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Written Answers

Volume 684: debated on Thursday 13 July 2006

Written Answers

Thursday 13 July 2006

BBC

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the editorial independence of the BBC would be compromised if the National Audit Office were to be given access to its accounts; and, if so, in what way.[HL6700]

This Government, like their predecessors, take the view that to bring the BBC fully within the remit of the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee would risk undermining the corporation's editorial independence. While NAO and PAC scrutiny might formally be confined to financial and value-for-money issues, it would in practice be impossible to preserve a clear distinction between such matters and decisions involving editorial or artistic judgment.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How the BBC is to be made directly accountable to the licence fee payer.[HL6701]

The BBC Trust will set out its plans for direct public engagement in a new contract of accountability with licence fee payers. The trust will ensure that its programme of engagement includes a wide range of contact methods to enable it to represent the interests of the full scope of licence fee payers across the country. Examples of engagement techniques can be found in the Green Paper A Strong BBC, Independent of Government and the White Paper A public service for all: the BBC in the digital age.

British Citizenship

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why Ms NHK (ref: EM02834) has received no response to her letter to the Home Office Nationality Policy and Special Cases Unit dated 22 July 2005; and why she has not yet received a British citizenship certificate when it was known in January 2006 that her application was wrongly refused.[HL6119]

The lack of response to Ms NHK's letter is regretted and was due to oversight. There has been difficulty locating her papers because the reference she supplied was incorrect. A British citizenship certificate and a letter of apology have been sent to her.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will amend paragraph 14.18.5 of Chapter 14 of the Home Office Nationality Instructions to reflect the provisions of Section 1(6) of the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997, which does not disqualify a person from registering if he or she has acquired another nationality on or after the relevant date.[HL6763]

One effect of subsections (2) and (3) of Section 1 of the 1997 Act is that a person who had one of the specified forms of British nationality immediately before the relevant date can qualify for registration only if he or she would otherwise have been stateless. Since that would not be the case where a person already had another nationality or citizenship, it follows that subsection (6) can be referring only to the giving up of another nationality or citizenship acquired on or after that date. That is why the instructions say that a person will be disqualified if, on or after the relevant date, he or she has,

“acquired and renounced, or otherwise voluntarily relinquished, the nationality or citizenship of another country or territory”.

The noble Lord rightly points out that acquisition of another nationality or citizenship on or after the relevant date will not, in itself, operate to disqualify the person concerned. We shall look at the relevant paragraph again and consider whether the drafting might be improved so as to avoid possible misunderstanding.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 28 June (WA 146), and having regard to paragraph 3.4 of Annex D to Chapter 12 of the Home Office Nationality Instructions, on what basis a British Overseas citizen minor who has had another citizenship or nationality taken away from him due to no act, or failure to act, of his own is considered by the Home Office tohave renounced, voluntarily relinquished or lost through action or inaction that citizenship or nationality.[HL6766]

Section 4B(2)(c) of the British Nationality Act 1981 does not specify that the “action or inaction” that brought about the loss of the person's non-British nationality or citizenship must have been that of the person himself. It therefore seems to us unnecessary to inquire into the extent to which the person was cognisant of an action taken on his behalf (in this instance, an application by a parent for him to have a British passport). The actions specified in paragraph 3.4 of Annexe D to Chapter 12 of the Nationality Instructions, which relate to deprivation and nullity of citizenship, are of a different order in that they are taken neither by nor on behalf of the person concerned.

Extradition: United States

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why their obligations under the extradition treaty with the Government of the United States have become effective before the reciprocal obligations of the United States commenced.[HL6845]

The extradition treaty with the US of 2003 is not yet in force. However, certain elements of the treaty, which also apply to many other extradition partners, were given effect by the Extradition Act 2003 and secondary legislation under it. Inclusion of the US in this way was done in advance of the coming into force of the 2003 treaty because the Government considered it right to treat the US in the same way as other trusted extradition partners. To change the designation of the US under secondary legislation would be a retrograde step.

Ministerial Accountability

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 20 June (HL5991), whether Ministers are accountable to Parliament and to the courts for the acts and omissions of their civil servants.[HL6494]

NHS: New Treatments

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are planning to revise the Health Service Circular HSC/1999/176; if so, when a revised circular will be issued; and whether it will include new guidance for strategic health authorities and primary care trusts regarding the funding of licensed treatments or new technologies that have not been considered by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.[HL6750]

Revised guidance will be published later this year, and copies will be placed in the Library. The guidance will include advice to the National Health Service on the funding of licensed treatments or new technologies that have not been the subject of guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What sources of advice and information they provide on how primary care trusts and health authorities should make funding decisions for licensed pharmaceutical treatments or technologies which have not been considered by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.[HL6751]

Guidance published in HSC 1999/176 recommends that, where no guidance has been issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the National Health Service should use existing arrangements to access publicly available evidence on the effectiveness of new interventions. Bulletins published by the National Prescribing Centre, which is funded by the Department of Health and NICE, are identified as one source of such information. Further sources of advice and information will be identified in the update of this guidance, which we plan to issue later this year.

Official Travel: Carbon Emission Offsets

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Davies of Oldham on 15 June (WA 41), whether they will describe, including the measurable element, the Department for Transport's scheme to offset carbon emissions generated by its Ministers and officials while undertaking official travel; whether the scheme includes forms of transport other than air travel; how and on what date the details of the scheme were communicated to officials within the department likely to use it; and how many times the scheme has been used since its introduction.[HL6496]

The Department for Transport is participating in, and contributed to, the development of a scheme to enable government departments to offset the carbon impacts of their air travel from April 2006. Investment through a Government Carbon Offsetting Fund will replace or reduce the use of fossil fuels and the subsequent emissions of carbon dioxide and compensate for the carbon dioxide released by air travel. The department will calculate its annual offset requirements based upon air travel cost and distance data for the year, multiplied by a factor of two to reflect the fact that the impact of aviation on climate change is increased over that of direct carbon dioxide emissions alone by some of the other emissions released and their specific effects at altitude. The scheme covers air travel from April 2006. Staff were notified in May through the department’s in-house magazine.

Railways: Bridges

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many rail bridges in north-west England have been rebuilt or renewed in each of the years 2001-05.[HL6633]

These are operational matters for Network Rail, the owner and operator of the national rail network. The noble Lord should contact Network Rail's chief executive at the address below for a response to his questions.

John Armitt, Chief Executive, Network Rail, 40 Melton Street, London NW1 2EE

Rights of Way

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many rights of way have been reopened or established in the past five years in north-west England.[HL6635]

Responsibility for improving the rights of way network and ensuring that routes are properly recorded and maintained rests with individual local highway authorities. Data on new routes created in the north-west or anywhere else in England are not collected centrally. They could be collected only at disproportionate cost.

Roads: A27

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many accidents have occurred on the A27 between Lewes and Polegate; and how many involved fatalities in each of the past 10 years.[HL6822]

The number of injury accidents including those involving fatalities, and validated by Sussex Police, on the A27 between Lewes and Polegate are as follows.

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Total

Total Accidents

54

66

52

43

55

56

51

50

50

39

516

Fatal Accidents

1

2

3

1

3

1

3

2

2

0

18