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Written Answers

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Agriculture: Pesticides

Question

Asked by Lord Rea

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of nicotinoid pesticides, in sub-lethal doses, on (1) the behaviour, and (2) the resistance to disease, of pollinating insects, including bees.[HL5643]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The potential impact of sub-lethal doses of neonicotinoid pesticides on behaviour is assessed for honey bees and non-target arthropods through consideration of the impact on colonies/populations as part of the regulatory risk assessment. The Government are currently considering the impact of sub-lethal doses of neonicotinoid pesticides on the resistance to disease in pollinating insects through a Defra-funded research project that is investigating the relationship between pesticide residues and disease levels in honey bees.

Badgers

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the procedure and timescale for monitoring and assessing the success of the badger culling trials; whether it includes monitoring and assessing the culling procedures and the costs to everyone involved as well as the outcomes; who is carrying it out; to whom and when they will report; and what period of time there will be for assessment of and debate on the trials by the Government, Parliament and the public.[HL5951]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): During the badger control pilots there will be monitoring of the humaneness, effectiveness and safety of controlled shooting. A panel of independent experts has overseen the development of the monitoring protocols. The membership of the expert panel, and summaries of these protocols, can be found on the Defra website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases/a-z/bovine-tb/badgers/badqer-culling- pilots/ and have also been placed in the Library of the House.

The expert panel will evaluate the results of this monitoring and report to Ministers. Based on this report and other information on the culls, Ministers will then take a decision as soon as practicable on wider rollout of the policy.

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Bank of England

Questions

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the possibility raised by the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England of negative interest rates, it is their policy to discourage saving and to promote spending.[HL5836]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the likely effect on savers, especially pensioners, of any decision by the Bank of England to adopt a policy of negative interest rates.[HL5837]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions, if any, they have had with the Monetary Policy Committee regarding the effects of zero and negative interest rates in Japan.[HL5838]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is operationally responsible for monetary policy. It uses its macroeconomic tools to aim to meet the inflation target of 2% in the medium term. Since March 2009, the Bank of England has maintained the bank rate at 0.5% and paid this rate on all commercial banks’ reserves held at the Bank of England. Decisions on setting bank rate and the remuneration rate on reserves are for the judgement of the independent MPC.

The MPC has discussed the merits of changing the structure of remuneration on commercial bank reserves on several occasions. At its meeting in November 2009 the committee agreed that, “such an action would be unlikely to have a significant impact on the outlook”. More recently, at its June 2012 meeting, the committee noted that there, “were drawback with such a policy … changing the remuneration structure on reserves would change the nature of what was commonly perceived to be meant by bank rate and its relationship with short-term market interest rates”. Most recently, at its February 2013 meeting, the committee agreed that these “drawbacks remained”. The full minutes of the MPC’s meetings are available on the Bank of England’s websitel.

A non-voting Treasury representative attends the monthly MPC meetings and plays a key role in ensuring appropriate co-ordination of fiscal and monetary policy. The MPC takes into account many factors in its policy decisions, including the international environment and prospects for households, assessments of which can be found in the Bank of England’s quarterly inflation reports2, press conferences and the MPC’s monthly meeting minutes.

The Government recognise the importance of saving as a sustainable source of funding for investment. The Government want a saving system based on freedom, fairness and responsibility, which is both affordable and effective. It has taken steps to help support and encourage savings including providing ISA tax relief worth £1.7 billion in 2011-12, has set up the Money Advice Service to help individuals take responsibility for personal savings and has taken steps to improve competitiveness and transparency in the ISA market,

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including the introduction of junior ISAs to help parents save in a simple and tax-free way for their children.

1

http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/minutes/

2

http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Pages/ inflationreport/defaultaspx

Benefits: Over 60s Concessions

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the annual saving to public funds from abolishing (1) free television licences for pensioners, (2) free eye tests for pensioners, (3) free prescriptions for pensioners, (4) winter fuel payments, and (5) free travel concessions for pensioners. [HL5812]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The annual saving to the Exchequer of abolishing the over 75s’ free television licences would be £590 million in 2012-13. Abolishing winter fuel payments in 2012-13 would raise a further £2,130 million in savings. These figures are published by the Department for Work and Pensions in its expenditure tables.

The Department of Health does not hold information on the estimated annual saving to the Exchequer of abolishing free eye tests and free prescriptions for pensioners.

The Department for Transport does not hold the required information to be able to present the savings that would result from withdrawing eligibility for free travel passes from all pensioners.

Local authorities must reimburse bus operators so that the operator is left no better or no worse off for taking part in the concessionary travel scheme. The calculation of the reimbursement amount due does not take into account the personal circumstances of each concessionary pass holder who boards a bus. It is, therefore, not possible to provide the figure requested.

Courts: Disabled People

Questions

Asked by Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what provision is made for hearing-impaired people to take part in court proceedings, including being members of juries.[HL5921]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of (1) court rooms, and (2) jury rooms, in (a) magistrates’, (b) Crown, and (c) High Courts, are fitted with hearing loops or other facilities for people with hearing loss.[HL5922]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether hearing loop facilities are fitted in all new court buildings and ancillary rooms.[HL5923]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is committed to ensuring that it considers thoroughly the diverse needs of its users and promoting a culture where its users are treated with fairness and respect.

The Building Regulations 1991 includes a requirement for the provision of facilities for the hearing impaired to fully contribute to court proceedings. To this end, the Court Standards and Design Guide 2010 requires that a proportion of the courtrooms in every courthouse, including new court buildings, are equipped with fixed facilities for the hard of hearing. The guide also requires that these systems are supplemented by portable systems for use in ancillary areas such as jury and consultation rooms. In addition, arrangements can be made for an interpreter to attend hearings in civil and family proceedings to assist deaf and hearing-impaired litigants if necessary.

The number of court rooms fitted with hearing loops or other facilities for people with a hearing impairment is not currently recorded centrally and can only be obtained by contacting individual courts and therefore incurring disproportionate cost.

However, these details are being collected as part of the department's courtroom audit, which is expected to be completed at the end of April. I will write to the noble Lord with these details after this time.

Environment: Sea Defences

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to construct sea defences for the west coast of England and Wales.[HL5973]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The Environment Agency publishes the details of the flood and coastal erosion risk management schemes in England that will be funded in 2013-14 and expected to receive funding between 2014-15 and 2017-18 on its website.

The Environment Agency website also contains information on the flood and coastal erosion risk management schemes in England expected to start construction in 2013-14.

Health: Congenital Anomalies

Question

Asked by Lord Browne of Belmont

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which areas of England are currently covered by congenital anomaly registers; and whether they propose to extend that coverage to the whole country.[HL6011]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): At present there is no national system of surveillance for congenital anomalies in England. There is a network of regional registries covering about half of the population.

As from 1 April 2013, Public Health England will be responsible for any proposals to extend coverage.

Health: Healthcare and Care Assistants

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the terms of reference of the review into the training of healthcare and care assistants by Camilla Cavendish will enable it to consider the statutory regulation of health and social care assistants; and, if not, why not. [HL5831]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The terms of reference of the independent review into valuing and supporting healthcare assistants and care assistants led by Camilla Cavendish will look at recruitment; training development; leadership, management and supervision; engagement and support; public confidence; and assurance.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance they have given the review into the training of healthcare and care assistants by Camilla Cavendish about enabling parliamentarians to give oral evidence. [HL5832]

Earl Howe: The review into valuing and supporting healthcare assistants and care assistants led by Camilla Cavendish is independent. It is important that it engages widely. However it would be inappropriate for the Government to mandate its methodology.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assumptions concerning future NHS spending have been or will be given to the review into the training of healthcare and care assistants by Camilla Cavendish. [HL5833]

Earl Howe: The recommendations from the independent review into valuing and supporting healthcare assistants and care assistants led by Camilla Cavendish should take account of, and be compatible with, wider changes in the health and care system.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the review into the training of healthcare and care assistants by Camilla Cavendish will report. [HL5834]

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Earl Howe: The independent review into valuing and supporting healthcare assistants and care assistants led by Camilla Cavendish is due to report by the end of May 2013.

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the review into the training of healthcare and care assistants by Camilla Cavendish will inform their response to the Francis report.[HL5835]

Earl Howe: Robert Francis QC made several recommendations in respect of healthcare support workers in his report of Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry. Camilla Cavendish's review will build on the Government's response to Sir Robert Francis’s recommendations.

Housing Benefit

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their latest estimate of the number of social housing tenants who will be affected by the changes to housing benefit rules for underoccupancy, in each of the 10 districts of Greater Manchester.[HL5828]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The information requested is not available.

Estimates of numbers affected by the underoccupation measure at national and regional level are however available in the impact assessment: http://www.dwp. gov.uk/docs/social-sector-housing-under-occupation-wr2011-ia.pdf.

Laos

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance they are providing to Laos in order to clear mines and ordnance left from the Vietnam War; and what assessment they have made of the scale of that task. [HL5912]

Baroness Northover: Laos has one of the largest unexploded ordnance problems in the world, with high casualty rates. As part of DfID’s Mine Action programme we are funding the Mines Advisory Group with £2.5 million over a three-year period from 2010-13, working in the Kammounae and Xieng Khoung districts in Laos. As of January 2013, DfID’s Mine Action programme in Laos has cleared over 5 million square metres of land for affected communities and removed 17,333 items of explosive remnants of war.

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NHS: Chief Executive

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are any plans to replace the current NHS chief executive.[HL5907]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There are no plans to replace the current NHS chief executive in the department. The role of NHS chief executive will cease to exist when the NHS Commissioning Board takes up its full statutory duties and responsibilities on 1 April 2013.

Offenders: Brain Injuries

Questions

Asked by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) children and young people between the ages of 10 and 17, and (2) young adults between the ages of 18 and 24, currently in prison have an acquired brain injury.[HL5875]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to address the levels of brain injury amongst young offenders in custodial settings. [HL5876]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Individuals held in secure settings are not routinely screened for acquired brain injury (ABI) at present.

The Youth Justice Board and the department have developed the comprehensive health assessment tool (CHAT). This evidence-based reception screen and health assessment tool is verified for use with people aged under 18 years held in custodial settings. CHAT will assess the physical health, mental health, substance misuse level and extent of neurodisability and ABI amongst young offenders, enabling them to access the most appropriate treatment. We expect the ABI assessment component of CHAT to be available by the end of 2013.

Asked by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to address the distinct needs of young adult women in custody between the ages of 18 and 24.[HL5877]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): This Government are committed to addressing the needs of young adult offenders. Our approach is to manage each young adult woman on the basis of an individual assessment of risk of harm, likelihood of reoffending and offending associated needs, with decisions being made locally on how resources are deployed to achieve outcomes in terms of reducing reoffending.

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The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has developed a segmented analysis of the needs of different groups within the offender caseload to support more effective targeting of interventions as part of its evidence-based commissioning approach.

An example of a service provided specifically for young women is the Spurgeons’ Sisters project, launched on 7 December 2012, to work with young women aged 15 to 24 who are currently in young offenders institutions and prisons across England. The project works to reduce reoffending by this cohort by providing them with improved opportunities and the motivation to improve their own physical and mental health.

NOMS has also developed a transitions protocol that will assist establishments holding young adult offenders before, at the point of, and after they transition from youth custody services. The protocol sets out the responsibilities of staff throughout this process and offers guidance on how to prepare an offender for transition and support them after their arrival. NOMS, the Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice co-chair a cross-Government transitions forum that aims to improve transitions from youth to adult services for all young offenders.

Overseas Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they propose to remove the ring fence from the international aid budget.[HL5902]

Baroness Northover: Her Majesty’s Government are committed to spending 0.7% of gross national income on official development assistance from 2013 onwards.

Railways: Freight Charges

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions the Department of Energy and Climate Change has had with the Department for Transport regarding the Office of Rail Regulation’s proposals to increase the track access charges for moving biomass by rail. [HL6006]

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport continues to engage with stakeholders across Government concerning a wide range of issues relating to rail freight. However the level of track access charges levied on rail freight operators in the next railway funding control period from 2014 to 2019 is a matter for the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), which is the independent economic and safety regulator for the railways in Great Britain. Some elements of these charges are the subject of a current Office of Rail Regulation consultation Periodic Review 2013: Consultation on a Freight Specific Charge for Biomass which is available on ORR’s website at http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk.

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Roads: New Roads

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many new road links are currently under construction. [HL5970]

Earl Attlee: In the 2010 spending review (SR) £1.4 billion of investment was announced to start 14 major road schemes over the SR period, plus £900 million to complete eight existing schemes.

As part of the Chancellor’s 2011 Autumn Statement we announced further investment of £800 million for accelerated delivery two of the 14 schemes announced in SR10. We added a further six new schemes which we will bring forward for delivery in this spending review period.

In the 2012 Autumn Statement, we announced four further new major schemes to begin delivery in this spending review period and the acceleration of four previously identified projects representing a further £750 million of investment.

Schemes Under Construction:M1 J10-J13;A23 Handcross to Warninglid;M62 J25-J30;M4 J19-20 and M5 J15-17;A11 Fiveways to Thetford;M6 J5-J8 (BBox Phase 3);A453 Widening; andM25 J23-J27 (Sect 5).Remaining Schemes:M1 J32-J35A;M25 J5-J6/7 (Sect 2);M1 J28-J31;A556 Knutsford to Bowden;M60 J12-J15;M60 J8-J12;M62 J18-J20;M1 J39-J42;A45/A46 Tollbar End;

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M1 Junction 19/M6; A14 Kettering J7-J9;M6 J10A-J13;M3 J2-J4A;A5/M1 J11a Link;A1 Leeming to Barton;A1 Lobley Hill; andA30 Temple to Carblake;

For local authority major road schemes funded by the Department for Transport, 11 are under construction. These include five new roads; and other schemes delivering highway and junction improvements and major bridge maintenance/replacement works.

Local Schemes List

A164 Humber Bridge to Beverley Improvements (East Riding of Yorkshire);

A43 Corby Link Road*;

A57 M1 Junction 31 to Todwick Crossroads Improvement (Rotherham)*;

Camborne-Pool-Redruth Transport Package*;

Evesham Bridge (Worcestershire);

Kingskerswell Bypass (Devon)*;

Northern Road Bridge (Portsmouth);

Portsmouth Tipner Interchange;

Reading Station Highway Improvements;

Walton Bridge (Surrey); and

White Rose Way Improvements (Doncaster)*;

* denotes new “link” roads.

Rwanda

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Northover on 4 March (WS 129), who will decide the categories of people in Rwanda who will be eligible to receive cash transfers or cash for work payments.[HL6068]

Baroness Northover: The programme will follow the established and existing targeting and eligibility guidelines for the Vision 2020 Umurenge social protection programme.