|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 20 March (WA 153), what were the total infrastructure costs incurred by the United Kingdom Government in Afghanistan in the years 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10.[HL16698]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The total infrastructure costs incurred, by financial year (FY), on operations in Afghanistan by the Ministry of Defence are set out in the following table:
|FY 2007-08||FY 2008-09||FY 2009-10|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a representative of the United Kingdom was invited to attend the March 2012 Economic Community of Central African States-Economic Community of West African States Maritime Safety and Security Conference in Cotonou, and, if so, who was considered for attendance; what was the purpose of the conference; whether a United Kingdom representative attended and, if not, why not and whether budgetary restraint was a factor; and whether the United States, Belgium and France were represented.[HL16761]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): British officials were invited to attend the March 2012 Economic Community of Central African States-Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Maritime Safety and Security Conference in Cotonou. The purpose of the meeting was for regional states to agree and sign a memorandum of understanding on maritime safety and security. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments, no officials were able to attend. Both the United States and France were represented, although the Government are not sighted on whether Belgium was represented.
However, the Government continue to work closely with ECOWAS, and both UK-based officials and officials based in the region have attended other meetings with ECOWAS in recent months. In addition, last year the UK funded the creation of a maritime cell and since its creation, the Government have been using
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA288
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 26 March (WA 195), why the latest European Union egg marketing regulations did not provide a prohibition on the marketing of class B eggs or products derived from such eggs not produced in a compliant system; whether class B eggs and products were formerly exempt from any claim as to production compliance with welfare standards; why they approved regulations without class B prohibition; and when they did so. [HL16744]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): European Union (EU) rules on the marketing standards for eggs were last updated in 2007. This was largely an exercise of consolidation aimed at bringing together earlier regulations and amendments in one place without altering the basic provisions. On this basis, the UK supported the introduction of the rules which are directly applicable in all member states. The rules on the marketing standards for eggs deal with issues such as the quality characteristics for class A and B eggs and how such eggs should be marketed. The rules are not designed to enforce welfare standards for laying hens nor do they set marketing requirements for egg products.
UK Ministers and officials have met with the Commission on a regular basis over the past year to encourage a robust approach to enforcement of new minimum standards for the protection of laying hens within the legal framework that is available. We have also suggested using the EU rules on the marketing standards for eggs to help bring about compliance.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 1 March (WA 363-4), what is the incidence of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy in the United Kingdom sheep flock.[HL16424]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Great Britain-the joint descriptive report for scrapie surveillance of sheep and goats in 2010, published on the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency (AHVLA)'s website at http://vla.defra.gov.uk/science/docs/sci_tse_stats_scrapie.pdf, details the incidence
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA289
The next edition of the report, updated for 2011, will be published in the summer. In the mean time, a table published on the AHVLA's website at http://vla.defra.gov.uk/science/docs/sci_tse_stats_sheep.pdf details the numbers of sheep tested in each surveillance group in 2011 and January-February 2012. The summary below gives a brief comparison of the prevalence of classical and atypical scrapie in 2005 with that in 2007 and 2011:
Classical scrapie-the prevalence of classical scrapie in healthy animals over 18 months of age slaughtered for human consumption (abattoir survey) has reduced by 66% between 2005 (0.1% of all animals tested) and 2011 (0.03%) but has remained unchanged between 2007 (0.02%) and 2011 (0.03%). The reductions in prevalence in this survey between these years are not statistically significant. In sheep over 18 months of age found dead on farm (fallen stock survey), the prevalence of classical scrapie has reduced by 92% between 2005 (0.32% of all animals tested) and 2011 (0.025%) and by 80% between 2007 (0.13%) and 2011 (0.025%). The reductions in prevalence in this survey between these years are statistically significant.
Atypical scrapie-the prevalence of atypical scrapie in healthy animals over 18 months of age slaughtered for human consumption (abattoir survey) experienced hardly any change between 2005 (0.14% of all animals tested) and 2011 (0.15%) although in 2007 it was 50% lower (0.07%) than in 2011 (0.15 %). The reduction in prevalence in this survey in 2007 is not statistically significant and could be due to sampling variability. In sheep over 18 months of age found dead on farm (fallen stock survey) , the prevalence of atypical scrapie experienced a 60% increase between 2005 (0.06% of all animals tested) and 2011 (0.1%) , and a 20% increase between 2007 (0.08%) and 2011 (0.1%). The increases in prevalence in this survey between these years are not statistically significant.
It is important to remember that these figures correspond to the two sub-groups of the sheep population that are tested by the active surveillance system. The abattoir survey data represent the best approximation to the true prevalence of scrapie infection in the national sheep flock.
|Year||Classical scrapie prevalence for active surveillance (%)||Overall classical scrapie prevalence (%)||Atypical scrapie prevalence for active surveillance (%)||Overall atypical classical scrapie prevalence (%)||Overall scrapie prevalence (%)|
Details of confirmed cases of classical and atypical scrapie in Northern Ireland since 2000 are published at http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/publications/pubs-dard-animal-health/publications_animal_health_ and_welfare-newpage-5.htm.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The National Health Service does not operate air ambulances-they are run and funded by independent charities. The department therefore does not collect information relating to air ambulance performance.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have complied with the terms of the temporary and conditional exemption for compliance with dangerous airborne particles (PM10) granted by the European Commission on 11 March 2011.[HL16775]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): In July 2011, the Commission confirmed that the UK Government had provided all the necessary information on actions being taken to reduce the risk of exceedences of the daily limit value for particulate matter (PM10) as set out in the Commission decision of 11 March 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will complete the five-yearly review of the air quality monitoring network required under Article 5 of Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, due in 2011.[HL16776]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Article 5 of Directive 2008/50/EC includes provision for a five-yearly review of the classification of air quality across UK zones for the purpose of assessing air quality. The main source of data for this assessment is from the national monitoring network supplemented by national modelling. The classification report is currently being finalised and will be made available later this year.
The local authority monitoring station at Neasden Lane is associated with a local industrial site and is set up for the purpose of local air quality management. It does not meet the siting criteria in the 2008 directive and does not form part of the national air quality monitoring network. Nevertheless, the Government are supporting the local authority, working with the Environment Agency and the Greater London Authority, to reduce the particulate matter (PM10) pollution in the vicinity of the site.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the United Kingdom submitted plans and programmes for nitrogen dioxide for 17 zones including Greater London to the European Commission under Article 23 rather than Article 22 of Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, due to be submitted in 2011.[HL16778]
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Government are committed to improving air quality to protect public health and the environment. The air quality plans submitted to the Commission in September 2011 set out how the limits for nitrogen dioxide would be met in the shortest possible time. Where this date was after 2015, plans were submitted under Article 23, consistent with Commission advice.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Government's Alcohol Strategy, published on 23 March, sets out our intention to work with industry, through the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network, to
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA292
Lord Henley: The legal advice which the Government have received on this issue is subject to legal privilege. We do not, therefore, believe it appropriate to disclose this advice (or any summary of it).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Casualties on the battlefield are normally evacuated by helicopter as it provides the fastest and most reliable method. This task is a coalition responsibility provided by UK and US aircraft.
For the current Operation Herrick 15 deployment, between October 2011 and 5 March 2012 the average time taken to evacuate wounded UK service personnel categorised as urgent to a deployed field hospital facility was 36 minutes from the time of the casualty report being made.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): No Israeli company directly supplies unmanned air systems (UAS) to the Ministry of Defence. The Hermes 450 UAS is operated by the British Army under a service provision contract awarded to Thales UK in 2007. Elbit Systems, a company based in Israel, provides the UAS assets to Thales UK.
Thales UK is also the prime contractor for the Watchkeeper system, which will replace the Hermes 450. UAV Tactical Systems Ltd., a joint venture company owned by Elbit Systems and Thales, provides the Watchkeeper air vehicle under a sub-contract from Thales UK.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is committed to working with our industrial partners to manage the warship building workload and to transform the industrial base to create a sustainable UK maritime sector.
The terms of business agreement (TOBA) signed between the MoD and BAE Systems Maritime-Naval Ships (BAES MNS-then BAE Systems Surface Ships) in July 2009, provides the framework for this ongoing work. Under the auspices of the TOBA, MoD and BAES MNS are working closely together to ensure that industrial transformation reflects the available workload while preserving the necessary capabilities to build, for example, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS).
As the Type 26 GCS is still in its assessment phase, it is too early to confirm details of the planned build programme. These decisions will not be taken until the main gate investment decision point, which, on current plans, is scheduled for the middle of this decade.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The current chair of the Arts and Media Honours Committee, Lord Stevenson, was appointed in 2008 for an initial three-year term. He has, by mutual agreement, remained chair of the committee beyond his initial term to provide continuity during the current period of refreshment of the committee's membership. Any future vacancy will be publicly advertised in the normal way in a timeframe yet to be agreed.
To ask Her Majesty's Government under what legal authority the European Union can refuse entry to Asma Al-Assad, as a British subject and citizen of the European Union, to the United Kingdom or any other member state of the Union.[HL16767]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Council Decision 2011/782/CFSP provides for the restriction on admission to the territories of member states of "persons responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria, persons benefitting from or supporting the regime, and persons associated with them". Mrs Asma Al-Assad has been sanctioned under these criteria.
We do not routinely comment on the immigration status of individuals. In accordance with UK immigration law, any person who has British citizenship cannot be refused entry to the UK. However, British citizens subject to EU travel bans can be refused entry to other member states of the European Union.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The information requested is not held by the department. The Association of Chief Police Officers is a private limited company and is not owned or controlled by the Home Office.
Lord Henley: I expect police and crime commissioners to engage with a range of policing partners in order to cut crime, both within their force area and working collaboratively across force boundaries.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many asylum applications were received last year; which were the top 10 countries from which asylum applicants arrived last year; how many of the total had entered the United Kingdom on a visa; what were the types of visa and numbers per type; and how many applications in the total were rejected in the first instance.[HL16743]
Information on the visa status of those applying for asylum is not available, nor is whether the visa application had been rejected in the first instance. These figures can only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Data on the number of asylum applications in 2011 that were refused asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave (i.e., on a cohort basis) are not currently available but are due to be published in immigration statistics on 30 August 2012. However, the table below provides the number of initial decisions to refuse asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave during 2011, which do not necessarily reflect applications made in the same period.
Data on asylum and visa applications are available in the "Asylum and Before Entry" Excel tables of the quarterly immigration statistics. The latest release of immigration statistics for October to December 2011, is available in the Library of the House and the Home Office science website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/research-statistics/migration/migration-statistics1/.
|Top 10 asylum applicant nationalities and refusals, excluding dependants, 2011|
|Asylum applications||Total refusals of asylum/HP/DL at initial decision|
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the Children's Society report I Don't Feel Human, they will regularly collect statistics about levels of poverty among asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children.[HL16595]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): There are no plans to regularly collect statistics about levels of poverty among asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children. Information on the levels of poverty among this group is not currently available separately and it would be difficult to provide it in the future. This is because the main source of income data, the Family Resources Survey, is a snapshot sample survey of private households. This means that the sample size for households containing asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children will be very small and the cost to extend the sample to achieve a representative sample would be excessive. It may also be the case that the response rate from households containing such children will be lower than usual and therefore results may not be representative. There is also no adequate sampling frame to conduct a separate survey of poverty among asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children.
Note that although levels of poverty in asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children are not available separately, they are currently included in the child poverty statistics unless they live in households that have been resident in the UK for less than six months or live in communal addresses such as hostels, hotels and boarding houses.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the Children's Society report I Don't Feel Human, they will incorporate the situation of children and young people from asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant communities into their child poverty strategy.[HL16596]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The Government published their first child poverty strategy in April 2011, and will publish their next one in 2014. The strategy covers all children who may be at risk of poverty, and notes that certain groups within society are overrepresented among families experiencing, or at risk of, relative income poverty. All unaccompanied children are entitled to support from their local authority under the Children Act regardless of their immigration status. Additionally, destitute asylum seekers who have children are supported by the UK Border Agency. This support lasts until they leave the United Kingdom or they are granted leave to remain and are therefore free to obtain work or access the mainstream benefits system.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many flights were made in the past five years out of each of the four London airports; how many were passenger or freight flights; how many were transit flights; how many of the total were domestic; and how many of the total were international.[HL16742]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The number of flight departures at each of the London airports in the past five years, by type of flight, is given in the table below. Information on the number of transit flights at UK airports is not held centrally.
|Air transport movements departing from each London airport, 2007-11|
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 21 March (WA 165), whether they will now raise the case of Dr Al Singace and his medical care with the Bahraini authorities; and, if not, why not. [HL16748]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 21 March (Official Report, WA 165). While all cases are individual, there are a number of pending cases which bear comparison with Mr Al Singace's and so we have not raised his individual case specifically.
We do raise specific cases with the Bahraini authorities, including together with European Union colleagues, where we think it is necessary and appropriate on humanitarian grounds. We maintain that everyone, whether they took part in any political protests or not, should have access to the medical treatment they need when in custody. As we have said previously, we expect the Government of Bahrain to meet all their human rights obligations by ensuring their citizens can exercise the universal human rights and freedoms to which they are entitled and which they have committed to uphold.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government are aware of this survey and routinely consider evidence from a wide range of sources.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will be responsible for paying the fine imposed by the Financial Services Authority on Coutts, owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, and what measures will be taken against the directors of that bank. [HL16791]
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government's shareholding in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is managed on a commercial and arm's-length basis by UK Financial Investments Ltd (UKFI), a company which is wholly owned by the Government.
RBS retains its own independent board and management team to manage itself commercially without interference from shareholders, including the Government. Accordingly, the bank itself will be responsible for paying the fine imposed by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) on its subsidiary Coutts.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): On 23 December 2011, the Government announced their intention to consult on implementing the payment surcharges provision of the consumer rights directive (CRD) ahead of the June 2014 deadline. This provision will not impose a total ban on payment surcharges for credit or debit card transactions. Instead, for contracts within scope of the CRD, it prohibits traders from adding payment surcharges which exceed the cost borne by them for accepting that means of payment.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The setting of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is not a regulated activity under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The methods used to calculate LIBOR are publicly available, as are the data made available by contributor banks. The process is regularly reviewed by market participants.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Northover on 15 March (WA 87), whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the full proposal for the grant of £90 million, submitted to the Department for International Development by BBC Media Action on 8 July 2011; and whether they will publish any associated correspondence between the department and the BBC on this matter in 2011.[HL16582]
Baroness Northover: The full proposal for the grant of £90 million from BBC Media Action was deposited in the Library of the House on 23 February 2012. The outcome of the proposal appraisal and discussions
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA300
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Belarus's use of the death penalty has declined over recent years. Belarus is one of the top five priority countries in the Government's Strategy for Abolition of the Death Penalty. We therefore raise the issue with the Belarusian authorities on a regular basis, both in multilateral fora and bilaterally.
On 7 December, we secured a rare statement from the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe condemning the sentencing to death of two Belarusian citizens for carrying out bomb attacks on the Minsk Metro in April 2011. Many international observers had serious concerns about the conduct of the trial. Most recently, on 2 February, senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials told the Belarusian ambassador of their concern at the sentencing. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), also wrote to the Belarusian Foreign Minister on the same day in his capacity as chair of the Committee of Ministers to urge the authorities not to carry out the executions.
The two individuals-Dzmitry Kanavalaw and Uladzislaw Kavalyow-were executed on 14 March, unusually soon after sentencing and without their families being informed in advance. On 22 March, we secured another statement by the Committee of Ministers, which comprises all 47 member states of the Council of Europe, deploring the executions and urging Belarus to declare a formal moratorium of the death penalty as a first step towards abolition.
We have received credible reports that a number of detainees have been subjected to torture and inhumane treatment in Belarusian jails. Two ex-presidential candidates, Ales Mikhalevich and Andrei Sannikov, have made public assertions that they were tortured. While human rights organisations have often cited poor standards of treatment in Belarusian prisons, it appears that political prisoners have been targeted. The Minister for Europe, my right honourable friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), expressed his concern about this in a public statement on 28 September 2011 and we raise the issue regularly in bilateral contacts in London and Minsk. Unfortunately, Belarus has not adopted any of the international legal instruments which would make it possible for a formal monitoring mission from an appropriate multilateral organisation such as the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe or the Council of Europe.
Lord Howell of Guildford: We and our European Union (EU) partners recognise both Andrei Sannikov and Ales Bialiatski as political prisoners. Andrei Sannikov stood in the flawed 19 December 2010 presidential election and was arrested on trumped-up charges during the brutal crackdown that followed. On 12 March 2011, he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for "organising or participating in a mass riot". Since then, he has been regularly denied access to legal representation and we have received credible reports that he has been subject to mistreatment and torture. The Minister for Europe, my right honourable friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), expressed his deep concern at these reports on 28 September 2011. We also raise Mr Sannikov's case regularly in bilateral contacts in London and Minsk.
On 23 November 2011, Ales Bialiatski, chair of the respected human rights organisation Viasna and vice-president of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), was sentenced to four and a half years' imprisonment in the harshest category of prison on what the UK and its EU partners consider an ungrounded charge of "tax evasion on a large scale". We see this as another example of an attack against an individual based on their role as a human rights defender. Mr Lidington publicly condemned the conviction on 24 November 2011.
At the March Foreign Affairs Council, the EU agreed further targeted economic measures against the financiers of the Belarusian regime. We have made clear to the authorities in Minsk on a number of occasions that they must release and rehabilitate all political prisoners immediately. Until they do so, the UK will continue to press for the EU to introduce further sanctions.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The UK, with our European Union partners, raises the issue of human rights in Belarus on a regular basis in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In 2011, the UK and 13 other OSCE states supported invoking the Moscow Mechanism, which triggered an independent fact-finding mission to review the human rights situation in Belarus. Although the Belarusian Government refused to co-operate with the OSCE, the result was a comprehensive report covering serious, gross and systematic human rights violations. On 29 March, the UK strongly supported a statement made on behalf of the European Union, which underlined our serious
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA302
The UK also secured two statements by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in our role as chair. The first was on 7 December 2011 condemning the sentencing of two Belarusian citizens to death. The second was on 22 March 2012 deploring the execution of the two individuals. Both statements were agreed by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they have spent in the 2011-12 financial year on promoting the take-up of welfare benefits by those entitled to them; and how much they plan to spend in the next financial year.[HL16714]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The department does not promote benefits; we provide advice, support and guidance to claimants on the benefits they may be entitled to and how to claim these benefits through front-line services and through printed and online information. The department has not spent money in the 2011-12 financial year on promoting the take-up of welfare benefits, and we have no planned expenditure to promote take-up of welfare benefits for the next financial year.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 15 March (WA 88), how many prosecutions for television licence fee evasion were lodged and then withdrawn in 2009 and 2010; what was the estimated cost of the prosecutions proceeded with in those two years; and whether they will consider requiring the BBC to pay for any court and prosecution costs involved. [HL16652]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The number of persons proceeded against for television licence evasion at magistrates' courts in England and Wales whose case was subsequently withdrawn was 17,984 in 2009 and 21,994 in 2010.
There are no plans to require the BBC to contribute towards court and prosecution costs. Under the terms of the current licence fee settlement, the Government
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA303
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our ambassador in Rangoon raises regularly the ongoing discrimination of the Rohingya with the Burmese Government, including most recently with the Home Minister. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) urged the Burmese Government to recognise the full citizenship rights of the Rohingya when he met his counterpart during his visit in January.
We regularly talk to Rohingya groups both inside and outside the country to monitor their situation, and are in contact on the ground with UNHCR (the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). We will continue to raise this with the Burmese Government and to discuss with international partners.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the countries providing investment and aid to Burma to ensure that the ethnic national peoples of Burma receive adequate compensation for any resulting loss of land or livelihood, and to ensure that any negative impacts on those peoples and the environment are minimised.[HL16608]
Lord Howell of Guildford: We believe that any investment in Burma should be responsible and take account of the local people and environment, so that the positive effects of that investment will be felt across Burma. Our policy currently discourages trade with Burma. However if that were to change in response to future progress, we would expect UK companies to lead the way in terms of responsible investment and to encourage others to invest in the same way. We are also ready to work with the Burmese Government to help them implement international guidelines on responsible investment.
It is right that Baroness Ashton addresses the issue of violence against children, wherever that may occur. The European Union has for many years been engaged in action on protecting children and children's rights, as well as addressing specific issues such as violence against children and children affected by armed conflicts.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel following the condemnation by Prime Minister Netanyahu of Baroness Ashton of Upholland's statement on 19 March regarding the deaths of children in conflict situations.[HL16712]
Lord Howell of Guildford: Officials at our Embassy in Tel Aviv have discussed this issue with the Israeli authorities, including Deputy National Security Adviser Lerman in the week beginning 18 March. The Israeli Government have confirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken to Baroness Ashton about her comments. We note that her office has since issued a clarification.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of their response to the Norgrove Family Justice review, they will consider introducing legislation to ensure that childcare providers and statutory bodies treat both parents of a child equally. [HL16643]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We strongly believe that mothers and fathers, working together, are the best people to make arrangements about their children's lives. We are putting children at the heart of the process, so that their needs are the paramount concern in all family law proceedings.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) came into force in September 2008 and is clear that all providers have a responsibility to ensure that diversity of individuals and communities is valued and respected and that no child or family is discriminated against. The reformed EYFS, which will come into force in September 2012, will provide similar assurances. It will also make clear that providers must have the name and address of every parent and carer who is known to the provider (and information about any other person who has parental responsibility for the child) and which parent(s) or carer(s) the child normally lives with.
Maintained schools should, wherever possible, ensure that they record the contact details of both parents, even when a parent no longer lives with the child. This is not a matter left to the discretion of individual schools. Under relevant education legislation, parents (including those with parental responsibility or who have care of the child) must receive specified statutory information about their child.
We also intend to introduce into the Children Act 1989 a legislative statement of the importance of children having a relationship with both their parents after separation, where that is safe and in the child's best interests.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to amend the report Working Together to Safeguard Children: A Guide to Inter-agency Working to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children to include specific reference to circumstances where a child is being deprived of a full and continuing relationship with one of his or her parents. [HL16642]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): In our response to the recent Family Justice Review, we announced our intention to introduce a legislative statement on the importance of children having a continuing relationship with both their parents after separation, where it is safe and in the child's best interests. This change will affect only the minority of separated parents who apply to the courts to resolve disputes about child contact and residence. However, it complements wider measures aimed at promoting the positive involvement of both parents, post separation.
The statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, which will be subject to full formal consultation from May this year, will set out the legal requirements on statutory partners to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Through revisions to the guidance we are exploring how best to reduce central prescription to give local areas more freedom. Our aim is to free social workers and other professionals from unnecessary bureaucracy so they have more time for better quality work with children and families. It is not appropriate for the
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA306
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the number of Tibetans who have self-immolated in the last 12 months; what reports they have received regarding the self-immolation of a youth in Delhi on 26 March; and what discussions they have had with the Government of China regarding the situation of the Tibetan people.[HL16737]
The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne) raised concerns about self-immolations with Vice Foreign Minister Madame Fu Ying during his visit to China in November last year. Mr Browne also wrote to the Chinese Ambassador regarding the situation at Kirti Monastery and called for restraint. He made a statement on 25 January following reports of shootings of protesters in Tibetan areas, calling for restraint, and for a resolution of underlying grievances.
Officials in London have also raised their concerns with the Chinese Embassy in London, and staff at our Embassy in Beijing with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant provincial authorities. Our officials in China make regular visits to Tibetan areas. We remain in frequent contact with the relevant authorities regarding access to these areas.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how HM Treasury defines bonus payments in the context of Civil Service pay; what proportion of civil servants are eligible to receive non-consolidated performance payments; and how they are selected for those payments.[HL16702]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Non-consolidated performance-related payments (NCPRP) are one-off, non-pensionable awards that are primarily used to reward individuals for high performance against annual business objectives. Since May 2010, NCPRP for senior civil servants has been cut back. This has been achieved by reducing the number of people who receive awards from 65% to 25% of senior civil servants, so that only those who have given exceptional performance over the year are rewarded. This has delivered savings of around £15 million. Departments and agencies are responsible for determining which of their senior staff should receive such rewards against criteria set by the Cabinet Office. Non-senior staff are covered by delegated pay arrangements and the proportion of staff receiving such awards and the eligibility criteria for NCPRP are matters for each department and agency. Further information on NCPRP was published on departmental websites and linked to data.gov.uk in October 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what and how many actions they have taken against claims management companies that have breached rules in respect of dealing with consumers fairly and properly in each year since 2005 up until the last year for which records are available.[HL16794]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice's Claims Management Regulation Unit has taken a range of enforcement actions against claims management companies that have breached the conduct rules to which they are subject. These include informal actions such as warnings and statutory actions to vary licence conditions and suspend or cancel licences. The statistical information which is available is in the table. Regulation was introduced in 2007.
Lord De Mauley: While we do not hold this specific information, BT and Virgin Media's commercial superfast broadband deployments will typically take fibre to within 1 kilometre of 66 per cent of UK households.
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA308
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they spent on the community organisers programme in 2010-11, what is the expected cost in 2011-12 and what is their anticipated budget in each of the next three years; and in each of these years what are the amounts spent or budgeted for (1) direct government spending, (2) administrative costs for work done by locality, (3) training costs incurred by RE:generate (Action to Regenerate Community Trust) and other bodies, (4) payments to community organisers, and (5) other costs.[HL16493]
£10 million, of the £16 million, is set aside to cover a bursary of £20,000 to train each of the 500 Senior community organisers for the first year. The remaining costs can be broken down as follows and do not include VAT:
|2010-11 (paid)||2011-12 (expected)||2012-13 (projected)||2013-14 (projected)||2014-15 (projected)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they have set out for the recruitment of senior or trainee community organisers; and whether those posts will be advertised by (1) publications, (2) the internet, (3) jobcentres, (4) directly to national and local voluntary and volunteer organisations, or (5) other means.[HL16504]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The recruitment of senior community organisers is run by individual host organisations in their local areas as well as directly by Locality. Host organisations and Locality use a range of methods to recruit the most suitable candidates for the posts. Government do not dictate what these are.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions have taken place between the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Local Government Association in relation to the role and activities of community organisers, particularly in respect of the relationships between local residents and elected local authorities at parish and principal council levels, and with elected councillors for the areas in which they are working.[HL16564]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): As outlined in the answer to the noble Lord of 27 March 2012 (Official Report, col. 229WA) the Government are committed to training 5,000 community organisers by March 2015.
The community organisers initiative is about promoting community action at a neighbourhood level. They will undoubtedly work closely with local councillors and local authorities. We do not intend to prescribe a central approach on such joint working.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what role they expect the community organisers Programme to carry out in the implementation of, and actions under, the Localism Act 2011, including but not restricted to Part 1 Chapter 1, Part 5 Chapters 2 and 3, and Part 6 Chapters 2, 3 and 4.[HL16565]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Community Organisers programme is about catalysing community action at a neighbourhood level-'igniting the impulse to act'. The Root Solution Listening Matters process enables community organisers to get to the root causes of issues, identify local leaders, projects and opportunities, and empower the local community to improve their local area. The work of the organisers is independent of government, local authorities and charities, with local people setting the priorities and projects to take forward. The organiser enables them to take action on the things that matter most to them.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the breakdown of the persons who have so far been appointed as senior or trainee community organisers on the basis of (1) gender, (2) ethnicity and (3) age, (a) under 20, (b) 20-30, (c) 30-40, (d) 40-50, (e) 50-60, and (f) over 60.[HL16566]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The information below sets out the diversity statistics of the current 84 of the 87 senior community organisers by gender, ethnicity
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA310
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether persons in receipt respectively of (1) jobseeker's allowance (or its successor as part of the universal credit), (2) invalidity benefits including disability living allowance and personal independence payments, and (3) any similar benefits, will be allowed to undertake activities as part-time voluntary community organisers. [HL16647]
Lord De Mauley: People of working age who are in receipt of jobseeker's allowance, income support or employment and support allowance may undertake unlimited voluntary work provided they continue to meet the normal benefit entitlement conditions. We expect to take a similar approach in universal credit.
Disability living allowance is available to those who are in or out of work, including voluntary work, as long as the entitlement conditions continue to be met. This will also be the case for personal independence payment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government in what ways in "developing and supporting networks of volunteer community activists in listening, research, planning and action in their communities", as set out in the job description for trainee community organisers, community organisers are expected to take account
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA311
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Community organisers are required to carry out listenings in their local areas. Listenings can be with neighbours, local businesses, and existing local groups and organisations. Through this process they build up a rich picture of the views of the local community. Community organisers, based on their listenings, will work with the existing structures where appropriate, but will also support local communities to set up new structures if this is required.
Community organisers are trained in the Root Solution Listening Matters approach but there is no expectation that they convert existing groups and activists to, and train them in, the Root Solution Listening Matters methodology.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their definition of "Alinsky-style citizen organising", as mentioned in the job description provided to people who may wish to apply to become trainee community organisers.[HL16651]
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The job description for trainee or senior community organisers refers to a range of "Go Deeper" learning options which organisers take up during the second six months of their year-long training programme. This element of the programme provides the opportunity to specialise in a specific form of organising such as digital organising or citizen organising. At the time of publishing the job description, Locality were in discussions with Citizens UK about an option based on Saul Alinsky's model of citizen organising, an approach adopted by Citizens UK. However, both parties agreed to not pursue this.
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking why the value of the creative industries to the United Kingdom economy was downgraded in the most recently published economic statistics (HL16610).
The creative industry (specifically Standard Industrial Classification 90 and its sub-components) was affected by the move from SIC 2003 to SIC 2007 at the time of publishing the United Kingdom National Accounts-Blue Book 2011.
To give the classification change some context, industries such as motion picture production and distribution, and radio and television broadcasting are no longer classed as part of Creative arts and entertainment. They, along with many of the other sub-components previously included in Creative arts and entertainment are now classified as industries in their own right. For example, under SIC 2007, Motion picture, video and television is classed as SIC 2007 59, but was previously included within Arts, entertainment and recreation (SIC 2003 92).
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Tankerness on 19 March (WA 128) concerning gender balance in the Crown Prosecution Service, what action they are taking to recruit men to the service.[HL16756]
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Crown Prosecution Service recruits staff on the basis of merit through fair and open competition and has no plans to favour the recruitment of one sex over the other.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We recognise and welcome the positive steps made by the Cuban Government over the past year in the area of political and economic freedoms. These include the release of all the remaining prisoners of conscience arrested during the 'Black Spring' in 2003; the ongoing economic reform process, which is leading to greater economic freedoms, and increasing religious tolerance, most clearly demonstrated by the Pope's recent visit. We also welcome Cuba's continuing strong record on child rights, gender equality and social rights such as universal healthcare and education. President Raul Castro has signalled the introduction of future limits on political terms, and a separation of the Communist Party from the state. He has also called for greater democracy in the Communist Party. Although genuine political reform remains a long way off, these would be welcome developments and positive signals of greater political opening.
However, we are concerned about continuing restrictions of Cubans' civil and political rights, in particular the lack of freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of information, and judicial independence. There is no legal right to strike and independent trade unions are not permitted. Public demonstrations are banned, and short-term detentions are used to prevent demonstrations and intimidate activists from expressing anti-government views. There is no separation of powers and independent lawyers are not permitted to practice. Cuba's record on media freedom is poor and it was ranked 166 out of 178 in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index in 2011. Although internet censorship has eased slightly, there are few internet access points and using them is prohibitively expensive for the average Cuban.
However, the Government are taking steps to make cycling safer for everyone, whether using a hire bike or their own. For instance, we have recently announced that councils are now free to use Trixi mirrors at junctions and have also made it easier for local authorities to introduce 20 mph zones and limits more efficiently. The Department for Transport is also leading discussions at European level on improving standards for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to help reduce accidents caused by poor visibility,
We are also considering how to increase motorists' awareness of cyclists' issues. We have made the driving test more realistic and less predictable, and are considering how to improve training for drivers after they pass their test to help them develop their driving skills and knowledge. Every driving theory test includes six questions relating to cyclists or other vulnerable road users. We are also keen to look at how we can incorporate a greater degree of cyclist awareness in the driver certificate of professional competence for HGV drivers.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure that the maintenance of a home to a safe and hygienic standard is recognised in the final
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA315
Lord De Mauley: Like disability living allowance, personal independence payment is designed to make a contribution towards the extra costs that disabled people face. However, we do not think it would be administratively feasible to measure the actual costs that individual disabled people incur. Such an approach would result in a subjective, inconsistent, complicated and lengthy assessment. Instead we intend to consider a proxy for these extra costs. DLA uses individuals' care and mobility needs as this proxy. In PIP we are considering an individual's ability to carry out everyday activities and participate in society.
The PIP assessment criteria cannot be and are not intended to cover all the areas of everyday activity or all the activities where disabled people face barriers or cost. Instead they are intended to, as a group, act as an overall proxy for extra cost and the impact of impairments, allowing us to identify individuals with the greatest need. We believe that the draft criteria, which have been significantly improved as a result of feedback from disabled people and disability organisations, achieve this.
However, the assessment criteria are still being developed and we are keen to hear further views and suggestions on them. As such we are currently carrying out a formal consultation, which runs until 30 April.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they have provided to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) on the replacement of the discretionary social fund by local authority provision and on the potential impact on demand for the LGO's services.[HL16572]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have advised the Local Government Ombudsman about conducting reviews of refusals for emergency support when crisis loans are replaced by local authority provision.[HL16573]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): While Government do not provide advice to the independent Local Government Ombudsman, they recognise that the local replacement of the discretionary social fund may have implications for the Local Government Ombudsman services. Such issues, including the local replacement of the discretionary social fund, are discussed in the regular liaison meetings between the ombudsman and senior departmental officials.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions have taken place between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions about the possible impact of the
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA316
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Discussions on issues of concern related to debt management take place on a frequent basis at ministerial and official level between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions. These discussions have included how best to protect vulnerable consumers who use payday and other high-cost loans from detrimental practices.
It is not accurate to say that the Social Fund is being removed. In April 2013 the discretionary elements of the Social Fund will be replaced by local provision by local authorities in England and arrangements made by the Scottish and Welsh Assembly Governments. The budgeting loan scheme will continue because this is an important buffer which protects people from turning to illegal lending. Under universal credit, the Government have committed to maintaining a simplified and modernised national system of interest-free advances, which can be accessed through the benefit system as part of the wider package of reforms, and which will be similar in nature to the existing budgeting loan scheme. The residual scheme will continue until universal credit is fully rolled out, gradually being replaced by budgeting advances. In addition the regulated parts of the Social Fund, Sure Start maternity grants, funeral payments and cold weather payments will continue.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any of the Special Educational Needs pathfinder pilot local authorities have included home-educated children in the pilot; if so, which authorities, and how many children in each authority; if not, why not, and what steps they will take to address this issue. [HL16715]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Since the launch of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) pathfinder programme in late 2011, the 31 pathfinder local authorities and their health partners have been working in partnership with parents and carers from a wide variety of backgrounds to design and develop their approach to testing the key reforms set out in the Green Paper Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability.
The pathfinder programme is intended to test the Green Paper reforms across the spectrum of SEND, including improving assessment and planning for children with the most complex needs who would normally receive a statement through the education, health and care plan, and improving transparency about services available locally through the introduction of a 'local offer'. It is up to pathfinders to identify and recruit their particular cohort of families locally, but we
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA317
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Egypt about arrested local members of non-governmental organisations, the freezing of their funds, and the representation of women's interests in the drafting of the new constitution.[HL16663]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are concerned about the recent action taken by the Egyptian authorities against non-governmental organisations (NGOs). We believe that civil society has an important role to play in ensuring a successful transition to democracy. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) raised this issue, including the treatment of NGO staff, with the Egyptian Foreign Minister when they met in London on 22 February, and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) raised our concerns about the imposition of travel bans and arrest warrants for NGO members during a telephone call with the Egyptian Foreign Minister on 13 February. We continue to encourage Egypt to introduce new legislation governing the regulation of NGO activity, and have offered help in this regard.
Mr Burt visited Cairo from 11 to 13 March. In his meetings with the Foreign Minister and contacts in political parties he emphasised that women's participation is a key part of supporting transitions and building stability. We continue to urge the Egyptian authorities to establish the conditions for inclusive politics, and for the rights of women and minorities to be enshrined in the new constitution and in law.
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what is their policy for the reduction of black carbon emissions, particularly from diesel engines, in the light of their policy to favour diesel engines in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; and (2) what is the role of the Climate Change Committee in reaching a balanced policy.[HL16810]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): Black carbon is a fraction of particulate matter pollution
23 Apr 2012 : Column WA318
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|