26 Jun 2012 : Column WA43

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Written Answers

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Armed Forces: Chaplains

Question

Asked by Lord Eames

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what impact planned reductions in the future strength of the Armed Forces will have on the number of chaplains serving in the Armed Forces.[HL851]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The number of chaplains serving in the Armed Forces is dependent on the size and structure of the service which they support. Following the reductions to the Armed Forces that we announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review it is currently planned that the number of chaplains required by the Royal Navy will reduce from 68 to 62 by 2013 and the Royal Air Force chaplaincy requirement will reduce from 76 to 68 by 2018.

The outcome of the Army’s study into its future force structure will be announced once decisions have been made. Until then, it is not possible to comment on what the Army’s future requirement for chaplains will be.

Armed Forces: Submarines

Questions

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what sum will be spent between 1 April 2010 and 1 April 2015 on work to replace the Vanguard class ballistic missile submarines.[HL872]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Expenditure on the successor submarine programme, over the period requested, is estimated at around £1.9 billion. The total spend on the successor deterrent’s assessment phase up until 2015 is £3 billion.

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any of the studies conducted by the Ministry of Defence in the past forty years into alternative deterrent systems to submarine-launched ballistic missiles have identified any options that (1) are less expensive than those missiles, and (2) meet minimum deterrence criteria.[HL924]

Lord Astor of Hever: The Ministry of Defence is not aware of any options in the past 40 years that would have met the minimum defence criteria and that would have been less expensive than a submarine-launched ballistic missile system. In May 2011, it was announced that the Cabinet Office would lead a study to investigate the costs, feasibility and credibility of alternative systems and postures for the nuclear deterrent. This study will support the Liberal Democrats in making the case for

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA44

alternatives, is expected to take around 18 months to complete and will report jointly to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

Armed Forces: Trident

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what sum will be spent between 1 April 2010 and 1 April 2015 on nuclear warheads and associated facilities for the Trident D5 missiles.[HL873]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Expenditure on nuclear warheads and associated facilities for the Trident D5 missiles over the period requested is estimated at £5.8 billion at outturn prices.

This amount includes build, maintenance and decommissioning of UK nuclear warheads and operation of the Atomic Weapons Establishment sites; the UK’s Government to Government arrangement with the United States covering both title to a number of D5 Trident missiles and a contribution to missile-processing facilities in the US; and operation of the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport.

Broadcasting: Weather Forecasts

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are any restrictions preventing television channels from broadcasting in the United Kingdom weather forecasts that include the Republic of Ireland; and if so, whether they will ensure that weather forecasts broadcast in the United Kingdom are permitted to feature the weather for the Republic of Ireland. [HL859]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: There are no requirements preventing licensed television channels from broadcasting in the United Kingdom weather forecasts that include the Republic of Ireland. This is an editorial decision for broadcasters to take.

In relation to the BBC, the Royal Charter provides that the BBC is to be independent in all matters concerning the content of its output and there are therefore no restrictions placed on the coverage of the weather forecasts which the BBC provides for licence payers within the UK.

Care Services: Funding

Question

Asked by Baroness Greengross

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much local authorities have spent on adult social care services for the past six years for which data are available.[HL891]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The information requested is provided in the following table.

This information is collected through the personal social services expenditure and unit cost (PSSEX1) return, completed by local authorities and collected annually by the National Health Service Information Centre.

Net total adult social care expenditure 2005-06 to 2010-11 (includes supporting people grant that local authorities have classified as social care expenditure)
Year£ millions

2005-06

12,330

2006-07

12,810

2007-08

13,130

2008-09

13,850

2009-10

14,460

2010-11

14,610

Source; NHS Information Centre, PSSEX1 final return, 2010-11 report

Chagos Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the outcome of the meeting on 10 June between the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Mauritius; and whether the rights of the Chagossians were discussed.[HL760]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): I refer the noble Lord to the answer to Lord Avebury on 20 June (Official Report, col. WA 292-3).

Climate Change

Questions

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the Department for International Development has spent on activities related to supporting developing countries in climate adaptation and low-carbon policies since May 2010.[HL877]

Baroness Northover: In the Spending Review 2010, the coalition Government established the International Climate Fund (ICF) to help developing countries tackle climate change and reduce poverty. The ICF will provide £2.9 billion of climate finance between 2011 and 2015. Funding for the ICF is provided by the Department for International Development (DfID) (£1.8 billion), the Department for Energy and Climate Change (£1 billion) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (£100 million with respect to forestry). Ministers have agreed that the ICF will aim for a balanced allocation between adaptation (50%), low-carbon development/mitigation (30%) and forestry (20%). This will be kept under review.

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In advance of the meeting of the conference of the parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa in November-December 2011, the UK Government published their progress report on meeting their Fast Start finance commitment to provide £1.5 billion in climate finance to developing countries in the period 2010-12. The ICF fully funds the UK Fast Start finance commitments in 2011 and 2012. The report is available on the DfID website at www.dfid.gov.uk. As of November 2011, total UK Fast Start spend and commitments totalled £1.056 billion, of which £379.94 million was for adaptation and £406.25 million was for low carbon development and mitigation.

The UK Government will publish their 2012 Fast Start report for the next COP meeting in Qatar at the end of this year.

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has spent in the area of international relations on activities related to climate change since May 2010.[HL878]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) addresses climate change alongside the challenge of energy security. The major costs arise from programme funding and staff salaries. In the 2010-11 financial year (the most recent period for which verified figures are currently available), the FCO spent £30,973,577 on activities related to climate change and energy security. This figure takes into account programme funding, staff costs relating to officials (of whom there are approximately hundred in the UK and overseas) and travel, subsistence and allowances.

Council Tax

Question

Asked by Baroness Hollis of Heigham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the additional revenue that would be generated, both by region and by county, by the introduction in England of a new higher council tax band, based on a property value of £424,000 in 1991 and with a 21/9 multiplier relative to Band D, as is currently the case in Wales. [HL932]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): No such assessment has been made by the department.

I would add that such council tax rebanding would require a council tax revaluation. The 2005 revaluation and rebanding in Wales saw four times as many homes move up one or more bands as move down; the biggest increase in the tax burden fell on homes in Bands A to C.

As outlined in the Written Statement of 11 October 2010 (Official Report, Commons, col. 2WS) the coalition Government have made a clear pledge not to undertake a council tax revaluation in this Parliament.

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Curfews

Questions

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what precedents there are for a total curfew on any age group of people preventing them from being present in a town or city centre in the United Kingdom.[HL920]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the statutory provisions under which a curfew may be enforced in a town or city centre in the United Kingdom; and who those provisions authorise to order such a curfew.[HL921]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 gives the Government the power to make regulations that could be used to impose a total curfew during a state of emergency. The legal threshold is very high and the power has never been used.

Under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, the police have the power to designate an area experiencing persistent anti-social behaviour as a dispersal zone with the consent of the relevant local authority, and to:

direct an individual or group to leave that zone and not return for up to 24 hours, if an officer has reasonable grounds for believing that their presence or behaviour has resulted, or is likely to result in a member of the public being harassed, alarmed, intimidated or distressed; andreturn to their home young people under 16, who are out on the streets after 9 pm and not under the control of an adult if they are at risk from anti-social behaviour or crime, or causing, or at risk of causing, anti-social behaviour.

Drugs: Thalidomide

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received concerning the case for providing further financial support for victims of thalidomide after the current three-year support package runs out.[HL772]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Since the beginning of 2012, we have received nine Parliamentary Questions and 147 pieces of correspondence on the subject of the continuation of financial support for victims of Thalidomide.

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Care Services met with the chief executive of the Thalidomide Trust and members of the National Advisory Council on 12 June 2012 and aims to meet them again in the autumn.

Departmental officials are also due to meet members of the National Advisory Council and the Thalidomide Trust in July of this year to discuss the evaluation report for year two of the grant.

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA48

Employment

Question

Asked by Lord Janner of Braunstone

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what actions they will take following the announcement by the Office for National Statistics that the number of people working beyond state pension age has risen to around 1.4 million in 2011 compared to around 800,000 in 2000.[HL855]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): We are living longer, healthier lives and many people want to work beyond state pension age. Older workers have a vital contribution to make to our economy and long-term prosperity, bring a wealth of skills and experience to the workplace and are good news for corporate Britain. If everyone was to work a year longer, research has shown that real GDP could increase by around 1%.

Working longer is one way for people to ensure they have an adequate income in retirement. Retiring two years after state pension age and continuing to save in that time can enhance private pension income by 20%.

We have already taken action to ensure people can retire at a time that is right for them by removing the default retirement age, and we are working with employers and employers’ organisations, through the Age Positive Initiative to challenge outdated assumptions about older workers.

Employment: Under-25s

Question

Asked by Baroness Brinton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many 18 to 21 year-olds are employed in the public sector (1) full time, and (2) part time.[HL999]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, Director General for ONS, to Baroness Brinton, dated June 2012.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many 18 to 21 year-olds are employed in the public sector (1) full time, and (2) part time. [HL999]

For the period January-March 2012, it is estimated that there were 53,000 full-time and 51,000 part-time 18 to 21 year-olds employed in the public sector. The estimates are derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), and are not seasonally adjusted. As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

In the LFS the distinction between public and private sector is based on respondents’ views about the organisation for which they work. The public sector estimates provided do not correspond to official Public Sector Employment estimates. Those are derived directly from employers and are based on National Accounts definitions, but do not include an age breakdown.

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Energy: Power Harvesting

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the (1) advantages, and (2) disadvantages of “power harvesting” combining wind, solar and hydro-electric technology.[HL895]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Department of Energy and Climate Change has no plans to assess the advantages or disadvantages of power harvesting combining wind, solar and hydro-electric technology.

EU: Space Weather

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, in collaboration with other European countries and the European Space Agency, to establish a European system for monitoring, forecasting and disseminating information on space weather. [HL839]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): The UK Space Agency is working with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a space situational awareness programme. An element of this programme covers the development of operational space weather monitoring facilities, including space borne instruments, ground based sensors and telescopes. A further element of the programme addresses the provision and dissemination of space weather forecasts and event warnings by setting up a pilot space weather service centre with expert advisers, a support helpdesk, an archive and a web portal.

This is an optional ESA programme and UK participation must be subject to review against other calls on the space agency budget. A draft business case supporting participation has been prepared by agency staff in consultation with the UK space weather community and interested stakeholders.

Extradition

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the United Kingdom’s extradition arrangements with the United States are substantially different from those of other Commonwealth countries; and, if so, to what extent the differences are influenced by international security arrangements rather than judicial considerations.[HL643]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): Extradition between the UK and the US is governed by the bilateral UK-US treaty that came into force on 26 April 2007, as amended by the agreement on extradition between the US and the European Union, which came

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA50

into force on 1 February 2010. Extradition between the UK and Commonwealth countries is governed by the London Scheme on Extradition within the Commonwealth.

Although not identical, both these instruments contain safeguards for defendants commonly found in cross-border criminal justice measures. The London Scheme requires the requesting state to establish a prima facie case that the person committed an offence, but this is disapplied in domestic law in relation to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It has also been disapplied as between the UK and the US. The UK still requires prima facie evidence from other signatories to the London Scheme. These differences are based on judicial considerations and not on international security arrangements.

Extradition arrangements between the US and Commonwealth countries are a bilateral matter for the countries concerned.

Government Departments: Food Waste

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the decision of both Houses of Parliament to sign up to the WRAP Hospitality and Food Service Voluntary Agreement to reduce food waste, the Cabinet Office will sign up to that agreement; and whether they will encourage catering contractors employed by the Office to do the same.[HL978]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Cabinet Office has already pledged its support to the WRAP Hospitality and Food Service Voluntary Agreement.

The department will be encouraging its catering providers to sign up to the agreement.

Government Departments: Smoking

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 13 June concerning arrangements for officials of the Ministry of Defence who smoke during office hours (WA 254), in what way the information was assessed to be too expensive to collect, by whom, and when, and why other departments were able to provide similar information at proportionate costs.[HL946]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has over 900 sites throughout the United Kingdom. The facilities for smoking arrangements are a local decision. The MoD does not hold this information centrally, and could therefore only be provided by collating information from every site, at disproportionate cost.

In respect of London, there is no smoking in Main Building or the Old War Office or within five metres of an entrance, steps, ramp or building window. Ashtray

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA51

bins are provided beyond the south entrance ramps towards the Embankment and Whitehall entrances to the south car park.

The MoD smoking at work policy is stated in JSP 375 MoD Health and Safety Handbook Volume 2 Leaflet 50, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Health: Multiple Sclerosis

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their plans to increase the range of publicly available data on (1) outcomes, and (2) services, for people with multiple sclerosis.[HL755]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many multiple sclerosis patients received treatment for their condition in (1) each primary care trust, and (2) England, in each of the past five years for which data are available.[HL756]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the multiple sclerosis register; and what plans they have for improvements to the register.[HL757]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the forthcoming commissioning outcomes framework will include indicators on multiple sclerosis.[HL758]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Information on the number of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients receiving treatment for their condition is not available in the requested format.

Information on MS patients who received treatment as admitted patients in hospital has been placed in the Library.

On 21 May 2012, the Government published their information strategy for health and social care in England. The strategy, entitled The Power of InformationPutting Us All in Control of the Health and Care Information We Need, sets a 10-year framework for transforming information for health and care. Although the strategy does not make specific references to people with MS, it sets out a vision in which information reduces inequalities and benefits all.

Although a small number of actions will need to be led nationally, many more actions will require local decisions, local leadership and local drive. Implementation will be driven at the local level, responding to local priorities and needs across health, social care and public health. Consequently, while the information strategy sets a shared, coherent vision for information, more detailed implementation plans will take shape in the months and years ahead to achieve the vision within specific parts of the health and care sector.

The strategy sets out a number of general principles and commitments that will be of benefit to patients and users of care services, including people with MS. The strategy has already been placed in the Library and can be accessed online, via the following link: www.informationstrategy.dh.gov.uk.

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Although there is no specific indicator for MS in the NHS Outcomes Framework, there are a number of indicators that are relevant to people living with this condition.

For example, the overarching indicator “health related quality of life for people with long-term conditions” and many of the patient experience measures will capture people with long-term conditions.

We have already published data around 30 indicators in the NHS Outcomes Framework, and will be publishing data for the remaining indicators as and when they become available. Data can be accessed in the NHS Information Centre’s website via: www.indicators.ic. nhs.uk/webview.

We have made no assessment of the multiple sclerosis register. The register, which is funded by the MS Society, will provide an understanding of the numbers of people diagnosed with MS, and will also capture important information about the experiences of people living with MS, such as time to diagnosis, the symptoms they experience and the services they receive.

The Commissioning Outcomes Framework (COF), which is a framework of indicators of the quality of health services commissioned by clinical commissioning groups, will take a generic approach to long-term conditions. This recognises that many patients have multiple long-term conditions or co-morbidities, and by focusing on specific diseases it risks overlooking the holistic needs of these patients. Outcomes frameworks therefore focus on the more specific outcomes that matter to patients regardless of what long-term condition they have.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is developing proposals for comparative outcome measures for the Commissioning Outcomes Framework in partnership with the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Its independent advisory committee held meetings in public to consider the evidence base on 21 and 22 May, and we look forward to the publication of their recommendations on 1 August.

The NHS Commissioning Board will then make decisions on the shape of the framework for 2013-14.

Health: Nurses

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many district nurses were employed in England by the National Health Service in (1) 2009-10, (2) 2010-11, and (3) 2011-12.[HL950]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The following table gives the number of district nurses employed in England in the years requested.

National Health Service Hospital and Community Health Services: District Nurses in England as at 30 September each specified year
headcount
200920102011

District nurse

9,327

9,136

8,166

Source: Health and Social Care Information Centre Non-medical Workforce Census

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA53

Notes: The new headcount methodology is not fully comparable with data for years prior to 2012, due to improvements that make it a more stringent count of absolute staff numbers. Headcount totals are unlikely to equal the sum of components. Further information on the headcount methodology is available in the Census publication. In 2011 the back staff return was ceased. All data (for all years) in these tables exclude bank staff.

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many National Health Service Trusts of any type have a non-executive board member who is a registered nurse.[HL952]

Earl Howe: This information is not collected centrally.

House of Lords: Dress Code

Question

Asked by Lord Trefgarne

To ask the Chairman of Committees whether he is satisfied with the observance of the rules relating to dress in the Peers’ Guest Room, the Peers’ Dining Room and the Barry Room.[HL964]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): The dress code for these outlets, as set out in the handbook on facilities and services for Members, is as follows:

“In the Peers’ Dining and Guest Dining Rooms, the Guest Room and the Barry Room, men are required to wear a jacket and tie. Women and children should be appropriately dressed”.

Managers within each outlet do advise Members of the code, but adherence to the code is a matter for Members themselves. I intend to put this matter before the Refreshment Committee in due course, so that they may consider the appropriateness of the rules.

Internet: Broadband

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Exeter

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they plan to take to encourage the provision of high- capacity backhaul to rural base stations, including both the existing stock and those to be deployed in the Mobile Infrastructure Project, in order to (1) reduce the number of properties limited to the 2 Mbps universal service commitment, (2) deliver a bridge towards superfast broadband speeds, and (3) provide flexibility for other broadband schemes in rural communities.[HL913]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Mobile Infrastructure Project is designed to improve mobile voice coverage in remote locations. The Rural Broadband Programme is addressing broadband capacity in the access network but does not have a specific objective of providing backhaul to rural base stations.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent representations they have made to the Government of Israel about the demolition of houses in the Susiya area of the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, and attacks on civilians by Israeli settlers.[HL865]

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA54

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We are concerned about the continued threats of demolition of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Officials from our Consulate-General in Jerusalem led a delegation of European Union (EU) diplomats to the village of Susiya on 3 May 2012. Following the announcement of a further 50 demolition orders on 12 June, our officials participated in another trip to Susiya on 15 June, led by the EU.

We are increasingly concerned at the rise in violence by extremist Israeli settlers against ordinary Palestinians. We have regularly raised the issue of settler violence with the Israeli Government, calling on the Israeli authorities to prevent such acts and to ensure that any incidents are fully investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) joined other EU Foreign Ministers in issuing conclusions from the EU Foreign Affairs Council in May 2012, expressing “deep concern regarding settler extremism and incitement by settlers” and condemning “continuous settler violence and deliberate provocations against Palestinian civilians”. The Foreign Affairs Council called on the Israeli Government to bring the perpetrators to justice and to comply with its obligations under international law. The UK issued a Ministerial Statement condemning the act of arson and vandalism against a mosque in the West Bank of Jaba on 18 June, commenting on the worrying trend of violence by extremist Israeli settlers, including the shooting of two Palestinians in May.

Our embassy in Tel Aviv most recently raised our concerns with the Israeli Defence Minister on 4 June 2012 and with the office of the Israeli Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Our ambassador to Tel Aviv and consul-general to Jerusalem have arranged a further meeting with the co-ordinator, General Dangot, at which they will raise a range of issues, including Susiya and settler violence.

Ivory Coast

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are helping to improve conditions for internally displaced persons in the Ivory Coast and to achieve their return to their original or equivalent locations. [HL806]

Baroness Northover: While the political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire is now over, we recognise that there are significant numbers of refugees still in Liberia. At the peak of the crisis in April last year there were an estimated 173,690 Ivorian refugees, but numbers have now reduced significantly. However, there are still 69,561 Ivorian refugees, including 35,042 living in refugee camps and 34,519 in host communities.

These refugees need continuing humanitarian assistance. The most basic need facing Ivorian refugees is food, particularly for refugees in camps who are dependent

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA55

on World Food Programme (WFP) food rations. Their presence has also put a huge strain on impoverished host communities.

As a result of these continuing needs, the UK Government recently agreed an additional £1 million grant to WFP. These funds intended likely to deliver the following results:

provide food for around 5,000 Ivorian refugees for 12 months; andprovide school feeding for 15,000 Ivorian school children for 12 months.

Legislation

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered a Bill proposed by a member of the public and entitled Sale of Supernatural or Spiritual Benefits (Prohibition) Bill, as sent to the Cabinet Office on 29 May.[HL852]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Cabinet Office, in common with other government departments, has exchanged detailed correspondence with the member of public in question in recent months. The department has received a copy of the proposed Bill, and will respond direct to the correspondent shortly.

NHS: Waiting Times

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Manchester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have on current waiting times for out-patients with pre-booked appointments at NHS hospitals; what monitoring the Department of Health conducts of the administration of out-patient departments; and whether they are satisfied with current arrangements. [HL904]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department does not collect information on either the time patients spend waiting in National Health Service hospitals for outpatient appointments or the administration of outpatient departments. It is up to individual hospitals to manage their outpatient departments efficiently, in order to provide high-quality patient-focused services. Patients rightly expect a high standard of care and treatment from the NHS and hospitals need to use information from patient experience surveys to inform improvements in their services.

Nigeria

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the Dassiutta Peace Initiative in Nigeria and its work.[HL807]

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA56

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is aware of the presence of the Damietta Peace Initiative in Jos, Plateau State, but not sufficiently to be able to make a formal assessment of its work in Nigeria.

The Government remain concerned about ongoing violence in northern Nigeria.

Through our High Commission in Abuja and the Department for International Development, the Government aim to support the Nigerian authorities in finding lasting solutions to the causes of conflict in Nigeria. This work has included interfaith mediation conferences, and events targeted at bringing together young people to promote peace and unity.

Overseas Aid

Questions

Asked by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government to how many countries they have provided official development assistance in each year since 1997, and which were the countries in question.[HL716]

Baroness Northover: As a result of the bilateral aid review commissioned in May 2010, the Department for International Development (DfID) aid programme is focused in fewer countries, so that support can be targeted where it will make the biggest difference. Twenty-eight priority countries have been identified.

The table below shows the number of countries that received official development assistance (ODA) from the UK Government in each year since 1997. Electronic records for the DfID contributions to UK ODA do not exist prior to 2006.

YearDfID-only Official Development AssistanceAll UK Official Development Assistance

1997


129

1998


128

1999


128

2000


126

2001


120

2002


119

2003


117

2004


115

2005


113

2006

105

113

2007

93

129

2008

88

130

2009

91

132

2010

78

133

DfID publishes details of official development assistance in the “Statistics on International Development” publication. Data from 2006 to 2011 can be found here: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/About-us/How-we-measure- progress/Aid-Statistics/Statistics-on-International-Development-2011/.

The list of countries that have received UK ODA, since 1997, will be deposited in the House Library.

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA57

Asked by Lord Judd

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was their expenditure on resilience programmes and disaster risk reduction in their humanitarian development programmes in each of the past two financial years. [HL957]

Baroness Northover: Accurately measuring donor expenditure on resilience is difficult as it covers a broad range of humanitarian and development interventions. The most recent data on disaster risk reduction available from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) statistical database are for 2010 and state that the United Kingdom spent US$36.9 million (£23.6 million equivalent) in this sector. Figures for 2011 are not yet available.

Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what the costs of Ofcom have been in each year since its commencement; how much has been paid each year by way of employer and other cash contributions to staff pension schemes and pension deficit repair payments to Ofcom pension plans; and what percentage of annual expenditure such payments have represented. [HL789]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Ofcom’s costs are set out in Ofcom’s annual reports, which are available online at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/about/annual-reports- and-plans/annual-reports.

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Ofcom’s primary means of providing pension benefits is through a defined contribution pension allowance that is available to all staff. Ofcom staff are employed on terms with access to a stakeholder pension plan. The allowance may be used to contribute to the Ofcom-defined contribution stakeholder pension plan.

Staff who joined Ofcom from legacy regulators were entitled to retain membership of one of two defined benefit (DB) pension plans. Both these plans were closed to new entrants from the date Ofcom assumed its powers on 29 December 2003. Following consultation with plan members, Ofcom closed both plans to future accrual from 1 June 2011.

The defined benefit obligation disclosed in the annual accounts has been calculated in accordance with IFRS accounting standards. Ofcom’s cash contributions to the two defined benefit plans are, however, determined in accordance with the Pensions Act 2004 and this requires a significantly more prudent measure of the liabilities than IFRS. Pensions Act funding valuations with an effective date of 31 March 2012 are currently in progress for both defined benefit plans. The results of these valuations are not yet known but, unlike under IFRS, they are expected to show a significant deficit.

The below table sets out the employer contributions and deficit repair payments made by Ofcom for both the defined contribution and defined benefit schemes. No other cash contributions have been made to the pension schemes.

Employer ContributionsEmployer ContributionsDeficit Repair PaymentsTotal Pension Scheme CostsActual Operating Cost Outturn%
DC schemeDB scheme
£’000£’000£’000£’000£’000

2003-04*

400

628

-

1,028

31,384

3.30%

2004-05

2,000

3,078

122

5,200

121,555

4.30%

2005-06

2,000

5,107

4,493

11,600

128,986

9.00%

2006-07

3,100

4,052

508

7,660

129,420

5.90%

2007-08

3,100

3,910

3,000

10,010

130,002

7.70%

2008-09

3,400

3,920

4,500

11,820

127,623

9.30%

2009-10

3,700

-

14,020

17,720

129,270

13.70%

2010-11

3,700

2,830

4,060

10,590

125,308

8.50%

*3 month period only from 29 December 2003 to 31 March 2004 2011-12 data will be laid before Parliament and published in July 2012

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage and number of pensioners will no longer be entitled to claim top-up social security payments after the introduction of the proposed flat rate old age state pension.[HL846]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The Budget 2012 confirmed that the single-tier pension will be set above the basic level of the means test to help ensure that people can save for their retirement with confidence.

We will provide further detail on the impacts of reform in a white paper later this year.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many United Kingdom citizens in receipt of a state pension whilst resident in countries where that pension is not uprated claimed a temporary uprating to cover the period of their visit to (a) the United Kingdom, and (b) another country where pension levels are uprated, in each of the last five years for which figures are available.[HL939]

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA59

Lord Freud: There are insufficient data to provide an estimate.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why United Kingdom citizens in receipt of a state pension whilst resident in countries where that pension is not uprated are unable to claim a temporary uprating while visiting (a) the United States, and (b) Bermuda. [HL940]

Lord Freud: The reciprocal social security agreements between the UK and respectively the USA and Bermuda are designed to co-ordinate the national insurance and benefit position of people who live or work in those countries. They aim to provide reciprocity for people who are ordinarily resident in one of the states party to the agreements, but not to residents of third countries.

Therefore a person who is ordinarily resident in a third country but temporarily resident in the USA or Bermuda cannot take advantage of the pension up-rating provisions in these bilateral agreements.

The Government have no plans to change the current arrangements for the payment of UK state pension paid overseas.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the cost of processing claims for the uprating of pensions from United Kingdom citizens in receipt of a state pension whilst resident in countries where pension levels are not uprated for the period when they are visiting the UK or other countries where pension levels are uprated; and how many civil servants are employed to process such claims.[HL941]

Lord Freud: The department does not currently record this information.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the minimum duration of a visit by a United Kingdom citizen in receipt of a state pension and resident in a country where that pension is not uprated in order to allow a claim for uprating when visiting the UK or other countries where pension levels are uprated. [HL942]

Lord Freud: Where a United Kingdom citizen, who is in receipt of a state pension and is resident in a country where their pension is not uprated, returns or visits the UK, there is no minimum period of residence required in the UK before their pension can be uprated to the current rates. When a person arrives from a frozen rate country, they must make an application to have their pension uprated.

If the person then returns to their previous country (back to frozen rate), their rate of pension reverts to that which was in payment before they arrived in the UK. The residence in the UK is regarded as a visit or temporary residence.

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Prisoners of War: Compensation

Question

Asked by Lord Barnett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Government of Japan paid the second instalment of compensation for those British prisoners of war during 1941-45 who were forced to build the bridge over the River Kwai; how much has been received; and when it will be paid to the ex-prisoners.[HL723]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty made no provision for the payment of compensation to either prisoners of war (POWs) or civilian internees, but under Article 16 Japan expressed its desire to indemnify those members of the allied Armed Forces who suffered undue hardship while being POWs. Accordingly Japan transferred its assets in axis and neutral countries to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The UK’s share of £1,636,281 produced a payment of £25 per prisoner. In addition to this amount Her Majesty’s Government decided to use the proceeds of Japanese assets in the UK, retained under Article 14 of the treaty, to make ex-gratia payments to British ex-POWs and civilian internees, amounting to £48.50 per head. Her Majesty’s Government also received from the Thai Government £174,871 from the sale of the Burma/Siam railway, which included the bridge over the River Kwai, giving a further £3 per POW and bringing the maximum total of payment to £76.50. This amount was distributed mainly in 1952-56 to some 50,000 ex-POWs and £48.50 to a further 9,000 internees. This amounts to £1,807.02 and £1,145.63, respectively, in 2012 pounds.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Question

Asked by Lord Lamont of Lerwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will ask Tate Modern why they failed to fly a Union Flag or display any recognition of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the face of their building during the Jubilee celebration and the river flotilla procession.[HL840]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Both Tate Britain and Tate Modern actively participated in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

A Union Flag was displayed at Tate Britain on the existing flag pole. There is no flag pole at Tate Modern, and therefore no Union Flag was displayed.

Tate Modern welcomed visitors, making its landscape available for a giant screen and for the BBC to park its outside broadcast vehicles. It also provided a balcony for international film crews.

The restaurant, a private room and all the balconies were open to visitors who arrived early. As a result of this, hundreds of members of the public were able to take advantage of exceptional views of the river flotilla procession.

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA61

Schools: Toilets and Washing Facilities

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 23 April (WA 372), what assessment has been made of the research into school toilets and washing facilities submitted in response to the consultation on the new school premises regulations.[HL869]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): It is difficult to assess whether the research findings submitted in response to the consultation represent an accurate picture of school toilets and washing facilities today. Nine of the 13 studies referred to were carried out prior to 2005, with the largest one, covering 928 schools, dating from 2003.

Most of the problems highlighted related to how the facilities were looked after and maintained rather than to the quantity or type of provision. We do not believe that regulation can be the whole answer to addressing such issues.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the new school premises regulations will require schools to provide a certain number of toilets and washing facilities for pupils, as the new Early Years Foundation Stage does for younger children.[HL871]

Lord Hill of Oareford: The new school premises regulations will require schools to provide toilets and washing facilities that are suitable, amongst other factors, for the number of pupils on the roll, but they will not give a set ratio of fittings to numbers of pupils.

The new statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, which covers pupils under the age of five at both maintained and independent schools, requires that an adequate number of toilets and hand basins are available and says that this will usually be one toilet and one hand basin for every 10 children over the age of two.

Sri Lanka

Question

Asked by Lord Wills

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Sri Lanka about the killings and violence shown in the Channel 4 films “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields” and “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished”; and on what dates any such representations were made.[HL902]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK has consistently called for an independent, thorough and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by both sides in the military conflict, including those

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA62

raised by Channel 4. We regularly raise with the Government of Sri Lanka the need to make progress on reconciliation, accountability and human rights. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) discussed these issues when he met the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister on 6 June, as did our High Commissioner in Colombo when he met Presidential Adviser Milinda Moragoda on 22 May.

Telecommunications: e-Accessibility Forum

Question

Asked by Baroness Goudie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Rawlings on 10 March 2011 (WA 429), when the first meeting of the e-Accessibility Forum sub-group on telecommunications and relay services will be held; and who are its members. [HL727]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The first meeting of the e-Accessibility Forum relay services working group is due to be held on 5th July 2012. The current membership comprises: BT, Intellect, PhoneAbility, Positive Signs, Sign Solutions, Significan’t, Sorenson, Telecommunications Advisory Group, Mobile Broadband Group, UK Competitive Telecommunications Association, UK Council on Deafness, Sign on Screen, Customer Contact Association, Cabinet Office, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Office for Disability Issues and Ofcom.

Telecommunications: Hearing Impairment

Question

Asked by Baroness Goudie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Rawlings on 10 March 2011 (WA 429), what is their assessment of the level of access to telecommunications currently available to British sign language users.[HL728]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Ofcom has conducted research to better understand the needs of disabled consumers who use British Sign Language (BSL) when accessing telecommunications services. That research suggests that the current approved text relay service remains a valuable service for many users with hearing and/or speech impairments, helping them to communicate with others on an equivalent basis to voice communications.

However, the current text relay service was criticised for not allowing natural real-time conversations, for slow conversation speeds and for not being compatible with mainstream equipment such as PCs and Macs. Users of BSL—particularly those with low levels of literacy—also reported finding text relay services difficult to use.

Ofcom announced on 30 May 2012 its proposals, which offer a number of significant improvements for disabled customers to the existing relay service provision. This includes the introduction of Next Generation Text Relay (NGTR), an improved and extended text

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA63

relay service available 24/7, enabling support for two-way simultaneous communication and allowing mainstream equipment to be used.

I am keen that businesses including telecommunication companies provide Video Relay Services (VRS) for their disabled customers, and Ed Vaizey will be holding a round table soon with businesses that have customer-facing services to discuss this further. BT is currently running a trial for its disabled customers and I hope that its results will encourage others to follow suit. Ofcom will also consult on specific proposals for VRS later this year, and this will help to progress work in this area.

War Crimes

Question

Asked by Lord Wills

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy on the prosecution of war crimes committed by the armed forces of other states.[HL819]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): In the first instance the United Kingdom encourages individual states to

26 Jun 2012 : Column WA64

investigate and, where appropriate, to prosecute allegations of war crimes that have occurred in their territory or been committed by members of their armed forces. The UK plays an important role in promoting and supporting the development of stronger national capacity, through both diplomatic and development activity.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), of which the UK is a strong supporter, was created to bring the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide to justice where national courts are unable or unwilling to do so. Where a state is not a party to the Rome Statute setting up the ICC, the UK has urged countries to hold those accused of war crimes to account for their actions. The UK and our partners also work to encourage states to ratify the Rome Statute in order to achieve universality. The International Criminal Court Act 2001 provides for domestic jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when committed outside the UK by a UK national, residents or persons subject to UK service jurisdiction. A prosecution under these Acts for an offence committed outside the UK may proceed in England and Wales or Northern Ireland only with the consent of the Attorney-General or Advocate-General for Northern Ireland. In Scotland, all prosecutions on indictment are done in the name of the Lord Advocate.