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Written Answers

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Abortion

Question

Asked by Baroness Uddin

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what auditing procedures are in place in respect of United Kingdom overseas aid to ensure that humanitarian needs are met; and how such procedures apply to women and girls’ access to health care and abortion in cases of rape in the Central African Republic.[HL3576]

Baroness Northover (LD): All DFID overseas aid programmes are subject to auditing procedures to ensure we meet critical needs. This includes due diligence of delivery partners, extensive needs assessments and monitoring on the ground, and standard operating frameworks agreed by DFID with partners. Project evaluations are conducted by DFID staff, other Government departments and by independent evaluators.

As elsewhere, our humanitarian work in the Central African Republic (CAR) is driven by these principles and procedures. In conflict situations where denial of abortion in accordance with a national law would threaten the woman’s life or cause unbearable suffering, international humanitarian law principles may justify offering an abortion rather than perpetuating what amounts to inhumane treatment in the form of an act of cruel treatment or torture. Clearly this will depend on the woman’s choice, her condition and the safety and security of the humanitarian staff, as well as other contextual factors.

UK funding is focused in remote areas of CAR that have been disproportionately affected by the conflict and 250,000 people now have access to healthcare which is equitable for woman. DFID is funding the health agency Merlin and the International Committee of the Red Cross in some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of CAR to support the health system and run mobile clinics to meet the needs of those who have fled to the bush.

Alcohol

Questions

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to prevent the sale of alcohol to underage people.[HL3511]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Coalition Government takes under-age drinking very seriously. In April 2012, we doubled the maximum fine for the offence of persistently selling alcohol to children to £20,000 and increased the period of premises closure that can be imposed as a punitive alternative to prosecution. Our reforms also lowered the evidence

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threshold for decision-making, so it is easier for licensing authorities and the police to review licences of criminal and irresponsible premises where this offence is committed. The Government's new statutory guidance ensures licensing authorities consider revoking licences in such cases. In July, we announced plans to clarify the accountability for implementing the age verification requirements which are part of the mandatory licensing conditions.

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to combat alcoholism and excessive drinking.[HL3512]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The Coalition government is taking a wide range of action to tackle irresponsible drinking and alcohol-related crime and disorder through its Alcohol Strategy. This includes introducing a ban on the worst cases of very cheap and harmful alcohol sales. We have already rebalanced the Licensing Act and given local areas more powers to restrict sales of alcohol between 12 midnight and 6 am through Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Orders. We have also challenged industry to do more to reduce the harms associated with binge drinking, improve education to promote safer drinking, reduce the availability of high strength products that cause the most harm for problem drinkers. We have made it plain that we expect industry to respond positively.

Apprenticeships

Question

Asked by Lord Martin of Springburn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Statement by Lord Astor of Hever on 6 November (HL Deb, col 227), what steps they are taking to ensure that all of BAE Systems' apprentices are able to complete their apprenticeships.[HL3485]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The Ministry of Defence recognises the benefits of apprentice schemes in developing the essential skills needed by industry. It is for BAE Systems, however, to decide how best to develop the skills it will need to deliver the planned future shipbuilding programme.

Armed Forces: Medals

Questions

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many members of the Royal Irish Regiment in Northern Ireland are still awaiting receipt of their Queen’s Jubilee Medal.[HL3577]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when all members of the Royal Irish Regiment in Northern Ireland will have received their Queen’s Jubilee medal.[HL3578]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): As at 26 November 2013, there is one outstanding application for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal with the Ministry of Defence Medal Office in respect of members of the Royal Irish Regiment in Northern Ireland.

It is anticipated that this application will be processed by early December 2013.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Question

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which Department and Minister have responsibility for increasing national awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning and its prevention; and whether they have plans to make the installation of carbon monoxide detectors compulsory in all new and rental properties. [HL2892]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): Carbon monoxide awareness is a cross government issue with Government Departments, devolved administrations and other governmental agencies having an interest. The Cross Government Group on Gas Safety and Carbon Monoxide Awareness has been set up to co-ordinate activity and to share information, to raise awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning. This group publishes an annual report of its activity and the latest report was published on 18 November. A copy of the report can be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive's website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/cross-government-group.htm

As I announced to the House during Oral Questions on 6 November, my Department is taking forward a review into the condition of domestic property in the private rented sector to ensure that there is a robust system in place to check that tenants’ homes are safe and healthy with appropriate standards of hygiene and sanitation. Amongst other things, the review will consider whether landlords should be required to install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms in their properties.

Climate Change

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 23 October (WA 176), whether they have undertaken contingency planning in the light of changes in solar activity reported in recent years; and what is their assessment of Professor Michael Lockwood's recent analysis of the prospects of a new Maunder minimum in solar activity.[HL3446]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Government's contingency planning arrangements have not changed because of the possible effects of recent observed changes in solar activity on regional

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climate. It is recognised, however, that the minimum of the eleven year solar cycle is one of the factors being linked to cold winter weather spells in the UK and the potential mechanisms are an area of on-going research.

Professor Michael Lockwood's suggestion1 that recent changes in solar activity indicate an increase in the chance of a period of low solar activity, similar to the ‘Maunder minimum’, within around the next 50 years is not the current scientific consensus. Some estimates suggest the chance is less than 10% and further research is needed to reduce the uncertainty on this probability estimate. Modelling studies currently indicate that any such low level of solar activity in coming decades would offset only a small fraction of the projected global warming by 2100, due to greenhouse gas emissions.

1

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2013/11/solar-activity-and- the-so-called-“little-ice-age”/

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Wakefield

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to allocate additional resources to support the implementation of commitments outlined in the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and, if so, what will be the main focus of those resources. [HL3484]

Baroness Northover (LD): The UK is currently considering how best to support the Peace Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF). DFID is engaging with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Oversight Mechanism for the PSCF to ensure those that represent local populations, such as civil society organisations, are consulted during implementation. This will include ensuring that there are on-going opportunities for these organisations to provide feedback from the Congolese people affected.

Energy: Renewable Energy

Question

Asked by Lord Tyler

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will allow not-for-profit organisations in receipt of National Lottery funds to be eligible for (1) assistance under the Renewable Heat Incentive, and (2) Feed-in Tariffs.[HL3454]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Regulations underpinning the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) do not allow recipients of lottery funding to become accredited for RHI support. The exception is for plant commissioned between 15 July 2009 and 27 November 2011. In these cases, the grant must be repaid to the granting authority before RHI payments can be made. DECC is currently considering the interaction of public grants and the RHI. In determining this, the department needs to consider

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ensuring value for money for the taxpayer, not over- compensating particular installations and not contravening state aid law.

It is generally not possible for a generator, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, to benefit from both Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) and a grant from a public body, except in specific circumstances, as this would constitute a double subsidy.

Energy: Wind Turbines

Question

Asked by Lord Donoughue

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the number of bats and birds killed by wind turbines in the United Kingdom during 2012; and what is their projection for such deaths in the year 2030, in the light of the expected increase in the number of turbines operating in 2030.[HL3447]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Department does not hold this information. The National Planning Policy Framework provides strong protection for biodiversity and is clear that an application for renewable energy development should only be approved if the impact is (or can be made) acceptable, when considered alone and in combination with other plans and projects. The National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3) sets out possible mitigation measures to remove, or minimise significant adverse impacts on biodiversity. The relevant decision maker must consult with and consider the advice of Government Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies, in making a decision on the acceptability of applications.

Roads: M4

Questions

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the M4 improvement at Newport will be financed; and what contribution will be made by HM Treasury in each of the next three years.[HL3560]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the M4 improvement at Newport will be contingent on the Welsh Government using its new borrowing powers; and whether Her Majesty's Government will finance part or all of the interest costs. [HL3561]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson) (LD): The Government has confirmed that it will enable the Welsh Government to use its existing borrowing powers to fund improvements to the M4 around Newport before its new tax and borrowing powers come on stream. The Welsh Government is currently consulting on options for upgrading the motorway and the detail of how the improvements are funded will be determined when the Welsh Government finalises its plans.

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Roma Communities

Question

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the size of the Roma community in the United Kingdom; and what is being done to access European Union funds to facilitate Roma integration. [HL3495]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): There are no reliable estimates of the size of the Roma community in the United Kingdom. Statistics on the ethnic origin of the UK’s population are derived from the 2011 census, which did not separately identify Roma.

The regulations governing the EU structural funds for 2014-2020 are currently being negotiated in Brussels. We expect them to be finalised and adopted this autumn. Member States will then be able to submit proposals for Partnership Agreements and Operational Programmes to the European Commission setting out their spending plans. Our investment priorities in the UK will relate to the priorities of our Growth Programme, including employment and social inclusion. Each Local Enterprise Partnership is leading on the development of an EU structural funds investment strategy, and in doing so will work with a broad range of economic, social and environmental partners, including businesses and civil society.

Schools: Drugs

Question

Asked by Lord Bhatia

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many cases have been reported by the police or parents in the last three years relating to drug peddlers accosting school children who are walking to or from their schools.[HL3487]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The information requested is not available from the police recorded crime data centrally collected by the Home Office.

Sudan

Questions

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are aware of any evidence that the Justice and Equality Movement in Sudan was either funded by or fought for either Libya or Colonel Gaddafi. [HL3461]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The United Nations Panels of Experts for both Libya and Sudan have referenced evidence and information related to financial, logistical and military links between the Darfur armed

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groups, including the Justice and Equality Movement, and the Gaddafi government in Libya. The report of the Libya Panel of Experts of 20 March 2012 referenced numerous reports that “JEM and other Zaghawa ethnic elements of the Darfur armed opposition provided military assistance to Muammar Qadhafi during the conflict with the National Transitional Council.” It concluded that “the accumulative strength of intelligence gives substantial credibility to these findings, but the Panel was not able to definitively corroborate this”.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are aware of any evidence that the Justice and Equality Movement in Sudan has been guilty of war crimes or the mistreatment of prisoners. [HL3462]

Baroness Warsi: In its final report from January 2005, the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur concluded that:

“While the Commission did not find a systematic or a widespread pattern to violations committed by rebels, it nevertheless found credible evidence that members of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) are responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law which may amount to war crimes. In particular, these violations include cases of murder of civilians and pillage.”

These allegations were subsequently investigated by the International Criminal Court, and cases were brought by the prosecutor against a number of individuals, including former commanders in the JEM. The Court decided not to proceed with one of these cases, but another still remains before the Court.

The JEM continues to carry out military activities in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan, and holds some defectors from the movement as prisoners. While there are reports of activities by the movement that could be contrary to international law, for example attacks on civilians or on peacekeepers, it is difficult to ensure independent investigation of such allegations and so to attribute responsibility for attacks to particular armed groups.

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they regard the Justice and Equality Movement in Sudan as an Islamic fundamentalist movement.[HL3463]

Baroness Warsi: Although the founders of the Justice and Equality Movement had strong links to the Islamic movement in Sudan, it has claimed not to be a religiously-based movement. In January 2013 the Justice and Equality Movement signed the New Dawn Charter, along with a number of other armed movements and political opposition groups. This Charter recognises the religious diversity of Sudan, and commits the groups to a separation of religion from state institutions.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of people displaced in Darfur by inter-tribal fighting in 2013.[HL3538]

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Baroness Northover (LD): The United Nations Office for the Centre of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that there are currently over 450,000 people displaced by fighting in Darfur so far this year.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of humanitarian access to populations displaced in Darfur by inter-tribal fighting in 2013, including those in Adila, East Darfur.[HL3539]

Baroness Northover: Humanitarian access remains difficult across many parts of Darfur. We are particularly concerned that timely access has been denied to sites affected by intertribal conflict in 2013. This includes Adila where the Government of Sudan refused access to United Nations Mission in Darfur humanitarian escorts. We continue to press all parties in Darfur to allow full and independent humanitarian access.

Syria

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to secure ceasefires in Syria to enable children to be immunised against polio, following recent outbreaks in that country.[HL3352]

Baroness Northover (LD): At the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the UK called for action to implement the UN’s proposals for unfettered humanitarian access inside Syria. This resulted in a Presidential Statement on the humanitarian situation in Syria which called for a humanitarian ceasefire as well as unhindered humanitarian access, lifting bureaucratic obstacles, granting visas/permits, assisting cross-border delivery and demilitarising schools and medical centres. The UK is also seeking strong action at the UN Security Council, including the option of a Resolution if necessary to lead to aid and polio immunisation programmes reaching those in most need in Syria.

Young People: Drugs

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to warn young people of the danger of legal highs.[HL3513]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Effective education is essential in tackling drug and alcohol misuse, helping young people to make informed, healthy decisions. Pupils will learn about the effects of drugs on their bodies as part of the new science national curriculum at key stages two and three that will be taught in schools from September 2014. Teachers can also cover the issue through time devoted to personal, social, health and economic issues, drawing on specialist resources. For example the Association has issued a revised programme of study which includes references

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to drug education, and the new drug and alcohol information and advice service for practitioners delivered by Mentor UK, provides accurate, up-to-date information and resources.

The Home Office ran communication activity from July to October this year tightly targeted at 13-19 year olds contemplating using legal highs.

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The activity used online and radio channels to raise awareness of the risks and harms of legal highs, driving the audience to www.talktofrank.com to find out more. In addition to this the Home Office also offers partners literature (which includes information on legal highs) to distribute amongst young people.