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Written Answers

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Agriculture: Intensive Farming

Questions

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what potential risks they have assessed concerning the operations of intensive farming units, including intensive dairy farms.[HL481]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government from which external groups or individuals, including academics, they have received advice about intensive dairy farms; when they met such groups or individuals; and what was the content of those discussions. [HL485]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government from which external groups or individuals, including academics and practitioners, they have received advice about intensive pig farms; when they met such groups or individuals; and what was the content of those discussions.[HL486]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have received advice concerning animal welfare issues associated with intensive dairy farming that do not occur in traditional pasture-based dairy farming; and, if so, what was that advice.[HL487]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): All operational livestock farms must comply with all relevant legislation, including comprehensive environmental and animal welfare legislation. In respect of the environmental impact of such facilities, the Environment Agency is a statutory consultee on all such developments. They will assess the local environmental risks of such applications and act where appropriate.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council’s (now Committee) (FAWC) scientific advice makes clear that the most important influence on the welfare of farm animals in any livestock production system is the knowledge, skills and experience of the stockmen. It is important to recognise that poor welfare may occur in both small and large scale units and in both intensive and extensive systems. The FAWC membership consists of a wide range of experts including economists, veterinary surgeons, academics, animal welfare scientists and farmers, as well as an ethicist, food scientist and geneticist. Their reports draw on not only their own expertise, but also the work and experience of other experts in the particular field as necessary.

In 2009 the FAWC Opinion on the Welfare of the Dairy Cow concluded that cows kept in very large units and/or housed all year can have a satisfactory standard of welfare and that there appear to be few disadvantages to the cow in this case. This report was produced in consultation with the British dairy industry, veterinary associations, universities and agricultural colleges, animal welfare organisations and private

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veterinarians and academics. However, FAWC’s conclusion is subject to further research on a cow’s ability to express “normal behaviour” in housed systems. The department has funded a project entitled “AW1026: A study to investigate the management and welfare of continuously housed dairy cows”. with this in mind. The study will be published later this year.

Apprenticeships

Questions

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within Companies House on 1 May 2013; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21. [HL583]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed by HM Land Registry on 1 May 2013; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21.[HL584]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed by the Intellectual Property Office on 1 May 2013; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21.[HL585]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed by the Met Office on 1 May 2013; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21.[HL586]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed by the National Measurement Office on 1 May 2013; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21.[HL587]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed by Ordnance Survey on 1 May 2013; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21.[HL588]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): I have asked the Chief Executives of the executive agencies to write to the noble Lord directly.

Letter from Ann Lewis, Director of Customer Delivery, Companies House, to Lord Adonis, dated 10 June 2013.

I am replying on behalf of Companies House to your Parliamentary Question, tabled 4 June 2013, to Her Majesty’s Government, UIN HL583.

The total number of staff employed within Companies House on 1 May 2013 was 971 (which equates to 877.70 full time equivalent staff). Companies House does not currently employ any staff under the age of 21 and it does not employ apprentices.

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Letter from Ed Lester, Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive, Land Registry, to Lord Adonis, dated 10 June 2013.

On 4 June 2013 you tabled the following question in the House of Lords:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, what was the total number of staff employed by HM Land Registry on 1 May 2013; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21.

Land Registry had a headcount of 4550 (4032 full time equivalents) on 1 May 2013. None of Land Registry’s employees were under 21 and no apprenticeships are offered within the department.

I hope you find this information useful.

Letter from John Alty, Chief Executive and Comptroller- General, Intellectual Property Office, to Lord Adonis, dated 10 June 2013.

I am responding in respect of the Intellectual Property Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 4 June 2013, asking Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed by the Intellectual Property Office on 1 May 2013; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21.

As at 1 May 2013, 922 staff (934.86 FTC) were employed by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Three staff were under the age of 21. The IPO does not currently employ apprentices.

Letter from John Hirst, Chief Executive, Met Office, to Lord Adonis, dated 7 June 2013.

I am replying on behalf of the Met Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 4 June 2013, HL586, to Her Majesty’s Government.

The total number of staff employed by the Met Office on 1 May 2013 was 1,956, three of whom were under the age of 21.

There are no apprentices working at the Met Office. The Met Office primarily meets its needs for trainees through graduate recruitment campaigns. In addition, the Met Office runs an innovative IT Trainee Scheme, training individuals from A-level standard upwards. It also offers paid summer placement opportunities to those who have just completed the first year of ‘A’ levels, current undergraduates or those who have completed their studies.

I hope this helps.

Letter from Peter Mason, Chief Executive, National Measurement Office, to Lord Adonis, dated 6 June 2013.

I am responding in respect of the National Measurement Office (NMO) to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 4 June 2013, asking Her Majesty’s Government about staff numbers.

On 1 May 2013 the National Measurement Office employed 71 people which represents 67,92 whole persons equivalent, excluding staff hired from employment agencies. None of the above staff were apprentices or aged under 21.

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Letter from Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB, Director General and Chief Executive, Ordnance Survey, to Lord Adonis, dated 7 June 2013.

As Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey, I have been asked to respond to your Parliamentary Question asking the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, “what was the total number of staff employed by Ordnance Survey on 1 May 2013; and how many of them were (1) under the age of 21, (2) apprentices under the age of 21, and (3) apprentices over the age of 21”.

The total number of staff employed by Ordnance Survey on 1 May 2013 was 1,132.

Just one was aged under 21, and none was employed formally as an apprentice.

Ordnance Survey does not have any formal apprenticeships in place at present, but Support Analysts in our Information Business support team do follow an apprenticeship-style development route. We also run a graduate scheme which recruits students directly from University, and provide internship places for students in partnership with the University of Southampton; in 2012 four graduates and 16 temporary interns joined Ordnance Survey through these schemes.

I hope this information is helpful.

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to provide employers with information about the business benefits of hiring an apprentice. [HL685]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)—part of the Skills Funding Agency in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills—provides information and support to employers on the business benefits of apprenticeships.

NAS does this through its marketing and communication activities, the provision of online materials and a dedicated employer section on the apprenticeships website which includes research, case studies and a return on investment calculator.

In addition to the many employers who have accessed this online material, NAS provide specialist and tailored support to employers, including small businesses, and have spoken directly to over 100,000 employers informing them of the benefits of employing apprentices.

Armed Forces: Combined Air Operation Centres

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many United Kingdom service personnel are presently stationed at the Combined Air Operation Centre at Al-Udeid; and how many are embedded with United States forces.[HL601]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The UK has around 150 personnel based in Qatar, focused principally on

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air support for our operations in Afghanistan. Around 40 of these are stationed in the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Al-Udeid which manages coalition air operations over Afghanistan. Ten of the posts in the CAOC are UK officers on exchange with the US.

Armed Forces: Medals

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to award any further Arctic Star medals; and, if so, when they will publish the names of those to receive them.[HL536]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): Arctic Star medals have been and will continue to be issued to eligible veterans. It is anticipated that all entitled veterans will have received their awards by summer 2013. Applications received from widows will then be processed followed by those from next of kin.

There are no plans to publish the names of those who are entitled to receive the Arctic Star.

Armed Forces: US Bases in the UK

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assurances they have received from the United States that it will not conduct activities from United States bases in the United Kingdom that violate international law.[HL626]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The use of bases in the UK by the United States visiting force remains subject to long-established agreements and procedures which ensure that the UK Government are fully satisfied as to the propriety of any US activity undertaken.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their timetable for publishing statistics on sanction referrals by jobcentres.[HL677]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): On 15 May 2013 the department produced a publication with the number of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) sanctions and disallowances, where a decision has been made, in each month from 1 April 2000 to 21 October 2012 (the last date of the old regulations), by Jobcentre Plus Office and decision outcome, and this can be found here: http://statistics. dwp.gov.uk/asd/index.php?page=adhoc_analysis.

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DWP are currently performing further quality assurance activities on the new regime sanction referrals series and will publish as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it is not possible to commit to a definite date at the moment, but a proposed publication date will be announced in advance via www.gov.uk or via http://www.statsusernet.org.uk in the “Welfare and Benefit” community.

Climate Change

Question

Asked by The Earl of Shrewsbury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what relief from the climate change levy in respect of small businesses is available; and whether they will review the application of the levy to small businesses. [HL547]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The climate change levy (CCL) has de minimis limits, below which supplies of energy will be automatically considered to be for domestic purposes, even when they are supplied to a business. Some small businesses operating below these de minimis limits may, therefore, not be liable to the CCL. For example, a business consuming less than 1,000 kilowatt hours of metered electricity per month at its premises will not need to pay CCL on its electricity. There are also de minimis limits for other taxable commodities under the CCL.

Small businesses above the de minimis limits may be eligible for other exemptions and reliefs from the CCL. This includes:

supplies of electricity from renewable sources, which are exempt from the levy;a reduced rate of the levy (10% on electricity and 35% on other taxable commodities under the CCL) for businesses who have signed up to the climate change agreements scheme; andsupplies of electricity from good-quality combined heat and power stations (CHP) are generally exempt from the CCL, except where supplies are made to the grid.

A full list of reliefs and special treatments is available on the HMRC website alongside other CCL guidance1.

The Government have no plans to review the application of CCL specifically for small businesses, but, as with all taxes, keeps the CCL under review.

1 http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/climate-change-levy/index.htm

Dogs: Dangerous Dogs

Question

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many reported attacks by dogs on protected animals as defined by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 there have been in each of the last five years.[HL691]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The Government do not hold records of dog attacks on protected animals as defined by the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Question

Asked by Lord Wills

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implications for any changes to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 of the recent Upper Tribunal decision on “disproportionate burdens” and vexatious requests under the Act and the recent guidance by the Information Commissioner on vexatious requests.[HL579]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): In its response to the post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) the Government said that the economic situation, and increased pressure on the budgets of public authorities, meant that we must consider how best to reduce burdens where we can do so without undermining transparency. We indicated a range of measures that we would consider further. We intend to consult on proposals later this year.

The recent decision in the case of Information Commissioner v Devon County Council and Dransfield of 7 February 2013 provides welcome clarity and reassurance for local authorities who are faced with vexatious requests. The Government will update the Code of Practice under Section 45 of the FOIA to reflect this decision.

G8

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what priority they will give to corporate sustainability reporting in the negotiations at the forthcoming G8 meeting. [HL516]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: At the G8 summit in Lough Erne, (17-18 June) the Prime Minister and G8 Leaders will focus on trade, tax and transparency, and the economic and foreign policy issues of the day. It will not focus on corporate sustainability reporting.

Reflecting the UK’s commitment to sustainability reporting, the new narrative reporting framework introduced under the Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013 includes a requirement of all quoted companies, from 1 October 2013, to consider community and environmental issues in their Strategic Reports alongside their corporate strategy and business model.

Internationally, the report (3 June) of the High Level Panel for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, co-chaired by the Prime Minister, confirms the importance of reporting on social and environmental impact.

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Global Warming

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have identified any observational evidence for statistically significant global warming, either natural or anthropogenic; and, if so, from what sources any such evidence originated.[HL609]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): There is considerable observational evidence that the world has experienced statistically significant warming since the end of the 19th century. This is reported in Section 3.2 of the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Working Group I Report1.

We note that other statistical methodologies have been proposed and it is important that there is an open technical debate on their relevance to climate change analysis in the peer-reviewed literature.

In addition three-dimensional, physically-based climate models have been used to assess the climate’s natural internal variability and its responses to various external factors. Using standard scientific methods, the significance of observed global warming can be determined by testing detected temperature changes against the null hypothesis that they are entirely due to natural factors and have no anthropogenic contribution. The observed warming has been shown to be outside the bounds of natural climate system variability and is not consistent with model simulations that exclude anthropogenic factors, such as emissions of greenhouse gases. This inconsistency has been shown to be statistically significant1,2,3

I have offered the noble Lord a meeting with officials in three previous Written Answers (on: 13 February (Official Report, col. WA 158); 21 March (Official Report, col. WA 170) and 27 March (Official Report, col. WA 237-38) and I re-affirm this offer.

1 IPCC, 2007, Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

2 Stott, P. A. and Gillett, N. P. and Hegerl, G. C. and Karoly, D. J. and Stone, D. A. and Zhang, X. and Zwiers, F. Detection and attribution of climate change: a regional perspective Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1,2,192-211,2010.

3 Hegerl, G. and Zwiers, F. Use of models in detection and attribution of climate change. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 2 (4), 570-591, 2011.

Housing: Council Houses

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their forecast for the amount of council housing rent arrears in 2013–14; and what impact the under-occupancy charge on properties with spare bedrooms will have on that figure.[HL608]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My department does not make forecasts of local authority rent arrears.

The removal of the spare room subsidy will promote fairness and will bring the provision of housing benefit for social tenants more closely into line with the provision for private sector tenants.

Kosovo

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to facilitate the entry of Kosovo into the Council of Europe as either a full member or as an observer.[HL566]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: An application for membership or observer status of the Council of Europe must be sent to the Secretary General by the Government of Kosovo. The Kosovo Government have yet to make such a request.

We have welcomed recent developments in the deepening of the Council of Europe (CoE)’s relations with Kosovo, such as the opening of Kosovo’s consulate in Strasbourg and the Secretary General’s decision to allow contact between the CoE secretariat and Kosovo Ministries. The Government also support Kosovo’s application to join the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), though the UK is not a member of the Bank, and the Parliamentary Assembly’s decision to grant access to its meetings to representatives of the Kosovo Assembly.

The Government are a longstanding supporter of Kosovo’s continued integration into the international community, including through membership of international organisations. The Government will continue to support the Kosovo Government as it seeks to increase co-operation with the Council so as to guarantee the fundamental values of the organisation: human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government upon what basis they calculated (1) potential savings of £4 million per year, and (2) a reduction in cases by 11,000, as a result of restricting legal aid for prisoners as part of their consultation Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a More Credible and Efficient System.[HL559]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Between 9 April and 4 June 2013 the Government consulted on a number of proposals to reform legal aid via the Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a More Credible and Efficient System consultation. This included proposals to limit the scope of criminal legal aid for prison law. We are concerned that limited public resources should be targeted at those cases

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which justify it otherwise this undermines confidence in the legal aid scheme: the scheme should be as fair on taxpayers as on legal aid applicants. We do not believe it is right for taxpayers to pick up the bill for matters that are not of sufficient priority to justify public money or are better resolved by other means.

As set out in the Crime Credibility Impact Assessment published with the consultation paper if the proposal to restrict the scope of prison law proceeds it will mean that, in steady state an estimated reduction of £4 million per annum in legal aid spending will be achieved by reducing the number of prison law cases funded through criminal legal aid every year by around 11,000. This has been estimated using Legal Services Commission (LSC) 2011-12 data on prison law volumes and expenditure, and calculating the impact of removing those cases that are likely in future to be out of scope should the proposal be implemented.

Overseas Conflict: Sexual Violence

Question

Asked by Baroness Coussins

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what mechanisms will be put in place to monitor the implementation of Article 7 of the G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.[HL358]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: We were pleased to secure strong language in the G8 Declaration on the important role of women human rights defenders in tackling sexual violence in conflict.

In support of this, at the launch of the declaration, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), announced new Foreign and Commonwealth Office funding of £5 million over three years to support grassroots and human rights projects working on sexual violence.

We are currently developing an implementation plan for commitments in the declaration and will monitor progress against this plan, including on Article 7, in consultation with other government departments, the UN and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This includes identifying roles for G8 Partners to contribute to the review of the declaration under the German G8 presidency in 2015.

The Foreign Secretary will continue to seek the views of his Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative Steering Board, which includes senior representatives from NGOs and civil society, on the development of the initiative including on proposals to implement the G8 commitments.

Piracy

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to combat the threat posed by pirates in the Indian Ocean.[HL602]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): The Ministry of Defence has made a significant contribution to the successful international effort to curb piracy in the Indian Ocean. The EU’s Operation Atalanta Headquarters is based at Northwood, London. Its operational commander is British and the UK has provided naval assets to the force. The UK also provides the 1 star Commander and a ship to the US led Combined Maritime Force, which conducts counter piracy operations as part of its maritime security role. Additionally the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary have provided assets to NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield. Piracy in the Indian Ocean has reduced dramatically in the past 12 months, and no vessel has been hijacked and taken to the Somali Coast since May 2012.

Profumo Affair

Question

Asked by Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will consider declassifying parts of the transcripts of Lord Denning’s 1963 inquiry into the Profumo Affair that are preserved in the Cabinet Secretary’s Miscellaneous files.[HL515]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Any transcripts of Lord Denning’s 1963 inquiry into the Profumo Affair that are in the Cabinet Secretary’s Miscellaneous Papers will be reviewed for possible opening at the National Archives in the same way as other papers in the collection. The review process will follow that adopted in relation to the opening of the first batch of papers from the collection on 23 May 2013 covering the period 1936-51

Racial Economic Equality

Question

Asked by Lord Ouseley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 20 May (WA 32), whether the Department for Communities

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and Local Government has undertaken any review into the barriers preventing black and minority ethnic entrepreneurs from accessing business finance; and, if so, what were the terms of reference, when the review began, and when its findings will be published.[HL636]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Deputy Prime Minister commissioned the Department for Communities and Local Government to lead a cross-Government review into the barriers being faced by ethnic minority businesses in accessing finance in November 2011. The purpose was to consider the barriers faced by some black and ethnic minority entrepreneurs in accessing business finance. We aim to publish a report of the review shortly.

Railways: High Speed 2

Question

Asked by Lord Willoughby de Broke

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why, in view of the areas of outstanding natural beauty affected by HS2, the environmental impact assessment was not carried out before the final route was chosen. [HL670]

Earl Attlee: The appropriate level of environmental assessment has been undertaken at each stage of the project. The consultation on the proposed route for HS2 Phase One was accompanied by an appraisal of sustainability that directly considered the impacts on the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). It will be Parliament that ultimately decides on the line of route for HS2 and, in accordance with Standing Orders, the hybrid Bill seeking powers for the railway will be accompanied by a full environmental statement. This will ensure that Parliament’s decision on HS2 is made in the light of its environmental impacts, including the impacts on the Chilterns AONB.