16 July 2012 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Monday 16 July 2012

Ascension Island

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Ascension Island has ever been used for rendition flights.[HL1248]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have no records to suggest that Ascension Island has ever been used for rendition flights.

I refer the noble Lord to the answer given by the Minister for Europe, my right honourable friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), on 1 December 2011 (Official Report, Commons, cols. 1110-11W).

Bahrain

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Bahrain regarding the medical welfare of disabled prisoners.[HL1538]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We frequently and consistently raise our concerns on a range of human rights issues with the Government of Bahrain. We expect the authorities to meet all their human rights obligations by ensuring its citizens can exercise the universal human rights to which they are entitled. This includes medical welfare of disabled prisoners.

Banking: LIBOR

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect to publish the outcome of their review into the operation of the London Interbank Offered Rate for Sterling deposits.[HL1289]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Chancellor of the Exchequer has asked Martin Wheatley, the chief executive designate of the Financial Conduct Authority, to review what reforms are required to the current framework for setting and governing the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).

The Chancellor announced in his Statement on 2 July that Mr Wheatley has agreed to report this summer.

16 July 2012 : Column WA2

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the London Interbank Offered Rate will be the reference rate for the proposed “funding for lending” scheme. [HL1292]

Lord Sassoon: LIBOR will not be used as a reference rate for the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS). Details of how the fee for participating in the FLS is calculated can be found on the Bank of England website: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Pages/news/2012/067.aspx.

In summary, the price at which each bank can borrow in the FLS will depend on their lending performance. For banks that maintain or expand their stock of lending the fee will be 0.25% on the amount borrowed. For banks whose lending declines, the fee will increase linearly, adding 0.25% for each 1% fall in lending up to a maximum of 1.5% where lending decreases by 5% or more.

Banking

Questions

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to bring forward the introduction of actions consequent upon the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking.[HL1294]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The timeline for implementing the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) is detailed in the White Paper published on 14 June 2012. The Government have committed to have all primary and secondary legislation in place by the end of this Parliament and, as the ICB recommended, banks will be expected to have implemented reforms by 2019.

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many persons working for (1) Barclays Bank, and (2) in any other banks operating in the United Kingdom, have this year lost the status of being Financial Services Authority Approved Persons.[HL1315]

Lord Sassoon: This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority (FSA), whose day-to-day operations are independent from government control and influence. This question has been passed on to the FSA, which will reply to the noble Lord directly by letter. A copy of the response will be placed in the Library of the House.

Children: Looked-after Children

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implementation of, and adherence to, the Care Planning, Placement and

16 July 2012 : Column WA3

Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, and of the placement of significant numbers of looked-after children in East Kent.[HL1196]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): There have been in-depth discussions between my colleague Tim Loughton, as the Minister responsible for looked-after children, and councillors and senior officials of Kent County Council. These talks have covered a range of concerns arising from the large numbers of looked-after children placed in East Kent by other local authorities. My honourable friend Mr Loughton made a Statement on 3 July announcing a programme of work that, amongst other issues, will be considering urgent measures to address the disproportionate placement of looked-after children in homes concentrated in particular parts of the country.

Energy: Smart Meters

Question

Asked by Baroness Worthington

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what provision is being made for the introduction of smart meters to enable customers to benefit from tariffs that reward dynamic responses to demand on the national grid.[HL1267]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government's vision is for every home in Great Britain to have smart energy meters, and for businesses users to have smart or advanced energy metering suited to their needs. The Government intend to require energy suppliers to complete the rollout of smart meters by 2019. The technical specification for smart metering equipment includes the requirement to include multiple registers within the meters in order to support a range of time-of-use or dynamic tariffs.

Enterprise Zones

Question

Asked by Lord Kinnock

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 27 March (WA 235), what progress has been made in discussions with the Welsh Government relating to the provision of enhanced capital allowance status to the Rassau enterprise zone near Ebbw Vale in South Wales. [HL1409]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): In Budget 2012 the Government announced that enhanced capital allowances would be made available at a designated site at the enterprise zone in Deeside, North Wales. Separately, the Government offered to consider further proposals from the Welsh Government for additional zones where enhanced capital allowances would be made available. No additional proposals have been received from the Welsh Government since this offer was made.

16 July 2012 : Column WA4

Fluoridation

Questions

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 25 June (WA 17), whether members of the working group on Water Fluoridation in EnglandMonitoring Health Effects will declare any affiliations to the British Fluoridation Society when their final recommendations are published.[HL1390]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Yes. We will include details of any relevant interests that members of the working party have in any report we publish.

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how wide the consultation will be on the content of regulations to be brought forward on water fluoridation under the Health and Social Care Act 2012; and when they expect the consultation to take place.[HL1391]

Earl Howe: The consultation will be on the changes we propose to make through regulations on the legal and technical aspects of the process for considering proposals for the fluoridation of drinking water as well as for the variation and termination of existing fluoridation schemes.

This consultation will be an opportunity for the department to obtain the views of local authorities, National Health Service commissioners, public health professionals, service providers, equality representatives and all other interested parties on the future arrangements for considering proposals for fluoridation schemes. The consultation, which is expected to start over the summer, will run for a period of 12 weeks.

Forced Marriage

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government with which countries they collaborate to stop child marriages and forced marriage; and how.[HL1134]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government are committed to tackling the practice of forced marriage and providing the best protection possible to victims.

Through our unique cross-government Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) we do more to protect and support victims than any other country in the world. Our embassies and High Commissions conduct hundreds of rescues and repatriations every year of British nationals who are facing forced marriage abroad. Last year the FMU provided advice or support in almost 1,500 cases.

The FMU has worked to increase dialogue and action on forced and early marriage internationally. The recently established International Partnership Board

16 July 2012 : Column WA5

(IPB) on forced marriage engages with London-based embassies and High Commissions across a number of countries, including of: the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Austria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

The focus of the IPB is to share ideas and experiences, review forced marriage legislation around the world and build an international coalition to work towards ending this abhorrent practice.

Child marriage is an issue that cuts across all four pillars of the Department for International Development's Strategic Vision for Girls and Women, so we work closely with a range of partners on programmes relevant to raising the age of marriage.

This is both at the level of programmes in country and also through our international policy dialogue with non-governmental organisations and United Nations (UN) agencies, including: UN Women; UN Children's Fund; the UN Population Fund; and, the World Health Organisation.

We have targeted programmes to tackle child marriage in a number of countries including Bangladesh, Zambia and Ethiopia. Alongside this a number of our programmes, for example in education, family planning and broader empowerment for girls and women, will impact on the age of marriage. Projects such as delivering cash transfers to girls to keep them in school or working with religious leaders to amplify voices that speak out against child marriage are proving to be very effective ways to prevent early and forced marriage.

Government Departments: Apprentices

Question

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask the Chairman of Committees what was the total number of staff employed by the House of Lords on 1 June; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21. [HL1423]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): The number of staff employed by the House of Lords on 1 June was 496, of which one member of staff was under the age of 21. The House of Lords has run trainee archivist and records management schemes but it does not offer apprenticeship schemes. However, apprenticeship schemes have previously been offered by the Parliamentary Estates Directorate, which is a bicameral service.

Government Departments: Correspondence

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many letters were received by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in each of the past five years for which information is available; and, of those, how many were sent by (1) Members of the House of Lords, (2) Members of the House of Commons, and (3) members of the public. [HL1443]

16 July 2012 : Column WA6

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Figures for the number of letters and emails received by core Defra's correspondence unit in the past five years are given in the table below:

20072008200920102011

Total received including emails

55,636

52,991

48,434

45,597

43,830

Of which (1) from Members of the House of Lords

70

81

82

77

48

Of which (2) from Members of the House of Commons

15,633

15,784

16,695

13,432

12,022

Of which (3) from members of the public

32,897

32,085

26,694

26,684

27,397

Other, including letters from stakeholders and ministerial invitations

7,036

5,041

4,963

5,404

4,363

Government Departments: Procurement

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and each of its agencies have (1) taken, and (2) plan to take in each of the next two years, to reduce the theft of government procurement cards issued to its employees.[HL1343]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Steps designed to reduce the risks of GPC card theft are set out in core Defra's policy on government procurement cards, which we are currently updating.

Key provisions include:

a responsibility on all cardholders and their managers to comply fully with the fraud policy;a requirement to submit and verify all such expenditure monthly, and report any third party fraud;a duty on the verifier to report any suspected fraudulent activity by the cardholder; anda reminder of the personal responsibility of each cardholder to ensure the physical security of their card and inform the service provider immediately if any card is stolen or mislaid.

16 July 2012 : Column WA7

In addition, our service provider undertakes their own checks for potentially fraudulent activity and would immediately freeze any GPC card which they consider at risk.

Defra's agencies have similar arrangements in place.

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what restrictions the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has placed on the use of the government procurement card issued to its employees.[HL1445]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Core Defra is currently undertaking a review of its government procurement card policy, which will include tighter restrictions on the use of government procurement cards (GPC) by staff.

Our current policy includes the following restrictions:

only the card holder is authorised to use their card;transaction limits are set and reviewed regularly, are only increased in exceptional circumstances, and are time limited for a specific purpose; transactions must not be artificially split to fall within the limit;the use of the GPC for cash advances is only allowed in exceptional circumstances, for a finite period of time, and with the appropriate senior authorisation; anda GPC must not be used for: IT hardware/software/other equipment and IT services; fuel; or non-business related expenditure including personal expenditure.

The new policy will greatly narrow the permitted range of expenditure.

Government Departments: Retirement

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) men, and (2) women, employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its predecessor departments took early retirement, and what the reason for such retirement was in each case in each month since 2006.[HL1340]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The table below shows the number of staff in core Defra who retired before their pensionable age in each financial year since 2006-07.

Male2006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-12

Actuarially reduced retirement

1-4

1-4

0

0

1-4

1-4

Compulsory retirement

1-4

6

1-4

1-4

0

0

16 July 2012 : Column WA8

Retirement on grounds of ill-health

5

1-4

0

1-4

0

1-4

Voluntary exit scheme with receipt of pension

38

155

1-4

1-4

8

47

Female2006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-12

Actuarially reduced retirement

1-4

0

0

1-4

1-4

1-4

Compulsory retirement

1-4

1-4

1- 4

0

1-4

0

Retirement on grounds of ill-health

1-4

1-4

1-4

1-4

1-4

0

Voluntary exit scheme with receipt of pension

22

100

1-4

1-4

9

27

Precise numbers between one and four are not shown as it could reveal the identity of individual members of staff.

Health: Dementia

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much funding they provided to the Design Council to run a project to encourage design for people with dementia.[HL1218]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many of the 185 entries in the Government-funded Design Council project to design for dementia have been taken forward; and what are those projects.[HL1219]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In August 2011 the Design Council in partnership with the department launched a national innovation challenge titled: Living well with Dementia, which aimed to develop innovative solutions for those diagnosed with dementia to live a better quality of life. The department invested £600,000 and the Design Council £200,000.

The Design Council received 154 competition entries for its living well with dementia challenge and through a rigorous selection process these were narrowed down to five successful teams who were each given a research and development grant to develop working prototypes and business models for their proposed solutions. The five teams were:

Idea: Dementia Dogs—providing assistance dogs for people with early stage dementia by developing a service that explores the potential of trained dogs

16 July 2012 : Column WA9

in a dementia situation to help maintain independence, dignity, companionship and joy.Team: Alzheimer Scotland, Glasgow School of Art (product design) + Dogs for the Disabled, Guide Dogs.Idea: Buddi—a permanently worn discreet wristband to aid people with dementia. The product will provide user identification, personal monitoring and emergency alert functionalities via 3D accelerometers and radio frequency identification, and will offer global positioning satellite location tracking alongside the current buddi telecare system.Team: Buddi + Sebastian Conran associates.Idea: Trading Times—a web and mobile-based service for carers of people with dementia to help them find work that can be delivered on a time and location flexible basis. This will enable carers to supplement their income and protect their savings, as well as offerring the chance to stay within the world of work.Team: CREO Strategic Solutions, A+B Studio, FeedHenry, David Reinhardt.Idea: The Scent Clock—a home scent-device to stimulate appetite and enhance nutritional status in people with dementia. The device will look to increase the likelihood of eating, reducing the issues of weight loss, dehydration, fatigue and malnutrition that people with dementia experience.Team: Rodd Design, The Olfactory Experience, Gwen Coleman, Crossmodal Research Lab, (University of Oxford).Idea: “Groupie”—a collaborative caring and sharing tool which enables the family to support their relative through easier, accessible communication. Applicable from the point of diagnosis, Groupie will provide online and physical tools to facilitate co-ordinated support.Team: Studiohead, BT Innovate and Design, Louise Wilson, Ifung Lu, Meike Walcha + Jewish Care.

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will increase the proportion of people living with dementia in the United Kingdom receiving a diagnosis. [HL1363]

Earl Howe: Dementia diagnosis rates have increased in England in the past year, but we recognise that there is more to do which is why improving diagnosis rates is a key part of the National Dementia Strategy and the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia.

Through the Dementia Challenge announced by the Prime Minister in March we will ensure that general practitioners and other health professionals make patients aged 65 and over aware of memory clinics and refer those in need of assessment.

We will work to ensure that there are adequate memory services across the country and we are working with the Royal College of Psychiatrists to drive up the proportion of memory services which are accredited.

From April 2013, there will be a quantified ambition for diagnosis rates across the country, underpinned by robust and affordable plans.

16 July 2012 : Column WA10

We are developing a new tool which will help clinical commissioning groups calculate the prevalence of dementia within their local area. The tool will also help them to map the demand for and supply of appropriate dementia services, and to create local trajectories for increased diagnosis.

Health: Healthcare Workers

Questions

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what instructions they have given to the Independent Safeguarding Authority about the regulation and training of healthcare workers.[HL1373]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on what basis the Independent Safeguarding Authority is able to establish if an individual poses a risk of harm to vulnerable groups, if there is no requirement to train, register or regulate individual healthcare workers.[HL1374]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) does not train or regulate healthcare workers. The ISA's role is to make independent, fair, consistent and proportionate barring decisions about people who work in certain roles in health and social care who may pose a risk of harm to vulnerable groups.

The ISA has a five stage decision-making process. Once the ISA has established that there is a case to answer it uses a structured judgment process, developed by the ISA board, to determine whether there is a risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults.

This assessment takes into account factors including the training a person has received, their experience, any relevant qualifications, time in the post, requirements of the post, any information already held by the ISA about that person, as well as behavioural factors.

If, after the assessment, the ISA is “minded to bar” the person, the person will be given the opportunity to make representations as to why they should not be barred. After any representations are made, the ISA will take a final decision as to whether it is appropriate to bar the person.

Health: Midwives

Question

Asked by Baroness Cumberlege

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that professional indemnity insurance is available to independent midwives by October 2013, in view of the provisions of the European directive on patients' rights in cross-border healthcare which make such insurance mandatory. [HL1385]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): A number of independent midwives have formed themselves into corporate bodies and have now obtained insurance from a commercial organisation, covering the whole of the maternity care

16 July 2012 : Column WA11

pathway. This is in line with the research by the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) on the insurability of independent midwifery. This may address the issue of the general unavailability of professional indemnity insurance for midwives; adoption of the European Union cross border healthcare directive will make indemnity insurance mandatory. The department is discussing with key stakeholders, such as the RCM, to determine whether indemnity insurance remains an issue and whether further steps need to be taken.

Health: Multiple Sclerosis

Question

Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made an assessment of the Multiple Sclerosis Trust publication in March 2012 Defining the Value of MS Specialist Nurses and the research being undertaken by specialist nurses in conjunction with the Multiple Sclerosis Trust to gather and evaluate data to enable local commissioners of health services to determine the quality of care for MS patients and the value of the economic benefits such specialist nurses provide.[HL1316]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We have not yet made any assessment of this publication, or the research that is being undertaken by multiple sclerosis (MS) specialist nurses in conjunction with the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

In England, local National Health Service organisations are responsible for the skill mix of their workforce, including the number of specialist nurses. They are best placed to assess the health needs of their local communities and must have the freedom to train and deploy staff in ways appropriate for local conditions.

The MS Trust's report, Defining the Value of MS Specialist Nurses, and the subsequent research study will help service commissioners further understand the contribution that MS specialist nurses can make, in terms of achieving cost savings and improving outcomes and the quality of care.

Health: Perinatal Mortality

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of figures published in a Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health Perinatal Mortality report, gathered from hospitals in England and Wales, on infant survival rates following abortion procedures during a 12-month period; and whether they intend to issue new guidelines for the action to be taken when such circumstances occur.[HL1520]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the details of the figures published in a Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health Perinatal Mortality report, gathered from hospitals in England and Wales, about infants which initially survived

16 July 2012 : Column WA12

abortion procedures, including their gestational age; and whether pain relief was provided for the infants involved.[HL1521]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health Perinatal Mortality (March 2011) report does not address the rates of infants initially surviving abortion procedures. All data on terminations are specifically excluded from the report.

A copy of the report has been placed in the Library.

Health: Pre-natal Diagnostic Tests

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received from the United Kingdom National Screening Committee regarding the accuracy of pre-natal tests for foetal abnormality. [HL1446]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department has received no representations from the UK National Screening Committee regarding the accuracy of pre-natal tests for foetal abnormality.

Nuclear Weapons

Questions

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they did not sign the protocol to the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty at this month's Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting.[HL1491]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK supports the principle of the South East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. We were informed on 8 July by the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the cancellation of the signing ceremony of the protocol to the South East Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty, which was due to take place on 12 July 2012. We understand that this postponement is the result of some questions raised by ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. The UK remains committed to signing and implementing the protocol to treaty as soon as possible.

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they support the principle of the development of regional nuclear-weapon-free zones where all nation states in that region are committed to a nuclear-weapon-free status.[HL1492]

Lord Howell of Guildford: The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks)

16 July 2012 : Column WA13

(Mr Hague) said in a Statement on 29 November 2011, when agreement to the P5 protocol on the South East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone was reached:

“The UK fully supports the creation of nuclear weapon-free zones and believe that they can make a valuable contribution to global and regional peace and security: building trust between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states, and contributing to efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons worldwide”.

Paraguay

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have recognised Mr Frederico Franco as president of Paraguay, following the impeachment of President Fernando Lugo.[HL1258]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): It is UK practice to recognise states, not Governments.

The UK continues to keep the situation in Paraguay under close review, taking account of the ongoing work and discussions in the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the European Union (EU), and in the region.

We welcome the report of the OAS Secretary General of 10 July which has examined the facts closely. There clearly are concerns about what has happened. Key areas highlighted include the need to: complete the judicial process; strengthen governance in Paraguay in the transition to the 2013 elections by promoting public dialogue and supporting the legal reforms that may help avoid further crises; and ensure the electoral process is participatory and transparent, and that there are no reprisals or exclusions, especially against former President Lugo or his supporters.

A spokesperson of Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, issued a statement on 23 June expressing concern and calling on all parties to respect the democratic will of the Paraguayan people. We will be working with our EU partners to see what the EU can do to support.

We are committed to strengthening our relationship with Paraguay. We plan to re-open an embassy in Asuncion in mid 2013. This new embassy will further strengthen British diplomatic engagement in the Latin American region; help to unlock commercial opportunities for British companies in this significant market; and it will allow us to work closely with Paraguay on regional issues such as counter-narcotics and organised crime. We will also be looking at ways of supporting democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Paraguay.

Personnel Recovery Centres

Question

Asked by Lord Lee of Trafford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the level of resources required to support service veterans through the Personnel

16 July 2012 : Column WA14

Recovery Centres; and what steps they are taking to ensure that these service levels are met and maintained for as long as is required.[HL1479]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Personnel Recovery Centres offer residential facilities to those wounded, injured and sick, serving personnel from across the Armed Forces undergoing recovery as well as providing facilities for day attendees. Working in partnership with Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion, they are focused on helping an individual reach a point where they are able to return to duty or transition to civilian life.

As such the centres have not been established to provide support to service veterans. However, under certain conditions and where there is spare capacity, our partners may allocate spaces to veterans. These spaces are funded by the service charities and the Ministry of Defence does not record these numbers.

Prisoners: Gypsies and Travellers

Question

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will publish the information they have been gathering since September 2011 on the number and proportion relative to population of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller prisoners.[HL1386]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Following the addition of the new Census 2011 ethnicity categories into the prison IT system, prisoners received into custody can now declare themselves as Gypsy or Irish Traveller. However it is unlikely that existing prisoners (those already in custody prior to the new category being introduced) will have been given the opportunity to revise their previously stated ethnicity.

Current data on the number of Gypsy or Irish Traveller prisoners are therefore likely to be an undercount of the true number of prisoners who would identify themselves as Gypsy or Irish Traveller. We will monitor the use of the new code, and publish the figures once the coverage is deemed sufficient to provide meaningful and accurate statistics.

Prisoners: Literacy and Numeracy

Question

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in each year since 2000 in the proportion of prisoners with serious literacy and numeracy needs being enrolled in relevant remedial courses.[HL1457]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Assessing prisoners' learning needs, particularly literacy and numeracy, and then meeting them, is at the heart of the reforms set out in Making Prisons

  16 July 2012 : Column WA15 

Work: Skills for Rehabilitation

, the new offender learning strategy published jointly by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Ministry of Justice last year.

Under this review, providers of prison learning and skills will be charged with providing additional learning support for prisoners with an identified need. This will be delivered through personalised programmes, and through the use of specialist staff, adaptations and resources as required.

Prisoners: Records

Question

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in each year since 2000 in education managers receiving prisoners' records at the time of transfer between institutions.[HL1456]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The transfer of paper records around the prison estate is increasingly being superseded by the use of Prison NOMIS, which holds electronic information about each prisoner and which can be accessed from the receiving prison.

The accuracy and movement of information regarding a prisoner’s learning and skills engagement has also improved over recent years. In September 2007, the Skills Funding Agency introduced the Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) system which allows access by OLASS providers, in real time, to view and update offender learner records.

Prisons are now included in MIAP's Learner Registration Service (LRS) which is capable of issuing a unique learner number (ULN) for every person (over the age of 14) in education and training and allows learners, irrespective of where that learning takes place, to build a lifelong record of their participation and achievements. This information is available via the LRS system and Skills Funding Agency providers and prison Heads of Learning and Skills are also able to access these data locally.

Questions for Written Answer

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they have not yet answered Question for Written Answer HL953, tabled on 20 June and due for answer on 4 July, asking whether they will introduce measures to ensure that judgments made by courts and tribunals under the closed material procedure are made public when the reasons for maintaining their secrecy no longer obtain.[HL1433]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): This question has now been answered on 10 July (Official Report, col. WA 243). I apologise for the delay, which was caused by an administrative error.

16 July 2012 : Column WA16

Royal Family: Official Engagements

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many official engagements the Duke of York has undertaken as Britain’s Trade Envoy since he resigned a year ago; what were the related costs of transport; and how many more such engagements are still outstanding.[HL1418]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): HRH the Duke of York has honoured a number of pre-existing overseas diary commitments since he announced on 21 July 2011 that he was relinquishing the role of UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.

A list of those approved by the Royal Visits Committee and funded by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and/or UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), is at annex A. These visits were undertaken in agreement with FCO and/or UKTI and in support of HMG objectives.

FCO and/or UKTI paid certain expenses, including accommodation and in-country travel costs (but excluding all air travel) for official overseas visits undertaken by HRH The Duke of York. FCO and/or UKTI also paid associated expenses for his supporting staff.

Air travel to and from countries and in-country is the responsibility of the Royal Household. Detailed accounts can be obtained from the Royal Public Finances annual report 2011-12: http://www.royal.gov.uk/latestnewsanddiary/annualfinancialreports/annualfinancialreports.aspx.

As of 1 April 2012, UKTI no longer holds a specific budget to support any trade and investment work undertaken by the Duke of York. From 1 April, the associated costs of official overseas travel by the Duke are met by the FCO, in the same way as for other members of the Royal Family. The FCO has the lead responsibility for official overseas visits by members of the Royal Family.

Taxation: Avoidance

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the existence of income tax avoidance schemes under which individuals are able to secure personal remuneration under repatriated off-shore loan arrangements was first communicated to (1) HM Treasury, and (2) Ministers; and what attempts they have made to close down such schemes since they were first reported.[HL1216]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): HM Revenue and Customs does not report operational details on specific schemes and taxpayers to HM Treasury. Information on tax avoidance schemes is obtained by HM Revenue and Customs in a variety

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of ways, including the statutory disclosure of tax avoidance schemes regime and, once identified, such schemes are actively challenged through every means possible. Where appropriate, HM Revenue and Customs will advise Ministers if a change in the law is necessary.

HM Revenue and Customs is aware of the K2 scheme and others like it recently highlighted in the press. HMRC was already actively investigating the scheme prior to its discussion in the press.

This Government have a strong track record of tackling avoidance schemes as soon as they become aware of them—in the past year alone, seven schemes have been closed down with immediate effect. Since 2010 HMRC has litigated around 30 direct tax avoidance cases. The Government expect the general anti-abuse rule announced in the Budget further to help tackle these artificial and abusive tax avoidance schemes in the future.

Taxation: Self-assessment

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people are employed in the HM Revenue and Customs call centre to handle calls relating to self-assessment; what is the average call waiting time; how many calls are received on an average day; and what steps are being taken to improve the service.[HL1265]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is unable to provide the details of the number of people employed to handle calls relating to self assessment. This is because such calls are routed through a centrally managed telephone network and delivered to a pool of advisers who also handle calls made to a number of HMRC help lines.

Similarly, HMRC is unable to provide the average waiting time and daily call numbers relating to a particular area.

HMRC has recently produced “'Delivering Our Vision”, a three-year business plan for 2012-15 which outlines steps to improve the service.

Teachers: Training

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will ensure that specific, high quality training on combating and responding to homophobic bullying is an integral part of all initial teacher training programmes. [HL1403]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Homophobic bullying is unacceptable and the Government are committed to supporting all schools and teachers in tackling both the causes and its impact. The Government continue to support the work carried out by Stonewall's Education for All campaign which aims to prevent and tackle homophobic bullying in Britain's schools.

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Stonewall has developed a resource which has been distributed to all universities and schools which provide initial teacher training (ITT), and to other key agencies such as Ofsted, the National College for School Leadership and the Department for Education. This was based on the same research, funded by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), as was used to inform Education for All. The TDA worked with Stonewall to hold three seminars in March 2012 which brought together ITT providers from across Britain to learn about homophobic bullying and explore how to use the material it had produced. These were followed up by 10 “train the trainers” events (also sponsored by the TDA) in which Stonewall has worked directly with ITT tutors to make sure that trainee teachers begin their teaching careers with the confidence and information they need to challenge homophobic bullying and support all pupils. Stonewall continues to work directly with ITT providers to improve their training programmes.

We will continue to support teacher training in universities and schools and to look at how best to ensure that all trainee teachers enter the profession feeling confident and competent in their abilities to tackle and eradicate homophobic bullying in our schools.

UN Watercourses Convention

Question

Asked by Lord Cameron of Dillington

To ask Her Majesty’s Government by what date the United Kingdom will accede to the United Nations Watercourses Convention, in the light of the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister at the Rio conference in June that the United Kingdom intends to do so.[HL1487]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Defra remains the lead department for taking forward the accession to the UN Watercourses Convention, and the action to accede will take place as soon as departmental resources to do the work become available. It is expected that the work will take place before the end of 2013.

UN: Rio+20

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Chesterton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will develop an action plan to follow up the issues raised at the Rio+20 conference; if so, how it will relate to initiatives by the United Nations and its agencies; and how Parliament will be consulted. [HL1392]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) was successful in establishing that green growth was essential both for sustainable development and poverty eradication. The most significant

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outcome was agreement to develop sustainable development goals (SDGs), which the UK championed. SDGs will be an integral part of the post-2015 development framework. The Prime Minister will be co-chairing, at the request of the UN Secretary General, a high level panel with the presidents of Liberia and Indonesia on the post-2015 development framework.

Rio+20 also launched three other processes: to develop a financing strategy to deliver global sustainable development; to set up a high level political forum to

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follow up on the implementation of sustainable development; and to strengthen and upgrade the United Nations Environment Programme. In addition, a number of other measures were agreed, notably on sustainable consumption and production, corporate sustainability reporting, oceans and GDP+. The UK is actively engaged in following up and implementing the outcomes from Rio+20 in the EU, internationally and in the UN system, as well as domestically. The Government will keep Parliament informed on progress when requested.