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Written Answers

Thursday 7 February 2013

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether arrangements have been put in place with the Governments of relevant countries to ensure the secure removal of United Kingdom military equipment from Afghanistan.[HL5067]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): We have a substantial number of extant agreements with allies in Europe and the Middle East, which are utilised to allow movement into and out of Afghanistan through the use of established transit routes including via Pakistan.

NATO has established reverse surface transit permissions with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia, as well as use of the Russian airbase at Ulyanovsk for cargo flown direct from Afghanistan and which is then transferred to rail for onward transport.

We are seeking to increase resilience by negotiating bilateral surface and air reverse transit agreements with the Central Asian Republics. These negotiations are at varying stages of development. Once ratified, the bilateral agreements will provide a range of options for the redeployment of UK personnel and equipment via northern lines of communication.

Value for money, operational priority and security are all taken into consideration when deciding on the most appropriate transit route for redeployment of equipment. In general, warlike items and items that are deemed attractive to criminal or terrorists will not be routed via insecure routes and wherever possible will be flown out.

Armed Forces: Helicopters

Questions

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consultations they have had with the United States Army and the Government of the United States on the scope and potential costs of upgrades to Apache attack helicopters.[HL5074]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): A range of options to sustain our attack helicopter capability are currently being explored and no decisions have yet been taken. We are utilising established links with the United States Government to explore, where appropriate, the scope, costs and timescales of some of these options.

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Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to arm the Lynx Wildcat helicopter with the Lightweight Modular Missile.[HL5079]

Lord Astor of Hever: Arming the Wildcat helicopter with a Lightweight Multirole Missile is one of the options being considered to meet the Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light) (FASGW(L)) requirement. The FASGW(L) project is currently in its assessment phase, with the main investment decision planned later this year.

Armed Forces: RC-12 Shadow

Question

Asked by Lord Moonie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what agreements they have put in place with the Government of the United States for consultations on the costs and scope of future upgrades within the RC-12 Shadow programme.[HL5077]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): There are no agreements in place with the Government of the United States to consult on these topics.

Arm’s-Length Bodies: Staff

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the salary paid in the current year to (1) the chief executive, and (2) board members, for (a) the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, (b) the Human Tissue Authority, (c) the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency, and (d) the Health Research Agency; and what is the planned expenditure for the year 2013–2014.[HL4952]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The following table shows the salary paid in the current year (using £5,000 bands) to the chief executive, and board members, for the aforementioned arm’s-length bodies; and what the planned expenditure is for the year 2013–14:

Health Research Authority
Salary Costs for 2012-13 £Planned Expenditure for 2013-14 £

Chief Executive

£115,000-£120,000

£115,000-£120,000

Non Executive Board Members

Chair

£40,000-£45,000

£40,000-£45,000

Vice Chair

£10,000-£15,000

£10,000-£15,000

Non Executive x 2

£5,000-£10,000

£5,000-£10,000

Executive Board Members x 1

£80,000-£85,000

£50,000-£55,000

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Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
Salary Costs for 2012-13 £Planned Expenditure for 2013-14 £

Chief Executive

£135,000-£140,000

£135,000-£140,000

Non Executive Board Members

Chair

£55,000-£60,000

£55,000-£60,000

Non Executive x 11*

£5,000-£15,000

£5,000-£15,000

Non Executive x 7*

£5,000-£10,000

Human Tissue Authority
Salary Costs for 2012-13 £Planned Expenditure for 2013-14 £

Chief Executive

£100,000-£105,000

£100,000-£105,000

Non Executive Board Members

Chair

£40,000-£45,000

£40,000-£45,000

Non Executive x 10

£7,000-£12,000

£7,000-£12,000

Executive Board Members x 4

£48,000-£84,000

£48,000-£84,000

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
Salary Costs for 2012-13 £Planned Expenditure for 2013-14 £

Chief Executive

£190,000-£195,000

£190,000-£195,000

Non Executive Board Members

Chair

£85,000-£90,000

£60,000-£65,000

Non Executive x1

£10,000-£15,000

£10,000-£15,000

Non Executive x7

£5,000-£10,000

£5,000-£10,000

Corporate Executive Team Members x 10

£70,000-£130,000

£90,000-£170,000

The chair of the MHRA changed on 1 January 2013.

MHRA Corporate Executive Team (CET) members are executive directors of the MHRA but are not board members, as the MHRA Board is composed solely of non-executive directors. For further details please see: www.mhra.gov.uk/Aboutus/Ourstructure/AgencyBoard/index.htm.

One CET member left during 2012-13 and has not been replaced on the CET, hence the low starting point of the 2012-13 salary range. In 2013-14 the MHRA takes over responsibility for the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and the director of NIBSC will join the CET, hence the upper salary range in 2013-14 being higher.

Civil Partnerships

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many civil partnerships have been registered in each year since 2005.[HL5024]

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

Letter from Glen Watson, Director General for ONS, to Lord Roberts of Llandudno, dated January 2013

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent questions on how many (1) marriages, and (2) divorces,

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there were in (a) 1983, (b) 1993, (c) 2003, and (d) 2010 (HL5023), and how many civil partnerships have been registered in each year since 2005. (HL5024)

The table below shows the numbers of marriages and divorces in England and Wales. ONS divorce statistics include both dissolutions and annulments of marriage.

Number of Marriages and Divorces, 1983, 1993, 2003, 2010
England and Wales
1983199320032010

Marriages

344,334

299,197

270,109

241,100p

Divorces

147,479

165,018

153,065

119,589

P.

Figures for 2010 are provisional

Source

: Office for National Statistics

The table below shows the numbers of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales.

Number of Civil Partnerships, 2005–11
England and Wales
Year
20051200620072008200920102011

Civil partnerships

1,857

14,943

7,929

6,558

5,687

5,804

6,152

1.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005 in the UK, the first day couples could give notice of their intention to form a civil partnership. The first day that couples could normally form a partnership was 21 December 2005 in England and Wales (18 civil partnerships were formed under special arrangements before these dates. These are included in the figures).

Source

: Office for National Statistics

The Vital Statistics: Population and Health Reference Tables on the ONS website provide the number of marriages, divorces, civil partnership and civil partnership dissolutions for the United Kingdom and its constituent countries. See Annual Time Series Data table at: www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/vital-statistics--population-and-health-reference-tables/winter-2012-update/rtd-annual-table.xls.

Climate Change

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment the Met Office has made of the impact of long-term global temperatures on the level of rainfall in the United Kingdom in (1) the last quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, and (2) the last quarter of 2012.[HL5030]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): I have asked the chief executive officer of the Met Office to respond direct to the noble Lord.

Letter from John Hirst, Chief Executive, Met Office, to Lord Donoughue, dated 4 February 2013.

I am replying on behalf of the Met Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 11 January 2013, HL5030 to Her Majesty's Government.

Formal attribution of weather and climate related extreme events, to assess how the odds of such events may change due to human influences on the climate, is an active area of research at the Met Office. At this stage, the Met Office has not explicitly examined the

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impact changes in global temperature may have had on the level of rainfall in the UK during the periods mentioned.

The Met Office has assessed the climatological context of the 2010-12 UK drought. This indicated that a number of drivers may all have potentially played a role in this event, including multi-decadal variability in the sign of the North Atlantic Oscillation, which is linked to Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation—a strong determinant of winter temperature and rainfall; La Nina forcing from the Pacific; solar variability associated with the 11-year solar cycle; declining Arctic sea ice, and; stratospheric influences. We also noted however that neither the development nor the severity of the 2010-2012 UK drought was exceptional compared with historical events and its climatological drivers had several similarities with past droughts. A number of these drivers, including the links to a warming world, continue to be investigated, in particular the impact of declining Arctic sea ice on our winter weather patterns and the impact of higher temperatures on UK water availability.

There is evidence that increases in greenhouse gases and the subsequent rise in global temperature has increased the severity of short period (up to a day) extreme rainfall for the Northern Hemisphere and that this is expected to continue as the climate warms. The seasonal extreme rainfall of autumn 2000 and subsequent flooding was also found to have been exacerbated by increased greenhouse gases. However, the degree to which the wet periods of 2012 was due to natural variability or increased greenhouse gases is not yet known and a subject of research.

Energy: Fracking

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to promote the advantages of fracking throughout the United Kingdom.[HL5156]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): As announced in the Gas Generation Strategy in December 2012, DECC is setting up an Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil, which, working with Defra and other government departments, will join up responsibilities across Government, provide a single point of contact for investors and ensure a simplified and streamlined regulatory process.

In addition, the Treasury has opened discussions with industry on the appropriate structure of a fair tax regime for future shale gas production, and DECC will consult on how its licensing regime could be modified to support the particular characteristics of shale gas developments. DECC will also consult on an updated Strategic Environmental Assessment with a view to further onshore oil and gas licensing.

Also last December, DECC announced that, subject to new control measures, we are again prepared to consider applications for fracking for shale gas.

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Gaza

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their most recent assessment of the incidence of (1) anaemia, (2) stunted growth, and (3) malnutrition, in Gaza. [HL5134]

Baroness Northover: The most recent data we have are from the World Health Organisation which reported in its 2011 nutrition surveillance report that:

(1) 68.1% of children aged from 9-12 months and 36.8% of pregnant women in Gaza suffer from anaemia;(2) 5.1% children aged from 9-12 months suffer from stunted growth; and(3) 4.6% of children aged from 9-12 months suffer from wasting and 3.7% are underweight due to malnutrition.

The UK Government are very concerned by the increased prevalence of these conditions and DfID provides multi-year funding for food security and service delivery in Gaza to help to address this.

Government Departments: Catering Facilities

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the cost of the subsidy for catering facilities in the Whitehall offices of the Ministry of Defence. [HL5013]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Under the Main Building Redevelopment Private Finance Initiative (PFI) Contract, signed in May 2000 by the previous Government, the PFI contractor, Modus Services Ltd, is required to provide a staff restaurant serving hot meals at breakfast and lunch. The offering is provided on a commercial basis and there is no direct subsidy by the Ministry of Defence; the contractor bears the full risk of the operation.

Government Departments: Statistics

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which government departments collect statistical and other information on a regional basis in England; and which do not.[HL5141]

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

Letter from Glen Watson, Director General for ONS, to Lord Greaves, dated February 2013.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking which government departments collect statistical and other information on a regional basis in England; and which do not. (HL5141)

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Data collection to support statistical publications takes place at a wide range of geographical levels depending on the purpose of the statistical outputs. This can range from individual address level for surveys of individuals or households; premises level, for example for collections from schools or universities, courts, hospitals, businesses and the like; and organisational level, for example for local authorities and police forces.

The subsequent publication of outputs from these collections also occurs at a range of geographic levels. The level is determined by a consideration of statistical quality (ie that the data are robust and reliable), disclosure control (ie that the data do not reveal confidential information), user needs and legal requirements. As a result, ONS (and many other government departments) publish a wide range statistical information at regional and other geographical levels.

Health: Obesity

Questions

Asked by Lord Dubs

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the effectiveness of the indicators currently set out in the Quality and Outcomes Framework in providing incentives to general practitioners to tackle obesity.[HL4955]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the data recently published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which showed that the average practice score for the obesity indicator in the Qualities and Outcomes Framework was 100% in both 2010–11 and 2011–12. [HL4956]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) incentivises general practitioner (GP) practices to identify and keep a record each year of patients aged 16 and over with a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30. This encourages GPs to identify patients who need lifestyle advice and provides information to public health professionals and commissioners on levels of need.

GPs, along with other clinicians, can play a key role in making every contact count by raising the issues of obesity and providing advice or referral to appropriate services.

As the indicator itself requires only the maintenance of an annual register, we would expect very high levels of achievement in this area.

From April 2013, Public Health England will set priorities for development of public health indicators for QOF. We are committed to identifying the best possible evidence of what works in tackling obesity and pulling together the evidence will be a key task for Public Health England.

Asked by Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the data on achievement, exceptions and prevalence for the Quality and Outcomes

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Framework recently published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which show that 4.9 million patients aged 16 and over are registered as obese.[HL5106]

Earl Howe: Practices continue to maintain high levels of achievement against the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) in England achieving 96.9% of the points available, compared to 94.7% in the previous year. The main reason for the small increase in average points achievement is technical, due to a change in the allocation of points between QOF areas.

Achievement on obesity is the same as the previous year at 100%. The indicator rewards general practitioners (GPs) for keeping a register of patients aged 16 years and over with a body mass index greater than or equal to 30 in the preceding 15 months. GPs cannot except patients from the obesity register. The percentage of patients included in the register is slightly higher than the previous year (10.7% compared to 10.5%). However, the indicator only captures patients whose body mass index has been recorded as part of routine care during the past year and so does not record true prevalence in the population.

The QOF has brought improvements in patient care, but we need to go further and faster. This is why we have sent proposals to the British Medical Agency for changes to the GP contract to drive up standards for all patients. We want the contract to reflect the most up-to-date expert guidance and excellent standards of care.

Under our proposals, the indicator on obesity will form part of the Public Health Domain in QOF from April 2013. Public Health England will set priorities for development of public health indicators for QOF. We are committed to identifying the best possible evidence of what works in tackling obesity and pulling together the evidence will be a key task for Public Health England.

Health: Ophthalmology

Questions

Asked by Lord Naseby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people were registered partially sighted, and what percentage of them were diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration, in each of the past five years. [HL5085]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department does not hold this information.

However, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (H&SC IC) collects data on the number of partially sighted people every three years and its last report, Registered Blindand Partially Sighted People Year ending 31 March 2011, in England was published on 1 September 2011.

The H&SC IC is unable to provide information for each of the past five years and have therefore provided the data collected within the past five years when the collection was undertaken, in the following table.

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The number of people who are registered with Councils with Adult Social Services Responsibilities in England as being Partially Sighted 2008-11
YearPartially Sighted

2008

156,285

2011

151,010

The H&SC IC does not collect any data on the number of people diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration and is therefore unable to answer this part of the question.

Asked by Lord Naseby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the estimated total healthcare expenditure for patients with wet age-related macular degeneration in England on (1) in-patient costs, (2) out-patients' diagnostics, first and follow-up appointments, and (3) drugs, the cost of medicine preparation and administration, in each of the past five years.[HL5087]

Earl Howe: No estimate has been made of the total healthcare expenditure for patients with wet age-related macular degeneration on inpatient costs and outpatient diagnostics, first and follow-up appointments.

Information on drug treatment is not available as the specific condition for which a medicine is prescribed is not collected centrally.

Houses of Parliament: Members’ Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Dubs

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when it will be possible for Members of both Houses of Parliament to complete their tax returns online.[HL4953]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The vast majority of self-assessment (SA) taxpayers can complete their tax returns online, by using HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Self Assessment online service.

A small proportion of SA taxpayers (including Members of both Houses of Parliament) are not able to complete file tax returns online because they need to complete special dedicated pages. Developing the necessary forms and links to departmental computer systems would carry a disproportionate cost to HMRC at this time.

Housing

Questions

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how, and over what period, they are distributing their compensatory fund for loss of affordable housing arising from the renegotiation of Section 106 agreements.[HL4971]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government with which local authorities they are discussing possible compensation for the loss of affordable housing arising from the renegotiation of Section 106 agreements.[HL4972]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): Renegotiating Section 106 agreements will unblock stalled sites and deliver affordable housing that would not otherwise be delivered.

There are no direct compensatory arrangements for the difference between unviable local affordable housing figures and those achieved through the renegotiation of Section 106 agreements. The department has not held discussions with local authorities on this matter.

On 6 September 2012, we announced plans to issue a debt guarantee for up to £10 billion for both affordable housing and private rented schemes to increase housing supply and make available £300 million more grant to help deliver up to 15,000 new affordable homes and bring 5,000 empty homes back into use. There is potential to use guarantees and grant to minimise the loss of affordable homes where Section 106 agreements have been found to be unviable.

Government submitted their Official Journal of the European Union Contract Notice for the administration of the schemes on 31 January and published the scheme rules for both housing guarantees schemes on 1 February.

Imports and Exports

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the net financial balance of exports or imports for each country or region of the United Kingdom according to the latest figures available.[HL4877]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): Regional data on trade in goods are published by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in its quarterly Regional Trade Statistics publication. Table 1 below show the latest goods trade balance figures, covering the third quarter of 2012.

Table 1: Trade in Goods balance by UK Region, 2012Q3
£ million

United Kingdom

-26,768

North East

1,175

North West

-886

Yorkshire and The Humber

-328

East Midlands

-232

West Midlands

-2,456

East

-4,872

London

-9,126

South East

-10,265

South West

-1,224

England

-28,214

Wales

1,350

Scotland

940

Northern Ireland

-55

Unknown

-788

Source

: HMRC Regional Trade Statistics

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Marriage: Same-sex Weddings

Question

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that a church or religious body has a method of redress should a competent European Court rule against provisions in proposed legislation exempting those churches or religious bodies from being able to perform same-sex marriages.[HL4316]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The Government have always been clear that no religious organisation or individual minister will be forced to marry same-sex couples. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which was introduced into Parliament on 24 January and published on 25 January, contains a quadruple lock of explicit legal protections for religious organisations and ministers which will allow them to continue to operate within their doctrines and beliefs as they do now.

The European Convention on Human Rights protects the rights of religious organisations and their members. Any case before the court would be brought against the UK Government, not a religious organisation. Our view is that the court would be bound to give priority to the rights of a religious organisation under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. We are confident that there is no legal precedent requiring religious organisations to marry same-sex couples.

Montserrat

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are any proposals to assist Montserrat in the construction of its new capital.[HL5104]

Baroness Northover: Government of Montserrat are currently working on plans to improve port facilities and develop a new capital town for Montserrat. This is part of wider plans to stimulate economic development and encourage private sector investment in Montserrat.

DfID is working closely with the Government of Montserrat as they develop these plans.

North Korea

Question

Asked by Baroness Berridge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the prospect of a large-scale famine in North Korea; and whether they have contingency plans in place for such an occurrence. [HL5130]

Baroness Northover: While North Korea still faces food shortages with around 2.8 million people remaining vulnerable to under-nutrition, a World Food Programme food security assessment in September/October last year indicated that food production had increased, and a UNICEF nutrition survey undertaken in 10 provinces in September/October indicated that levels

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of acute malnutrition had slightly declined. While obtaining reliable data for North Korea is particularly difficult, the current information that we have does not suggest that a widespread famine is on the immediate horizon.

DfID is in contact with agencies working in North Korea and continues to monitor the situation closely. DfID maintains a range of options with which to respond to crises around the world working with trusted partners as appropriate.

Roads: M4

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 4 December 2012 (WA 146) concerning the bus lane on the M4 motorway, when they will make a decision as to its removal.[HL5038]

Earl Attlee: Following the two objections received during the recent consultation exercise, additional environmental assessments have been undertaken to understand more fully the effect on the local environment of removing the bus lane. The analysis of these assessments needs to be completed before the Highways Agency continues with the statutory process for the revocation order, which is expected to conclude later this year.

Social Care: Adults

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of local authority cuts on elderly care; and whether they will make representations to those local authorities about their financial reserves.[HL5113]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We know that the last Spending Review provided local government with a challenging settlement. This is why we took the decision to prioritise adult social care by allocating an additional £7.2 billion up to 2014-15 to support local authorities in delivering social care. Independent research by the King's Fund supported our view that this was enough for councils to maintain services, provided they focused on efficiency. Since then, we have provided local authorities with a further £0.5 billion.

It is ultimately for local authorities to choose how best to use their available funding. The latest Association of Directors of Adult Social Services budget survey has shown that councils have made savings from their social care budgets, but the vast majority of these have been from efficiencies. This shows that local authorities have been effectively delivering on their cost-saving plans.

A focus on how resources are used is right: we cannot improve care and support by putting ever more money into the system. We have already seen examples

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of local authorities redesigning services to find more efficient ways of working. Many local authorities are innovating and achieving much greater integration between health and care services, thereby improving care for people and optimising use of resources available.

Traffic Management Act 2004

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the drafting and subsequent consideration by the House of Lords of the Civil Enforcement of Road

7 Feb 2013 : Column WA90

Traffic Contraventions (Representations and Appeals) (Wales) Regulations 2013 implementing part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004, when they expect provisions to be introduced to implement that part of the Act in England.[HL5029]

Earl Attlee: Local authority powers to enforce moving traffic contraventions are already in place in London. Department for Transport Ministers are reviewing the case for implementation outside London but no decision has been taken yet on whether or not to proceed.