it is their policy to raise individual cases with some Governments but not with the Government of Bahrain.[HL15712]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are committed to supporting human rights defenders, and we have raised human rights issues with the Government of Bahrain at ministerial and senior official levels.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following their publication of new National Standards for Enforcement Agents, what steps the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Communities and Local Government will take to ensure that they are adopted by HM Courts and Tribunals Service, local authorities and other public bodies that use bailiffs.[HL15709]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals have service contracts with private bailiff companies. These contracts set out the standards of conduct and behaviour required and includes the National Standards for Enforcement Agents.
A consultation paper, Transforming Bailiff Action, published on 17 February, seeks wider views on the content of the National Standards for Enforcement Agents as well as proposals to simplify and clarify the enforcement process, improve the accountability of enforcement agents and address unnecessary or inappropriate enforcement activity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are taking action to review the methods used to calculate the London Interbank Offered Rate for currencies and to establish whether bank customers have been financially disadvantaged. [HL15675]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Financial Services Authority and other national authorities are investigating the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) setting mechanism. EU antitrust regulators are also examining this issue.
The setting of LIBOR is not a regulated activity under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The methods used to calculate LIBOR are publically available, as are the data made available by contributor banks. The process is regularly reviewed by market participants.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations about the selection of the President of the World Bank with reference to
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA199
In April 2011 the World Bank Board agreed criteria for selection of the President. These include i) a proven track record of leadership and experience managing large international organisations, ii) the ability to articulate a clear vision of the Bank's development mission and iii) effective co-operation and diplomatic communication skills.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 9 February (HL 15482), whether they will list the 32 locations that have put themselves forward for consideration as the location for the Green Investment Bank.[HL15631]
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The following locations have put themselves forward for consideration as a location for the Green Investment Bank:
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The Lending Code, the latest edition of which was issued in March 2011, sets out minimum standards of good practice for lenders, including credit card providers. A key commitment in the code is that firms should act sympathetically and positively when considering a customer's financial difficulties.
It is important to note that not paying the outstanding credit balance in full each month is the customer's choice and is not, in itself, an indicator of financial difficulties, although an inability to meet the required minimum payment or only meeting the minimum payment over an extended period could be. The code requires credit card providers to include on the monthly statement a warning about the risk of making only minimum payments.
Section 9 of the code sets out the support that should be provided to customers who experience financial difficulties and requires firms to make contact with customers who believe they may be in or could be at risk of getting into financial difficulties. The support provided by the firm under the code should be proportionate to the severity of the customer's problems.
As a self-regulatory code, compliance with the terms of the Lending Code is independently monitored by the Lending Standards Board. The Lending Code Sponsors publish short guides which set out in plain English for consumers what to expect from lenders, including credit card providers, who follow the Lending Code.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the continued decline in bank lending is a function of reduced demand for credit or reduced supply; and whether they believe higher profit margins and credit terms required by banks have contributed to the decline in bank lending.[HL15731]
Last year the Chancellor announced a commitment by the UK's biggest high street banks on lending expectations and capacity. As part of this agreement the banks committed to lend £l90 billion of new credit to businesses in 2011, of which £76 billion was to be to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The latter was a 15 per cent increase on 2010 lending of £66 billion.
The Bank of England published the total Merlin figures on 13 February 2012. They show that in 2011 UK banks lent over £214 billion to British businesses -a 20 per cent increase compared with 2010, and exceeding the overall lending target by £24 billion. Figures also show a 13 per cent increase in SME lending compared with the year before, with SME lending rising to over £74 billion.
The Chancellor has also announced a package of credit-easing interventions worth up to £21 billion to improve the flow of credit to businesses that do not have ready access to capital markets including:A National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS), which will lead to reductions in the cost of bank loans for smaller businesses (those with turnover of up to £50 million). The scheme will allow banks to raise up to £20 billion of funding with a government guarantee, to lend directly to smaller businesses at a lower cost. In many cases this will lead to a reduction of up to 1 percentage point on business loan rates. More information regarding the NLGS will be announced at Budget.A Business Finance Partnership (BFP), initially of £1 billion, to deliver additional finance to mid-sized businesses through non-bank lending channels. The BFP will initially co-invest, with private sector investors like insurance companies, in loan funds that will lend directly to mid-sized businesses.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider instructing the Bank of England to introduce a United Kingdom equivalent of the European Central Bank's Long-term Refinancing Operation to encourage increased bank lending at competitive rates.[HL15732]
Lord Sassoon: The Bank of England is independently 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 provide short-term liquidity insurance to the banking system to support financial stability. The Bank of England's asset purchase scheme has ensured UK banks have access to a substantial amount of liquidity.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much was collected under the BBC television licence fee in each of the last five years, including from those covered by the Government subsidy for the over-75s; and from how many payees.[HL15410]
Baroness Rawlings: According to the BBC's annual report and accounts for each year, the figures are as shown in the following tables. The use of two tables in the answer reflects the fact that the BBC changed the measure for recording the number of licences from millions to thousands in its annual reports.
|Year||Total licence fee income (£m)||75 and over (£m) (included in total income column) *(l)||Total number (000's) of licences in force*(2)|
|Year||Total licence fee income (£m)||75 and over (£m) (included in total income column) *(1)||Total number (m) of licences in force *(2)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Garden of Frognal on 24 January (WA 219), what percentage of collected BBC television licence fee payments for 2011 will be spent in pursuance of the decision by the BBC Trustees to subsidise the BBC pension scheme with £905 million of additional employer contributions to cover its liabilities; and whether they have made any representations about whether any loss of BBC programme-making capacity may result.[HL15411]
Baroness Rawlings: The Government have made no assessment of what percentage of the licence fee will be spent on the BBC pension scheme, nor made any representations about any consequences for programme-making capacity. These are matters for the BBC and there is no provision for government to intervene.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Government provided to the BBC under their policy of subsidising television licence fees for British citizens aged over 75 in each of the past five
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA203
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) paid the following amounts to the BBC in respect of the following numbers of beneficiaries in the past five years:
The above data are derived from the BBC's audited summary of accounts; the values, which have been rounded to the nearest pound, are reconciled to DWP payment data. The values do not include figures for Guernsey and the Isle of Man (which are not funded by the DWP); values for Guernsey and the Isle of Man are, however, included in the BBC's annual report. The numbers represent the number of licences issued rather than the number in force at any one time.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the BBC regarding the charge of £5 for payment of the television licence fee by quarterly direct debit and not for payment by credit card.[HL15472]
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 28 November 2011 (WA 2-3), why the business case for the grant of £90 million to the BBC World Service Trust was not published on the Department for International Development website; and whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the business case and the initial correspondence on the decision to make the grant. [HL15470]
Baroness Northover: The business case for the £90 million grant to BBC Media Action (formerly knows as the World Service Trust) is on the Department for International Development website. The business case appears as the first entry in a search for BBC in the project database.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Garden of Frognal on 19 December (WA 296) and the deposited paper DEP2012-0004 of 19 December 2011, whether they are satisfied with the arrangement that it is a matter for a member of the BBC Trust to decide themselves whether they are in violation of paragraph 7.1 of its code of practice on the appropriateness of their active involvement "in partisan political activities of a significant and continuing nature."[HL15759]
Baroness Rawlings: Yes. The BBC's governing instruments, the Royal Charter and Agreement, place broad obligations on the corporation in respect of its television and radio services, objectives, programme content and standards. Within this framework such decisions remain a matter for the BBC Trust, reflecting its independence from Government.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will estimate the average gross earnings equating to the proposed benefit cap plus child benefit for (1) a couple and (2) a lone parent, where the number of children is (a) one, (b) two, (c) three, (d) four, (e) five, and (f) six.[HL15505]
|Number of Children||Net Benefit Paid, £ per year||Gross Earnings Equivalent, £ per year|
Figures are based on benefit rates as modelled in the financial year 2013-14, when the household benefit cap is due to be
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA205
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there are staff designated to deal with issues specific to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in any of the United Kingdom's embassies and high commissions abroad.[HL15648]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As per the Memorandum of Understanding on devolved Administrations, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) represents the whole of the UK as foreign policy is not a devolved matter. No members of FCO staff are designated to work exclusively on issues related to the devolved Administrations. However, our network of embassies and high commissions also includes staff employed by the devolved Administrations.
The Scottish Government have, under the auspices of the Scottish Affairs Office, four staff (two locally employed) at our embassy in Washington and a further two in the British Consulate in Toronto. In our embassy in Beijing there are two accredited staff. There are also 12 staff working under the umbrella of the United Kingdom's Permanent Representation to the European Union (UKRep) in Brussels.
There are nine staff (two locally engaged) working within UKRep Brussels. Wales also has a United States Representative Office for the First Minister, based at our Consulate-General in New York, which houses five staff. There is also a Wales Affairs Officer in New Delhi and a Welsh Trade and Investment Officer working at our embassy in Dubai, both funded by the Welsh Government.
There are six staff (three locally employed) working for the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington and New York. In Washington they are not located within our embassy but the officer in New York is based in the Consulate-General. The Northern Ireland Executive currently have five staff working under the umbrella of UKRep Brussels with a further four arriving shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received any information about the alleged killing by the Burmese army of Saw Pah Kok, an ethnic Karen villager, in Burma on 29 October 2011.[HL15513]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware of media reports regarding the alleged killing of Saw Pah Kok by the Burmese army. However, we have not been able to verify these reports. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) emphasised the importance of an end to conflict, humanitarian access, political dialogue and national reconciliation during his visit in January of this year. We continue to raise our human rights concerns directly with the Government.
Lord Howell of Guildford: During his visit to Burma in January of this year, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) raised the discrimination suffered by the Rohingya community, who have been denied citizenship and access to basic services and rights, directly with the Burmese Foreign Minister. The Foreign Secretary also met a range of representatives from ethnic communities, including the Kachin, Rohingya, Shan, Rakhine, Chin, Mon, Karen and Karenni to hear more about their concerns and aspirations. We will continue to stay close to these and other ethnic groups to ensure we remain seized of the issues they face.
On 2 February, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials hosted a meeting which included representatives from Burmese ethnic groups, notably members of the Rohingya community, where the issues facing their people were discussed. We remain committed to ensuring that these issues are raised directly with the Burmese Government, at the United Nations and with international partners.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what reports they have received about the alleged use of rape and gang-rape by the Burmese army against ethnic minority women in Shan State and Kachin State in Burma.[HL15515]
Lord Howell of Guildford: In March 2011, we received reports that the Burmese army had moved into areas of Shan state held by ethnic armed forces. We received
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA207
We remain deeply concerned by these reports. At a United Nations Security Council debate on protection of civilians in November, the UK called for the Burmese army and ethnic militia to make every effort to protect civilians and bring to account those responsible for human rights abuses against them, and stressed that peace and stability could only be achieved through a genuine process of national reconciliation, starting with inclusive dialogue with all ethnic and political opposition groups. We also ensured that the Burma resolutions passed by the Human Rights Council in March and the General Assembly in November reflected our concerns. We continue to strongly urge the Government to end impunity and bring to account those responsible for human rights abuses.
Baroness Northover: During his visit to Burma on 15-17 November 2011, Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, pressed President Thein Sein and his Ministers to move urgently towards a resolution to the ethnic conflicts in Burma and to increase humanitarian access in border areas, including in Kachin State. During his visit to Burma on 5-6 January 2012, the Foreign Secretary also raised these issues. These are all things which the Burmese Government have themselves said they wanted to achieve. The British ambassador continues to raise the issue directly with Burmese Ministers.
Lord Howell of Guildford: We have not specifically raised the case of Mahn Nyein Maung with the Government of Burma. However, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) raised ethnic issues directly with members of the Burmese Government, including the Burmese President, during his visit in January of this year. The Foreign Secretary set out very clearly that the release of all political prisoners was one of the central conditions which we would expect the Burmese Government to fulfil before a more fundamental shift in our relationship could take place. He emphasised the importance of an end to conflict, humanitarian access, political dialogue and national reconciliation.
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA208
I should also note that the Karen National Union's "Eleven-point proposal" for an initial ceasefire agreement, which was accepted by the Government of Burma in January, included a reference to the release of all political prisoners.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what payments were made from the Cabinet Office to (1) Clifford Chance, (2) Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, (3) Slaughter and May, (4) Allen & Overy, and (5) Linklaters in financial years (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10, (c) 2010-11, and (d) 2011-12 to date; and to what those payments related. [HL15640]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Cabinet Office made no payments to Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, Allen and Overy or Linklaters in financial years 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11 or 2011-12 to date. The Cabinet Office made payments of £50,229 to Slaughter and May in financial year 2011-12. No payments were made to Slaughter and May in financial years 2008-09, 2009-10 or 2010-11.
The payments to Slaughter and May were in respect of specialist property support for the consolidation of the London and Bristol regions. These payments were made by the Government Property Unit (GPU). GPU became part of the Cabinet Office on 18 July 2011 following a machinery of government change, and these payments reflect payments made throughout 2011-12 to date. This Government are committed to transparency, and all new contracts over the value of £10,000 are published on Contracts Finder (http://www.contractsfinder.co.uk/). All payments over £25,000 are also published on a monthly basis on data.gov.uk.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in considering the case for exercising the power conferred by Section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010 to make caste discrimination unlawful, they will have regard to the views and experience of those who may be discriminated against among the Hindu and Sikh communities in this country. [HL15561]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: On this matter the Government have been taking into account views from a large number of individuals and organisations, including those from sectors of the Hindu and Sikh communities
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA209
The Government are also aware of previous reports on this issue, in particular the Hidden Apartheid: Caste and Caste Discriminationin the UK report published in November 2009 by the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA). The Government are also taking into account representations that they have received on this matter. For instance, over 50 comments were received on the need for caste legislation as part of last year's Red Tape Challenge Spotlight on Equalities.
The Minister for Women and Equalities, Lynne Featherstone, and officials from the Government Equalities Office also attended an independent meeting on 17 January 2011, organised by ACDA among others, at which the issue of caste legislation was extensively discussed. At that meeting a number of participants spoke to support the bringing into force of Section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking when the preliminary results of the 2011 Census will be available (HL15794). May I refer you to the answer given to the right honourable John Spellar MP on 17 January 2012, Hansard reference 89952 column 754W which for ease of reference is copied below.
A prospectus of the outputs to be produced from the Census will be published in March, our intention is to release the first results from the 2011 Census in England and Wales in July 2012. The results for Scotland and Northern Ireland will be published separately by National Records Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency respectively.
Baroness Rawlings: Her Majesty's Government have not provided the Charles Dickens Museum in Doughty Street with any support in promoting Dickens's work. A number of institutions funded by the Government, including the National Portrait Gallery, the British Council, the British Library and English Heritage are putting on special programmes and events to celebrate the life and works of Dickens. The Charles Dickens Museum has highlighted these events and many others as part of the Dickens 2012 campaign.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which makes funding decisions independently of the Government, has awarded the Charles Dickens Museum over £2.3 million towards its redevelopment. HLF has also recently announced support for two Dickens related projects in Southwark, one in Teesdale, as well as supporting the Dickens Community Archive in Portsmouth. To date HLF has awarded more than £2.7 million in grants for the Dickens bicentenary.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what remedies exist for a parent denied access to information about a child for whom they have parental responsibility by (1) a private day nursery, (2) a state school, (3) an NHS general practitioner, and (4) a local authority.[HL15329]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Individuals have rights under the Data Protection Act (DPA) to request access to information which relates to them. This right can be exercised by a parent on behalf of a child where the child is unable to make the request in person. This may be because the child does not have sufficient maturity or has a disability.
This right that parents can exercise on behalf of their child exists in relation to information held by a wide range of organisations including private nursery schools, state schools, general practitioners' practices and local authorities.
If a parent feels that they have not been supplied with information to which they have a right under the DPA and have tried to resolve the issue with the organisation then they can approach the Information
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA211
The Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS) requires all early years providers, including schools with children under five, to supply parents with specified information which includes details about the early years provision and free access to developmental records about their child (for example, the EYFS Profile). Should a provider fail to supply specified information, parents may complain to Ofsted.
Maintained schools should wherever possible, ensure that they record the contact details of parents, even when a parent no longer lives with the child. This is not a matter left to the discretion of individual schools. Under relevant education legislation, parents, (including those with parental responsibility or who have care of the child) must receive specified statutory information about their child.
If a parent believes that a maintained school is not complying with its obligations under education legislation and they have exhausted the school's arrangements for considering complaints, they may ask the Secretary of State to consider their complaint. The Secretary of State is able to make a direction if a governing body of a school has failed to comply with an obligation under education legislation or has acted unreasonably in the exercise of, or performance of, any function under education legislation. The Secretary of State may make any direction which it is expedient for him to make in order to ensure that the obligation is complied with, or the function performed reasonably.
If a GP has refused to provide a person with parental responsibility a copy of a child's medical record, and it has not been possible to achieve resolution through informal discussions, then a person may use the NHS complaints procedure and/or make a complaint to the Information Commissioner. Where a person is dissatisfied with the outcome of these processes, they can contact the Health Service Ombudsman for England. As a last resort, they can take a case to court.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are concerned by reports that the Government of Sudan may have
27 Feb 2012 : Column WA212
Lord Howell of Guildford: There has been no recent change in position regarding bilateral co-operation with China. The Government remain committed to an approach of constructive engagement with China.
The UK and China have a comprehensive strategic partnership; we have a well-developed set of bilateral links, with our annual UK-China Summit at Prime Ministerial level, underpinned by a set of high level dialogues including: the Strategic Dialogue; Economic and Financial Dialogue, and the new "People to People" dialogue to be launched this April.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning the average retirement age of senior, and other, civil servants over the past 10 years, broken down by Government Department (HL15736).
Civil Service Statistics are published annually by the Office for National Statistics on the National Statistics website. Statistics relating to retirements from the Civil Service are available, with complete coverage of the Civil Service, from 2007 through to 2011 inclusive.
An Excel spreadsheet has been provided, a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of the house, containing available information about the average retirement age of senior, and other, civil servants each year back to 2007, broken down by government department.
|Civil Service employment; average retirement age of civil servants by department (2007) 1 2 3|
|Age in years|
|Senior Civil Service||All Other Levels||Not Reported|
|30 September 2007|
2. Includes civil servants who have "Retired" under the following Annual Civil Service Employment Survey leaving causes "Retirement on age grounds at the minimum age", "Retirement on age grounds above the minimum age", "Retirement on grounds of ill health", "Approved early retirement (AER)", "Actuarially reduced retirement", "Compulsory early retirement" and "Flexible early retirement".
3. "n/a" used to represent where data is not applicable (there were no reported retirements for the grade/period in question), and counts less than five are represented by "..". Counts less than five have not been included so as not to identify an individual from the analysis that has been produced.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|