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Written Answers

Monday 25 March 2013

Agriculture: Genetically Modified Crops

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will ban transgenic crops containing the cauliflower mosaic virus CaMV 35S or similar promoters from open field trials and commercial production pending investigation into potential dangers to human health. [HL6251]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): No transgenic crops are being grown commercially in the UK, and the only field trial expected this year is of a genetically modified (GM) wheat that does not contain the CaMV 35S promoter.

The Government are aware that research published last year has prompted a misleading claim that the CaMv 35S promoter contains a previously overlooked viral gene, and that this constitutes a safety risk. The independent scientific group that advises Ministers on the safety of GM crops, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, has considered the published research and confirmed that it does not raise any cause for concern. The Government will only agree to the planting of GM crops if the evidence is clear that human health and the environment will not be compromised.

Alcohol

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what meetings were held by officials of the Department of Health with (1) the Royal College of Physicians, (2) the Institute of Alcohol Studies, (3) Alcohol Concern, (4) the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, (5) the Scotch Whisky Association, (6) the British Beer & Pub Association, (7) the Portman Group, (8) Drinkaware, and (9) any individual drinks company, over the past six months.[HL6169]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): As part of the Responsibility Deal, departmental officials in the alcohol policy team have met multiple times with many of the organisations listed above over the past six months.

Those officials have also met representatives of the drinks industry and health stakeholders outside of the Responsibility Deal. A search of officials' diaries shows that these meetings have been with the following. The Alcohol Health Alliance; the Institute of Alcohol Studies; the Royal College of Physicians; SABMiller; Alcohol Concern; Drinkaware, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association; the Scotch Whisky Association; and the British Beer and Pub Association.

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Armed Forces: Housing

Question

Asked by Lord Rosser

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total cost of providing housing for Armed Forces personnel in each of the past four financial years; what is the estimated total cost of such housing in the current financial year; and what is the projected total cost of such housing for each of the next four financial years (1) in the United Kingdom, and (2) outside the United Kingdom.[HL5309]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The total expenditure in the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) for the provision of housing in the UK is shown in the following table:

Financial YearExpenditure (£ million)Status

2008-2009

245

Actual

2009-2010

275

Actual

2010-2011

268

Actual

2011-2012

326

Actual

2012-2013

415

Forecast

The values given include rental payments, repair and maintenance, contributions in lieu of council tax, improvements, upgrading and refurbishing of accommodation and purchasing new housing. Costs are net of the contributions from service personnel. DIO staff and management costs are not included.

The total expenditure in DIO for the provision of housing, outside the UK, is shown in the following:

Financial YearExpenditure (£m)Status

2008-2009

80

Actual

2009-2010

84

Actual

2010-2011

93

Actual

2011-2012

102

Actual

2012-2013

76

Forecast

The values given are the costs of leasing properties in Germany along with repair and maintenance, improvements, refurbishments and upgrading of houses in Germany and elsewhere overseas.

I am not able to give expenditure in future years at this stage as our plans are still being formed. However, the Army Basing Plan announcement by the Defence Secretary on 5 March 2013 (Official Report, cols. 845-48) is underpinned by a capital investment from the defence budget of £1.8 billion, including £l billion of investment in new accommodation including 1,900 new and refurbished units of service family accommodation and 7,800 single living accommodation bed spaces.

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Banking: Bonuses

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will vote in respect of shares owned by United Kingdom taxpayers in support of bonus payments to directors and traders employed by Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland.[HL6103]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The Government have been clear that the banks must act responsibly in setting bonuses and continue to take robust action to tackle unacceptable remuneration.

However, the Government's investments in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) are managed on its behalf by UK Financial Investments (UKFI) on an arm's-length and commercial basis.

UKFI will evaluate the outcome of the remuneration committee decisions at both banks once their respective director’s remuneration reports have been published and will assess their voting intentions then.

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have safeguarded United Kingdom interests in respect of European Union restrictions on bankers' bonuses. [HL6105]

Lord Deighton: EU negotiations on bankers' pay are still being finalised. The Government have been clear that the progress the UK has made in encouraging banks to act more responsibly should be reflected in the final agreement.

Banks: Lending

Questions

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of (1) jobs created, and (2) new businesses created, as a result of the quantitative easing since 2008.[HL6116]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the level of lending by the banks in (1) 2008, (2) 2009, (3) 2010, (4) 2011, and (5) 2012; and what levels they consider would have been most effective in boosting the economy in the light of the levels of quantitative easing since 2008.[HL6117]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee's (MPC) macroeconomic policy tools, including quantitative easing (QE), are designed to affect the economy as a whole in order to meet the 2% inflation target over the medium term. Under QE, the Bank of England's asset purchases financed by the issuance of central bank reserves have totalled £375 billion of gilts since March 2009.

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The Bank of England has estimated, in its September 2011 Quarterly Bulletin, that the £200 billion of asset purchases carried out between March 2009 and January 2010 raised spending and activity in the UK economy in order to help keep inflation on track to meet the inflation target in the medium term.

The Bank of England's gilt purchases have been largely from non-bank financial institutions, including insurance companies and pension funds, which use the money received to purchase other assets such as corporate bonds and equities.

MPC members have stated that QE has been designed to work through channels other than the impaired banking system, by stimulating activity in the capital markets.

The Bank of England publishes data on various measures of lending on its website1 and publicly available reports. Summary data for M4 lending2 is set out in the following table:

M4 lending£ millions

December 2008

2,741,005

December 2009

2,707,545

December 2010

2,434,099

December 2011

2,364,437

December 2012

2,310,017

1

http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/statistics.

2

M4 lending excluding the effects of securitisations and loan transfers (M4Lx) minus lending to intermediate OFCs (M4Lx

ex

) is a more economically relevant measure of credit than the headline measure of M4Lx.

BBC Trust

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they ensure that the board of the BBC Trust has adequate business experience.[HL5906]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: Appointments to the board of the BBC Trust are made on merit against a publicised role specification which meets the skills and experience requirements of the board, under an open and transparent process which is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

BBC: Royal Charter

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the Pollard report, they have any plans to withdraw the BBC’s Royal Charter when it is next due for renewal.[HL5929]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The current BBC Charter expires on 31 December 2016. It remains the Government's position that a Royal Charter is the right vehicle for the BBC, which is established for many good reasons, at arm’s-length from politicians.

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Benefits

Questions

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the transfer of pre-existing claimants of out-of-work benefits with children to child tax credit has now been completed.[HL6140]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) lone parent families, and (2) two-parent families, on out-of-work benefits are receiving child tax credit. [HL6141]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of men and women in couples receiving out-of-work benefits who are in receipt of child tax credit respectively receive the child tax credit as the nominated main carer; and, if that information is not known, what are the reasons for this.[HL6142]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The transfer of pre-existing claimants has not been completed. Table 2.1 of HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) published National Statistics reports that, as at 1 December 2012, there were 50.7 thousand families still receiving the family premia in benefits. Of these, 32.4 thousand were single parent families. These statistics can be accessed on the HMRC websitel.

Tax credits administrative data includes information on the following out-of-work benefits: Income support (IS), income-based job seeker's allowance (JSA), income-based employment support allowance (ESA) or pension credit (PC). Incapacity benefit, severe disability allowance and non income-based JSA and ESA are not included.

As at 1 December 2012, there were 232.3 thousand couples and 782.2 thousand lone parent families in receipt of both child tax credit and at least one of the out-of-work benefits covered by the tax credits administrative data as set out above. 47.4 thousand of the lone parent families were lone male parents.

Information on the gender of the main carer is only available at disproportionate cost.

1

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/prov-main-stats.htm

Companies House

Questions

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many small charities with an income of (1) less than £10,000 per annum, and (2) more than £10,000 per annum, have been fined by Companies House for late or incomplete delivery of statutory documents in each of the past three years.[HL6164]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): Companies House does not fine companies. Companies automatically incur a civil penalty if they file their accounts after the filing deadline laid down in legislation. Civil penalties are laid down by Parliament in regulations made under the Companies Act 2006;

25 Mar 2013 : Column WA194

the legislation lays the duty to collect penalties on the Registrar of Companies. All monies raised from civil penalties are paid into the Treasury’s consolidated fund and not retained by Companies House.

Although Companies House registers company accounts, and places them on the public record, it does not capture the contents (including the income line) of these accounts. Therefore, we cannot identify how many small charities with an income of (1) less than £10,000 per annum, and (2) more than £10,000 per annum have incurred a civil penalty.

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many small businesses with an income of less than £15,000 per annum have been fined by Companies House for late or incomplete delivery of statutory documents in each of the last three years.[HL6165]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Companies House does not fine companies. Companies automatically incur a civil penalty if they file their accounts after the filing deadline laid down in legislation. The civil penalties are laid down by Parliament in regulations made under the Companies Act 2006; the legislation lays the duty to collect the penalties on the Registrar of Companies. All monies raised from civil penalties are paid into the Treasury’s consolidated fund and not retained by Companies House.

Although Companies House registers company accounts, and places them on the public record, it does not capture the contents (including the income line) of these accounts. Therefore, we cannot identify how many companies with an income of less than £15,000 have incurred a civil penalty.

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received about the functioning of the fine system for late or incomplete delivery of statutory documents to Companies House since the Companies Act 2006 came into effect; and from which organisations.[HL6166]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Companies House does not fine companies. Companies automatically incur a civil penalty if they file their accounts after the filing deadline laid down in legislation. The civil penalties are laid down by Parliament in regulations made under the Companies Act 2006; the legislation lays the duty to collect the penalties on the Registrar of Companies. All moneys raised from civil penalties are paid into the Treasury’s consolidated fund and not retained by Companies House.

After the Companies Act 2006 came into effect, Companies House, on behalf of the Government, carried out a consultation on civil penalties for the late filing of accounts. The consultation was made on the basis of the following proposals. (i) All penalties to be increased to take account of inflation between 1992 and 2007. (ii) A faster rate of increase in penalties for companies which file more than one month late. (iii) A doubling of the penalty for any company which files late having also filed late the previous year.

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Companies House received 26 responses to this consultation, and were a mix of positive and negative responses to the questions. Following advice from its then parent department, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, the responses were anonymised. The proposals were later made law by regulations made under the Companies Act 2006.

Twelve representations on civil penalties have also been made under the Government’s Red Tape Challenge, and are also a mix of positive and negative responses. The representations are made by individuals rather than organisations and the details can be found on the Red Tape Challenge website at: http://www.redtape challenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/themehome/company-commercial-law/.

Crown Prosecution Service

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received from the Bar Council regarding the Crown Prosecution Service's policy on the briefing of counsel; and what assessment they have made of the level of skills of those prosecuting.[HL6223]

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): The Bar Council has made representations to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Attorney-General in relation to an internal e-mail sent by a member of CPS staff which describes a local practice for allocating instructions to in-house and self-employed advocates. The DPP has informed the Bar Council that the e-mail does not represent CPS policy.

The Bar Council made representations on the following occasions:

on 15 February 2013, during a routine meeting between the DPP and Maura McGowan QC, chair of the Bar Council;on 22 February 2013, when the chair of the Bar Council wrote to the Attorney-General; andon 2 March 2013, when the DPP, the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General attended meetings with the Circuit Leaders and the Bar Council.

The CPS assessed the skills of all self-employed advocates as part of the Advocate Panel selection process. The Advocate Panel was introduced in February 2012.

The CPS undertakes assessments of in-house advocates using internal advocacy assessors or external assessors provided through a contract with BPP Professional Development. Over 2,800 assessments have been undertaken since the scheme was introduced in 2009-10. The latest data in respect of the first nine months of 2012-13, show that 288 assessments were undertaken of which 265 (92%) were assessed as competent or better and 23 (8%) led to a requirement to remove the advocate from advocacy duties and/or for performance improvement through further training, mentoring, guidance etc.

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Cyclists: Face Masks

Questions

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any assessment of whether face masks sold to be worn by cyclists are able to intercept particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometres; and, if so, whether they will encourage the use of face masks by cyclists.[HL6367]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether face masks sold to be worn by cyclists offer health benefits to cyclists in urban areas.[HL6368]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of whether face masks sold to be worn by cyclists offer health benefits to cyclists in London, in particular during rush hour.[HL6369]

Earl Attlee: The Government have made no assessment in relation to the wearing of facemasks by cyclists.

There is strong evidence for the health benefits of cycling as a form of physical activity, notably through associated reductions in all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease and some cancers as well as making contributions to other aspects of health such as weight control and mental health. Regular cycling contributes to an individual’s total physical activity, which is related to reduced risk of mortality.

A number of comprehensive assessments have shown that the health benefits of cycling (through reduced mortality and morbidity as a result of increased energy expenditure) greatly outweigh the risks due to poor air quality and road traffic casualties.

The effectiveness of such masks is a matter for established European product standards.

Economy: Growth

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what initiatives and programmes they have launched since May 2010 to stimulate economic growth; and what is their assessment of the impact of those initiatives. [HL6108]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): Through the Plan for Growth, published at Budget 2011 and subsequent announcements, the Government have set out a wide-ranging programme of structural reform to remove barriers to growth for businesses and equip the UK to compete in the global economy. These include:

cutting the main rate of corporation tax from 28% in 2010 to 24% today, the lowest of any major western economy. This will fall further to 20% in April 2015, the joint lowest rate in the G20;introducing root and branch reform of the planning system, creating a new emphasis on sustainable growth, and cutting over 1,000 pages of planning

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policy to just 50. The rate of approval of planning applications is now at a 10-year high at 87%; delivering £840 million in annual savings to business as a result of deregulation, through a one-in, one-out rule and Red Tape Challenge, validated by an independent committee of business figures, academics and civil society representatives; andmoving over 1 million people into an apprenticeship since 2010.

Full details of these and other measures were published alongside the Budget in the Plan for Growth implementation update (http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/growth_implementation_update_mar2013.pdf).

EU: European Investment Bank

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to establish clear political guidelines for the European Investment Bank; whether they consider that those guidelines should emphasise renewable energies and job creation; and what policy they propose that it should follow in respect of new investment in coal-fired generators.[HL6110]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The European Investment Bank's (EIB) policy priorities are to support projects that make a significant contribution to growth, employment, economic and social cohesion and environmental sustainability. These policy priorities are outlined in more detail in its most recent operational plan An exceptional response for exceptional times: our 2013-2015 strategy, which is publicly available.

The UK judges every project which is presented to the board of directors on its merits. The EIB's policy towards coal-fired generators is outlined in its energy sector lending guidelines Clean Energy for Europe: A Reinforced EIB Contribution.

EU: Horsemeat

Questions

Asked by Lord Higgins

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of current concerns regarding the safety of horsemeat, whether they will make representations within the European Union for it to be labelled with the country of origin as well as the country of slaughter.[HL5667]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations within the European Union to establish a review of current European Union rules on the shipment of slaughtered horses. [HL5668]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): European Union food hygiene regulations set down hygiene requirements for the slaughter of horses. Carcasses are subject to post-mortem inspection and if they are passed as fit for human consumption they are stamped with a health mark for traceability purposes. The health

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mark indicates the EU approval number of the establishment in which the horse was slaughtered and an abbreviation for the name of the country in which the establishment is located. When carcasses are subsequently cut and packaged a similar identification mark must be fixed to the packaging. There are no current plans to seek a review of these rules.

Country of origin labelling for food products forms part of ongoing discussions relating to the European Union Food Information to Consumers (FIC) Regulation 1169/2011, most of the provisions of which come into force on 13 December 2014. From that date it will become mandatory (subject to implementing rules) for fresh, frozen and chilled pork, lamb, goat and poultrymeat to have an indication of country of origin or place of provenance. In addition, the European Commission must submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council regarding the mandatory indication of country of origin or place of provenance for other types of meat by 13 December 2014.

Before that, by 13 December 2013, the Commission must also submit a report to the European Parliament and the council regarding the mandatory indication of country of origin or place of provenance for meat used as an ingredient.

Because of the urgency with which we have had to deal with what is clearly an international issue, the adulteration of food with horsemeat, it has been agreed that the European Commission's recommendations on labelling the origin of all processed meat should be accelerated and published as soon as possible. This is so that we can have more certainty on where our meat is coming from.

EU: Internet

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the European Union's Connecting Europe Facility; and what they consider its priorities should be when approving projects.[HL6109]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The UK Government views the Connecting Europe Facility within the context of the next Multiannual Financial Framework, where it represents a large increase in infrastructure funding in the EU. Allocations of funds to projects will be based on competitive bidding, the mechanics of which are still to be determined by transport, telecoms and energy working groups.

Finance: Early and Prompt Payment Schemes

Questions

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy on early and prompt payment schemes for suppliers within the National Health Service. [HL6150]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): National Health Service trusts, NHS foundation trusts, primary care trusts and strategic health authorities are required to comply with the Better Payment Practice Code target of paying 95% of undisputed invoices within contract terms, or 30 days where no terms have been agreed.

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the contribution to their efficiency savings target which can be made by rebates on invoices in return for early payment to suppliers. [HL6172]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Central government policy is to pay undisputed invoices within five days and to pass 30-day payment terms down supply chains. It is not government policy to make early payment conditional on rebates.

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the potential impact of early payment schemes on the cash flow of small- and medium-sized enterprises.[HL6176]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): The Government are supportive of early payment schemes which offer suppliers the opportunity to take payment early in return for a discount or fee, as long as they are offered in conjunction with fair payment terms rather than as a substitute.

The Government’s view is that all businesses should agree fair payment terms at the outset of a contract, and should pay their suppliers on time according to the agreed terms.

Finance: Prompt Payment Code

Questions

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions Ministers and officials have held with the Institute of Credit Management regarding the implementation of the prompt payment code.[HL6173]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): Officials are in regular contact with the Institute for Credit Management (ICM) regarding the Prompt Payment Code. My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, Michael Fallon, will continue to work with the ICM to promote a culture of prompt payment in UK supply chains.

The Prompt Payment Code is managed and administered independently by the ICM on behalf of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the department continues to help build the ICM’s capacity to assist companies which require advice about invoicing and credit management.

25 Mar 2013 : Column WA200

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the prompt payment code on the cash flow of small- and medium-sized enterprises.[HL6175]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: Following a campaign by the Government, 76 of the FTSE 100 companies have either signed the Prompt Payment Code or committed to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code. Altogether, signatories to the Prompt Payment Code constitute well over 60% of total UK supply chain value. This suggests that the code has the power to make a significant difference to small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) cashflow.

As the Prompt Payment Code is a voluntary code, managed independently by the Institute for Credit Management, the Government do not collect or analyse information on the payment practices of individual signatories.

Finance: Exchange Rate

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current Sterling exchange rate.[HL6107]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The UK does not have an exchange rate target. The Government's macroeconomic framework includes an independent Monetary Policy Committee responsible for monetary policy that seeks to deliver price stability through an inflation target defined as a 2% 12-month increase in the consumer prices index. Under this framework the exchange rate is allowed to adjust flexibly.

Finance: UK Financial Investments

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the stewardship exercised by UK Financial Investments over taxpayer investments in Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland in line with the Financial Reporting Councils Stewardship Code and the recommendations of the Kay review.[HL6104]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The Government have made no formal assessment of the stewardship exercised by UK Financial Investments (UKFI). UKFI is responsible for managing the Government's investments in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) on an arm's-length and commercial basis.

UKFI is a signatory of and is adhering to the UK Stewardship Code which was revised to incorporate a more expansive form of stewardship in line with Kay

25 Mar 2013 : Column WA201

review recommendations. More details on how UKFI complies with the revised UK Stewardship Code can be found on its website

1

.

In its response to the Kay review on 22 November 2012, the Government welcomed the report and set out their intention to publish an update in summer 2014 setting out the progress achieved in delivering Professor Kay's recommendations.

1

www.ukfi.co.uk/about-us/what-we-do/

Government Departments: Travel

Questions

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what rules apply to those travelling by air on public business which determine whether economy or business class travel is permitted in the case of (1) ministers, and (2) civil servants, when travelling (a) together, and (b) separately.[HL6305]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are circumstances under which a minister travelling by air on public business with one or more civil servants would be required to travel economy class when one or more of the civil servants on the same flight was travelling business class.[HL6306]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Respective codes of conduct require Ministers and civil servants to make the most efficient and cost-effective travel arrangements.

Individual departments will have their own guidance on travel. Details of overseas travel by Ministers and certain civil servants is published quarterly.

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which (1) ministers, (2) civil servants, (3) members of the judiciary, (4) members of public bodies, and (5) military officers, are entitled to travel first class when travelling by train in the United Kingdom on official business.[HL6307]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The detailed information requested is not held centrally.

Government: Ministerial Visits

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint on 11 March (WA 20–22), how many of the participants listed as having accompanied the Prime Minister on his visit to India were employees of companies substantially owned by foreign interests.[HL6320]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): All companies participating in the trade delegation to India in February 2013 are either UK-based or have significant operations in the UK; providing thousands of UK jobs.

25 Mar 2013 : Column WA202

The majority of companies on the delegation were wholly UK owned. Some of the larger companies that were part of the delegation are publicly listed, meaning it is not feasible to stipulate the precise make up of their ownership.

In addition to the UK-owned companies, three major Indian IT companies who have made significant investments in the UK were invited to join the visit as advocates of inward investment. The companies that participated were Infosys, Polaris Financial Technology and Tata Consultancy Services.

Asked by Lord Bates

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what ministerial engagements were undertaken in January 2013 in the English regions of (1) the North West, (2) Yorkshire and Humber, and (3) the North East.[HL6324]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: This information is not held centrally

Health: Septicaemia

Question

Asked by Lord Framlingham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether septicaemia is used as a cause of death in hospitals when producing national statistics.[HL6322]

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 Framlingham, dated March 2013.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking whether septicaemia is used as a cause of death in hospitals when producing national statistics. [HL6322]

The Office for National Statistics does not produce National Statistics on septicaemia as a cause of death in hospitals. National Statistics for certain infectious and parasitic diseases (including septicaemia), by place of death including “hospital” can be found in the Deaths Registered in England and Wales publication (see reference table 12 in the link below):

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/mortality-statistics--deaths-registered-in-england-and-wales--series-dr-/2011/index.html.

Statistics on deaths where septicaemia is an underlying cause are available in reference table 5.1 of this publication, but are not presented by place of death.

Septicaemia is defined using the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) codes A39.2-A39.4 and A40-A41.

Separately, the Health and Social Care Information Centre publish Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator statistics. These are experimental, official statistics, not National Statistics.

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Health: Sickle Cell Disease

Questions

Asked by Baroness Benjamin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will ensure that those with sickle cell disorder benefit from the planned integration of services due to take place as part of healthcare reforms in April.[HL6272]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how Commissioning Boards across the country are intending to provide the necessary specialised services for those suffering from sickle cell disorder.[HL6273]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): From April 2013 the NHS Commissioning Board is responsible for commissioning specialised haemoglobinopathy services including those for sickle cell disease. A national specification for specialised haemoglobinopathy services, developed by clinicians and patient groups including the Sickle Cell Society, is currently being finalised for adoption across England.

Health: Statins

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of any link between high-dose simvastatins and risk of serious kidney problems. [HL6397]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Like all medicines in the statin class, simvastatin can occasionally cause serious muscle problems, including muscle breakdown which can cause kidney damage. The risk of serious muscle problems is greater at high doses of simvastatin and warnings are included in the Summary of Product Characteristics for healthcare professionals and the patient leaflet which accompanies the medicine. High dose simvastatin is used only for a small group of patients with very high cholesterol levels, who have not achieved their treatment goals with lower doses.

Only a small percentage of prescriptions for simvastatin in the United Kingdom are at the highest dose (estimated to be less than 3% in 2011). The benefits of statins in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke are well established. As with all medicines, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency keeps the safety of simvastatin under continuous review and promptly evaluates any new evidence which may have implications for the safe use of high-dose statins.

House of Lords: Domestic Committee Reports

Questions

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask the Chairman of Committees what steps he will take to ensure that motions to approve reports of the domestic committees of this House are tabled in such a way as to provide details on the Order Paper of the matters with which those reports deal.[HL6196]

25 Mar 2013 : Column WA204

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): Wherever practical, I will undertake to ensure that motions to debate domestic committee reports include the titles of the reports to which they refer.

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask the Chairman of Committees what steps he will take to ensure that adequate notice is given in House of Lords Business of forthcoming motions to approve reports of the domestic committees of this House.[HL6197]

The Chairman of Committees: Wherever possible, motions to debate domestic committee reports are tabled in good time to give Members notice of the debate.

However, occasionally there are times when reports need to be scheduled for debate at relatively short notice. For example, a report may need to be debated before the end of a Session, which may result in less notice being given.

Housing

Questions

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement from the chairman of the National Trust that new housing developments for young people should be in towns rather than in rural areas.[HL6247]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The National Trust is an independent organisation. But I would make the following observations in relation to government policy on rural housing.

Under the last Administration:

home ownership fell by 302,000 from 2005 to 2010, despite a Government target to increase it by 1 million over that Parliament (22 January 2013,

Official Report

, Commons, col. 209WA);only 26% of families aged under 40 could afford to buy a home in England (National Housing and Planning Advice Unit, Evaluating requirements for market and affordable housing, February 2010, Annexe C); andthe Government's Rural Advocate asserted: “The long-term future of the countryside is in jeopardy because so many young people are being forced out of rural areas to find homes, jobs and support” and “the lack of affordable housing—to buy or to rent—is cited as the major factor forcing young people out of rural areas, or discouraging their return”. He recommended: “Local authorities should review their housing land assessments to take better account of rural needs and adopt a more creative and flexible approach to planning” (Commission for Rural Communities press release, 4 March 2010).

Ministers in this Government believe that home ownership should not be the exclusive preserve of people with large incomes or wealthy parents. Affordable and accessible rural housing for young people is essential for a vibrant rural economy. We want to see successful

25 Mar 2013 : Column WA205

rural businesses and thriving rural communities in a living, working countryside, and housing is an essential part of that vision. We disagree with the suggestion that the children of rural families should be excluded from the countryside.

The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that planning policies should support economic growth in rural areas in order to create jobs and prosperity by taking a positive approach to sustainable new development. Housing should be located in rural areas where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities. Policies should also recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and supporting thriving rural communities within it.

To help provide both rural and urban housing, this Government are championing initiatives such as our Affordable Housing Programme, Home on the Farm schemes, the Community Right to Build, the Rent to Build fund, Firstbuy, Newbuy, Neighbourhood Planning, the New Homes Bonus, a comprehensive empty homes programme, and reforms to change of use to get redundant agricultural buildings back into productive use.

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 11 February (WA 114), whether they issued guidance to the Homes and Communities Agency’s regulatory committee about the weight they should give to the views of residents who were not tenants or leaseholders of Island Homes in the results of a survey on the closure of that organisation before authorising the transfer of its assets.[HL6298]

Baroness Hanham: The Government do not issue guidance to the Homes and Communities Agency's Regulation Committee. As I said in my reply to the noble Baroness on 11 February (Official Report, cols WA 113-114), the decision on whether to give consent to a merger between private registered providers of social housing is a matter for the Homes and Communities Agency. It will make this decision independently of Government based on the full range of evidence available to it, including the level and outcome of consultation with all tenants and residents who are likely to be affected by any potential merger.

Justice: Marital Coercion

Question

Asked by Lord Brabazon of Tara

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the defence of marital coercion is available to wives only and not husbands; and whether they have any plans to amend or repeal the relevant law.[HL6102]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The current defence of marital coercion stems from the Criminal Justice Act 1925. The Government are looking carefully to see whether it is appropriate for modern circumstances.

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Local Authorities: Finance

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the expenditure on (1) community care grants, and (2) crisis loans, in Tower Hamlets in each month since May 2010.[HL6299]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Table 1 shows the expenditure on community care grants and crisis loans in the local authority of Tower Hamlets between May 2010 and March 2012.

We do not currently hold information on expenditure by local authority for 2012-13.

Table 1: Expenditure on Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans in Tower Hamlets between May 2010 and March 2012
Community Care GrantsCrisis Loans

May-10

£136,700

£64,800

Jun-10

£108,900

£78,500

Jul-10

£80,700

£79,400

Aug-10

£125,200

£69,800

Sep-10

£137,200

£74,600

Oct-10

£87,500

£61,800

Nov-10

£82,800

£72,500

Dec-10

£57,800

£58,900

Jan-11

£84,800

£65,500

Feb-11

£113,100

£62,600

Mar-11

£153,200

£60,800

Apr-11

£58,300

£46,800

May-11

£117,500

£45,200

Jun-11

£113,000

£49,200

Jul-11

£121,800

£43,300

Aug-11

£87,800

£41,200

Sep-11

£103,600

£45,900

Oct-11

£97,700

£57,400

Nov-11

£124,100

£44,000

Dec-11

£82,000

£30,500

Jan-12

£92,500

£38,700

Feb-12

£146,900

£41,900

Mar-12

£145,000

£38,100

Notes:

1

The information provided is Management Information. Our preference is to answer all Parliamentary Questions using Official/National Statistics but in this case we only have Management Information available. It is not quality assured to the same extent as Official/National statistics and there are some issues with the data, for example, these amounts do not include expenditure on applications which were processed clerically and have not yet been entered on to the Social Fund Computer System.

2

Local Authority figures have been produced by linking Social Fund Computer System data with the National Benefits Database to obtain the local authority the person lived in at the time of application. There are up to 7% of cases where we cannot link the records in this way.

3

All expenditure figures are rounded to the nearest £100.

Met Office

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the current total direct and indirect level of the public financial contribution to the cost of the Met Office.[HL6131]

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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 of the Met Office, to Lord Donoughue, dated 14 March 2013.

I am replying on behalf of the Met Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 11 March 2013, HL6131 to Her Majesty's Government.

The Met Office is a trading fund and provides weather and climate services under contract to a range of Government and commercial customers. In 2011-12, total revenue for these services from all customers, including maintenance of the underpinning infrastructure, amounted to £196.2 million, of which £156.1 million was from Government customers. The Met Office returned a dividend of £7.7 million to BIS in relation to this period.

Independent research has shown Met Office services for the public alone provide excellent value for money and an exceptional return on investment, creating value to the UK economy well in excess of £600 million per year. In addition, the Met Office bench marks its operations against other national meteorological services to ensure it is efficient and cost effective.

I hope this helps.

Overseas Aid

Question

Asked by Baroness Goudie

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the annual United Kingdom aid budget for (1) 2012–13, and (2) 2013–14.[HL6154]

Baroness Northover: The United Kingdom’s aid budget is set on a calendar year basis to align with the Government’s commitment to spend 0.56% of gross national income as official development assistance in 2012 and 0.7% from 2013 onwards.

Based on projections of gross national income updated at the 2013 Budget, the estimated funding required to deliver this commitment is £8,651 million in 2012, £11,164 million in 2013 and £11,609 million in 2014.

Railways: Freight Charges

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Department of Energy and Climate Change has taken account of the Office of Rail Regulation’s proposals to increase the track access charges for moving biomass by rail in its work on renewables obligations for low carbon generation.[HL6007]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Renewables Obligation (RO) biomass subsidy levels, which, subject to state aid approval will take effect on 1 April 2013, do not reflect the Office of Rail Regulation's (ORR) proposal on track access charges, published on 15 February. The (RO) support levels for biomass power generation announced by the Government on

25 Mar 2013 : Column WA208

25 July 2012

1

reflect the decision taken by the ORR in May 2012

2

not to propose a charge at that time, but to await the outcome of the comprehensive review of RO subsidies before considering whether to propose such a charge as part of its 2013 periodic review of rail freight charges.

1

Renewables Obligation Banding Review Government Response. DECC July 2012.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/supporting-1arge-scale-renewable-electricity-generation

2

Periodic Review 2013—Consultation on the variable usage charge and on a freight specific charge. Office of Rail Regulation May 2012—http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/pr13/PDF/freight-charge-consultation-may2012.pdf

Unemployment: Young People

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to reduce youth unemployment.[HL6399]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Jobcentre Plus personal advisers offer a comprehensive menu of help that includes jobsearch support and skills provision. Advisers have the flexibility to tailor support to the individual at the most appropriate point in their claim. Get Britain working measures offer additional support, including work clubs, work experience, new enterprise allowance, enterprise clubs and sector-based work academies.

The Work Programme provides tailored support to those claimants furthest from the labour market. Young claimants are referred to a provider after nine months and those with more challenging barriers to work can be referred at three months. Providers are paid on the results they achieve, and are paid more for supporting the harder to help into work.

The youth contract will provide nearly half a million new opportunities for young people—including wage incentives, incentives to take on apprentices, and extra work experience placements. Extra funding is being made available to support the most vulnerable 16 and 17 year-olds not in education, employment or training into learning, an apprenticeship or job with training.

Universal Credit

Questions

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much funding will be made available to each London borough in 2013–14 to cover the management element of any costs of temporary accommodation for homeless households on universal credit.[HL6295]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Department for Work and Pensions’ circular G10/2012, when a decision will be made on the mechanism by which the management element of the costs of temporary accommodation for homeless households will be paid to local authorities; and when those payments will be made.[HL6296]

25 Mar 2013 : Column WA209

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): London authorities will receive the management element of temporary accommodation costs through subsidy. Decisions on future funding available to London local authorities for this provision will be made in due course.

Homeless households living in temporary accommodation will receive a housing cost element as part of their universal credit award. The management fee will not form part of universal credit and, therefore, will not be included in the benefit cap calculation.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 14 March (WA 81–2), whether they will raise the £20,000 earnings threshold figure enabling non-European Union graduates to stay in the United Kingdom, set in 2009 by the Migration Advisory Committee, to its current revalued amount; what that amount would be in 2013 values; whether they will consider imposing a cap on the numbers permitted to remain in the United Kingdom; and how they assess the efficacy of the concession without extrapolating figures on the level of its use.[HL6342]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): From 6 April 2013, the £20,000 earnings threshold for all tier 2 (general) workers (including graduates) will be raised to £20,300.

25 Mar 2013 : Column WA210

This increase is in line with annual wage inflation, as recorded by the Average Weekly Earnings Index (AWEI). The figure of £20,000 was considered an appropriate threshold for new graduates switching into tier 2 when the tier 1 (post study work) route was closed in April 2012.

The Government have no plans to impose a numerical limit on the number of international graduates from UK universities permitted to stay in the UK, providing they have an offer of a graduate-level job, at an appropriate salary, from a licensed employer.

The current arrangements for switching from tier 4 (study) into tier 2 (work) replaced the previous tier 1 (post study work) category. The exact numbers switching into tier 2 from tier 4 could only be obtained at disproportionate cost but the tier 2 data do not suggest that there are large numbers in comparison with the previous arrangements.

Warrington Bomb Attacks

Question

Asked by Baroness Newlove

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Warrington bomb attacks.[HL5933]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The Government pay tribute to the victims and the families affected by the tragic Warrington bomb attacks. There are no official plans to commemorate the 20th anniversary of this tragedy, but local communities, particularly those in and around Warrington, are encouraged to mark this occasion.