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Questions

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): From contacts with Irish officials, we understand that the Republic of Ireland Government reduced the concentration because of concerns about dental fluorosis. We have no evidence to show that residents of areas receiving fluoridated water in England find dental fluorosis aesthetically unacceptable. The results of a research project funded by the National Health Service on the prevalence and severity of dental fluorosis should be published shortly.

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

Earl Howe: A balance has to be struck between maximising the protective effect of fluoridation and the prevalence of the only recognised side effect, dental fluorosis. We will therefore be looking for evidence of aesthetically unacceptable levels of dental fluorosis in the United States and other areas where the water supply has been fluoridated at one part per million and the local population had been advised not to use fluoride supplements.

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

Earl Howe: These distinctions are not used in regulations in the United Kingdom. Two compounds of fluoride are permitted for artificial fluoridation: hexafluorosilicic acid and sodium fluorosilicate, which are manufactured to exacting quality standards to meet European standards and approval by the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

Earl Howe: No. Despite the size of the sample, the researchers concluded that the findings were still statistically significant.

Food: Arsenic

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises that the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority have been collecting data on the occurrence of arsenic in rice to enable discussions for a European Union maximum limit for arsenic (mostly likely for the inorganic chemical form) in rice and possibly for other products such as algae (seaweeds). No EU maximum limit has yet been formally proposed but discussions are expected to

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start in the first half of this year. Any agreed EU maximum limit would apply directly in the United Kingdom via an amendment to Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1881/2006 on contaminants in food.

In addition, a draft Codex Alimentarius Commission proposal for an international standard on acceptable levels of arsenic in rice is expected to be discussed at the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food in March 2012. However, it is likely to be some time until any international standard is agreed.

The UK is taking full part in both the Codex and EU discussions and the FSA will consult relevant stakeholders on any forthcoming proposals.

Forced Marriage

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): All schools have statutory responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of their pupils. The Government believe that individual schools are best placed to decide how to fulfil those responsibilities by helping children who may be vulnerable to particular types of harm, such as forced marriage. We do not agree that many schools are failing to meet their responsibilities.

As stated in the Government's response to the Home Affairs Committee's report on forced marriage, we recognise that the issue of forced marriage may be relevant to inspectors' evaluation of schools' arrangements for keeping pupils safe. If concerns are brought to the attention of inspectors they will be expected to satisfy themselves that the school is doing everything it can to support pupils. The Government do not, however, believe that it would be appropriate to ask Ofsted to consider schools' forced marriage policies as part of every inspection.



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Gaza

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We regularly raise with the Israeli authorities the importance of due process and access to justice for Palestinians affected by the occupation. We have not made any representations to the Israeli authorities on this specific issue.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We continue to raise with the Israeli Government the need to ease their restrictions on movement and access to and from Gaza, in close co-ordination with the office of the Quartet Representative and European Union partners.

Officials at our consulate general in Jerusalem have discussed the case of Mr Bassam Raihan with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which confirmed that Mr Raihan is in Israeli custody at Ashdod prison in southern Israel, having been arrested while seeking to cross from Gaza to the West Bank for medical treatment. PCHR is making efforts to ensure that he has access to legal representation. We continue to monitor developments.

The Department for International Development (DfID) supports the United Nations (UN) Access Coordination Unit, to work with the UN, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and aid agencies to facilitate the transfer of vital humanitarian assistance, including medical equipment and supplies, in and out of Gaza. DfID gives the UN Access Coordination Unit £1.1 million to help support its work.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Baroness Northover: We hold Israel, as the occupying power, responsible for ensuring Gaza's basic needs are met and this includes the provision of fuel. Israel continues to provide 120 megawatts of electricity per

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day directly to Gaza, which meets approximately 43 per cent of Gaza's power needs and is paid for by the Palestinian Authority. The remainder of Gaza's power needs, including the fuel needed to operate the Gaza power station, is sourced from Egypt. We understand that the stoppage of the Gaza power plant on 14 February was due to a shortage of fuel entering Gaza from Egypt.

Discussions are continuing between the Palestinian and Egyptian authorities on the transfer of fuel to Gaza. The UK continues to press the Israeli authorities on the urgent need to ease movement and access restrictions into and out of Gaza, including for the reconstruction of essential infrastructure to ensure a sustainable and affordable power supply for the Gazan people.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK remains concerned about the situation in Gaza and by recent incidents in and around Gaza.

We continue to urge restraint on all sides and to condemn any acts that might lead to an escalation of the fragile situation on the ground or cause civilian casualties. All such violence represents both an unacceptable risk to innocent life and a real obstacle to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

We have not raised the specific incidents on 3 February, but are continuing to monitor developments closely and to raise our concerns as appropriate.

Government Departments: Maternity Leave

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: There is not a central Civil Service maternity leave policy. Under the terms of the Civil Service Management Code, arrangements for maternity leave and pay are matters for departments to determine. Departmental policies will provide at least the minimum statutory requirements for those who are eligible for maternity leave and pay.



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Government Departments: Opinion Polls

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): BIS collects selected information on its surveys of individuals or

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households, some of which may be classed as opinion polls as they ask about views or attitudes. In 2010-11, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) carried out three such opinion polls, with a total of 3,600 contacts made and a total cost to BIS of £318,000. In 2011-12 so far, BIS has not carried out any such opinion polls. Data were not collected prior to 2010-11. Details that are available are given in the table. The activities of agencies are not known.

Detailed information on all surveys of businesses and local authorities carried out by BIS are collected and reported on annually. None of these surveys can be classed as opinion polls. BIS also carries out market research studies as part of its campaign development; these have also not been classed as opinion polls.

Surveys of individuals or households that may be classed as opinion polls, 2010-11
Survey titleDetailed descriptionCarried outContactsCost

Public Attitudes to Science 2011

To assess attitudes to science, including attitudes to scientific careers and education, public engagement with science and technology, and highlighting issues around trust in scientists and the work that they do

Summer 2010

2,103

£300,000

Public Attitudes to Science 2011; Survey of 14-16 year olds

To gauge young people's attitudes to science, including science careers and engagement

Jan 11

500

Included in Public Attitudes to Science

Public Attitudes to Animal Experimentation

Dec 10

997

£18,000

2010-11 Total

3,600

£318,000

Source: BIS Survey Activity Annual Report

http://www.bis.gov.uk/analysis/statistics/about-national-statistics/survev-activity

I have asked the CEOs of the executive agencies to write to the noble Peer, and a copy of their letters will be placed in the Library of the House.

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Taking opinion polling to be any quantitative survey asking people or businesses about their opinions and attitudes, then details of such surveys which took place between 7 February 2010 and 8 February 2012 are listed below.



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Issues covered by the surveyWhen it was conductedCost of surveyNumber of respondents

Understanding potential responses to the Green Deal

Nov 2009-Feb 2010

£145,000

2,000 face-to-face in home interviews with members of public

DECC Stakeholder survey

May 2010; Feb-June 2011

£24,750 per wave

250 telephone interviews with stakeholders per wave

Evaluation of the impact of the Low Carbon Community Challenge projects (LCCC). Two surveys were conducted: baseline and post intervention follow-up

Feb-Mar 2010 Sept-Nov 2011

£339,000

13,185 home interviews (per wave) with members of public and residents in LCCC areas

Understanding potential response to the Green Deal by non domestic organisations (mainly businesses)

Sept-Oct 2011

£97,000

3,000 telephone interviews with businesses

Understanding the impact of varying levels of subsidy on householders' likelihood of taking up a Green Deal

Nov 2011

£17,410

2000 face-to-face omnibus interviews with members of the public

Potential for businesses in the unconstrained sector to help UK meet emissions targets

Jan-Mar 2010

£15,700

400 telephone interviews with businesses

Survey of organisation behaviour and energy efficiency

Dec-Feb 2010

£21,400

860 telephone interviews with businesses

Energy Follow-up Survey (a subset of participants from the annual English Housing Survey)

Jan-April 2011

£750,000

This cost includes 2,600 in-depth home interviews with householders

Assessing the administrative costs of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme

Aug-Sept 2011

£49,675

740 businesses responding to an online survey, plus 56 in-depth interviews

Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) omnibus survey which asked householders about behaviour and attitudes

Jan-Feb 2011

£22,960

1,300 face-to-face interviews with householders and 200 CERT customers

Government Departments: Public Consultations

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): Paragraphs 6.4 and 6.5 of the HM Government Code of Practice on Consultation set out the principles that departments should follow in responding to formal written consultation exercises. The code of practice is published at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/tile47158.pdf.

More detailed guidance for departments to support their application of the code of practice is published on the BIS website at: http://www.bis.gov. uk/policies/bre/consultation-guidance

Responsibility for monitoring the effectiveness of consultation exercises, including compliance with the code of practice, rests with individual departments.

Government Departments: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Tebbit

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: There are no formal terms of reference for the review.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Individual departments determine the amount of trade union facility time. As part of the forthcoming consultation with the Civil Service trade unions, we will be looking at reducing the overall amount of facilities time that can be offered by government departments to bring it more in line with practice in the wider public sector. In order to ensure transparency about the union facility time for which government departments are paying, departments will publish information relating to Civil Service trade union representatives and the amount of paid time that is being spent on union work, as well as the overall percentage of the pay bill for which this accounts.

Asked by Lord Laird



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The information is not held centrally and can only be obtained at disproportionate cost. Staff in the department are bound by the Civil Service Code: http://www. civilservice.gov.uk/about/values.

Where a complaint has been made by a member of the public against a staff member and it is judged that the code has been breached, the individual will be subject to the department's conduct and disciplinary procedures. In this regard, there is no record of complaints against departmental staff by members of the public in the past two years.

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Between the dates of the 1 April 2010 and 31 December 2011, 415 complaints were received against civil servants in the Home Office and its agencies. To collate information on investigations undertaken, action taken and compensation paid could only be provided at disproportionate cost. All cases of alleged serious or gross misconduct are formally investigated.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): My right honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the

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tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012. Ministers are paid through the departmental payroll.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012. Ministers are paid through the departmental payroll.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012. Ministers are paid through the department's payroll.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012. Ministers are paid through the departmental payroll. I also refer the noble Lord

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to the answer given by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Bob Neill) on 12 December 2011 (Official Report, col. 483W).

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012. Ministers are paid through the departmental payroll.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Baroness Rawlings: The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012. Ministers are paid through the departmental payroll.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012. Ministers are paid through the departmental payroll.

Asked by Lord Laird



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Lord Astor of Hever: Ministry of Defence police officers are police officers with constabulary powers provided by the Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987, which affords jurisdiction over Ministry of Defence personnel and assets. This would include arrests of Ministry of Defence civil servants, as well as searches of their home and work premises and seizures of any evidence found in connection with criminal investigations.

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): Police powers of arrest, search and seizure, as set out in Parts 2 and 3 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, apply to all individuals, including civil servants, and to all government premises. Before any arrest or removal of papers and property from BIS premises, usual practice would be to seek the consent of our departmental security unit.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Marland: Police powers of arrest, search and seizure, as set out in Parts 2 and 3 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, apply to all individuals, including civil servants, and to all government premises. Before doing so on the department's premises, usual practice would be to seek the prior consent of our departmental security unit.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Hill of Oareford: Police powers of arrest, search and seizure, as set out in Parts 2 and 3 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, apply to all individuals, including civil servants, and to all government premises.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012. Ministers, where salaried, are paid through the departmental payroll.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Baroness Northover: The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has announced an urgent review of the tax arrangements of senior public sector appointments, to report by the end of March 2012.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): No Scotland Office staff, and no persons nominated by the office or its Ministers, hold posts remunerated on the basis of at least 100 days' work per annum and are paid through a company for their services.

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: The Wales Office holds no such posts.

Asked by Lord Laird



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Lord Howell of Guildford: Police powers of arrest, search and seizure, as set out in Parts II and III of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, apply to all individuals, including civil servants, and to all government premises.

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Chief Secretary to the Treasury is asked to approve pay levels of £142,500 and above and bonus arrangements of £50,000 and above for individuals in all Civil Service organisations and in respect of appointments to public bodies which are subject to ministerial approval.

In May 2010, it was announced that bonuses for senior civil servants would be restricted to the top 25 per cent of performers. For non-senior civil servants, departments have an annual non-consolidated performance pot, which is currently frozen as a percentage of paybill, restricting spend to around 1 per cent of paybill. Information on non-consolidated pay in the Civil Service was published on departmental websites and linked to data.gov.uk in October 2011.

The Treasury does not hold information on the overall number of non-Civil Service, government-funded organisations that pay bonuses to their staff. However, many of these organisations were set up to be arm's length of Treasury control, but with their own governance structure to provide value for money to the taxpayer.

Government: Ministerial Visits

Question

Asked by Baroness Nye

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As set out in the Ministerial Code, details of Ministers' overseas travel are published on a quarterly basis on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code.

Transparency data for the period May 2010 to June 2011 can be accessed on the FCO website at:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/publications-and-documents/transparency-and-data1/

Information for the period July 2011 to 31 January 2012 will be published in due course.



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Greece: Financial Support

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The existing package of financial assistance for Greece, worth €110 billion over three years, was agreed in May 2010. This comprises an IMF stand-by arrangement of €30 billion and a package of bilateral loans from euro area member states of €80 billion. A total of €73 billion (of which €20.1 billion has come from the IMF) has been disbursed to date.

There was no contribution either from the EU budget or from the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM), which is backed by the EU budget. Therefore the UK's exposure to Greece's financial assistance package is through the IMF alone.

The broad terms of a second package of assistance were agreed by euro area Finance Ministers on 21 February 2012, including a 53.5 per cent face-value reduction on existing Greek bonds as part of an offer being made, by the Greek Government, to private sector bond holders. The final size of the package is yet to be determined and will be decided once the private sector's participation is known and Greece has implemented a set of agreed prior actions. There has been no formal decision on an IMF contribution to the second package.

The UK lends to the IMF as an institution and not to particular programmes; therefore it is not possible to provide an exact estimate of the UK's contribution to individual IMF programmes. As a rough estimate, we would expect the UK's exposure to overall IMF lending to be in line with its quota share of 4.5 per cent. However, the IMF has preferred creditor status and no country has ever lost money lending to the IMF.

Health Lottery

Question

Asked by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe

Baroness Rawlings: It is a requirement of the Gambling Act 2005 that a society lottery should apply a minimum of 20 per cent of the proceeds of each lottery to the causes for which it has been set up to support. The Government keep legislation under review in light of new developments but would need to consider whether

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any changes are justified, and, in particular, the potential impact on the ability of society lotteries to raise funds for worthwhile causes.

Health: Cardiology

Question

Asked by Lord Crisp

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The review of children's congenital heart services is a clinically led National Health Service review, independent of government. The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, on behalf of local NHS commissioners, will decide the future pattern of children's congenital heart services in England. It is expected to make that decision later this year.

It would not be appropriate for the Government to comment on the merits of different models of children's heart services while the review process, which is subject to ongoing legal proceedings, continues.

Health: Costs

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): For 2011, the United Kingdom was liable for the healthcare costs of 37.74 per cent of the pensioner caseload in the Republic of Ireland.

Health: Diabetes

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Government welcome the efforts of the Danish presidency to raise

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awareness of diabetes and we recognise common objectives relating to the prevention, earlier detection, and better management of diabetes.

Paul Burstow, the Minister responsible for diabetes, and the National Clinical Director for Diabetes, have accepted invitations to the European diabetes leadership forum, hosted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Danish Diabetes Association. This forum will follow the European Union Health Ministers' meeting in April. In addition, the National Diabetes Information Service, hosted by Yorkshire and Humberside Public Health Observatory, is considering how best to improve the international benchmarking of data relating to diabetes.

Health: Education and Training

Question

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The work of the postgraduate deaneries will continue until the new arrangements start in April 2013. Strategic health authorities will continue to be accountable for postgraduate deaneries until 31 March 2013. From 1 April 2013, the Local Education and Training Boards will assume responsibility for education and training including deanery functions and associated funding in line with the guidance published in Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce, From Design to Delivery, a copy of which has already been placed in the Library.

Health: Mesothelioma

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The figures cited in the Written Answer on 8 February stated that between 33,000 and 49,000 mesothelioma deaths are projected to occur over the next 20 years (2010 to 2029) related to both sexes. A breakdown of the number of projected mesothelioma deaths for males and females over this period and longer-term predictions to 2050 are given in the following table.



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Actual deathsProjected deathsProjected deaths

1968-2009

2010-2029

2030-2050

Males

35,958

26,000 - 40,000

5,000 - 19,000

Females

6,363

7,000 - 9,000

5,000 - 9,000

The wide ranges for the future predictions are a result of the substantial statistical uncertainty which particularly affects the long-range predictions for males beyond 2030. All of the projections for females are very uncertain due to the smaller number of deaths among women compared to men.

Health: Neurology

Question

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We are considering the findings of the National Audit Office report on services for people with neurological conditions, and will be responding in due course.

Health: Patient Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Turnberg

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department has made clear that any clauses, inserted into an individual's contract, seeking to prohibit that individual from raising a concern in the public interest, are not to be used. Furthermore the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 renders such clauses void. The department supports and welcomes the guidance published by the General Medical Council, which advises doctors against entering into such contracts and which more generally highlights their professional responsibility that doctors have to ensure that they report any concerns about patient safety.



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Health: Private Medical Insurance

Questions

Asked by Lord Walton of Detchant

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department is aware that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) published a market study covering private healthcare in December 2011. A copy of the study is available on the OFT's website at: www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/market-studies/OFT1396_Private_healthcare.pdf.

The OFT is expected to make a final decision by March on whether to refer the market to the Competition Commission.

Health: Psoriatic Arthritis

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): I am grateful to the noble Lord for drawing my attention to the guidance document produced by a working group sponsored by British Health Professionals in Rheumatology and the Psoriasis Association. We will gladly ensure that the NHS Commissioning Board is made aware of its recommendations in deciding whether, and how, to develop commissioning guidance for this condition.

Higher Education: Funding

Question

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford



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The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): In the 2010-11 academic year, the latest year for which final data are available, 475,000 adults aged 24 and over studying towards a level 3 or level 4 aim in further education received government funding. Of these, 108,000 had their fees waived in full. Learners funded by the adult safeguarded learning budget are not included.

Information is not available on the total number of non-government funded learners who pay full fees.

Higher Education: Postgraduate Certificate in Education

Question

Asked by Lord Adonis

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In England, there were 53,745 applicants for places on Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) courses through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR) for the 2011-12 academic year. Of this number, 21,405 accepted an offer of a place1 for 2011-12.

Of the 53,745 applicants:

(1) 320 held a degree from University of Oxford;

(2) 330 held a degree from University of Cambridge;

(3) 255 held a degree from University College London;

(4) 55 held a degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science;

(5) 100 held a degree from Imperial College London; and

(6) 555 held a degree from London Metropolitan University.

1 Included applicants are those who applied to an English institution as one of their choices when applying for a PGCE course. Acceptances include acceptance of a place from any choice, including applications to Scottish or Welsh institutions.

Home Energy Conservation Act 1995

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): We are currently considering the future scope of guidance under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (HECA). While there is no formal requirement to consult we are developing proposals in consultation

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with local government (in the context of DECC's memorandum of understanding with the Local Government Association) and other stakeholders. We propose to issue new HECA guidance in late spring 2012.

House of Lords: Food Waste

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The estimated food waste generated by House of Lords outlets in each month since April 2010 is shown in the table below.

MonthTotal cost of waste

April 2010

1991.45

May 2010

1731.14

June 2010

3244.10

July 2010

3215.31

August 2010

0.00

September 2010

2868.03

October 2010

2608.85

November 2010

2685.65

December 2010

2427.67

January 2011

3134.28

February 2011

2492.3 I

March 2011

3517.48

April 2011

1242.23

May 2011

2442.29

June 2011

2560.42

July 2011

2341.93

August 2011

0.00

September 2011

1930.16

October 2011

3469.17

November 2011

6725.15

December 2011

3029.73

January 2012

2800.84

Total

56458.19

The above figures represent prepared unsold food waste at cost value that cannot be reused or recycled. To put this into perspective, total food waste for the period above is 3.2 per cent of total food consumption. The highest proportion of food waste is from the cafeterias and self-service outlets.

Catering and retail services seek to reduce the amount of food waste generated through the use, where appropriate, of pre-prepared ingredients and careful menu management. Food waste is also controlled by reuse, and approximately 50 per cent of unsold prepared food products are either recycled through other outlets or reused (subject to food safety procedures).



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Unsold food waste is either bagged or passed through a commercial waste disposal unit which extracts most of the water content, resulting in a dry mass which is bagged. The food waste is currently disposed of as part of the mixed general waste stream. This waste is sent to a local facility where energy is generated from incineration. None of the food waste produced is sent to landfill.

For the future, work is now under way with Parliament's new waste management contractor to increase composting rates for food waste in preference to incineration.

House of Lords: Membership

Questions

Asked by Baroness Hayman

Lord Tebbit

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): It has been the practice for the Prime Minister of the day to determine nominations for life peerages.

House of Lords: Reform

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government have received no representations on House of Lords reform from the First Minister of Wales.



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Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The information requested is not available.

We are unable to accurately estimate the numbers moving out of, or into, the social rented sector as different claimants are likely to have different options available to them, and will respond in a variety of ways to the reforms proposed in the Welfare Reform Bill. Those affected by the under-occupation measure can continue to live in their current accommodation and make up any shortfall by other means, such as through employment or by using other income or savings. Alternatively they may decide to move to smaller accommodation which better reflects the size and composition of their household.

As with all new policies we plan to monitor and evaluate the effects of these changes.

The impact assessment, entitled Under-Occupation of Social Housing, provides information about the effect of the housing benefit change on different groups of claimants, and can be found at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/social-sector-housing-under-occupation-wr2011-ia.pdf.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Our view is that all providers of publicly funded health and social care services should consider themselves to be bound by the duty imposed by Section 6 of the Human Rights Act. While we accept that there are arguments on both sides, we think that there are good arguments that a court would find that the provision of publicly funded personal care at home is a function of a public nature.

Any amendment to the Human Rights Act in relation to third sector and private providers of home care, such as provision in the Health and Social Care Bill to specify explicitly that they are subject to the Section 6 duty, risks casting doubt on the interpretation of the Human Rights Act in other sectors. Each time specific provision is made with respect to a particular type of body, we weaken the applicability of the general test and raise doubt about all those bodies that have not been specified explicitly in the legislation.

The Government have established a commission to look at how human rights are protected in the United Kingdom to see if things can be done better and in a way that reflects our traditions. The commission is due to report by the end of this year.

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Since the start of 2007, the Government of the United Kingdom have requested that the following cases be referred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights:

Al Khawaja;

Al Saadoon and Mufdhi;

Clift;

Gillan and Quinton;

Greens and MT;

Sufi and Elmi; and

Tahery.

Since the start of 2007, the Government of the United Kingdom have intervened by way of written submissions in the following cases which were not brought against the United Kingdom:

Al Dulimi et Montana Management Inc v Switzerland;

El Haski v Belgium;

Nada v Switzerland;

Saadi v Italy;

Schalk and Kopf v Austria;

Scoppola v Italy;

Taxquet v Belgium;

TV Vest v Norway; and



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20 cases concerning planned deportations to Greece under the Dublin Convention, including four cases against Belgium and 14 cases against the Netherlands, and two cases against France.

In addition, since 2007, the UK has appeared at the oral hearings in:

MSS v Greece;

Saadi v Italy;

Nada v Switzerland; and

Scoppola v Italy.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) handed down the judgment in the case of Ruiz Zambrano (C-34/09) in March 2011. The Home Office is considering the implications of this judgment and its effect on the rights of third-country nationals with a dependent Union citizen and is in the process of finalising its policy, including possible changes to the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 ("the Regulations") that would be required in order to enable the issue of documentation on this basis.

Judgments handed down by the ECJ are binding on all member states and cannot be appealed.

India

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

Baroness Northover: The remarks made by the Indian Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, in a parliamentary debate in 2010 have been quoted out of context by the media and do not represent the Indian Government's current position. India's Finance Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry have issued statements making clear the value they attach to the development partnership with Britain.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft



27 Feb 2012 : Column WA278

Baroness Northover: The Government have substantially changed their programme to India since 2010. The current view of India's Ministry of External Affairs is set out in a statement of 8 February: "India appreciates co-operation extended by UK in a number of areas, which have contributed to India's overall development efforts, particularly through capacity building, exchange of best practices, knowledge sharing and sharing of technology and technical expertise. The bilateral co-operation between India and UK has been and remains mutually beneficial."

Institutional Investors: Voting Records

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The Financial Reporting Council's most recent assessment of the impact and implementation of the stewardship code confirmed that all signatories complied with the disclosure requirements, or explained why not. Last year's annual survey of Investment Management Association members on the stewardship code found that nearly two-thirds of respondents publicly disclosed voting information.

The Financial Reporting Council carries out an annual monitoring exercise on implementation of the stewardship code and as a result of last year's exercise it will be consulting on changes to strengthen the code later in the year.

Intelligence Services Act

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is the policy of successive Governments not to comment on security and intelligence matters.

Iran

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): United States Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, said in an interview on 8 January with CBS that Iran is laying the groundwork for making nuclear weapons in the future, but is not yet building a bomb. This is consistent with our position on the Iranian nuclear programme.

We and our E3+3 partners, including the United States, France, Germany, Russia and China, are seriously concerned by the continuing development of the Iranian nuclear programme. Iran claims its programme is peaceful. However, the November report from the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency raises serious questions about military dimensions to the programme. Furthermore, Iran continues to expand its capability to produce near 20 per cent enriched uranium at its previously clandestine facility at Qom. This work is on a scale that has no plausible civilian justification. These steps, taken together, bring Iran closer to possessing a nuclear weapons capability.

We and our partners are committed to a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, which is why, in line with the E3+3's dual track policy of pressure and engagement, we are increasing the pressure on Iran to return to the negotiating table.

Asked by Lord Judd

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government want a peaceful, negotiated solution to the Iran nuclear issue, not a military one. To this end, we are pursuing a dual-track strategy of engagement and pressure. This diplomatic strategy is about avoiding military outcomes to the situation. But all options should be kept on the table.

We regularly discuss Iran with our principal allies, including the United States. The dual-track strategy of pressure and engagement is agreed among the E3+3 nations (China, France, Germany, Russia, UK and the United States).

Iraq

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Throughout 2011, we continued to raise our opposition to the death penalty with the Iraqi Government at the highest levels. However, the recent number of executions in Iraq is deeply concerning, particularly amid reports

27 Feb 2012 : Column WA280

that so far in 2012, 65 executions have been carried out in Iraq. This brings the total number of executions in Iraq since November to 94. This is clearly a worrying trend, and our ambassador in Baghdad raised our concern with the Vice-President of Iraq on 30 January and with the Chief Justice on 8 February. We support the recent European Union statement calling for the Government of Iraq to introduce a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with a view to its eventual abolition.

Iraq: Camp Ashraf

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government welcome the ongoing efforts of United Nations (UN) Special Representative of the Secretary-General Martin Kobler to broker a peaceful solution to the situation at Camp Ashraf. We welcome the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Government of Iraq and the UN to allow for the voluntary transfer of some residents to Camp Liberty.

The one British citizen we were aware was in Camp Ashraf has left and returned to the UK. Of the five Iranian residents of Camp Ashraf with valid UK refugee travel documents, four have left Camp Ashraf and arrived in the UK. The fifth is free to return to the UK so long as the refugee travel document remains valid. The UK has agreed to consider further the cases of the approximately 50 residents with previous residence in the UK as refugees who do not have valid refugee travel documents, subject to UNHCR (the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) conducting an assessment of their refugee status. The UK has no plans to provide resettlement opportunities for other residents of Camp Ashraf or Camp Liberty.

Iraq: Camp Liberty

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) Human Rights Office and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have confirmed that the infrastructure and

27 Feb 2012 : Column WA281

facilities at Camp Liberty are in accordance with the international humanitarian standards stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Government of Iraq. Negotiations continue between the Government of Iraq and the leadership of Camp Ashraf over the logistics of the move of some residents from Camp Ashraf. The UK is unable to make a comparison of facilities at either location, since Camp Ashraf fell within the United States area of operations in 2003, and UK officials have not visited Camp Liberty. We continue to raise the issue of Camp Ashraf with the Government of Iraq and to press them to respect the human rights of the residents of Camp Ashraf. We also urge the residents and leadership of Camp Ashraf to engage constructively with the Government of Iraq and United Nations over the plan to voluntarily relocate some residents to Camp Liberty.

Israel

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We raise our concerns on East Jerusalem with Israel on a regular basis bilaterally and with our European Union partners. East Jerusalem is regarded as occupied territory under international law-we do not recognise Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem.

We continue to support international calls for restraint and the avoidance of provocative actions in and around Jerusalem. Attempts by Israel to alter the character or demography of East Jerusalem are unacceptable and extremely provocative.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: We raise our concerns on East Jerusalem with Israel on a regular basis bilaterally and with our European Union partners. East Jerusalem is regarded as occupied territory under international law-we do not recognise Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem.

We continue to support international calls for restraint and the avoidance of provocative actions in and around Jerusalem. Jerusalem holds particular

27 Feb 2012 : Column WA282

significance for many groups around the globe, especially the three Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Attempts by Israel to alter the character or demography of East Jerusalem are unacceptable and extremely provocative.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): We do not hold information on actual arms sales. However, information on arms exports is published in the annual and quarterly reports on strategic export controls. These reports contain detailed information on export licences issued, refused or revoked, by destination, including the overall value, type (e.g. military, other) and a summary of the items covered by these licences. They are available to view at: https://www.exportcontroldb.berr.gov.uk/eng/fox. Currently this includes information up to 30 September 2011. Information covering 1 October to 31 December 2011 will be published in April 2012 and information covering 1 January 2012 to 31 March 2012 will be published in July 2012.

The use of military equipment in destinations of concern is monitored by UK overseas posts, using a variety of information including local media and NGOs. Posts have standing instructions to report misuse of UK-origin defence equipment. Overseas posts are regularly asked to check the accuracy of the information contained in the end-user documentation submitted in support of the application. Should this assessment identify an unacceptable risk, the application will not be approved.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

Lord Howell of Guildford: We have made it clear to Israel on a number of occasions that demolitions of homes and other property in occupied territory are in direct contravention of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. We will continue to lobby the Israeli Government, bilaterally and with European Union partners, on the issue of demolitions and related human rights concerns. We have not taken direct action on this specific issue.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Government are committed to upholding accountability for allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law that have arisen from conflicts in the region through full, fair and impartial investigations by the parties.

The report by the Human Rights Council fact-finding mission on Gaza (Goldstone report) raises very serious concerns about the conduct of both Israel and Hamas during the Gaza conflict. It is vital that each of the parties involved-Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority-addresses the allegations made against them.

The Israeli authorities carried out an investigation and reported on "The Operation in Gaza" in July 2009. This was updated in January 2010 and again in July 2010. This included investigating the use of white phosphorus munitions and flechettes.

We will continue to raise our concerns as appropriate and follow the progress of investigations closely.

Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We regularly raise with the Israeli authorities their obligations under international law.

While our officials in Israel are aware of these allegations, our lobbying of the Israeli Government focuses on the most urgent issues including those which pose the greatest threat to a two-state solution, to the continuation of the peace process or to the lives of ordinary Palestinians. This specific issue has not been raised with the Israeli authorities.

The UK continues to promote a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a final status agreement that will ensure a just arrangement on resources.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: I can assure the noble Lord that the UK, along with European Union (EU) partners, continues regularly to raise our concerns with the Israeli Government about the application of due process and the treatment of Palestinian detainees.



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), discussed the treatment of prisoners most recently with Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon on 18 January 2012, including the issue of child detainees, as well as with the Israeli ambassador to London.

The Government of Israel have reaffirmed to us their commitment to treating prisoners in line with international human rights standards. The UK will continue to monitor the situation with regard to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and to encourage the Government of Israel to meet their stated commitments.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Howell of Guildford: EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, as of 21 February, have not received a response from the Government of Israel in reply to their statement on the detention of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. We continue to monitor the situation and to raise this issue as appropriate.

Justice and Security

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government intend to publish the responses to the public consultation on the Green Paper on justice and security from all those respondents who have given their consent, allowing for necessary redactions in the interests of national security and data protection. Responses are currently being published at: http://consultation.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/ justiceandsecurity/responses-to-the-consultation.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill



27 Feb 2012 : Column WA285

Lord McNally: The Government do intend to publish the fullest possible list of respondents to the public consultation on the Green Paper on Justice and Security. However, a small number of responses were submitted in confidence and the Government are duty bound to respect such requests. The Government will publish a summary of all responses received in due course.

Justice: Pardons

Question

Asked by Lord Sharkey

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Since 1982 there have been a total of 698 pardons granted. Details of the numbers granted each year are given below. We do not hold detailed information about the categories of offences for which pardons were granted, and this could only be collected at disproportionate cost.

1982

84

1983

143

1984

60

1985

98

1986

28

1987

41

1988

39

1989

50

1990

51

1991

37

1992

19

1993

22

1994

12

1995

12

1996

1

1997 to date

I

Kazakhstan

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The Government encourage the Government of Kazakhstan to adopt policies that improve the business climate and which support UK investors and will continue to work with Kazakhstan towards this end. The UK supports Kazakhstan's accession to the WTO and recognises that it remains a foreign policy priority. Eventual accession should contribute to a more predictable business environment.



27 Feb 2012 : Column WA286

UKTI also supports high level contact between UK business and the Kazakh Government. This is sustained through the Kazakh-British Trade and Industry Council (KBTIC), whose priorities include promoting good corporate governance. The last annual meeting took place in Astana in September 2011.

Khader Adnan Mohammad Musa

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The condition of Mr Khader Adnan Mohammed Musa, currently on hunger strike while held in administrative detention by the Israeli authorities, remains of concern to the UK.

Our officials in Tel Aviv discussed the issue on 16 February with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressing our concerns, as well as with the office of the Israeli National Security Adviser and the Israeli Prison Service.

The UK supports the position of the EU, as set out in the statement by the spokesperson of the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, on 17 February 2012:

"The High Representative is following with great concern reports about the deteriorating health condition of Khader Adnan, a Palestinian held in administrative detention in Israel and who has been on hunger strike since mid-December.

The High Representative requests the Government of Israel to do all it can to preserve the health of Mr Adnan in its continuing handling of this case.

The High Representative reiterates the EU's longstanding concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge. Detainees have the right to be informed about the charges underlying any detention and be subject to a fair trial."

The UK continues to encourage the Israeli Government to comply with their obligations under international law, including in their policies on detention and the treatment of Palestinian prisoners. The UK is working closely with EU partners to consider further action as appropriate.



27 Feb 2012 : Column WA287

Lamb Inquiry: Special Educational Needs

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government announced a wide ranging review of SEN and disability in September 2010 and at that time it said that the Lamb inquiry's recommendations would be considered as part of that. Support and Aspiration, the Government's SEN and Disability Green Paper, published in March 2011 recognised the findings of the Lamb inquiry. The majority of the inquiry's 51 recommendations made in December 2009 have already been implemented, or have informed the proposals set out in the Green Paper. Notably, the Achievement for All programme, which has led to significant improvements in academic and other outcomes for pupils with SEN, has been expanded and is now available to any school that wants it; information for parents will be improved through our proposed local offer for families to clarify what support is available and from whom; and by 2014, children and young people aged from birth to 25 who would currently have a statement of SEN or learning difficulty assessment will have a single assessment process and education, health and care plan for their support. The Government's response to the consultation on our proposed reforms will be published shortly.

Legal Aid

Questions

Asked by Lord Newton of Braintree

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The impact assessments published alongside the response to consultation represent Government's best estimates as to costs and benefits on the basis of the available evidence. Government intend to publish a revised impact assessment after the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill receives Royal Assent, which will take into account any changes to the Bill following the parliamentary process. There is no intention to publish any revised impact assessment before that point.

Asked by Lord Newton of Braintree

Lord McNally: The impact assessments published alongside the response to consultation represent Government's best estimates as to costs and benefits on the basis of the available evidence. However, these did not specify individual impacts on particular bodies. Extensive discussions were held with other government departments as part of the policy development and clearance processes, and these included systemic costs. Ultimately, costs arising will depend on behavioural responses to the changes, and these cannot be predicted accurately. The Government are committed to assessing the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill and will undertake a post-implementation review of the reforms in due course.

Maldives

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), said in the other place on 9 February, we are concerned about events in Maldives (House of Commons Official Report, cols. 509-10). It is for the new leadership to establish its legitimacy with its own people and with the international community, with an independent review of the circumstances leading to the transfer of power.

We call on the new leadership to demonstrate its respect for the rights of all political parties and their members, and to ensure that the constitution is upheld. The UK is a strong supporter of Maldives' democratic reform process and it is vital that this is preserved.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), said in the other place on 9 February, we are concerned about events in Maldives, in particular reports of attacks on members and supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (House of Commons Official Report, cols. 509-10).



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The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), has spoken to former President Nasheed on a number of occasions, most recently on 10 February, when he confirmed he was safe. We understand that he remains at liberty and has access to the media. We have called for calm from both sides and expressed clearly to current President Waheed that Nasheed and his supporters must enjoy safety and security. Our high commissioner has also raised the matter with the police commissioner and Maldivian Defence Ministry.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to his other question, HL 15618.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Howell of Guildford: Ministers and officials have held a number of discussions with international partners, including European Union (EU) institutions and member states, the Commonwealth Secretary-General and members of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth member states, the United States, the United Nations and India, which is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation. An EU heads of mission delegation visited Maldives from 13-15 February and a Commonwealth ministerial action group fact-finding mission will visit shortly.

I met with the former high commissioner to the UK on 14 February.

Asked by Lord Luce

Lord Howell of Guildford: Since the resignation of President Nasheed on 7 February, we have discussed Maldives with the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Commonwealth Secretariat and some Commonwealth member states. The Commonwealth is playing an active role. In line with the Commonwealth Ministerial Action

27 Feb 2012 : Column WA290

Group (CMAG) reforms adopted in Perth, CMAG has discussed the situation and deployed a fact-finding mission to Maldives on 17 February.

National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence

Question

Asked by Lord Boswell of Aynho

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information requested is not held by the department. I have asked the chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to write to the noble Lord with this information. A copy will be placed in the Library.

National Loan Guarantee Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The National Loan Guarantee Scheme aims to offset tightening credit conditions for smaller firms in the UK by reducing the cost of loans. Uncertainty in the financial markets has put pressure on the cost and availability of credit, with smaller businesses being particularly affected. By contrast, the aim of the European Central Bank's long-term refinancing operations is to provide longer-term refinancing for banks located in the euro area.

National Security

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): On 1 February 2012, the Government published the White Paper

27 Feb 2012 : Column WA291

National Security Through Technology (CM 8278), which sets out how we will procure technology, equipment and support to meet the UK's defence and security needs. Section 3.1 emphasises how we will take action to protect the UK's operational advantage and freedom of action where this is deemed essential for our national security.

NHS: Commissioning Groups

Questions

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Each emerging clinical commissioning group (CCG) was recently invited by their strategic health authority cluster in November 2011 to participate in an initial risk assessment of their proposed configuration (including the likely impact of their size and their composition) in order to understand whether they are likely to meet criteria defined in the Health and Social Care Bill. We expect emerging CCGs to continue to work with their local primary care trust clusters on these arrangements in preparation for becoming statutory bodies.


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