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To ask Her Majesty's Government how many cases the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service have allocated to self-employed practitioners in each quarter since the first quarter of 2007.[HL15980]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Department for Education does not hold this information but I have asked the chief executive of CAFCASS to reply. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
HL15980 Lord Wills: To ask Her Majesty's Government how many cases the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service have allocated to self-employed practitioners in each quarter since the first quarter of 2007.
|Number of cases allocated to self employed contractors|
1. Figures in the above table are provided from the CAFCASS national case management system (CMS) The unit of measurement is a case, upon its receipt by CAFCASS from the Court and its entry into CMS. A case can have multiple
12 Mar 2012 : Column WA2
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have carried out an environmental impact assessment of the extraction of peat for horticultural use. [HL15566]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Defra does not carry out environmental impact assessments of peat extraction sites. The developer is responsible for providing an environmental statement for the local planning authority for mineral extraction activities such as peat extraction as part of the planning application process, where it is applicable, under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of how many farmers will not be able to submit their single farm payment claims online, as required after April 2012; and what arrangements have been put in place to address this situation.[HL16084]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The option for farmers and agents to make online applications under the single payment scheme (SPS) has been available for the past few years and over 30,000 did so successfully under the 2011 scheme. This online option will be available again in 2012 alongside the ability for farmers to send a paper application.
Given the benefits for both farmers and taxpayers the Government will continue, in line with the digital by default initiative, to encourage take up of the online option under the 2012 scheme and future years. As part of that work, consideration will be given to any barriers that might be preventing farmers from applying on-line and what might be done to overcome these; eg, additional advice and support. That will also help to inform decisions on what the requirements might be for the successor schemes to the SPS which are currently under negotiations in Brussels.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 27 February (WA 192-3), whether a list of enhancements required to allow the deployment of Tornado aircraft in place of Harriers to Kandahar was ever produced, or whether Tornadoes were deployed to Kandahar without any airfield modifications.[HL16069]
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 or modifications related solely to Tornado.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Force generation factors are applied when planning the frigate and destroyer force structure and these take into account the nature, location and duration of tasks and commitments. I am withholding further information as its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness and security of our Armed Forces.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, during the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the National Security Council discussed with the Ministry of Defence whether 19 destroyers and frigates were able to meet the United Kingdom's requirements for directed naval tasks, possible contingencies and attrition.[HL16065]
Lord Astor of Hever: The National Security Council and the Defence Strategy Group (chaired by the then Secretary of State for Defence) discussed the size of the frigate and destroyer force on several occasions. The Strategic Defence and Security Review concluded that a fleet of 19 would allow the Royal Navy to deliver military flexibility across the variety of operations envisaged by the endorsed adaptable strategic posture.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Military activity is by nature hazardous and the possibility that ships or other maritime assets will be lost on operations cannot be avoided completely. Ship design, capability, training and doctrine all play a part in maximising operational effectiveness and ship survivability.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review the steps necessary to address any investor uncertainty about client money rules as they apply to investment accounts operated through United Kingdom regulated institutions, and in particular how clients can establish the precise creditor standing of such accounts.[HL16126]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Issues concerning the operation and effectiveness of client money rules are a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The FSA has committed to review whether further changes to the regime are required following the lessons learnt from ongoing insolvencies and from the recent judgment of the Lehman Brothers International (Europe) client money Supreme Court appeal.
Baroness Garden of Frognal: Under the terms of the BBC agreement, the BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output. The BBC is accountable to the BBC Trust on these matters. The BBC is operationally and editorially independent of Government and there is no provision for Government to intervene in the BBC's day-to-day activities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of welfare benefit cases finalised under a legal services contract were (1) appeal cases, or (2) revision cases; and, of those, how many of the appeal cases and revision cases respectively involved disabled people.[HL15934]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of welfare benefit cases finalised under a legal services contract were appeal cases; and, of those, how many were (1) appeals in relation to employment and support allowance; (2) appeals in relation to jobseeker's allowance; (3) appeals in relation to incapacity benefit; and (4) appeals in relation to disability living allowance.[HL15935]
To ask her majesty's Government what proportion of welfare benefit cases finalised under a legal services contract were revision cases; of those, how many were (1) revisions in relation to employment and support allowance; (2) appeals in relation to jobseeker's allowance; (3) appeals in relation to incapacity benefit; and (4) appeals in relation to disability living allowance.[HL15936]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Legal Services Commission (LSC) does not record the category of benefit contested in welfare benefit cases where a legal aid certificate has been issued. In 2010-11, 10% of welfare benefit cases that concluded under a legal aid certificate were appeal cases, and, of these, 40% involved disabled people. However, there is no requirement for funded clients to disclose whether they have a disability, and, as such, the information provided in relation to disabled clients represents only those clients who choose to disclose that they had a disability.
In welfare benefit cases where no legal aid certificate had been issued 38.8% were appeal cases (including appeals to the social security commission), and 8% were revision cases. The following table provides a breakdown of the category of benefit for which the advice was sought.
It is, however, possible that matters funded under legal help in welfare benefits under matter codes other than appeals and revisions, such as, benefit over payments, for example, could also result in a revision or appeal. Therefore, the proportion of revisions and appeals funded under legal aid could be greater than stated here.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many appeals have been lodged as a result of incapacity benefit reassessments since October 2010; and, of those how many (1) are still pending before the tribunal, and (2) have been overturned in favour of the claimant.[HL15937]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department plans to publish official statistics on appeals lodged against incapacity benefit reassessment decisions and their outcomes. They will be released when the data are available and have been fully quality assured.
Baroness Northover: I refer the noble Baroness to my answer of 29 November 2011 (WA 40), which explains that the Building Stability Overseas Strategy's early warning system is underpinned by a range of internal government reporting. This same reporting and analysis is used to inform the Government's watchlist of fragile states, which means that neither the names nor the number of countries on the list can be published.
Baroness Northover: The UK Government do not directly fund the International Labour Organisation Office (ILO) in Burma. Following the Multilateral Aid Review, the Department for International Development has ended voluntary core funding to the ILO.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK supports training in a number of areas for police forces in the Caribbean as part of our Governance and Security Programme. We ensure that, where possible, human rights training forms part of the basic foundation of these programmes and if UK trainers are used then human rights will almost always be included. Where the UK funds external contractors or local programmes we strongly encourage training on human rights but cannot always guarantee its inclusion.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what efforts they are making to encourage China to abide by its responsibilities under the 1951 Refugee Convention with respect to repatriation of North Korean refugees, and to encourage China to ensure safe passage of North Korean refugees through China to South Korea.[HL15998]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We monitor this issue closely. We have raised our concerns about the treatment of North Korean nationals upon repatriation with the Chinese Government on a number of occasions, and urged them to allow access by the relevant United Nations (UN) organisations to North Korean citizens in China. We raised this issue with the Chinese Government at the 19th round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in January 2011. In May 2010, following representations made by our embassy officials and the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Beijing, a family of four North Korean citizens were granted exit visas and allowed to leave China for a third country they had chosen.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the success rates for race and religion discrimination claimants, who have had full hearings at employment tribunals over the last four years; and what action is proposed to improve success rates.[HL15964]
Baroness Verma: The Ministry of Justice publishes statistics about the work of all tribunals run by HM Courts and Tribunals Service quarterly and annually. These include discrimination claims. Employment tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunals statistics can be found at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/tribunals/employment-tribunal-and-eat-statistics-gb.
On 23 November 2011, the Government announced their intention to proceed with our early conciliation proposal. We will introduce the requirement for all potential claimants to lodge their claim with Acas, allowing Acas to offer conciliation. This will be the first part of the employment tribunal process.
A key intention of this reform is to help parties avoid the employment tribunal process and to focus the work of tribunals more closely on those cases, including race and religion or belief discrimination claims, where a judicial determination is really necessary.
Baroness Verma: Although parties are of course free to engage legal representation if they wish, it is not necessary to do so. Employment tribunals were conceived as a quicker, cheaper and more accessible means of resolving employment disputes than ordinary courts. Their procedures have therefore been framed in such a way that parties may represent themselves, and many do so successfully.
On 23 November 2011, the Government announced their intention to proceed with our early conciliation proposal. We will introduce the requirement for all potential claimants to lodge their claim with Acas, allowing Acas to offer conciliation. This will give individuals an opportunity to resolve their dispute without incurring the costs, including representation costs, of the employment tribunal system. It will provide access to advice on points of law relevant to their claim, and help individuals to get a better understanding about how the employment tribunal system operates. This will be implemented through primary legislation, when parliamentary time allows.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answers by Lord Marland on 7 July 2011 (Official Report, col. 347-9) and the Written Answer by Lord Marland on 24 May 2011 (WA 406-7) in which he stated that the Secretary of State had asked the National Nuclear Laboratory to conduct analysis and "we are expecting the findings of this study to be available by the end of the summer",
12 Mar 2012 : Column WA9
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The completion of the report was delayed from the original expected delivery date, as the NNL resources originally assigned to completing this report were required to advise the Government on the consequences of the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in Japan, in 2011.
We expect to receive a final version of the report later this month, which will be published in electronic form via the DECC website, while electronic copies will be available in the Libraries of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will bring into effect the power conferred by the Equality Act 2010 to make age discrimination unlawful in providing goods, services and facilities, including health care, to the public.[HL15973]
Baroness Verma: Following a public consultation last year, we are still considering the scope for and content of exceptions from any age discrimination ban and will announce how we intend to proceed in due course.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are concerned about the illegal jamming of global positioning systems; and, if so, what action they are taking to prevent this in the United Kingdom. [HL15963]
Baroness Rawlings: Ofcom as the independent regulator is responsible for dealing with interference to signals, under the Wireless Telegraphy Act. Officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are working closely with Ofcom to ensure that Ofcom has appropriate powers to deal with any interference.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will measure performance against the Charter for Business commitments through a combination of three separate performance assessments:our posts overseas will be asked to report performance against objectives in their annual business plan returns in April 2012;in late spring 2012, the FCO will invite specific feedback from business on our performance against the FCO Charter; andwe will use published trade and investment statistics to assess performance against bilateral trade targets.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the management structure of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and each of its agencies; how many managers are at each level in each body; and what is the cost per year of their salaries and expenses.[HL16042]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The link below provides information on the management structure of Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)*. Although the data are at 30 September 2011, the structure remains the same.http://reference.data.gov.uk/gov-structure/organogram/?dept=bis&post=SCS4-09http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/data/scs-pay-data-2011-09-30.csvhttp://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/data/junior-grades-pay-data-2011-09-30.csv
In 2011 BIS adopted a new structural framework known as confident teams. This means that line management responsibility begins at the grade 7 level. There are 659 grade 7s and 295 grade 6s in BIS (as at 29 February 2012), however not all of these will have line management responsibility.
|Grade||Average cost per year (salaries and on costs)||Budget allocation for expenses/training|
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): To the best of its knowledge and following consultation with central business areas, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirms that no speeding fines have been paid on behalf of staff engaged on official duties since the formation of HMRC in April 2005.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken to support United Kingdom companies, or companies with a United Kingdom workforce, to obtain a larger percentage of government contracts.[HL16077]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: For too long government held UK businesses at arm's length and did business in a way that disadvantaged domestic firms, damaging growth and jobs in this country. By over-interpreting EU law and overreacting to fears of bias in favour of British suppliers previous administrations caused a situation whereby the UK awarded 3% of public procurement by value to foreign suppliers, compared to 1.9% in Germany and 1.5% in France (according to a study in 2010). This has ended. The Cabinet Office is giving businesses an unprecedented view into the Government's expected future procurement requirements which will help build the confidence to invest in plants, machinery and people. We are using the huge purchasing power of government to boost growth and actively shape the UK market for the long term.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what would be the additional cost incurred by paying all unpaid Commons Ministers the current ministerial salary rates, compared with them receiving only the current Member of Parliament's salary rate.[HL16007]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current cost incurred by paying current ministerial salaries to House of Commons Ministers, as opposed to those Ministers receiving only the current Member of Parliament's salary.[HL16008]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what would be the additional cost incurred by paying all unpaid Lords Ministers the current ministerial salary rates, as opposed to them receiving only their attendance allowances, assuming that they attend 149 sitting days per year (the average for the past five years).[HL16009]
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current cost incurred by paying ministerial salaries to House of Lords Ministers as opposed to those Ministers receiving only attendance allowances, assuming that they attend 149 sitting days per year (the average for the past five years).[HL16010]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: There are currently 108 paid Ministers and 13 unpaid Ministers in the Government. The total ministerial salary cost for these paid individuals is approximately £4.5 million per year: this breaks down as a £3.5 million cost for Commons Ministers and £1 million cost for Lords Ministers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will respond to the recommendations of the Department for Education's Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Education Stakeholder Group, and in particular to the recommendation that the pupil premium formula should be adjusted to include Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils, whether or not they receive free school meals.[HL16011]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Latest figures suggest that 37 per cent of Gypsy/Roma pupils and 62 per cent of Traveller pupils already qualify for the pupil premium through their eligibility for free school meals. These numbers will rise from April 2012, when the premium will be extended to all pupils who have ever been eligible for free school meals during the past six years, whether or not they currently qualify.
Although we recognise that the level of educational attainment for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils is generally very low, we are keen to keep the premium as simple as possible and firmly focused on those pupils who are eligible for free school meals.
To ask the Chairman of Committees what are the additional energy costs incurred when one House of Parliament sits and the other House is in recess over the costs incurred when both Houses are in recess.[HL16034]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): It is not possible to calculate the total energy costs of the Palace for a particular week in the past. Later this year, automatic meter readers will be installed which will allow additional data to be collected in the future. This would allow the total energy costs for the Palace to be calculated for a particular week, although not by House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to mark the tenth anniversary of the Gujarat violence in India, and the first anniversary of the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistan; if so, how; and whether they will press the Governments of India and Pakistan to ensure that all people responsible for those crimes are brought to justice. [HL15909]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are aware that it is the tenth anniversary of the Gujarat violence. We are not planning any activities to mark the anniversary, but continue to follow the legal process closely and recognise the need to secure justice for all of the victims and their families. We have raised the case of the British nationals killed in the violence with the Government of India, and continue to liaise with the authorities on this issue.
The assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti last year was an appalling and cowardly act, striking at the heart of democracy and freedom of expression in Pakistan. We do not plan to mark the anniversary of Mr Bhatti's murder publicly, but we remain committed to the enhancement of freedom of religion and belief in Pakistan, and regularly engage with the Government of Pakistan on these issues. It is vital that Pakistan guarantees the rights of all its citizens, regardless of their faith or ethnicity. Alongside our European Union partners, we will continue to intervene on human rights issues in Pakistan where we believe we can make a positive difference.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the opinion stated by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that the imprisonment of Filep Karma constitutes a breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and whether they will raise the issue with the Government of Indonesia.[HL16033]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is an independent special procedure of the United Nations Human Rights Council
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Baroness Northover: Securing global agreement on a plan to update the millennium development goals (MDGs) in 2015 is a major priority for the coalition Government. A new set of goals will need to draw on the lessons learnt from global efforts to achieve the current MDGs. It should retain the simplicity of the current goals, build on the progress achieved so far, and intensify the political imperative to focus on poverty reduction, reflecting the challenges and opportunities that we face in a world that has changed dramatically since 2000.
The UK will play an important role guiding and shaping the international discussions to reflect what we know about achieving results in the fight against world poverty. We will help others to understand the choices and trade offs between different areas of inclusion, to ensure we agree collectively a limited set of goals to focus resources and policy change where they are needed most. The upcoming forthcoming Rio + 20 Conference on Sustainable Development, with its proposal to consider the value of sustainable development goals (SDGs), will be a useful moment in the process of working towards a new global agreement. We would welcome a broader engagement by all parties, the UK public, the private sector and others to help us define the international development agenda for the next generation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they have raised with the Government of Iraq access in that country to fair reviews and justice for those in administrative detention, held without charge or brought before a military court.[HL15897]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We continue to have serious concerns about the administration of justice and the rule of law in Iraq, including the issue of lengthy pre-trial detention. We have repeatedly
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what evaluation they have made of the importance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a holy site for Muslims; and what assessment they have made of the reported movements by the Israeli forces on Friday 24 February on the roof top of the mosque.[HL16100]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Jerusalem and the holy sites in the city hold particular significance for many groups around the globe, especially the three Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. We continue to have concerns about Israeli actions in East Jerusalem, which we consider to be occupied territory.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel concerning the judgment of the Israeli High Court on 26 December 2011 to allow 11 Israeli companies to quarry stone in Area C of the West Bank, and its compliance with Article 55 of the 1907 Hague Convention.[HL16101]
Lord Howell of Guildford: In the week ending 23 February, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) raised with the Israeli ambassador our concerns on Israel's extensive use of administrative detention, including the continued detention of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, on child detainees and on demolition orders in Silwan. Our officials in Tel Aviv raised concerns with the Israeli authorities over the use of administrative detention, the treatment of Khader Adnan, and demolition orders in Silwan.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what impact the statement on 20 February by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, will have on government policy, and in particular his statement that "on the basis of the information that I have received, the treatment to which Mr Adnan has been subjected while under detention amounts to torture and cruel and degrading treatment as these terms are used and understood in relation to the Convention Against Torture, a treaty widely ratified, including by Israel".[HL15916]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government welcome Richard Falk's 20 February statement. We absolutely condemn any abuse of human rights and take all allegations of human rights abuses extremely seriously. We continue regularly to raise with the Israeli authorities our serious concerns about the human rights situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. More details can be found at: http://fcohrdreport.readandcomment.com/human-rights-in-countries-of-concern/israel-and-the-opts/
The Government followed very closely the situation of Mr Khader Adnan. Our officials in Tel Aviv raised our concerns about Mr Adnan on 16 February with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as with the office of the Israeli National Security Adviser and the Israeli Prison Service. The European Union High Representative issued a statement on his case, on behalf of all member states, on 17 February.
We were pleased that an agreement was reached on 21 February which allowed for Khader Adnan to end his hunger strike. We will continue to encourage the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law, including in their policies on detention and the treatment of Palestinian prisoners. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) raised Israel's extensive use of administrative detention with the Israeli Ambassador to London on 23 February and the Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister on 27 February.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they and the quartet are making representations to the Government of Israel about official registration of land at Atarot in east Jerusalem as municipal. [HL16055]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We consider east Jerusalem, to be occupied territory. Beyond the evictions of Palestinians and demolition of Palestinian property, our concerns include: the construction of illegal Israeli settlements; the removal of residency rights from Palestinians; possible unilateral changes to the municipal borders; and severe difficulties of access to Jerusalem for Palestinians from the West Bank, or even for those residents of Jerusalem who live beyond the separation barrier.
We will continue to make clear these concerns to the Israel authorities and the Municipality of Jerusalem, both bilaterally and in co-operation with our European Union partners. We are in touch with the Office of the Quartet Representative on this issue.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will invite the Government of Israel to return the equipment confiscated by Israel from Al Wattan and Al-Quds educational television stations in the Palestinian West Bank; and whether they will encourage the resolution of any subsequent technical issues concerning transmission.[HL16086]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We have raised our concerns with the Israeli authorities about the operation of Israeli Defence Force and other Israeli officials in areas in the West Bank under the nominal control of the Palestinian Authority.
"The High Representative is deeply concerned by the incursion into Ramallah by Israeli security forces to seize equipment from the Palestinian television stations, Wattan TV and Al-Quds Educational TV. Incursions by Israeli forces into Palestinian cities where the Palestinian Authority, under the Oslo Accords, assumes the powers and responsibilities for internal security and public order is a breach of those accords and puts in jeopardy the internationally recognized success of Palestinian institution building efforts.
The European Union has worked with both stations, which have been broadcasting for many years. The Oslo Accords established an Israeli-Palestinian Joint Technical Committee to address any issues arising in the telecommunications field. The High Representative calls on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to use this mechanism to urgently resolve any issues concerning broadcasts by these companies".
We have not specifically asked for the equipment that was confiscated to be returned. EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem are considering with the local authorities possible ways of resolving the situation.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role of the quartet, and of Tony Blair as its leader, in negotiating a Middle East peace process; and what is the cost of maintaining an office for this purpose.[HL16103]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The quartet has an important role to play in bringing Israelis and Palestinians together as we seek to restart negotiations on a two state solution. The UK works closely with Tony Blair, as the quartet's special representative, who continues to play a key role in this.
We welcome, as a positive development, the recent direct talks facilitated by King Abdullah of Jordan and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh under the framework of the quartet statement of 23 September.
The Government have been seconding three members of staff to work in the Office of the Quartet Representative since 2007. Two members of staff are funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and one by the Department for International Development (DfID). In 2007-08, DfID provided £400,000 for running costs. Since then the Government have not provided any further financial contributions to the office of the quartet, other than the staff mentioned above.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they and the quartet are making representations to the Government of Israel about preliminary approval for 600 new homes in the West Bank near Shiloh. [HL16054]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt), most recently raised our concerns over settlement building with the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister on 27 February. Our ambassador and officials in Tel Aviv have also raised our concerns on these issues recently with the Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (1) old, and (2) new, £50 notes are currently in circulation; when they plan to withdraw the old notes; and what guidance and rules have been issued to high-street banks on changing the old notes for new notes.[HL16129]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Bank of England estimates that, on 24 February 2012 there were around £7.9 billion of Houblon £50 notes (£50E) and £2.0 billion of Boulton and Watt £50 notes (£50F) in circulation. In total, there were just under £10 billion-worth of £50 notes in circulation, which accounts for approximately a fifth of all notes in circulation by value.
In preparation for the launch of the Boulton and Watt £50 notes, the Bank asked financial institutions (FIs) to prepare only to dispense the new Boulton and Watt £50. In order to speed the transfer from the old Houblon £50 to the new Boulton and Watt £50, FIs were asked to return the Houblon £50 notes to the Bank, rather than to re-circulate them to the public.
Currently, both the Houblon £50 and the Boulton and Watt £50 have legal tender status so can be used to make transactions and are accepted by FIs. The date of withdrawal of legal tender status for the Houblon £50 has not yet been set. The Bank will, consistent with normal practice, give at least three months notice prior to removal of legal tender status of the Houblon £50 and will publicise this on the Bank of England's website and through other media.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the provision of subsidy to borrowers from banks under the national loan guarantee scheme has been cleared by the European Union under state aid rules; and whether the scheme will be independently audited to ensure that the benefit accrues to small and medium-sized enterprise borrowers rather than lending to banks.[HL16229]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Final European Union state aid approval for the national loan guarantee scheme is expected this week. The scheme will be independently audited.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the situation in North Korea following the death of Kim Jong-il and the succession to the leadership by his son, Kim Jong-un and of whether there has been any improvement in the North Korean Government's attitude to human rights or response to humanitarian needs in the country since the change of leadership; and what discussions they have had with the new leadership about those areas of concern.[HL15994]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It appears that the succession from Kim Jong-il to Kim Jong-un is progressing
12 Mar 2012 : Column WA20
We continue to be concerned about ongoing reports of systematic and widespread abuses of human rights in North Korea. The death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011 may provide an opportunity for the new regime to engage more with the international community, including on issues such as human rights.
We have had no discussions with the new North Korean leadership. However, my colleague the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), met the North Korean ambassador on 29 February and our ambassador in Pyongyang met with Vice Foreign Minister Kung Sok Ung in January. In both of these meetings, we set out our concerns about human rights in North Korea and expressed our hope that the Government would address these issues.
Mr Browne also spoke at the Westminster Hall debate in January and made the Government's view on North Korea's violations of human rights quite clear. We have brought this debate to the attention of the Government of North Korea.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Religious persecution in North Korea remains of concern. The testimony of North Korean refugees appears to confirm that the state continues to persecute all illegally held religious services and bans missionary activities.
We use every opportunity to ask North Korea to provide further information on a range of issues including religious freedoms. We also annually support United Nations and European Union resolutions on North Korea to raise awareness and promote international action.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are involved with the repatriation of North Korean refugees from China to North Korea; and what assessment they have made of the likely treatment of refugees repatriated to North Korea.[HL15997]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK is not involved in the repatriation of North Korean refugees from China to North Korea. We are aware of reports of mistreatment of refugees who have been returned to North Korea. We remain very concerned about the humanitarian and human rights situation in North Korea. We welcomed last month's report to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council by the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea. The UK will be participating in the discussion of this report at the UN Human Rights Council on 12 March. We use every opportunity to raise their reported abuses of international human rights standards with the North
12 Mar 2012 : Column WA21
Lord Howell of Guildford: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office holds regular meetings with the BBC World Service to discuss its strategic direction and priority markets. North Korea has been discussed in this context.
However in North Korea it is illegal for citizens to listen to any radio or television broadcasts except from the state broadcaster. This means the options for reaching audiences are extremely limited and resources devoted to such broadcasting would have a very low impact. This necessarily affects the BBC World Service's decisions on this issue.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they agree with the assessment of the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea in his February 2012 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council that "there has been a significant deterioration in the human rights situation in the country"; and what discussions they have had with the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea. [HL16058]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We agree with the assessment of the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur's report that there has been a significant deterioration in the human rights situation that affect, the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of the people of North Korea. As the special rapporteur makes clear in his report, there have been particularly worrying developments in the areas of judicial process and the provision of food for the entire population. We hope that the new leadership will engage more with the international community on issues of human rights in the country.
We have yet to have discussions with the UN special rapporteur, Mr Marzuki Darusman, on human rights in North Korea. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials hope to meet Mr Darusman when he presents to the Human Rights Council on 12 March and will support and endorse the report. However, we have discussed this issue with Mr Darusman's predecessor, Mr Vitit Muntarbhorn.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of food shortages in North Korea, and of their impact on health for children, women and the elderly in North Korea; and why the Department for International Development has no programme for North Korea.[HL16061]
Baroness Northover: The joint Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Food Programme Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission estimates that there is a shortage of food in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Its report notes that indicators of maternal and child malnutrition remain high and the elderly were also assessed as one of the groups in need of assistance.
The Department for International Development has no programme in the DPRK because it was not selected as a recipient of bilateral aid during the review of how and where UK aid is delivered to ensure that the greatest possible impact is achieved with every pound that is spent, the results of which were published in May 2011. Other agencies and countries are better placed than Britain to work in the DPRK, and it would be particularly difficult to monitor the implementation of programmes and ensure the impact of aid there.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what efforts they are making to respond to the humanitarian situation in North Korea; what discussions they have had with Baroness Amos, following her visit to North Korea on behalf of the United Nations; and in what ways they have responded to her recommendations.[HL16062]
Baroness Northover: We believe that the Department for International Development's (DfID) investment in the various humanitarian organisations working in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) represents the best way for the UK to assist the people of the DPRK. We are in close contact with these humanitarian agencies and continue to monitor the situation.
The Secretary of State for International Development spoke with Baroness Amos in October after her visit to the DPRK on behalf of the United Nations. He explained to her that he has no plans for further assistance to that country.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are giving to the development of the English language in North Korea; and what Foreign and Commonwealth Office and British Council work is being undertaken in that country with respect to language development.[HL16109]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Since 2001 the British Council, in collaboration with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has been delivering an English language teaching (ELT) programme in three universities in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The programme supports direct teaching; teacher training and development; the development of teaching materials; and curriculum renewal.
In June 2011 a letter of understanding outlining the programme's objectives for 2011-14 was signed with the DPRK Commission of Education, which has seen the ELT programme expanded to three more educational institutions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the increase in the number of pensioners leaving the United Kingdom to reside overseas if all overseas United Kingdom state pensions were uprated.[HL15956]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people living outside the United Kingdom received non-uprated United Kingdom state pensions in the most recent period for which data are available, broken down by country and territory.[HL15957]
|Individuals in frozen rate countries in receipt of state pension, May 2011, by country of residence|
|Country of residence||Number of individuals|
4. Figures are available on the tabulation tool page of the DWP website: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=tabtool.
The estimates in the table represent the increased expenditure which would result if individuals with frozen-rate state pensions were to be paid in 2012-13 at rates reflecting what their entitlements would be had their rates of state pension never been frozen. The estimates do not include the increased expenditure which would result were arrears to be paid, reflecting increases in individuals' state pension entitlement in previous years that were not awarded due to freezing regulations.
|Estimated costs in 2012-13 of unfreezing the frozen state pensions of all recipients, by country of residence in 2012-13. (£ million per annum, 2012-13 price terms)|
|Country of residence||Cost in 2012-13 tax year (in 2012-13 price terms)|
3. State pension here includes basic state pension, graduated retirement benefit, state earnings related pension scheme, and state second pension. It includes inherited amounts, and additional amounts received due to individuals having deferred claiming their state pension.
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