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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of recent reports that sex-selection abortions are taking place in the United Kingdom, they will establish an independent audit of all the authorisation forms connected with abortion provision in each private abortion provider for the past five years to determine whether any irregularities and criminal activity have occurred.[HL15911]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of recent reports regarding sex-selection abortions taking place in the United Kingdom, they will issue warnings to private clinics that such instances will be referred to the police for investigation and possible prosecution.[HL15912]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The allegations of sex-selection abortions are being taken very seriously by the department. All abortions must meet the requirements of the Abortion Act 1967. The department has written to the relevant police forces and the General Medical Council which is undertaking investigations. The Care Quality Commission is undertaking a review and the Nursing and Midwifery Council has also been informed. Officials are also investigating the specific hospitals and clinics against which allegations have been made. On 23 February, the Chief Medical Officer wrote to all private sector and independent clinics, National Health Service organisations and medical directors to remind them of their duties and responsibilities in relation to the Abortion Act. A copy of this letter has been placed in the Library.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 16 January (WA 112), when the European Union Commission ruled out the option of an intra-Community trade ban on eggs produced outwith the European Union welfare of laying hens directive; what is the text of the strong warnings given to member states seeking to introduce a unilateral ban; what infraction proceedings against the United Kingdom would consist of if unilateral action was taken; and how soon they might commence. [HL15763]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Throughout the latter part of 2011, the Commission repeatedly stated at meetings held in Brussels that an intra-community trade ban was not legally possible. This was raised by the Commission at the meeting of the Agriculture Council in October and subsequent meetings of the Minister's Sherpa held with Defra officials. Commissioner Dalli also wrote to my right honourable friend the Minister of State on 10 January 2012 and confirmed once again that unilateral measures adopted by member states at borders would not be tolerated.
Under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, if the Commission considers that a member state has failed to fulfil an obligation under the treaties, it shall deliver a reasoned opinion on the matter after giving the state concerned the opportunity to submit its observations. If the state concerned does not comply with the opinion within the period laid down by the Commission (usually two months), the latter may bring the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union. The timing for a matter to be brought before the Court will depend on many factors, including the seriousness of the breach and the complexity of the case.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave on 10 November 2011 [HL 13195]. Countries other than South Sudan have expressed an interest informally in joining the Commonwealth, or in a closer association with accredited bodies of the Commonwealth, but have made no public commitment.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): This is an informal working group which first met in November 2006 to consider what might be done to simplify the application forms for the grant or renewal of a firearm and/or shotgun certificate and the variation of a firearm certificate.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware of a recent confidential report by the European consuls in Jerusalem and Ramallah raising the issue of the "forced expulsion" of Palestinians from Area C of the West Bank; and, if so, what assessment they have made of that report; and whether they have plans to act on its contents. [HL15921]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The document that the noble Baroness refers to is an internal report by the European Union Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, which is under consideration in Brussels. It is government policy not to comment on leaked documents.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Romanian and Bulgarian nationals have migrated to the United Kingdom since those countries acceded to the European Union; what estimates they have made of the impact on the numbers of Romanian
5 Mar 2012 : Column WA394
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Estimates based on the Annual Population Survey suggest that the Bulgarian and Romanian-born population resident in the United Kingdom increased from 34,000 in 2006 to 132,000 in 2010, the last year for which Annual Population Survey statistics are currently available. The number of national insurance number registrations for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals between January 2007 and September 2011 was 168,360.
It would not be sensible for the Government to predict numbers of arrivals after 2013 given that other member states will also have to lift their existing restrictions at that point, but the Government will assess the possible impact on public services of any potential changes in migration levels from Bulgaria and Romania.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Equality and diversity in policing are vitally important. To fight crime successfully, the law needs to be applied even-handedly and with real understanding of the needs of all our communities. Progress has been made on equality and diversity in policing: satisfaction and confidence figures are now the same for black and minority ethnic (BME) communities as they are for white communities, more women and members of ethnic minorities have joined the service, and we have a strong legal framework that supports equality. However, it is essential that more and faster progress is made.
All data have been taken from Police Service Strength-Home Office Statistical Bulletins available at:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk.
|Table 1: Minority Ethnic Police Officer Strength (FTE)
|Number of minority ethnic police officers in post*
|Total number of police officers in post
|Minority ethnic officers as a proportion of all officers
|Table 2: Minority Ethnic Police Community Support Officer Strength (FTE)
|Number of minority Ethnic PCSOs in post
|Total number of PCSOs
|Minority ethnic PCSOs as a proportion of all PCSOs
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the terms of reference and membership of the Strategy Task Force announced in UK Trade and Investment's five-year strategy Britain Open for Business: Growth Through International Trade and Investment. [HL15925]
The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The Strategy Task Force announced in UKTI's five-year strategy is called the Strategic Advisory Group and met for the first time in November, 2011.
The group meets quarterly to provide high-level advice to the Minister for Trade and Investment, and the chief executive officers of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and UK Export Finance (UKEF), on critical issues facing UK businesses and on the delivery of the Government's trade and investment strategy.
The group provides a forum to debate the concerns and priorities facing business in relation to international trade and investment. To facilitate an open and fruitful dialogue, discussions are informal and participants give their views on a personal rather than a corporate basis. Members do not receive any remuneration.
Professor Malcolm Grant, CBE, is a barrister, environmental lawyer, academic and public servant. He took up the post of president and provost, the principal academic and administrative officer of UCL, in 2003.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect the Strategy Task Force announced in UK Trade and Investment's five-year strategy Britain Open for Business: Growth Through International Trade and Investment to deliver its final report. [HL15926]
The group meets quarterly to provide high level advice to the Minister for Trade and Investment, and the chief executive officers of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and UK Export Finance (UKEF), on critical issues facing UK businesses and on the delivery of the Government's trade and investment strategy.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in line with UK Trade & Investment's commitment to enhance its evaluation mechanism to focus more on assessing the impact and value for money of its programmes, they will establish an independent commission for trade impact with a similar remit
5 Mar 2012 : Column WA397
Evaluation of the impact and value for money of UKTI trade services is carried out by a range of high-quality independent research organisations. The procedures for conducting this evaluation research include independent peer review by academic experts. Evaluation results can be found at www.ukti.gov.uk/uktihome/aboutukti/ourperformance.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint on 29 November 2011 (WA 65-6), how much funding they provide to their private sector partners, such as the China-Britain Business Council, the UK-India Business Council, and the UK-ASEAN Business Council.[HL16016]
Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint: UKTI provides annual grant funding to the China-Britain Business Council and UK-India Business Council to assist UK companies in doing or seeking to do business in China and India. In 2010-11 UKTI agreed grants of £1.89 million for the China-Britain Business Council and £1 million for the UK-India Business Council.
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