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Written Answers

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Armed Forces: Credit Unions

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they are making in establishing a Military Credit Union.[HL839]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): My noble Friend may be aware of the debate in the House of Commons on 8 April 2014 (Official Report, column 26WH-44WH) during which my hon. Friend Phillip Dunne announced that the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Anna Soubry) would meet Gareth Thomas MP, the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd, and others to discuss this issue.

Arrangements for such a meeting have now been agreed and the Minister is due to meet with interested parties later this month. I will report back to the House in due course.

BAE Systems

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much United Kingdom public funding BAE Systems has received in each of the last five financial years. [HL765]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): A summary of the total amount of direct Ministry of Defence (MOD) payments for equipment and services attributed to BAE Systems companies for each of the last five financial years is as follows:

Expenditure with BAE Systems
Financial YearTotal Payments
(£ million)

2009-10

3,907

2010-11

3,263

2011-12

3,324

2012-13

3,378

2013-14

To be published on 14 August on Gov.uk in the MOD’s Finance Bulletin 1.01 – Trade, Industry & Contracts 2014

This analysis is based on payments made centrally by the MOD (some 95% of all payments). It does not therefore include payments made on behalf of other Government Departments, by the MOD’s trading funds and Executive non-departmental public bodies, locally by the Department, through third parties such as prime contractors or other Government Departments, in relation to collaborative projects where the payments

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are made through international procurement agencies or overseas Governments or by Government Procurement Card.

Broadband

Question

Asked by Baroness Neville-Rolfe

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made on the rollout of (1) basic broadband, (2) superfast broadband, and (3) mobile coverage, in rural areas; and what assessment they have made of the impact of those technologies on the rural economy.[HL966]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): The Ofcom 2013 UK communications market report and infrastructure update report that broadband was available to 100% of UK premises, whilst 8% of connections were operating at less than 2mbps; that was down from 11% of connections in 2009.

By the end of summer 2014, 1 million new premises will have superfast broadband available for the first time as a result of our superfast broadband programme and 4 million additional premises will have superfast broadband available to them from the current projects; that will mean 90% of UK premises will be able to access superfast services. The second round of projects will add over 1 million more premises, taking coverage to 95% across the UK.

With respect to the impact of the broadband programme, an independent Broadband Impact Study by analysts SQW (with Cambridge Econometrics), revealed the Government’s investment in superfast broadband is expected to deliver a major boost to the UK economy; for every £1 the government is investing in broadband, the UK economy could benefit by up to £20 by 2024. It also demonstrated that the benefits will be shared across the UK, helping the rebalancing of our economy; approximately 89 per cent of the benefits will be in areas outside London and the South East of England with rural areas set to benefit most.

The report focussed on impacts of mass market broadband services – i.e. ‘affordable broadband’ for SMEs and households – and estimated that by 2024, net annual GVA impacts attributable to intervention include:

· £0.8 billion from safeguarding local enterprise employment,· £5 billion from productivity growth for broadband- using firms,· £0.3 billion from improved teleworker productivity, and· £0.2 billion from increased labour force participation.

The majority of these benefits will be to SMEs, and over half to rural areas.

With respect to mobile coverage the 4G rollout will ensure we continue to have some of the best mobile broadband services in Europe. As a result of the 4G auction in 2012, O2 has an obligation to provide indoor 4G coverage to 98% of the UK population and to at least 95% in England, Scotland, Wales, and

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Northern Ireland by the end of 2017. The other three UK mobile network operators have publicly committed to match O2’s coverage obligation by the end of 2015.

Castes: Discrimination

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what they consider to be the necessary preconditions for the implementation of section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010 as provided by section 97 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013; and what timetable they envisage for the fulfilment of those preconditions. [HL806]

Baroness Northover (LD): The Government’s timetable published in July 2013 set out the steps towards implementation of section 9 (5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010. These steps are (i) EHRC published research; (ii) a public consultation on prospective legislation; (iii) engagement with specific affected groups; (iv) draft Affirmative regulations for public consultation, and (v) Parliamentary debates on the regulations. These pre-conditions for implementation, their sequence and the duration of each step remain the same as in the timetable.

As stated in Lord Ahmad’s answer of 6 May to the Noble Lord’s Question (HL6447), stage (i) – publication of the EHRC research – has now happened, but stage (ii) – the public consultation on prospective legislation – is now expected to issue in the Autumn.

Cycling: Safety

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they plan to further improve road safety for cyclists. [HL775]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): This government has committed £374m (£622m with match funding) to increase cycling and make it safer. This includes £35 million to improve safety at road junctions, of which £20 million will be spent on improvements in 81 locations around England and £15 million for improvements in London.

In August 2013, the Prime Minister announced his commitment to cycle proofing so that all new trunk roads and improvement schemes will be designed with cyclists in mind. The Department for Transport’s Cycle Proofing Working Group is looking into training of highway engineers, sharing of best practice and the barriers to better infrastructure for cyclists. Work to cycle proof the strategic road network is underway, with a number of schemes already delivered, or due to be delivered in 2014/15.

We have extended our commitment to Bikeability cycle training for children to 2015/16 and plan to deliver training to a further 616,000 children on top of the 1 million already trained. The scheme teaches

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children (and some adults) how to ride a bicycle safely and responsibly as well as the importance of all road users understanding the Highway Code.

The Department for Transport is developing a Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan due for publication this summer, which will set out, amongst other things, how we plan to further improve road safety for cyclists.

Education: Assessments

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy regarding schools and colleges that wish to allow students to sit their examinations privately; and whether records of the numbers of such candidates are kept by schools, colleges, local authorities, the Department for Education and examinations boards. [HL969]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): Students who enter for examinations through an examination-board approved school or college but are not on the roll of the institution are known as private candidates. A private candidate is responsible for his or her own entry; the school or college that acts as the examination centre is not responsible for the teaching of the examination subject. It is for schools and colleges to decide whether they will accept requests from private candidates to take examinations at their centre.

Schools and colleges may not prevent their own students entering examinations privately, although they may wish to encourage students to discuss any plans to do so with their teachers. If a student enters through another examination centre, the result will count towards his or her school’s performance measures.

The Department for Education does not hold any information on private candidate numbers. The information will be held by some examination boards, schools and colleges.

Falkland Islands Review

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the comment by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 1 July (HL Deb, col 1709) that he still held the opinion that the Franks inquiry on the Falklands War was not entirely thorough or rigorous, whether in making that comment he was speaking in a personal or ministerial capacity.[HL758]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): I have recently responded to two debates on the Chilcot Inquiry in my Ministerial capacity. In the course of both, I drew a comparison between the Chilcot Inquiry and the Franks Inquiry, simply to note the information available to the Chairmen of those Inquiries, the significant difference in their scope, including the giving of evidence in public. Both are important Inquiries for the public

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record, establishing events and learning any lessons. In addition, I offered a personal reflection on the Franks Inquiry [based on my previous work in this area].

Football: World Cup

Questions

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to FIFA regarding the allegations of corruption in the process of the award of the hosting of the FIFA World Cup. [HL934]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with UEFA regarding the allegations of corruption in the process of the award of the FIFA World Cup.[HL935]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the Football Association regarding the allegations of corruption in the process of the award of the FIFA World Cup.[HL936]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): These are very serious allegations. Major sporting events need to be awarded in an open, fair and transparent manner, but we need to wait to see the results of Michael Garcia’s inquiry before deciding on next steps.

Government Departments: Postal Services

Questions

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether all Government departments use Royal Mail for their postal deliveries, and if not, which use other providers.[HL777]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy regarding publicly funded bodies using private postal firms to deliver mail, and which (1) departments, and (2) agencies, currently do so.[HL778]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): All Government departments use Royal Mail to some extent.

In addition, the Cabinet Office’s Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has put in place a framework agreement for the provision of postal services. This provides choice and competition for the provision of postal services to the public sector.

Three central Government departments have reported to CCS spend with postal providers other than Royal Mail, HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Office for National Statistics.

Magistrates

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the diversity of the lay magistracy. [HL792]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): A more diverse judiciary is important in retaining the public’s confidence and trust in justice, and better reflecting the society it serves. The diversity figures for the volunteer magistracy in England and Wales are generally encouraging. At 1 April 2014, women made up just over a half of the magistracy and just under ten percent of magistrates were from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (compared with fourteen percent of the UK population, as reported by the 2011 Census). In addition to local advisory committees’ efforts to target recruitment at under-represented parts of the community, the Magistrates’ Association’s “Magistrates in the Community” project does much to heighten awareness of the role of magistrate, encouraging young people to consider putting themselves forward for this important civic role. We are currently considering additional ways to promote a more diverse magistracy.

Parades Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has had discussions with the Chair of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission since her appointment; and, if so, what these were.[HL837]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson) (LD): The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland spoke to the Chair of the Parades Commission immediately following her appointment in January this year. This was an introductory call to wish her well in her new position.

She Met the Parades Commission and its chairman on 14 May for routine discussions about the general prospects for the 2014 parading season. There were no conversations regarding operational matters in respect of specific summer parades. Determinations on individual parades are entirely a matter for the Commission which operates independently from the Government.

Parades: Belfast

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had, and when, with the government of the Republic of Ireland concerning parades by members of the Orange Order in Belfast this summer. [HL836]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson) (LD): The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has regular meetings with Irish Government Ministers which cover a range of issues, and general matters relating to parading occasionally feature in these discussions. Determinations in respect of all parades are a matter for the Parades Commission which operates independently of the Government.

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Prisoners: Clothing

Question

Asked by Baroness Corston

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the implementation of the Prison Service Instruction 30/2013, which prohibits prisoners from receiving parcels from relatives, whether any prisons have introduced measures to help women who no longer have access to sufficient underwear.[HL204]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): In order to ensure that women have access to sufficient underwear, there is now no restriction on the number of pairs of underwear women in prison can have in their cells (subject to standard overarching volumetric limits on property held in possession).

Prisoners: Sanitary Protection

Question

Asked by Baroness Corston

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether a full range of sanitary products is provided to female prisoners, or whether they have to be purchased. [HL205]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): All prisons across the female custodial estate provide Interlude tampons and sanitary towels to women free of charge. Other brands of sanitary products are available for women to buy via the National Product list.

Road Traffic Offences: Sentencing

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they plan to review the road traffic sentencing framework. [HL789]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The Government has, in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, proposed that the maximum penalty for causing death by disqualified driving should rise from 2 years to 10 years’ imprisonment. We are also creating a new offence of causing serious injury by disqualified driving which will have a 4 year maximum penalty.

When the Government put forward these proposals to deal with the harm caused by disqualified drivers we also recognised that there were a number of other issues around bad driving which were of concern to many people. That is why the Government has announced a review of driving offences and penalties which will be carried out over the coming months.

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Roads

Question

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to introduce smart highways. [HL933]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Highways Agency is investing record amounts in roads, which includes making motorways ‘smarter’, using technology to actively manage traffic flows to reduce congestion and improve safety. On most sections of smart motorway the hard shoulder is used to provide additional capacity for road users: either through being converted into a traffic lane permanently, or opened to traffic when needed during busy times.

To date we have delivered 14 of these types of schemes, and are in the process of constructing a further 6. Following the Spending Review in 2013 there are now plans to deliver a further 18. Collectively this will see smart motorway applications covering around 437 miles of the strategic road network supporting the economy, reducing congestion and providing much needed additional capacity on the busiest motorways.

Beyond this, the Department for Transport will be considering future enhancements within its route strategy proposals which are due to report next year and will establish outline operational and investment priorities for all routes in the strategic road network out to 2021.

Secure Colleges

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether potential private sector providers were invited to submit bids on proposed secure colleges.[HL829]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): In February 2013 the Government published the consultation Transforming Youth Custody: Putting education at the heart of detention. The consultation stated that: “we would like interested parties to develop propositions of their vision for implementing Secure Colleges”. Responses to the consultation were received from statutory organisations, charities, private companies and individuals.

A competition to appoint a provider to design and build the Secure College pathfinder was launched under the Ministry of Justice’s Strategic Alliance Agreement Framework in January 2014. Tenders were submitted by four bidders and Wates has been selected as the preferred bidder.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, currently before this House, will create the statutory framework for Secure Colleges and a separate competition to appoint an operator for the Secure College pathfinder is due to commence in 2015.