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Written Answers

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Agriculture: Pesticides

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what evidence they have about the persistence in the soil of neonicotinoid pesticides from year to year and its effects on the pollen of the subsequent crops; whether the spraying of winter crops with those pesticides is affecting soil or water supplies; and whether they will make representations for a European Union ban on such sprays, for a period longer than two years, and a full assessment of their effect.[HL718]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Data on persistence in the environment, including soil and water, are a standard requirement for all pesticides. These data are considered in conjunction with data on effects to establish whether a product meets the requirements that it shall have no harmful effects on human health and no unacceptable effects on the environment. There is no evidence that the spraying of winter crops is affecting soil or water supplies in such a way as to threaten meeting these requirements.

The data supporting the EU approvals for active substances, including neonicotinoids, are summarised in the documentation published on the websites of the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority.

The EU has recently taken action to prohibit use of three neonicotinoid pesticides on a range of crops. The Government opposed this action because the evidence does not support it. The European Commission has committed to reviewing this action in two years, but unless the Commission takes action to reinstate these uses the ban will remain in place. Following advice from the Advisory Committee on Pesticides, I have initiated a review of UK authorisations for neonicotinoid pesticides.

Apprenticeships

Questions

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council 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. [HL766]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): As of 1 May 2013, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) employ 1633 staff. Of these:

1) four staff are under the age of 21;

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2) one apprentice is under the age of 21;3) one apprentice is over the age of 21.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the British Hallmarking Council 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.[HL817]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The British Hallmarking Council’s executive functions and secretariat services are provided under contract. The Council itself does not employ any members of staff.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the Competition Commission 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.[HL819]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The Competition Commission had 157 employees at 1 May 2013. None of these was under the age of 21 and the organisation had no apprentices.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the Competition Service 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. [HL820]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The Competition Service had 16 employees on 1 May 2013. None of these were under the age of 21 and the organisation had no apprentices.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the Economic and Social Research Council 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.[HL910]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The total number of staff employed by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) on 1st May 2013 was 140.

There were no employees under 21 years old, there were no apprentices under 21 years old, and there were no apprentices over 21 years old.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the Natural Environment Research Council on 1 May 2013;

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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.[HL915]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: As at 1 May 2013, the total number of staff in the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is 2419 (headcount). Of these three staff are under the age of 21; two apprentices are under the age of 21; and no apprentices are over the age of 21.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the Science and Technology Facilities Council 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.[HL961]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: As at 1 May 2013, the total number of staff in the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is 1735 (headcount). Of these, 31 staff are under the age of 21; 17 apprentices are under the age of 21; and 8 apprentices are over the age of 21.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the Technology Strategy Board 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.[HL963]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The total number of staff employed by the Technology Strategy Board on 1 May 2013 was 178, of which none were under the age of 21. There were no apprentices over the age of 21.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the UK Atomic Energy Authority 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.[HL964]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The UK Atomic Energy Authority had 564 employees in total on 1 May 2013. Of these; 9 employees were under the age of 21; 8 apprentices were under the age of 21; 7 apprentices were over the age of 21.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the UK Commission for Employment and Skills 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.[HL965]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The total number of staff employed within the UK Commission for Employment and Skills on 1 May 2013 was 106. Of

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those staff; 6 were under the age of 21; there were 5 apprentices under the age of 21; and there were no apprentices over the age of 21.

Asylum Seekers

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the planned withdrawal of legal aid from detainees, they will place a time limit on the length of time asylum seekers can be detained without trial.[HL783]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Ministry of Justice consultation "Transforming Legal Aid", proposes that applicants for civil legal aid would need to be lawfully resident in the UK, Crown Dependencies or British Overseas Territories at the time they apply and for at least a 12 months continuous period in the past. Under the proposals, asylum seekers (including those in detention) would be exempted from the test and would continue to qualify (subject to merits and means) for civil legal aid.

The Ministry of Justice are currently considering responses to the consultation and no final decisions have yet been made.

We have no plans to introduce a time limit on immigration detention.

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how long it currently takes on average to grant appointments for interview of asylum applicants; and whether they have plans to give priority to applicants suffering from cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. [HL977]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Home Office is unable to provide figures on timescales for substantive interview or screening interviews because such statistics are not held in a format that is compatible with National Statistics Protocols. However, for non-detained asylum routes, we aim to make an initial decision on an asylum case within 30 days of application and our casework teams do take into account applicants' personal circumstances when scheduling substantive interviews.

Aviation: Air Passenger Duty

Questions

Asked by Baroness Benjamin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to address the Air Passenger Duty charged for flights from Europe to the Caribbean as compared to equivalent destinations in the United States such as Florida and Hawaii.[HL852]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were their estimates at the time of the 2011 consultation on reform of Air Passenger Duty of the required price of Air Passenger Duty to each band if it were changed to a two band system, assuming neutrality for the Exchequer; whether their estimates were different from those published in the consultation

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document; and what was the projected monetary increase in cost per passenger in each band in order to facilitate a two band system.[HL853]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the cost of re-banding Caribbean countries into the same band as South Florida destinations for the purposes of calculating Air Passenger Duty. [HL879]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why Air Passenger Duty will increase for all destinations other than those in Band A from April 2014, given that Band A was also the only band not to face an increase in duty in April 2013.[HL880]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of increasing rates of Air Passenger Duty on diaspora communities in the United Kingdom; and whether they have any plans to address any negative impact caused. [HL881]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The Government's response to the consultation, on Air Passenger Duty (APD), published on 6 December 2011, outlined that no changes to the banding structure would be made. The Government has no plans to undertake a further comprehensive review of APD at this point. However, the Chancellor keeps all taxes under review.

Estimates of the required level of APD rates to deliver a broadly revenue neutral move to a two band system were published in the 2011 consultation document. The estimates indicate the range from which rates would have needed to be set to achieve revenue neutrality from April 2012. Rates would have been between £13-£16 for flights 0-2000 miles from the UK and £65-£75 for flights over 2000 miles from the UK, for economy passengers:

Re-banding Caribbean countries into the same band of Air Passenger Duty (APD) as south Florida destinations in the US would require a change to the banding structure of APD as a whole. Changes to the banding structure of APD were considered as part of the consultation launched at Budget 2011.

The Government has limited the rise in air passenger duty (APD) to inflation over the period 2010-11 to 2013-14. Budget 2013 set out rates from April 2014, which will also only rise in line with inflation, ensuring that level of APD will again remain constant in real terms. The Band A rate has remained the same in cash terms in 2013-14 and 2014-15, due to rounding.

The Government has also taken other action to help reduce the cost of living, including announcing successive increases in the personal allowance. As a result, over 2.2 million individuals with low incomes will be taken out of income tax altogether.

Banking: LIBOR

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made to appoint a new Administrator for LIBOR to replace the British Bankers Association. [HL860]

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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The independent Hogg Tendering Advisory Committee has been set up to recommend a new administrator for LIBOR. The deadline for bidders to respond to the Committee's Invitation to tender was 20 May. The Committee is currently evaluating the tender responses and will make a decision on the recommended bidder in due course.

Benefits

Questions

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many of the 82,000 households contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions as part of its engagement programme with those potentially at risk of losing out as a result of the household benefit cap had been in employment within (a) six months, and (b) 12 months, prior to that contact.[HL954]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): Information on prior employment spells of households contacted as part of the benefit cap programme is not available.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Freud on 25 April (WA 439–441), what plans they have to raise awareness about the availability of allowances, benefits and tax credits.[HL1007]

Lord Freud: A summary of Government communication activity is available in the recently published Government Communications Plan 2013/14 which can be found online at the link below.

https://gcn.civilservice.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/GovernmentCommunicationsPlan201314.pdf?

Caribbean

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what contracts have been awarded by the Department for International Development to the Caribbean Council; for what services; and for what cost.[HL1032]

Baroness Northover: DFID has issued 3 contracts to the Caribbean Council in recent years, funded through DFID Caribbean. The Council works to foster trade, investment and development in the Caribbean and promotes the region's interests internationally. The contracts were as follows:

1) Contract for “Developing Effective Social Partnerships – Jamaica Study and Lecture Tour” (2008-09). The assignment included research and analysis, a lecture tour, public dialogue and media awareness work. The contract sum was £40,000.2) Contract for “Gender and Entrepreneurship Proposal for Strategic Fund” (2009-10). The assignment included the development of a database of women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean, research, analysis and recommendations. The contract sum was £10,825.

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3) Contract for “Exploratory work on Developing Effective Social Partnerships in St. Lucia” (2010). The assignment included scoping discussions and research. The contract sum was £7,900.

Children: Health, Social Care and Education Records

Question

Asked by Lord Warner

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made on securing a common identifying number for linking health, social care and education records of children in order to better meet their service needs.[HL928]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In early 2012, the then Secretary of State established an independent Children and Young People's Health Outcomes Forum to make recommendations to improve health outcomes.

One of their recommendations, published in the Report of the Children and Young People's Health Outcomes Forum in July 2012, was that “the NHS Number should be used as the unique identifier to bring together health, education and social care data for all children and young people”.

There is broad agreement for the need for services to work better together and share information to support children in a range of circumstances. This is a complex area and further work is planned to develop an appropriate approach.

More widely, the Government's Information Strategy, The Power of Information: Putting us all in control of the health and care information we need has a key ambition relating to:

— Information used to drive integrated care — within and between organisations, and across the health, care and support sector as a whole;

The Strategy goes on to say that the National Health Service number will be used to connect our records across the whole system as we move between services. This, as well as professionals being able to access relevant records online, simply, securely and all in one place (for example via ‘clinical portals'), will enable more joined-up care.

NHS England's planning document, Everyone Counts has outlined a commitment. “We will build a modern data service, care data, in health and social care. This will provide timely, accurate data derived from information collected as part of the care process and linked along care pathways. This will require universal adoption of the NHS number as the primary identifier by all providers in 2013-14.”

Children: Sexual Abuse

Question

Asked by Baroness Gould of Potternewton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure that all children have the language and understanding to know what sexual abuse is and to be able to report it.[HL1036]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): The Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013 guidance sets out the legal requirements that schools, health services, social workers, police, and other organisations that work with children, must follow to keep children safe.

The government expects teachers to ensure that all pupils understand how to recognise and avoid exploitation and abuse as part of sex and relationship education, which is compulsory in maintained secondary schools. It remains for primary schools to decide whether and at what age to teach about such issues and we trust in teachers’ professional judgement to do so appropriately.

Climate Change

Questions

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Newby on 22 April (WA 358) which stated that "it is the role of the scientific community to assess and decide between various methods when studying various time series", what mechanisms exist within the Government to ensure (1) appropriate oversight of scientific advice, and (2) that scientists advising them are accountable to (a) Ministers, and (b) Parliament.[HL966]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): Every government department has a chief scientific adviser (CSA) who is responsible for ensuring the quality and accuracy of the scientific evidence base provided for policy making and delivery in their department. The Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) has a cross-government coordinating role in this work.

The GCSA works with the CSAs to ensure departments have effective structures and processes for accessing the relevant science expertise and maintaining the requisite internal capability. The work of the GCSA (along with other scientific issues of Parliamentary interest) is scrutinised by the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Civil servants have an obligation to provide objective, impartial advice to Ministers, subject to the Civil Service Code'. All CSAs are civil servants for the duration of their appointment and therefore accountable to Ministers, who in turn are accountable to Parliament.

Some departments have a Scientific Advisory Council, comprised of external independent academics, which brings independent external input to supplement CSAs. In many departments, advice on specific issues is also provided by Scientific Advisory Committees. Both types of advisory body are governed by the Code of Practice for Science Advisory Committees (CoPSAC)2. Also, the 'Principles of Scientific Advice to Government'3 define the relationship between independent advisers and Ministers and are included in both CoPSAC and the Ministerial Code.

In developing policy, Government is guided by the scientific evidence. This comprises a wealth of peer-reviewed and published research and reviews thereof. Scientists whose publicly-funded work informs and advises Government are accountable scientifically to

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their peers and professionally to their institutes and/or professional bodies through their relevant quality assurance processes.

1 http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/values

2 http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/goscience/docs/c/11-1382-code-of-practice-scientific-advisory-committees.pdf

3 http://www.bis.gov.uk/go-science/principles-of-scientific- advice-to-government

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 22 April (WA 358), whether, on the basis of a driftless third-order autoregressive integrated model, they consider the recorded increase in global temperatures of 0.8 degrees celsius to be statistically significant.[HL967]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 21 May (WA 44–5) and the briefing paper by the Chief Scientist of the Met Office, "Statistical Models and the Global Temperature Records", issued on 31 May, which stated that a linear trend model was "less likely to emulate the global temperature time series than the third-order autoregressive integrated model", why the Met Office favours a linear trend model. [HL969]

Baroness Verma: I refer the noble Lord to the briefing paper "Statistical Models and the Global Temperature Records" produced by the Met Office Chief Scientist, which states that the Met Office's assessment of global climate change is not based on assessing the evolution of global surface temperature using statistical models in isolation. As the paper notes, the Met Office does not use a linear trend model to detect changes in global mean temperature change. I would also refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer I gave on 27 March 2013 (Official Report, col. WA 237, 238), concerning statistical models.

With regard to the use of a driftless third-order autoregressive integrated model in assessing statistical significance of the 0.8°C rise in global temperature, I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answers I gave on 21 May (Official Report, col. WA 44, 45) and 12 June (Official Report, col. WA 248) and note further that we do not consider this model to be appropriate.

I am concerned at the expense incurred in relation to the series of questions on this issue and so I invite you to meet with the Department's Chief Scientific Adviser, to discuss these scientific matters.

Communication: Electronic Communications

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there is any judicial control over the interception of electronic communications of British citizens and residents; and what proposals they have for changes to those controls.[HL988]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The use of interception powers by security and law enforcement agencies in the UK is governed by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). RIPA provides for independent oversight of these powers through the Interception of Communications Commissioner, who must hold or have held high judicial office. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal provides a further means of redress for people who believe covert techniques have been used against them unlawfully.

These bodies provide robust and independent scrutiny of the intercepting agencies, and the Government fully supports their work.

Energy: Carbon Emissions

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what increase or decrease they forecast in carbon emissions from the United Kingdom, by weight and percentage of total output for the next three years; and whether they have made any comparison with equivalent figures for China over the same period.[HL900]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Department's published projections of CO2 emissions were last issued in October 2012, and were based on the economic projections by the OBR in the March 2012 Budget.

The table below shows our published emissions projections compared to the OBR's economic projections for the years 2012-2016:

Carbon EmissionsUnits201120122013201420152016

CO2 only[1]

Million tonnes CO2

457

479

463

445

432

406

GDP Growth[2]

Annual Growth %

0.8%

2.0%

2.7%

3.0%

3.0%

GDP

Billion £ (2009 Prices)

1,438 [3]

1,449

1,478

1,518

1,564

1,611

CO2 Emissions Intensity

g CO2/ £ GDP (2009 Prices)

318

331

314

293

276

252

CO2 Emissions Intensity

Annual percentage change

+4.1%

-5.2%

-6.4%

-5.8%

-8.8%

[1] DECC Updated Energy & Emissions Projections, Oct 2012, Annex A

[2] OBR Economic & Fiscal Outlook, March 2012, Table 1.1, Page 11

[3] UK National Accounts, Blue Book, July 2012, page 45.

Updated emissions projections, based on the OBR's March 2013 projections will be published in September 2013.

The Department has not produced a similar calculation for China.

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China committed at Cancun to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 compared to their 2005 level1.

1 UN Emissions Gap Report 2012, UNEP, 2012, Appendix A, page 11.

Energy: Solar Parks

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many solar parks occupying over one acre (1) are already in operation, (2) are under construction, and (3) have had planning permission applied for.[HL813]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): The Department doesn't hold this information and finding the information requested would incur disproportionate cost.

Exporters: Staff Training and Skills

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the report by the British Chambers of Commerce Exporting is Good for Britain, they have plans to introduce financial incentives for non-exporting companies to train their staff with the skills needed to export.[HL930]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint): UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Government Department responsible for providing UK-based companies with the support they need to succeed in the global economy, has a number of services aimed at preparing businesses for exporting. These include schemes such as Passport to Export and Gateway to Global Growth aimed at new exporters and more experienced exporting Small and Medium Sized Enterprises’ (SMEs), providing advice, guidance and support to help new to export businesses. These schemes provide an assessment of exporting capability, and include face to face training from export professionals.

With the additional funding made available in last year’s autumn statement, UKTI will provide export voucher funding for Passport and Gateway companies which companies can choose to spend on a variety of export services. That could include language training or wider training needs, as well as other services offered by UKTI and external suppliers.

Separately, The House of Lords Committee on SME Exports; Roads to Success: SME Exports, recommended that UKTI should promote the benefits of addressing the language issue and advise on the consequences if it is ignored as part of our communications strategy with SMEs. UKTI agreed with the Committee’s analysis and have published

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an updated publication, “Improving your business communications. Overcoming language and cultural barriers in business: A guide for exporters”. Copies of the publication have been sent to the House of Lords Committee.

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report by the British Chambers of Commerce Exporting is Good for Britain, what assessment they have made of the impact of language learning on the United Kingdom’s ability to export.[HL931]

Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint: UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has reviewed evidence from a number of sources on the extent to which language issues are a barrier to exporting among UK businesses. Annual surveys of the experience of UK businesses, including Small and medium Sized enterprises (SMEs,) regularly show that language and cultural differences are an important barrier to exporting for many firms. Results of these surveys are published at:

http://www.ukti.gov.uk/uktihome/aboutukti/ourperformance/research/barrierstointernationalisation.html

Recent academic research for the UK by Professor James Foreman-Peck (Cardiff) has sought to quantify the extent of the impact on UK exports, and suggests that the effect is likely to be large, and substantially greater than is perceived by many UK businesses themselves, as they appear to rely too much on being able to use English. UKTI is currently commissioning some new work to up-date this analysis and quantify the effect of these skill deficiencies. In response to Recommendation 14 of the recent House of Lords Committee on SME Exports; Roads to Success: SME Exports, UKTI stated that they “.. agree with the Committee’s analysis of the importance of language and culture and will develop a metric that quantifies the problem and the impact of UKTI support.”

Government Departments: Meetings

Question

Asked by Lord Boateng

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what criteria were used to invite attendees to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office records policy and practice meeting on 17 May; and whether (1) the Commonwealth Secretariat, (2) the Commonwealth of Learning, or (3) any Commonwealth universities were invited. [HL825]

Baroness Warsi: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) did not send invitations to specific institutions but openly advertised the ‘FCO Records: Policy and Practice' event through the Royal Historical Society, the Institute of Historical Research and the British International History Group.

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Health: Nurses

Question

Asked by Lord Lipsey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the cost to public funds of the Registered Nursing Care Contribution in England and Wales for the latest available year.[HL929]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Since 2009, the Department has collected information on the cost of National Health Service-funded Nursing Care in England (the funding provided by the NHS to care homes providing nursing to support the provision of nursing care by a registered nurse) through a financial information management system. This is management information and is not audited for Departmental accounts.

The latest figures we have are for the year 2012-13 and the cost was £514,103,000

Horticulture

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of students studying horticulture in the United Kingdom; what assessment they have made of the impact of public perceptions of that industry on the number of students enrolling on such courses; and whether they have any plans to address public perceptions of horticulture in order to encourage more people to enrol.[HL933]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The Department uses the JACs2 coding system for Higher Education statistics. Horticulture does not feature under this system. The closest category is Agriculture and Related Subjects. The requested data for this category is set out below.

Total enrolments to Agriculture and related courses
UK Higher Education Institutions
Academic year 2011/12
Subject of studyEnrolments

Animal science

6,140

Agriculture

10,515

Forestry

790

Food & beverage studies

3,375

Agricultural sciences

35

Others in veterinary sciences, agriculture & related subjects

315

Agriculture & related subjects total

21,165

Source: HESA Student Record

In addition, the 'Further Education and Skills' Statistical First Release shows a steady year on year increase in 'Amenity Horticulture', 'Horticulture' and 'Production Horticulture' frameworks since 2007/08, with 1,070 Apprenticeship achievements across these frameworks in 2011/12; the latest period for which full year data are currently available.

Lantra, the Licensed Sector Skills Council for the Land-Base and Environmental Industries and has responsibility for both encouraging greater leadership

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of the skills agenda by industry and maintaining National Occupational Standards and Apprentice Frameworks for Horticulture.

Lantra is engaging with the sector on a number of initiatives seeking to encourage more young people into the Horticulture and Agriculture sector and has successfully bid for support from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to develop skills projects, including activity supporting entry and progression routes in the land based sector.

Houses of Parliament: Police

Questions

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of Committees whether the Houses of Parliament policing contract is planned to become a single contract with House of Lords responsibility for management of the contract being transferred to the Director of Parliamentary Security; and, if so, when.[HL921]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): The Special Services Agreement with the Metropolitan Police Service for the provision of police and security officers on the parliamentary estate is a single contract, jointly signed by the two Corporate Officers on behalf of both Houses of Parliament. Responsibility for the management of the contract was transferred to the Parliamentary Security Director (PSD) on 1 April 2012 following the creation of the post on 1 January 2012. The PSD chairs the Security Contract Steering Group which agrees the annual budget, reviews performance data and exercises change control. Monthly invoices are jointly monitored and verified by officials from both Houses of Parliament. Separate invoices are issued to the Finance Departments of both Houses for payment of each House’s respective share of the contract charges. The budget holder for the House of Lords’ share of the contract costs is Black Rod. The budget holder for the House of Commons’ share of the contract costs is the PSD.

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of Committees whether, in the light of added security requirements arising out of the House of Commons income generation programme, there will be a review of the percentage split between the House of Commons and House of Lords of the costs of the policing contract with the Metropolitan Police.[HL922]

The Chairman of Committees: The cost of policing and security on the parliamentary estate is shared between the House of Lords and the House of Commons and is charged to each House directly by the Metropolitan Police Service using a 31:69 share ratio. This ratio was agreed in 1999 and reflects the respective security requirements of the two Houses. It is subject to periodic review and will be reviewed again prior to the commencement of new contractual arrangements in April 2015. The precise security requirements across the parliamentary estate are subject to frequent fluctuating demands dependent on such matters as the two Houses’ sittings times and recess dates, estate and accommodation changes, events, functions, tours and works projects. The overall security profile and the proportion of

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police officers and staff required to secure each House has not altered significantly since the 31:69 split was agreed. The majority of costs incurred under the contract are therefore apportioned between the two Houses on this basis. Costs attributable to the additional security requirements arising out of the House of Commons income generation programme are separately identified and factored into pricing. They will be recharged to the House of Commons as appropriate.

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

To ask the Chairman of Committees, further to his Written Answer on 4 February (WA 15), what portion of the costs indicated in the answer is

26 Jun 2013 : Column WA146

attributable to costs over and above the core cost of the policing contract with the Metropolitan Police. [HL923]

The Chairman of Committees: The costs indicated in the Written Answer on 4 February (WA 14) are solely attributable to costs arising from two contracts with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) (2005-2010 and 2010-2015). It is not possible to distinguish between core costs and non-core costs paid since invoices are not submitted on that basis. For the financial years 2009-10 to 2012-13 the costs charged to the House of Lords can be broken down as set out in the table below. The House of Lords Administration no longer holds the relevant detailed information for costs incurred prior to April 2009.

2012-13 (£k)2011-12 (£k)2010-11 (£k)2009-10 (£k)2008-09 (£k)

Operational HR (police and police staff pay and associated costs)

8,014

8,142

7,997

8,284

Operational infrastructure (supplies and equipment, transport, IT and communications)

183

168

164

117

Corporate overheads (see below)

519

522

553

484

Expenditure outside the financial cap (expenditure on additional police and security services requested by the two Houses)

153

144

168

0

Armed guards

829

829

823

808

Total:

9,697

9,804

9,705

9,693

9,333

Corporate overheads constitute the contribution of the two Houses towards overhead costs incurred by the wider MPS. This is calculated as a set amount under the contract, based on the established numbers of police officers and police staff as a proportion of total numbers of MPS police officers and police staff or actual usage by MPS officers and staff based at the Palace of Westminster. The fixed corporate overheads towards which both Houses contribute are: Finance Services; Procurement Services; Diversity and Citizen Focus; Directorate of Legal Services; Training and Development; HR Personnel Services; Holding Branch (Police); Logistical Services; Commissioner’s Private Office/ ACPO; Strategy, Modernisation and Performance; Directorate of Information; Directorate of Public Affairs; Contract Management.

Houses of Parliament: Structural Defects

Question

Asked by Lord Fearn

To ask the Chairman of Committees whether a register is maintained of structural defects relating to the Palace of Westminster; and, if so, over what period of time those defects are forecast to be rectified.[HL982]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): There is no register of structural defects for the Palace of Westminster but as recommended by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and English Heritage, (DCMS/EH, 2003) Protocol for the Care of the Government Historic Estate, the Principal Architect (Conservation & Design) has a Quadrennial Inspection regime which on a rolling four-year programme surveys every area of the Palace of Westminster and identifies any defects which may be of concern. This includes structural defects or evidence of structural defects. The Principal Architect, supported by a structural engineer, may choose either to monitor the defect for continuing deterioration or to remedy the defect.

Internet: Weaponry Sites

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy regarding websites that explain how to make bombs and other potentially lethal weapons; and of how many such sites they have become aware in the most recent year for which figures are available. [HL987]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Where online content breaches terrorist legislation, a dedicated police unit is able to take swift action to assess and take down illegal web content. The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) takes down and filters unlawful content online - disrupting and limiting access to extremist material. Since its establishment in 2010, this unit has removed approximately 6,000 pieces of online terrorist content.

Members of the public can refer concerns about extremist or terrorist content online directly to CTIRU via: www.gov.uk/terrorism-national-emergency/ reporting-suspected-terrorism

Lithuania

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Newby on 3 June (WA 139), whether they have suspended all extradition cases to Lithuania pending the report from the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture on prison conditions there; when that report is expected to be published; when they expect Lithuania to implement the European Union prisoner transfer agreement; and what is the cause of the delay. [HL905]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government have no plans at this time to suspend extradition cases to Lithuania pending the outcome of the Council of Europe Committee report. We are currently not aware of any expected publication date.

The timing of the Lithuanian Government's decision to implement the Prisoner Transfer Framework Decision is clearly a matter for them. However, all Member States must implement it by December 2014 or face infraction by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Migration

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration on new family migration rules, whether they have plans (1) to commission an independent review of the minimum income requirements, and (2) to review the rules on adult dependants.[HL1010]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government is satisfied that the minimum income requirement and the rules relating to adult dependent relatives are working as intended and has no plans to commission an independent review. However, as with all new policies, we will keep the impact of the family migration rules under review in the light of the published immigration

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statistics and other sources of information available. These will include the information and representations provided by those affected by the rules, such as are contained in the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration published on 10 June 2013.

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, following the judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of The Queen (on the application of JB) (Jamaica) v the Secretary of State for the Home Department (C5/2012/1662) they will seek to amend section 94(4) of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to reflect the finding that Jamaica is not a safe country for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people; and whether they will review the status of other countries designated as safe under section 94(4), with a view to protecting the rights of appeal of LGBT people to appeals against refusal of asylum claims on the grounds of their sexual orientation.[HL893]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The Government is carefully reviewing the full implications of the Court of Appeal's judgement in this case before it decides the extent of its response.

Overseas Conflict: Sexual Violence

Questions

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether consideration is being given to including Burma in its Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.[HL874]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): I refer the noble Baroness to the answer given by the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), on 5 June, Official Report, column 1120W.

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether discussions took place at the G8 Foreign Ministers' meeting about sexual violence in Burma.[HL875]

Baroness Warsi: During the G8 Foreign Ministers' meeting on 10 and 11 April, Foreign Ministers welcomed both the progress that has been made in a number of areas in Burma and called on the Burmese government to take further steps to end all violence, to respect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities and to pursue inclusive peace negotiations. The discussions on the

26 Jun 2013 : Column WA149

G8 Declaration on Sexual Violence in Conflict focused on broader commitments rather than specific country engagement.

The Government regularly lobbies the Burmese government on the rights of women, particularly on preventing sexual violence against women in conflict areas. Through international non-governmental organisations, the UK gives support to legal assistance centres in Burmese refugee camps in Thailand and to trauma care in camps in Kachin State in Burma, both of which deal with rape cases. We also work closely with the UN in Rakhine State to strengthen work to prevent and respond to sexual violence there.

The Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) is working closely with the UN and other partners, to identify areas where the UK can work with governments, Civil Society and other organisations to tackle the issue of sexual violence in conflict. A number of countries are now engaging on this agenda at both a practical and political level, taking into account existing national and international efforts. Over the summer, our Embassy in Rangoon will be scoping options to expand the initiative to Burma.

Pakistan

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether United Nations special procedures will investigate (1) the arrest, alleged torture and death of Mr Ajmal Baig, who died in Karachi on 21 May 2013, and (2) the allegation by the Muttahida Quami Movement that the Pakistan Rangers are conducting a widespread campaign of arbitrary arrests and torture against their office holders and supporters.[HL1052]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We are strong supporters of UN Special Procedures, and follow reports and presentations closely. Similar allegations were covered in the March report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and in the report of the visit to Pakistan in September 2012 of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, which took place at the invitation of the Government of Pakistan. We welcome the engagement of the Government of Pakistan with UN special procedures.

Pharmacies

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 5 June (WA 192–4), how the statement "the question of economic benefits to pharmacies was not a material consideration for the development of this policy" is reconciled with the answer by Earl Howe on 16 May 2013 (HL Deb, col 524) that "...without these rules, it would rarely be viable for new pharmacies to open to serve rural areas".[HL854]

26 Jun 2013 : Column WA150

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My answer of 5 June 2013, Official Report, columns WA 192-4, referred to the rationale behind the move to a regulatory system of market entry for National Health Service pharmaceutical services based on local assessments of needs. At Oral Questions on 16 May 2013, Official Report, HL Deb, column 524, I set out the circumstances under which patients are eligible to receive dispensing services from their general practitioner.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 5 June (WA 192–4), why they did not require each primary care trust to consult patients of dispensing doctors in addition to doctors themselves.[HL855]

Earl Howe: My answer of 5 June 2013, Official Report, columns WA 192-4 explained that there was no requirement under the regulations introduced by the previous administration for primary care trusts (PCTs) to consult patients of dispensing doctors concerning local pharmaceutical needs assessments. This was a matter for local determination by PCTs.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 5 June (WA 192–4), whether primary care trusts informed those who might have an interest in the provision of pharmaceutical services locally that existing patients of dispensing doctors who lived within 1.6 kilometres of the pharmacy would be compelled to visit the pharmacy to use the pharmacy rather than to have their medicines dispensed.[HL856]

Earl Howe: My answer of 5 June 2013, Official Report, columns WA 192-4, explained that the Department holds no information on what local consultation processes primary care trusts (PCTs) undertook in developing their pharmaceutical needs assessments. The Department holds no data on what further supporting information PCTs may have provided regarding a patient's eligibility to receive dispensing services as part of that initiative. My answer also made clear that patients who are no longer eligible to receive dispensing services are not compelled to use a particular pharmacy but are free to choose whichever pharmacy they wish.

Police and Crime Commissioners

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to extend the role of elected Police and Crime Commissioners to include responsibility for other emergency services such as fire and rescue and ambulance services.[HL980]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The emergency services often work closely together and the Government is considering ways it can encourage more joined-up

26 Jun 2013 : Column WA151

working to deliver higher standards for the public. Greater collaboration between the emergency services will improve standards and drive out inefficiencies.

Police: Crime Statistics

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implications for the police service of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary's report into crime reporting figures at Kent Police.[HL981]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): The recorded crime statistics and the independent Crime Survey show that crime is falling across the country. It is vital that people have trust in crime statistics, which is why we took them out of the hands of politicians and made them the responsibility of the Office for National Statistics. Victims have the right to expect that forces are recording crimes in compliance with national recording standards.

The findings of this investigation show the importance of elected police and crime commissioners who can hold the police to account and challenge performance based on the evidence presented to them. The public has the right to expect the very highest standards from its police officers, which is why we have made the police inspectorate more independent and created a new College of Policing to ensure those standards are raised and maintained across the board.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate Constabulary's inspection programme for 2013/14 includes a wider review on crime data integrity, which will provide information in relation to all other forces in England and Wales.

Public Records: Colonial Documents

Questions

Asked by Lord Boateng

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the criteria applied for prioritising the cataloguing of files in the National Archives originating from or concerning former British colonies or Commonwealth countries; and what level of priority is given to the records relating to or originating from former British colonies in Africa.[HL824]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The colonial administration files are being reviewed and transferred in alphabetical order of the colonial territory concerned with the exception of Kenya, Cyprus, British India Ocean Territory and Malaya, which have been prioritised because there has been particular interest.

Asked by Lord Boateng

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to digitise records returned on independence from the archives of former British colonies and to repatriate them in part or in whole. [HL826]

26 Jun 2013 : Column WA152

Baroness Warsi: There are no current plans to digitise the colonial administration files currently being transferred to The National Archives.

Asked by Lord Boateng

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how "sensitivity" is defined by the National Archives in redacting or withholding files originating from or concerning former British colonies or Commonwealth countries; and to what extent the views and concerns of historians and archivists from the Commonwealth are sought or taken into account in that process.[HL827]

Baroness Warsi: Only material which is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act is being withheld, and it is that material which is deemed to be sensitive. Decisions on which exemptions apply, if any, are made by former senior diplomats who are responsible for sensitivity reviewing all Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) archive files, including those to which the noble Lord refers.

The Lord Chancellor's Advisory Council, which includes several archivists and historians, is consulted on proposed disclosures or redactions and in addition, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), appointed Professor Tony Badger, Master of Clare College, Cambridge, to act as an independent reviewer of the FCO's decisions. He too is aware of proposed redactions or closures.

Public Registries

Questions

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to argue for a G8 agreement to establish public registries in every tax jurisdiction specifying the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts. [HL876]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the case for making public registries in every tax jurisdiction publicly accessible. [HL877]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have plans to put in place measures to outlaw shell companies operating from the United Kingdom. [HL878]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): On 18 June, the Government published a UK action plan to prevent the misuse of companies and legal arrangements. New rules will be introduced requiring companies to obtain and hold information on who owns and controls them and for that information to be held in a central registry held by Companies House, where it will accessible to law enforcement agencies and tax authorities.

The Government will conduct a public consultation later this year on whether that information should be publicly accessible.

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The UK action plan can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-action-plan-to-prevent-misuse-of-companies-and-legal-arrangements/uk-action-plan-to-prevent-misuse-of-companies-and-legal-arrangements

G8 partners also endorsed a set of common principles to tackle the misuse of companies and legal arrangements and have committed to producing national action plans which set out the concrete steps they will take to do this. The principles can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/g8-action-plan-principles-to-prevent-the-misuse-of-companies-and-legal-arrangements/g8-action-plan-principles-to-prevent-the-misuse-of-companies-and-legal-arrangements and the relevant section is set out below.

“Beneficial ownership information on companies should be accessible onshore to law enforcement, tax administrations and other relevant authorities including, as appropriate, financial intelligence units. This could be achieved through central registries of company beneficial ownership and basic information at national or state level. Countries should consider measures to facilitate access to company beneficial ownership information by financial institutions and other regulated businesses. Some basic company information should be publicly accessible.”

Railways: Rolling Stock

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 18 June (WA 442), whether every bidder for the East Coast Main Line franchise will have to include the Intercity Express train which has been specified by Her Majesty's Government.[HL1024]

Earl Attlee: Bidders for the East Coast franchise will be required to enter into arrangements for the use of trains procured through the InterCity Express Programme for use on East Coast in any agreements finalised by Her Majesty's Government.

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the allowable dimensions from top of rail level and centre line of track to station platform corners to enable (1) Eurostar trains, (2) Javelin trains, and (3) other trains operating on the United Kingdom network, to operate; and what are the allowable dimensions relating to (a) double-deck trains able to operate on HS2, and (b) single-deck trains able to operate on HS2 and Network Rail’s tracks. [HL1040]

Earl Attlee: The standard height of platform serving 1) Eurostar trains is 760mm (+0/-30) above top of rail for HS1 stations, and for 2) Javelin trains and 3) other trains on the UK Network is 915mm (+0/-25) above top of rail.

The standard offset from centreline of track through straight platforms serving 1) Eurostar trains is 1650mm (+50/-0) on HS1 stations and for 2) Javelin trains and 3) other trains on the UK Network is 1448mm

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(+15/-0) (730mm from nearest running edge). Where Eurostar trains run on the Network Rail managed lines other than HS1 and for W12 Freight trains the offset is increased to 1483mm (+15/-0) (765mm from nearest running edge) and for platforms on curved track the offset is increased when the track radius is less than 360m.

Full details for the Network Rail managed lines are given in Railway Group Standard GIRT7016 available from the RSSB website.

The existing platforms on the Network Rail managed lines do vary from the standard dimensions beyond the tolerances quoted as a result of historic standards applied by the original railway companies that built the lines.

The European platform dimensions which the HS2 design is based on are nominally 1650mm offset from centre of track and 760mm height above top of rail. These dimensions allow sufficient clearance for any of the trains mentioned in the question to pass the platform, including double deck trains. Trains designed to stop at both UK dimension platforms and European dimension platforms are expected to need a deployable step to allow passengers to board and alight the train at the European dimension platforms due to the difference in horizontal and vertical alignment. The existing Eurostar trains have this provision, but the Javelins do not.

The nominal dimensions of UK mainline platforms are 1448mm offset from centre of track and 915mm height above top of rail. This would not provide clearance for the passing of trains built to European dimensions.

Schools: Sex and Relationship Education

Question

Asked by Baroness Gould of Potternewton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether all primary schools in England teach children about puberty; and at what age that teaching occurs. [HL1038]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): Under the current national curriculum, pupils learn about the main stages of the human life cycle at key stage 2, between the ages of 8-11.

We are currently reviewing the national curriculum at all key stages and final programmes of study will be available shortly.

Under the draft national curriculum for science published in February 2013, pupils will learn about the main stages of the human life cycle in year 5, when they are between the ages of 9-101.

1 http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/n/national% 20curriculum%20consultation%20-%20framework%20 document.pdf

26 Jun 2013 : Column WA155

Transport: Expenditure

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the annual spending per head of population on transport, by each devolved nation and English region. [HL1039]

Earl Attlee: The most recent data available for total public expenditure on transport is given in HM Treasury’s Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses for 2011/12.

UK identifiable expenditure on transport per head in 2011-12 is given below:

£ per head

North East

223

North West

279

Yorkshire and the Humber

251

East Midlands

192

West Midlands

198

East

278

London

644

South East

207

South West

184

England

292

Scotland

518

Wales

351

Northern Ireland

330

UK identifiable expenditure per head

315

The regional allocation of spending is defined by where the individuals and enterprises that benefited from that public spending are located. It is not always straightforward to identify the benefiting region for transport expenditure, as projects physically located in a single region (e.g. a motorway or rail line upgrade) can benefit users across several regions.

Turkey

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the welfare of Turkey's ethnic Greek population.[HL841]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth

  26 Jun 2013 : Column WA156 

Office (Baroness Warsi):

While the Government has not made a specific assessment, the last European Commission annual progress report on Turkey's EU accession highlighted that Greek nationals in Turkey continued to encounter problems with access to education and property rights. We welcome the dialogue between the Turkish government and religious minorities (including the Greek minority) which has led to some progress.

Along with the EU Commission and others, we strongly encourage Turkey to maintain efforts to strengthen freedoms for all religious minorities in Turkey including the ethnic Greek population.

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the position of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Turkey.[HL842]

Baroness Warsi: The last European Commission annual progress report on Turkey's EU accession highlighted that the Eastern Orthodox Church in Turkey continued to face difficulties, including access to property and land registration.

Our Ambassador in Ankara met the Syriac Christian Archbishops of Mardin and Medyat in February and re-iterated our support for solutions to the issues they face, including a favourable settlement to the Mor Gabriel case.

Along with our EU partners, we support measures to implement legislation finalising the process of the return of property to religious communities and maintain efforts to strengthen freedom for all religious minorities, in line with Turkey's commitments as a member of the Council of Europe.

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made, or intend to make, representations to the government of Turkey over the future of Halki Seminary.[HL843]

Baroness Warsi: The UK has not made a specific representation to the Government of Turkey over the future of Halki seminary.

We note, however, the Turkish government announcement in March that it was conducting a study into the re-opening of the seminary in March.

Our officials visited the Halki Seminary in April this year and expressed support for a peaceful re-opening of the seminary.