25 Feb 2014 : Column WA237

Written Answers

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Abortion

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Earl Howe on 12 February on sex-selective abortions, whether they will examine the ratio of male to female births in a cross-section of postcodes and registration districts, including those districts where cultural factors may have led to sex-selective abortions; and whether they will draw to the attention of prosecuting authorities any instances of marked variation from normal male to female ratios.[HL5463]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Earl Howe on 12 February on sex-selective abortions, whether they plan to introduce any educational initiatives to promote the right to life of an unborn girl and to challenge the belief that it is acceptable to perform abortions on the basis of gender.[HL5464]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Chief Medical Officer has written to all doctors involved in abortion care on two occasions (23 February 2012 and 23 November 2013). Both letters stated that abortion on the grounds of gender alone is illegal.

Given the large natural variation in gender ratios, large sample sizes are required to give tests of suitable power. Analysis for a cross-section of postcodes, particularly if further broken down by country of birth or ethnicity, is therefore not practical. It cannot be concluded from the available analysis that sex selective abortions are taking place.

Any specific allegations about gender-selective abortions being undertaken will be reported to the police.

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total number of asylum applications that were undecided after 12 months, on the most recent date for which figures are available.[HL5448]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): At the end of November 2013, 4,886 asylum applications were pending an initial decision after 12 months. Of these, 3,634 were for main applicants.

The figures provided are a subset of latest published statistics for applications received for asylum since April 2006 and published by the Home Office on a monthly basis. A copy of the latest release Monthly Asylum Applications November 2013 is available from:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/monthly-asylum-application-tables.

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Compensation: Personal Injury

Question

Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they expect to implement any revisions to the personal injury discount rate as a result of the research on that subject published in September 2013; and, if so, when.[HL5397]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The discount rate is currently under review, and no decision has yet been taken on what the rate should be or how it should be set. This is a very complex issue, and the review is being taken forward on as timely a basis as possible.

Crime: Weapons

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they plan to take to reduce the number of young people carrying weapons.[HL5364]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Government's Ending Gang and Youth Violence programme supports local areas to tackle violence by young people, including the carrying and use of weapons.

The Government is also strengthening legislation. In December 2012, a new offence of threatening someone with a knife in a public place or a school came into force. We plan to restrict the use of simple cautions for the most serious offences, including knife possession, through the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. We are also strengthening firearms legislation by proposing an offence which targets criminals who supply guns, often to young people in street gangs.

Education: Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Questions

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which individuals and bodies are charged with powers and responsibilities for (1) education, and (2) young people, in (a) Wales, (b) Scotland and (c) Northern Ireland, under the Government of Wales Act 1998, the Scotland Act 1998, and the Northern Ireland Act 1998; and what those powers and responsibilities are.[HL5454]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Government of Wales 2006 Act provides that the National Assembly for Wales can make Acts in a number of fields including education and training and social welfare, as set out in Schedule 7 to the 2006 Act. The 2006 Act repealed Section 22 of the Government of Wales Act 1998.

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The Scotland Act 1998 devolved responsibility for education and child welfare issues to the Scottish Parliament.

The Northern Ireland Act 1998 did not expressly charge any individuals or bodies with powers or responsibilities for education.

Further details of the powers and responsibilities of the devolved administrations can be found on their websites.

The Welsh Government website can be found at www.wales.gov.uk, the Scottish Government website at www.scotland.gov.uk, and the Northern Ireland Administration website at www.northernireland.gov.uk.

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what powers and responsibilities the Secretary of State for Education is charged with in relation to (1) Welsh, (2) Scottish and (3) Northern Irish matters.[HL5455]

Lord Nash: The Secretary of State for Education has responsibility for a small number of matters in relation to Wales. Schedule 7 to the Government of Wales Act 2006 specifies which matters, including education and training, are devolved to the Welsh Government, subject to certain exceptions such as research councils, intercountry adoption, the Children's Commissioner, and family law and proceedings. The Secretary of State also retains responsibility for the Teachers’ Pay and Pensions Document, which is produced in connection with the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Order, made under section 122 of the Education Act 2002. The Secretary of State may also make regulations as regards teachers' pensions under Schedule 2 to the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 in, or as regards, England and Wales.

The Scotland Act 1998 devolved responsibility for education to the Scottish Parliament. There is no reservation in Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 specifically relating to education.

The Secretary of State has no powers or responsibilities in Northern Ireland. There are no excepted or reserved matters in these areas under the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Embryology: Animal Testing

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 5 February (WA 58), what are the known sources of suffering experienced by non-human primates during pronuclear transfer; and to what extent they consider that human patients or their offspring might be expected to have similar experiences through the application of pronuclear transfer.[HL5385]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): The Government does not hold this information and has neither funded or licensed pronuclear transfer in non-human primates.

Any research that might have been published in other countries will be available in scientific literature.

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Energy: Prices

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 5 February concerning energy prices (WA 60), whether they have any plans to reconsider their policy on how the current incentives for low carbon investments are delivered so that the costs of their climate change policy are paid by the wider community through taxation.[HL5358]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): As previously confirmed, the Government is committed to ensuring that energy bills remain affordable, and as part of this, the Government conducted a review of green levies over the autumn which culminated in a package of measures which has allowed energy companies to reduce average bills by around £50.

The Government therefore has no plans to change the delivery method for low carbon incentives.

Environment: Land Management Scheme

Questions

Asked by Lord Judd

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the current work by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Natural England on preparing the New Environmental Land Management Scheme will include maintaining and enhancing landscape character as a key priority alongside biodiversity and the improvement of water quality.[HL5345]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Defra is consulting delivery bodies and stakeholders to ensure that the new environmental land management scheme delivers against a range of environmental objectives and priorities, including landscape character. However, final decisions on priorities have yet to be taken.

Asked by Lord Judd

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the New Environmental Land Management Scheme will be targeted towards maintaining and strengthening landscape character in the wider countryside and in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[HL5346]

Lord De Mauley: Final decisions on priorities for funding landscape character and other objectives of the new environmental land management scheme have yet to be taken. However, the targeting framework being developed for the new scheme includes data from national character area assessments and from valued landscapes such as national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and heritage coasts.

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Asked by Lord Judd

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure equity of access by farmers in all areas of the countryside to the New Environmental Land Management Scheme. [HL5347]

Lord De Mauley: All farmers in England will be able to apply for the new environmental land management scheme. However with both the “upper tier” and “mid-tier” elements of the new scheme being targeted to sites and areas which deliver priority environmental benefits, there will inevitably be fewer agreements than under the current Environmental Stewardship scheme. Consideration is being given to the range of capital and revenue options that are appropriate to achieve both the environmental gains we seek and provide access to the scheme.

Asked by Lord Judd

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will ensure that within the operation of the New Environmental Land Management Scheme sufficient funding is available for managing and restoring hedgerows, dry-stone walls, historic sites, traditional farm buildings and for safeguarding key features that contribute to the improvement of the United Kingdom's landscapes.[HL5348]

Lord De Mauley: The new Rural Development Programme will see us investing at least £3.5 billion in rural development schemes. We will spend a larger share of the rural development funding on the environment (87% compared to 83% in the previous Programme), with over £3 billion for agri-environment schemes over the life of the Programme. The new scheme will provide funding for a range of boundary, historic, and landscape options. We are also proposing to provide a universal small scale grant for a limited range of capital items including hedgerow laying, coppicing and gapping up, hedgerow trees, dry-stone wall restoration and repair and earth bank restoration and casting up.

Environment: Village Greens

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to protect the status of village greens in England and Wales.[HL5421]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): In England, the status of a registered town or village green is retained in perpetuity unless there is a successful application to de-register a green under the Commons Act 2006 or the High Court orders the register to be amended under section 14 of the Commons Registration Act 1965.

The Welsh Government has jurisdiction for the law on town and village greens in Wales.

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Female Genital Mutilation

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to revise the law on female genital mutilation in order to increase the number of prosecutions. [HL5361]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Government is committed to tackling and preventing female genital mutilation.

We strongly support the action plan that the Director of Public Prosecutions has published with a view to bringing a successful prosecution for female genital mutilation.

As part of that plan, the Director of Public Prosecutions has recently written to Ministers identifying possible ways in which the criminal law might be strengthened to make prosecutions for female genital mutilation more likely. The Government will give careful consideration to the areas identified.

Flooding

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have considered making an application to the European Union Solidarity Fund in the light of the flooding in the Somerset Levels.[HL5308]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): A number of eligibility criteria must be satisfied before an application for support from the European Union Solidarity Fund can be made. In the case of an incident on a national scale, the cost of damages must exceed three billion Euros. In principle, an application may be made to the fund for a regional incident, though this must meet separate criteria. The population of a given region under this scheme must be large and the event in question must affect the majority of the region’s population. The Government is currently considering all the avenues for collecting any money that might be available to assist with the floods.

Government Departments: Payroll Services

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which organisations the Ministry of Justice allows to receive payments by the use of payroll deduction facilities. [HL5287]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Ministry of Justice and its agencies (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), Legal Aid Agency (LAA) and National Offender Management

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Service (NOMS) allow a total of 121 organisations to receive payments by use of payroll deduction facilities. These organisations include those which administer Payroll Giving (give as you earn), recognised Charities and Additional Voluntary Contribution Schemes (pension). These also include Childcare Voucher providers such as Fideliti, the contracted supplier for the department's salary sacrifice scheme, a number of benevolent funds and healthcare insurance providers including Benenden and Civil Service Healthcare and Trade Unions.

MoJ and its agencies do not incur additional cost for the administration of payments through payroll deductions made on behalf of the organisations listed below. This service is part of the overall payroll service contracts.

The full list of names of organisations which the Ministry and its agencies currently allowed to receive payments is set out in the table below:

MoJ (excluding NOMS)NOMS

HMRC

Unite the Union

Fideliti - Childcare vouchers

Affinity Select Insurance (HLI)

Attachment of Earning - Council Tax, Child Support, Fines

Affinity Select Insurance (ASSS)

Pension - Standard Life

Health Shield (BHCA)

Pension - Scottish Widows

Benenden Health

Pension - Scottish Equitable

Birmingham Hospital (paid via BHCA Services)

Pension - Prudential

The Charity for Civil Servants

Pension - NHS

Civil Service Club

Pension - Judicial Pension

Civil Service Sports Council

Pension - ETS Judicial Pension

Frankland Prison Gym

MoJ (excluding NOMS)NOMS

Pension - Equitable Life

POIS Insurance (formerly Family Assurance Friendly)

Pension - AMP Corperate Pension

Forester Health

Pension - PCSPS

GMB Union

Direct Earning Attachments

Glen Parva Fitness Club

Pension - Parliamentary Contributions

Home Office Sports & Social

Accident Insurance

Health Scheme Hull (paid via BHCA Services)

ACE Insurance

Healthsure (part of Simply Health)

Benenden Healthcare

Engage Mutual Insurance

Birmingham Hospital Savings Fund

Hospital Saturday Fund

Bolton & District Hospital Saturday Fund

Simply Health (formerly H S A)

British Health Care Assoc

Simply Health (formerly H S A)

BUPA

Prospect Union

Busy Bees - Childcare

Immigration Service Union

Cash Box Credit Union Ltd

Leeds Hospital Fund (part of Simply Health)

Charitable Giving *

Medicash (paid via BHCA Services)

Civil Service Club

Forester Cash Plan

Colliton Club

PCS Union

Commercial Union Assurance

Prison Service Leisure Association

Credit Union

Portland Fitness Gym

Civil Service Healthcare

Premier Health (paid via BHCA Services

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Civil Service Sports Council

Police Credit Union

CSO Sports and Social

Sovereign Health (paid via BHCA Services)

CSSC Sports and Leisure Club

Sovereign Health (paid via BHCA Services)

Department for Education and Science Sports

Friends Life (formerly AXA Sunlife)

Diplomatic Service Assn

TGWU Union

Department of Education Recreational Association

UCATT Union

DTC

Wakefield Health & Fitness Gym

First Division Association

Welsh Hospital (paid via BHCA Services

Foresters Health Care

Westfield Health (paid via BHCA Services)

Gala Subs

Wetherby Fitness Club

GAYE


GMBTU


Healthsure Group Manchester


Home Owners Fund


Hospital Saturday Fund


MoJ (excluding NOMS)NOMS

Humbers Cont Health Scheme (Hull)


Ind Ortho Manor HO Hosp


KOPAL PUR VILLAGE AID (UK)


Leeds Hospital Fund


LOTTERY


Manchester & Salford Hospital Saturday Fund


Medicash


Mercia Health


Merseyside Health Benefit Club


NAW Sports & Social Club


PO Assurance Ltd


Pois


Premier Health Scheme


Private Medical Insurance


Prospect


Public & Commercial Services Union


Scottish Benevolent Fund


Simply health Crown Plan


Sodexho Pass (Childcare Vouchers)


Sov Health Care Health Plan


Stewardship


Sun Life Assurance Co


The Charity for Civil Servants


UK CS Benefit Soc


UK Temp & Gen Provident Inst


UNISON


UNUM Accident Insurance


Welsh Health Authority


Welsh Hospitals


Westfield Health Scheme


WO Health & Fitness Centre


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Health: Patient Records

Questions

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on what legal basis general medical practitioners can provide patients’ personal and confidential medical records to a central authority without specific consent from each patient. [HL5388]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Health and Social Care Act 2012 (section 259) creates a statutory obligation for health service bodies including GP practices to disclose information to the Health and Social Care Information Centre where they are directed to do so. Routine data

collections do not require specific consent, although patients may request for their information not to be disclosed under an “opt out” system. Any data collected without patient consent will be anonymised.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on what legal basis general medical practitioners may be struck off for failing to provide patients’ personal and confidential medical records to a central authority without specific consent from each patient.[HL5389]

Earl Howe: Guidance on confidentiality from the General Medical Council is clear that doctors should disclose patient information to satisfy the Health and Social Care Act 2012 statutory requirements.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what will be the annual capital and revenue costs of establishing and maintaining an organisation to collect, manage and consider dispersal and strategic usage of patients’ personal and confidential medical records.[HL5390]

Earl Howe: The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was set up as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB) in April 2013. The HSCIC’s primary strategic function is to collect and disseminate data and information and manage certain core NHS infrastructure programmes on behalf of the Department.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre's budget for 2013-14 is Grant in Aid in respect of cash revenue expenditure of £162 million, Grant in Aid in respect of non-cash revenue expenditure of £11 million, and capital funding of £14.5 million.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the removal of patients’ names from their personal and confidential medical records while retaining their postcodes is considered to be an adequate guarantee of anonymity.[HL5391]

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Earl Howe: There are very strict rules about what information the Health and Social Care Information Centre can release to the National Health Service and to outside organisations.

Postcodes are not included in the release of anonymous data.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, and if so how, they have reconciled the centralisation of patients’ personal and confidential medical records with existing university and medical research requirements.[HL5392]

Earl Howe: In the UK Life Sciences Strategy, launched in 2011, the Government established Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) to provide access to anonymised patient information for medical research and the university sector. The access to patient anonymised records is supported by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, who work with CPRD. 'Care.Data' will provide access to a greater number of anonymised patient records and greater depth of information for researchers to use in conducting life sciences research, via CPRD. Therefore, access by medical research and universities will not change, but the range of data will be increased.

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much new funding they intend to give existing university and medical research institutions as a result of centralisation of patients’ personal and confidential medical records.[HL5393]

Earl Howe: Patients' personal medical records are not being centralised.

Academic researchers will continue to bid for funding from established sources.

Human Trafficking

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will seek representations from the “Shine A Light on Trafficking Humans” group at Sandbach High School and Sixth Form College in advance of the introduction of the Modern Slavery Bill; and what plans they have to encourage more schools to educate students about human trafficking.[HL5453]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): I applaud the pupils of this school for their campaigning work against human trafficking. Two groups of pupils from the school have written to the Home Secretary on this issue, in December 2013 and January 2014, and the Home Office has noted their helpful views.

Schools can teach about human trafficking as part of their overall curriculum. For example, it could be included in citizenship education or in personal, social,

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health and economic education (PSHE). The key stage 4 programme of study for citizenship requires schools to teach about human rights and international law, and human trafficking would be a suitable topic.

Immigration

Question

Asked by Baroness Hamwee

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the statement on the UK Border Agency website regarding the financial requirement applying to a person wishing to come to, or stay in, the United Kingdom as the partner of a British citizen or settled person that “you will be exempt from the new financial requirement if your sponsor receives a specified disability-related benefit or carer’s allowance in the United Kingdom. You will need to show that your sponsor can maintain and accommodate you without access to public funds”, why Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance do not qualify for exemption; and what benefits do qualify. [HL5349]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The benefits which exempt an applicant from the new financial requirement for sponsoring a spouse or partner and dependent children of non-European Economic Area nationality to settle in the UK under the family Immigration Rules include: Disability Living Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Attendance Allowance, Carer's Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement and War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme.

Incapacity Benefit and Employment Support Allowance are not included in the list of specified benefits because they are not paid solely as a result of an individual's disability or responsibility for a person in receipt of a disability-related benefit.

Immigration Bill

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Home Office consulted the Department for Education and the Charity Commission about the impact of the Immigration Bill on charities; and if not, why not.[HL5318]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): During the development of the Immigration Bill there have been and continue to be many discussions across government departments including with Department for Education. Furthermore, several of the key elements in the Bill were subject to public consultation including proposals relating to migrant access to health, private rented

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accommodation, illegal working and family migration. A significant proportion of respondents were charities. There were also further discussions with individual charities that had an interest in specific parts of the Bill. It has not therefore been necessary to consult directly with the Charity Commission, which was able to participate in the public consultations along with any other organisation which wished to do so.

Intelligence and Security Committee

Question

Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Intelligence and Security Committee has made arrangements to visit any United States base in the United Kingdom in the past 24 months.[HL5395]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The ISC does not comment on the detail of its work programme.

Law: Jurisdiction

Question

Asked by Lord Sharkey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government under what circumstances the taking up of arms abroad by a British subject does or does not expose that person to prosecution under United Kingdom law.[HL5394]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): In order for prosecution to be possible, the conduct involved will need to amount to an offence if committed in the UK and the courts will require jurisdiction to hear the case. There are a number of offences which could be justiciable in England and Wales arising from a British subject taking up arms overseas. These offences include murder, treason, torture and terrorist offences.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what proportion of legal aid funding for legal representation of individuals is spent in respect of individuals who do not hold any previous convictions.[HL5241]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Legal Aid Agency does not record whether recipients of legal aid hold previous convictions. There is no legal or business requirement for the agency to hold prior conviction information. In the consideration of legal aid eligibility the agency assesses a person's overall financial circumstances. I am therefore unable to provide the figures requested.

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National Probation Service: Staff

Questions

Asked by Lord Carlile of Berriew

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether probation staff have been consulted, and their agreement sought, regarding decisions to allocate them to the National Probation Service or a community rehabilitation company.[HL5312]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have consulted the relevant trade unions regarding the allocation of staff to either the National Probation Service or a community rehabilitation company. [HL5313]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether probation staff have rights of appeal against decisions made to allocate them to the National Probation Service or a community rehabilitation company. [HL5314]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections, which we published on 13 November 2013, sets out the principles for transitioning probation staff into the new National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies. Probation staff were consulted on this document prior to its publication, and the document has been ratified by the National Negotiating Council and the Standing Committee for Chief Officer Grades and endorsed by the Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service. The National Agreement offers a very good deal to existing staff, demonstrating our commitment to fairness and providing certain guarantees to staff at the point of transfer. Staffs have been assigned to the new organisations 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 were invited to express an interest in working for either the NPS or CRC. All staff have now been assigned to posts in the new structure. They are able to appeal against the decision in line with the criteria set out in the National Agreement.

NHS: Black and Minority Ethnic Managers

Question

Asked by Lord Boateng

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many black and minority ethnic managers are employed in each of the three top grades of NHS England and on the Board at executive or non-executive level of NHS England.[HL5440]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): NHS England advises that it is currently undergoing a refresh of its equality and diversity data, which includes all grades. To this

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end, all its staff have been asked to update their information including, if they are willing to do so, self-classifying their ethnicity, in keeping with provisions of the Equality Act 2010. The completion rate of the refresh currently exceeds 80% and is scheduled to be concluded by 31 March 2014.

In line with Cabinet Office guidance we do not publish details about individuals' protected characteristics. Given the small numbers of Board members we could not disclose the results of our monitoring, or NHS England's monitoring, without infringing the rights of the individuals concerned. Our data is included in broader data on appointments by ethnic minority background, role, and body, which have been published by the Commissioner for Public Appointments in the Annual Survey of Ministerial Appointments and Reappointments to the Boards of Public Bodies Regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. This is available at:

http://publicappointmentscommissioner. independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/130624-Final-OCPA-Statistics-2012-13.pdf

NHS: Black and Minority Ethnic Nurses

Questions

Asked by Lord Boateng

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Earl Howe on 10 February (HL Deb, col 406), when the strategy on the career progression of black and minority ethnic nurses will be completed; and whether it will be published.[HL5438]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of institutional racism in the wider representation of black and minority ethnic nurses amongst executive directors of nursing in the National Health Service.[HL5439]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the membership of the Chief Nursing Officers Black and Minority Ethnic Advisory Group; how many times it met in 2011, 2012 and 2013; and whether its reports are circulated to (1) ministers, and (2) NHS England Board Members.[HL5441]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Chair of the Chief Nursing Officers (CNO) Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Advisory Group has set up a BME Leadership Strategy Group to develop a BME Leadership Strategy. It plans to publish and implement the strategy later this year. The strategy has a strong focus on support and development for BME staff with the aim to improve services and workplaces that are equitable where everyone feels that they count.

Workforce diversity across all occupations and grades in the National Health Service is a priority. This is not about quotas but it is fundamentally about bringing the best resources to leadership, culture, innovation, ethics and behaviour, thus creating a workforce that has shared values represented by a wide range of perspectives.

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To help the NHS perform well on equality, and build on its considerable achievements, the NHS Equality and Diversity Council, working with the NHS, designed an Equality Delivery System for the NHS which was formally launched in November 2011. Following an evaluation, a refresh of the Equality Delivery System for the NHS, known as “EDS2” was published in November 2013.

The EDS2 toolkit is designed to support NHS commissioners and providers to deliver better outcomes for all patients and communities. It does so by asking NHS organisations to monitor their equality performance jointly with their patients, communities and staff, in regard to each of the nine characteristics given protection under the Equality Act 2010, including race (ethnic or national origins).

The CNO BME Advisory Group consists of 25 core members and 65 affiliated members representing Senior Nurses and Midwives in the NHS and independent organisations, and educationalists. The Group meets bi-monthly (6 times a year) and has done since its establishment in 2001. The CNO attends some of the meetings herself and minutes of meetings are sent to the CNO; they are not sent to Ministers. Key outcomes and actions are fed back to the NHS Equality and Diversity Council meetings, the Nurse Leadership Programme Board and internal Executive meetings.

Offenders: Re-offending

Questions

Asked by Lord Carlile of Berriew

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how long they estimate an assessment of an offender will take when the Risk of Serious Recidivism calculator is used.[HL5316]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether probation staff will be able to make requests for information to assist them in completing the extended version of the Risk of Serious Recidivism assessment. [HL5379]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the National Probation Service is expected to identify risk factors indicating that a case should not be allocated to a community rehabilitation company.[HL5383]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Public protection is at the heart of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. The National Probation Service will be responsible for the direct management of those offenders who pose the highest risk of serious harm to the public and who have committed the most serious offences. Offenders who are deemed to pose a medium and low risk will be managed by a Community Rehabilitation Company. Every offender will be risk assessed prior to allocation to any probation provider and also upon leaving prison; this will be reviewed when there are indicators that their risk of serious harm to the public has increased to high.

The Risk of Serious Recidivism (RSR) predictor will be used both to aid case allocation and also to support the assessment of the risk of serious harm,

25 Feb 2014 : Column WA252

both at point of sentence, and, in ongoing offender management. The length of time taken to make an assessment of the offender's risk of serious harm will depend on a variety of factors which probation staff will need to consider. As is the case now, probation staff will be able to seek information on previous convictions and current offence, and will have access to details about offenders previously subject to supervision as well as intelligence from the police, and any specialist reports requested by the Courts. Access to such information will be available when an offender is interviewed, where an extended version of the risk assessment tool will be used which records information collected from the offender during that interview.

Asked by Lord Carlile of Berriew

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to publish any research relied upon in the decision to introduce the Risk of Serious Recidivism calculator to probation work.[HL5381]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Risk of Serious Recidivism calculator will be quality-assured and peer-reviewed.[HL5382]

Lord Faulks: Public protection is at the heart of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. In order to assist with the risk assessment of offenders, we have developed a Risk of Serious Recidivism (RSR) predictor which uses the same analytical approach as our existing predictors OGRS and the OASys Violence Predictor (OVP).

This is an established methodology subject to quality assurance and peer review. The predictor has been thoroughly tested with a number of Trusts and has been shown to be a strong predictor of seriously reoffending.

Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they, or any pension schemes underwritten or directed by trustees appointed by them, including the National Employment Savings Trust, have shareholdings in Barclays Bank; and whether they will advise or direct them on how to exercise their vote on the bank's remuneration policy.[HL5373]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): Within the public sector there are a large number of pension schemes which operate under a wide range of differing governance models, depending on their level of independence from central government, legislative basis and their funding arrangements.

The majority of the schemes which are funded (i.e. those that maintain real assets) are subject to the general requirements of DWP pensions legislation, and the regulatory and governance structures which that imposes. For those which are not subject to these rules, similar procedures and rules are generally put in place. It is therefore for the trustees of those individual schemes to ensure that they are operating within these structures and that their roles as shareholders, where these exist, are exercised appropriately.

25 Feb 2014 : Column WA253

As with all trust based schemes, responsibility for investment decisions for the National Employment Savings Trust lies with the trustee.

The Government does not, therefore, have a central record of individual schemes' asset portfolios.

Police: Private Prosecutions

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Taylor of Holbeach on 11 February (HL 5237), indicating that information is not held centrally about whether any of the United Kingdom's police forces have entered into agreements like that of Virgin and the Metropolitan Police whereby compensation recovered following private prosecutions was to be shared, whether they will now seek such information, having regard to the concerns expressed by the Lord Chief Justice; and, if not, why not.[HL5416]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are able to accept funds from private companies under section 93 of the Police Act 1996. The decision as to whether to accept funds is properly a matter for the relevant PCC and Chief Constable, and as such is an operational matter for the Police. It is for this reason that the Government does not hold information as to whether any such agreements have been entered into by PCCs.

However, as I said in response to the Noble Lord's Oral Question on 4 February 2014, Official Report, columns 92-94, we will be revising the guidance to PCCs in due course, and will make it clear that these sorts of arrangements should not be entered into.

Prisons: HMP Norwich

Question

Asked by Baroness Stern

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what changes they have made to HMP Norwich in the light of the conclusions of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons on 29 January that A Wing was not safe and that the issues needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency. [HL5092]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Action has been and is being taken to improve safety on A Wing at HMP Norwich. HMP Norwich now has extra staff from HMP Blundeston (following this prison's closure), so the prison is now fully staffed. This has allowed HMP Norwich to improve the supervision of prisoners and deal more effectively with incidents of violence and anti-social behaviour. Wing staff have a particularly challenging role as they are responsible for caring for a diverse population of prisoners, and additional managers have now been placed onto this unit to support front line work. This will result in significant improvement in the care of new arrivals at the prison and those taking part in substance misuse interventions.

25 Feb 2014 : Column WA254

The new Safer Custody Manager and the Head of Residence and Safety at HMP Norwich are working closely with their teams and partner agency to improve safety, care and decency within the prison. Particular focus is being given to the effective identification and support of prisoners that are at risk of harming themselves. This includes a determined management push to improve the quality of ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork) care plans and management.

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is comprehensively reviewing how we manage violence in prisons with a view to introducing further improvements to ensure prisons are safer places for everyone. This will provide Governors with the tools to create safer prison environments and to help reduce re-offending.

Quangos and Non-governmental Organisations

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 7 February (WA 90) regarding the proportion of chairpersons of quangos and non-governmental organisations with party political affiliations or sympathies, whether they will now publish a copy of that information in the Official Report.[HL5437]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Annual Survey of Ministerial Appointments and Reappointments to the Boards of Public Bodies can be found on the Commissioner’s website:

http://publicappointmentscommissioner. independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/130624-Final-OCPA-Statistics-2012-13.pdf

Copies are also available in the Library of the House.

Questions for Written Answer

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Verma on 3 February (WA 7), whether they will now answer the question. [HL5248]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): DECC Ministers regularly meet with energy supply companies to discuss a range of energy issues. Electricity prices for household consumers are a commercial matter for the companies concerned. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for Government to intervene in the setting of electricity price paid by customers who are not on dual fuel because they do not have access to the gas grid.

25 Feb 2014 : Column WA255

Scotland: Block Grants

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the total amount of the latest block grant transferred by HM Treasury to Scotland; and what consideration they have given to whether that block grant will continue in the event of Scotland becoming an independent nation.[HL5409]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The 2013/14 block grant to Scotland was £26,433.7m for Resource DEL and £2914.2m for Capital DEL.

The Government position is clear: our priority remains reducing the deficit and ensuring a secure economic future for the whole of the UK economy.

Any change to the current system and the Barnett formula must await the stabilisation of the public finances.

If Scotland votes to become an independent country the Barnett Formula, and therefore the block grant, would no longer apply to Scotland.

Sellafield

Question

Asked by Baroness Howarth of Breckland

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps are being taken to use the international benchmark to identify best practice and wider commercial expertise that will augment the current Sellafield consortium's capability and capacity to secure Sellafield nuclear decommissioning objectives.[HL5290]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma) (Con): Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) and Sellafield Ltd employ a wide range of benchmarking processes, both internally through the international breadth of experience offered by the parent companies (URS, Amec and Areva) and through UK and international independent bodies. Since NMP took over management of the site, Sellafield Ltd has become a member of both WANO (World Association of Nuclear Operators) and INPO (Institute of Nuclear Power Operators), both of which provide extensive benchmarking.

While benchmarking is employed wherever possible, the unique challenges and complexity at Sellafield mean that some of the projects require technology and engineering that is the first of its kind.

Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many taxpayers were in each tax band above the basic rate of income tax in each of the past five financial years; and what was the corresponding tax rate for each of those bands in each year.[HL5450]

25 Feb 2014 : Column WA256

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The estimate of the number of taxpayers liable above the basic rate of income tax is published in the HMRC National Statistics publications at table 2.1 which is available from the following address:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/tax-statistics/table2-1.pdf

These estimates are based on the Survey of Personal Incomes (SPI) outturn data up to 2011-12, and then projected to 2013-14 in line with the Office for Budget Responsibility's December 2013 economic and fiscal outlook.

Table 1: Income tax band rates for earnings above the basic rate:
Tax YearHigher rateAdditional Rate

2009-10

40%

N/A

2010-11

40%

50%

2011-12

40%

50%

2012-13

40%

50%

2013-14

40%

45%

Thames Tideway Tunnel

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what communications they have had with the European Commission on the need for state aid clearance for the contracts for the Thames Tideway Tunnel. [HL5328]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Thames Water Utilities Ltd is the project sponsor for the Thames Tideway Tunnel, with responsibility for procuring the main Tunnel construction contracts and also the Infrastructure Provider contract if the project is specified in due course under the Water Industry (Specified Infrastructure Projects) (English Undertakers) Regulations 2013, known as the “SIP Regulations”. There are unlikely to be state aid implications from these contracts, as they will be procured by the private sector in accordance with the relevant European legislation.

The Government has said it is willing to provide contingent financial support for the project, the details of which are being discussed between Government departments and Ofwat. As part of this work, Government is in contact with the European Commission to clarify what, if any, state aid implications there might be in providing a financial support package.

Transforming Rehabilitation

Question

Asked by Lord Carlile of Berriew

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the public sector equality duty will apply to the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda.[HL5311]

25 Feb 2014 : Column WA257

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): In line with the Government's duties under the Equality Act 2010, the potential equality impacts of the Transforming Rehabilitation reform programme are being considered by the Ministry of Justice.

The new public sector National Probation Service (NPS) will be part of the National Offender Management Service, an agency of the Ministry of Justice, which is a public authority for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010. As such the NPS will be required to conduct its operations in full compliance with this legislation.

Many of the functions performed by the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) will be public in nature, such as the supervision of offenders in the community. In exercising these functions the CRCs will also be obliged to comply with the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010. As part of their response to the Transforming Rehabilitation competition, the owners of the CRCs will provide details of their intended approach to meeting these requirements and these commitments will be enforced through the contract management process.

Violence Against Women and Girls

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to improve information for migrants and practitioners so that victims of violence against women and girls, including those subjected to genital mutilation, receive the treatment they need and offenders are prosecuted.[HL5432]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): In 2012 the Home Office worked in partnership with Southall Black Sisters to publish a leaflet for black and minority ethnic women at risk of domestic abuse called Three Steps to Escaping Domestic Violence. The leaflet provides advice on so-called “honour”-based violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, dowry abuse, domestic

25 Feb 2014 : Column WA258

and sexual abuse, and offered advice for those having no recourse to public funds. It has been distributed through organisations working with vulnerable women and girls, including migrants. As part of a concerted drive to end female genital mutilation (FGM), the Home Office has also distributed over 40,000 copies of a “Statement Opposing FGM” leaflet, setting out the law and criminal penalties that can be used against those who facilitate FGM. The leaflet is available in twelve languages.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they plan to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.[HL5468]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I refer the Noble Baroness to the answer given on 11 December 2013, Official Report, column WA125.

Visas

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will adjust minimum income requirements for persons settled in the United Kingdom to sponsor family members to enter or remain in the United Kingdom to equate with the Living Wage and regional variations of it.[HL5431]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) (Con): The Government has no plans to adjust the minimum income threshold for spouse or partner visa applications to equate with the Living Wage or regional variations of it. The level of the income threshold, which was set in the light of advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee, reflects the level of income at which a couple, once settled in the UK, generally cannot access income-related benefits.

The income threshold therefore prevents family migrants becoming a burden on the taxpayer and helps to ensure that they are well enough supported to integrate effectively in British society.