12 Dec 2013 : Column WA135

12 Dec 2013 : Column WA135

Written Answers

Thursday 12 December 2013

Apprenticeships

Questions

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many apprentices employed by the School Teachers’ Review Body on 1 November 2013 were (1) under the age of 21, (2) aged between 21 and 25, and (3) aged over 25.[HL3823]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The School Teachers’ Review Body does not employ any apprentices. It is an advisory non-departmental public body and does not have any employees. There are currently seven members of the School Teachers’ Review Body, all of whom are highly skilled and experienced professionals.

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many apprentices employed by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission on 1 November 2013 were (1) under the age of 21, (2) aged between 21 and 25, and (3) aged over 25.[HL3824]

Lord Nash: There were no apprentices employed by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission on 1 November 2013.

The Commission is made up of 10 unpaid Commissioners who bring with them expertise and experience which contribute towards the goals of improving social mobility and reducing child poverty.

They are supported by a small secretariat of civil servants, which is limited to a maximum of seven staff.

Benefits

Questions

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people under state pension age with one or more children have received the Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA) in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and what have been the total payments made to WPA recipients in each of those years.[HL3883]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what, for each of the next thirty years, is the estimated net cost or saving to the taxpayer from the changes in Widowed Parent’s Allowance proposed in the Pensions Bill.[HL3884]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The table below sets out the number in receipt of Widowed Parent’s Allowance in May 2009 to May 2013.

12 Dec 2013 : Column WA136

WPA caseload (thousands)
May 2009May 2010May 2011May 2012May 2013

43.21

44.54

45.09

45.78

46.13

DWP’s Tabulation Tool:

http://tabulation-tool.dwp.gov.uk/100pc/bb/ccdate/cat/a_carate_r_ccdate_c_cat.html.

The table below sets out the total annual expenditure on Widowed Parent’s Allowance in financial years 2008-09 to 2012-13:

Annual WPA expenditure (£m)
2008-092009-102010-112011-122012-13

£174m

£197m

£200m

£205m

£227m

DWP’s Benefit Expenditure Tables: https://www.gov.uk/ government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/222845/expenditure_tables_Budget_2013.xls.

Projections of the Bereavement Benefit reform over 30 years are not available. However it is estimated that the reform of Widowed Parent’s Allowance will increase benefit spend for widowed parents by some £50m in nominal terms over the period 2016-17 to 2019-20.

This estimate excludes the impact of the more generous tax arrangements in the new system.

Bereavement Benefits reform analysis:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/253613/d-pensions-bill-bereavement-benefits-ia-oct-2013.pdf; and

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/208850/130626-ad-hoc-bereavement-benefits.pdf

Climate Change

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made since 2009 in organising the Green Climate Fund; what are its present assets; and what pledges of future support it has received.[HL3785]

Baroness Northover (LD): Substantial progress is being made in concluding the design of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as the principal multilateral climate fund. This new vehicle offers an opportunity to modernise climate funding, and bring adaptation, mitigation and private sector support into one integrated fund. The GCF is also a major plank of the UK and EU climate finance commitment to mobilise $100bn p/a of public and private finance by 2020.

Asked by Lord Boateng

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they have provided for partnerships between United Kingdom institutions and African institutions to facilitate research into climate science by African scientists.[HL3873]

Baroness Northover: DFID has a strong commitment to commissioning world class research which directly improves people's lives, and ensuring that it is readily

12 Dec 2013 : Column WA137

available to those who can use it around the world. We do this by supporting focused capacity strengthening projects; ensuring that where relevant all research deliberately includes national and regional collaborators and co-researchers; and, where appropriate, requiring bidders responding to open competitive tenders for research consortia to include African research institutions as full consortia partners. For all except the specific capacity strengthening projects it is difficult to disaggregate individual components specifically focused on climate science from those focused on other development objectives.

The following DFID supported project includes support to a partnership between the United Kingdom and African Institutions related to climate science research:

• The ‘Climate Science Research Partnership’ (CSRP), between the UK Met Office Hadley Centre and DFID. This programme worked with a range of national and regional African Institutions to conduct climate research, with mentoring support provided by UK Met Office scientists. 11 African Fellowships were supported. DFID’s total commitment over the lifetime of this project (2009 – 2014) is £4,093,101. • The recently approved ‘Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement’ (CIRCLE) project, with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) as delivery partners is currently in its early stages of implementation. This 5 year (2013 to 2018) project will provide fellowships to early career African scientists. The international partnerships element of the programme has yet to be competitively tendered, but it is anticipated that UK institutions would be amongst those bidding. DFID’s total commitment over the lifetime of this project (2013 – 2017) is £ 4.85 million.

Asked by Lord Boateng

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what level of support they provided to research into climate science and its implications for Africa in each of the last three years; and what will be the level of support until 2015.[HL3874]

Baroness Northover: DFID supports a number of programmes that may include support to climate science research where it is difficult to disaggregate components specifically focused on climate science from those focused for example on other development objectives. DFID has, however, since 2009 supported a project implemented by the UK Meteorological Office Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction that is specifically aimed at strengthening our knowledge of African climates. Levels of DFID support to this project over the last three years to research into climate science and its implications for Africa are provided in the table below. The current financial year figure includes funds committed but not yet spent. DFID’s commitment over the lifetime of this project (2009 – 2014) is £4,093,101.

FY 11/12FY 12/13FY 13/14

£1,071,750

£896,100

£820,000*

* - this figure includes funds committed but not yet spent.

12 Dec 2013 : Column WA138

Gaza

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the recent report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, what action they will take to help prevent epidemics in Gaza arising from the closure of the power station due to fuel shortages.[HL3787]

Baroness Northover (LD): We are monitoring the deteriorating situation in Gaza very closely. We continue to support the UN Relief and Works Agency, the International Committee of the Red Cross and others to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Meanwhile, the UK government continues to call on Israel to lift the movement and access restrictions which need to be eased in order to improve the economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Government: Ministerial Visits

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any of the costs of those who accompanied the Prime Minister on his visit to China were covered by United Kingdom public funds.[HL3829]

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford) (Con): Her Majesty’s Government paid the costs of Ministers and officials only. Details will be published in the quarterly list of Ministerial overseas travel.

Health and Work Assessment and Advisory Service

Question

Asked by Lord Luce

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they plan to implement the new Health and Work Assessment and Advisory Service; whether they intend to do so in stages; and when they propose to complete the task.[HL3844]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Health and Work Service, as it is now known, will be implemented in 2014 as stated in the Government Response.

Implementation is anticipated to be staged and to begin in the autumn and will last around 6 months. However, this approach will only be confirmed once the supplier has been appointed.

12 Dec 2013 : Column WA139

Higher Education: Student Loans

Question

Asked by Lord Willis of Knaresborough

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the impact on the Exchequer if payments of income-contingent loans for full-time undergraduate students in England were capped on gross parental income of (1) £100,000, (2) £80,000, (3) £60,000, (4) £50,000, (5) £40,000 and (6) £25,000, in each of the years 2014–15 to 2017–18.[HL3751]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The requested estimates are not available. However, the Student Loans Company regularly publishes statistics on maintenance grants that give a broad indication of the distribution of students by household income. That information can be used to broadly infer what might happen if income-contingent loans were capped on gross parental income.

Iraq: Chilcot Inquiry

Question

Asked by Baroness Browning

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why publication of the Chilcot Report has been delayed.[HL3742]

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford) (Con): Sir John Chilcot wrote to the Prime Minister on 4 November, updating him on the position of the Inquiry. He reported that continuing discussions over certain classified documents had caused a delay to the Maxwellisation process, and hence publication of the report. The correspondence has been published on the Iraq Inquiry website www.iraq inquiry.org.uk/news/update_on_inquiry_progress_-_november_2013.aspx

Passports

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many valid British passports are currently in circulation; how many of these are equipped with an electronic screening facility; and how many British passports have been reported (1) lost, and (2) stolen, in each of the last five years.[HL3669]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Her Majesty's Passport Office estimates there are 49.3 million valid passports in circulation as at October 2013, of which 42.9 million have electronic readable chip technology.

These figures are based on the total number of passports issued in the last ten years and takes account that some of these passports would replace passports that had been lost or required replacing for other reasons. The attached table provides a breakdown of how many passports have been reported (1) lost, and (2) stolen, in each of the last five years.

12 Dec 2013 : Column WA140

YearPassports Reported LostPassports reported stolen

2008

249,261

38,120

2009

232,852

32,276

2010

267,247

36,634

2011

250,181

31,894

2012

247,129

29,318

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

Question

Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many applications there have been to date for the Secretary of State to disregard a conviction under the terms of section 92 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012; how many of those applications have been successful; how many are still pending resolution; how many have been refused; and of those refused what were the most common reasons for refusal. [HL3774]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Since the Government commenced sections 92-101, Protection of Freedoms Act on 1 October 2012, the Home Office has received applications for 138 offences from 115 individuals seeking to have their historical convictions or cautions for certain offences disregarded under these provisions.

The Home Secretary has determined that:

• 40 offences were eligible for disregard under sections 92;• 98 offences were not eligible for disregard under sections 92.

The most common reasons for a decision of ineligibility were either a failure to fully meet the criteria required under section 92, or that that the conviction was out of scope, as prescribed at sections 92 and 101 of the Act. There are no cases pending decision to date.

Sudan

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their latest estimate of the number of people killed or displaced during 2013 in Darfur.[HL3860]

Baroness Northover (LD): We regularly review the numbers of people displaced in Darfur. The latest estimate from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) states that some 380,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Darfur in 2013. The previous UN OCHA estimate of 450,000 people has reduced, as verification and registration has shown that the numbers initially reported when displacement occurred were inflated. It is more difficult to obtain data on the total numbers killed in Darfur in 2013. This is due to the different groups involved (including peacekeepers, Sudanese Armed Forces, members of rebel groups and civilians) and the various causes of mortality (including conflict, malnutrition and disease).

12 Dec 2013 : Column WA141

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Ahmed

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the rationale behind their refusal to issue a visit visa to the United Kingdom for the victims of drone attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan

12 Dec 2013 : Column WA142

who were invited to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drones on 5 November.[HL3318]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): It is not the policy of the Home Office to comment on the detail of individual applications. However, it is not the case that visas were refused to the invitees of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drones.