11 Dec 2012 : Column WA207

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Written Answers

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Alan Turing

Question

Asked by Lord Grade of Yarmouth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will reconsider their decision not to grant a posthumous pardon to Alan Turing.[HL3826]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Dr Turing's conviction, essentially for homosexual activity, was the result of an offence which we would now consider discriminatory and which has now been repealed. This was a shocking and inappropriate fate for someone who had contributed so much to science and to the defence of his country. However, it is long-standing Government policy that pardons under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy should be reserved for cases where it can be established that the convicted person was innocent of the relevant offence, and not to undo the effects of legislation which we now recognise as wrong. Lord Sharkey introduced a Private Member's Bill in the House of Lords on 25 July which would grant a statutory pardon to Dr Turing, and the Government will consider their response to this Bill in due course.

BBC: Royal Charter

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, and if so on what terms, the BBC is required to be balanced in its coverage of policy issues under the BBC's Royal Charter and accompanying agreement. [HL3951]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Article 4a of the charter sets out the BBC's public purpose of “sustaining citizenship and civil society”. This is clarified further in Clause 6 of the agreement: “the Trust must, among other things, seek to ensure that the BBC gives information about, and increases understanding of, the world through accurate and impartial news, other information, and analysis of current events and ideas”. Clause 15 of the agreement requires the trust to have regard to the purposes of public service broadcasting as set out in Section 264(4) of the Communications Act 2003 and

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA208

the desirability of those purposes being fulfilled in a manner compatible with Section 264(6). Clauses 43 (content standards), 44 (accuracy and impartiality) and 45 (the Fairness Code) of the agreement also require the BBC to be balanced in its coverage.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 13 November (WA 268–9), whether they have previously considered recording or retaining details of benefit claimants' nationality, immigration status or their nature of residency on a computer system; if not, why not; and, if so, why the practice ceased.[HL3723]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Information about a claimant’s nationality, immigration status, and residency may be relevant to the determination of a claim to benefit, depending on the benefit being applied for. Where this information is relevant, the information is gathered during the claim process and, for certain benefits, is recorded on the appropriate departmental system. It is not, however, retained in a format that can be extracted for analysis, or management information purposes.

With the introduction of universal credit from 2013, the Government will be considering ways to record nationality, immigration status, and residency at source.

Broadcasting: Digital Radio

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Garden of Frognal on 12 December 2011 (WA 207), what are the proportions of radio listening through digital platforms in each of the last eight quarters; what funding they are currently providing for a switchover to digital broadcasts; and whether they will meet their target of 50 per cent of all radio listening being digital in the short or medium term.[HL3898]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The proportion of radio listening through digital platforms in each of the last eight quarters can be found in the following table. This information is published quarterly by Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) and can be found at the following link: http://www.rajar.co.uk/.

Year201020112012

Quarter

4th

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

1st

2nd

3rd

% listening via digital platforms

25.0

26.5

26.9

28.2

29.1

29.2

31.5

31.3

No Government funding is currently being provided to support a radio switchover to digital, as no decision has been taken at this time to implement a radio switchover policy. Government will make an in-principle decision on whether or not to proceed with radio switchover in 2013.

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA209

As shown in the table, 31.3% of current listening is to digital and projections suggest that it will reach, and surpass, 50% within the next three to five years.

Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 29 November (WA 72), whether members of the staff of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism located at City University London qualify for an educational public sector superannuation scheme. [HL3959]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Employees of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism are not university employees and are therefore not eligible for membership under the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

Burma

Question

Asked by Baroness Goudie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why Burma is not included in their initiative to prevent sexual violence in conflict.[HL3574]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Despite the best efforts of the international community, the Government believe there is more that can—and must—be done to combat the use of sexual violence in conflict, particularly to address the culture of impunity for these crimes that has been allowed to develop. The Foreign Secretary's Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), launched in May, aims to replace the culture of impunity with one of deterrence by increasing the number of perpetrators brought to justice both internationally and nationally; strengthening international efforts and co-ordination; and supporting states to build their national capacity. We are determined to raise the profile of this issue internationally and to highlight these abhorrent crimes wherever they occur.

As part of the initiative, we have established a team of experts who can be deployed to conflict areas to help combat this problem. These deployments will be to those countries where we have assessed there is the greatest opportunity to work with local organisations to build national capacity and to effect long-term reform to tackle impunity and provide support to survivors. While Burma is not one of the immediate countries, there may be future opportunities for UK PSVI support. We are very concerned by the continuing reports of sexual violence in conflicts by the military in Burma's conflict areas. The Burmese Government have done little to investigate these allegations. The Government therefore welcome the recent UN General Assembly resolution on the human rights situation in Burma, which represents a clear commitment by the Burmese Government to work with the international

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA210

community to take the necessary measures to ensure accountability and end impunity, including by undertaking a full, transparent and independent investigation into all reports of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including allegations of targeted rape and other forms of sexual violence. We will continue to raise this issue with the Burmese authorities at every opportunity; directly with the Burmese Government at ministerial level and through our embassy in Rangoon. We will also continue to raise our concerns about the allegations of the use of sexual violence in conflict with our international partners and with the UN.

Civil Service: Secondments

Question

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many senior civil servants at the Ministry of Defence are on secondment to companies or organisations in the United Kingdom; how many were seconded to such companies or organisations in 2011; and to which companies and organisations they are or were seconded. [HL3033]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): At present the Ministry of Defence has three members of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) on secondment to companies or organisations in the United Kingdom.

In 2011, two members of the SCS began secondments, with BMT Defence Services and Babcock Marine.

They have been joined this year by one member who is on secondment to the charity Catch 22.

Civil Service: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Ministers of the current Government have overruled or vetoed the appointment of senior civil servants; and, if so, how many times.[HL3868]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: As was the position under previous administrations, the Prime Minister, as Minister for the Civil Service, approves all permanent secretary appointments and all new entrants to director general posts within the Senior Civil Service in England. It has not been the practice to publish details of internal deliberations.

Communications: 3G Mobile Network

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will take steps to facilitate the roll-out of a 3G mobile network with the Isles of Scilly; and, if so, when. [HL3696]

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Viscount Younger of Leckie: Government recognise the benefits of mobile phone coverage and are working with the mobile industry to deliver the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP) to fill gaps in mobile coverage. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is in the process of procuring a MIP provider to deliver the required infrastructure and once that process has been completed, will begin selecting the areas to be covered.

However, the ability of mobile networks to achieve coverage in an area is predicated on both business considerations and on the operators being able to gain access to suitable sites in order to achieve the coverage improvements. This could prove difficult on Scilly where a large amount of land is subject to planning protection.

Drones

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 26 November (WA 7) concerning the use of drones, whether there are unarmed drones in the airspace of countries other than Afghanistan; and, if so, for what purpose.[HL3759]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence operates a number of unmanned aircraft systems in UK airspace, together with international partners, where necessary for training and trials purposes.

Economy: Forecasts

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of forecasts published by HM Treasury on 21 November in Forecasts for the UK economy: a comparison of independent forecasts, whether they forecast that total government borrowing in the period 2010–11 to 2015–16 will exceed the borrowing target set in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review, and, if so, by how much.[HL3734]

Lord Newby: The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) produces official forecasts for the public finances. The OBR published its latest Economic and fiscal outlook on 5 December. Table 4.341, below, compares the OBR's December forecast with the June Budget 2010 forecast, which underpinned Spending Review 2010.

£ billion
OutturnForecast
2011-122012-132013-142014-152015-162016-172017-18

Surplus on current budget

June 2010 forecast

-88

-65

-40

-17

March 2012 forecast

-98

-95

-74

-52

-30

1

Change

3

6

0

-10

-20

-27

December 2012 forecast

-95

-89

-74

-62

-51

-26

-8

Net investment

June 2010 forecast

27

24

20

21

21

March 2012 forecast

28

-3

23

23

22

22

Change

-1

-5

2

2

1

1

December 2012 forecast

27

-9

25

26

23

23

23

Net borrowing

June 2010 forecast

116

89

60.

37

20

March 2012 forecast

126

92

98

75

52

21

Change

-5

-11

2

13

21

28

December 2012 forecast

121

80

99

88

73

49

31

1 http://cdn.budgetresponsibility.independentgov.uk/December- 2012-Economic-and-fiscal-outlook23423423.pdf

Energy: Electricity Lines

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many kilometres of overhead electricity lines have been removed in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as a result of Ofgem funding; and what has been the cost of that programme to date. [HL3860]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): This is a matter for the network companies and the independent regulator, Ofgem. Spend on undergrounding existing distribution lines in areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks can be found in Ofgem's electricity distribution annual reports1 2. According to the reports from 2005-10 the total spend in 2007-08 prices was £23 million against an allowance set by Ofgem of £75.2 million. For 2010-11 the spend was £2.91 million (in 2010-11 prices) against an allowance of £65.8 million for the whole 2010-15 price control. Figures on length of line undergrounded are not included in these reports.

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No existing transmission lines were undergrounded in these areas over this time period. However, Ofgem has consulted on including a provision for mitigating the visual impact of existing transmission infrastructure within certain designated areas in the next transmission price control (2013-21). It is currently considering stakeholder views and expects to publish its final proposals later this month.

1 http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Networks/ElecDist/PriceCntrls/ DPCR5/Documents1/Electricity_Distribution_Annual_Report_for_2008-09_and_2009-10v2%5bl%5d.pdf.

2 http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Networks/ElecDist/PriceCntrls/ DPCR5/Documents1/Electricity_Distribution_Annual_Report_ for_2010-11.pdf.

EU: Trade Agreements

Question

Asked by Lord Taverne

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the value of the European Union's current trade agreements with non-European Union countries to the United Kingdom economy and United Kingdom businesses.[HL3836]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): The Government do not have estimates of the impact of all four of the EU's current free trade agreements (FTAs), with Chile, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea on the UK. For the most recent agreement, with South Korea, it has been estimated that the total economic benefit to the UK from the EU-South Korea FTA will be around £0.5 billion or a 0.05% increase in UK GDP. The projected gain in the EU's exports to Korea as a result of the EU-South Korea FTA is between 62% and 82%. For the earlier trade agreements, impact assessments were not carried out as the likely benefits were expected to be in line with those estimated for the EU as a whole. An evaluation of the impact of these FTAs on EU trade estimated that in 2008, they had increased the EU's exports to Chile by 148% and to South Africa by 63% compared to what they would have been without the FTAs. Whilst they did not find any significant increase in the EU's exports to Mexico, this was because the lengthy transition arrangements in the FTA meant that EU exporters were unlikely to have seen much benefit from the FTA by 2008.

Food: Aspartame

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 22 November (WA 408), whether they will place in the Library of the House all the papers of the Food Advisory Committee and the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food and the Environment in relation to the safety of aspartame for the period from 28 March 1990 to the end of July 1992.[HL3815]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will review the relevant papers of the Food Advisory Committee and the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment with a view to placing the requested information in the Library. FSA officials are currently collating the information and I will write to the noble Countess, in due course, to inform her of the outcome of that process and place a copy of the letter in the Library.

Government Departments: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many staff in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have (1) received official warnings, and (2) faced disciplinary procedures, following breaches of security in each year since 1997. [HL3792]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Since 1997, core Defra has initiated disciplinary investigations and/or issued warnings against individuals due to security breaches as follows:

YearInformation

1997

There are no data available for this period

1998-2008

No disciplinary investigations or warnings issued

2009

One individual investigated under disciplinary procedure and issued with a warning

2010-2011

No disciplinary investigations or warnings issued

2012

One individual investigated under disciplinary procedure and issued with a warning

2012

One individual investigated under disciplinary procedure. No warning has been issued to date as the investigation is ongoing.

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many persons employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs were prosecuted for (1) speeding offences, (2) passing a traffic light at red, and (3) driving in a bus lane during its hours of operation, while driving a ministerial car, in each month since 1997. [HL3794]

Lord De Mauley: Since its formation in June 2001, core Defra has not employed staff to drive ministerial cars. This function is provided by the Government Car Service, which is provided by the Department for Transport.

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any estimate of the savings to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of each staff member working at least one day per week from home; and whether they will place in the Library of the House any evidence that enabled them to reach any conclusion in the matter.[HL3796]

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Lord De Mauley: Core Defra has not made an estimate of savings that would be made if each staff member worked at least one day per week from home.

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many staff employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are registered with that department as being disabled, broken down by grade, for each of the past five years for which figures are available.[HL3797]

Lord De Mauley: Employees do not have to register that they have a disability with core Defra, but are asked voluntarily to declare their disability status.

Information on the number of declared disabled employees by grade in core Defra is provided in the table below.

Grade20082009201020112012

AA

10

8

**

5

**

AO

34

30

27

31

28

EO

31

30

30

42

35

HEO

31

32

35

53

43

SEO

9

8

8

11

12

Grade 7

13

14

18

23

17

Grade 6

8

8

10

11

**

SOS

**

5

6

8

**

Unknown*

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

**

* Employees shown as being in an unknown grade on 31 March 2012 are former Regional Development Agency employees whose grade had yet to be assessed.

** Numbers below five are not shown for reasons of confidentiality.

Government Departments: Trade Unions

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Department for Work and Pensions civil servants are (1) paid as departmental trade union side staff, and (2) are working for or seconded to unions; which trade unions are involved; and what is the estimated cost of those employees' salaries and associated employment expenses, broken down by union.[HL3719]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The departmental trade union side (DTUS) in the Department for Work and Pension (DWP) has one full-time chair and two full-time secretaries.

They are all employed by DWP. Although they are officials of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), in accordance with DWP’s Employee Relations Framework, DTUS represent all three of our recognised unions for the purposes of negotiation and consultation.

They are executive officers (Band C) grade and the estimated combined cost of their gross annual salaries including superannuation costs and employer’s national insurance contributions is £88,173 p.a.

All travel expenses are met by PCS.

There are no DWP employees working on secondment to trade unions.

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Government: Ministerial Meetings

Question

Asked by Lord Naseby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many official meetings ministers have had so far in 2012 with representatives of (1) the British Tamil Forum, and (2) the Global Tamil Forum.[HL3921]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): Details of Ministers' official meetings are published on a quarterly basis and are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications? departments%5B%5D=department-for-communities-and-local-government&publication_type= transparency-data.

Details for the quarter from June to September 2012 will be published in due course.

Health: Cancer

Question

Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 1 November 2011 (WA 236), what were the findings of the full evaluation of the impact of the Be Clear on Cancer lung cancer campaign launched on 10 October 2011. [HL3872]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The final evaluation report of the Be Clear on Cancer pilot lung cancer campaign is due to be published in 2013.

The initial findings from the pilot showed improved public awareness of the symptoms of lung cancer and increased confidence in recognising symptoms. There was also a 23%. increase in the number of people who visited their general practitioner (GP) with relevant symptoms and an increase in referrals for chest x-rays and chest computerised tomography scans when compared with the same period in the previous year.

94% of the public and 87% of GPs surveyed supported the campaign and agreed that it was important.

Health: Obesity

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to alert the public to the dangers of obesity and to issue dietary and physical exercise advice in both the broadcast and printed media. [HL3820]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Change4Life was launched in January 2009. It encourages everyone in England to “Eat well, move more, live longer”. Originally developed as part of the childhood obesity prevention strategy, it

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA217

targeted parents of children aged 5-11 and now seeks to inspire a broader audience from new mums to middle-aged adults. The campaign encourages positive behaviour change across a wide range of behaviours including: 5 A DAY;Move more;Sugar Swaps;Cut back on fat;Choose Less Booze; andWatch the Salt.

The campaign uses the full range of communication channels including advertising across television, radio, press and online, partnership activity, public relations, local supporter activity and face-to-face.

Change4Life continues to maintain a high level of trust with the public.

More information on Change4Life can be found in the Change4Life Three Year Social Marketing Strategy which has been placed in the Library.

Health: Typhoid Fever

Question

Asked by Lord Birt

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure adequate supplies in the National Health Service of typhoid fever vaccine. [HL3782]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Typhoid vaccination is not part of a national routine immunisation programme. Typhoid vaccine is purchased directly by general practitioner surgeries from suppliers for their patients and is not procured centrally by the department.

The department is working with vaccine manufacturers to understand the current supply issues and help resolve any immediate shortages, by liaising with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency where appropriate.

Health: Warfarin

Question

Asked by Lord Colwyn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many patients on long-term Warfarin prescriptions use self-monitoring technology.[HL3900]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Information on the number of people prescribed a particular medicine, or who are self monitoring their condition, is not collected.

Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) local general practitioner practices, (2) primary care trusts, and (3) hospitals, currently offer Warfarin patients the option to self-monitor their condition; and whether they have any plans to encourage this further.[HL3904]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there is a payment for general practitioners to provide anticoagulation tests in their practices; what is the amount of any such payments; and whether they have made an assessment of whether those payments act as a disincentive to general practitioners from encouraging patient self-monitoring.[HL3905]

Earl Howe: The department does not collect information on the number of Warfarin patients offered the option to self-monitor their condition or on the payments made to general practitioners (GPs) for the provision of anticoagulation tests in their practices, which are services over and above the core requirements of the national GPs contract.

The facility for self-monitoring of Warfarin patients and the provision of anticoagulation tests in GP practices are both local commissioning matters for primary care trusts to decide, including any assessment of the disincentives of such arrangements. From 1 April 2013, this responsibility will rest with the NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups.

The Government’s mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board includes an objective to ensure the National Health Service becomes dramatically better at empowering patients to manage and make decisions about their own care and treatment. Achieving this objective would mean significant progress towards 3 million people with long-term conditions being able to benefit from telehealth and telecare by 2017 by supporting them to manage and monitor their condition at home, and reducing the need for avoidable visits to their GP practice and hospital.

To support this objective the department will be consulting imminently with the General Practitioners Committee of the British Medical Association on changes it is proposing to make to the national GPs contract for 1 April 2013 in the absence of a satisfactory negotiated settlement. This includes further details of a proposal to introduce a new enhanced service to help patients with long-term conditions monitor their health.

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the schemes for finance for (1) bringing empty houses back into use, and (2) renovating existing substandard houses, that they are providing or facilitating in England; and, in each case, how many and what type of housing units are involved; what is the nature and the origin of the finance; and when they expect that the housing will be re-occupied.[HL3881]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): This Government have a comprehensive empty homes strategy, to refurbish and get empty homes back into productive use; this is in contrast to the last Administration, whose policies were focused on the demolition of homes.

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA219

The Government have already committed £160 million to bring empty homes back into use. £100 million of this funding will be paid directly to local authorities, registered housing providers and community groups to bring around 7,350 empty homes back into use as affordable housing. £60 million will be allocated to 23 local authority areas which suffer from significant clusters of empty homes. This will produce a further 3,650 homes, resulting in a combined total of over 11,000 empty homes being brought back into use by April 2015.

On 26 November, the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a second bidding round to bring a further 5,000 empty homes back into use using a share of £300 million announced in the Housing and Growth Package. Combined with existing empty homes commitments, this funding will take our overall target to over 15,000 empty homes or properties being brought back into use as housing by April 2015.

We are further supporting local authorities to take a lead. Under the new homes bonus, local authorities also earn a financial reward for bringing a long-term empty home back into use. To date this has provided an income to local authorities of £59 million for almost 51,000 homes brought back into use. Our reforms on council tax flexibilities and the new empty homes premium will also allow councils to remove the tax subsidies being given to empty homes and instead use the funding to keep the overall rate of council tax down and support frontline services.

My department's refurbishment schemes are also assisting the improvement of social housing and getting empty homes back into use.

During the current spending review, the Government have allocated £1.6 billion to the Decent Homes Backlog programme to provide a grant to local authorities to support them in bringing 127,000 poor quality council homes up to the Decent Homes standard by April 2015.

In addition, following a number of large-scale voluntary transfers, the Government have made Gap Funding Grants to private registered providers to enable stock to be brought up to Decent Homes standard. The total amount of gap funding will be £500 million during the current spending review, the majority of which is provided via the Homes and Communities Agency. Since 2012 the department provided gap funding direct for projects in London (totalling £25 million over 2012-14). It is expected that gap funding outside London will have contributed to making 43,500 homes decent between 2011 and 2015. We do not have comparable figures for London.

By the end of April 2015, 18,500 homes will have been renovated through Housing Private Finance Initiative schemes. The Government's grant funding contribution does not differentiate between new build, refurbishment, related infrastructure, other capital and financing costs, so we are unable to give a breakdown of the costs.

The above three schemes (Decent Homes, Gap Funding and Private Finance Initiative) cover a range of housing types. The rate at which properties are reoccupied following refurbishment will depend on a range of circumstances.

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA220

Internet: 4G Spectrum

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will publish details of the auction of 4G spectrum capacity; when they expect to make a decision on licences; and when they expect to receive payment from successful bidders.[HL4005]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The matters raised are operational ones for the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom).

Ofcom announced on 30 November that the date for the submission of applications to be included in the auction would be Tuesday 11 December.

On 7 December, Ofcom published further guidance for parties wishing to take part in the auction of 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum. It includes further details on matters such as payment of deposits, pricing increments and business continuity. This document is available from http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/ spectrum/spectrum-awards/.

The document sets out a timeline for the auction process in days from the initiation of the auction. This initiation date has not yet been announced. There are a number of occasions throughout the auction process when applicants or bidders must make a payment to Ofcom. These are all specified in the regulations which are available from the link provided.

Internet: Broadband

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many homes in the United Kingdom are unable to receive broadband services.[HL3665]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Ofcom's Communication Infrastructure Report 2012 stated that current generation broadband is available in close to 100% of premises in the UK. Ofcom estimated that 1.3% of UK premises were in potential broadband hotspots, but noted that where broadband is not available via fixed access networks, customers may have access via other technologies such as satellite and mobile services or local community schemes.

More information is available from http://stakeholders. ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/other/telecoms-research/broadband-speeds/infrastructure-report-2012/.

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the impact of planning rules on the roll-out of superfast broadband in the areas referred to in clause 7 of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill. [HL3863]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Clause 7 (now Clause 8) of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill will support the Government's aim to have the fastest broadband of any major European County by 2015. A detailed assessment of the impacts of this clause is contained

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA221

in the impact assessment is available online at http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/growthandinfrastructure/documents.html.

This makes clear that separately, the current planning prior approval requirements for the installation of fixed communications apparatus in protected areas are not conducive to achieving that aim as they can cause uncertainty and delay which can impact adversely on investment decisions and costs.

Jobcentre Plus: Vacancies

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many vacancies were listed in Jobcentre Plus branches in each of the 32 London Boroughs and the City of London in each of the past five years.[HL3679]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): I will arrange for copies of the information to be placed in the Library of the House.

Judicial Review

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many of the 1,100 applications for judicial review, referred to by the Prime Minister in his speech on 19 November to the Confederation of British Industry, were related to planning.[HL3861]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Prime Minister referred to 11,000 cases for judicial review in his speech to the CBI. The Administrative Court received 11,056 applications for permission to apply for judicial review between 1 January and 31 November 2012. Of these, 169 applications related to planning.

Life Sciences

Question

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they intend to make of the implementation of actions set out in the UK Strategy for Life Sciences. [HL3778]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Marland): Progress to date in implementing the strategy was sent to stakeholders in a letter dated 20 August 2012. The letter was published on the Department for Business. Innovation and Skills website at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/innovation/docs/1/12-1123-life-sciences-strategy-update-august-2012.pdf.

A “One Year On” report updating on progress in implementing the Strategy for UK Life Sciences was published on 10 December 2012.

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA222

Middle East Peace Process

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure through the Middle East Peace Quartet arrangements that the expenses and activities of the Office of the Quartet representative are properly monitored and accounted for.[HL3814]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government are in regular contact with the OQR, which undertakes a broad work programme focused on supporting the Palestinian economy and institutions in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza.

Details of the OQR's work can be found in the OQR's Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) report of September 2012. The OQR submits such reports to the AHLC on a bi-annual basis and maintains a regular dialogue with the international community, including the UK.

Ofcom: Switching

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Ofcom’s progress in reviewing switching in the communications market since it announced its consumer switching review in April 2010.[HL3781]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Whilst no such assessment has been made, we are aware that the Office of Communications (Ofcom) is currently conducting a wide-ranging strategic review of switching to ensure that the consumers' experience of switching is made easier and stress free, both for now and in the future. This review covers the processes for switching broadband, landline, pay TV and mobile providers. According to Ofcom's analysis of consumer experience, switching of fixed line and broadband services has been identified as the area of greatest concern and Ofcom has therefore decided to focus on these as a priority.

Earlier this year, Ofcom consulted on various options intended to make changing landline and broadband providers, delivered over BT's network, easier for consumers. Ofcom is currently considering the responses it has received and expects to set out next steps early next year. Ofcom anticipates that once the switching processes for landline and broadband have been resolved, it will then also consider whether switching reform is necessary across other services.

Shipping: Frigates

Question

Asked by Lord Davies of Stamford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which Type 23 frigates are currently in service in the Royal Navy; what are their dates of commissioning; and what are their planned out-of-service dates.[HL3804]

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA223

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There are 13 Type 23 frigates currently in service with the Royal Navy. The following table shows the date each ship was commissioned and its currently planned out-of-service date.

Type 23 Frigates
NameDate CommissionedOut-of-Service Date

HMS ARGYL

May1991

2023

HMS LANCASTER

May 1992

2024

HMS IRON DUKE

May 1993

2025

HMS MONMOUTH

September 1993

2026

HMS MONTROSE

June 1994

2027

HMS WESTMINSTER

May 1994

2028

HMS NORTHUMBERLAND

November 1994

2029

HMS RICHMOND

June 1995

2030

HMS SOMERSET

September 1996

2031

HMS SUTHERLAND

July1997

2033

HMS KENT

June 2000

2034

HMS PORTLAND

May 2001

2035

HMS ST ALBANS

June 2002

2036

Taxation: Income Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people have been taken out of the income tax system by the increase in income tax thresholds since 2010 in (1) North East England, (2) Yorkshire and the Humber, and (3) North West England. [HL3728]

Lord Newby: By 2013-14, the cumulative effect of the Government's increases for personal allowance for those aged less than 65 years, since 2010-11, will lift 2.2 million people out of the income tax system.

A breakdown by country and region is shown in the table below.

Government Office RegionNumber taken out of Income Tax (Thousands)

North East

90

North West and Merseyside

249

Yorkshire and the Humber

192

East Midlands

167

West Midlands

194

East of England

200

London

255

South East

283

South West

191

Wales

109

Scotland

183

Northern Ireland

64

Address abroad / unknown

34

Total

2,210

These estimates are based on the 2009-10 Survey of Personal Incomes, projected to 2013-14, using economic assumptions consistent with the Office for Budget Responsibility's December 2012 economic and fiscal outlook.

11 Dec 2012 : Column WA224

Taxation: Tax Relief

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Hendon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Sassoon on 12 November (WA 260), whether transfer pricing, base erosion and profit-shifting are scrutinised by HM Revenue and Customs against the criteria of being “wholly, exclusively, and necessarily” incurred before allowing them for tax relief.[HL3757]

Lord Newby: Section 54 of the Corporation Taxes Act 2009 requires that expenditure for which a deduction is claimed for corporation tax purposes is incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the company's trade. HM Revenue and Customs considers that test as part of its normal risk assessment process when reviewing corporation tax returns

However, the requirement is of very limited use, in the context of transfer pricing and the countering of base erosion and profit shifting, as it is an all or nothing test. It considers the purpose of the expenditure rather than the quantum and a payment from a company which is a member of a group to another company within the same group will be very unlikely to fail that test.

United Arab Emirates

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will encourage the Government of the United Arab Emirates to ratify the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; what representations they have made regarding persons held in that country without charge and with no trial date; and what responses they have received.[HL3893]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government are committed to the protection and promotion of universal human rights. We raise these issues with the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a regular basis, including at ministerial level through the UK-UAE task force, led by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt).

We have consistently underlined, across the region, the importance of respect for the right to peaceful protest, freedom of speech and the internet, freedom of assembly and the rule of law. Emirati Ministers have assured us that those arrested will be treated according to UAE law and that due process is being followed in all cases.