The UK has already allocated £12.5 million for humanitarian assistance and protection to those affected by the crisis. Of this amount, on 10 January DFID announced that £6m would be committed to the Rapid Response Facility which is supporting key agencies already operating in South Sudan. Furthermore £19m of previously programmed funding is being used now to support the response. This includes funding for the UN’s Humanitarian Air Service, which airlifts aid workers and life-saving supplies into difficult to reach areas. We continue to call upon all parties to the conflict to ensure safe and secure access for humanitarian agencies and to respect their neutrality.

Spain: Treaty of Utrecht

Question

Asked by Lord Hoyle

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by Baroness Warsi on 20 January (HL Deb, col 450), whether Spain continues to recognise the Treaty of Utrecht.[HL5122]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Spain's position on the continued recognition by Spain of the Treaty of Utrecht is a matter for the Spanish government.

Sudan

Questions

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the commentary on aerial attacks on civilians by the Sudan Air Force in the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on the African Union–United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.[HL5176]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): I am deeply concerned that the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate. Aerial attacks, as detailed in the UN Secretary-General’s report, have continued to claim the lives of innocent civilians and displace large numbers of people, with restrictions on access preventing the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) from reaching those affected. We have repeatedly raised these issues in the UN Security Council, and have made clear to the Government of Sudan, including during the recent visit to Sudan by the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mark Simmonds), that offensive military overflights in Darfur, in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions, are wholly unacceptable. We have made our concern particularly clear where the indiscriminate use of aerial bombardments leads to civilian casualties.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the government of Sudan’s suspension of activities by the International Committee of the Red Cross and its impact on marginalised regions of Sudan, particularly Darfur.[HL5219]

Baroness Northover (LD): On 1st February the Government of Sudan announced that it was suspending the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) activities in Sudan. ICRC planned activities will benefit over a million people in 2014 through the provision of emergency health care, livelihoods support and family reunification activities. We are particularly concerned that ICRC are currently unable to respond to ongoing displacement in Darfur. ICRC is talking with authorities with a view to restarting operations as soon as possible. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Syria

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will take steps to enable the Syrian participants to reach agreements between themselves, without oversight from other states, at the Geneva II conference. [HL5056]

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The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): As set out in the Geneva Communiqué of June 2012, the aim of Geneva II is to establish, by mutual consent, a transitional governing body in Syria with full executive powers. The negotiations at Geneva II are between the two Syrian delegations – the Assad regime and the Syrian Opposition. The National Coalition is the heart and lead of the Opposition delegation. The negotiations are facilitated by the UN and Arab League Special Envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi. No other states are directly involved. No one should underestimate the difficulties that lie ahead, but the UK is committed to doing everything it can, working with international partners, to maximise the chances of the Geneva II process succeeding and achieving a political transition that can end the conflict and bring hope to the Syrian people.

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Home Office will be delegating the responsibility for determining which refugees from Syria the United Kingdom will accept as part of their resettlement programme to organisations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and, if so, which organisations they have approached to date.[HL5211]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con): The Vulnerable Person Relocation scheme (VPR) was announced by the Home Secretary on 29 January 2014, Official Report, columns 888-889. The scheme will provide emergency sanctuary in the UK for displaced Syrians who are most at risk, prioritising in particular help for survivors of torture and violence, and women and children at risk or in need of medical care. The Government has agreed to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to determine who will be accepted under the scheme.

Tourism: Tour Operators

Question

Asked by Lord Pendry

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to discourage tour operators from increasing their prices during school holidays. [HL5258]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The Government has no plans to seek to influence the prices charged by tour operators. It is for business to decide what to charge for its services. In doing so tour operators no doubt take into account the peaks and troughs in demand they experience over the course of a year and set their prices at a level which will attract customers in a competitive market.

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Transport: Cycle Hire Schemes

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will provide funding to (1) the Mayor of London’s cycle hire scheme, and (2) similar schemes in other cities.[HL5038]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Department for Transport provides funding to Transport for London (TfL) via the GLA Transport Grant—£1.988bn this year. It is the Mayor’s responsibility to prioritise the programmes that will be undertaken.

The department has provided 33 local authorities with funding to establish cycle hire schemes through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund over four years to 2015. For example, Reading, Sefton and Oxfordshire councils have all made good progress on their cycle hire schemes.

In addition, the Local Sustainable Transport Fund 15/16 competitive process was recently launched and this provides an ideal opportunity for authorities to bid for funding to implement cycle hire schemes in their area.

Through our Community Linking Places Fund we allocated £14.5m for train operators to install new cycle facilities at railway stations. Some of this funding has gone towards the installation of over 1,300 new cycle hire bikes at stations.

Turkey

Questions

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Warsi on 28 January (WA 227–8), whether they will now list in which respect Turkey has, in their view, made progress in recent years concerning respect for religious and ethnic minorities.[HL5144]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The British Government continues to monitor closely the situation of religious minorities in Turkey.

We have noted the continued implementation of legislation from 2011, which amended the 2008 Law on Foundations, to allow the return of properties to religious minorities or the payment of compensation.

Religious services are now permitted at the Greek Orthodox Sumela Monastery and Armenian Orthodox Akdamar Church.

The Ministry of National Education has begun the issuing of updated religious textbooks for schools which include information on the Alevi faith. During consultations for a new constitution, faith groups were invited to parliament to give their views. We also welcome the continued outreach by the Turkish government to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew, particularly on the issue of the Halki Seminary. Prime

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Minister Erdogan announced on 30 September 2013 that the land containing the Mor Gabriel Monastary will be returned to the Syriac community in Turkey.

We welcome these positive steps taken by the Turkish government and, together with our EU partners, will continue to encourage further progress.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to hold a referendum before they agree to the accession of Turkey to the European Union. [HL5202]

Baroness Warsi: Accession to the European Union is a condition-based process and there is therefore no definitive timetable for Turkey. Turkey must meet all the requirements of the EU acquis before it can join the EU and the British Government is a strong supporter of Turkish accession, so long as Turkey meets these accession criteria.

The Government commitment is that referendums would be held on transfers of power or competence from the UK to EU; accession treaties provide for transfers from the acceding state to the EU. Therefore, this Government does not support a referendum on this issue. Under the EU Act 2011, any new accession treaty must be ratified by an Act of Parliament.

Ukraine

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will take action to develop an approach on the situation in the Ukraine; and whether they will seek to agree their approach with the European Union and the United States.[HL5055]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Government continues to encourage all parties in Ukraine to take steps to defuse tension and increase trust. We fully supported the recent visit of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton, to Kyiv and are working closely with our European and other allies to contribute to a long term solution that addresses the aspirations of the Ukrainian people and provides them with the prosperity and stability they deserve.

Young Offenders: Re-offending

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether statistics of re-offending rates by young offenders take account of the seriousness of further offences; and whether there is a discernible trend for such offences to be less or more serious.[HL5107]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks): Reducing re-offending rates among under 18s is a Government priority. This is why we recently announced plans to overhaul youth custody by doubling the amount of education in Young Offender Institutions and building a new Secure College, which will equip young people with the skills they need to turn their lives around.

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Proven reoffending by young offenders is tracked, including the seriousness of further offences.

Reoffending statistics are published quarterly by the Ministry of Justice and can be found at the link below:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/proven-reoffending-statistics-april-2011-march-2012