27 Nov 2012 : Column WA27

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Written Answers

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Apprenticeships

Question

Asked by Baroness Sharp of Guildford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much has been spent on supporting apprentice training (1) as a whole, and (2) in the construction sector, for each region of the United Kingdom for the years 2010–11 and 2011–12.[HL3543]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Table 1 shows government spending on apprenticeships in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 financial years in England.

Table 1: Government Spending on Apprenticeships, 2010-11 to 2011-12 Financial Years
(£000s)2010-112011-12

BIS funded Adult (19+) Apprenticeships

450,880

624,602

DfE Funded (16-18) Apprenticeships

744,870

758,966

Source:

Skills Funding Agency Annual Report 2011-12.

Table 2 shows estimated funding to support the delivery of apprenticeship frameworks in the construction, planning and the built environment sector subject area, by region for those aged 16 and over. Final data are shown for the 2010-11 academic year and provisional data are shown for the 2011-12 academic year.

Provisional data for the 2011-12 academic year provide an early view of performance and will change as further data returns are received from further education colleges and providers. They should not be directly compared with final-year data from previous years. Figures for 2011-12 will be finalised in January 2013.

Figures for estimated funding come from the individualised learner record. They provide an indication of the level of government funding. They should not be treated as actual spend, as spending is not reported at the apprenticeship framework level.

The department does not collect further education information relating to the devolved Administrations.

Table 2: Estimated Funding for Apprenticeships in the Construction, Planning and the Built Environment Sector Subject Area, by Region, 2010-11 to 2011-12 (provisional) Academic Years
(£ millions)2010-11 (Final)2011-12 (Provisional)

North East

15

14

North West

35

25

Yorkshire and the Humber

24

19

East Midlands

17

15

West Midlands

18

15

East of England

18

15

London

14

13

South East

25

23

South West

24

21

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA28

Other

1

1

England

191

160

Source:

Individualised Learner Record.

Notes:

1. Region is based upon the home postcode of the learner. Where the postcode is outside of England, learners are included in the “other” category. Where postcode is not known this is also included in the “other” category.

2. Figures are based on the geographic boundaries of regions as of May 2010.

3. Provisional data for 2011-12 should not be directly compared with data for earlier years.

Armed Forces: Medals

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will permit the Merchant Navy Medal to be included in the order of wear; and if not, whether the Honours Committee will create a national honour for the Merchant Navy to replace it.[HL3400]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals is responsible for considering recommendations relating to medals policy. Discussions are on going with the Department for Transport on the content of a possible proposal for the Committee to consider regarding the future status of the Merchant Navy Medal.

Building Regulations

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will monitor the effect on household safety of proposed changes to Part P Building regulations.[HL3540]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): We shall continue to monitor trends in electrical accident rates in dwellings by analysing fire data collected by the department, electric shock fatality data published by the Office for National Statistics, and data collected by the NHS on attendances at accident and emergency departments. We shall also look at other indicators that might be considered proxies for the quality of electrical work carried out by installers, including the numbers registered with Part P competent person schemes and formal complaints against installers recorded by the scheme operators.

The number of registered installers who have their competence assessed on a regular basis has increased from 13,000 to 40,000 since Part P was introduced in 2005. We are keen that changes to Part P should not reduce the incentive for installers to register. We therefore

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA29

intend to work with competent-person scheme operators and bodies such as the Electrical Safety Council to raise awareness of Part P among both installers and householders, and to promote the benefits of registration.

Burma

Questions

Asked by Baroness Nye

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Burma regarding dialogue with the Kachin Independence Organisation.[HL3448]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Resolving Burma’s long-running ethnic conflicts is vital to long-term stability and prosperity in Burma. Our ambassador met senior Burmese government Ministers on 13 November to discuss a range of issues, including the progress of reconciliation talks between the Burmese Government and the Kachin.

We continue to highlight the importance of this issue in all our discussions with the Burmese Government. We welcome the Burmese authorities’ attempts to build trust with ethnic groups including signing cease-fire agreements with 10 ethnic groups. We are now urging the Government to take the next steps towards a process of national political dialogue.

Asked by Baroness Nye

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Government of Burma about allowing international humanitarian access to internally displaced Kachin people.[HL3449]

Baroness Warsi: We believe that resolving Burma’s long-running ethnic conflicts is vital to Burma’s long-term stability and prosperity. We regularly press the Burmese Government for unrestricted humanitarian access to internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Burma. During their respective visits to Burma this year, both the Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron) and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), raised the need to resolve ethnic conflict and allow unhindered humanitarian access to the areas affected by conflict, notably Kachin State.

Asked by Baroness Nye

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what aid they are providing to assist local community groups in Kachin in helping internally displaced people. [HL3450]

Baroness Northover: DfID has provided £2 million to support humanitarian needs in Kachin through a number of local non-governmental organisations. This is helping to meet the needs of around 27,500 internally displaced people, largely in border camps not controlled by the Government, for food security, shelter, water, sanitation, health and bedding.

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA30

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in the light of continuing allegations of violations of human rights by the Burmese army in Kachin State and Rakhine State, what representations they have made to the Government of Burma about signing the Rome Statute and compliance with international human rights laws.[HL3469]

Baroness Warsi: We have had no discussions with the Burmese Government on the signing of the Rome Statute. However, our ambassador recently lobbied senior Burmese government Ministers on 13 November on the prospect of accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We also continue to support UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly resolutions on human rights in Burma. We continue to stress that, until the Burmese Government resolves the many outstanding issues in line with international principles on human rights, we will press for UN resolutions which highlight the strength of our concerns. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire) will be travelling to Rakhine State shortly to assess for himself the situation on the ground.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Burma about the release of Dr Tun Aung. [HL3470]

Baroness Warsi: While we welcome the release of a number of political prisoners on the 19 November, we believe that Dr Tun Aung remains in detention.

The British Government continue to call for the unconditional release of all political prisoners at every opportunity. In September, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), met with Burmese Foreign Minister, U Wunna Maung Lwin, during a UN General Assembly session in New York. He pressed for unconditional release of all political prisoners and urged the Burmese Government to set up an independent, non-political process to define the number of political prisoners that remain detained. He also urged the Burmese Government to lift restrictions on those who had been released, including on their travel.

The forthcoming visit to Burma in December by the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), will provide timely opportunity to continue to raise these concerns directly with senior members of the Burmese Government.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what advice they have given to United Kingdom companies trading and investing in Burma about operating in a transparent manner.[HL3471]

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA31

Baroness Warsi: There has been significant interest in trade and investment in Burma from UK businesses following the suspension in April of EU trade sanctions. In April the UK lifted its policy of actively discouraging trade with Burma. Since then, we have sought to encourage responsible investment in Burma as we believe such investment can support Burma’s economic and social development and aid its democratic transition.

As part of this policy we funded a Wilton Park conference “Business and Human Rights: Setting Standards for Responsible Business in Burma” in early November. This was organised by the Institute of Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and as part of broader project to establish a framework for the implementation of the UN guiding principle on business and human rights in Burma. It was attended by senior representatives of the Burmese Government, the Opposition, British officials and business leaders.

UK Trade and Investment now has a presence in Burma and is able to provide services to UK businesses, including tailored market research to help them plan how to sustainably and responsibly invest in the market.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what financial contribution they have made to the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative.[HL3472]

Baroness Northover: The UK has pledged up to £3 million—subject to the results it will achieve—for immediate short-term peace-building initiatives in ceasefire areas, including through the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with other European Union member states about the protection of tourists from carbon monoxide poisoning in hotels and other accommodation.[HL3420]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We are not aware of any discussions with other EU member states on this issue.

Child Abuse: North Wales

Question

Asked by Baroness Smith of Basildon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 24 September (WA 209), what assessment they have made of any additional funding required for the National Crime Agency to investigate historic allegations of sexual and physical abuse in North Wales.[HL3275]

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA32

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): As I said when repeating the Home Secretary’s Oral Statement of 6 November 2012 (Official Report, col. 893) the Home Office is ready to assist with the additional costs of this work. These costs will be determined as the review progresses.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether during work capability assessments Atos Healthcare professionals and Department for Work and Pensions assessors are required to take into account the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidelines on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and myalgic encephalopathy (ME), and, in particular, NICE categories of CFS and ME. [HL3641]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): While DWP acknowledges the value of the NICE guidelines on CFS/ME, this is a clinical guide. All healthcare professionals who undertake assessments on behalf of DWP are required to read an evidence-based protocol on CFS/ME as part of their induction training. In addition, all healthcare professionals are required to engage in a programme of continuing medical education, which includes modules on chronic fatigue syndrome. DWP decision-makers also have access to evidence-based guidance on CFS/ME.

Civil Service: Secondments

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people from industry are seconded to the Department for Transport; and for what purpose.[HL3571]

Earl Attlee: There is currently one person from industry seconded to the Department for Transport. The department brings secondees who can provide valuable skills to supplement those held in the Department for Transport, such as commercial skills.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many staff of the Department for Transport are seconded to outside organisations.[HL3572]

Earl Attlee: There are currently 19 members of staff from the Department for Transport seconded to outside organisations.

Staff who wish to go on secondment to outside organisations are required to make a business case outlining how the department and the individual will benefit from the opportunity.

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA33

Employment: Health and Safety

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what health and safety requirements apply to self-employed workers with fewer than five employees.[HL3611]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): A self-employed person who is also an employer has the same duties to their employees as employers who are not self-employed. An employer has a general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA). Regulations made under HSWA will also apply and further details can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/legislation.

There are some exceptions within the regulations for employers with less than five employees. These include the requirement to record risk assessment findings under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and the requirement to have a written health and safety policy.

Further information for small businesses can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety.

The general health and safety requirement on self-employed workers is contained in Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) which states:

“It shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health and safety”.

Section 53 of HSWA gives a broad definition of a self-employed person as, “an individual who works for gain or reward, otherwise than under a contract of employment, whether or not he himself employs others”. In this context, HSE has consulted on proposals to exempt from health and safety law those self-employed whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others as recommended by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt in his 2011 report Reclaiming Health and Safety for All: An Independent Review of Health and Safety Legislation. The 12-week consultation finished on 28 October 2012 and the results are currently being analysed.

EU: Commissioner for Health and Consumers

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Mr Tonio Borg’s candidacy as European Union Commissioner for Health and Consumers, and of his views on abortion; and whether they plan to support his appointment in the European Council.[HL3380]

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA34

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government welcome Mr Tonio Borg’s nomination as Malta’s European Commissioner. He is a well qualified candidate, having served in Malta as Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice. His views on abortion should not have any bearing on his nomination, as abortion laws are a matter for member states, and not the EU.

Mr Borg was questioned fully in a joint hearing by the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee; the Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee; and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (EP) on 13 November, during which he stated that he would abide by the treaties and follow the principle of subsidiarity. Following this joint hearing, the European Parliament plenary voted on 21 November to support his candidacy.

Extrajudicial Killings

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy on extrajudicial killings.[HL3593]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Every human being has an inherent right to life which is protected by human rights law. We expect all states to act in accordance with international law and are deeply concerned by acts which amount to extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. We also expect states to hold prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into gross human rights violations in order to bring perpetrators to justice and hold them accountable.

The Government raise extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions publicly and privately, co-sponsor UN resolutions on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and supportthe mandate of the independent UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.

Fire and Rescue Service

Question

Asked by Lord Tope

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to introduce compensation regulations to enable local fire and rescue authorities flexibility to manage workforce change by making severance payments in excess of the current statutory levels, in line with current local authority practice.[HL3511]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): It is for individual fire and rescue authorities to manage their workforces in a way that delivers value for money. Fire and rescue authorities have flexibility to offer enhanced redundancy compensation to staff who are

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA35

eligible to be members of the Local Government Pension Scheme. We have received a formal request from the Fire and Rescue Service National Employers for the Government to seek to put in place arrangements which extend these flexibilities to all employees of a fire and rescue authority. The Government, of course, understand that authorities will be looking to achieve savings, and are considering the employers’ request in that context.

First-tier Social Security and Child Support Tribunals

Question

Asked by Lord Bach

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in how many welfare benefit appeals in the past three years the Social Entitlement Chamber First-tier Tribunal has identified an error in law in its own decision under Rule 39 of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Social Entitlement Chamber) Rules 2008, and provided for a re-hearing on that basis.[HL3429]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The table below shows in how many appeals in the past three financial years, and in the period April to June 2012 (the most recent period for which statistics have been published), the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) has identified an error in law in its own decision under Rule 39 of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Social Entitlement Chamber) Rules 2008, and provided for a re-hearing on that basis.

The table also shows the number of remade decisions. These occur when the judge, on reviewing the case, remakes the decision on the basis that an error of law has been made and that the matter is so straightforward that a re-hearing is not necessary.

First-tier Tribunal Appeals where an Error in Law was Identified
2009-102010-112011-12Apr-Jun 2012

Errors in Law

513

493

692

173

Remade Decisions

23

23

22

23

Re-hearing

490

470

670

150

Data are drawn from management information and include requests to the Upper tribunal via the First-tier Tribunal only: data does not include any errors in law identified by the Upper Tribunal.

Gambling: Online Gambling

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to publicise the problem of online gambling addiction and to expand treatment programmes.[HL3447]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: British-based gambling operators must comply with licence conditions requiring them to signpost assistance to gamblers in gambling

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA36

premises and on websites, while a voluntary code requires information about problem gambling to be included in all gambling advertising. The Government intend that overseas-based operators offering remote gambling to British consumers should hold a Gambling Commission licence and be subject to similar social responsibility requirements.

The Government believe the industry should be responsible for helping to tackle problem gambling. The Responsible Gambling Trust is an independent national charity that raises voluntary contributions from the industry to fund problem gambling research, education and treatment, including a national problem gambling helpline and the Gamble Aware website. The trust has recently signed a new three-year agreement with Gamcare to expand the provision of treatment services for gamblers and others adversely affected by gambling.

Gaza

Question

Asked by Baroness Uddin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by the Prime Minister on 27 July 2010 that conditions in Gaza were like a “prison camp”, what steps they will take to minimise any further deterioration in conditions there as a result of the recent conflict.[HL3582]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We have been clear that the Israeli restrictions on movement of goods and people have done tremendous damage to the economy and living standards of ordinary people in Gaza and have served only to strengthen, not weaken, Hamas. For this reason we have consistently urged Israel to ease those restrictions.

The Government have been gravely concerned by the recent violence in Gaza and southern Israel and deeply regret the loss of civilian life. We consistently called on those involved to avoid any action which risked civilian casualties.

We welcome the agreement reached on 21 November to end hostilities. We have urged all sides to uphold their commitments. The priority now must be to build on the ceasefire and to address the underlying causes of the conflict, including more open access to and from Gaza for trade as well as humanitarian assistance, and an end to the smuggling of weapons.

The UK is working with humanitarian agencies and other bodies in the region to address the needs of the civilian population of Gaza. The UK is the fourth largest donor to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides health, education and social services to over 800,000 refugees in Gaza and we also support other initiatives inside Gaza to provide food, employment and education. The Department for International Development is providing £20 million of planned support for UNRWA, including £10 million which has been brought forward, allowing the agency to maintain the provision of essential services to the refugee population including in Gaza at this critical time.

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA37

Government Departments: Contractors

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will review the eligibility of G4S for public service contracts in the United Kingdom in the light of allegations of its involvement in illegal imprisonment of Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank. [HL3462]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We do not normally comment on the performance of individual suppliers.

The Public Contracts Regulations 2006 include provisions by which a company may be excluded from a tender exercise if it has been convicted of a criminal offence in connection with their business or profession.

Health: Medical Consultants

Questions

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, for each medical specialty, what was the total number of medical consultancy posts (1) established, and (2) filled, in each of the past 12 years.[HL3548]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department does not hold this information. Individual employers are responsible for planning and recruiting their own workforce. This information is therefore only available from employers.

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the regional distribution of all medical consultancy posts in each medical specialty in each of the past 12 years.[HL3549]

Earl Howe: This information has been placed in the Library.

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their priorities in adjusting (1) the total provision, and (2) the regional distribution, of medical consultancy posts in each medical specialty; whether they are consulting the Royal Colleges and the specialty training committees on these issues; and what role Medical Education England will have in ensuring that the national total of medical trainees in each specialty takes into account the needs of each region.[HL3550]

Earl Howe: Local employers set their own priorities for their workforce including medical consultancy posts. The role of Medical Education England has now passed to Health Education England (HEE). HEE will be responsible for providing national leadership on planning the healthcare workforce. Local education

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA38

and training boards will be responsible for identifying and agreeing local priorities for education and training to ensure security of supply of the skills and people providing healthcare services.

Hillsborough

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to the petition by Anne Williams to hold a new inquest into the death of her son at Hillsborough; and what consideration they have given to fast-tracking the request on compassionate grounds.[HL3142]

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Attorney-General is in the process of preparing an application to the High Court to quash the original inquests and order new inquests into the deaths of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. The evidence which supports an application in respect of Kevin Williams is essentially the same as that which supports an application into the other deaths and the Attorney-General expects to be in a position to lodge the application in December. Should the court order new inquests the timing thereafter is a matter for the coronial process.

Houses of Parliament: Official Reports

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Home Office library holds the bound volumes of the Official Report of each House of Parliament. [HL3562]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Home Office no longer has a traditional library housing printed versions of reference works so does not have bound volumes of the Official Report of each House of Parliament. The Information Services Centre provides access to digital services, including online searchable databases, which includes Justis Parliament. It also provides access to parliament.uk. Both of these provide access to online versions of the Official Reports.

Housing Act 2004

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many selective licensing areas have been established under the Housing Act 2004; what are the names, locations, relevant local authorities and dates of establishment of each such area; and how many privately-rented properties are included in each.[HL3517]

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA39

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): At 31 March 2010, the department had approved 19 selective licensing schemes in 14 local authority areas. These are shown in the table below.

Local AuthorityDesignationCommencement

Salford City Council

Seedley and Langworthy

25 May 2007

Broughton Ward

2 November 2009

Middlesbrough Council

Gresham and Middlehaven Ward

5 June 2007

Manchester City Council

Moston

3 August 2007

Bradford Ward

3 August 2007

Gorton Ward

2 November 2007

Gateshead Council

Sunderland Road

25 September 2007

Chopwell

11 January 2010

Sedgefield Council

Dean Bank and Chilton West

7 February 2008

Burnley Council

Trinity Ward

22 October 2008

Bolton Council

Tonge with the Haulgh ward

10 November 2008

Blackburn Council

Infirmary area

17 February 2009

Central Darwen

1 June 2009

Leeds City Council

East End/Cross Green

1 October 2009

Easington Council

Wembley

10 February 2009

Hartlepool Council

One designation including Burn Valley, Dyke House, Foggy Furze, Grange and Stranton Wards

1 May 2009

London Borough of Newham

Little Ilford

1 March 2010

Sunderland City Council

Hendon

1 July 2010

Hyndburn Council

Accrington and Church

N/A

Information on the number of properties within each designation is held by each individual local authority.

On 1 April 2010, local authorities were granted a general consent to introduce selective licensing schemes without having to seek approval from, or to inform, the Secretary of State. The department does not hold records of selective licensing schemes that have been introduced after this date.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have published the policies regarding the wearing of Muslim headscarves and Christian crosses upon which they relied at the European Court of Human Rights in the cases of Chaplin v the United Kingdom and Eweida v the United Kingdom; and, if so, when.[HL3371]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The speech given by First Treasury Counsel at the European Court of Human Rights on 4 September 2012 supporting the Government’s position in the cases of Chaplin, Eweida,

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA40

Ladele and MacFarlane is available as a webcast which can be accessed through the court’s website. As the Minister for Women and Equalities made clear in her answer to the Rt Hon John Spellar (

Official Report

, 12 November 2012, col. 20W), the Government’s legal advice in these and other cases is subject to legal professional privilege, as it comprises instructions given to lawyers for the purposes of defending litigation. However, the Government’s policy is that people should normally be able to wear, as appropriate, a headscarf or a Christian cross at work. We believe that our current legislation strikes the right balance between employees' rights to manifest their religion or beliefs at work, and the business needs and requirements of particular employers.

International Crimes Tribunal: Bangladesh

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have received about the alleged abduction by police officers of Shukho Ranjon Bali from the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal.[HL3510]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We note with concern reports of the alleged abduction of defence witness Shukho Ranjan Bali from outside the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) on 5 November. Our high commission in Dhaka has raised the alleged abduction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which restated the Government of Bangladesh’s commitment to conducting the trials of alleged war criminals following due judicial process. We will seek an update on investigations into the alleged abduction. Since the alleged abduction Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff have also made two further visits to the ICT to attend hearings as part of an ongoing commitment to monitor and report on proceedings. This includes regular discussion and information exchange on developments at the ICT with a range of stakeholders.

Israel

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent remarks of the Prime Minister of Israel about regional peace; and whether they will ask him for confidential details of his proposals.[HL3239]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We would be happy to provide such an assessment, but would be grateful for more specific details on the speech to which the noble Lord refers.

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA41

Israel and Palestine

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Israel concerning the demolition orders issued to families in Al Maleh, in the northern Jordan Valley. [HL3433]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We remain concerned about the expansion of Israeli settlements and the demolitions of Palestinian property in Area C of the West Bank, both of which we consider to be contrary to Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law and harmful to the peace process. While we have not raised the issue of Al Maleh specifically, we consistently urge the Israeli authorities, including at the highest levels, to cease all settlement building and to desist from the threatened demolitions of Palestinian homes and infrastructure.

These are concerns shared across Europe. The European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, in conclusions agreed on 14 May, called on Israel to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C, including by halting forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure, ensuring access to water and addressing humanitarian needs. Together with our EU partners, we will continue to make this case to the Israeli Government.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have sought clarification from the Government of Israel about property rights for Arabs living in the Occupied Territories.[HL3435]

Baroness Warsi: We have regular discussions with the Israeli authorities about the property rights of Palestinians, particularly in Area C of the West Bank. Through our embassy in Tel Aviv, we have lobbied the appropriate authorities, making clear our concerns about the evictions of Palestinians and demolition of Palestinian property in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will ensure that United Kingdom and EU aid for the West Bank and East Jerusalem neither benefits the Israeli economy nor prejudices the human rights of Palestinians.[HL3466]

Baroness Northover: The purpose of UK and European Union aid for the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) is to help support a peaceful resolution of the

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA42

conflict by building the institutions of a future Palestinian state and promoting economic growth. In 2011 we helped the Palestinian Authority to develop a strategy for revitalising the private sector and supported 347 companies to increase their exports. We do not provide any financial assistance to Israel, but our aim is for a two-state solution which will bring peace and prosperity to both Israelis and Palestinians.

The UK is committed to improving human rights for Palestinians and regularly raises issues of concern at senior levels in the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. UK funding supports a number of projects that address human rights issues in the OPTs, include support for professional training and legal advice.

Legal Aid

Questions

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when consultation will take place and guidance issued on the working of the gateway system under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012; and when estimates will be available of the numbers requiring specialist telephone or face-to-face advice.[HL3424]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the vulnerable, elderly and people with disabilities unable to use the telephone or the internet will gain access to legal advice in the relevant gateway areas under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.[HL3425]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether a third party making a call to the telephone gateway established under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 on behalf of a person seeking advice will be able to receive face-to-face advice from the provider contacted.[HL3426]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what will be the criteria for determining whether applicants are referred to a specialist telephone adviser or a face-to-face adviser under the gateway system established under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.[HL3427]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to ensure that telephone operators for the gateway system established under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will be able to assess the mental or other capacity of people seeking assistance to give instructions or conduct their case.[HL3428]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Legal Services Commission (LSC) will issue gateway operational guidance to 2013 CLA specialist telephone advice providers at the end of November 2012. Further guidance for providers will be issued in early 2013. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will issue public-facing guidance explaining the operation of the gateway in March 2013. MoJ officials are currently working with a wide range of advice organisations and

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA43

other government departments to prepare communications about 1 April 2013 legal aid changes and the introduction of the gateway.

The Government published estimates on the proportion of cases not expected to be suitable for telephone advice in a revised impact assessment on 21 June 2011. This is available on the MoJ website: http://webarchive.nation alarchives.gov.uk/20111121205348/http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/consultations/annex-d-telephone-advice.pdf. These estimates were updated in the Royal Assent impact assessment on the gateway published on 12 July 2012 and available at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/legislation/bills-acts/legal-aid-sentencing/Royal-Assent-IAs-and-EIAs.zip.

Details of the total estimated number of cases telephone advice providers might receive over the three-year period of their contracts were published with invitations to tender documents in August 2012. The estimates are available in the information for applicants document on the LSC website at: http://www.legalservices.gov.uk/docs/civil_contracting/CLA_ITT_IFA_for_2013_CLA_Contractsv2.pdf.

We will monitor the number of cases going through the gateway from day one of its operation. This will include the number of cases being referred for face-to-face advice. We will also undertake a review of the gateway’s implementation and operation, and publish a report of the review within two years of the gateway’s implementation.

A number of reasonable adjustments and service adaptations will be available to assist the vulnerable, elderly and people with disabilities to access the gateway. These can include a third party obtaining advice on behalf of the client or making initial contact on an individual’s behalf prior to a face-to-face advice appointment being arranged. Advice organisations, support workers and solicitors are some of those who could assist with this initial contact. Many advice organisations already provide these signposting services to assist individuals access appropriate sources of help and advice.

Call operators in the gateway’s central operator service will usually make the initial determination of an individual’s eligibility for legal aid. If an individual is eligible for legal aid, they will then be put through to a legally trained specialist caseworker who will assess the client's suitability for telephone advice. Advice could also be provided electronically (for example by secure email) if the client so wished.

The specialist caseworker’s assessment will consider whether a) they can understand and act on the client’s instructions; and b) the client can understand and act on the advice given. The assessment will take into account all service adaptations and reasonable adjustments that are reasonably available to assist the client. It will also take account of a client’s mental or other capacity.

This assessment will include a consideration of the needs of any third party who contacts the gateway on the client’s behalf. If telephone advice or advice in another electronic format is inappropriate for both the client and the third party, and there is no other appropriate third party that could assist the client, a face-to-face advice service will be available.

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The guidance to support this assessment will be included in the operational guidance being made available to CLA 2013 providers by the end of the calendar year. There will be specific training on the application of the assessment of suitability for telephone advice.

All gateway staff will also complete training on understanding the needs of their clients and how best to support them via the available service adaptations. Options for this support would include a referral to a face-to-face advice service.

Migrant Workers

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what forecast they have made of the number of immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania entering the United Kingdom in the five years from 2014 to 2019.[HL3363]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assumptions they have made about the average income of workers in Bulgaria and Romania in their modelling of future immigration trends from those countries to the United Kingdom.[HL3364]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government do not routinely produce forecasts or estimates of future levels of migration from individual countries. The difficulty in producing a reliable forecast of likely levels of migration, which would need to take account of a variety of factors, is in this instance accentuated by the fact that the United Kingdom is not the only member state that will be required to lift existing labour market restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals on 31 December 2013.

NHS: Procurement

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recently published report by Ernst and Young stating that fragmented procurement practices are costing the National Health Service up to £500 million per year.[HL3639]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department has not received a copy of this research by Ernst and Young. The department launched the development of a new procurement strategy in 2010, the need for which was reinforced by a National Audit Office (NAO) report on National Health Service procurement in February 2011 which concluded that approximately £500 million could be saved from improvements and changes in procurement practices. The department announced clear plans through the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) work stream to support the

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA45

NHS in making £1.2 billion in savings on procurement over the next three years. The savings are to come in four main areas: reducing price variation; efficiencies in back office organisation; improved use and management of stock; and clinical efficiencies (release of time for more direct clinical work).

Significant savings are already being delivered; the principal supply chain to the NHS, NHS Supply Chain, reported savings of £303 million between June 2010 and September of this year.

Palestine

Questions

Asked by Lord Hoyle

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much support they have provided to the Palestinian Authority's general budget so far in 2012.[HL3377]

Baroness Northover: So far in 2012, Her Majesty’s Government have provided £22.5 million to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA’s) general budget. This is helping the PA to develop strong institutions, deliver essential public services and improve security. The purpose of this is to ensure that any future state will be stable, well run and an effective partner for peace.

Asked by Lord Hoyle

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their Statebuilding and Service Delivery Grant, what information they have received on the breakdown of the Palestinian Authority's expenditure in 2012.[HL3378]

Baroness Northover: The Palestinian Authority publishes a detailed monthly breakdown of expenditure in the budget. This can be found on their website in both English and Arabic. The address for the English version of their website is: www.pmof.ps/en.

Asked by Lord Hoyle

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their Statebuilding and Service Delivery Grant, whether they have received any information on the proportion of the Palestinian Authority's annual budget for 2011 spent on allowances for Palestinians in Israeli prisons.[HL3379]

Baroness Northover: In 2011 the Palestinian Authority spent 2.9% of the recurrent budget on allowances for the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, for ex-prisoners and for prisoners. These allowances include a canteen allowance made at the request of the Israeli authorities for prisoners in Israeli jails. They also include assistance to the families of prisoners who have lost their main breadwinner, and other schemes which fall under this budget, including the education of ex-prisoners.

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Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 5 November (WA 184), what estimate they have made of the number of those in receipt of a state pension and liable for income tax who do not declare their pension income and thus pay no income tax on it. [HL3376]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) notifies HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) when it starts to pay the state pension to an individual. DWP also provides HMRC with details of the state pension that it pays to individuals each year. Using this data, HMRC adjusts individuals’ pay as you earn (PAYE) tax codes or asks them to complete self-assessment tax returns.

Occupational and private pension providers also provide HMRC with details of the pension income that they pay to their pensioners. These types of pension are subject to PAYE, so income tax can be deducted at source.

HMRC has made improvements to the service it provides to pensioners. For example, it has modernised the personal allowance claim form it sends to new state pensioners to reflect that it holds details of individuals’ state and occupational pensions.

As with any other class of taxpayer, there may be state pensioners who do not declare their total income. But, because of HMRC’s data on pensions, there is limited scope for individuals not to declare their pension income. However, by their nature, these people are not readily identifiable by HMRC, so is not possible to say with any degree of confidence how many might be in this group.

Prisoners: Women

Questions

Asked by Baroness Corston

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what advice has been given to the NHS Commissioning Board concerning the provision of healthcare for women prisoners.[HL3404]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The mandate between the Government and the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) issued on 13 November reaffirms the Government’s commitment to better healthcare services for all. The mandate commits the National Health Service to developing better healthcare services for all offenders, including women offenders.

The NHSCB is required to have in place appropriate commissioning mechanisms for healthcare by April 2013, including for women prisoners. The department has regular and ongoing discussions with the NHSCB in relation to this.

A copy of the mandate has already been placed in the Library.

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA47

Asked by Baroness Corston

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by Lord McNally on 20 March (Official Report, col. 778), when they will publish their strategy for women prisoners and those at risk of offending.[HL3405]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice is committed to publication of our key strategic priorities for female offenders shortly.

Prisons: Strip Searches

Question

Asked by Baroness Corston

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what control and restraint techniques are deployed during the forcible removal of women prisoners’ clothes at HMP New Hall.[HL3403]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The policy on full searching of prisoners (i.e. searching that involves the removal of clothing) under restraint is contained within Prison Service Order (PSO) 1600, Use of Force1.

Any full search under restraint must be carried out using approved techniques.

Control and restraint techniques have been developed specifically in order to provide a safe and effective means of applying force to prisoners where this is necessary. The techniques take account both of the safety of staff applying the techniques and that of the prisoner on whom the techniques are used. Safe and effective use of the techniques is reinforced further during annual refresher training and through the monitoring systems in place at all prisons.

The specific control and restraint techniques used during a full search under restraint are set out in the NOMS’ Use of Force Training Manual2. This is a restricted document, and those parts describing application of such techniques are redacted from the publicly available version of the manual under the provisions of Section 31 (1) (f) and Section 38 (1) (a) of the Freedom of Information Act. The Information Commissioner upheld these redactions in March 2012.

Notes:

1

. PSO 1600 is available at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/offenders/psipso/pso/pso-1600.doc

2

. The redacted version of the Use of Force Training Manual is available at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/information-access-rights/foi-disclosure-log/prison-probation/use-of-force-training-manual.pdf

Public Sector: Contractors

Questions

Asked by Lord Cotter

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to determine whether sub-contractors of public sector construction contracts are paid by

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their contractors in a full and timely manner; and whether those steps will include unannounced inspections.[HL3382]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: After May 2010 this Government introduced extensive reforms of public procurement to streamline the process and to create a more level playing field where SMEs can more easily compete for and win business. As part of this work we have instructed departments to monitor prime contractors’ performance against the 30-day commitment to pay subcontractors as part of the contract management process. We have also introduced a mystery shopper service which allows us to investigate instances of late payment and we publish these cases on our website.

I am pleased to say that on 13 November, the National Specialist Contractors Council paid tribute to the work done by the Government in ensuring prompt payment in construction by naming the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, my right honourable friend the Member for Horsham (Mr Maude), as one of its fair payment champions.

This recognises the effectiveness of the steps we are taking to ensure sub-contractors are paid on time, such as using project bank accounts to make direct payments to firms down to tier 3 of its supply chains. Where project bank accounts are not used, we specify in contract terms that contractors should pay their subcontractors within 30 days, in line with the Government’s prompt payment code.

We believe that this combination of spreading good practice and selectively targeting those instances of poor payment performance is the most productive use of resource and the least burdensome for the majority of suppliers.

Asked by Lord Cotter

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many cases of non-payment on public sector contracts have been reported to the Efficiency and Reform Group to date; and what actions the Efficiency and Reform Group has taken to resolve those complaints.[HL3383]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Since it was launched in February 2011, the mystery shopper service has received 16 referrals concerning late payment of contractors, late payment by prime contractors to subcontractors, lengthy payment terms in contracts and onerous payment processes.

Completed investigations have resulted in outstanding invoices being paid, amended payment terms, and processes being streamlined.

Railways: Colne-Skipton

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy regarding the disposal by BRB (Residuary) Ltd of the portion of the former Colne-Skipton railway line between Colne and the former county

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA49

boundary, and which body will be responsible for this land following the abolition of BRB (Residuary) Ltd.[HL3649]

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport have offered to dispose of the portion of the former Colne Skipton railway line between Colne and the former county boundary to both Lancashire County Council and Network Rail. Both have declined and upon abolition the site will transfer to the Secretary of State for Transport.

Railways: Flooding

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will require Network Rail to take action to prevent the frequent closure of rail infrastructure due to floods between (1) Taunton and Exeter, and (2) Swindon and Bristol Parkway.[HL3657]

Earl Attlee: Network Rail carries out its responsibilities to maintain and operate the railways overseen by the independent Office of Rail Regulation. Decisions about the steps taken to prevent or deal with flooding are operational matters for the company, in which Ministers have no power to intervene. Ministers and officials meet regularly with Network Rail, however, to discuss a range of issues including its strategy for meeting performance targets in relation to the operation of the railways.

Railways: Procurement

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the cost per diagrammed rail vehicle of (1) Pendolino trains operated by Virgin Trains, and (2) Intercity Express Trains to be operated by the successful bidders for the Great Western franchise.[HL3478]

Earl Attlee: The procurement of rail vehicles is subject to open competition and costs vary between each contract depending on a number of factors. As such, making a comparison between trains that operate from different power sources, of different vehicle lengths, of different fleet sizes, on different routes, with different financing costs, different foreign exchange rates and different contractual structures is unlikely to be meaningful. In particular, capital prices will change over time depending on changes to materials and labour costs, which tend to follow different rates of inflation to RPI.

The Department for Transport does not hold on record the combined capital and maintenance price per diagrammed vehicle for Pendolino trains, but does hold information on capital prices as follows. All figures are approximate. The Pendolino trains that entered service in 2002 on the West Coast Main Line had a capital cost of around £1.3 million per vehicle at

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA50

1999 prices. The Pendolino extensions that are currently entering service on the West Coast Main Line had a capital cost of around £2.7 million per vehicle at 2009 prices. The IEP trains that will enter service on the Great Western Main Line from 2017 have a capital cost of around £3.6 million (for a bi mode) and £3.1 million (for an electric) per vehicle at 2017 prices.

Railways: Thameslink

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when orders for the new rolling stock for the Thameslink franchise will be finalised; and when the rolling stock currently in use by the Thameslink franchise will be deployed to provide services on railway lines which are to be electrified.[HL3638]

Earl Attlee: Financial close for the Thameslink rolling stock procurement contract is expected early in the new year.

There is a phased programme of electrification of many routes over 2013-19. We are working with our industry partners to have sufficient electric rolling stock, released from Thameslink and other sources, to match the delivery dates and needs of the various electrification projects.

Religious Freedom

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Guildford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the United Kingdom experience in interfaith relations is harnessed in United Kingdom foreign policy.[HL3346]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): My appointment as Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Minister for Faith and Communities at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) brings together the Government’s domestic and international faith portfolios. This means that the UK is now ideally placed to share the lessons of the many excellent interfaith projects in the UK with our international partners. The FCO and DCLG are starting to explore how they can work more closely together. We will continue to explore how best to share the UK’s excellent experience of interfaith dialogue and co-operation, to help develop mutual respect between faith groups on the international stage and promote freedom of religion or belief for all.

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA51

Sport: Ethnic Minorities

Question

Asked by Lord Pendry

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage greater participation in sport by women of Bangladeshi origin.[HL3473]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Sport England is investing £480 million in 46 national governing bodies (NGBs) between 2009-13 to grow and sustain participation. This approach is entirely inclusive and looks to offer opportunities for everyone to participate in sport regardless of their gender or race. Sport England also has strategic plans to deliver increased participation among women and funds the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation to provide specialist advice and support to NGBs.

In addition, Sporting Equals, one of Sport England’s national partners, supports NGBs to attract and engage black and minority ethnic (BME) communities to participate in sport. This support is essentially in the form of the provision of insight and resources to engage members of the BME community, such as Bangladeshi women. Sporting Equals also conducts marketing support activity for NGBs, which impact Bangladeshi women, for example supporting British Cycling’s “Breeze” programmes to south Asian women with a focus on Muslim women and girls.

Sport: Gender Equality

Question

Asked by Lord Pendry

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are encouraging the sharing of good practice to promote gender equality in sport.[HL3328]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities has written to broadcasters about raising the profile of women’s sport in the media, and will be following this up with discussions with them shortly.

All of the UK Sport funded elite athletes will offer time to support youth and community sport. As role models, they can inspire our girls and young women to take up sport.

The Youth and Community Sport Strategy is being developed in such a way that makes sport more attractive to girls. The strategy also aims to tackle the reasons why girls drop out of sport at such an early age.

Sport: Public Spending

Question

Asked by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will undertake a gender audit of public spending on sport.[HL3443]

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA52

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) measures sport participation by gender via the Taking Part survey. In addition, Sport England’s Active People survey provides more detailed data on sport participation. Together, those provide a good understanding of the gender implications of public spending on sport. DCMS has no plans to undertake a specific gender audit.

Sport: Women

Question

Asked by Lord Pendry

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to promote a greater level of leadership opportunities for women in sport.[HL3327]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Sport England and UK Sport are both encouraging the national governing bodies (NGBs) of sport to increase the number of women on their boards, as part of their work to improve the governance in the sector. This has taken the form of an expectation, as opposed to a requirement under the funding agreement, that NGBs will comprise at least 25% women (or men where they form the currently underrepresented grouping) by 2017.

Jointly funded sports, and those funded by Sport England solely, are monitored and published in the Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport “Trophy Women” annual report. Data produced for 2011-12 show that women represent 22% of board members, an increase in 2% on the previous year's figures. Government will continue to work in partnership with UK Sport and Sport England to unlock the potential of women’s sport by addressing the problems of leadership, investment and profile of the sector.

Syria

Questions

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Warsi on 7 November (WS 84), whether they consider that contact with and assistance to armed groups opposing the Government of Syria constitute an act of war against the existing regime.[HL3331]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Contact with the Syrian armed opposition is not and cannot be seen as an act of war against the Syrian Government. The Government’s decision to engage with the Syrian armed opposition supports our efforts to achieve a sustained and peaceful political solution to the crisis. In all contacts with military elements of the Syrian armed opposition, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials will stress the importance of respecting human rights and international humanitarian law and that those who do not will be held accountable.

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We will continue to adhere to our clearly stated policy of only supplying non-lethal support to the unarmed opposition. All support is in compliance with both the EU arms embargo and our own stringent export licensing laws.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the lifting of the arms embargo on Syria would enable those supporting the Government of Syria to provide it with weapons legally.[HL3333]

Baroness Warsi: The UK worked hard to secure an EU arms embargo in May 2011. On 25 June the EU strengthened and widened the embargo so that the insurance and re-insurance of arms shipments is explicitly prohibited. We support renewal of the EU sanctions package, which includes the EU arms embargo.

There is no UN arms embargo on Syria. Other countries, such as the US, have arms embargoes on Syria.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has made clear that all arms shipments to Syria must stop and we encourage all countries to introduce their own measures to restrict the transfer of weapons to Syria.

Taxation: Avoidance

Questions

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have reduced tax avoidance and evasion by individual and corporate taxpayers in quantitative terms since May 2010; and, if so, by how much.[HL3368]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): This Government are committed to closing the tax gap. The tax gap is the difference between total revenues collected by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the total revenues that the tax system should generate.

The majority of taxpayers pay what is due; however there will always be a tax gap—eliminating it would put costly and burdensome reporting requirements on all taxpayers. Tax that is theoretically due may not be collected for a variety of reasons from errors and non-payment of debt to avoidance, evasion and criminal attacks.

Measuring Tax Gaps 2012, the latest estimate, was published in October 2012 and estimates the current tax gap as £32 billion for 2010-11, or approximately 6.7% of the estimated total tax liability. Of that £32 billion, avoidance is estimated to constitute £5 billion and evasion £4 billion, excluding criminal attacks, separately estimated at £5 billion. The full document is available on the HMRC website1.

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA54

HMRC has achieved significant success in reducing avoidance and evasion. Compliance revenues have more than doubled in six years. In 2010-11, the total revenue from HMRC compliance activities was reported as £13.9 billion; in 2011-12 it was reported as £16.7 billion. The total revenues collected by HMRC for those years were, in 2010-11, £468.9 billion; in 2011-12, £474.2 billion.

The Government have made £917 million available to HMRC in 2010 to target avoidance, evasion and fraud, as part of the last spending review. By 2014-15, HMRC will have collected £7 billion in additional revenues, on top of the £13 billion to which they are already committed.

1

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/tax-gaps.htm#2

Asked by Lord Barnett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will introduce a general anti-tax avoidance rule. [HL3398]

Lord Sassoon: At Budget 2012, the Government announced that they would consult on a general anti-abuse rule (GAAR), targeted at abusive tax avoidance schemes, with a view to bringing forward legislation in the Finance Bill in 2013. The Government agreed with the recommendations of the Aaronson report (which considered whether a general anti-avoidance rule should be introduced into the UK tax system), that a broader-spectrum general anti-avoidance rule would not be beneficial for the UK.

The consultation, which closed on 14 September 2012, generated many helpful and thoughtful comments from respondents. These will be published in a full response document on 11 December 2012 alongside new draft legislation and GAAR draft guidance.

Telephone Calls: Unsolicited Calls

Question

Asked by Lord Selsdon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 31 October (WA 146), whether they have plans to ban computer-generated marketing telephone calls.[HL3201]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The use of computer systems to make marketing calls is already prohibited under Regulation 19 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) 2003, unless the recipient has consented to receive them. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for enforcing the PECR and the Government would expect the ICO to tackle effectively any breaches of the regulations.

The Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries met with the ICO, Ofcom and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to press for action

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA55

in this area. As a result, measures have been introduced that will provide more effective protection for consumers. The ICO has since increased the resources devoted to enforcement of PECR, and on 1 October 2012, announced its intention to issue fines totalling over £250,000 to two illegal marketers responsible for distributing millions of spam texts. The ICO also intends to publish, on its website, a list of the most complained about companies that make calls to TPS registered consumers. If the companies fail to remedy their actions, then they could face further enforcement action.

Where a computer-generated call ends up as an abandoned silent call, then this is also prohibited, and such breaches are regulated by Ofcom. In April this year, Ofcom fined a company £750,000 for making abandoned and silent calls. Ofcom also has an ongoing enforcement programme, through which it monitors complaints and takes action.

In addition, to improve access to information for complaints, Ofcom set up new website pages on 1 October at: http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/telecoms/privacy that provide clearer advice on nuisance calls, texts and e-mails and it also published a new Consumer Guide, which provides clearer information and signposts the correct place to make a complaint: http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2012/10/tackling-nuisance-calls-and-messages.

27 Nov 2012 : Column WA56

Tourism

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to raise the profile of the United Kingdom as a tourist destination.[HL3625]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: VisitBritain’s biggest ever global tourism campaign, supported by GREAT, is expected to create 4.6 million extra visitors, £2.3 billion additional spend and nearly 60,000 job opportunities over four years. This campaign will take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity afforded by the unique events of 2012 to maximise the industry’s potential and ensure that we create a sustained legacy for tourism. Destinations all over the UK stand to benefit from these initiatives.

For the first time ever, a £6 million national TV and cinema advertising campaign promoting holidays at home was created, led by VisitEngland and the tourist boards of the devolved nations. The campaign generated 300,000 extra hotel nights in its first three months alone. In total the campaign has already delivered over £100 million in additional spend. The Government are looking to build on the success of the 20.12% “Holiday at Home” campaign, through a new ad campaign next year.