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Written Answers

Monday 13 January 2014

Civil Service: Code of Conduct


Asked by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to ask the head of the Civil Service to report on whether the preparation and publication of Scotland's Future by Scottish civil servants complied with the Civil Service Code of Conduct.[HL3971]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): Questions relating to compliance with the Code of Conduct of the Civil Service in Scotland are dealt with by the Scottish Government in the first instance.

Further Education: Ofsted Report


Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, with reference to the 2012–13 Ofsted Report on Further Education and Skills, what steps they are taking to ensure that further education institutions address the “significant concerns” with respect to the teaching of Mathematics and English (pages 20–21).[HL4327]

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): It is the Government’s priority to ensure that all adults in England have the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to find and sustain employment. We fully appreciate the need to improve attainment in the priority areas of mathematics and English. The Government is therefore taking a number of steps to support Further education (FE) institutions in improving their provision in these key areas.

On 1 August 2013, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education announced plans to provide funding to help FE institutions recruit new high quality mathematics and English teachers and enhance the skills of existing teachers in these areas. This includes a £15m bursary scheme during 2013-15 to attract graduates to train as specialist mathematics or English teachers; an enhancement programme launched nationally in October 2013 to help numeracy and vocational teachers in FE improve mathematics teaching to GCSE level; a similar programme to enhance the skills of existing literacy teachers to be piloted in colleges in spring 2014; and dissemination of innovative and best practice in the teaching of these subjects to post-16 students in spring 2014. A £20m support programme during 2014-16 focused on building the capacity of FE teachers to teach level 3 mathematics qualifications was also announced recently. These initiatives will improve the quantity and calibre of teachers in FE.

Students aged 16 to 19 who have not yet achieved a GCSE grade C or above in mathematics and English by age 16 must now continue to work towards achieving

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these qualifications. From September 2014, institutions who do not offer mathematics and/or English courses to these students will lose funding. There will be a further incentive for providers to deliver mathematics and English GCSE (for those who failed to achieve at least a grade C at age 16) via reporting on post 16 attainment in the performance tables.

Sharper accountability will also help to raise standards for all students. Intervention will be based on clear performance data and send clear signals to providers about what constitutes good performance.

We will continue to look to Ofsted to inspect and report on the quality of mathematics and English teaching in 2014. Where institutions do fail to deliver to the appropriate standard, the Government has put in place robust new arrangements so action can be taken swiftly to address poor performance: immediate withdrawal of funding for independent training providers and a more robust intervention regime involving a new FE Commissioner for colleges and other grant funded institutions.

Government Departments: Management Information Reports


Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 17 December 2013 relating to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (WA 180–1), what key performance indicators are used to review progress against the overall performance targets and objectives of the Department.[HL4296]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): The Department's business plan contains the key milestones and input, output and outcome indicators that we track to assess the Department’s delivery against targets and objectives. Additionally, we produce a Quarterly Data Summary (QDS) that measures a number of common operational metrics across Departments.

Progress against the business plan milestones is reported monthly and business plan indicators and QDS are reported quarterly and each are published on the Cabinet Office web pages and are available for the public to view. Links below:




Additionally, the Department monitors operational performance using a variety of other management information across the Department. These can range from individual project indicators through to staff surveys and external capability reviews.

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Isles of Scilly


Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the private sector operator of search and rescue helicopter services will (1) continue to provide cover for medical emergency evacuations from the Isles of Scilly on the same basis as the current search and rescue operation; and (2) use helicopters with the same or better capability of undertaking sea rescues using winches.[HL4321]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Bristow Helicopters, the operator that will provide the new UK search and rescue helicopter service, will continue to provide cover for medical emergency evacuations from the Isles of Scilly to the same standard as the military provides today. Bristow Helicopters will operate Sikorsky ‘S92’ helicopters from Newquay Airport that can reach the Isles of Scilly. The S92s are some of the most modern search and rescue helicopters available globally. They will each be fitted with a dual winch and can fly further and faster than the Royal Navy Sea Kings they will replace.

State Aid


Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government (1) what is the status of state aid applications, (2) when full authority to start construction will be given, and, (3) what is the amount and funding source of state aid, for (a) improvements to St Mary’s port quay, Isles of Scilly, (b) improvements to Penzance Harbour quay and dredging, (c) improvements to St Mary’s airport runway, Isles of Scilly, and (d) construction of an all-weather runway at Land’s End airport.[HL4393]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): State Aid notifications to the European Commission for the harbour, dredging and airport works are being prepared in collaboration with the Council of the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall Council, and will be submitted once sufficient evidence has been obtained to support the notification.

The Department for Transport is minded to provide at least £8m for the quay improvements at St Mary’s and dredging at Penzance Harbour, with an additional funding contribution of £7m being sought from the EU Convergence Programme, administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Final approval of the Department for Transport’s proposed contribution will be considered once European state aid clearance has been obtained and once the promoters have secured the necessary funding contribution from the EU Convergence Programme.

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The Department has not been asked to provide funding for either of the two runway schemes, which we understand are the subject of bids for EU Convergence Funding, supplemented by an additional bid to the Regional Growth Fund, in the case of St Mary’s airport, and by private funding in the case of Land’s End airport.

Transport: Buses


Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kramer on 17 December 2013 (WA 196), whether they intend to discuss with Traffic Commissioners their power to hold local authorities to account regarding the impact of roadworks and other obstructions on bus punctuality.[HL4353]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Senior Traffic Commissioner recently consulted the bus industry for views on a revised draft guidance document, ‘Statutory Instrument 14’, which sets out responsibilities in the provision of bus services. The draft includes clear reference to the role of local authorities in ensuring local bus services can be delivered reliably. The consultation closed on 13 November and responses are currently being analysed. I will be happy to discuss with the Senior Traffic Commissioner any issues that emerge from the consultation.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kramer on 17 December 2013 (WA 196–7), on what basis they decided not to review the existing system of concessionary fares reimbursement; and what weight they gave to the single instance in which an operator was determined to have been overpaid.[HL4414]

Baroness Kramer: The Department for Transport continually reviews the system of concessionary fares reimbursement taking into account extensive research, representations from academics, local authorities and the bus industry. Each year it publishes revised guidance informed by those and by the outcome of previous determinations of appeals by bus operators to the Secretary of State.

The guidance is not statutory and there is scope for Travel Concession Authorities (TCAs) and bus operators to deviate from it if local circumstances, such as in the instance referred to in my answer of 17 December, are atypical of the variables which underpin the guidance.