12 Mar 2013 : Column WA45

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Written Answers

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 13 November 2012 (WA 261), whether they will publish a breakdown of casualties caused by United Kingdom forces, by type of death and weapon used, in each of the past three years.[HL5868]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Government do not record total figures for casualties, whether civilian or otherwise, caused by UK forces because of the immense difficulty and risks that would be involved in collecting robust data. Any incident involving civilian casualties is a matter of deep regret and all alleged incidents relating to UK forces are carefully investigated.

Agriculture: Common Agricultural Policy

Question

Asked by Baroness Byford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord De Mauley on 22 January (WS 68), what assessment they have made of whether the computer system introduced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to manage funding under the Common Agricultural Policy will reduce information technology costs to the delivery bodies, and by how much.[HL5849]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Defra has undertaken an extensive exercise to plan for the future changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Core to this has been the consolidation of the Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 computer systems, designed in a flexible manner to accommodate the anticipated changes. As such, the emerging design is to build the solution in a modular manner, allowing for components to be built in parallel, and to allow for discrete changes as the CAP details are finalised.

In terms of costs, the business case for the new computer system has considered the current system as the baseline and there are significant cost savings forecast. As would be expected, this varies by solution component; certain components of the existing system will no longer be required, while for other components there could be significant savings. The exact system design is currently being worked on and costs will emerge over the coming months.

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Armed Forces: Interpreters

Questions

Asked by Baroness Coussins

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the targeted assistance scheme for Iraqi nationals who have worked as interpreters for the United Kingdom Armed Forces in Iraq has not been extended to Afghan nationals who have worked in a similar capacity.[HL6031]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they gave to the other members of the allied forces in Afghanistan in deciding not to grant asylum to Afghan nationals who have worked as interpreters for the United Kingdom Armed Forces. [HL6035]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Work is progressing on reviewing how to make appropriate provision to support locally employed civilians as we draw down our combat mission in Afghanistan. As part of this work we have considered both the UK’s previous assistance scheme for Iraq and the arrangements that other members of the allied forces have put in place in Afghanistan. We continue to recognise our clear commitment to treat locally engaged staff fairly and appropriately, and to take all reasonable steps to ensure their safety and security beyond the term of their employment with Her Majesty’s Government. Asylum claims may be considered only where applicants are outside their country of origin, but any asylum claim made in the UK will be considered on its individual merits and protection offered to those who are found to be at genuine risk.

Armed Forces: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Questions

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mr Robathan, on 1 November 2012 (Official Report, Commons, col. 370W), how many missiles have been fired by Royal Air Force unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan since 22 October 2012. [HL5870]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Reaper is the UK’s only armed Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). From 23 October 2012 to 28 February 2013, 24 Hellfire precision guided missiles were fired from UK Reaper in support of UK and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mr Robathan, on 26 November (Official Report, Commons, col. 28–9W), how many claims for compensation have been submitted by Afghan civilians to the Ministry of Defence; and

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what proportion of those claims relate to incidents from the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles in the past three years.[HL5871]

Lord Astor of Hever: A total of 3,205 claims have been submitted to the Ministry of Defence by Afghan civilians in the last three years. Records are not held in a format that would enable identification of any claims that arise from the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles.

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what further discussions relating to moral and ethical issues have taken place on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, on the basis of Chapter 5 of the Joint Doctrine Note 2/11, The United Kingdom Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems.[HL5872]

Lord Astor of Hever: Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) are subject to legal reviews during the acquisition process, in accordance with the UK’s responsibilities under Article 36 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva conventions of 1949. The reviews have concluded that UK UAS currently in use are capable of being used lawfully and in accordance with all relevant international and domestic law.

The Developments, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) continues to engage in a number of fora in which the ethics of UAS operations are the key focus.

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Mr Robathan, on 17 December 2012 (Official Report, Commons, col. 601W), what steps they are taking to improve the collection of data on the recording of civilian deaths as a consequence of unmanned vehicle strikes in Afghanistan. [HL5867]

Lord Astor of Hever: I have nothing further to add to the Answer given by my right honourable friend, the Minister for the Armed Forces (Andrew Robathan), in the other place on 17 December 2012 (Official Report, col. 601W) to the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson).

Asylum Seekers

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 19 February (WA 188), what action they are taking to reduce the number of asylum applications outstanding for more than 12 months.[HL5980]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Our most recent published statistics are in the link below: http://www. ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/percentage-of-asylum-application/.

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The statistics show that asylum cases concluded within 12 months increased from 56% in 2010-11 to 63% in 2011-12.

Since the autumn we have recruited a substantial number of new decision makers and this, combined with improved productivity, is helping us to deliver improved performance on newer cases. We want to mitigate the risks of new backlogs being created in asylum, and by focusing so much effort and resource on newer cases we are doing so. The recent move to a national asylum casework directorate has allowed us to flex resource more quickly and effectively, which has helped reduce the number of asylum cases that are over 12 months old without an initial decision.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their rationale for not ordinarily allowing asylum seekers the opportunity to seek paid employment while their case awaits determination.[HL5989]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: It is important to maintain the distinction between those in need of international protection and those seeking to work in the United Kingdom.

Allowing asylum seekers the opportunity to seek paid employment while their case awaits determination would be likely to encourage those motivated primarily by economic reasons and who are not genuinely in need of protection to make an asylum claim. This would slow down the processing of applications made by those with a genuine need of protection and undermine the integrity of both the managed migration system and the asylum system.

Our policy is to consider applications for permission to work for those whose claims (or further submissions following an earlier rejection) have been outstanding for 12 months or more, providing the delay cannot be attributed to them. This is consistent with the EU reception conditions directive, which sets out the minimum benefits and entitlements afforded to asylum seekers while they await a decision on their claim.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the UK Border Agency determines whether or not an individual is being truthful with regard to their sexuality when they are seeking asylum on these grounds.[HL5991]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Following the coalition’s commitment to end the removal of those at risk of persecution due to their sexual orientation, the UK Border Agency produced dedicated guidance aimed at ensuring that claims are handled sensitively and appropriately, and training on considering sexuality based claims was delivered to all asylum case owners. The guidance included advice on assessing the credibility of claims.

Any individual who claims fear of persecution on return to their country of origin will have their case fully considered on its merits in accordance with the

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obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), in the context of their personal circumstances and in the light of all available information about their country of origin. Asylum applicants who are found to be in need of protection will be granted asylum or humanitarian protection.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are (1) the principal service standards adhered to by the UK Border Agency when processing asylum applications, and (2) the means by which fulfilment of those standards is ensured.[HL5992]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: To ensure absolute transparency, the UK Border Agency publishes its annual asylum performance against 15 key performance measures. These measure a wide variety of factors including case processing times, decision quality, asylum removals and costs. Specifically:

asylum intake;work in progress (WiP) cases;intake;asylum support costs;productivity;asylum unit cost;initial decisions in 30 days;cases concluded in six months;cases concluded in 12 months;cases concluded in 35 months;cases removed in 12 months;decision quality;appeal representation rate;appeal win rate; andasylum grant rate.

To ensure full accountability and fulfilment, the measures are shared across four directorates (asylum casework, removals and compliance casework, appeals and litigation and enforcement and crime).

The latest published statistics cover the financial year 2011-12, except for the work in progress (WiP) figure, which is calculated from June 2011 to June 2012. These can be accessed via the following link: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/immigration-asylum-research/immigration-q2- 2012/asylum2-q2-2012.

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will undertake to publish a report on their review of asylum support when it is completed.[HL6017]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: It is the Government’s normal practice to conduct an annual internal review of asylum support. This year it will take into account the views of selected partners and the evidence presented at the recent parliamentary inquiry into asylum support for children and young people, but there are no plans to publish a formal report. Any plans to make changes to asylum support will be notified to Parliament and relevant partners.

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Badgers

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many convictions have been secured in the United Kingdom for badger-baiting and lamping in the last five years for which figures are available.[HL5817]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Ministry of Justice Court Proceedings Database holds information on defendants proceeded against, found guilty and sentenced for criminal offences in England and Wales. This database holds information on offences provided by the statutes under which proceedings are brought but not the specific circumstances of each case. It is not possible to separately identify from this centrally held information which findings of guilt under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 relate specifically to badger-baiting. Similarly, it is not possible to separately identify which findings of guilt under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 relate specifically to lamping.

Data for Scotland and Northern Ireland are matters for the Scottish Government and the Department of Justice Northern Ireland.

Children’s Improvement Board

Question

Asked by Baroness Doocey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many times UK Border Agency senior officials have met the Children’s Improvement Board.[HL6024]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): There are no central records of UK Border Agency officials having met the Children’s Improvement Board. However, UK Border Agency officials do meet regularly with local authority representatives at all levels to discuss issues relating to children.

Civil Partnerships

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many instances there have been in each year since 2009 of local register office employees not registering a couple’s intent to enter into a civil partnership because the sexual orientation of one or both of the individuals is in doubt.[HL5997]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): There is no statutory requirement for an authorised person when taking notice for civil partnership to verify or otherwise assess the sexual orientation, or genuineness of the orientation, of the party giving notice. No records are held on the number of occasions or reasons for an authorised person’s refusal to take notice.

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Courts: Fines

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to collect offender profile information showing the reasons why some offenders fail to comply with their payment plans for fines.[HL5863]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) does not have access to offender profile information that shows the reasons why offenders fail to comply with payment terms.

The information HMCTS holds on offenders is provided by the prosecuting authorities, by the offenders themselves, and by using the tracing tools that HMCTS has at its disposal, such as the Experian credit reference agency and the Department for Work and Pensions customer information system. Payment plans are agreed based on the financial information provided by the offenders to enable those who are unable to pay in full at once to complete the payment of their fines over a reasonable period of time. The information obtained from these sources does not provide any indication why certain groups of offenders fail to follow the agreed payment plans.

HMCTS takes the issue of fine enforcement very seriously and is working to ensure that clamping down on fine defaulters is a continued priority nationwide. HMCTS is always looking at ways to improve the collection of fines. As a part of the future strategy HMCTS will be considering numerous ways in which performance can be improved. This could include offender profiling.

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to examine the relationship between court-imposed fines and payday loans.[HL5864]

Lord McNally: Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) does not have any way of identifying offenders who also owe or have previously owed money on payday loans.

The information HMCTS holds on offenders is provided by the prosecuting authorities, by the offenders themselves, and by using the tracing tools HMCTS has at its disposal, such as the Experian credit reference agency and the Department for Work and Pensions customer information system. The means form that defendants are asked to complete asks them to provide details of loan amounts they are repaying, but as many defendants do not provide financial means information to the court, HMCTS does not know what other financial commitments they have.

HMCTS takes the issue of fine enforcement very seriously and is working to ensure that clamping down on fine defaulters is a continued priority nationwide. HMCTS is always looking at ways to improve the collection of fines. As a part of the future strategy, HMCTS will be considering numerous ways in which performance can be improved. This could include offender profiling.

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Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in what proportion of sentences involving fines was a deduction from benefits order issued in (1) 2009-10, (2) 2010-11, and (3) 2011-12.[HL5865]

Lord McNally: Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) systems do not identify how many fines have been or are being paid by deduction from benefits orders.

HMCTS is only able to identify how many applications for deductions from benefits orders are made to the Department of Work and Pensions each year, but this does not indicate how many of these applications were successful or how many fines this relates to. Fines can only be deducted from certain benefits and only if there are not already too many other third-party deductions being taken from the benefits claim, so not all applications for a deduction from benefits orders are successful. Offenders who are claiming benefits often start and stop claiming benefits a number of times, which results in the deduction from benefits order ceasing and needing to be re-applied for when the offender is claiming the relevant benefit again. This means that some fine accounts will have multiple applications for deduction from benefits and that the number of applications for deductions orders does not correlate to the number of fines being paid by this method.

HMCTS takes the issue of fine enforcement very seriously and is working to ensure that clamping down on fine defaulters is a continued priority nationwide. HMCTS is always looking at ways to improve the collection of fines. The use of the deduction from benefits order is an automatic sanction for offenders who are in default and are known to be claiming benefits.

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in what proportion of sentences involving fines was the offender living in relative income poverty in (1) 2009-10, (2) 2010-11, and (3) 2011-12.[HL5866]

Lord McNally: Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) does not know how many offenders are living in income poverty at the time of sentence.

The information HMCTS holds on offenders is provided by the prosecuting authorities, by the offenders themselves, and by using the tracing tools HMCTS has at its disposal, such as the Experian credit reference agency and the Department for Work and Pensions customer information system. The means form that defendants are instructed to complete asks them to provide details of their income and expenditure so that the court is aware of their financial circumstances at the time of sentence and can therefore set an appropriate sentence. Many defendants, however, do not provide financial means information to the court, so HMCTS does not know what level of financial income they have.

HMCTS takes the issue of fine enforcement very seriously and is working to ensure that clamping down on fine defaulters is a continued priority nationwide.

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Crime and Courts Bill [HL]

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the proposed timeframe for developing and testing the computer system that will be used to administer the collection of costs under Clause 23 of the Crime and Courts Bill [HL].[HL5862]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is currently looking at options for the future delivery of compliance and enforcement services. This includes issues pertaining to the IT system to support them.

Crime: Arrests

Questions

Asked by Lord Davies of Stamford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people were arrested (1) in the United Kingdom,

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(2) in England and Wales, and (3) in the Metropolitan Police Area, in each of the past five years.[HL5964]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Romanian citizens were arrested in each of the past five years (1) in the United Kingdom, (2) in England and Wales, and (3) in the Metropolitan Police Area. [HL5966]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Home Office collects statistics on arrests for England and Wales only.

The numbers of persons arrested for notifiable offences by the police in England and Wales and by the Metropolitan Police Service between 2007-08 and 2010-11 are provided in the table. Data for 2011-12 are scheduled for publication on 18 April 2013.

The Home Office does not collect data on the nationality of persons arrested.

Number of persons arrested for notifiable offences, England and Wales and the Metropolitan Police force area, 2006-07—2010-11
Area2006-072007-082008-092009-102010-11

Metropolitan Police

220,258

218,512

227,883

240,816

258,384

England and Wales

1,482,156

1,475,266

1,462,139

1,385,322

1,360,451

Disclosure and Barring Service

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the changes they have implemented in the system of Disclosure and Barring Services have reduced the number of checks; and, if so, by how much. [HL5979]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Protection of Freedoms Act (2012) provided for a number of changes to disclosure and barring, including a reduction in the scope of regulated activities that require barred list checks. While the total number of applications for enhanced criminal record certificates received by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) between 10 September 2012 and 29 February 2013 has remained broadly similar to the comparative period in the previous year, there has been a reduction in applications that required barred list checks. The relevant figures are set out in the attached table.

The implementation of the update service will allow employers and voluntary organisations to make a simple online check that will confirm whether a certificate is up to date. This will remove the need for unnecessary repeat applications.

Applications received (no list checks)Applications received (with list checks)Total applications received

10.09.11-29.02.12

118,544

1,819,540

1,938,084

10.09.12-29.02.13

164,276

1,765,248

1,929,524

Energy: Biofuels

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what has been the effect on the processing industry, in cash terms, of the replacement of the 20 pence per litre reduction on the fuel duty rate for biofuels from cooking oil with an incentive of two renewable transport fuel obligation certificates.[HL5985]

Earl Attlee: The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) provides additional support to biofuels made from waste (such as used cooking oil) by awarding two renewable transport fuel certificates (RTFCs) for each litre supplied. This means that biofuels made from waste receive double the incentive provided for biofuels made from crops.

The RTFO includes a certificate trading mechanism to increase the efficiency of compliance. The value of individual certificates is determined by the market. Demand and prices will fluctuate during the year for various reasons, including the price of oil.

At a certificate auction in January 2013, the average price was 11p per certificate. We will be reviewing the effect of double certification for biofuels made from waste later in 2013.

Enterprise Zones

Questions

Asked by Lord Barnett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, of the 24 enterprise zones announced in 2011, how many have been set up, and how many are fully occupied.[HL5825]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many jobs have been created in the 24 enterprise zones announced in 2011.[HL5826]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much has been invested in the 24 enterprise zones announced in 2011.[HL5827]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The 24 enterprise zones, spread over a large number of sites, became operational in April 2012, when they were able to offer business rate discounts to prospective investors. Since April 2012, enterprise zones have created around 1,700 jobs and attracted approximately £155 million of private sector investment. Given that enterprise zones are long-term growth projects, and have only been operational for just under a year, none are, as yet, fully occupied.

Since they opened for business enterprise zones have already made progress, across the country. For example:

in the north-east enterprise zone the Japanese logistics firm Vantec recently completed its new logistics centre at Sunderland on 5 February. It already employs more than 100 people and expects to increase to about 230 over the next two years;the Nottingham enterprise zone is using the £25 million announced by the Government in November to unlock the site and lever in a further £200 million of private sector investment to deliver 800 new homes and thousands of jobs at the Boots campus;Jaguar Land Rover has invested a further £150 million and created 700 new jobs in the Black Country enterprise zone. This is additional to the initial £200 million Jaguar Land Rover has already invested in the enterprise zone;Cel Superturn, global manufacturer of machined components, has expanded its operation in the Sheffield enterprise zone and is investing £18 million creating 200 jobs;Leicestershire enterprise zone has secured £6 million investment from MIRA technology to develop a transport technology facility, creating 40 jobs;in the Oxford enterprise zone, construction work is nearing completion on 12 high-tech units at Milton Park Science Vale, creating up to 40 new jobs with possibility of further expansion; and,Birmingham enterprise zone is borrowing against business uplift to invest £125 million to be invested in infrastructure.

Female Genital Mutilation

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they ensure in asylum decisions that the risk or presence of female genital mutilation is recognised and given adequate weighting.[HL5947]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Asylum decision-makers examine claims for international protection sensitively and ensure that all evidence relating to an individual’s claim is taken into account. Specific guidance and

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training regarding gender-specific issues, including the risk of female genital mutilation, has been issued to decision-makers.

An individual who claims that she would, on return to her home country, be at risk of female genital mutilation may qualify for refugee status if she is able to demonstrate that she has a well founded fear of persecution. This may include evidence that female genital mutilation is knowingly tolerated by the authorities or they are unable or unwilling to offer sufficient or effective protection.

Immigration: Deportation

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are circumstances in which they would deport a homosexual individual to a nation that criminalised homosexuality.[HL5990]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The UK Border Agency does not remove individuals who are found to be in need of international protection. It is possible that the agency might remove someone to a country where, technically, homosexuality is a criminal offence but where, in reality, there is no real risk of persecution or of the authorities taking action against gay people.

India

Question

Asked by Lord Rooker

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Prime Minister raised with the Government of India the terms of Indian legislation contained in the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act during his recent visit to that country.[HL5723]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron)’s discussions during his visit to India focused on further strengthening of the UK-India relationship, economic growth and co-operation, education, health and security issues. He did not mention the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act specifically.

The Government are committed to the promotion and implementation of children’s rights and to improving the situation of children worldwide. We will continue to encourage India to meet the internationally accepted standards for children’s rights including withdrawing their reservations to Articles 32 and 33 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Israel

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with other European Union member states concerning the consequences of Israel continuing to build settlements.[HL5915]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The issue of Israeli settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is a subject of active discussion with our EU partners. We are deeply concerned by continued settlement announcements, which threaten the viability of the two-state solution. We regularly raise our concerns with the Israeli Government at ministerial and official level and will continue to press the new Israeli Government to cease all settlement activity.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), has been talking to European partners, including the French and German Foreign Ministers, about how EU member states can contribute to incentives and disincentives for both sides to make progress towards a return to negotiations, in support of US efforts to revive the peace process.

Justice: Reinvestment Pilot Schemes

Question

Asked by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the local justice reinvestment pilot schemes in London and Greater Manchester; and whether they plan to extend that scheme. [HL5874]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The justice reinvestment pilots aim to incentivise local statutory partners to reduce demand on courts, legal aid, prisons and probation and consequently reduce costs to the justice system.

Year one of the justice reinvestment pilots ran from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. The results were published in November 2012 and can be found at:

Statistical release

http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/ad-hoc

Explanatory note

http://www.justice.gov.uk/information-access-rights/transparency-data/justice-reinvestment-pilots-first-year-results

The Ministry of Justice currently plans to publish an initial report from a process evaluation of the justice reinvestment pilots in April 2013. A second and final report will be published in July 2014.

Retail: Portas Review

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much funding has been disbursed to date in implementing the recommendations of the Portas review of high street retailing.[HL5888]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Government’s response to the Portas review set out a multi-million pound Portas plus package of support

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to help high streets successfully adapt and change, and to date the Government have disbursed nearly £16 million. This includes: £10 million High Street Innovation Fund;£3.35 million for 335 Town Team Partners;£10,000 to the National Association of British Market Authorities; and £200,000 to the Association for Town and City Management.

Retail: Shop Closures

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to consult all relevant interested parties about high street shop closures.[HL5883]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): We have regular contact with key stakeholders with an interest in the health and vitality of both the retail sector and the high street.

Specific high street shop closures, whilst unfortunate for all involved, are a commercial matter for retailers, their landlords, their lenders, their shareholders or, where relevant, their administrators. We encourage administrators, and retailers who are downsizing, to work with Jobcentre Plus to mitigate the impact of closures on employees. Also, any employer who is planning to make more than 20 redundancies in an establishment during a 90-day period is required to notify the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS). The RPS will then pass the information to other relevant government departments, offices and agencies that can assist the employees.

Saeed Amireh

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were the grounds on which the Palestinian peace activist Saeed Amireh was refused an entry visa to the United Kingdom in February.[HL5914]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Due to its obligations under the Data Protection Act, the UK Border Agency is unable to comment on an individual case.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they require Syrian nationals boarding flights to the United Kingdom to possess international transit visas.[HL5946]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): All Syrian nationals travelling to the UK or via the UK en route to another destination must obtain a visa prior to travel.

Transport: Concessionary Travel

Questions

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the cost of age-related concessionary travel facilities on public transport; and what would be the saving if the present schemes were limited to those over 65. [HL6088]

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Earl Attlee: Around £1 billion per year is spent on concessionary travel for older and disabled people, for the statutory off-peak England-wide bus travel concession and local discretionary enhancements to travel concession schemes.

The changes in state pension age from April 2010 should assist with the financial stability of the concession. The impact on the cost of providing the England-wide bus travel concession is set out in tables 2 and 3 on page 15 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Travel Concessions (Eligibility) England Order 2010 No. 459. Table 2 is reproduced below.

Table 2: Estimated real reductions in concessionary bus travel expenditure per year in England
£ millions
2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-152015-162016-172017-182018-192019-20Total

Low

17

34

48

60

73

85

98

111

125

139

627

High

18

36

52

67

82

98

115

133

153

174

733

Sources: The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Office for National Statistics.

This table was compiled when the eligible age for concessionary travel for both men and women was due to rise gradually from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020, in line with the increase in state pension age for women. The increase is now to be faster—with state pension age for women to reach 65 by 2018 and then the state pension age for both men and women to reach 66 by 2020. The eligible age for concessionary travel is linked to all changes to state pension age so we would expect higher savings from 2018-19 onwards than detailed in the table above.

A copy of the Explanatory Memorandum has been placed in the Library of the House.

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether those entitled to age-related concessionary travel facilities on public transport are required to have a United Kingdom National Insurance number; and how many non-United Kingdom passport holders hold a United Kingdom National Insurance number. [HL6089]

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport does not require a person’s United Kingdom national insurance number to show entitlement to concessionary travel. The department does not have information about how many non-United Kingdom passport holders hold a United Kingdom national insurance number.

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether non-European Union nationals are entitled to age-related concessionary travel facilities from the time they take up residence in the United Kingdom; and whether non-European Union nationals need to have leave to remain permanently in order to obtain this entitlement.[HL6090]

Earl Attlee: Nationality is not a consideration for entitlement to age-related concessionary travel in England.

Entitlement to the England-wide statutory off-peak bus travel concession is defined in the Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007, which requires an eligible older or disabled person to have his sole or principal residence in a local authority area in England. In making an application to a local authority which is a Travel Concession Authority (TCA), the TCA will verify eligibility by age and may also require the applicant to provide confirmation of residence in its area, for example by means of a utility bill.

Entitlement to a senior railcard is for those aged 60 or over. For those making an application through the senior railcard website, the applicant requires a valid passport or UK driving licence number in order to verify eligibility by age. The scheme is run by the Association of Train Operating Companies and the train operators are required by the Department for Transport to participate. A one-year senior railcard costs £28. A three-year railcard, available online only, costs £65.

Turks and Caicos

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the state of political affairs in the Turks and Caicos Islands, in the light of the “grave concerns” expressed by the Caribbean Community following its 24th Intersessional Meeting in February.[HL5903]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The political parties in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are focused on a critical by-election on 22 March that will determine which party has a majority in the National Assembly and is thus able to form a Government.

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In their 20 February communiqué, the Caribbean Community Heads of Government drew on the speech made to the meeting by the Premier of the TCI, Dr Rufus Ewing. We regret the way Dr Ewing misrepresented the efforts of the Government to ensure good government

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in the TCI. The 2009 Commission of Inquiry found that there was a high probability of systemic corruption in the previous TCI Government, and the interim administration implemented a broad reform programme to deal with the situation and to prevent it being repeated.