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Written Answers

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Christians in the Middle East

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to discuss at the United Nations the persecution of Christians in Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Syria.[HL2321]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The persecution of Christians, indeed of all people on the basis of their faith or belief, is deeply troubling and we are committed to combating this wherever it happens. During the United Nations General Assembly Ministerial Week at the end of September I convened a meeting of international leaders to discuss what more politicians in particular can do to promote freedom of religion or belief and fight religious intolerance within our societies. I am determined to build strong collective leadership to tackle the rising tide of religious intolerance which affects Christians, amongst others, in many countries.

On 9 September at the UN Human Rights Council we raised our concerns about the recent events in Egypt, including the increased sectarian violence. We have also lobbied in support of UN General Assembly resolutions on the human rights situation in Iran, which have covered the persecution of religious minorities including Christians, and will continue to do so. We will continue to monitor the state of religious freedom in these countries, and in Iraq and Syria and will respond either bilaterally or with other international partners—whichever we judge will be most effective in each case. With EU partners we will also table a resolution at the UN this autumn which stresses the importance of promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief worldwide.

Civil Service: Volunteering Scheme

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Derby

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many civil servants are participating in the national civil service volunteering scheme, broken down by region.[HL2247]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which government ministries and departments are participating in the national civil service volunteering scheme.[HL2248]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they intend to measure the success or otherwise of the civil service volunteering scheme.[HL2249]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what, if any, criteria they apply to placements offered as part of the civil service volunteering scheme.[HL2250]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of the organisations participating in the civil service volunteering scheme are (1) voluntary groups, (2) community groups, and (3) social enterprise organisations.[HL2251]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many of the voluntary groups, community groups and social enterprise organisations participating in the civil service volunteering scheme have received government funding.[HL2252]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Government encourages all staff to undertake volunteering which can be of benefit to the local community but also allows civil servants to gain valuable insight and career skills. However, there is no formal national civil service volunteering scheme.

Due to the number of civil servants, and the amount who volunteer in their own time, it is not possible to know how many organisations which have worked with civil servants are voluntary groups, community groups or social enterprise organisations which have received government funding.

Claims Management Companies

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government by which date in 2013 claims management companies will fall under the jurisdiction of the Legal Ombudsman, as announced by the Ministry of Justice in a press release on 28 August 2012.[HL1717]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The intention is still that claims management complaints' handling is brought within the remit of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC).

We were aiming to do this by the end of 2013. However, in order to ensure that the OLC's costs are recovered from the claims management companies and not the wider legal profession, primary legislation will be required. Until we secure a legislative vehicle we cannot commit to a specific timeline and the OLC is aware of the position.

Criminal Justice: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Smith of Clifton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of annual expenditure on the criminal justice system, including the police, is spent on research and development; and whether a comprehensive programme of both short- and long-term policy-oriented research is in place.[HL2221]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): This information can only be provided at disproportionate cost because it would require all the various agencies involved in operating the criminal justice system to identify expenditure specifically on the criminal justice system as distinct from expenditure on other public services, for example civil justice. This information is not centrally collated by each agency.

Embryology

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 10 February 2009 (WA 176), whether they consider that embryoid bodies have the three-dimensional organisation of an embryo to a greater or lesser extent than outgrowing human embryos cultured beyond 14 days; what assessment the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has made regarding the regulation of embryoid bodies in the light of recent research reporting their potential to form a three-dimensional cerebral cortex in culture (Lancaster et al, Nature 501, pp 373–9); and what further regulatory impact they plan on the basis of those findings for prolonged culture of outgrowing human embryos.[HL2237]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): On questions of this sort the Department would seek the advice of the national regulatory body for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The HFEA has advised that it has not formally considered this question.

The HFEA has also advised that the Authority has not yet considered the recent research article on embryoid bodies to which the noble Lord refers but that the article will be brought to the attention of its Scientific & Clinical Advances Advisory Committee at one of its future meetings.

Energy: Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of the increase in domestic electricity bills is accounted for by their current policy on renewables.[HL2300]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): As set out in paragraph 6 of DECC's March 2013 report “Estimated impacts of energy and climate change policies on energy prices and bills” (available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/l72923/130326_-_Price_and_Bill_Impacts_Report_Final.pdf) average household dual fuel (electricity and gas) bills are estimated to have increased by around 13% in real terms between 2010 and 2012. Wholesale energy costs are estimated to have contributed at least 60% of this increase with

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network costs, supplier operating costs and margins contributing around 25%. The costs of energy and climate change policies, including support for renewables, are estimated to have accounted for around 15% of the rise.

Health: Human Papilloma Virus

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will consider asking the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to examine the case for manufacturers being required to include warnings about acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and Guillain-Barre syndrome in patient information leaflets for Gardasil and Cervarix human papilloma vaccines, in the light of the government of Japan’s decision to require such warnings for the latter vaccine.[HL2258]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The safety of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines is kept under constant review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Together with other European competent authorities, the MHRA considers all available sources of information and takes regulatory action when necessary.

There is insufficient evidence to suggest that Cervarix is a cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) and insufficient evidence that either Cervarix or Gardasil may be a cause of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Although a causal association is uncertain, GBS is included as a possible side effect of Gardasil in the product information, the Summary of Product Characteristics for healthcare professionals and the patient information leaflet for patients. The balance of benefits and risks of HPV vaccines is clearly positive, and it is anticipated that the vaccines will eventually prevent up to 400 deaths a year from cervical cancer in the United Kingdom.

As with all medicines and vaccines the MHRA will continue to keep the safety of the HPV vaccines under close review.

Immigration

Questions

Asked by Lord Boateng

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many arrests were made for illegal immigration in the week referred to in their “Go home or face arrest” advertising campaign in (1) Hounslow, (2) Barking and Dagenham, (3) Ealing, (4) Barnet, (5) Brent, and (6) Redbridge.[HL2059]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The data used in support of the claim was the most reliable and recent information. 106 arrests was the total number of arrests made by the West, North and East London Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) teams and arrests made from seven police custody suites in

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the six pilot boroughs, during the week 30 June to 6 July 2013. The number does not include those who had been refused entry or arrested at Heathrow airport.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in relation to the posters displayed in the UK Border Agency (UKBA) offices in Glasgow with the text “Is life here hard? Going home is simple” and the stickers on the seats with the text “Ask about going home”, who published them; at what level their display was authorised; whether and, if so, which, Ministers approved them; and whether it is intended to extend their use to other UKBA offices and other places.[HL2207]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Voluntary departures are the most cost-effective way of removing illegal immigrants and we are committed to ensuring those with no right to remain in the UK should leave voluntarily. There were more than 28,000 voluntary departures last year.

Most of those reporting to our UK reporting centres have no legal right to remain in the UK, having exhausted their statutory rights of appeal.

In order to encourage increased take-up of voluntary departures the Home Office has implemented a pilot in the Glasgow and Hounslow reporting centres. The pilot commenced on 29 July 2013 and ended on 4 October 2013. As part of the pilot we have replaced and updated the material on display in both centres. The material is designed to assure people that we can provide sensitive advice and assistance to help them return home easily and with dignity.

The material was designed in-house and produced by Williams-Lea, the company responsible for the Government print contract. Their display was authorised by the Director General of Immigration Enforcement with my knowledge. The results of the pilot will be evaluated following its conclusion.

Immigration: Detention

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many pregnant women were detained in England and Scotland in (1) 2011, (2) 2012, and (3) 2013 to date. [HL2193]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The information requested is not available centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Internet: Fraud

Question

Asked by Lord Birt

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what, if any, estimate they have made of the total loss suffered by United Kingdom internet users from online fraud in 2012.[HL2243]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): There is no single reliable estimate for total losses suffered by internet users. The payments industry body Financial Fraud Action UK estimates that losses on plastic cards due to internet and e-commerce fraud were £140.2 million in 2012 (the most recent figures available). A further £39.6 million of losses were attributed to online banking fraud.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Ramsbotham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how parents who are unlawfully detained under the Immigration Act 1971 will be able to apply for bail or access to justice if the proposals in the Transforming Legal Aid consultation are implemented.[HL2110]

Lord Popat (Con): Between 9 April and 4 June 2013 the Government consulted on a number of proposals to reform legal aid via the Transforming Legal Aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system consultation. At around £2 billion a year we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems of its type in the world. The consultation paper contained a range of measures aimed at reducing the cost, and improving the public's confidence, in the legal aid scheme.

One of the proposals set out in the consultation paper is 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 for civil legal aid and for at least a 12 month continuous period in the past. We have proposed exceptions for asylum seekers and members of Her Majesty's UK Armed Forces and their immediate families.

Under the proposal set out in the consultation paper, immigrants would be excepted from the residence test in cases where they were seeking to claim asylum.

People who did not meet the residence test would be entitled to apply for exceptional funding under the power set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

We are now carefully considering the consultation responses in relation to this proposal. The Government response is expected to be published in the autumn.

Offenders: Custody

Question

Asked by Baroness Linklater of Butterstone

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the average distance from home that (1) young offenders, (2) juveniles, and (3) adult prisoners, were held in custody in each year since 2009, broken down by gender.[HL2095]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): Information on adult prisoners' residences for those aged over 18 held in National Offender Management Service secure accommodation is provided by prisoners on reception into prison and recorded on

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a central IT system. Addresses can include a home address, an address to which offenders intend to return on discharge or next of kin address and these figures are provided in the answer.

If no address is given, an offender's committal court address is used as a proxy for the area in which they are resident. These figures are also included in the answer. These figures do not include the 3% of offenders for whom neither an address nor court information is available.

Table 1 shows the average travelling distance from home in miles, split by age and gender for all remand and sentenced prisoners, including adult offenders (those aged 21 and above) who are held in prisons and 18 to 20 year olds held in young offender institution accommodation in England and Wales since 2009.

Table 1
Adults (aged 21 and overYoung Adults (aged 18-20)
MonthMalesFemalesMalesFemales

May 2009

50

55

49

51

May 2010

51

57

48

47

May 2011

51

55

44

50

May 2012

52

54

41

46

June 2013

53

54

43

48

The Transforming Rehabilitation strategy document published in May 2013 sets out the Government's intention to align the prison estate to support the delivery of resettlement services through a network of resettlement prisons. The aim is for resettlement prisons, beginning with the male adult estate, to release the vast majority of prisoners back into their local area.

Table 2 shows the average distance from home in miles for young people in custody aged under 18 for 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12 broken down by gender. However, it is important to note that completeness of data varies by year. In 2009/10, 94% of records had completed distance from home data; in 2010/11, 82% had completed distance from home data and in 2011/12, 75% had completed distance from home data. Home area is taken as a young person's address at the time of sentence. If no address is recorded, the Youth Offending Team address the young person is attached to is used as a proxy.

Table 2
Gender2009/102010/112011/12

Female

52

55

59

Male

42

44

50

Combined

43

45

50

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) places young people into the establishment that is best able to meet their needs. In some instances, this may mean placing a young person in an establishment that is not the closest to their home, although the YJB monitors distance from home carefully when making placement decisions. While every effort is made to place young people as close to home as possible, other factors such

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as age, suitability of regime, risk of self harm or to others, and other risk factors all have to be taken into account when placing a young person in custody.

All data has been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Prisoners: Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection

Question

Asked by Lord Ramsbotham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people serving indeterminate sentences for public protection, by sentence type, were held in each category of prison, for each of the past three years.[HL2111]

Lord Popat (Con): The number of people serving indeterminate sentences of imprisonment for public protection by category of prison for the last three years for which data are available is shown in the table below.

All data relate to male prisoners except where shown.

End December 2011End June 2012End June 2013

High Security

519

532

470

Category 13 trainer

1.322

1,253

1,096

Category C trainer

2,816

2.784

2,680

Local

792

758

596

Open

439

503

575

YOI

123

99

75

YJB

18

18

8

Female prisons

133

131

120

Total

6,162

6,078

5,620

These data are a subset of previously published information. December 2011 was the first period in which the new table on indeterminate sentence prisoners was published. Normally end June figures are used as a proxy for an annual snapshot; December 2011 data is the earliest available for 2011.

The high security category includes dispersal prisons and high security local prisons. The Y.18 category includes institutions that hold juvenile offenders.

Prisoners: Women

Questions

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the average length of time for which women prisoners are held in segregation units.[HL2169]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many women prisoners have been held in segregation units for (1) more than three months, and (2) more than six months.[HL2170]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): Responsibility for the use, management and monitoring of segregation and data on segregation is primarily a matter for the Governor of the prison, with routine oversight of segregation procedures provided by the Independent Monitoring Board for the prison and external scrutiny by Ministry of Justice audit and HM Inspectorate of Prisons. For this reason the information requested is not collected centrally on a routine basis and could only be provided at disproportionate cost by collating the relevant information from segregation records held by individual prison establishments.

Prisoners: Work and Education Activities

Question

Asked by Baroness Linklater of Butterstone

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many hours per week on average (1) young offenders, and (2) adult prisoners, spent on (a) work-based activities, and (b) education-based activities, by (i) gender, and (ii) ethnicity, in each of the last five years. [HL2096]

Lord Popat (Con): The information requested on gender, ethnicity and average hours per week of young offenders (aged 18-12) and adult prisoners who are undertaking work-based activities or education-based activities could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

However, information is available on industrial activity in public sector prisons for the period 2010/11 to 2012/13. Headline figures are published in the NOMS Annual Report Management Information Addendum:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/225225/mi-addendum.pdf

The table below provides information on the number of prisoners undertaking specific work activities in public sector prisons in the years up to 2012/13, the overall hours worked, and the average hours per week worked by prisoners in these areas in male and female establishments. These figures do not include the substantial numbers of prisoners who work in prisons on tasks such as cooking, serving meals, maintenance and cleaning. As the table shows, the number of prisoners working, the average hours worked per week and the overall number of hours worked in public sector prisons has increased significantly since 2010.

Table 1: Prisoners working in Custody
Number of prisoners workingPrisoner hours in work (millions)Average hours per week in work within Male EstablishmentsAverage hours per week in work within Female Establishments

2010/11

8,600

10.6

22.5

25.6

2011/12

9,000

11.4

24.3

26.9

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2012/13

9,700

13.1

26.0

28.5

Notes

1. The following work activities have been included as work: Contract Services, Land Based Activities. Textiles. Retail. Laundry, Woodwork. PrintingiVata Entry/DTP/Signs, Engineering. PICTA, Other/Concrete, Industrial Cleaning. Single Portions, Charity, Braille, Plastics and Newgate Furniture.

2. The data excludes work placements undertaken by offenders on release on temporary licence.

3. Data has been drawn from administrative IT systems. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the data, the level of detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large-scale recording system.

In line with the joint HIS NOMS strategy 'Making Prisons Work: Skills for Rehabilitation' NOMS has introduced an outcome achievement payment system in line with the mainstream learning and skills environment. The payment and reward model is not based on hours per week delivered but achievement of units and qualifications, and ultimately on job and reduced re-offending outcomes. The 'Transforming Youth Custody — Putting education at the heart of detention’ consultation paper published on 14 February this year, set out the Government's vision for Secure Colleges, ensuring that young offenders are equipped with the skills, qualifications and self-discipline they need to stop offending and lead productive lives on release. The consultation closed on 30 April and we will publish our response in due course.

Smoking: e-cigarettes

Questions

Asked by Viscount Astor

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they propose to licence e-cigarettes that contain nicotine; and, if so, when.[HL2308]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered the introduction of restrictions on the advertising and sale of e-cigarettes to children under the age of 16.[HL2309]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will place the same restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes as apply to normal tobacco products.[HL2310]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they consider e-cigarettes that contain nicotine to be either harmful or addictive; and, if so, whether they plan to require sales packaging to include a health warning.[HL2311]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have classified e-cigarettes as a medical product.[HL2312]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to require the amount of nicotine and other chemicals in an e-cigarette to be clearly displayed at the point of sale and subject to medical licensing.[HL2313]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The United Kingdom Government supports a requirement to license nicotine containing products (NCPs), including electronic cigarettes, under the medicines regulatory framework, through European Union legislation. This position will need to take account of the final form of any legislation. Pending the adoption of a revised Tobacco Products Directive the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency continues to encourage companies voluntarily to license NCPs on the basis of presentation and will continue to decide on whether products are medicinal products on a case by case basis. This is intended to ensure that products are available that meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy to help users cut down their smoking and to quit. The European Commission has said it expects the new legislation to be adopted in 2014 and for it to come into effect in the UK from 2016.

Unlicensed nicotine containing products currently on the UK market have not been shown to meet standards of safety, quality and efficacy required by medicines regulation. Product testing suggests significant variability in the amount of nicotine in products, which usually did not match the amount labelled, and in nicotine delivery. There is insufficient evidence currently to recommend the use of unlicensed products.

Unlicensed nicotine containing products currently on the market are covered by the provisions of the General Product Safety Directive and associated regulations. There is currently no age restriction on the sale of electronic cigarettes. The medicines regulatory framework requires that products can only be promoted within their licensed indication (including any age restrictions) and that their rational use must be promoted. Medicines regulation prohibits advertising to children.

The medicines regulatory framework has specific requirements laid down in European and national legislation relating to labelling and packaging. This includes provisions on the active ingredients in the product, how the product is used, and any warning statements.

The draft Tobacco Products Directive also includes provisions for NCPs with nicotine levels below certain thresholds, sold as consumer products, to feature a health warning, covering 30% of the packaging.

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Sudan

Questions

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they will recommend to the United Nations Security Council to improve the effectiveness of the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur.[HL2285]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We regularly meet the UN Panel of Experts, and discuss their progress and future priorities with our Security Council colleagues. The Panel faces a number of restrictions from the Government of Sudan; access within Darfur is closely controlled, and one member is being denied entry to Sudan altogether. We have made clear in the UN Security Council and to the Government of Sudan that this is unacceptable, and that the whole Panel need unhindered access throughout Darfur to be able to fulfil its mandate fully.

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of allegations that the United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur is being obstructed by the Sudanese authorities, and that they have failed to protect civilians in accordance with their mandate; and whether they will recommend to the UN Security Council that the Mission should be terminated.[HL2286]

Baroness Warsi: Restrictions on both movement and the issuing of visas by the Government of Sudan are a significant challenge to the mission’s ability to fulfil its mandate. We have made clear to the Government of Sudan that these restrictions must stop, and raise the issue regularly in Security Council consultations. We share the concerns about the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)’s performance raised by the UN Secretary General in his last report, and are working with the mission’s leadership and with troop contributing countries to find ways to improve its performance on its core mandate to protect civilians. We have also pushed in the UN Security Council for a robust review of UNAMID before the expiry of its current mandate.