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Written Answers

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Agriculture: Livestock

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what risk assessment the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) have made in relation to the proposed cuts in Government funding of surveillance of the health of livestock, in view of the threats to human health through zoonotic pathogens and animal-related threats to the human food chain; and how DEFRA and the AHVLA have satisfied themselves that the Surveillance 2014 proposals for reduced levels of testing and downgrading of the Regional Laboratory Network in England and Wales take all the available evidence of such health risks fully into account.[HL2637]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Surveillance 2014 implements the recommendations of an independent Surveillance Advisory Group (SAG), made up of experts from government, academia, the veterinary profession, the livestock farming and the private laboratory industry. Proposals for a new model of scanning surveillance are designed to improve our ability to detect new and re-emerging animal disease threats that might impact on animal or public health promptly, whilst remaining affordable. The SAG report also identified that scanning surveillance should be based more on intelligence exchange and expertise to detect new risks effectively.

Testing of diagnostic samples and exchange of the intelligence it provides will remain part of surveillance, and is likely to be better targeted to samples and tests that will give results. Regional investigation centres that are part of the new model could be developed to become hubs of species expertise providing a valuable local and national resource.

Our understanding of different surveillance models in other countries and research on surveillance in both the UK and EU have also been taken into account in developing the new model to maintain our disease risk awareness.

Apprentices

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure that apprentices are paid the correct minimum wage.[HL2580]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The Government is committed to increasing compliance with the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and effectively enforcing it. Everyone who is entitled to the NMW should receive it.

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HMRC investigate every complaint referred to them by the Pay and Work Rights Helpline (free call 0800 917 2368). Calls from Apprentices are being prioritised for consideration by HMRC.

We are also stepping up our communication activity to increase the level of awareness of the minimum wage rules across the board, including apprentices. We want to help employers avoid falling foul of minimum wage rules unwittingly, and ensure that individuals are well-informed about their minimum wage eligibility.

Arms Export

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much was spent on arms export subsidies in each of the last ten years and to date in 2013.[HL2374]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint) (Con): This government does not subsidise arms exports.

Aviation: Flight Time Limitations

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take following the decision of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee to reject the new flight time proposals from the European Aviation Safety Agency. [HL2382]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of recent reports of pilot fatigue, what plans they have to ensure the safety of air passengers in United Kingdom air space.[HL2383]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Transport and Tourism Committee vote was overridden by the European Parliament which voted in favour of the Commission Regulation in a plenary session on 9 October. The Regulation now has to clear scrutiny by the Council of Ministers after which it will be formally adopted.

The Government recognises that fatigue is a serious issue. The Civil Aviation Authority has significant work underway to help address its impact on flight safety. The Government and the CAA support the adoption of the Regulation. Under the Regulation airlines are required to schedule crew duties in a way that will not lead to unsafe levels of fatigue. They cannot, as is currently the case, meet their obligations by simply complying with the limits established in the Regulation. The Regulation will also provide the CAA with greater powers to ensure that airlines meet their obligations.

The Regulation will increase protection for UK passengers travelling on other European Union airlines as it is more restrictive than the current requirements.

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Badgers

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many badgers killed in the current cull tested positive for tuberculosis; whether they will publish statistics after the cull ends showing the number of (1) infected badgers, and (2) healthy badgers, which were killed in (a) Gloucestershire, and (b) Somerset; and how the success or failure of the cull will be assessed. [HL2471]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): There were no plans to test badgers culled for infection with M. bovis. This was one of the elements investigated during the Randomised Badger Culling Trial, giving us evidence on the typical prevalence of TB in badgers in areas of high TB incidence, and have not been repeated during the pilots.

The pilot culls are collecting data on the effectiveness (in terms of badger removal), humaneness and safety of controlled shooting. On completion of the pilots, an independent panel of experts will evaluate the results of the pilot culls and will report to Ministers about how well the work was conducted and the robustness of the subsequent data analysis. This report will be published and taken into account when Ministers make a decision about the wider roll-out of the policy.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the independent assessment of the success of the badger cull pilots will include an assessment of the amount and consequences of any “perturbation effect” in the badger population resulting from the culls. [HL2522]

Lord De Mauley: An independent panel of experts has overseen the design of the monitoring protocols to assess the effectiveness, along with humaneness and safety, of controlled shooting during the pilots. Details of these monitoring protocols are available online at the link below and copies have also been placed in the library of the House.

http://www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases/a-z/bovine-tb/badgers/badger-culling-pilots/

It is not the role of the panel to provide advice or to comment on the wider policy approach to tackling bovine TB in England, or on the case for badger culling as part of a comprehensive package of measures. The independent panel will not be making an assessment of any perturbation effect.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the actual cost to date of policing and related matters due to the culls in the two badger culling pilot areas; and what is the estimate of the additional costs related to any extension of the culls in those areas.[HL2523]

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Lord De Mauley: The 2011 Impact Assessment is the most recent estimate prepared on the cost of the pilots (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/measures-to-address-bovine-tuberculosis-in-badgers-impact-assessment). When the current badger control policy was published, we recognised the uncertainties around costs and benefits, which provided an additional reason to proceed with two pilots initially. As planned, costs will be reviewed after the conclusion of the pilots when all the information is available.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the procedure and timetable for the assessment of the effect of the two pilot badger culls on the incidence of tuberculosis in cattle in and around the areas of the culls.[HL2590]

Lord De Mauley: As set out in The Government’s policy on Bovine TB and badger control in England, the incidence of TB in cattle will be monitored in the pilot areas over the course of the 4 year culling period. This monitoring will continue following the completion of culling. It is too early to make an assessment of the extent of the perturbation effect.

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the numbers of badgers in England (1) 12 months ago, and (2) now; and on what basis they have made those estimates.[HL2591]

Lord De Mauley: We have an ongoing project to estimate the size of badger social groups in different regions of England and Wales. This will report in summer 2014.

Bank of England

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Financial Policy Committee of the Bank of England has been or will be given the authority to set or recommend maximum loan-to-value and loan-to-income levels for bank lending secured on residential or commercial property.[HL2354]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The Government has established the independent Financial Policy Committee (FPC) to monitor the stability of the financial system as a whole with a view to ensuring that emerging risks and vulnerabilities are identified and effectively addressed. This includes monitoring developments in the housing market.

The Government has given the FPC two sets of powers to help it mitigate risks to financial stability. The first is a broad power to make Recommendations to regulators on a comply-or-explain basis, the second set of powers is to give Directions to regulators to adjust specific macro-prudential tools.

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As the FPC noted in the record of its meeting of 18 September, the available tools to mitigate stability risks arising from developments in the housing market include, “...amongst others, supervisory guidance on underwriting standards, sectoral capital requirements and recommendations to the regulators on tightening of affordability tests”.

The FPC also has the power to make Recommendations to HM Treasury with regards to the tools it would like to have powers of Direction over. It has not requested a power of direction to set maximum loan-to-value or loan-to-income ratios.

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have assessed the vulnerability of bank assets to rising interest rates and the advisability of requiring capital to be held against sovereign risk liability. [HL2355]

Lord Deighton: Monetary policy is a matter for the independent Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England. The independent Financial Policy Committee (FPC) of the Bank of England has the primary objective of identifying, monitoring and taking action to remove or reduce systemic risks with a view to protecting and enhancing the resilience of the UK financial system. The FPC considers a diverse spectrum of risks to the financial system as part of its deliberations, and is presented with a broad array of data and market intelligence.

In June 2013, the FPC recommended that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), with other Bank staff, assess the vulnerability of borrowers and financial institutions to sharp upward movements in long-term interest rates and credit spreads.

The Statement of the FPC's September 2013 meeting noted that the Bank's preliminary work thus far had “suggested that a moderate rise in long-term interest rates did not pose an immediate threat to major banks and insurance companies.”

The Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR) enters into force 1 January 2014 and continues to set a zero percent risk-weight for EU sovereign debt.

Benefits

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the information technology infrastructure in use for welfare benefits is capable of accommodating different regimes between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. [HL2673]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Northern Ireland welfare benefit systems are currently run on the same information technology infrastructure as Great Britain. In cases where Northern Ireland has chosen to introduce a different technology these have been included within the current system, where possible, with Northern Ireland funding the costs.

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If Northern Ireland decided to break parity and not implement the welfare reform agenda then the cost of maintaining the existing systems would, from about 2015, increasingly become the responsibility of Northern Ireland alone. This would be extremely costly and it would also become increasingly difficult to secure suppliers with the skills to provide this support.

The alternative would be for Northern Ireland to procure and introduce its own information technology and administrative system which would be very high risk and would likely be very high cost. The mainframe based systems (only part of the total) currently cost well in excess of £60m per annum to support.

British Indian Ocean Territory

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to include a report on British Indian Ocean Territory in their report to the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council.[HL2741]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): There were no specific recommendations regarding the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in the UK’s Universal Periodic Review report in May 2012. The mid-term review document is currently being drafted, and we cannot comment further on its content at this time.

Civil Service: Volunteering Scheme

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the regional spread of the voluntary groups, community groups and social enterprise organisations that are participating in the civil service volunteering scheme.[HL2337]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave on the 9 October 2013 (Official Report) Column WA31-32.

The Government encourages civil servants to volunteer within their local communities, but does not collect statistics on how many have responded. or where and within what organisations they volunteer.

Coastal Paths

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have proposals to streamline the process for creating the coastal path in England and associated access land between the path and the sea; and if so how.[HL2520]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 we have approved a revised coastal access scheme which sets out the methodology for implementation of the English coast path and associated margin of coastal land. The revised scheme, which took effect from 9 July 2013, incorporates the findings of our lessons learned report on the implementation of coastal access at Weymouth. It emphasises the benefits of Natural England working even more closely with key local and national organisations, as well as local authorities, using their knowledge and expertise.

The revised scheme removes the non-statutory stage of Natural England consulting on its proposals for a stretch of the English coast in a draft coastal access report. This will streamline the process so that in future Natural England will progress from the 'walking the course' stage with landowners to directly submitting its coastal access report to the Secretary of State.

Cold Weather Payments

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to increase the cold weather payment to old age pensioners as a result of the increase in energy costs recently announced.[HL2719]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): There are no current plans to increase the Cold Weather Payment for winter 2013/14, however, in November 2010 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Cold Weather Payment rate would be increased to £25 for each qualifying period of cold weather for winter 2010/2011, and subsequent winters for the duration of this administration. In 2012/13, 5.8 million awards were made worth £146.1 million, of which over 3.4 million awards worth £86.5 million were made to those in receipt of Pension Credit.

In addition, in winter 2012-13, we made over 12.5 million Winter Fuel Payments to older people, at an estimated cost of £2.15bn

Credit Unions

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the role credit unions play in Northern Ireland; and whether they have drawn any lessons for Great Britain.[HL2729]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Department for Work and Pensions coordinated a wide ranging feasibility study during 2011/2012 to examine the scope and the options for the modernisation and expansion of credit unions. As part of that study

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we looked to see what lessons could be learned from countries where credit union market penetration was at its greatest.

Government are taking forward the findings of the Feasibility Study and are making a further investment in credit unions of up to £38 million to April 2015.

In February this year my officials appeared at the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly Economic Committee enquiry in to credit unions. We have had the opportunity to consider and respond to their report.

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support have they given to International Credit Union Day.[HL2731]

Lord Freud: In advance of the day I wrote to the CBI and TUC extolling the virtues of credit unions, asking them for their ongoing support and to pass these messages on to their members. On the day we used social media to widely promote credit unions and the positive steps we are taking to support them. Messages about credit unions were also passed to our staff.

I spoke at the APPG Credit Unions Reception and have been quoted in the press in support of credit unions.

Crime: Domestic Violence

Question

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary thematic review on the police response to domestic violence and abuse will include an assessment of the costs associated with the training the police receive and the support they provide.[HL2411]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): A copy of the terms of reference for the review by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary into the police response to domestic violence and abuse has been placed in the Library of the House. It is now for the Inspectorate, working with stakeholders, to develop the detailed scope of the work and approach to the inspection.

Diego Garcia

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have any plans to discuss with the government of the United States the creation of a settlement for Chagossians on Diego Garcia in the context of the renewal of the 1966 United Kingdom–United States Agreement.[HL2744]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Senior officials have discussed with US officials our intention to commission a new feasibility study into the resettlement of British Indian Ocean Territory. Though the Government is supportive of the long-term use of Diego Garcia as a shared strategic asset for the UK and US, we do not anticipate formal discussions with the US about the future use of Diego Garcia until this study has been concluded.

Elections

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many anonymous electors were registered in each constituency in each year since the provision was introduced.[HL2736]

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): 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 Lord Greaves, dated October 2013.

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your question asking how many anonymous electors were registered in each constituency in each year since the provision was introduced (HL2736).

Table 1 shows the number of electors who were registered anonymously in each constituent country of Great Britain, and by region of England, on 1 December of each year from 2007 to 2012. Due to small numbers, we are unable to supply anonymous electors by parliamentary constituency.

The provision for anonymous registration in Great Britain was introduced in 2007. Legislation for anonymous registration has not yet been enacted in Northern Ireland. The latest year for which Electoral Statistics are available is 2012. A copy of the table will be placed in the Library of the House.

Table 1: Number of electors registered anonymously by constituent country of Great Britain and regions of England, 2007-2012
Constituent Country / Region2007 12008 22009 32010 420112012

England

304

506

629

1,258

1,577

1,669

North East

10

14

16

47

45

56

North West

16

31

60

85

85

118

Yorkshire and the Humber

75

52

45

128

134

168

East Midlands

26

76

90

104

141

164

West Midlands

20

42

49

342

532

507

East of England

50

60

51

89

97

111

London

38

73

92

121

144

108

South East

39

97

132

197

232

224

South West

30

61

94

145

167

213

Scotland 5

-

22

26

22

27

42

Wales

6

23

16

50

71

70

1

Of the administering local authorities, 24 did not provide figures for those registered anonymously on 1 December 2007

2

Of the

administering local authorities, 36 did not provide figures for those registered anonymously on 1 December 2008

3

Of the

administering local authorities, 12 did not provide figures for those registered anonymously on 1 December 2009

4

Of the

administering local authorities, 4 did not provide figures for those registered anonymously on 1 December 2010

5

Figures less than 3 have been suppressed and are shown as “-”

Source: Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland

Elections: Northern Ireland

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the present accuracy of the electoral register in Northern Ireland.[HL2606]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson) (LD): In November 2012, the Electoral Commission reported that the electoral register in Northern Ireland was 78% accurate. A canvass of electors is underway to improve the accuracy of the register.

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what response has been received by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland to the recent canvass of voters.[HL2607]

Baroness Randerson: The electoral canvass is still underway. As of 12 October, 916,830 electors had been registered, about 64% of the estimated electorate in Northern Ireland.

A new electoral register will be published at the beginning of December.

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Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether failure to make a return in response to the voter canvass by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland will result in a person’s name being removed from the electoral register.[HL2636]

Baroness Randerson: Regulation 3 of the Representation of the People (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 introduced changes to the canvass process. In certain circumstances it will be possible for the Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland to retain on the electoral register for a period of two years the name of a person who has not returned a canvass form or who has failed to provide all of the information required by the form.

A name can only be retained if the Chief Electoral Officer is satisfied that it is likely that a person remains resident at their registered address and that certain information held by the Chief Electoral Officer in relation to them remains accurate.

EU: Common Agricultural Policy

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much is spent under the Common Agricultural Policy on farms devoted exclusively to the rearing of fighting bulls in Spain.[HL2567]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Payments made under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy are related to the amount of land farmed rather than the type of farming undertaken. The specific information requested is not readily available.

Financial Policy Committee

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will consider giving the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) of the Bank of England guidance on excluding from the published minutes of meetings certain matters discussed by the FPC; and what assessment they have made of any effect on markets of editing the minutes of the November 2012 meeting to exclude a record of discussion of bank capital. [HL2356]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The independent Financial Policy Committee (FPC) objectives are to exercise its functions with a view to contributing to the achievement by the Bank of its Financial Stability Objective and, subject to that, support the economic policy of Her Majesty's Government, including its objectives for growth and employment.

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As set out in the Bank of England Act 1998, the Bank must publish a Record of each meeting of the FPC before the end of the period of 6 weeks beginning with the day of the meeting. The Act also notes that FPC can decide to defer publication of certain information which it judges to be contrary to the public interest, the FPC are responsible for determining what is withheld from publication. It is for the FPC to keep under review whether information withheld on public interest grounds should remain withheld from publication.

Forestry Commission Estate

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what has been achieved so far in the proposed changes in the control and management of the forestry estate; and what is the timetable for future progress on that matter.[HL2519]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The Government is making good progress in developing plans for the new, operationally independent public body to manage the public forest estate, as announced in the Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement, published in January 2013. Defra and the Forestry Commission have worked closely with a wide range of stakeholders in designing the main features of the new body and a public consultation has recently been completed. The outcomes of this consultation are now being used to finalise the plans. Subject to Parliamentary time, the Government intends to legislate at the earliest opportunity.

Gambia

Questions

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they plan to respond to the withdrawal of The Gambia from the Commonwealth.[HL2550]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are in close contact with the Commonwealth Secretariat about The Gambia’s recent decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth and are currently considering the implications of their withdrawal. The British High Commission in Banjul issued a statement at the time noting the Gambia's decision and underlining the continuing importance of the bilateral relationship between our two countries.

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made in the discussions under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement with The Gambia since they were resumed on 11 July.[HL2556]

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Baroness Warsi: The political dialogue held in July 2013 under the provisions of Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement enabled the EU to raise concerns with The Gambian government on human rights, governance and the rule of law in The Gambia.

We and the EU remain concerned at the deteriorating human rights situation in The Gambia and are working with The Gambian government to encourage them to make tangible progress to address our concerns before the next Article 8 meeting scheduled for January 2014.

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implication for human rights in The Gambia of that state's withdrawal from the Commonwealth.[HL2557]

Baroness Warsi: Withdrawal from the Commonwealth does not alter The Gambia’s international human rights obligations. The UK will continue to raise our concerns on human rights both bilaterally and through the EU, specifically through the ‘Article 8 Talks’. The EU-African, Caribbean and Pacific States Cotonou Agreement provides The Gambia with development assistance, which is dependent on improvements to human rights, governance and the rule of law. Reviews are held twice a year, known as the ‘Article 8 Talks’.

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will take steps to end the European Development Fund's assistance to The Gambia on the regulation of the media, in the light of the impact of the Information and Communication (Amendment) Act 2013 in that country.[HL2558]

Baroness Warsi: We and our EU partners remain concerned at the restrictions which have been placed on the media in The Gambia, including the closure of newspapers and radio stations and additional legislation which impose limits to freedom of expression.

The EU is providing support to The Gambia on a governance project through the European Development Fund. The aims of the project include improving the effective exercise of press freedom, revising the legal framework on the media to conform with international standards and supporting the drafting of a professional code of conduct for journalists. These aims remain valid, but the EU Delegation closely monitors projects and can cancel them if they are failing to meet their goals.

Governing Authorities

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on what criteria they describe the governing authorities of some states as “governments” and others as “regimes”. [HL2504]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The British Government have no established criteria for describing the governing authorities of a State as a “regime” rather than a “government”. On the basis of the ordinary meaning of the word, the Government have used the term regime to refer to a government, or former government, of a State, especially an authoritarian one.

Health: Shingles

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the shingles catch up scheme is available from April 2013 for patients aged 70 but not yet 71 and from 1 September 2013 for patients aged 79 on that date, but not available for patients between 71 and 79.[HL2397]

Baroness Jolly (LD): The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended a universal herpes zoster (shingles) vaccination programme for adults aged 70 years up to and including 79 years. Zostavax® vaccine is the only market authorised shingles vaccine available in the United Kingdom.

In 2013-14, supplies of the vaccine have been secured sufficient for the routine vaccination of adults aged 70 and for those aged 79 years on a 'catch-up' basis. This is a standard approach to the introduction of a new vaccination programme where initial supplies of vaccine are limited. It allows vaccination of the optimum number of people and ensures we are able to use National Health Service resources to provide the greatest benefit from the amount of vaccine available.

It is not possible to extend provision to patients aged 71 and 78 years in the current 2013-14 vaccination season. There will be a progressive programme to vaccinate all those in the recommended age groups. This will mean that in the longer term all of those aged between 70 and 79 will be able to receive the vaccine. How quickly that can be achieved is dependent in part on the availability of shingles vaccine in coming years; we are actively assessing that availability.

Hedgehogs

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the current population of hedgehogs in England; how that figure compares with population estimates in the last three decades; and what research projects have been funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to establish population numbers and reasons for changes in those numbers.[HL2427]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Defra has not funded any specific research projects to establish population numbers and reasons for their change. However, a report, ‘The State of

22 Oct 2013 : Column WA159

Britain’s Hedgehogs’, was published in 2011 by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species. It states that hedgehog numbers had declined to approximately 1.5 million by 1995. There has never been a national census of hedgehog numbers but the report suggests that there may have been about 30 million hedgehogs in Britain the 1950s. This is the most precise figure we have available to use as a benchmark.

The report is available online at: http://www.ptes.org/files/1428_sobh2011lowres.pdf

Other evidence from the British Trust for Ornithology, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and other organisations estimates a continued decline in hedgehog numbers ranging from 1.8% to 10% a year, and that the population may have decreased by approximately 25% over the last 10 years.

Homeless Families

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government for what reasons each of those authorities whose bids for a share of the “Gold Standard” funding to reduce the extended use of bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless families were unsuccessful were rejected.[HL2439]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): The government made just under £2 million available in 2013-14 to assist local authorities to dramatically reduce the unlawful and damaging use of bed and breakfast accommodation to house families for over six weeks.

Fifteen authorities with the most acute problem were invited to bid. The criteria for awarding funding were set out in a prospectus sent on 6 June 2013 to the Chief Executives of each of the fifteen authorities. Once bids were received, they were assessed initially for compliance with the overall objectives set out in the prospectus: the bid from Tower Hamlets was rejected at this stage as it did not meet the requirement that supported projects should be within or close to the bidding authority.

Remaining bids were then assessed against the published criteria of value for money, speed of delivery, sustainability, innovation and match funding, with a double weighting attached to the assessment of innovation. The strength of partnership working was also considered and included in the overall assessment of the bids.

In the light of this assessment the seven bids considered the strongest and allocated funding were Barking and Dagenham, Birmingham, Crawley, Croydon, Hounslow, Redbridge and Westminster. Each of the fifteen bidding authorities was offered feedback on their proposal.

We are investing £470 million over four years to prevent and tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. In addition, more than 150,000 affordable homes have been delivered in England over the last three years. Our Affordable Homes Programme is on track to

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deliver 170,000 new affordable homes between 2011 and 2015, with £19.5 billion of public and private funding—half way through, over 84,000 homes have already been delivered.

A further £23 billion will help ensure another 165,000 new affordable homes are started between 2015 and 2018. This will be the fastest annual rate of building for at least 20 years.

Housing: Help to Buy

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assumptions they have made in pricing the guarantee issued in support of Help to Buy including, in particular, the trend in national and regional house prices, interest rates, employment and real incomes; and whether they took advice from external sources on the risk model used and the validity of the model output.[HL2357]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The Government is committed to making the aspiration of home ownership a reality for as many households as possible. The Government wants current and future generations to experience the benefits of owning their own home, in the same way their parents were able to. Since the financial crisis, larger deposit requirements and falling equity values mean many credit-worthy households cannot get a mortgage, or are trapped in their existing homes unable to take the next step. Budget 2013 announced the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme to increase the supply of low-deposit mortgages for credit-worthy households.

When using the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee, lenders will pay a commercial fee to the Government. This will ensure that the scheme is self-financing. The pricing of the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee takes into account a number of scenarios based around the Office for Budget Responsibility's central macroeconomic forecast. The modelling of the expected losses was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and was based on data collected from lenders. The model outputs were refined in conjunction with UK Asset Resolution, the Prudential Regulatory Authority and internally at HM Treasury.

Human Trafficking

Questions

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to tackle human trafficking in the Commonwealth; and whether such a response involves regional and international institutions.[HL2551]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Government provides advice and guidance to support other countries, including in the Commonwealth, to strengthen their

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arrangements to tackle human trafficking. This includes information gathering, collaboration with civil society organisations, joint investigations and specific support to develop their criminal justice response.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to strengthen the ability of the national referral mechanism to identify victims of trafficking and to give them adequate support, following the review by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Committee; and whether they will prevent the holding of unconvicted trafficked women in prisons.[HL2593]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Year on year referrals to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) are increasing with more victims than ever receiving support through the Government's adult victim care contract with The Salvation Army. We continue to monitor the NRM to ensure it is best able to identify and support trafficked victims.

The UK does not routinely hold trafficking victims in prison, however where a victim of trafficking is arrested for an offence but not immediately identified as a victim they may be detained. The Government is exploring how it can better identify and support such individuals who have entered the criminal justice process.

Iran

Question

Asked by Baroness Berridge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Iran concerning the imprisonment of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Christian Pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran since 26 September 2012.[HL2577]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We remain deeply concerned about the detention and treatment of Pastor Saeed Abedini. We have called publicly for the Iranian government to release him and to end all persecution of individuals on the basis of their faith. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), raised our concerns about human rights in Iran when he met Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif on 23 September in the margins of the UN General Assembly.

NASA: Spacecraft

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what components of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft were supplied by United Kingdom companies. [HL2347]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 were important missions launched primarily to explore Jupiter and Saturn and continuing for over 35 years covering Uranus, Neptune and beyond. They created a valuable scientific legacy used by UK scientists and leading on to other missions eg ESA’s Cassini/Huygens mission.

Voyager was a US NASA programme and the spacecraft were launched in 1977; the development would have taken place several years prior to this. The spacecraft build was undertaken by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the scientific instruments built at US institutes.

The UK Space Agency, which was established on 1 April 2011, holds all records relating to UK involvement in space missions. The UK Space Agency does not hold any records of UK companies supplying components going back to the time of the development of the Voyager spacecraft.

NHS: Sites and Buildings

Question

Asked by Lord Brabazon of Tara

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any part of the Putney Hospital site is still owned by the National Health Service; why it is still undeveloped since it closed in 1999; whether they have held any discussions with Wandsworth Council about plans for its development; and how much it has cost the Exchequer to maintain since 1999.[HL2612]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): NHS England and NHS Property Services have advised that Wandsworth Borough Council purchased the Putney Hospital site from Wandsworth Primary Care Trust in 2012. The Department has not held any discussions with Wandsworth Council about its proposals for the site and does not hold any information about maintenance costs.

Northern Ireland: Flags and Parades

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the Haass talks on flags and parades in Northern Ireland; and what involvement they have had in them.[HL2730]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson) (LD): The All-party Group is an initiative of the Northern Ireland Executive which this Government fully supports. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has had two meetings with Richard Haass and spoken to him by telephone. She will see him again later this month. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister met Dr Haass on 17 October. The Secretary of State has also discussed these matters with representatives of all the parties taking part and has kept in close touch with the Irish

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Government about them. In addition, officials in the Northern Ireland Office have had a number of meetings and conversations with Dr Haass’s team.

Northern Ireland: Welfare Reform

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Northern Ireland Executive with regard to the financial implications of a different approach being applied to welfare reform in Northern Ireland.[HL2672]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Minister for Welfare Reform has regularly met with the Minister for Social Development of Northern Ireland to discuss a range of issues including welfare reform implementation and Ministers will continue to engage on such matters.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury wrote to the Northern Ireland Minister for Finance and Personnel in June setting out some of the immediate financial consequences resulting from the lack of progress in completing the passage of their welfare reform bill through the Northern Ireland Assembly and highlighting that by January 2014 the total loss to the exchequer could be as much as £60m.

The Chief Secretary concluded his letter by saying it would be necessary to commence making DEL deductions to the Northern Ireland Executive allocations to offset the losses in AME unless the relevant reforms were implemented by January 2014

It is now a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive to decide what course of action they wish to take.

Questions for Written Answer

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

To ask the Leader of the House why 13 Questions for Written Answer tabled in July remained unanswered on 8 October; and what discussions he has had with the departments concerned.[HL2476]

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford) (Con): The list of Questions for Written Answer (QWAs) tabled in July and remaining unanswered after 10 working days that was published in House of Lords Business on 8 October was inaccurate. I understand that the list should have shown that seven QWAs tabled in July remained unanswered. The list was subsequently corrected.

My office makes regular contact with all Government departments that are unable to meet the target of 10 working days to answer QWAs. Every effort is made to address delays and to remind departments of their responsibilities to Parliament.

All QWAs tabled during July have now been answered.

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Railways: High Speed 2

Questions

Asked by Lord Truscott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the Government’s latest estimate of the capital cost of building the complete HS2 Y network.[HL2664]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Spending Round 2013, announced in June, made long-term provision for building HS2 of £42.6 bn. This provides long term funding certainty and demonstrates the commitment of the Treasury to the project. This provision provides for a P95 level of delivery confidence, which includes a very prudent contingency allocation.

For Phase 1, which is at a more mature stage of development stage than Phase 2, The Secretary of State for Transport has set HS2 Ltd a target price of £17.16 billion (in 2011 prices) for delivering Phase 1. This represents HS2 Ltd’s latest estimate of the Phase base cost of £15.6bn, plus a risk allowance of 10%. HS2 Ltd has assured the Secretary of State that the railway can be delivered within this budget. We would intend to take a similar approach for Phase 2 in due course.

Asked by Lord Truscott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what monetary estimate for optimism bias and risk provision were contained in the cost estimates announced for the construction of HS2 by the Department for Transport in November 2010, January 2012 and June 2013. [HL2665]

Baroness Kramer: In the March 2010 command paper, HS2 Ltd estimated the total development and construction costs of the proposed initial core ‘Y’ network to be in the region of £30 billion, including risk.

In January 2012, HS2 outlined a separate cost for each phase. This included £6.4 billion contingency for phase 1 and £6.5 billion for Phase 2. Given the early stage of development, it was prudent to allocate risk provision on a broad basis, as a full understanding of individual risks was not possible at this time.

By June 2013, designs were sufficiently advanced to take a far more precise approach to risk allocation, including a detailed ‘quantified risk assessment’ for Phase 1. As part of the Spending Round, costs were updated reflecting design changes and the latest baselining of cost by HS2 Ltd. The long-term HS2 funding envelope announced of £42.6bn, includes contingency provision of £5.7 billion for phase 1 and £8.7 billion for phase 2.

Asked by Lord Truscott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their most recent estimate of the number of passengers transferring from road and air links to HS2 upon the completion of the HS2 network.[HL2667]

Baroness Kramer: The most recent analysis published in August 2012 estimates that HS2 will carry up to 5.4 million passengers every year who

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might otherwise have travelled by air, as well as seeing up to 9.8 million passengers transfer from the national road network.

HS2 Ltd will shortly be publishing an updated version of the economic case which will include estimates based on our latest analysis.

Asked by Lord Truscott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their most recent estimate of the impact on congestion levels on the M1 and M40 of the completion of the HS2 Y network.[HL2668]

Baroness Kramer: HS2 Ltd expects some car users to switch to using HS2 services and classic line services as a result of the HS2 network and resulting released capacity on classic rail. The August 2012 Economic Case estimated time saving benefits to road users of around £1.6billion over the appraisal period as a result of reduced congestion across the road network. In addition, there is the potential for congestion reduction on the strategic road network from freight taking up released capacity on the classic rail network.

Asked by Lord Truscott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the past two years, how many opinion polls have been carried out by HS2 Limited, and when; what range of issues each poll covered; what was the cost of each poll; and how many people were polled in each case.[HL2669]

Baroness Kramer: Two opinion polls have been carried out by HS2 Limited within the last two years:

October 2012 – Awareness of HS2, understanding of its potential benefits, attitudes towards it

Cost including VAT: £36,360

Number of people polled: 2,087

September 2013 – Awareness of HS2, understanding of potential benefits, favourability

Cost including VAT: £4,536

Number of people polled: 1,000

Asked by Lord Truscott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd plan to spend on HS2 in 2013–14 and 2014–15.[HL2723]

Baroness Kramer: The forecast spend for HS2, comprised of both Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd expenditure, is £378.7m in 2013/14 and £442.5m in 2014/15.

Railways: Reopened Lines

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made on the London–Sussex Coast rail corridor study that the Secretary of State announced earlier this year, with particular reference to the

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potential re-opening of the Lewes-Uckfield line; and when they expect to receive a report from Network Rail.[HL2691]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): It is anticipated that Network Rail will provide a copy of its Brighton Main Line Pre-Report (part of its London & South Coast Route Study) to this Department before the end of the year. It will include, at the Secretary of State’s request, a section examining the potential role of new line schemes, including Lewes to Uckfield.

Railways: Waterloo Station

Question

Asked by Lord Truscott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their most recent estimate of the cost of reopening the disused former Eurostar platforms at Waterloo station; and what capacity benefits would result from any such reopening.[HL2666]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Government is committed to bringing the former International platforms at Waterloo station into domestic use. A comprehensive and long term plan for the whole of Waterloo station and the route is being developed, to include use of all of Waterloo International.

Platform 20 will be available for use by the end of 2013 to assist South West Trains to deliver additional capacity into this busy station. The estimated cost of bringing Platform 20 back into use was £1.7million.

The short term solution for bringing Platforms 21 to 24 back into use is currently estimated as costing £5million; however this is subject to further development and design works.

For the longer term, there is a requirement to enlarge the junction to enable Waterloo International to cope with more frequent trains as it was designed for the infrequent Eurostar service.

Network Rail published its Strategic Business Plan (SBP) in January 2013 which proposes a £300 million investment to increase capacity into London Waterloo in Control Period 5 as part of a longer term enhancement programme that will deliver significant capacity improvements into Control Period 6. Improvements will focus on suburban routes into London with platform extensions to accommodate longer 10 car trains and the integration of the former Waterloo International Terminal and its platforms to increase capacity within the station.

Roads: M6

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to provide northbound access to the M6 motorway at Junction 31A.[HL2560]

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The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Highways Agency does not currently have any plans to introduce northbound access slip roads at this junction because of an unacceptable impact on highway safety.  North facing slip roads here would introduce additional lane changing movements by vehicles on the short busy length of M6 motorway between Junction 31a and Junction 32. 

Russia

Questions

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to protect the human rights of British citizens detained at Murmansk by the Russian authorities.[HL2562]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Since their arrival in Murmansk, consular officials have been providing full consular assistance to the six British nationals detained onboard the Greenpeace vessel, the “Arctic Sunrise”, to ensure that any concerns about their welfare are raised with the relevant authorities and addressed appropriately. They have visited them regularly and consistently raised the importance of all those detained having access to a lawyer. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), reiterated this when he discussed their detention with Russia’s Foreign Minister on 25 September and subsequently wrote to him on 6 October. Senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have also raised this case with Russia’s Ambassador to the UK on 26 September and followed up with officials in Moscow.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that British citizens detained at Murmansk by the Russian authorities have access to legal advice and assistance.[HL2563]

Baroness Warsi: Consular officials are visiting the detainees on a regular basis. We have consistently made clear to the Russian authorities the importance of those detained having access to a lawyer and confirm that the British nationals detained have had, and continue to have, access to lawyers provided by Greenpeace. In addition, consular officials have provided a list of lawyers to the British nationals detained.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that British citizens detained at Murmansk by the Russian authorities have regular contact with their families.[HL2564]

Baroness Warsi: Consular officials met the British nationals detained, who were aboard the Greenpeace vessel, the “Arctic Sunrise”, on their arrival in Murmansk

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and have been visiting them regularly since to discuss welfare issues and follow up with the relevant Russian authorities. In addition consular officials have passed messages to and from family members. They have raised the importance of all British nationals detained being able to make calls to their families. Russian authorities have clarified the procedures for this and consular officials have explained it to the British nationals detained. We continue to press for these calls to take place.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that British citizens detained at Murmansk by the Russian authorities are allowed to remain together as a group.[HL2566]

Baroness Warsi: The British nationals detained were initially held in a number of locations across Murmansk. Consular officials immediately raised this with the Russian authorities and pressed for the six British nationals to be moved to the same detention centre. This has now happened and consular officials remain in regular contact with the Russian prison authorities about any future arrangements.

Scotland: Independence

Question

Asked by Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to the constitutional position of Members of Parliament elected for Scottish constituencies in the 2015 General Election if the Scottish people had already voted for separation from the United Kingdom, in the light of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.[HL2394]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Government's consideration of these matters is as set out in Devolution and the Implications of Independence which is available in the Library of the House.

Shipping: Accidents

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will hold inquiries into the two incidents involving DUKW vessels sinking in Merseyside and catching fire in the Thames.[HL2747]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Marine Accident Investigation Branch is conducting separate accident investigations into the two incidents and will produce reports as soon as possible. Copies of these reports will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Taxation: Income Tax

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of how much income tax they would receive with a top rate of (1) 40 per cent, (2) 45 per cent, and (3) 50 per cent.[HL2352]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): This Government inherited one of the most uncompetitive rates of income tax in the G20. That is why the Chancellor asked HMRC to assess the revenue raised from the 50 per cent rate. HMRC’s report “The Exchequer effect of the 50 per cent additional rate of income tax” showed that the underlying yield from the additional rate was much lower than originally forecast (yielding around f1 billion or less), and that it is quite possible that it could have been negative. This is available on the HMRC website:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2012/excheq-income-tax-2042.pdf

As set out at Budget 2013, the cost of reducing the additional rate of income tax to 45 per cent from 50 per cent is estimated at around £100m per year.

Costings account for substantial behavioural responses associated with changes in top marginal tax rates. The Government believes it is neither efficient nor fair to maintain a tax rate that is not effective at raising revenue from high earners and risks damaging growth.

A reduction in the additional rate to 40 per cent from 45 per cent would be estimated to cost the Exchequer around £1 billion in 2013-14.

Thames Tideway Tunnel

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the most recent Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of the Thames Tideway Project was undertaken in a format and scope acceptable to financing institutions who have signed up to the Equator Principles and who might be asked to finance the project.[HL2582]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): As sponsor of the Thames Tideway Tunnel project, Thames Water has submitted a mandatory Environmental Statement, including environmental and social impacts, as part of the Development Consent Order application it submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in March 2013. There is no requirement for this to be compatible with the Equator Principles. My reply of 8 January 2013 (Official Record col.WA91) explained the applicability of the Equator Principles to companies

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seeking to invest in major regulated utility sector infrastructure projects such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Turkey

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the rate of progress in the official designation of Alevi houses of worship in Turkey. [HL2594]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We have not made a specific assessment of the rate of progress in the official designation of Alevi houses of worship in Turkey.

However, as noted in the 2013 EU Annual Progress Report there are concerns about the treatment of minority groups in Turkey, but freedom of worship continues to be generally respected.

Along with our EU partners, we will continue to strongly encourage Turkey to maintain efforts to strengthen freedoms for all religious minorities in Turkey, including the Alevis.

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of progress towards the re-opening of the Greek Orthodox seminary on Halki Island in Turkey.[HL2595]

Baroness Warsi: We have not made a specific assessment of progress towards the re-opening of the Greek Orthodox seminary on Halki Island in Turkey.

We were encouraged by the Turkish government announcement in March that it was conducting a study into the re-opening of the seminary. However, the 2013 EU Annual Progress Report noted that, despite this announcement, the seminary remains closed.

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

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the assertion of Amnesty International that there were large scale human rights violations during the dispersal of protesters in Gezi Park. [HL2596]

Baroness Warsi: We are aware of the Amnesty International report, but we have not made a specific assessment of it.

We were concerned by some tactics used to disperse the protestors. The EU Commission's Annual Progress Report concludes that the police used excessive force during the protests. Investigations have begun in Turkey, including by Turkey's Ombudsman and National Human Rights Institution.

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The right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly are important human rights, and should be respected.

Working Time Regulations

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the comments made by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee in their 12th Report (HL Paper 54) relating to Working Time Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/2228) that as a consequence of withdrawing the order “it is regrettable that the time of the House has been wasted…we urge the Government to look more carefully before leaping into secondary legislation”.[HL2597]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Regulations amending the Working Time Regulation 1998 to align the position for workers employed in agriculture in England and Wales with the position for workers in most other sectors were laid before Parliament on 20 June 2013 and approved on 30 July.

However, on 17 July, the National Assembly for Wales (NAW) passed the Agricultural Sector (Wales) Bill, to restore a separate agricultural minimum wage regime in Wales. It is not clear that the NAW has the power to do this and the Attorney General has referred to the Supreme Court the question of whether the Bill is within the NAW's legislative competence.

Pending that judgement the Government has taken the decision to withdraw the Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2013.

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Young Offender Institutions: Restraint

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the parents of a child (or the local authority when the child is on a care order) in a young offender institution are routinely notified when a child has been restrained and is being taken to hospital as a result of his or her injuries.[HL2416]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally) (LD): The safety of young people in custody is our highest priority. The behaviour of some young people is sometimes extremely challenging and can put the safety of other young people and staff at serious risk. The management of this behaviour is crucial to creating a safe environment for young people and staff.

The Government is clear that restraint should only ever be used against young people as a last resort where it is absolutely necessary to do so and where no other form of intervention is possible or appropriate.

All under-18 Young Offenders Institutions are required to comply with Prison Service Instruction 08/2012 ‘Care and Management of Young People'. This requires that families, and other appropriate bodies (which includes the relevant legal authority for young people on a care order), are notified in each instance that force, including restraint incidents, is used on a young person. Where serious incidents occur, such as those requiring hospital treatment, families or the relevant authority are informed as soon as possible.

All establishments holding young people have Restraint Minimisation Strategies in place to promote an establishment-wide commitment to minimising incidents of restraint.