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Written Answers

Thursday 27 June 2013

Apprenticeships

Questions

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of staff employed within the Engineering Construction Industry Training 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.[HL912]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): The Engineering and Construction Industry Training Board report that they employed 92 staff on 1 May 2013, of these 1 person was under the age of 21, 1 person was an apprentice under the age of 21, and 1 person was an apprentice 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 Office for Fair Access 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.[HL960]

Viscount Younger of Leckie: The Office for Fair Access had 13.3 FTE staff on 1 May. None of these were under the age of 21 and none were apprentices.

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they define apprenticeships for the purpose of the figures published as to the number of young people employed in that capacity.[HL1046]

Baroness Garden of Frognal: Apprenticeships are paid jobs that incorporate on- and off-the-job training leading to nationally recognised qualifications. As an employee, Apprentices earn as they learn and gain practical skills in the workplace. An Apprenticeship framework typically contains the following separately certified elements:

A knowledge-based element (the theoretical knowledge underpinning a job in a certain occupation and industry, typically certified via a Technical Certificate). A competence-based element (the ability to discharge the functions of a certain occupation, typically certified via work-based assessed national vocational qualifications – NVQs). Transferable skills (English and maths) – key skills / functional skills. A module on employment rights and responsibilities.

Further information can be found at http://www. apprenticeships.org.uk/.

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The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills publishes quarterly statistics on Apprenticeships in the Further Education and Skills Statistical First Release (SFR), published at the following link:

http://www.thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr_current/

The SFR presents two measures when reporting information on Apprenticeships:

Starts refer to the number of programmes that begin in a given time period. This measure is helpful in determining the take-up of programmes, and is a key performance measure for Apprenticeships. An Apprentice is counted for each Apprenticeship they start.

Participation refers to the number of people who are undertaking an Apprenticeship in a given time period. This measure is helpful for quantifying the number of people on an Apprenticeship programme throughout the academic year. An Apprentice studying towards more than one Apprenticeship is counted once.

“Young people” is used to refer to under 19 year olds.

Aviation: Air Passenger Duty

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to reform Air Passenger Duty; and, if so, what plans.[HL932]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer provided on 14 February 2013, Official Report, column WA173: Reforms to air passenger duty (APD) were considered as part of the consultation launched at Budget 2011. The Government's response was published in December 2011.

From 1 April 2013, APD rates started to rise in line with the retail prices index, as set out at Budget 2012.

The Chancellor keeps all taxes under review.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will provide a breakdown by local authority of the revised estimate of 40,000 as the number of households that will be affected by the benefit cap.[HL953]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): A breakdown by Local authority of the revised estimate of 40,000 as the number of households that may be affected by the benefit cap has been placed in the library and can be found here:

http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2013-0676/Local_Authority_breakdown_ of_those_affected_by_the_benefit_cap_final.doc>

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The benefit cap is being applied through a phased implementation which commenced on 15 April 2013 in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey. It will be introduced at a national level from 15 July 2013 and all appropriate households will be capped by the end of September 2013.

Estimates assume that the situation of these households will go unchanged, and they will not take any steps to either work enough hours to qualify for Working Tax Credit, renegotiate their rent in situ, or find alternative accommodation.

The Department has made extensive contacts with households who are likely to be affected by the cap and we are offering advice and support through Jobcentre Plus, including, where appropriate, early access to the Work Programme before the cap is introduced.

Civil Partnerships

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many civil partnerships have been registered in the United Kingdom; and what estimate they have made of the impact of all such partnerships on United Kingdom tax revenues.[HL658]

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The most recent information available from the Office of National Statistics gives the total number of civil partnerships formed in the UK, since the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force in December 2005, up to the end of 2011, to be 53,417.

It is not possible to estimate the impact of civil partnerships on tax revenues, as HMRC does not require individuals to distinguish between whether they are married or in a civil partnership.

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob2/civil-partnership-statistics--united-kingdom/2011/sb-civil-partnerships-in-the-uk--2011.html

Gilts

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the capacity of sterling bond markets to fund their borrowing requirements whilst at the same time selling the gilts acquired by the Bank of England as part of quantitative easing, particularly as interest rates increase; and whether they have made, or intend to make, provisions for any losses on the Bank of England's investments in that market.[HL948]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The gilt market remains deep, liquid and resilient. Any decision to sell the gilt holdings of the Asset Purchase Facility (APF) would be for the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to make. It would be for the MPC to determine the pace and timing of any sales dependent on their monetary

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policy objectives. The Governor of the Bank of England has said that the Bank will liaise with the Debt Management Office over the sale of its gilt holdings.

The APF is fully indemnified by HM Treasury and, thus, all future gains or losses are due to the Exchequer. Currently, the scheme is in a position of overall profit and HM Treasury recognises the amount due from the APF as an asset. If at any point in time the APF is in an overall loss position then HM Treasury will recognise that as a liability. The indemnity is also disclosed as a contingent liability in HM Treasury's departmental resource accounts. In its March 2013 Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Office for Budget Responsibility's central projection was for the APF to make an overall net transfer to the Exchequer of around £45 billion over its lifetime, but noted that this estimate is subject to considerable uncertainty.

Government Departments: Ministerial Code

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to amend paragraph 1.2 of the Ministerial Code, in the light of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst (No.2) v the United Kingdom.[HL919]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Government has no current plans to amend paragraph 1.2 of the Ministerial Code.

Health: Dementia

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to increase awareness and improve understanding of dementia.[HL1063]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance they provide to care homes, local authorities and other service providers to increase awareness of the rights of dementia sufferers under the Equality Act 2010.[HL1064]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): In July 2011, the Department published an equalities action plan for the National Dementia Strategy. The equalities plan was developed in line with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. Local National Health Service and social care commissioners and providers should consider the needs of their local population, when commissioning services for people with Dementia.

A Dementia Care and Support Compact was developed as part of the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia in March 2012. Almost 150 organisations, representing nearly 3,000 care services, have committed to delivering high-quality personalised care to people with dementia and their carers.

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In 2012 the Department, in partnership with the Alzheimer's Society, ran a dementia awareness campaign which reached out to 37 million people. The campaign encouraged people to visit their doctor if they were worried about dementia. The evaluation of the campaign showed that three quarters of people agreed that the campaign would help people with dementia and their families.

The Department is supporting the Dementia Friends initiative, which aims to educate one million people to become dementia friends, by 2015, and in doing so raise awareness and understanding of dementia across society.

Health: Respiratory Disease

Question

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to reduce premature mortality for respiratory disease.[HL925]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Reducing mortality and improving outcomes for people with respiratory disease is a key priority for this Government. Respiratory disease is specifically covered in both the Public Health and NHS Outcome Frameworks. NHS England works to improve the quality of NHS services, and is held to account through the Mandate.

Over £10 million has been invested by the Department over the past three years to help deliver improvements in respiratory services, working with key stakeholders and patient groups.

In 2012, the Department published the NHS Companion Document to the Outcomes Strategy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, setting out how the NHS can implement changes at a local level,

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published Quality Standards for COPD and for asthma.

Housing: Rented Rooms

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether it is their policy to encourage householders to let out spare rooms to increase the availability of rented accommodation; and whether they have issued any guidance to (1) banks in which they have a majority interest, and (2) other institutions, to discourage them from preventing their mortgage holders from renting out spare rooms.[HL897]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): Decisions about the use of spare rooms are for householders to make themselves, taking account of their individual circumstances. Under the rent-a-room

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relief, individuals may rent out a room in their main residence and receive up to £4,250 a year, rent free of income tax.

The Government does not intervene in commercial matters such as bank pricing or product design, including in relation to institutions that have benefited from public sector investment.

Human Trafficking

Question

Asked by Baroness Doocey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many United Kingdom nationals under the age of 18 have been referred to the National Referral Mechanism since 2009; and what percentage of those young people referred have received positive conclusive decisions that they have been trafficked.[HL1042]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): Since 1 April 2009 there have been 96 referrals of UK minors to the National Referral Mechanism. Of these, 77 received a positive conclusive decision which represents 80 % of the total.

The information provided concerns referrals made to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) relating to UK minors only. The data is current as at 19 June 2013. The data used is a ‘snapshot in time’ and there are outstanding decisions yet to be made. The response covers the period 1 April 2009 to 19 June 2013.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prisoners were granted legal aid to pursue complaints in 2012; and at what cost.[HL558]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) does not identify or record in its databases whether claimants of legal aid are prisoners and as such does not hold the information requested. Furthermore, the LAA does not categorise whether claims are related to the pursuit of a ‘complaint’. The LAA does hold information showing the number and value of prison law claims.

The prison law category of criminal legal aid currently relates to matters that may arise within the prison system regarding an individual’s treatment, sentence, any disciplinary matters or parole board hearings.

The volume of prison law claims is provided below for the 2011/12 financial year.

YearVolume of Prison Law ClaimsAmount

2011/12

43,780

£22.92 million

The Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) recent Transforming Legal Aid consultation proposed removing criminal legal aid in prison law cases that do not justify the use

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of public money—such as complaints about the category of prison or correspondence a prisoner is allowed. Many of these cases can be addressed by the prisoner complaint system — as well as other mechanisms. This proposal is expected to see around 11,000 fewer criminal legally-aided cases brought by prisoners every year.

Museums and Galleries

Questions

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made an assessment of the contribution that the National Media Museum makes to the economy of Bradford; whether they have plans to update their assessment of its contribution; and whether that will be taken into account before any decision is made affecting its future.[HL898]

Baroness Northover: As part of the Spending Review process, DCMS has received evidence from sponsored bodies, including the Science Museum Group, to which the National Media Museum belongs. Recognising the contribution of the national museums, it has been announced that they will see resource grant funding reductions of only 5% in 2015-16.

Asked by Lord Shutt of Greetland

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that the composition of the Trustees of the Science Museum Group reflects a broad geographic balance now that the Group has the responsibility for museums throughout the country, in particular in the north of England.[HL1049]

Baroness Northover: The recruitment of trustees by the Science Museum Group is conducted in accordance with the procedures defined by DCMS and the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. In accordance with Schedule 1, Part II, Section 13(3) of the National Heritage Act 1983, when making an appointment to the Board of the Science Museum Group, ‘the Prime Minister shall have regard to the desirability of the person’s having knowledge or experience of the development of science and technology, management, industrial relations, administration, or any other subject knowledge or experience which would be of use to the Board in exercising their functions.’

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 12 June (HL Deb, col 1601), whether the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, the National Media Museum in Bradford and the National Railway Museum in York are national museums.[HL1060]

Baroness Northover: The  Science Museum, now known as the Science Museum Group, is a national museum, whose Board of Trustees was established as a corporate body under the National Heritage Act

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1983.  The Science Museum Group incorporates the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) in Manchester; the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York and Shildon; and the National Media Museum (NMeM) in Bradford. The collections of the Science Museum Group are vested in the Board of Trustees.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage the amalgamation of United Kingdom-based pension funds.[HL1051]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): As set out in its Reinvigorating Workplace Pensions strategy, the Government is interested in examining whether a pensions market with a smaller number of larger-scale, multi-employer pension schemes might be able to provide greater value for money, and enable alternative forms of risk sharing for Defined Ambition pensions.

The number of occupational defined contribution schemes in the market is already consolidating. Between 2009 and 2012 the number of small and medium occupational defined contribution schemes (excluding hybrids) fell by over a third, from 3,300 to 2,110 schemes. In the same period the number of micro schemes fell from 45,310 to 36,390, while the number of large schemes remained relatively stable, reducing from 200 to 180.1

There are international examples of the introduction of new requirements for pension schemes leading to increased consolidation. We are considering minimum legislative standards for defined contribution pension schemes, including whether new standards might drive scale and how this would be managed by schemes and employers. We intend to publish our plan later this year.

1 Source: The Pensions Regulator. DC Trust: A presentation of scheme return data, 2013. http://www.thepensionsregulator. gov.uk/doc-library/dc-trust-a-presentation-of-scheme-return-data-2013.aspx

Definitions:

Micro

2 – 11 members

Small

12 – 99 members

Medium

100 – 999 members

Large

1000+ members

Prisoners: Privileges

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 13 June (WA 261), what are the gender-specific needs of women as compared to men that justifies the difference in prison issue clothing policies.[HL920]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Under the gender specific standards, that were introduced to reflect the different needs of women prisoners, women are not currently required to wear prison issue clothing. This will continue to be the case when the revised Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme is introduced on 1 November 2013. This maintains the policy which has long been in place and which reflects the understanding that, in general, the experiences which lead to imprisonment, and the impact of imprisonment, can be somewhat different for men and women. The policy in respect of women’s clothing was designed to avoid exposing women to a particular vulnerability which was considered likely to arise if they were required to wear prison clothing and which would result in the experience of imprisonment impacting more severely on them. It is noted that men are able to earn the right to wear own clothes through the IEP scheme.

Prisoners: Transsexuals

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 20 March (WA 161), how many transsexual people changed gender whilst in the custody of HM Prison Service in each of the last ten years; and, of that number, how many subsequently moved location within prison.[HL707]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): This information is not available. Instances of prisoners receiving gender recognition certificates whilst in custody are very rare, and the collection and publication of this data would risk breaching the confidentiality of the individuals concerned.

Prisons: HMP Hewell

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what changes have been made at HMP Hewell since HM Chief Inspector of Prisons reported in April 2013 that “much of the prison provided an unsafe and degrading environment for staff and prisoners alike”.[HL776]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): I can report that a considerable amount of work has been undertaken at Hewell since the inspection by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in November 2012, including the development and introduction of a comprehensive improvement plan for the prison to be delivered over the next 3 years. Since the inspection, the prison has also moved to a new management structure. The Governor has confidence in this team’s ability to demonstrate effective leadership and people management skills, embed effective systems and processes and improve risk management through effective planning and empowering their staff.

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Security continues to improve with the introduction of more responsive intelligence process and improved governance structures for security and operations. The Deputy Governor now personally overseas collaboration between the Security and Safety departments and a dedicated team of Prison Officers has been established to investigate every instance of violence. Searching of staff, prisoners and visitors has increased, there is greater disruption of prisoners who we believe to be challenging the good order of the prison, and there are an increasing number of referrals to the independent adjudicator, ensuring impartiality in the disciplinary process.

Safety is much improved, and work continues to identify and manage the risk of self-harm, and to ensure that staff actively challenge anti-social and bullying behaviour. As of Friday 14 June 2013 there are 29 men being supported on ACCT (suicide and self-harm prevention) documents, 17 on anti-social behavioural support plans (alleged victims) and 29 on tackling anti-social behaviour interventions plans (alleged perpetrators). This compares to 25 men being supported on ACCT documents and 3 on tackling anti-social behavioural support plans (alleged victims) and 17 on tackling anti-behaviour interventions plans (alleged perpetrators) at the time of the inspection, representing a significant improvement.

Decency is much improved, attracting praise from the prison’s Independent Monitoring Board. The cleanliness of both exercise yards and accommodation has improved and a cleaning plan is now in place and is being supported by additional training for staff and prisoners. Prisoners now have controlled access to all materials and items that they need to keep their environment clean and tidy and where they fail to meet expectations in this regard they are appropriately challenged through the Incentives & Earned Privileges Scheme.

The physical environment at the prison is also being improved. All cells now have shower screens in place and a shower refurbishment programme is ongoing. Showers at the open part of the prison have also been increased in number, to provide greater access for prisoners. Waiting rooms in the Healthcare Department are being refurbished and a refurbishment programme has commenced for dormitories at the open site. Prisoners held at the open site are no longer required to be admitted to custody through the closed prison, therefore making their experience more decent.

Probation Service

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether probation staff have been instructed not to speak publicly about current proposals to reorganise the probation service; and, if so, on what basis the instruction was given, and by whom.[HL828]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Probation trusts, as public bodies, are expected to act impartially, to preserve their integrity. The

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requirements concerning probation trusts’ external communications, including contact with the media, are set out in their contracts with the Secretary of State. Following the conclusion, in February, of our consultation on Transforming Rehabilitation: a revolution in the way we manage offenders, the Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service reminded Chief Executives of probation trusts of their responsibility in this area.

The scope of this advice included use of social media by trust staff in their capacity as employees of the trust. It does not extend to use of such media by members of probation staff in a purely personal capacity, outside of their employment and where no reference is made to it.

Probation Services: Outsourcing

Question

Asked by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what changes will need to be made to existing probation and police information technology systems as a result of their proposed outsourcing of probation services. [HL725]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): To support the Government’s plans to transform the way in which offenders are managed in the community the Ministry of Justice’s current ICT infrastructure will be modified to support the sharing of information with a number of different providers.

Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Deighton on 3 June (WA 147), why those self-employed persons failing to submit tax returns and to pay resulting penalties and who receive benefits by virtue of their self-employed status with HM Revenue and Customs have not forfeited their right to those benefits; how many such cases are currently ongoing; whether they inform the appropriate benefit authorities if a person's economic status changes and they cease to be self-employed; and what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the penalty regime.[HL904]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): I refer to my previous answer on 3 June which stated "The Government is not currently considering a rule to terminate an individual's employment status and end related benefits." Individuals who are self-employed are required to complete an annual self assessment tax return. Failing to comply with their obligations under the self-assessment regime does not affect their right to claim certain statutory benefits.

The class of National Insurance contributions paid by employees (Class 1) and the self-employed (Class 2)

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determines the contributory benefits to which they are statutorily entitled. In the case of a self-employed person who has paid Class 2 contributions on time, there is currently no statutory provision to withhold contributory benefits because a self-employed individual has failed to submit a tax return and to pay resulting penalties.

Where an individual changes their employment status, because of a change in their economic activity, the change in the class of National Insurance contributions paid will automatically feed through to their National Insurance record and be identified by the Department for Work and Pensions for the purpose of benefit entitlement.

A new late filing penalty regime for Self Assessment (SA) tax returns was introduced for the tax year 2010/11 onwards as part of ‘The Review of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Powers, Deterrents and Safeguards' which ran from 2005 to 2012. Given the recent introduction of the new penalty regime, there has so far been no specific review of SA penalties. However, as with all aspects of the tax system, HMRC keeps its penalty regime under constant review.

Taxation: Tax Evasion

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have assessed the impact of their policies on tax havens on the economies of Jersey and Guernsey; and what consideration they have given to their responsibility to Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories in formulating that policy.[HL947]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): The UK, its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories all have a shared commitment to tackling international tax evasion. We are working very closely on this agenda to ensure we also minimise costs for governments and business.

Water Industry

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they intend to respond to the questions about the Thames tunnel, harbour improvements and a Scilly Isles ferry, asked by Lord Berkeley in the debate on the Queen's Speech on 13 May (HL Deb, col 216 and 218).[HL859]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): A letter was sent to the noble Lord on 19 June 2013.

A copy of my letter has been placed in the Library of the House.