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Written Answers

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Abortion

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 17 January 2012 (WA 122), whether the recently reported incidence of sex-selective abortion in the United Kingdom indicates that some abortions may be taking place at a later gestational age than is officially recorded; if not, what explanation they can provide; and how they propose to investigate the matter further. [HL4692]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Previous analysis carried out by the Department based on birth registrations did not offer evidence of sex selective abortion in England and Wales nor did it show that abortions are taking place at a later gestational age than is officially recorded.

The analysis recently reported in The Independent is based on Census data for households with usually resident dependent children. The gender balance of dependent children in these households is affected by a number of events that occur after birth such as the age at which dependent children leave the parental home.

Officials from the Department are working with academics from Imperial College to explore their approach and understand whether it can provide a better understanding of gender ratios in second born children.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they reconcile the statistical analysis of gender abortions which they have made available to Members of Parliament with the data published by The Independent on 15 January; why they averaged data over the entire national population, in the light of the issues raised by Simpson’s paradox; and what action they will take in the light of the latest findings.[HL4693]

Earl Howe: Previous analysis carried out by the Department based on birth registrations did not offer evidence of sex selective abortion in England and Wales. Due to the small number of births to mothers born in many countries outside of the United Kingdom, this analysis used national figures over a five-year period.

The analysis recently reported in The Independent is based on Census data for households with usually resident dependent children. The gender balance of dependent children in these households is affected by a number of events that occur after birth such as the age at which dependent children leave the parental home.

29 Jan 2014 : Column WA230

Officials from the Department are working with academics from Imperial College to explore their approach and understand whether it can provide a better understanding of gender ratios in second born children.

Agriculture: Genetically Modified Crops

Questions

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any pre-licensing long-term feeding studies have been conducted on the Arctic Apple, genetically modified by the introduction of polyphenoloxidase inhibitor, particularly on the effects on melanin pigment formation, eye function and skin integrity.[HL4794]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Food Standards Agency advise that no application for the authorisation of the Arctic Apple, a type of apple that has been genetically modified to prevent the fruit from browning, has been received to date in the European Union. The data required to establish the safety of genetically modified organisms are set out in EU regulation 503/2013.

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what scientific evidence there is to prove that the long-term ingestion of genetically modified foods is safe.[HL4795]

Earl Howe: The Food Standards Agency advises that the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods is evaluated case-by-case and the scientific evidence concerning each of the GM foods that is authorised in the European Union is described in the opinions published by the European Food Safety Authority. The EU assessment of proposed GM food and feed products is based on detailed information on the genetic properties of the GM organism, its agronomic characteristics and its composition, as well as feeding studies in animals. As a minimum, the evaluations include repeated-dose 28-day oral toxicity studies in rodents to demonstrate the safety of newly expressed proteins. Recognised good practice for GM safety assessments envisages that in certain circumstances it may be necessary to conduct a 90-day feeding trial with the GM food, and the need for and extent of additional feeding trials is considered on a case-by-case basis. In April 2013, EU regulation 503/2013 introduced a standard requirement for a 90-day rodent feeding trial for many types of GM crop.

Burma

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of a letter sent by ethnic civil society organisations to the Prime Minister in October 2013 concerning the United Kingdom's military engagement and training with the Burmese army. [HL4869]

29 Jan 2014 : Column WA231

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): We are aware of the letter, of 17 October 2013, from 133 civil society organisations addressed to the Prime Minister, President Obama of the United States and Prime Minister Abbott of Australia expressing a number of concerns and reservations about engagement with the Burmese military.

Whilst noting the points contained within this letter, the British Government has not replied directly. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Foreign Office (Hugo Swire) set out the justification for Britain's engagement with the Burmese military in an article published in the Huffington Post on 12 January 2014, entitled 'Military Reform is Crucial for Lasting Change.' He made clear that we needed to be proactive in encouraging the Burmese military to play its part in the democratic transition: to step back from politics, to accept proper civilian control, and to uphold international human rights and humanitarian law.

In line with our policy of engagement, the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom delivered an educational course in Burma from 6-17 January 2013 to a mix of 30 civilian and military participants which aimed to develop the professionalism of the Burmese Armed Forces within a democratic framework by raising awareness of effective governance and management structures in order to support the policies of a civilian government. The programme also included an examination of the legal frameworks governing international human rights and humanitarian law. It did not develop any combat capacity or capability.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consultations were held with Burmese ethnic nationalities and ethnic civil society organisations prior to the current provision of training for the Burmese army; and what conditions were attached to that training.[HL4870]

Lord Astor of Hever: Diplomats consulted widely within Burma and with ethnic groups based on the Thai border prior to the beginning of our military engagement. We held regular discussions from mid-2012 onwards with ethnic leaders from the political parties, armed groups, civil society organisations and religious organisations. During 2013, this included specific discussions on the Managing Defence in a Wider Security Context course.

The majority of ethnic minority contacts, including the leadership of ethnic armed groups, have expressed their support for our engagement policy with the Burmese military. We will monitor progress and review our engagement policy accordingly.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is meant in the prospectus for the Ministry of Defence's Managing Defence in the Wider Security Context course by "the art and science of war"; why human rights are not referred to in that prospectus; whether the course currently being provided to the Burmese army by the United Kingdom is designed for

29 Jan 2014 : Column WA232

“developed and transitional democracies”; and, if so, whether they consider Burma to fit that category and why.[HL4873]

Lord Astor of Hever: The phrase appears on a webpage of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom and is derived from the works of military theorists such as Clausewitz and Sun Tzu. The website is in the process of being updated.

The Managing Defence in the Wider Security Context course teaches course members how defence works within a democratic framework. The course that was delivered in Burma from 6-17 January 2013 was specifically tailored for that country and addressed issues of human rights and international humanitarian law. A summary of the syllabus has been released.

Indeed, by providing this course, we have unlocked the door for officials to engage directly with senior members of the Burmese military, a number of whom have asked for our help, to assist them in becoming a more professional and de-politicised organisation. The Managing Defence in the Wider Security Context course is considered to be an appropriate course to aid them in their transition.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what they mean by "professionalisation" as one of the stated objectives for the training currently being provided to the Burmese army; what plans are in place to monitor the impact of the training currently being provided to the Burmese army after it has concluded; and on what basis they consider that the training provided to the Burmese army will lead to any improvement in governance and human rights in Burma.[HL4874]

Lord Astor of Hever: During her speech at Sandhurst in October 2013, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi requested help to aid the Burmese army in becoming as professional and effective as possible and also help in how to depoliticise it. Daw Suu also commented on the admiration that British people have for their Armed Forces.

Values, standards and codes of conduct, as well as reputation and ethos are fundamental aspects of a professional Armed Force. Providing defence education to overseas Armed Forces personnel to the same high standards used by UK Armed Forces helps improve standards, accountability and among other things, raises awareness of the importance of human rights

In line with our policy of engagement, the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom delivered an educational course in Burma from 6-17 January 2013 to a mix of 30 civilian and military participants which aimed to develop the professionalism of the Burmese Armed Forces within a democratic framework by raising awareness of effective governance and management structures in order to support the policies of a civilian government. Over a 14 year period, this course has been delivered to representatives from 101 different nationalities.

Insofar as it is possible, we will attempt to monitor the impact of this engagement in the same fashion that we seek to track the impact of all our Defence

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Engagement activity. However, active post-course monitoring of participants is not practicable although through long-term dialogue, we will enquire about their progress.

Consumer Rights Bill

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they propose to introduce their revised Consumer Rights Bill.[HL4781]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The Consumer Rights Bill was introduced to Parliament on 23 January 2014.

Extradition

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on how many occasions between 1970 and 1997 they requested the extradition of persons from the Republic of Ireland to face terrorist-related charges in the United Kingdom; and what responses were received in each case.[HL4810]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): This information is not held centrally. Prior to 1 January 2004, when the European Arrest Warrant came into force, extradition between the UK and the Republic of Ireland was governed by the Backing of Warrants (Republic of Ireland) Act 1965. The Act operated on a police-to-police basis and, as such there was no Home Office involvement.

However, Home Office officials have examined historical records and consulted with colleagues in the Northern Ireland Office and have been able to identify some limited information which dates back to 1973 only. Therefore, in the period between 1973 and 1997, at least 110 requests were made to the Republic of Ireland from the UK (excluding Scotland). At least 42 people were arrested and eight were extradited back to the UK. The extant records do not reveal whether any of these requests were formally declined.

Female Genital Mutilation

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to deal with hospitals which are failing to report female genital mutilation.[HL4765]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): It is the responsibility of National Health Service trusts to ensure that their staff follow correct safeguarding procedures. NHS staff have a legal obligation to safeguard children, so whenever they identify a child who may be at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) or who has already been subjected to FGM, they must always respond by

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involving the appropriate authorities as set out in the “Female Genital Mutilation Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines”(2011). A copy has already been placed in the Library.

Gibraltar and Spain

Questions

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what enhanced maritime security they have introduced since the increased number of maritime incursions by the Spaniards into Gibraltarian waters started some two years ago.[HL4783]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many men, and what ships, are involved in maritime security in Gibraltarian waters.[HL4784]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there has been consideration of reinforcing the Gibraltar garrison, and in particular its maritime security capability, with Royal Marine boarding parties, extra rigid and semi-inflatable high speed craft, and strong-hulled fishing vessel-type ships, to ensure a robust response to Spanish incursions.[HL4785]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The UK Government is confident of British sovereignty over the whole of Gibraltar, including British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and takes its responsibility for protecting that sovereignty very seriously. In response to an increased number of maritime incursions, we have deployed additional personnel to Gibraltar to enhance the response capability and resilience of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron, increasing the number of crews from two to three. Larger Royal Navy ships will continue to visit Gibraltar regularly in relation to operational and training activity, reflecting its utility as a permanent joint operating base.

All elements of the situation, including the maritime security capabilities available to the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron, are kept under review. Should it be necessary, we will provide additional assets to the Squadron or augment our broader maritime posture as necessary.

Active maritime security in Gibraltar is provided by the Royal Navy's Lifespan Patrol Vessels, HMS SCIMITAR and HMS SABRE, and up to three Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), all operated by the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron. The Squadron consists of around 25 personnel. The Gibraltar Defence Police have two 15 metre Launches and three Arctic 24 RHIB s for maritime force protection and law enforcement purposes. Ordinarily three police officers are assigned to marine duties, drawing on a cadre of some 20 personnel. Other units based in Gibraltar provide appropriate support to operations as circumstances dictate.

Government Departments: Research and Development

Question

Asked by Lord Adonis

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation spent in total in (1) 2010–11, (2) 2011–12, (3) 2012–13,

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and (4) 2013–14; how much the Department spent on research and development in each of those years; and how much the Department spent on the Small Business Research Initiative in each of those years.[HL4643]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The total spent by the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation since 2010-11 is detailed in the latest Annual Report and Accounts 2012-13. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/ uploads/attachment_data/file/211086/bis-13-p102-bis -annual-report-and-accounts-2012-2013.pdf

The total spent by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on Research and Development in these years is as follows. Figures for 2011-12 are the latest figures available.

2010-112011-122012-132013-14

408

645

n/a

n/a

All figures are in £ million and in cash terms

Source: Table 2.1: Net Government expenditure on R&D by departments (cash), UK, 2002-03 to 2011-12, from SET Statistics 2013 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/science-engineering-and-technology-statistics-2013

The total spend by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills on Small business research initiative (SBRI) in these years is as follows:

2010-112011-122012-132013-14

BIS

490

500

180*

1500*

TSB

200

1880

19800

11200

Intellectual Property Office

0

0

200

0

Research Councils

0

0

280

800

National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs)

0

3500

1000

3010

UK Space Agency

0

0

1020

6000

* in addition Defra and DECC contributed £1m each to the competition that resulted in these values

All figures in £ thousand

Figures are provided for BIS and its wider agencies such as Research Councils, the Intellectual Property Office, the Technology Strategy Board, the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, and the UK Space Agency.

Figures are for total contract awards made under SBRI within the financial year on competitions led by these bodies.

Government: Ministerial Responsibilities

Questions

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the criteria applied to determine whether a town or city should have a dedicated minister.[HL4759]

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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford) (Con): Ministerial responsibilities are a matter for the Prime Minister and appointments and portfolios are entirely at his discretion.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will set out the functions and status of the Prime Minister within the Cabinet.[HL4858]

Lord Hill of Oareford: The functions and status of the Prime Minister within the Cabinet are already set out in a number of documents including the Ministerial Code, the list of Ministerial responsibilities and the Cabinet Manual. Copies of the documents are in the Library of the House.

Justice: Legal Fees

Question

Asked by Lord Carlile of Berriew

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Very High Costs Cases (VHCC) contracts were in existence on 1 November for barristers and solicitor-advocates; how many VHCC contracts were terminated by barristers and solicitor-advocates following the Legal Aid Agency’s recent notification of a 30 per cent cut to payment rates; how many trials presently listed to start after 1 April 2014 now have (1) no barristers or solicitor-advocates defending in them, or (2) one or more defendants no longer represented by a barrister or solicitor-advocate; and what is the Government’s policy as to filling in any defence advocacy shortfall in such cases.[HL3828]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Very High Cost Cases represent a tiny number of criminal trials - less than 1 per cent of the total Crown Court cases in the last year were classified as VHCCs. On average 10,000 trials are listed to be heard in the Crown Court each quarter. Despite their tiny number in comparison to wider Crown Court trials, VHCCs are disproportionately expensive and account for around £90 million of legal aid spend.

The figures show that, as of 5 December 2013, there were 553 advocates working on existing VHCCs. Following the LAA’s notification of new rates, 41 barristers notified the LAA that they were withdrawing from a VHCC case.

It is too early to say definitively whether any of the trials presently listed to start after 1 April 2014 now have either (a) no barristers or solicitor advocates defending them, or (b) one or more defendants no longer represented by a barrister or solicitor-advocate. In addition, it should be noted that the LAA holds information on the number of cases (as opposed to trials).

The lengths of trials have yet to be finalised by the trial judges so some current VHCCs may well be declassified in the future, and there is also the potential for multiple trials for some cases. For this reason we do not hold definitive information at this point. Based on the information available as of 18 December, 6 cases

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presently listed to start after 1st April 2014 had no barristers or solicitor-advocates listed as defending in them; 7 cases had one or more defendants without representation by a barrister or solicitor-advocate. However it is not possible to have certainty on the allocation of barristers/solicitor-advocates this far in advance of a trial commencing.

While it is disappointing some barristers have chosen to return contracts, we are confident cases will continue to be heard. Those cases that have been affected continue to have legal representation

NHS: Drugs and Treatments

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the provision of life-saving medical treatment to NHS patients, following the report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre published on 21 January.[HL4920]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Health and Social Care Information Centre's report on the Use of NICE appraised medicines in the NHS in England 2012, published on 21 January 2014, showed continued growth in National Health Service use of a number of medicines appraised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The report is factual and does not seek to identify reasons for variation and should not be used as evidence of 'under' or 'over' prescribing. There are many potential reasons for variation in uptake of medicines and a lower than estimated uptake does not necessarily mean that patients are being denied access to particular drugs.

The NHS constitution states that patients have the right to drugs and treatments that have been recommended by NICE for use in the NHS, where their doctor believes they are clinically appropriate. Doctors are responsible for making decisions on which treatments are most appropriate for individual patients.

Saudi Arabia

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will discuss with the government of Saudi Arabia the possibility of that country providing financial assistance to the International Organisation for Migration for the resettlement from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia of Ethiopian migrants.[HL4660]

Baroness Northover (LD): We encourage the Government of Saudi Arabia to work with countries and specialist agencies such as the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) to manage the return and resettlement process of migrants smoothly.

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Shipbuilding

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in view of the delays to the carrier programme and planning applications for new facilities at Govan, they have considered the allocation of the first of the three new offshore patrol vessels to shipbuilders in Portsmouth.[HL4741]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): I refer the noble Lord to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology (Mr Dunne), in the House of Commons on 19 November 2013 (Official Report, column 868W)

Special Educational Needs: Code of Practice

Questions

Asked by Lord Touhig

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to engage with disability charities and other stakeholders on the Draft Special Education Needs Code of Practice during the redrafting period.[HL4909]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why the definition of progress in Chapter 6 of the Draft Special Educational Needs Code of Practice, in the section on identifying needs in schools, no longer includes improvement in self-help, social skills and personal skills.[HL4910]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether relevant information from the Autism Act 2009 statutory guidance will be included in the final Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.[HL4911]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines on assessment and diagnosis of autism will be referenced in the final Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.[HL4912]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will work with relevant disability charities, including the National Autistic Society, to ensure that the educational needs of children and young people with specific impairments are fully reflected in the description of special educational need in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.[HL4913]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Department recently consulted publicly on a draft Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. Revisions are being made to the Code of Practice to take account of developments during the passage of the Children and Families Bill and responses to the consultation. These were from a wide range of organisations in the statutory and voluntary and community sectors, including those in the special

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educational needs and disability field. We will continue to work with those who must have regard to the Code of Practice and those who support children, young people and families as this is taken forward.

Transforming Rehabilitation

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether probation staff have been given reasons in writing following their assignment to either the National Probation Service or a community rehabilitation company under the Transforming Rehabilitation plans.[HL4375]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): We published the National Framework on Staff Transfer and Protections on 13th November 2013. Following intensive negotiations, an 'in principle' agreement has now been reached with the Trade Unions and a joint statement was sent to Trusts on that basis. The Framework will be discussed again at a joint meeting of the National Negotiating Council and the Standing Committee for Chief Officer Grades on 29 January and it is expected that it will be fully ratified then.

The Framework sets out the principles for transitioning probation staff into the new structure. Staff will be assigned by automatic assignment where a role remains substantially unchanged at the point of transfer. Where an existing role spreads across functions transferring to both of the new organisations, i.e. the National Probation Service (NPS) and a Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), staff in those roles are being invited to express an interest in working for either the NPS or CRC.

Staff will receive written confirmation of the outcome of this exercise and the reasons for it. Where they are unhappy with the outcome, staff will be able to appeal against the decision in line with the criteria set out in the National Framework.

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Young Offenders: Mental Health

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children in each of the last five years have been transferred to hospital from (1) young offender institutions, and (2) secure training centres, under section 47 and section 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983.[HL4666]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): We recognise that some young people in custody require specialist medical treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983 and are committed to ensuring timely transfers are made, so the appropriate care can be provided.

The number of young people aged under 18 who have been directed to hospital for treatment under sections 47 and 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983 from (1) young offender institutions (YOIs) and (2) secure training centres (STCs) in each of the last 5 years is set out in the table below.

YearYOIsSTCsTotal

2008

39

0

39

2009

39

0

39

2010

26

1

27

2011

23

5

28

2012

26

4

30

The figures represent a breakdown of previously published information in the Offender Management Caseload Statistics and Mentally Disordered Offenders Bulletins. Data for 2013 will be published later in the year.

Notes

1. These figures may include those admitted more than once in the year.

2. As well as section 47 transfers for sentenced prisoners, these data include transfers under section 48 for those remanded in custody by the Magistrates Court, sent to trial at Crown Court, detained under immigration powers, and civil prisoners.