The Social Work Practices pilot sought to test new social worker-led models of delivery, but did not specify specific ownership or governance arrangements. It is not possible to provide an authoritative answer to the question of how many were employee-owned partnerships.

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More information about the operation of Social Work Practice pilots is contained in the evaluation which is published on the GOV.UK website1 :

1

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-work- practices-report-of-the-national-evaluation

Ombudsmen: Complaints

Question

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the efficiency of (1) the Local Government Ombudsman, and (2) the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, as a means of redress in relation to social care and health provision for children with special educational needs.[HL1908]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) investigates complaints about most local authority matters, including social care provision. The LGO’s 2012-13 annual report showed that 55 per cent of complaints received a decision within 13 weeks, 85 per cent within 26 weeks and 97 per cent within 12 month1.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) investigates complaints that individuals have been treated unfairly or have received poor service from Government Departments and other public organisations and the NHS in England. PHSO’s latest annual report shows that the average time taken to investigate complaints was reduced from 317 days in 2012-13 to 357 days in 2011-12ii.

LGO and PSHO can work collaboratively on complaints which are relevant to their two jurisdictions.

i www.lgo.org.uk/publications/annual-report/.

ii www.ombudsman.org.uk/

Agriculture: Pesticides

Question

Asked by Lord Willoughby de Broke

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the suspension of the use of neonicotinoid pesticides by the European Union. [HL2102]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The restrictions put in place by the European Commission ban a number of uses of three neonicotinoids. These restrictions will be reviewed in 2015.

The Government, like those of a number of EU member states, considers that the scientific evidence does not support the restrictions. Our current assessment of the evidence suggests that, while we cannot exclude effects of neonicotinoids on bees in the field, effects on bees are not likely to occur under normal circumstances. Therefore, the current evidence suggests that the risk to bee populations from neonicotinoids, when used correctly, is low.

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We do not agree with the methods used by the European Commission to reach a different conclusion, based on a new risk assessment scheme that has yet to be agreed and implemented. Given our assessment that the risk to bee populations is low, we do not consider that the Commission's response is sensible or proportionate. It will impose significant costs on some farmers and growers without benefiting bees and other pollinators.

Agriculture: Wheat

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they reconcile the figures given for the annual average price of feed wheat in the United Kingdom from 1996 to 2009 in the Written Answer by Lord Henley on 2 December 2010 (WA 480) and the figures for the same years given in the Written Answer by Lord De Mauley on 15 July (WA 77).[HL2054]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The feed wheat prices provided by Lord Henley on 2 December 2010 (WA 480) were based on a straight average of the weekly corn return prices recorded for each year; a proportion of the corns returns data covering just fixed price contracts for traded grain is used. These weekly data are available from the link below and prices calculated based on this source remain unchanged.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/commodity-prices

The feed wheat prices provided in my answer of 15 July (WA 77) use the corn returns data but take into account a wider range of prices other than just grain which is traded under fixed price contracts. The annual prices are also weighted based on tonnages sold, so these price data use a more sophisticated methodology taking into account a wider range of data. This approach was introduced for 2007 when prices increased substantially through the season to try to take better account of forward selling of grain. These prices are published in Agriculture in the United Kingdom in Table 7.1.

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs/series/agriculture-in-the-united-kingdom#statistical-data-sets

For most years, the annual feed wheat prices are similar or even the same. The bigger differences occur in years where there were major movements in cereal prices during the season, notably 2007 and 2008 where forward buying has more of an impact.

Alcohol: English Wine

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy on buying and promoting English wine. [HL1813]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The high quality of English and Welsh still and sparkling wine means that demand for our wine regularly outstrips supply. Although promotion can be supported under the EU wine programme, the industry does not consider this to be a priority at this stage. Instead, EU support has been channelled via the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which currently provides a bespoke training programme for the sector (Wineskills). It includes advice on aspects of promotion such as brand building and marketing.

We have recently secured places for two wine producers to represent the UK on an EU Speciality Food Trade Mission to Japan and South Korea in November. Our wine producers are already starting to exploit both markets and our attendance on this mission will help to boost our trade links further with this region.

Government Hospitality, within the Protocol Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is responsible for the management of the Government wine cellar and has supported the UK wine industry for over 20 years through regularly buying and using UK wines.

Charity Commission

Question

Asked by Baroness Jolly

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Charity Commission about the future of The National Fund; what options for the future of the Fund, specifically including the possibility of its early application to reduce the national debt, have been considered and (1) dismissed, or (2) remain under consideration; and when any decision is expected to be made.[HL2009]

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): There has been correspondence between the Charity Commission, the trustees and the Attorney General's Office over the National Fund.

The Fund is operated in accordance with its rules and section 9 of the Superannuation and Other Trust Funds (Validation) Act 1927. It is accumulating as the original donors intended.

Options are being considered for the future of the Fund, consistent with its object of extinguishing or reducing the national debt. These include a possible application to the court for directions. Whilst this work is on-going, it would not be appropriate to comment further. It is expected that a decision will be made later this year.

Employment: Pay

Question

Asked by Baroness Lister of Burtersett

To ask Her Majesty’s Government , further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 22 July (WA 165), what proportion of jobs in (1) the lowest pay decile, and (2) the highest pay quintile, are paid (a) weekly, (b) fortnightly, (c) four weekly, and (d) monthly.[HL2052]

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the Authority to reply.

Letter from Glen Watson, Director General for ONS, to Baroness Lister, dated August 2013.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 22 July (WA 165), what proportion of jobs in (1) the lowest pay decile, and (2) the highest pay quintile. are paid (a) weekly, (b) fortnightly, (c) four weekly, and (d) monthly. (HL2052)

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), carried out in April each year, is the most comprehensive source of earnings information in the United Kingdom. Weekly levels of earnings are estimated from ASHE, and are provided for employees on adult rates of pay, whose earnings for the survey pay period were not affected by absence ASHE also collects information about employees' pay periods.

I attach a table showing the proportion of jobs with weekly, fortnightly, four weekly and monthly pay periods for jobs in the lowest pay decile and the highest pay quintile in April 2012, the latest period for which results are available.

Figures for all employees include full-time jobs and part-time jobs. The bottom decile contains a much higher proportion of part-time jobs than the highest quintile, meaning that comparisons between these sectors of the earnings distribution need careful interpretation. For this reason, figures have also been provided separately for full-time jobs.

Proportion of jobsa in the lowest pay decileb and highest pay quintileb with weekly, fortnightly, four weekly and monthly pay periods in April 2012.
All EmployeesFull-time employees
Pay periodPer cent of bottom decilecPer cent of top quintiledPer cent of bottom decileePer cent of top quintilef

Weekly

22.7

4.3

30.6

3.4

Two weeks

6.8

0.3

4.3

0.3

Four weeks

17.2

4.3

14.3

4.2

Month

53.4

91.1

50.8

92.1

Notes:

a. Employees on adult rates whose pay for the survey pay-period was not affected by absence.

b. Earnings deciles are defined on the basis of gross weekly earnings. ASHE data for jobs that do not have weekly pay periods are converted into weekly figures.

c. Employees in the bottom decile have gross weekly earnings of less than £120.30.

d. Employees in the top quintile have gross weekly earnings of at least £692.10.

e. Employees in the bottom decile have gross weekly earnings of less than £281.90.

f. Employees in the top quintile have gross weekly earnings of at least £778.0.

Source:

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), Office for National Statistics

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Environment: Chinese Lanterns

Question

Asked by Lord Christopher

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to ban Chinese lanterns; and whether they currently treat such lanterns as litter.[HL2107]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): There have been a number of recent representations to this Department on this issue. We recognise there are concerns about the potential risks posed by sky (Chinese) lanterns, and earlier this year, jointly with the Welsh Government, we commissioned an independent study to identify and assess the impacts and risks associated with them.

Evidence from the report concluded that the contribution of sky lantern debris to overall environmental littering is small or highly localised.

Any future action Government may take will need to be proportionate to the problem and backed by reliable evidence.

Environment: Ragwort

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which department is responsible for enforcing the control of ragwort on land for which (1) the Department of Transport, (2) Railtrack, (3) local authorities, and (4) private landowners, are responsible; and what currently inhibits enforcement.[HL1926]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Responsibility for the control of ragwort rests with the landowner or occupier in the first instance. A complainant concerned about the spread of ragwort, or any of the other injurious weeds specified in the Weeds Act, should contact the owner or occupier of the land in question to address the problem.

If reasonable efforts are not made by those responsible, the complainant should contact Natural England which has been delegated responsibility for investigating complaints about ragwort and other injurious weeds and, where necessary, for taking the appropriate enforcement action. However, neither Natural England nor Defra have the resources to investigate all weeds complaints. In determining what follow up action is to be taken, priority is given to complaints involving possible spread to land being used for:

Keeping or grazing horses and other livestock; Farmland used to produce conserved forage, and; Other agricultural land activities.

In order to assist public bodies (along with other landowners and occupiers) in fulfilling their responsibilities, the Government amended the Weeds Act with the Ragwort Control Act 2003. This provided for a Code of Practice on preventing Ragwort spread. My colleague, Richard Benyon, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary

29 Aug 2013 : Column WA419

of State wrote to land owning Public bodies and over 500 local authorities in February this year reminding them of their responsibilities under the Act and enclosing our Code of Practice.

Food: Horsemeat

Question

Asked by The Earl of Courtown

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in investigating the mis-labelling of horsemeat as beef.[HL1720]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): Investigations continue at a number of sites across the UK and the City of London Police is the co-ordinating Police Force for all of these investigations. The Food Standards Agency continues to liaise with the City of London police and through them is sharing information on UK investigations with Europol. Investigations are on-going in a number of European countries.

29 Aug 2013 : Column WA420

Marine Environment: Harbour Porpoise

Question

Asked by Lord Hoyle

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will designate any special areas of conservation for the harbour porpoise in the United Kingdom. [HL2033]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): The UK has already submitted harbour porpoise as a qualifying feature of the Skerries and Causeway Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in Northern Ireland.

The UK is continuing to work to identify other potential SACs for harbour porpoise, in accordance with its obligations under the EU Habitats Directive. An analysis of data for harbour porpoise in UK waters, with the aim of determining possible suitable sites for SAC designation, is due to report later this year. SAC designation in devolved administrations is a matter for the relevant administration.