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Written Answers

Thursday 21 June 2012

Armenia and Azerbaijan

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan about agreeing to a functioning Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe incident investigation mechanism on their common border.[HL634]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government continue to support the conflict settlement efforts of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Minsk Group to find a solution for Nagorno-Karabakh on the basis of international norms and principles, including non-use of force, territorial integrity and self-determination. In March 2011 the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to develop a mechanism to investigate cross border ceasefire incidents, under the auspices of the Minsk Group. Despite the actual details of this mechanism not yet being fully agreed we welcome this agreement as a positive step, and have raised this issue, and the need for further confidence-building measures towards a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with both the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities on several occasions. The Minister for Europe, my right honourable friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), raised the issue with the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister when they met in April this year, and with the Armenian Foreign Minister in July 2011.

Following the recent tragic deaths along the line of contact and the international border earlier this month, our embassies in both Yerevan and Baku will look to raise this matter again with both Governments at the earliest possible opportunity.

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many individuals were in receipt of section 4 asylum support in each of the past five years; and how many of those (1) were lone parents, (2) were dependent children, and (3) had a disability.[HL695]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The information requested is shown in the following table. Please note that the information is derived from local management information and has not been subject to National Statistics protocols.

Individuals in receipt of section 4 asylum support in each of the past five years; and how many of those (1) were lone parents, (2) were dependent children, and (3) had a disability:

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Apr-08Apr-09Apr-10Apr-11Apr-12

Individuals

11685

14218

11548

3824

3226

U18

1646

2377

1945

786

779

Single parents

1044

1270

941

399

421

Disability

*

*

*

*

6

(1) All figures quoted are management information which has been subject to internal quality checks.

(2) Disability figures refer to number of applications with someone having disability, and the applications may correspond to one or more individuals

(3) Figures below 5 are indicated with an “*”

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will synchronise in future the uprating of financial support provided under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 with the annual uprating of mainstream benefits and tax credits by (1) announcing the uprating in the Autumn Statement each year, and (2) implementing the uprating at the start of the following financial year.[HL632]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): It is government practice to review asylum support rates annually. There are no plans to re-establish the link between support rates and mainstream benefits that was broken by the last Government. However a number of factors, including mainstream benefit changes, are considered when asylum support rates are reviewed. The review of support rates for the year 2012-13 is currently ongoing.

China

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have recently raised with the Government of China the issue of coercive population control, in the light of media reports that Feng Jianmei had her pregnancy forcibly aborted at seven months’ gestation by state family planning officials on 3 June.[HL731]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We raised our concerns about forced abortions and sterilisations with the Chinese Government at the UK-China human rights dialogue in January this year

With regard to reports of Feng Jianmei being subjected to a forced abortion by local family planning officials in Zhenping County, Shaanxi Province, officials at the National Population and Family Planning Commission have confirmed that an investigation into the matter is under way. Chinese state media reported on 15 June that according to a preliminary investigation, several Government officials in Zhenping county were found to have violated national and provincial policies and regulations and have been suspended.

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China’s Population and Family Planning Law prohibits forced abortion and sterilisation. However, the Government remain concerned that in spite of this protection in law, abuses in the implementation of family planning policy continue to be reported in parts of China, including forced abortions and forced sterilisations. We do not dispute China’s right or need to implement family planning policies, but we believe it is important that these policies and their implementation meet international human rights standards.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what meetings the Secretary of State for International Development had with churches and church-related agencies during his recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. [HL892]

Baroness Northover: I did not meet any representatives from churches or church-related agencies during my recent visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). My time was limited and my programme geared towards two primary objectives: to engage with the new Government; and, to assess what more the UK can do to help DRC make the most of its undoubted wealth potential for the benefit of all Congolese.

The Department for International Development's (DfID) Office in DRC works with some faith-based organisations through its health sector programmes.

Energy: Biofuels

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the octane value of biofuels added to motor fuels. [HL746]

Earl Attlee: The bioethanol added to petrol has a relatively high octane rating (typically 109 RON). The final blended fuel available to motorists must meet the legal requirement for a minimum octane rating of 95 RON. Where bioethanol is added to petrol the supplier may choose to remove or reduce the concentration of other octane enhancers, so that petrol blended with bioethanol will not necessarily have a higher octane number than is required to comply with the law.

EU: Citizenship

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the process by which British subjects may renounce their European Union citizenship.[HL748]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Under the Maastricht Treaty, every citizen who is a national of a member state is also a citizen of the Union. The UK has defined its “nationals” for European Economic Area (EEA) purposes as:

British citizens;

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British overseas territories citizens who derive their citizenship from a Gibraltar connection and;British subjects under Part IV of the British Nationality Act 1981 having the right of abode under s.2 of the Immigration Act 1971.

A UK national as defined above who renounced that status and did not have the nationality of another member state would cease to be a European citizen. It is not possible, however, to renounce European citizenship while remaining a UK national.

Information on the procedures for renouncing British citizenship and British subject status is available on the UK Border Agency website: http://www.ukba.homeoffice. gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/nationalityinstructions/nichapter48/.

Gaza

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Exeter

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration the Department for International Development has given to offering additional aid to the Ali Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, following the decision by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees to stop its financial support for that hospital.[HL844]

Baroness Northover: United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is currently retendering the contract to provide secondary health care for the refugee community in Gaza which was previously held by the Al Ahli hospital. As a major donor to UNRWA, we liaise closely with UNRWA to ensure that essential services to Palestinian refugees are delivered effectively and provide good value for money for the UK taxpayer. However, it would not be appropriate for us to intervene in individual procurement decisions or offer additional funding to an unsuccessful bidder.

Government Departments: Overseas Offices

Question

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in how many countries the Department for International Development has overseas offices.[HL715]

Baroness Northover: The Department for International Development has offices in 32 overseas countries to: manage both our regional programmes and 28 bilateral country programmes; support our work with local and global partners; and deliver our commitments on the dependent territories. Of our 32 overseas offices, in 21 of the countries we are co-located with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and projects are currently under way to co-locate our respective operations in four of the other countries.

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Health: Pathology

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made by the National Health Service in the consolidation of NHS pathology services as recommended by the two independent reports by Lord Carter of Coles; how much of those reports’ estimated potential savings of up to £500 million a year has been achieved; what plans they have to complete the implementation of the reports’ recommendations; and whether those plans include greater market-testing of NHS pathology services. [HL623]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) Clinical Support rationalisation (Pathology) Workstream ran for a year until April 2011, taking the independent reports of Lord Carter of Coles as an evidence base and suggested model.

Strategic health authorities submitted Strategic Integrated Plans in April 2011 about how the QIPP challenge in their area would be addressed over the next four years. All these plans included reference to pathology service reform.

The implementation phase now falls to the National Health Service, which is best placed to identify the scale of the financial challenge it faces over the next four years and the opportunities for making savings while driving up or maintaining quality. QIPP delivery has now been mainstreamed into “business as usual” and progress is monitored and reported by the department in line with standard business management processes. The NHS achieved £3.96 billion of QIPP efficiency savings in the first nine months of the 2011-12 financial year (as set out in The Quarter 3 2011-12).

Work to support the NHS in its ambitions for pathology modernisation include the recent publication of The Pathology Services Commissioning Toolkit, the Pathology Futures Leadership In Action workstream, led by NHS Improvement; and a new product to standardise electronic messages within pathology test requests and reports (the National Laboratory Medicine Catalogue, NLMC), due for release later in the summer.

Immigration: Deportation

Questions

Asked by Lord Eames

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the standard of care afforded to the children of persons awaiting deportation from the United Kingdom.[HL740]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The UK Border Agency has developed a new approach for managing the return of families in response to the Government's commitment to end the detention of children for immigration purposes. The aim is to encourage families to leave without the need for enforcement action when they have no right to remain in the UK

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and for children to remain with their families in the community wherever possible. Where children stay in UK Border Agency facilities, it is now only for very short periods immediately prior to removal, in either Cedars pre-departure accommodation (where welfare services are provided by Barnardo’s), or (in the case of families stopped at the border and a small number of high-risk or criminal cases) Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre. Both facilities have been specifically developed with the needs of families and children in mind and are subject to regular inspection by the appropriate statutory bodies.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government by what process, notwithstanding the United Kingdom’s obligations under the Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees, the UK Border Agency deported Tamils to Sri Lanka who were subsequently awarded asylum in the United Kingdom, following ill-treatment in Sri Lanka; and what steps they are taking to avoid a similar situation occurring in future.[HL775]

Lord Henley: It is government policy not to comment on specific cases. Every asylum claim made in the UK is carefully considered against our obligations under the refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. In reaching a decision on an application, anxious scrutiny is given to the facts of the case, including the situation in the claimant's home country. The UK Border Agency’s returns policy is kept constantly under review and decisions are taken in the light of prevailing circumstances. Returns are only enforced when it is safe to do so and when the agency and the courts are satisfied that the individual has no international protection needs.

Immigration: Detention

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 11 June (WA 196), why the UK Border Agency does not maintain records of the number of cases where their decision to detain has been upheld or overturned; how they currently monitor whether they comply with the law; and whether they will maintain such records in future.[HL754]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): While the UK Border Agency does hold records pertaining to detention of individuals, it is not able to extract statistical information which accurately meets the specific nature of the original request from the noble Lord. To do so would require scrutinising each individual case. There are no plans currently to hold such records.

The UK Border Agency has clear guidelines for operational staff regarding detention of individuals to ensure all actions are compliant with the law. Each detention has clear monitoring procedures and has to be reviewed at different dates to ensure it remains justified.

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Justice: Closed Material Procedures

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many judgments and decisions have been handed down following a closed material proceeding in the past 15 years by (1) the Employment Tribunal; (2) the Special Immigration Appeals Commission; (3) the High Court exercising its judicial review jurisdiction; and (4) any other court or tribunal empowered to use closed material proceedings.[HL635]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): (1) The employment tribunal does not record the use of closed material procedures (CMPs) centrally and this information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

(2) The Special Immigration Appeals Commission was created by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 and has decided 92 appeals that relied on evidence heard in closed proceedings. The earliest of these appeals was heard in 2002.

(3) The High Court does not record the use of CMPs in a readily available format and it could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

(4) The Prescribed Organisations Appeals Commission has decided one appeal and this relied on evidence heard in closed proceedings in 2007.

The First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) decided four appeals which considered evidence in closed hearings in the past 12 months. The tribunal does not hold information on the use of closed hearings prior to this in a readily available format.

The Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) decided one appeal in the past 18 months which considered evidence in closed hearing, but does not hold information on the use of closed hearings prior to this.

Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service does not centrally record other uses of CMPs. It would only be possible to provide this information at disproportionate cost.

Local Authorities: Public Health

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they intend to take in respect of those local authorities which have refused to ensure that directors of public health report directly to the chief executive or equivalent.[HL783]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): While the organisation and structures of individual local authorities are matters for local leadership, the Government are clear that the director of public health should act as the lead officer in a local authority for health and champion health across the whole of the authority's business. This means that we would expect there to be direct accountability

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between the director of public health and the local authority chief executive for the exercise of the local authority's public health responsibilities, and that they will have direct access to elected members. That message will be repeated later this year in further guidance.

NHS: Reform

Question

Asked by Lord Turnberg

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the costs of the abolition of the Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities and the introduction of clinical commissioning groups, regional hubs and outposts of the commissioning board, the clinical support groups and clinical senates. [HL816]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The impact assessment estimated a total cost of £1.2 billion to £1.3 billion for delivering the whole Health and Social Care Bill. These reforms are wider than the abolition of the primary care trusts and strategic health authorities and the introduction of clinical commissioning groups, regional hubs and outposts of the commissioning board, the clinical support groups and clinical senates. For example, they include reforms to the department and its arm’s-length bodies.

This upfront cost will result in a £1.5 billion saving per year by 2014-15, and £4.5 billion over the course of the Parliament. The upfront costs of the modernisation will be more than recouped from the cost savings by the end of 2012-13.

The impact assessment is available at: www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsLegislation/DH_123583.

A copy has already been placed in the Library.

Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012: Security

Question

Asked by Lord Hollick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what extent the provision by G4S plc of security services to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank was taken into account when awarding the contract for the provision of security services at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games to G4S plc.[HL675]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Contracting for the supply of venue security personnel is the responsibility of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), a private company operating independently of government. The contract is between LOCOG and G4S. The Government were not involved in the private procurement process. LOCOG place a high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues when securing goods and services, performing due diligence on all parties tendering for work on the Games.

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Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) are illegal under international law. The British Government continue to urge the Israeli authorities to cease all settlement building and remove illegal outposts.

Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012: Tickets

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what will happen to tickets for the Olympics that are on sale as part of holiday packages that remain unsold. [HL812]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: LOCOG is putting on sale 75% of Games tickets to the British public through the UK application process. The remaining 25% of tickets are available for purchase by National Olympic and Paralympic Committees (primarily for them to sell to international sports fans), the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, International Sports Federations, sponsor and stakeholders, broadcast rights holders, prestige ticketing partners and for Thomas Cook to include within domestic break packages.

LOCOG accepts returns from all these groups, including Thomas Cook, and is maximising the number of these that then go on sale directly to the British public. Tickets will be on sale right until the start of every sporting session, subject to availability.

Olympic Games 2012

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will publish a table showing by category (1) the budgeted expenditure, and (2) the out-turn direct expenditure, for the 2012 Olympic Games, and (3) the increased indirect capital expenditure incurred to facilitate the Games that was not included as part of the original budget.[HL773]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Budgeted and forecast outturn expenditure for Olympic Venues and infrastructure, is shown at Table 3 of the Government's London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Quarterly Report—June 2012 on 13 June 2012, which can be found at the following link: http://www.culture.gov.uk/publications/9134.aspx

The main increase in capital expenditure since the budget was established in 2007 is due to the economic downturn, which has meant that the full cost of constructing the Olympic Village and the Media Centre have had to be met from public funds, rather than from the private sector, as had been envisaged in 2007. A comparison of the March 2007 Budget and the costs estimates at the time of the bid is given in the NAO report: The Budget for the London 2012 Olympic and ParalympicGames published on 20 July 2007,

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which can be found at the following link: http://www. nao.org.uk/publications/0607/the_budget-for-the-london-2012.aspx.

Overseas Aid

Question

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they require that independent evaluations are made of all projects supported by United Kingdom official development assistance.[HL712]

Baroness Northover: It is not mandatory for all projects supported by UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) to be independently evaluated. However, the coalition Government have a strong focus on evaluation and in May 2011 launched the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) which is the independent body responsible for the scrutiny of UK ODA. ICAI has the remit to evaluate whichever areas of ODA it wants and the Department for International Development (DfID) feels that this is the right strategic balance to ensure stronger evaluation and therefore value for money in aid spending. At the same time, DfID is implementing an ambitious agenda to embed evaluation throughout its portfolio of investments. Other government departments with ODA spend will have their own priorities for evaluation.

Since 2011, new DfID projects must be considered for evaluation as part of the design process—this is enshrined in the business case—and the rationale for the decision (to evaluate or not) needs to be defensible to the ICAI and other external stakeholders. From January 2012 it has been mandatory to record these decisions on our internal project management system, thus enabling monitoring of which parts of our portfolio are being subjected to evaluation in order to identify any strategic gaps.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Wilcox on 1 May (WA 463), for what future subsidies or additional contributions they are liable in the continuing Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP); which aspects of the proposed public sector pension scheme changes will apply to the RMPP; and whether they intend that its liabilities will remain part of the whole of government accounts.[HL845]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The Government do not hold any liability in respect of the continuing Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP).

As the RMPP is not a public sector pension scheme the Government’s proposals in relation to public sector pension schemes will not apply to the RMPP. However, key changes proposed to public sector schemes—increased retirement ages and a move to career average accrual—mirror reforms made to the RMPP in 2008 and 2010.

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As Royal Mail is a public corporation and therefore within the public sector boundary, the net liabilities of the Royal Mail in respect of the RMPP remain part of Whole of Government Accounts.

Prisons: Suicides

Question

Asked by Lord Eames

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many inmates committed suicide in prison during the periods (1) 2006–07, (2) 2008–09, and (3) 2010–11. [HL850]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): NOMS uses the term apparent “self-inflicted death” to describe all deaths in prison custody where it appears that a prisoner has acted specifically to take their own life.

The information requested with respect to apparent self-inflicted deaths is shown in the table below; for the financial years 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2010-11.

Type of death2006-072008-092010-11*

Self-inflicted

72

64

54

Note: * Some deaths in custody will initially be classed as “Awaiting further information” because of a lack of information (e.g. from post-mortems or other investigations). There are currently seven such deaths for the year 2010-11. On receipt of such information, these deaths are classified as apparent self-inflicted, suspected natural causes, apparent homicide or other non-natural.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the total estimated cost of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, including security, policing and temporary constructions; and who funded the celebrations. [HL652]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The national events that took place over the four day jubilee weekend in London, were funded by the organisers, and through individual donations and corporate partnerships. Costs for elements of support and co-ordination falling to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, including certain stewarding and temporary structures built for the public and media, are still being finalised.

Restraint Advisory Board

Questions

Asked by Lord Ramsbotham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the membership of the Restraint Advisory Board; and whether any members of the Restraint Advisory Board have personal experience of the use of restraint techniques.[HL665]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any expert advisers have been appointed to the Restraint Advisory Board; and, if so, what is the professional background of each expert adviser appointed to the Restraint Advisory Board.[HL666]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Restraint Advisory Board (RAB) has completed its task of assessing the new system of restraint for use in secure training centres and young offender institutions—minimising and managing physical restraint (MMPR) and its report on MMPR will be published before the House rises for Summer Recess.

The members and their expertise are as follows:

Sue Bailey (chair) is Professor of Child and Adolescent Forensic Mental Health and Consultant Child and Adolescent Forensic Psychiatrist at the Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, and is president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists;John Crawley (deputy chair) investigated deaths and serious incidents in custody settings as a commissioner of the Independent Police Complaints Commission has worked as a consultant for the UNDP on civilian oversight in Turkey and has experience in housing, social care and healthcare in senior executive and non-executive roles;Richard Barnett is a lecturer in physiotherapy at the School of Health and Rehabilitation, Keele University, where he delivers both postgraduate and undergraduate education in relation to physiotherapy, health and the environment. and nutrition and energy balance;Colin Dale is chief executive of Caring Solutions (UK) Ltd, a mental health and learning disability consultancy;Paul Dix is Managing director of Pivotal Education Ltd an award winning behaviour management consultancy. Paul is behaviour expert for Teachers TV and the Times Educational Supplement;Pam Hibbert has worked in practice, management and policy in the youth justice arena for over 25 years. Pam is chair of the National Association for youth justice and secretary to the Standing Committee for Youth Justice;Geoff Hughes retired in 2008 after 27 years in HM Prison Service as a senior manager. Geoff currently works as a freelance international prisons consultant and is a director of

Inside Time

, a newspaper for prisoners run by a not-for-profit organisation;Ramachandran Lakshmanan is a higher specialist trainee in forensic psychiatry in Mersey Deanery and currently working as an acting consultant forensic psychiatrist in Guild Lodge Regional Secure Unit based in Preston;Nick Lessof is a consultant paediatrician and named doctor for child protection at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and is chair of the Advocacy Committee of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health;David Perry is a consultant psychiatrist in learning disabilities with a long-standing interest in the safety of restraint especially in high risk groups. He

21 Jun 2012 : Column WA323

has been instrumental in the development of a risk and reporting system to monitor the use of restraint in health and social care settings;Rosalyn Proops is a consultant paediatrician with extensive experience of developmental and social paediatrics and of all aspects of child protection work;Richard Shepherd is consultant forensic pathologist at St George’s Hospital London and the Royal Liverpool Hospital. He is a registered Home Office Forensic Pathologist and a leading forensic pathologist in the field of deaths during restraint. Richard is also a member of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody;Chris Stirling is the founder and chief executive of Positive Options one of the leading training providers in the UK, particularly regarding the training in restrictive physical interventions; andRichard Williams is professor of mental health strategy in the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care in the University of Glamorgan, and a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Aneurin Bevan Health Board in Wales.

The RAB members who have experience of applying restraint techniques in their professional capacity include Sue Bailey, Geoff Hughes, Richard Barnett, Chris Stirling, Richard Williams. Colin Dale, Pam Hibbert and David Perry.

Sri Lanka

Question

Asked by Lord Wills

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what evaluation they have made of the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in Sri Lanka. [HL735]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to my Written Ministerial Statement of 12 January on the Sri Lankan Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee's report (Official Report, col. WS 22-23).

Syria

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are using emergency and disaster budgets to meet the needs of refugees who have fled from Syria. [HL718]

Baroness Northover: Yes. The UK has committed £2 million from the Department for International Development’s (DfID) humanitarian budget to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to provide accommodation,

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food, and other essential support to Syrian refugees. This is in addition to substantial core funding which the department provides to UNHCR for its global operations. In addition to support for refugees, the UK is also funding the UN and humanitarian agencies working to provide much needed food, water and sanitation, and medical assistance to those affected by the violence in Syria and the region. Our total funding to date now stands at £8.5 million to meet humanitarian needs of people in Syria and Syrian refugees. We are engaging regularly with our humanitarian partners as to what further help may be needed.

Asked by Lord Eames

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they are extending to non-governmental organisations based in the United Kingdom in their attempts to provide humanitarian relief to the people of Syria. [HL738]

Baroness Northover: The UK has committed £4 million funding to humanitarian agencies operating in Syria and the region to deliver medical assistance, water and sanitation and other essential items. This includes funding to non-governmental organisations based in the UK. Organisations have asked us not to disclose their names in order to protect the safety of their staff and their ability to operate in a difficult environment. The UK is also funding UN agencies to meet humanitarian needs of people in Syria and Syrian refugees in the region. Our total funding to date for the humanitarian response now stands at £8.5 million. We are engaging regularly with our humanitarian partners as to what further help may be needed.

Asked by Lord Janner of Braunstone

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their latest assessment of the crackdown on protesters in Syria.[HL822]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Fifteen months on from the start of the protest in Syria some estimate that more than 15,000 people have been killed and thousands of political prisoners are imprisoned and at risk of mistreatment and torture. Over 85,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries and up to half a million are internally displaced.

The UK has condemned the actions of the Syrian regime and been at the forefront of international action to put pressure on the regime to stop the violence, including through European Union sanctions.

We believe the Annan plan is the best hope to achieve an end to violence and an orderly Syrian-led political transition. We are discussing with key partners what more we can do, including in the United Nations, to support the Annan plan.