14 Jan 2015 : Column WA247

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA247

Written Answers

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Council Tax Reduction Schemes

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there was a cut in funding for Council Tax Support in 2014–15; and whether they have plans to cut funding further in 2015–16.[HL3873]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): We provided £3.7 billion for localised council tax support in 2013-14 and 2014-15, and will be providing the same amount in 2015-16.

We have also provided further central government funding for councils to freeze council tax again in 2015-16. Not only does freezing council tax help all council taxpayers, but it also helps keep down the cost to councils of local council tax support.

Spending on council tax benefit doubled under the last Administration, costing taxpayers £4 billion a year – equivalent to almost £180 a year per household. Our reforms to localise council tax support have given councils direct financial incentives to support local firms, cut fraud and promote local enterprise. Councils now benefit, via the falling cost of local council tax support, from positive action taken to reduce welfare dependency, increase employment and make work pay.

East Coast Railway Line

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to improve the infrastructure of the East Coast Main Line to facilitate the improvements to the train services which they have agreed with the new operator of the franchise, Virgin East Coast; and whether these plans are compatible with the outstanding applications of the “open access” operators and the known freight obligations.[HL3974]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Government, as part of the Rail Investment Strategy (RIS) for CP5, provided a £240m connectivity fund for infrastructure improvements on the East Coast Main Line. The apportionment of this fund is being administered by an industry programme board and enhancements under the fund are to deliver an increase in capacity, which the new franchise plans to utilise to deliver their train service.

The new franchise will be responsible for delivering the new Intercity Express Programme (IEP) fleet of class 800 / 801 trains into service. The Government’s RIS for CP5 has specified investments of £330m on the East Coast Main Line to enable the class 800 / 801 fleet to run to a range of destinations.

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA248

Through the franchise competition, Virgin Trains East Coast was required, as part of their bid, to protect the existing level of open access and freight services. The infrastructure improvements provided by the RIS for CP5 create additional capacity. Applications to use the capacity are currently with the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) from both the InterCity East Coast franchise and an open access operator. A decision on these applications is expected from the ORR in due course. Any decision on future aspirations for additional open access or freight services will taken by the ORR.

English Language: Education

Questions

Asked by Lord Quirk

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the statement in the National Curriculum in England framework document published in December 2014 that “pupils’ acquisition and command of vocabulary are key to their learning and progress across the curriculum” in the section “vocabulary development”, why under the section on programmes of study there is no programme for vocabulary. [HL3982]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, with reference to the National Curriculum in England framework document published in December 2014, why in the section “Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation” there is nothing on vocabulary.[HL3983]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The importance of vocabulary development is emphasised and integrated throughout the National Curriculum framework. This covers both general vocabulary development and the subject-specific language that pupils need to be able to use to progress in, for example, mathematics and science. Both the reading and writing domains of the English programmes of study emphasise the importance of building pupils’ vocabulary, so they understand and can use a wide range of words.

The approach to developing vocabulary is first through securing word reading and comprehension and second through pupils developing an understanding of how words and meaning can be created using prefixes and suffixes. Morphology and etymology are emphasised at Key Stage 2 to further develop pupils’ capacity for understanding and developing vocabulary. This is brought together in the appendix covering vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, which also sets out the terminology that pupils should be taught to use to discuss their writing.

The National Curriculum Framework document was updated in December 2014 to include the new science programmes of study for Key Stage 4. The English programmes of study remain unchanged since their original publication in September 2013 for Key Stages 1-3 and June 2014 for Key Stage 4.

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA249

Freedom of Information

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether a Freedom of Information request which would exceed the financial threshold can be validly submitted on the basis that the enquirer pays the excess so that the information is provided.[HL3899]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Public authorities may provide information in response to a request for information exceeding the “appropriate limit” in section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on the basis that the requester pays certain costs. The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 set out fees that may be charged in such cases under section 13 of the Act. However, it is entirely left to the discretion of the public authority whether or not to offer to comply on payment of such a fee.

Hospitals

Questions

Asked by Lord Mawhinney

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will list the National Health Service hospitals which declared major incidents in the period 1 December 2014 to 7 January 2015 inclusive; and in each case how long the incidents lasted.[HL3969]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, for each National Health Service hospital which declared a major incident in the period 1 December 2014 to 7 January 2015 inclusive, how much money was spent per year in the preceding two years on the fees and costs of agencies which were contracted to supply (1) doctors, (2) nurses, and (3) other National Health Service staff, to the hospital concerned. [HL3970]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, for each National Health Service hospital which declared a major incident in the period 1 December 2014 to 7 January 2015 inclusive, how many beds were occupied by patients whose treatment had been completed but who remained in hospital because alternative health care or treatment were not available for them outside hospital at the time that the major incident was brought into effect.[HL3971]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): NHS England, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority have advised that this information is not held centrally.

In the context of hospitals currently declaring major incidents, this refers to an emergency situation where particular facilities or resources are under pressure and special arrangements are required to maintain the delivery of some services. It would be for the organisation that had declared the emergency to de-escalate it, in line with its incident response plan.

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA250

The use of major incidents has been part of the National Health Service planning process since 2005, and they have been declared in every year since then.

There is no central definition but a major incident in a hospital might be called in:

- times of severe pressure such as winter periods or an infectious disease outbreak; and- a period of particular local pressure such as dealing with a road traffic accident.

International Assistance

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are their priorities at the forthcoming International Conference on Financing for Development to be held on 13–16 July 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [HL3985]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Northover): The UK welcomes the opportunities 2015 offers to shape an ambitious new framework for international development – including through the July Conference on development finance. This provides an opportunity to mobilise all sources of development finance and ensure these are used effectively as we seek to eradicate global poverty. An effective financing framework and agreement on ‘means of implementation’ will be an essential part of the post-2015 framework.

We have three main objectives for the Finance for Development (FFD) process:

The Conference must succeed in delivering action: the agreed package on FFD must promote a more effective development finance system, including national and international enabling policies, the effective mobilisation and use of all finance sources, and an enhanced ability of national policy-makers to address multiple objectives, especially poverty eradication and sustainability/ climate change.The outcome of FFD negotiations must maximise the chance of achieving a good post-2015 goal framework; and must fit with other global processes, particularly on trade and climate.The package agreed on FFD should balance responsibility for implementation between developed and developing countries, between national and international actions, and between public and private sources, to achieve a paradigm shift in the development landscape.

Judiciary

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the (1) socio-economic, (2) ethnic, and (3) age, profiles of (a) lay magistrates, and (b) district and deputy district judges, appointed in 2014.[HL3918]

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA251

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): This Government takes the issue of judicial diversity very seriously and has taken steps to improve representation, while still appointing the best people for the job.

We have introduced the equal merit provision, extended salaried part time working to make it easier to balance home and work life and introduced a statutory duty for the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice to encourage judicial diversity.

The ethnic and age profiles of District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) and Deputy District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) appointed in 2014 are as follows:

Four District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) were appointed, one of whom declared themselves to be Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic; three were in the 50-59 age range and one was in the 40-49 age range.No Deputy District Judges (Magistrates’ Court) were appointed.

No information is recorded about the socio-economic backgrounds of salaried and fee paid judicial office-holders.

The tables below show the 244 magistrates appointed in England and Wales in 2014 broken down by socio-economic, ethnicity and age category.

Table 1: Socio-economic category

Socio-economic category has been interpreted to mean occupational group.

OccupationTotal

Manager or senior official

25

Professional occupation

70

Associate professional or technical occupation

30

Administrative or secretarial occupation

17

Skilled trades occupation

3

Personal service occupation

0

Sales or customer service occupation

1

Process, plant or machine operative

0

Elementary occupation

1

Never been in paid employment

0

Not in paid employment

13

Retired

7

Self-employed

7

Unknown

70

Total

244

Table 2: Ethnicity

EthnicityNumber

White

210

Mixed

6

Black

7

Asian

17

Chinese

1

Any Other

3

Total

244

Table 3: Age

AgeNumber

Under 30

18

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA252

30-39

41

40-49

72

50-59

79

60 & over

34

Total

244

Magistrates

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many lay magistrates are currently in post, broken down by (1) socio-economic, and (2) ethnic, categories. [HL3916]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The tables below contain the number of serving magistrates in England and Wales broken down by socio-economic category and ethnicity.

Table 1: Socio-economic category

Socio-economic category has been interpreted to mean occupational group. Magistrates provide information about their occupational status on appointment. Due to practical constraints, this information is not routinely updated; for example, when a magistrates changes occupation. The information below, therefore, reflects the position at the time of appointment.

OccupationNumber

Manager or senior official

4,080

Professional occupation

6,267

Associate professional or technical occupation

2,124

Administrative or secretarial occupation

3,260

Skilled trades occupation

398

Personal service occupation

266

Sales or customer service occupation

307

Process, plant or machine operative

142

Elementary occupation

123

Never been in paid employment

29

Not in paid employment

1,318

Retired

760

Self-employed

798

Unknown

229

Total

20,101

Table 2: Ethnicity

Ethnic CategoryNumber

White

18,271

Mixed

130

Black

599

Asian

919

Chinese

43

Any Other

137

Unknown

2

Total

20,101

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA253

Poland

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns on 16 December 2014 (HL3123), what action they are taking to correct the trade deficit with Poland. [HL4021]

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Livingston of Parkhead) (Con): Her Majesty’s Government is actively engaged in encouraging more exports to Poland. UKTI Poland is part of a nine country regional network, focussed on helping British firms secure business wins and benefit from high value opportunities in key sectors (energy, infrastructure, defence & security, healthcare and life sciences, services and advanced engineering), together with FCO colleagues. The aim is to match Polish opportunities with UK capabilities, facilitate access to key Polish official stakeholders and, through, HMG’s accredited partner, the British Polish Chamber of Commerce Trade Team to provide tailored support to small and medium sized companies looking to export to Poland.

Public Expenditure

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to make the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Welsh Assembly accountable to Parliament for the taxpayers’ money provided to these institutions to enable them to run public services in their respective regions.[HL4014]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The roles and responsibilities of the Government and the devolved administrations are

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA254

explained in various provisions made in the devolution Acts, as well as in non-statutory publications setting out the relationship.

As set out in HM Treasury’s ‘Statement of Funding Policy’,

‘the devolved administrations will be fully accountable for the proper control and management of their public expenditure allocation and for securing economy, efficiency and value for money through scrutiny by the relevant Parliament or Assemblies and the detailed accountability and audit procedures listed in the Devolution Acts.’ (3.2.5)

The Government’s commitment to the integrity and autonomy of the devolved administrations is outlined in the ‘Devolution: memorandum of understanding and supplementary agreement’:

‘The United Kingdom Parliament retains the absolute right to debate, enquire into or make representations about devolved matters. It is ultimately for Parliament to decide what use to make of that power, but the UK Government will encourage the UK Parliament to bear in mind the primary responsibility of devolved legislatures and administrations in these fields and to recognise that it is a consequence of Parliament’s decision to devolve certain matters that Parliament itself will in future be more restricted in its field of operation.’

Public Finance

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the annual budget deficit and what was the structural deficit for each of the last 20 years; and what is their estimate of those figures for the current year and the next two years.[HL4035]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): “The independent Office for Budget Responsibility publishes this information in its ‘public finances databank’, the deficit being ‘Public sector net borrowing’ (PSNB) and the structural deficit being ‘Cyclically-adjusted net borrowing’ (CANB). The data are set out in the table below:

£bn1994-951995-961996-971997-981998-991999-002000-012001-02

PSNB

43.8

35.3

27.7

5.8

-4.6

-14.8

-17.2

0.6

CANB

37.8

25.6

24

14.1

7.9

-1

-5.1

7.7

£bn2002-032003-042004-052005-062006-072007-082008-092009-10

PSNB

26.6

31.5

43.6

41

36.3

40.3

100.3

153

CANB

27.2

36.4

52.3

48.8

44.7

58.3

99.5

121.9

£bn2011-122012-132013-142014-152015-162016-17

PSNB

112.4

119.4

97.5

91.3

75.9

40.9

CANB

81.8

86.2

70.6

77.4

68

34.8

The outturn years are consistent with data published by the Office for National Statistics and the forecast years consistent with the ‘Economic and fiscal outlook’ published by the Office for Budget Responsibility in December 2014.

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA255

Secure Accommodation

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the cause, and (2) the effect, of the 29 per cent reduction in the number of children detained in secure children’s homes between April and September 2013, in the light of the fact that there was a five per cent reduction in the total number of children in custody over the same period. [HL3914]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Overall crime and proven offending by young people has fallen in recent years. Fewer young people have entered the criminal justice system and as a result fewer young people have ended up in custody.

The appropriate placement of young people into the secure estate is undertaken on a case-by-case basis. Placement decisions are based upon a combination of factors unique to each young person entering custody.

Between April and September 2013 there was a two per cent increase in the number of children detained in Secure Children’s Homes and a three per cent reduction in the total number of children in custody. Between April and September 2014 there was a twenty-nine per cent reduction in the number of children detained in Secure Children’s Homes and a five per cent reduction

14 Jan 2015 : Column WA256

in the total number of children in custody. This can, in part, be explained by a twenty per cent reduction in the overall number of 10-14 year olds in the secure estate, one of the main groups placed in SCHs.

Youth Custody

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the final evaluation of the Youth Justice Reinvestment Custody Pathfinders project will be published. [HL3915]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): Pilots inform our approach as we transform the criminal justice system and tackle our stubbornly high reoffending rates. Their value is in showing us what does work, and also highlighting where a different approach should be taken.

The interim evaluation report from the Youth Justice Reinvestment Custody Pathfinder was published in July 2013. This can be found via the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/225630/youth-justice-reinvestment-custody.pdf

The final evaluation report from the Pathfinder will be published in due course.