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Written Answers

Volume 688: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

Written Answers

Monday 8 January 2007

Afghanistan: Ammunition

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any units of the Armed Forces in Afghanistan have run out of ammunition; if so, what the circumstances were; how long was the delay before resupply; and whether any lives were placed at risk. [HL859]

At no time have troops on the ground run out of all ammunition types available to them. There have been occasional instances where units in remote locations might have exhausted supplies of a particular ammunition type during a specific attack or operation. In such instances, our helicopters have done an excellent job in resupplying ground forces, sometimes in very dangerous circumstances.

In the rare incidents where we could not get UK troops stocks of specific ammunition moved forward within the required operational timeframe, we have shared stocks of coalition force ammunition. It is standard practice to share equipment between ISAF nations where necessary and on occasions the UK has provided ammunition to other nations.

Afghanistan: Counter-narcotics

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How the United Kingdom has contributed to establishing counter-narcotics intelligence structures in Afghanistan. [HL902]

We work closely with the Afghan Government and other international partners in support of counter-narcotics operations in Afghanistan.

The UK is working with the Afghan Government to establish an operations directorate in the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan that will include a department of intelligence. This department will evaluate and analyse intelligence from the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan provincial offices. It will also share intelligence with other Afghan law enforcement agencies and international partners.

Between June 2005 and December 2006, the UK has delivered basic training to 93 intelligence and investigation personnel in Kabul and five of the key provincial Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan offices—Jalalabad, Kunduz, Mazar, Herat and Helmand.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have been given any indication by the Government of Afghanistan as to when the Ministry of Counter Narcotics will become operational; and how the Ministry's role will differ from that of the counter narcotics division of the Ministry of the Interior. [HL903]

The Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics has been operational since December 2004. Under the Afghan counter narcotics drugs law, the Ministry of Counter Narcotics is responsible for co-ordinating counter narcotics activities and programmes of the Government of Afghanistan as set out in the national drug control strategy. The counter narcotics division of the Ministry of Interior has the responsibility under the counter narcotics drugs law for the implementation of the law enforcement strand of the national drug control strategy.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Who surveys, monitors and verifies the eradication of drugs in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. [HL904]

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) surveys, monitors and verifies the eradication of opium poppy in Afghanistan, including Helmand province. The UK and other international partners provide financial support to UNODC to do this work.

Afghanistan: Drug Seizures

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many drug-related seizures have been made in the Helmand province of Afghanistan; and how many drug-related laboratories have been destroyed in the province since the NATO operation commenced. [HL901]

There are no official figures available for the number of seizures and drugs laboratories destroyed in Helmand province. According to the United Nations Development Programme annual report on the Afghan Law and Order Trust Fund for the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006, 425 drugs laboratories were destroyed and 165.5 tonnes of drugs were seized nationwide in Afghanistan.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces are authorised to provide training and operational support to Afghan counter narcotics forces. They have not been deployed to take direct action against the drugs trade.

Afghanistan: Drug Traffickers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend United Kingdom military forces deployed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan to target drug traffickers, as distinct from drug growers, operating in the province. [HL851]

Under the terms of NATO's operational plan for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), ISAF forces can provide, within means and capabilities, training and operational support to Afghan counter-narcotics efforts. But they are not there to take direct action against the drugs traffickers or to eradicate opium poppies in the fields. That is a job for the Afghan Government.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many suspected drug traffickers United Kingdom forces deployed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan have detained and handed over to the Afghan authorities. [HL852]

UK Armed Forces deployed in Helmand province have not detained any drug traffickers.

The UK, as Afghanistan's partner nation on counter-narcotics remains committed to supporting the Afghan Government in implementing their national drug control strategy. The arrest and prosecution of drug traffickers is conducted by Afghan drugs law enforcement agencies, the Counter Narcotics Criminal Justice Task Force and the Government of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: Helmand Province

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What impact current deployments in the Helmand province of Afghanistan have had on (a) air crew training, and (b) air fleet availability in other theatres of operation. [HL742]

We have a robust training system for air crew training which is not affected by current deployments. UK Armed Forces have sufficient aircraft to meet all current operational commitments.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How United Kingdom military forces deployed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan are structured. [HL743]

As part of the International Security Assistance Force laydown, the UK task force in Helmand reports to Regional Command (South), which is led by Dutch Major General Van Loon. The task force is currently commanded by Brigadier Jerry Thomas, with 3 Commando Brigade providing the task force headquarters and the core of the deployment, although they are supported by numerous other ground and aviation units to deliver a tailored all-arms capability to suit the operational environment in Helmand.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements the Helmand provincial security co-ordination centre has for working with other provinces in Afghanistan. [HL818]

In each Afghan province there is a Joint Provincial Co-ordination Centre, which oversees the activities of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Within Regional Command (South), co-ordination between provinces is conducted through the Joint Regional Co-ordination Centre (JRCC), located in Kandahar. Any liaison with provinces in other regions would be conducted by the JRCC and by the national security co-ordination system based in Kabul.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How the strategic delivery unit in the United Kingdom embassy in Kabul will co-ordinate and monitor reform and reconstruction activities in the Helmand province in Afghanistan; and what working arrangements it has with government departments involved in these activities. [HL991]

The strategic delivery unit (SDU) supports the work of our embassy in Kabul by providing a comprehensive overview and assessment of the UK's progress in implementing its strategic objectives in Afghanistan and in particular in Helmand province. It also provides advice on the implementation of the UK strategic plan for Afghanistan and for Helmand and on linkages and dependencies with the Afghanistan Compact, the Afghanistan national development strategy and the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy. Within the governance, economic and social development strands of the UK strategic plan, the SDU monitors and reports on reform and reconstruction activities in Helmand. The SDU reports regularly through the ambassador to the Cabinet Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Ministry of Defence and to the Department for International Development.

Afghanistan: ISAF Headquarters

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 12 December (WA 179), whether the replacement composite headquarters for the International Security Assistance Force has been validated by means of an exercise prior to deployment; and, if so, what was the nature of the exercise. [HL847]

Key personnel in the future ISAF composite headquarters have undergone training exercises related to their deployment at the NATO Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway.

Afghanistan: Mentor and Liaison Teams

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How the roles of United Kingdom operational mentor and liaison teams partnered and deployed alongside Afghan forces differ from the roles of embedded trainers. [HL817]

Operational mentoring and liaison teams (OMLTs) and embedded training teams play similar roles in developing the capacity of the Afghan National Army, the main difference being that embedded training teams are US-operated whereas OMLTs operate under the auspices of NATO.

Afghanistan: NATO

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there is any procedure whereby NATO members can be expelled or suspended from the organisation in light of their inability or unwillingness to provide troops to take part in the organisation's operation in Afghanistan. [HL881]

There is no mechanism for expelling or suspending a NATO member. All allies contribute troops to the NATO operation in Afghanistan and at the recent Riga summit reaffirmed their commitment to the operation's success.

Afghanistan: Registered Refugees

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many registered refugees have officially returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan, Iran and other countries since 2001; how many of those have also returned to those countries periodically and have been double-counted; and what are the estimated net figures for returnees. [HL666]

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) 2005 global refugee trends report published in June 2006 estimates that 4.6 million Afghans have voluntarily returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan, Iran and other countries since 2001. UNHCR does not estimate how many of these 4.6 million have subsequently returned to neighbouring countries and as such we are unable to provide a net figure for returnees. The UNHCR report is available on the UNHCR website at www.unhcr.org.

Afghanistan: Taliban

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What information they have received about the activities of Taliban sympathisers in Pakistan's Pashtun-majority federally administered tribal areas; and what representations they are making to the Government of Pakistan about this threat to the safety of British troops in Afghanistan. [HL848]

The Government of Pakistan have made extensive efforts, with considerable loss of life, to improve the rule of law in their border areas, and have moved substantial resources to the border regions to quell insurgent activity and prevent illegal cross-border traffic. We share Pakistan's concern about the Taliban influence in the federally administered tribal areas and continue to monitor the results of the peace deal recently negotiated with tribal elders in North Waziristan Agency.

President Musharraf reaffirmed his commitment to combating the Taliban and reducing activity across the border into Afghanistan and his support for stability in Afghanistan when he met my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on 19 November. The UK-Pakistan joint declaration confirms a commitment to co-operate more closely on Afghanistan and counter-terrorism.

Agriculture: Set-aside

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the policy purpose of set-aside under the single farm payment scheme; and whether this has changed with the introduction of single farm payments. [HL790]

Despite the introduction of the single payment scheme, set-aside was retained as a production control measure as part of the 2003 CAP reforms. The Government have already signalled our view to our EU partners that constraints on production such as set-aside should be eliminated as part of the 2008 CAP reform health check.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are proposing to make any changes in the set-aside rules for 2007–08 and subsequent years. [HL791]

A number of minor amendments and clarifications were included in the Set-aside Handbook and Guidance for England—2007 update which was sent to all SPS applicants in November. A recently adopted EU regulatory change on set-aside penalties will also be applied under the 2007 SPS.

Looking to 2008 and beyond, consideration is being given to achieving a better alignment between set-aside management conditions and Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition 12 (eligible land not in agricultural production). Final decisions on that initiative and any further suggestions for change will take into account Commissioner Fischer-Boel's recent comment that the future of set-aside will be considered as part of the 2008 CAP reform health check.

Armed Forces Act 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What secondary legislation will be necessary to bring into full effect the Armed Forces Act 2006; which pieces of secondary legislation will be subject to the affirmative order procedure; and when they will be laid before Parliament; and [HL933]

What papers not subject to parliamentary proceedings will be necessary to bring into full effect the Armed Forces Act 2006; and when these papers will be laid before Parliament. [HL934]

To answer the noble Lord's questions will require a lengthy and detailed response. I will therefore write to the noble Lord and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Armed Forces: Allowances

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When British troops who have been deployed in Afghanistan for over three months will receive all the additional allowances payable to them by virtue of such deployment. [HL1019]

Service personnel who have served for over three months in Afghanistan will receive their tax-free operational allowance, worth about £2,240 for a six-month deployment, as one lump-sum payment via their salary when they return from their tour of duty to their permanent unit. However, while they are deployed, service personnel are also entitled to a daily rate of separation allowance that is taxable and paid via their salary on a monthly basis.

Armed Forces: Entry Search and Seizure

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why the Armed Forces (Entry Search and Seizure) Order 2006 and the Armed Forces (Entry Search and Seizure) (Amendment) Order 2006 have been laid under the Armed Forces Act 2001 rather than the Armed Forces Act 2006. [HL932]

The orders referred to were laid under the Armed Forces Act 2001 because the relevant provisions of the Armed Forces Act 2006 have not been brought into force. Until the 2006 Act provisions are commenced we must continue to make secondary legislation under the existing Armed Forces Acts. In this case the relevant enabling powers are contained in the Armed Forces Act 2001.

Armed Forces: Joint Strike Fighter

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the first Joint Strike Fighter for service on the new aircraft carriers will be delivered; and whether that date will affect the projected in-service date for the carriers.[HL880]

We will not be setting in-service dates for the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) or the future aircraft carriers (CVF) until we take the respective main investment decisions. We will take those decisions when the projects are sufficiently mature. Our plans for JCA remain coherent with the CVF programme.

Armed Forces: Steven Roberts Inquiry

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the recommendations in the published findings of the board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts in March 2003, how many sets of Osprey body armour the defence clothing integrated project team have produced to date; how many of these sets have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq; and when the delivery of the total 20,550 sets is expected to be completed. [HL1013]

Some 15,550 sets of Osprey body armour have been procured to date, all of which have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Delivery of the remaining 5,000 sets, which are for pre-deployment training and maintenance stocks, is due to be completed by 31 January 2007.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the recommendations in the published findings of the board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts in March 2003, how many Kestrel body armour systems have been produced to date; and what percentage of these are in use in Iraq and Afghanistan. [HL1014]

A total of 4,600 sets of Kestrel body armour have been procured to date. All have been deployed: 3,500 sets are in Iraq and the remaining 1,100 are in Afghanistan. Kestrel is provided to top cover sentries, vehicle drivers and commanders. It is not suitable for dismounted tasks such as patrolling on foot for which we have brought in the modular Osprey body armour system.

Arms Trade: Al Yamamah

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Under what statutory or prerogative power the Attorney-General gave instructions to the Serious Fraud Office not to pursue its investigation of offences of corruption in relation to Saudi Arabian arms contracts; what limits there are, if any, on the exercise of this power to halt investigations; and into what classes of offence. [HL927]

No such instructions were given. The SFO itself decided to discontinue its investigation but not as a result of any instructions from me.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Attorney-General received representations from BAE Systems warning of the adverse impact on business from the loss of a Eurofighter Typhoon agreement unless the Serious Fraud Office investigation into alleged bribery of Saudi officials was halted. [HL986]

BAE Systems made such representations to me in November 2005, which I passed on to the Serious Fraud Office. However, in reaching the decision to discontinue the investigation, in accordance with Article 5 of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, the SFO took no account of such considerations.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What were the respective roles and responsibilities of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General in reaching the decision to halt the Serious Fraud Office investigation into alleged bribery by BAE Systems of Saudi officials. [HL987]

The decision to discontinue the investigation was made by the Serious Fraud Office, which exercises its functions under my statutory superintendence. As I explained in my Statement of 14 December 2006, I obtained views from the Prime Minister and the Foreign and Defence Secretaries as to the public interest considerations raised by the investigation. The nature of those views was set out in my Statement.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the decision to abandon the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Al Yamamah oil-for-arms contracts was influenced by pressure from Saudi Arabia in relation to the jet fighter contract with Saudi Arabia. [HL1050]

No. As I explained in my Statement of 14 December 2006, the public interest factors taken into account by the SFO related to national and international security, not commercial or economic considerations.

Aviation: Gibraltar Air Traffic

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to increase safety at Gibraltar airport, given the increased traffic being created by more airlines flying there. [HL595]

Aviation safety and security relating to civil operations at Gibraltar Airport are governed by the pertinent rules and regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The safeguarding of the aerodrome is regulated by the Government, with the assistance of Air Safety Support International, which makes regular visits to Gibraltar to ensure that the relevant standards are met. Gibraltar Airport has considerable capacity to expand and the increased traffic that is envisaged will not affect the capacity of the airfield to continue to meet its international obligations.

Additional safety measures are planned following the Cordoba ministerial statement on Gibraltar Airport, including the introduction of new final approach paths to the airport in order to enhance operational safety conditions.

BBC: Arabic Television Service

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the reasons for BBC World's planned Arabic television service offering less than 24-hour coverage. [HL879]

BBC World Service (BBCWS) approached the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2005 with a proposal to launch a12-hour Arabic TV service. The proposal made it clear that BBCWS was confident, based on careful research, that a 12-hour service would make a significant impact. A 12-hour service was deemed to be correct when assessed against the availability of funding and the relative priority weightings attached to BBCWS's global aims and objectives. Arabic TV will be a very significant development in the history of BBCWS: its first ever vernacular TV service. Arabic TV will be part of a tri-media BBCWS offering in Arabic that will continue to include 24/7 services on radio and online. The BBCWS has an aspiration to move to a 24-hour service as and when funding can be made available and will bid to secure additional funding as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Benefits: Incapacity and Severe Disability

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In each of the past five years, how many claimants of incapacity benefit and severe disability allowance ceased to claim, by age decile. [HL719]

The information is shown in the tables below.

Incapacity Benefit terminations in each of the past five years by age decile (Thousands)

IB

Year to May 02

Year to May 03

Year to May 04

Year to May 05

Year to May 06

Under 20

32.1

31.2

30.0

27.3

20.5

20-29

126.6

121.9

123.3

121.8

103.0

30-39

133.2

132.2

127.9

127.8

112.0

40-49

126.9

126.9

125.1

132.3

119.9

50-59

171.6

166.1

178.0

174.3

154.8

60-69

109.6

101.9

115.7

106.6

87.1

70 and over

-

-

-

-

-

Severe Disablement Allowance terminations in each of the last five years by age decile (Thousands)

SDA

Year to May 02

Year to May 03

Year to May 04

Year to May 05

Year to May 06

Under 20

0.6

-

-

-

-

20-29

2.9

2.0

1.6

1.1

1.0

30-39

2.2

1.8

1.3

1.9

1.5

40-49

1.9

1.8

1.7

1.6

1.3

50-59

6.2

5.0

5.6

5.0

5.0

60-69

4.3

4.9

4.4

3.8

3.1

70-79

1.1

1.1

1.3

1.3

0.7

80 and Over

*0.3

*0.3

*0.4

0.5

*0.4

Source: DWP Information Directorate, 5 per cent samples.

1 The information in these tables is not published in this format elsewhere.

2 Figures are shown in thousands and rounded to the nearest hundred.

3 *Figures are subject to a high degree of sampling error and should only be used as a guide

4 - indicates Nil or Negligible

5 These figures have been updated to include late notified terminations, including terminations for Retirement Pension.

6 Figures prior to 2004 are subject to minor changes

7 IB “Claimant” figures include all IB (including IB credits only cases).

British Citizenship

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether a person is entitled to be registered as a British citizen if, immediately prior to 1 January 1983, that person was a statutory British protected person by virtue of the British Protectorates, Protected States and Protected Persons Order 1978 in the following circumstances (a) the person was born in the British Protectorate of Uganda after 1914; (b) prior to the independence of Uganda on 9 October 1962 the person had ceased to reside in Uganda; (c) none of the person's parents or grandparents is or was a member of any of the indigenous communities existing and residing within the borders of Uganda as at the first day of February, 1926, as set out in the Third Schedule to the Constitution of Uganda; (d) the person had never registered as a citizen of Uganda; and (e) the person has not acquired the citizenship of any other country. [HL764]

Whether or not a person is a British protected person, and the extent of any entitlement conferred on him or her by or under the British Nationality Act 1981 and associated legislation, are matters of law which can be determined conclusively only by the courts. The ways in which the various pieces of legislation interact are complex, and careful consideration has to be given to the circumstances of each case. Subject, however, to the person concerned having failed to acquire the citizenship of Uganda by any means after 8 October 1962, including acquisition under the 1962 constitution, our view is that he or she retains the status of British protected person under the British Protectorates, Protected States and Protected Persons Order 1982 and, accordingly, is entitled to registration as a British citizen under Section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will place in the Library of the House the e-mail from Tameem Abdulhusein Ebrahim to the British consul-general in Hong Kong dated 1 December, regarding solely British nationals of Nepalese origin, together with the British consul-general's response. [HL765]

We will review these papers as soon as possible and place copies in the Library of the House if feasible.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What matters were discussed last week by the British vice-consul and the Nepalese consul during their meeting in Hong Kong; and whether they will place in the Library of the House the vice-consul's account of the discussion. [HL766]

Our vice-consul in Hong Kong and the Nepalese consul discussed the processing of applications for registration as a British citizen under Section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 and under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997, in particular the supporting documentation required. The discussion was informal and no record was kept.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 18 April (WA 163) regarding British overseas citizenship under Article 6(1) of the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986, whether they will ensure that all staff handling British overseas citizen passport applications at the British consulate-general in Hong Kong are made aware of this; and whether they will place the notification to staff in the Library of the House. [HL926]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office prides itself on giving the best training possible to all staff to provide first-class consular services at all posts overseas. All staff in the passport section at our consulate-general in Hong Kong have had training on the various British Nationality Acts and are aware of the provisions of Article 6(1) of the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986. The Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986 is already publicly available.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Triesman on 14 December (WA 217), why the British consulate-general in Hong Kong requires a Nepalese citizenship renunciation certificate from a British overseas citizen of Nepalese origin in Hong Kong who applies for a British overseas citizen passport or registration as a British citizen, bearing in mind that records of the British consulate-general would indicate whether such a person had or had not renounced his Hong Kong British Dependent Territories citizen status, and thus whether he remained a Nepalese citizen immediately before 30 June 1997. [HL1035]

The British consulate-general in Hong Kong does not require a certificate of renunciation from a British overseas citizen of Nepalese origin applying either for a British overseas citizen passport or for registration as a British citizen. A letter from the Nepalese authorities indicating whether an applicant has ever held Nepalese nationality is however required as evidence of statelessness.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Triesman on 14 December (WA 217), why the British consulate-general in Hong Kong is relying on the Nepalese authorities to advise solely British nationals what information is required to substantiate a claim for British nationality; whether they will instead publish on the British consulate-general's website what essential documentation is required to accompany applications; and whether they will place a copy of that information in the Library of the House. [HL1036]

The British consulate-general (BCG) in Hong Kong is not relying on the Nepalese authorities to advise solely British nationals on the information required to substantiate a claim to British nationality. However; any additional assistance that the Nepalese consul can provide in making sure potential applicants of Nepalese origin are suitably informed is welcome. There is already comprehensive information on the BCG Hong Kong website, and we will place a copy of the current guidance in the Library of the House.

China: Human Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they are making concerning the conviction and sentence of Chen Guangcheng following the campaign he waged in Shandong province against the coercive birth control policy. [HL767]

We have raised concerns about breaches of due process in Chen Guangcheng's case with the Chinese Government on numerous occasions, both bilaterally and through the EU, at ministerial and official level. Prior to Chen's trial on 25 August, we raised his case at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, in Beijing in July. After Chen was sentenced, we included his name on a list of individual cases of concern handed over to the Chinese authorities during the visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on 12-13 September. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made a statement on 2 November welcoming news of Chen's quashed sentence and urged the Chinese Government to guarantee due process at his retrial. We are working with EU partners to urge the Chinese authorities to ensure that Chen's forthcoming appeal will be dealt with fairly and transparently.

Cluster Munitions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they will be represented at the Cluster Munition Coalition meeting in Oslo from 21 to 23 February 2007. [HL964]

We have not yet received any invitation to the meeting in Oslo. We will consider any invitation carefully, including the nature of UK participation.

Companies Act 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the Companies Act 2006 will be available in printed form. [HL884]

The Companies Act 2006 will be available in printed form on 22 December 2006, although the text of the Act has been available for download from the OPSI website since 7 December.

Crime: Gender Balance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 8 November (WA 197), whether their research into the causes of crime indicates that the disparity of two-to-one in the propensity of males and females to commit crime arises from social or from biological factors. [HL243]

Home Office research into the causes of crime has not included any exploration of the potential role of biological factors in the greater propensity of men to commit crimes.

Research summarised in The impact of corrections on re-offending: a review of what works (HORS 291, 2006) discusses a range of factors, or criminogenic needs, predictive of offending in relation to the differences between men and women in the frequency and nature of offending.

Evidence suggests that female offenders have higher levels of need in relationships and emotional well-being, while male offenders have higher levels of need with regard to offending, alcohol misuse, thinking and behaviour and attitudes. Self-report offending studies have consistently shown that men are more likely to commit offences than women although the gender gap varies according to the type of offence. The existing research does not show that the gap is caused solely by social factors or solely by biological factors.

The Home Office has recently published Statistics on Women and the Criminal Justice System which provides further details of the nature of offending carried out by women. (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/s95women0405.pdf).

Crime: Rape

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will refer to persons making allegations of rape unsubstantiated by independent evidence as “alleged victims” rather than as “victims” until judicial proceedings have established that such allegations are substantiated.[HL461]

The British Crime Survey on Interpersonal Violence published in 2001 found that approximately 15 per cent of rapes come to the attention of the police. This indicates that there are many victims who are unable to see justice done.

In order to improve this situation and to encourage reporting, it is important for victims of serious violent crimes, such as rape, to believe that their allegations will be taken seriously. In the context of specific criminal proceedings, appropriate language will always be used.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the false accusations made by the accuser in the Warren Blackwell case of (a) sexual assault by her father in 1989; (b) rape against a boy in 1983; (c) violent sexual assault in a police station in 1988; (d) violent assault from behind with a knife in March 2000; (e) violent sexual assault from behind with a knife in July 2000; and (f) rape and sexual assault with a knife from behind in June 2001 were no-crimed. [HL576]

Information relating to individual cases is not collected centrally and so we cannot determine whether the alleged crimes referred to were no-crimed by the relevant forces.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Ashton of Upholland on 6 December (WA 142), in what circumstances the DNA of a victim would need to be taken for elimination purposes. [HL769]

Where the police may expect to find more than one DNA profile at a crime scene, a victim or witness to the crime may be asked to provide the police with a DNA sample so that his or her DNA profile may be distinguished from that of the offender. In a case of rape, for example, where a vaginal swab would contain DNA from both the victim and also possibly the offender, it is important to eliminate the victim’s DNA profile and identify the profile belonging to the offender.

Victims and witnesses who have voluntarily provided the police with a DNA sample for elimination purposes during the investigation of a particular offence may also consent to their DNA profile being retained on the National DNA Database. Consent must be given in writing and once given cannot be withdrawn.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to review the requirement for a victim of rape to give written consent for the retention of their DNA on the National DNA Database. [HL770]

At the present time the Government do not intend to review the requirement for a victim of rape to give written consent for the retention of their DNA on the National DNA Database.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether a person who has been identified as a false accuser of rape and who has not been prosecuted retains the right to give written consent for their DNA to be held on the National DNA Database. [HL771]

Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984, as amended, the police may only take DNA (and fingerprints) without consent from persons who have been arrested for, charged with, informed they will be reported for or convicted of a recordable offence.

DNA samples provided by victims of crime for elimination purposes may be retained on the National DNA Database only if the person gives their consent in writing.

Cyprus: Direct Flights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Triesman on 4 December (WA 92–3), what are the legal obstacles to direct flights to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus that cannot be overcome without the co-operation of the Greek Cypriot Administration in the south of the island; what is the legal authority for this opinion; and whether the human rights of Turkish Cypriots have been considered. [HL728]

The simplest way of enabling direct flights would be a decision by the Republic of Cyprus to designate Ercan as an international airport under the terms of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. In the absence of such a decision there are legal obstacles. The Government do not intend to pursue a policy which would be in contravention of international law. An application for a licence is under consideration by the Department for Transport and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

The UK and its EU partners remain committed to lifting the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots through targeted financial aid and trade liberalisation.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Triesman on 4 December (WA 92–3), whether there are any embargos between other nations or traditions in the European Union comparable to that of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot Administration on direct flights to the former. [HL729]

The status of the divided island of Cyprus is unique within the EU and as such creates an unparalleled situation with regard to direct flights. There are no direct flights between Northern Cyprus and any EU member states. The Government fully support the work of the EU towards lifting the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. We welcome the ongoing implementation of the financial aid regulation and support further progress on trade liberalisation. However, a full solution to the difficulties faced by the Turkish Cypriots can be achieved only through a comprehensive settlement facilitated by the UN. We would echo the call of the UN Secretary-General in his latest report to the Security Council, as well as the statement of the Finnish EU presidency on 11 December, in urging the two communities to engage in discussions under UN auspices to achieve a resumption of negotiations for a comprehensive settlement as early as possible in 2007.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Human Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo about the detention without charge of civil rights lawyer Marie-Thérèse Nlandu and six of her associates; and whether they will take action to ensure that the detainees are not tried in a military court and have access to adequate legal representation.[HL918]

Our ambassador in Kinshasa has spoken to the Interior Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo and advisers to President Kabila on several occasions regarding the detention of Marie-Thérèse Nlandu. We and European partners raised our concerns that Mme Nlandu's human rights, particularly her access to legal representation, were not being respected.

Mme Nlandu has since been granted access to a lawyer, has now been charged with several offences and is due to stand trial. We have asked that her case be dealt with quickly and fairly and in accordance with due process. We will continue to monitor her situation and treatment.

Disability: Access to Work

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proportion of the participants in the access to work pilot schemes were not self-referred. [HL718]

Access to work is a programme that helps disabled people find or stay in employment and has been in existence since 1994. Jobcentre Plus delivers it through a network of business centres.

Under access to work guidance, the customer must apply directly for support, and although they may find out about the programme through other sources such as their employer, a voluntary organisation or a disability employment adviser, it is not possible for other individuals or organisations to make direct referrals to the programme.

EU: Co-operation with NATO

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will table at the next appropriate European Union Council meeting, and at the forthcoming summit, suggestions to improve practical co-operation between NATO and European Union military operations; and what specific proposals they will consider. [HL682]

Within the context of European security, the Government place a high priority on improving EU-NATO relations. While this issue is not on the formal agenda of the forthcoming European Council, the Government are engaged in initiatives to ensure that the two organisations can work effectively together. Much of the work is focused on ensuring that the organisations can co-operate effectively on the ground, particularly in light of potential future EU missions to Kosovo and Afghanistan. The Government support the incoming German presidency mandate to continue to develop the EU-NATO strategic partnership in crisis management.

Guantanamo Bay: Bisher Al-Rawi

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What reply was received to the letter sent earlier this year by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to the United States Secretary of State, Dr Condoleezza Rice, regarding the request for the release and return of Mr Bisher Al-Rawi.[HL883]

In April 2006 my right honourable friend the then Foreign Secretary, Mr Jack Straw, wrote to the US Secretary of State to request, exceptionally, Mr Bisher Al-Rawi's release and return from Guantanamo Bay, having considered particular fact-specific circumstances in his case. The US State Department replied later that month, suggesting more detailed discussions. Embassy officials in Washington have since been in regular contact on this issue with the US Administration and discussions are continuing.

Gulf War 1990-91: Oilfields

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any oil outlets are still burning as a result of the first Gulf War which they have been unable to extinguish; and, if so, how many and where. [HL873]

Gulf War 1990-91: Cost of Operations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the final cost of the British military contribution to the 1990-91 Gulf War; and how much of this was repaid to the British Exchequer by states in the Middle East. [HL784]

MoD identifies the costs of operations in terms of the net additional costs it has incurred. The total additional Gulf conflict costs between 1990-91 and 1993-94 were £2,469 million. Contributions from other nations totalled £2,049 million of which £1,520 million was funded by states in the Middle East.

Gulf War Illnesses

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What specific benefits British veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf War have derived from their monitoring and that of the Medical Research Council of federally funded and other research in the United States into Gulf War illnesses; and from which projects and on what dates such benefits were derived. [HL691]

The extensive US research findings have provided reassurance to UK 1990-91 Gulf veterans by broadly confirming the conclusions of the UK programme. Veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf conflict from the different coalition countries demonstrate similar findings regardless of their Gulf experience. Gulf veterans consistently report more symptoms than those not deployed to the Gulf. Symptoms are similar despite very different exposures to vaccination, nerve agent pre-treatment, smoke from oil fires and other possible hazards. In addition they are not accompanied by consistent physical signs or laboratory abnormalities nor has research to date identified specific causal factors. US and other international research provides no evidence of a unique disease due to service in the Gulf.

Benefits were made clear from a review of published research into Gulf veterans' illnesses undertaken by a team led by Professor Glyn Lewis of the University of Bristol. Three of the reports resulting from this work have already been made publicly available and the remaining three will be published shortly. We will continue to monitor US research for the future on the same basis.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why Wing Commander Dr Derek Hall was informed, in three recent communications from the Veterans Agency and Ministry of Defence, that Gulf War syndrome does not exist; and whether any corrective action has now been taken. [HL753]

It would be inappropriate to comment on the particulars of an individual's case particularly when they are subject to appeal but we can confirm that Dr Hall lodged a number of appeals with the Pension Appeals Tribunal (PAT) between 28 April 2005 and 26 April 2006, which have yet to be heard. In October 2006 a new statement of case was issued in support of one of these appeals, and replacement statements of cases were issued in respect of the others. This was necessary to ensure that each statement of case includes all of the available evidence including the substantial evidence provided by Dr Hall.

In general terms the MoD welcomed the decision in October 2005 by the PAT in the case brought by Mr Martin which accepted the use of the umbrella term Gulf War syndrome for those conditions which are causally linked to service in the 1990-91 Gulf War.

The tribunal's decision in the Martin appeal was equally helpful in reaching the clear conclusion that Gulf War syndrome does not exist as a discrete pathological entity. This remains the position, and any communications reflecting this are correct.

House of Lords: Travel Expenses

asked the Chairman of Committees:

Whether the House Committee will consider extending the entitlement to travel expenses for Lords’ spouses and civil partners to any person nominated by a Member of the House. [HL1017]

Proposals to extend Members’ entitlements to expenses, including the entitlement to travel expenses, normally require the approval of the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) and would require amendment by the House of the resolutions governing travel expenses. The SSRB is currently conducting its triennial review of parliamentary allowances and proposals for changes in entitlements to expenses should be presented directly to the SSRB for consideration during its review.

Immigration: Children

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many children were detained in immigration removal centres in each month of 2006. [HL949]

The exact information requested is not available; it would be available only by examination of individual case files, at disproportionate cost.

Quarterly snapshots are published showing the number of people detained under Immigration Act powers on the last Saturday of each quarter. The table attached shows the number of persons recorded as being under 18 as at the last Saturday of each quarter in 2006.

Minors(1) recorded as being held in detention in the United Kingdom solely under Immigration Act powers in immigration removal centres(2)(3)(4)

Detained as at

Number of minors

25 March 2006

15

24 June 2006

20

30 September 2006

20

(1) People in detention recorded as being under 18 as at the dates supplied. Figures are likely to overstate because applicants aged 18 or over may claim to be younger on arrival in the United Kingdom.

(2) Excludes persons detained in short-term holding facilities, police cells and those in dual detention.

(3) Includes persons detained in Oakington Reception Centre.

(4) Figures rounded to the nearest five.

Minors are detained only in two limited circumstances: first, as part of a family group whose detention is considered appropriate; secondly, when unaccompanied, while alternative care arrangements are made and normally just overnight. While the detention of families with children is very regrettable, it nevertheless remains necessary in appropriate cases in order to maintain an effective immigration control and to tackle abuses of the asylum system.

Information on the number of persons detained is published in the Quarterly Asylum Bulletin, on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.

Immigration: Deportation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the average cost of a deportation appeal before the tribunal where the Home Office is represented by (a) a presenting officer; (b) the Treasury solicitor; and (c) Treasury counsel. [HL231]

The average cost of a deportation appeal before the tribunal where the Home Office is represented by a Home Office presenting officer is £2,054. The average cost where the Home Office is represented by Treasury counsel is £3,105.

Treasury solicitors do not represent the Home Office at appeal hearings and their role is limited to instructing Treasury counsel.

Immigration: Harmondsworth Removal Centre

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many fast-track cases have been initiated since the recent disturbances at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre; and how many are being dealt with at each of the establishments where they are being processed. [HL643]

The induction of new detained fast-track (DFT) asylum applications at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre was temporarily suspended on 29 November as a result of disturbances. The intake of cases into the male DFT process resumed on 11 December with the capacity for an initial intake of five new detainees per working day.

As of Friday 8 November, a total of 123 claimants continue to have their cases managed within the detained fast track and remain detained at Harmondsworth and a number of other immigration detention centres.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the fast-track detainees who were at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre at the time of the recent disturbances and who were at initial application or appeal stage are continuing on the fast track at other establishments, or whether they have been released from the fast track to have their cases processed in the community. [HL644]

In the detained fast track (DFT) process at Harmondsworth on Wednesday 29 November there were 18 detainees whose claims were at the initial application. Of these, two have now been granted asylum and the remainder continue in the DFT process. Fifty detainees’ claims were at the appeals stage. Of these, 43 remain in the DFT process, one detainee was granted asylum on appeal and six detainees have been taken out of the DFT process by immigration judges to have their cases processed in the community.

Immigration: Highly Skilled Migrants

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What changes have been made this year to the highly skilled migrant programme (applications by young people for highly skilled migrant status); why they were made; when; after what consultation; and when they come into force. [HL142]

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Ministerial Statement presented by my honourable friend the Minister of State for Nationality, Citizenship and Immigration on 7 November. (col. 39WS)

In that Statement the reasons for the changes to the highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP) were explained. The Statement went on to explain that the previous HSMP rules were being suspended and why: we took these steps to avoid a rush of speculative applications by people who would wish their applications to be considered under the old rules, which is what happened after the publication of the Command Paper on the points-based system. The suspension was to enable us to make the transition effectively to the new rules and to ensure that current levels of customer service were maintained when the new arrangements were introduced. In the interests of good customer service, we made sure that this would not disadvantage applicants substantively. The changes came into effect on 5 December 2006.

Immigration: Yarl's Wood

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What improvements in healthcare for detainees have been made at Yarl's Wood removal centre since the recent report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons and, in particular, for those with mental health issues. [HL981]

Work on the action plan that was produced following the inspection of healthcare at Yarl's Wood is progressing. Many of the recommendations raised have been dealt with in full; others are ongoing. With regard to the mental health issue, there are now two detainee counsellors and two more mental health nurses (RMNs) have been recruited, and will be taking up post shortly.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many persons who were raped or tortured abroad have been held at (a) Yarl's Wood removal centre, and (b) all other detention and removal centres since April 2005; and for what purpose. [HL982]

While there are allegations of torture abroad made in centres, these allegations are not centrally recorded, and could be collated only at a disproportionate cost. There is a system for reporting such allegations, and this system is laid down in the Detention Centre Rules 2001. An allegation of torture is reported to the case holder in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, and they investigate using the detainee's medical records. Where it is judged appropriate the detainee's case is referred to the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

Indonesia: Human Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What information they have received from the Finnish presidency about the reaction of the Government of Indonesia to their representations concerning the investigation of the murder of the human rights activist Munir Said Thalib on a Garuda flight from Jakarta to the Netherlands on 7 September 2004; and whether they have any information about the approach by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to the Government of Indonesia about that murder. [HL763]

The Finnish presidency, on behalf of the EU, made representations to the Government of Indonesia (GoI) urging an investigation into the death of Munir. The EU presidency in Jakarta has not received a response to these representations. The Indonesian Defence Minister has stated that the GoI would not welcome foreign involvement in this case, and rejected any involvement by the UN Special Rapporteur. We continue to press the Indonesian Government to carry out a thorough investigation into the death of Munir.

International Law

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the remarks by Lord Triesman on 11 December (Official Report, col. 1437), whether the use of force by the European Union, the United Nations or NATO to prevent countries or territories from dividing or amalgamating is permitted under international law. [HL860]

Use of force, whether on behalf of the European Union or the United Nations or by NATO, to prevent countries dividing or amalgamating would be permitted under international law if authorised by a mandatory United Nations Security Council resolution under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

Iraq and Afghanistan: Military Operations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What has been the cost to public funds in each of the past five years of British military operations in (a) Iraq, and (b) Afghanistan; and what financial provision has been made for this in 2006–07 and 2007–08. [HL781]

The costs of operations are calculated on a net additional basis and audited figures are published each year in the MoD's annual report and accounts, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

The total of the annual audited figures for the costs of operations in Iraq for the years 2002-03 to 2005-06 was £4,026 million. An estimated cost of £860 million for 2006-07 was included in the winter supplementary estimates published in November. Final figures will be published in the MoD's annual report and accounts for 2006-07.

The annual audited figures for the costs of operations in Afghanistan for the years 2001-02 to 2005-06 were £844 million. An estimated cost of £540 million for 2006-07 was included in the winter supplementary estimates published in November. Final figures will be published in the MoD's annual report and accounts for 2006-07.

Financial provision for 2007-08 will be sought in estimates for that year when a clearer picture of operational requirements is known.

Iraq: Armed Forces

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What recent representations they have received from United Kingdom families regarding the return of forces personnel serving in Iraq; and what response they gave. [HL363]

We receive a considerable volume of correspondence from members of the public who have family members serving in Iraq. Their letters cover a wide range of issues. We prepare bespoke replies to each correspondence but consistently recognise our forces’ contribution and confirm the requirement for UK forces to remain in Iraq until we have completed the task in hand.

Iraq: Syrian Nationals

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the targeting of Syrian nationals by militant groups in Iraq; and whether they will make representations to the Government of Iraq to enhance the protection given to Syrian nationals and other foreign communities. [HL835]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not made an assessment of the targeting of Syrian nationals by militant groups in Iraq and is not aware of reports that Syrian nationals are being persecuted.

The high level of violence in Iraq affects all communities. We are supporting the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi security forces to improve their capacity and effectiveness in tackling violence, and creating a secure environment for all people in Iraq.

Israel and Palestine: British Armaments

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the part played by British armaments sold to Israel in the military strikes on northern Gaza. [HL773]

We have no evidence that UK-supplied equipment was used by Israel in military action in northern Gaza. Our overseas posts monitor any reported misuse of UK-origin defence equipment. Should any such information come to our attention, it would be raised with the Israeli Government and taken into account when assessing any future applications. We would also, if appropriate, revoke other related licences.

All export licence applications are rigorously assessed against the consolidated EU and national export licensing criteria and other prevailing circumstances at the time of application. If an application is considered inconsistent with the criteria a licence will not be issued.

Details of all export licences are available in the quarterly and annual reports on strategic export controls submitted to Parliament and are subject to detailed retrospective scrutiny by the Quadripartite Committee on Strategic Export Controls. These are available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website at www.fco.gov.uk.

Israel and Palestine: Gaza

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether Israel's practice in closing the entry and exit points to Gaza constitutes a collective punishment in international law; and what steps they are taking to improve the situation. [HL882]

Israel has a duty to protect its citizens from terrorist attack but should also ensure that the effects of its security measures on the Palestinian population are minimised.

We have consistently raised our concerns about the closure of the Israel/Gaza crossing points with the Israeli Government. The Israeli Government have informed us that the closures reflect specific security concerns. They have assured us that they will continue to support the transfer of humanitarian assistance to avert a potential crisis due to lack of food and money there.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the United Nations Human Rights Council mission to Israel has been allowed to enter Gaza; and, if not, whether they will make representations on this matter to the Government of Israel. [HL931]

The. Human Rights Council established the fact-finding mission in a resolution adopted during a special session on 15 November. The Israeli Government have made no final decision regarding the mission. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv raised our concerns with the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 19 December.

Israel and Palestine: Imprisoned Government Members

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What discussions they have held with the Government of Israel concerning the release of elected members of the Government of Palestine currently held in prison. [HL774]

We have supported publicly the call in the 13 and 14 November EU General Affairs and External Relations Council conclusions for the immediate release of Palestinian Ministers and legislators detained in Israel.

Israel and Palestine: Occupied Territories

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What specific measures they are taking to ensure that the European Union is implementing its guidelines (Heading III) on (a) compliance with international humanitarian law, and (b) the protection of human rights defenders, in respect of the occupied Palestinian territories. [HL277]

The EU has agreed guidelines in five areas: children and armed conflict, action against torture, death penalty, human rights dialogues and human rights defenders. There are no separate EU guidelines on compliance with international humanitarian law. However, we continue to stress to the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority the need to ensure that their actions comply with international law.

We are a strong supporter of the EU human rights defender guidelines, which were last reviewed earlier this year. At the time of the review, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office sent out instructions to all posts, including our Consulate-General in Jerusalem, inviting contributions to this evaluation. Following the conclusion of the review on 7 July 2006, we circulated the evaluation to all posts with instructions to support local EU presidency action as appropriate. Under the Austrian and Finnish presidencies in 2006, the EU has run a campaign on women human rights defenders. This builds on a freedom of expression campaign launched under the UK presidency in 2005.

We continue to take action to tackle human rights issues in Israel and the Occupied Territories. This action includes working with non-governmental organisations and raising our concerns bilaterally. We remain concerned at the restrictions of movement of Palestinians in and between Gaza and the West Bank. We continue to call on both sides to implement the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access in full. We also call on Israel to route the barrier on or behind the Green Line and freeze all settlement activity and dismantle all outposts built since 2001. The routing of the barrier and the construction of settlements on occupied land is illegal. We continue to raise these issues with the Israeli Government.

Israel and Palestine: Road Map

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will outline the specific steps which they will recommend to their European Union Middle East quartet partners to revive the road map talks, following the Prime Minister's visit to Israel and Palestine on 18 December. [HL1062]

During my right honourable friend the Prime Minister's visit on 17 to 19 December he met Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas to discuss how to move the peace process forward. He stated that the immediate priorities for the peace process are: an Office of the President in Palestine that is given the means to improve its capacity and effectiveness to act in the interests of the Palestinian people; an early meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas; and a relaunch of the political process leading to a two-state solution.

One of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister’s immediate priorities has already been achieved: on 23 December Prime Minister Olmert met President Abbas at his residence in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Olmert agreed in principle to the release of $l00 million in withheld tax revenues and easing restrictions on movement and access in the West Bank. Prime Minister Olmert has since announced plans for the removal of 27 roadblocks as part of a series of gestures designed to gradually ease restrictions on the Palestinian population.

The EU is already taking forward work to help build Palestinian institutions, as noted at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 13-14 November. EU Foreign Ministers have also reiterated the necessity of a political perspective and reinvigorating the peace process through relaunching negotiations. We will continue to work with the EU to take forward these initiatives and to discuss ways forward in the peace process.

Israel and Palestine: West Bank

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make representations to the Government of Israel to seek early meetings with the Israeli Women's Checkpoint Watch groups to discuss problems facing Palestinians at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank. [HL630]

Israel: Nuclear Capability

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What recent discussions they have held with the Government of Israel concerning Israel’s nuclear capability. [HL775]

We last held discussions on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) with the Government of Israel on 14 November 2006. The Government have on a number of occasions called on Israel to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state, and to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Legislation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the time lag between Royal Assent and the availability of statutes in printed form is satisfactory. [HL885]

Taking into account the requirement for accuracy, we consider the publication timetable for Acts of the UK Parliament to be satisfactory.

Other than in exceptional circumstances, printed copies of all Acts are published no later than five working days after receipt of the approved text from the House of Lords. Normally they are also published within 24 hours of receipt on the OPSI website.

Ministry of Defence: Sir Michael Jackson's Comments

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the remarks about Ministry of Defence support for the Army made by the former Chief of the General Staff, Sir Michael Jackson, on 6 December. [HL677]

Her Majesty's Government welcome General Jackson's continued support on such important defence issues as our ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the maintenance of our nuclear deterrent.

As General Jackson said, the Ministry of Defence is both a Department of State and the supreme headquarters of the Armed Forces. It is impossible to draw a clear divide between these two overlapping roles, with military and civilian personnel working together side-by-side. Everybody at the Ministry of Defence shares a common purpose in contributing to operational effectiveness, and is fully committed to supporting our service men and women, and their families.

Where we can improve our support we will always do so.

Ministry of Defence: Statutory Instruments Committee

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 1 December (WA 104), where, in the letter from the Minister for Veterans to which he referred, details are given of steps which the Ministry of Defence is taking to avoid any repetition of the finding communicated by the chairman of the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee that information given to Parliament by the Ministry of Defence in an explanatory memorandum had proved to be inaccurate; and [HL808]

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 1 December (WA 104), where, in the letter from the Minister for Veterans to which he referred, details are given of steps which the Ministry of Defence has taken to ensure that in future the Ministry of Defence's consultation procedures are reliable, “not least to be able to inform Parliament properly about the impact of the measures proposed”. [HL809]

The letter from the Minister for Veterans sets out the detailed background to the issue raised by the chairman of the Merits Committee and places the matter in context (paragraphs 2 to 5). It makes it clear that while the Minister was broadly satisfied with consultation arrangements, both in this case and more generally, more can be done to engage key stakeholders even earlier in the process. It also acknowledges that we can make greater use of such tools as the internet and that officials have been instructed to take these points into account during future consultation exercises in relation to Armed Forces pension and compensation regulations (paragraph 6).

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 1 December (WA 104), what account was taken when drafting the letter to which he refers of the Gulf War veterans and their families who have no access to the internet. [HL810]

We are firmly committed to timely and effective consultation, and there is no intention to use the internet alone in future consultation exercises relating to Armed Forces pension and compensation regulations.

The Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme, and the Pensions Appeals Tribunals (Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme) (Rights of Appeal) Amendment Regulations 2006 apply to all members of the Regular Armed Forces, Reserve Forces and Gurkhas who are injured, become ill or die due to service in the Armed Forces on or after 6 April 2005. It therefore does not relate in any way to illnesses or injuries causally linked to service in the 1990-91 Gulf conflict.

NHS: Deficit

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the cash operating deficit currently forecast for the National Health Service in the current fiscal year; and what is (a) the level of any provisions or contingencies which may have been released in the calculation of this figure; (b) the origin, as to purpose and timing, of their creation of any such contingencies and provisions; whether any new contingencies and provisions have been created during the current fiscal year; whether any remaining contingencies and provisions outstanding from prior years or earlier creations within the present fiscal year have yet to be released into the forecast deficit; what is the cost of any redundancy or rationalisation programme which may have been incurred in the current fiscal year and the value of any revenue released which has been assumed to benefit the current fiscal year as a result; and what are the cost and consequences projected for any further redundancy programme to be implemented in the current fiscal year. [HL858]

As reported in the National Health Service financial performance report for quarter two of 2006-07, the NHS as a whole is forecasting a £94 million net deficit, after the application of a £350 million contingency established by strategic health authorities. We believe that the NHS overall remains broadly on track to deliver net financial balance by the end of 2006-07 and continues to perform well against key service targets.

The contingency in 2006-07 has not been created from new funding provided by the department. As part of their management of the £5.5 billion central budget bundle distributed to them for the NHS, SHAs have established a level of contingency which currently stands at £350 million. This contingency is a prudent approach by SHAs to manage financial risk in the NHS while ensuring that services to patients are delivered.

There are a number of factors, not yet included in the NHS forecasts, which may have beneficial impact on the forecast outturn position. The most significant is the potential benefit arising from the lower reimbursement cost of generic medicines.

There will be redundancies resulting from the strategic health authority and primary care trust reorganisation which will release £250 million to front line services. The full benefit of the £250 million saving will happen in 2008-09 when all of the costs have been paid.

The cost of redundancies in the NHS is not collected centrally.

Passports

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the present timetable for introducing the 69 new passport interview offices. [HL757]

The first interview offices will open early in the next financial year with the remainder opening in phases throughout 2007. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State will be making a Written Ministerial Statement in another place in the new year to provide more information on the timetable.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How iris scans and fingerprints for the new passport interview regime will be obtained by the video links for remote areas. [HL758]

The new passport interviews being introduced in 2007 will not require any iris scans or fingerprints to be recorded from passport applicants. The identity interview, for first-time applicants over the age of 16 only, can therefore be accomplished by video link for those in remote areas.

Pensions: Winding Up

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What measures have been put in place since they accepted the Parliamentary Ombudsman's recommendation to speed up the winding up of occupational pensions schemes; and which schemes have been in the wind-up process for (a) one year; (b) two years; (c) three years; and (d) four years or more. [HL740]

Since accepting the Parliamentary Ombudsman's recommendation to,

“conduct a review—with the pensions industry and other key stakeholders—to establish what can be done to improve the time taken to wind up final salary schemes”,

the Government have published a report (Speeding Up Winding Up of Occupational Pension Schemes) on 2 November, setting out their belief that it is reasonable to expect a scheme—in the normal course of events—to complete the key activities of winding up in two years. The report also contains proposals for a series of measures to help schemes achieve this target.

The proposals include increased targeting by the Pensions Regulator of those trustees or administrators who are seen as taking excessive time to wind up schemes; provision of appropriate guidance and regulatory support by the Pensions Regulator for trustees and administrators; speeding up the reconciliation of scheme records and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) data; and requiring schemes to report to the Pensions Regulator after two years of wind-up (rather than three as at present).

Two HMRC-led measures in the report—streamlining internal processes and further publicising services1 which its national insurance services to pensions industry (NISPI) unit offers—have already been implemented. In addition, by the end of 2006, NISPI will expand its shared workspace pilot2 to cover eight, rather than just three, providers.

The Department for Work and Pensions continues to lead work across government, with colleagues at the Pensions Regulator, the Pension Protection Fund and HMRC to implement the remaining proposals in the report, and evaluate their effectiveness and the need for further action.

I shall write to the noble Lord shortly with such information as is available with regard to schemes which have been in the wind-up process.

1 Accrued GMP Liability Service (AGLS): a service where administrators can request up-to-date details of the GMP accrued for past and present members; and Contracted Out Contribution Information Service (COCIS): a service where administrators can request details of contracted-out contributions/earnings recorded for members.

2 Using a secure HMRC server as a means of exchanging data electronically with pension scheme administrators.

Police: Reorganisation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to initiate discussion on the merger of police forces in the United Kingdom. [HL759]

The Secretary of State for the Home Department announced on 19 June that it was not his intention to proceed with the laying of orders to require the mergers of police forces.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the cost for each of the police authorities in preparing the proposals and responses to the recent unsuccessful police merger plans. [HL760]

The amounts claimed at the Home Office's invitation for additional costs incurred on police merger planning and the amounts offered as a contribution towards those costs are set out in the attached table. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Tony McNulty) provided these through a Written Ministerial Statement on 30 October 2006 in another place.

Amounts Sought and Payments Offered for Additional Costs from Police Restructuring Planning

PoliceAuthority

Amount Sought

Payment to be made

Bedfordshire

£23,430

£23,430

Cambridgeshire

£242,714

£100,000

Cheshire

£339,767

£100,000

City

£-

£-

Cleveland

£189,986

£100,000

Cumbria

£271,000

£271,000

Derbyshire

£58,469

£35,782*

Dorset (for the 5 SW forces)

£140,836

£140,836

Durham

£67,155

£67,155

Dyfed-Powys

£225,891

£100,000

Essex

£169,870

£100,000

GMP

£75,810

£75,810

Gwent

£96,467

£96,467

Hampshire

£11,495

£11,495

Hertfordshire

£144,327

£100,000

Humberside

£119,730

£100,000

Kent

£152,042

£100,000

Lancashire

£725,000

£725,000

Leicestershire

£37,232

£37,232

Lincolnshire

£287,600

£287,600

Merseyside

£266,357

£100,000

Metropolitan

£-

£-

Norfolk

£135,729

£100,000

North Wales

£245,020

£100,000

North Yorkshire

£167,808

£100,000

Northamptonshire

£85,800

£85,800

Northumbria

£38,021

£38,021

Nottinghamshire

£46,200

£46,200

South Wales

£326,944

£100,000

South Yorkshire

£30,652

£30,652

Staffordshire

£56,317

£56,317

Suffolk

£45,483

£45,483

Surrey

£649,311

£100,000

Sussex

£519,879

£100,000

Thames Valley

£33,860

£33,860

Warwickshire

£174,608

£100,000

West Mercia

£89,061

£89,061

West Midlands

£117,591

£100,000

West Yorkshire

£104,569

£100,000

Total

£6,512,030

£3,997,200

* Legal costs of Judicial Review proceedings against the Home Office excluded.

Prisons: Concerted Indiscipline

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will indicate, broken down by prison, the acts of concerted indiscipline that have taken place over the past 12-month period. [HL638]

Over the past 12-month period there have been 120 acts of concerted indiscipline in England and Wales. The following table sets out the number of acts of concerted indiscipline, both active and passive, broken down by prison.

An act of concerted indiscipline is an incident in which two or more prisoners act together in defiance of a lawful instruction or against the requirements of the regime of the establishment. The indiscipline may be active or passive and those involved may not necessarily be acting in a common cause.

Acts of Concerted Indiscipline between 8 December 2005 and 8 December 2006

Establishment

Active Indiscipline

Passive Indiscipline

Total

Doncaster

1

1

2

Dovegate

1

2

3

Parc

0

2

2

Peterborough

0

3

3

Wolds

2

0

2

Manchester

0

1

Wakefield

1

0

1

Whitemoor

1

1

2

Woodhill

2

1

3

Foston Hall

0

1

1

Lincoln

0

3

3

Nottingham

2

0

2

Ranby

0

1

1

Leicester

0

3

3

Wellingborough

0

1

1

Bedford

0

1

1

Bullwood Hall

0

1

1

Edmunds Hill

1

0

1

Highpoint

0

1

1

Norwich

0

2

2

Elmley

1

1

Buckley Hall

0

2

2

Haverigg

1

3

4

Lancaster

1

0

1

Risley

2

0

2

Hindley

4

1

5

Lancaster Farms

6

0

6

Holloway

0

1

1

Wandsworth

0

1

1

Feltham

1

3

4

Durham

3

3

Castington

0

1

1

Deerbolt

2

0

2

Bristol

0

1

1

Channings Wood

1

0

1

Dartmoor

1

0

1

Eastwood Park

1

1

2

Erlestoke

0

1

1

Leyhill

1

0

1

Portland

1

0

1

Downview

6

1

7

Highdown

1

0

1

Lewes

2

1

3

Send

0

1

1

Bullingdon

1

0

Aylesbury

1

1

2

Huntercombe

1

1

2

Cardiff

1

0

1

Blakenhurst

0

1

1

Stafford

0

2

2

Brockhill

1

0

1

Stoke Heath

5

1

6

Werrington

0

1

1

Hull

0

1

1

Leeds

0

1

1

Lindholme

0

2

2

Moorland

0

1

1

New Hall

1

0

1

Wetherby

1

0

1

Total

54

59

113

Prisons: Population

NOMS is managing the pressure on the prison estate by building more capacity. In addition to current building programmes, 8,000 places were announced in the CJS review in July 2006. These places will be completed over the next six years through a mixture of expansions at existing prisons and building a number of new prisons.

The Government have outlined their commitment to provide custodial places for those serious, sexual and prolific offenders who need to be there and to ensure that courts have tough community sentences at their disposal to deal with less serious, non-violent offenders. There are people in our prisons who should not be there, including some foreign national prisoners, vulnerable women, and those with mental health issues.

Schools: Academies

asked Her Majesty's Government:

For each school which was an academy in September 2006, what percentage of pupils achieved five or more GCSE passes at grades A* to C at the academy or its predecessor school in (a) 2001; (b) 2003; (c) 2005; and (d) 2006; and in which year each school became an academy. [HL912]

The details requested above are all available in the table below.

GCSE and equivalent results for Academies and their predecessor schools

Percentage of 15 year-olds achieving 5+A*-C

Academy

Year open

Predecessor School(s)

2001% 5A*-C

2003 % 5A*-C

2005 % 5A*-C

The Business Academy Bexley

2002

Thamesmead Community College

17.0

21.0

29.1

Greig City Academy, Haringey

2002

St David & St Katherine CofE School

29.7

35.0

54.6

Unity City Academy

2002

Keldholme School

16.5

15.7

16.2

2002

Langbaurgh School

11.9

15.7

16.2

Walsall Academy

2003

TP Riley School

13.4

49.4

65.5

Djangoly City Academy Nottingham

2003

Djangoly CTC

51.6

60.2

58.3

2003

Forest Comprehensive School

8.2

 

58.3

West London Academy

2003

Ealing Compton

19.8

37.3

28.2

The City Academy Bristol

2003

St George Community College

22.2

25.8

53.6

Capital City Academy

2003

Willesden High School

13.0

7.1

16.4

The King's Academy

2003

Brackenhoe Comprehensive

18.8

14.5

43.6

2003

Coulby Newham School

26.8

28.1

43.6

The Academy at Peckham

2003

Warwick Park School

20.5

16.2

22.0

City of London Academy

2003

 

 

 

 

Manchester Academy

2003

Ducie High School

14.0

11.5

24.6

Mossbourne Community Academy

2004

 

 

 

 

Lambeth Academy

2004

 

 

 

 

London Academy

2004

Edgware School

21.3

40.1

48.2

Stockley Academy

2004

Evelyns Community School

17.1

13.8

19.8

Northampton Academy

2004

Lings Upper School

20.6

19.4

35.2

Harefield Academy

2005

John Penrose School

22.5

12.5

31.5

Academy St Francis of Assisi

2005

Our Lady's Roman Catholic School

14.9

24.3

26.5

Marlowe Academy

2005

Ramsgate School

4.5

3.9

14.8

Haberdashers' Aske's Academy

2005

Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College

73.1

82.0

81.3

Haberdashers' Aske's Knights Academy

2005

Malory School

8.8

10.8

8.1

Trinity Academy

2005

Thorne Grammar School

33.0

25.5

35.2

Salford City Academy

2005

Canon Williamson CofE School

21.8

38.8

58.2

Dixons Academy

2005

Dixons CTC

75.3

94.5

98.8

MacMillan Academy

2005

Macmillan College

81.2

93.4

93.3

St Paul's Academy

2005

St Paul's RC VA School

51.5

52.4

61.4

Westminster Academy

2006

North Westminster Community School

26.7

25.8

27.4

The Petchey Academy

2006

 

 

 

 

The John Madejski Academy

2006

Thamesbridge Community College

14.4

11.7

9.6

Sandwell Academy

2006

New School

 

 

 

Paddington Academy

2006

North Westminster Community School

26.7

25.8

27.4

North Liverpool Academy

2006

Anfield School

21.8

25.1

41.7

2006

Breckfield School

29.5

27.6

17.6

Grace Academy

2006

Whitesmore School

20.4

22.1

22.2

David Young Community Academy

2006

Agnes Stewart

11.9

11.6

17.9

2006

Braim Wood

12.2

9.0

34.1

The Barnsley Academy

2006

Elmhirst School

10.8

9.2

43.2

Walthamstow Academy

2006

McEntee

15.2

24.2

18.6

Sheffield Springs Academy

2006

Myrtle Springs

15.2

18.6

19.0

Sheffield Park Academy

2006

Waltheof School

17.8

20.3

28.2

The Harris Academy Bermondsey

2006

Aylwin Girls School

27.6

27.0

40.8

Harris Academy Merton

2006

Tamworth Manor High School

29.8

19.1

31.0

St Mark's C of E

2006

Mitcham Vale

 

25.1

19.2

Harris Girls Academy Dulwich

2006

Waverly Girls School

22.9

26.2

34.3

Landau Forte College

2006

Landau Forte CTC

82.1

82.2

76.9

The Burlington Danes Academy

2006

Burlington Danes

39.8

32.0

34.3

Gateway Academy

2006

Gateway Community College

 

 

12.6

Figures in italics are predecessor school results

Figures for predecessor schools are unpublished and unchecked in the year the academy opened

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many head teachers have been appointed at each academy, and in cases where more than one has been appointed, what was the period in post for which each head teacher served; and what is the average salary of the head teacher of an academy as at April 2006.[HL914]

Of the 46 academies open in December 2006, 38 have the same principal as on their day of opening. Eight academies have had more than one principal. Details of their service are set out in the table below.

The department does not hold data on principals’ salaries. As independent schools, academies are not required to provide the department with this information.

Academy

Year open

Number of principals who have left the academy

Time in post from date of opening

Business Academy Bexley

2002

1

3 years

Greig City Academy

2002

1

1 year and was head of predecessor school

Unity City Academy

2002

2

First principal 2 years 2 months. Second principal 1 year in interim capacity

Capital City Academy

2003

1

1 year and was head of predecessor school

West London Academy

2003

1

2.5 years

The King's Academy

2003

1

2 years

Lambeth Academy

2004

1

2 years

Northampton Academy

2004

1

1 year and was head of predecessor school

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many times the member of an academy trust appointed by the Secretary of State has been consulted on the appointment of a head teacher, as required by those academies which have adopted Clause 85A of the model articles of association; and how many times this appointee has advised against the appointment of a candidate. [HL915]

This clause has not been included in individual academies’ articles of association. This is because Ministers decided that it would be more effective to include a clause in the body of the funding agreement stipulating that the Secretary of State must be notified of any meeting at which the appointment of an academy principal will be considered, that a representative of the Secretary of State will be entitled to attend that meeting and that their views will be taken into account. This clause was introduced when we updated the model funding agreement earlier this year; where individual funding agreements do not include it we are currently seeking to re-negotiate this with academy trusts.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What powers are available to the governors of an academy that are not available to the governors of a voluntary aided school; and [HL916]

What requirements are placed on the governing body of an academy through the model funding agreement that are not placed on the governing body of a local education authority maintained school.[HL917]

The composition and operation of governing bodies of local education authority maintained schools are set out under Chapter 1 of Part 3 of the Education Act 2002. In many respects the model funding agreement includes provisions equivalent to these and governing bodies of academies would be expected to carry out the same accountability, challenge, support and monitoring functions as governing bodies of maintained schools.

However, the requirements and duties of academy governors do differ from maintained school governors because academies are conducted by charitable companies limited by guarantee (the academy trust) and the governors are the directors of those companies. Their powers and duties are therefore governed by the memorandum of association and articles of association of the academy trust and are subject to the general law relating to limited companies and the law relating to charities.

Within these constraints academy governing bodies do have a number of additional freedoms beyond those available to maintained schools, including voluntary aided schools. For instance, they are not obliged to adhere to the school teachers pay and conditions document or the national curriculum.

Secure Children's Homes: Physical Restraint

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Atkinson Unit Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November. [HL603]

Incidents of restraint in secure children's homes (SCHs) have been reported centrally to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) since February 2006. At present, information is not collected about the use of restraint by gender but the YJB will also be collecting this additional data from February 2007. In this context, restraint refers to occasions when “force is used to overpower a young person”. The numbers of incidents of restraints reported to the YJB in Atkinson Unit SCH are listed in the table.

2006

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

Atkinson

16

22

25

37

27

21

23

19

17

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Aldine House Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL598]

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Aycliffe Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL599]

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Barton Moss Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL600]

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Clayfields Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL601]

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Dyson Hall Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL602]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Dyson Hall Local Authority Secure Children's Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL844]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Clayfields Local Authority Secure Children's Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November. [HL845]

Incidents of restraint in secure children's homes (SCHs) have been reported centrally to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) since February 2006. At present, information is not collected about the use of restraint by gender or by ethnicity; however, the YJB will also be collecting this additional data from February 2007. In this context, restraint refers to occasions when “force is used to overpower a young person”. The number of incidents of restraints reported to the YJB in Aldine House, Aycliffe, Barton Moss, Clayfields and Dyson Hall SCHs are listed in the table.

2006

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

Aldine

1

5

11

1

3

14

13

4

1

Aycliffe

22

23

47

84

32

15

42

18

23

Barton Moss

7

13

9

8

5

9

12

8

9

Clayfields

10

12

8

25

8

10

9

15

27

Dyson Hall (aka Gladstone)

2

3

3

8

19

5

17

13

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Swanwick Lodge local authority secure children's home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL684]

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Vinney Green Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL685]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Vinney Green Local Authority Secure Children’s Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL795]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Swanwick Lodge Local Authority Secure Children's Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November. [HL796]

Incidents of restraint in secure children's homes (SCHs) have been reported centrally to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) since February 2006. At present, information is not collected about the use of restraint by gender and ethnicity; however, the YJB will also be collecting this additional data from February 2007. In this context, restraint refers to occasions when “force is used to overpower a young person”. The numbers of incidents of restraints reported to the YJB in Swanwick Lodge and Vinney Green SCHs are listed in the table.

2006

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

Swanwick Lodge

17

18

10

10

2

0

2

2

1

Vinney Green

28

19

5

5

6

6

9

20

12

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Barton Moss Local Authority Secure Children's Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL887]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Aycliffe Local Authority Secure Children's Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL888]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at the Atkinson Unit Local Authority Secure Children's Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL889]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Aldine House Secure Unit in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November.[HL890]

Incidents of restraint in secure children's homes (SCHs) have been reported centrally to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) since February 2006. At present, information is not collected about the use of restraint by gender or by ethnicity; however, the YJB will also be collecting this additional data from February 2007. In this context, restraint refers to occasions when “force is used to overpower a young person”. The number of incidents of restraints reported to the YJB in Atkinson Unit, Aycliffe, Barton Moss and Aldine House SCHs are listed in the table.

2006

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

Aldine House

1

5

11

1

3

14

13

4

1

Atkinson Unit

16

22

25

37

27

21

23

19

17

Aycliffe

22

23

47

84

32

15

42

18

23

Barton Moss

7

13

9

8

5

9

12

8

9

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Hillside Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL622]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Hillside local authority secure children's home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November. [HL843]

Incidents of restraint in secure children's homes (SCHs) have been reported centrally to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) since February 2006. At present, information is not collected about the use of restraint by gender or ethnicity. However, the YJB will also be collecting these additional data from February 2007. In this context, restraint refers to occasions when “force is used to overpower a young person”. The numbers of incidents of restraints reported to the YJB in Hillside are listed in the table.

2006

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

Hillside

3

1

4

6

6

7

4

0

0

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Kesteven House Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November. [HL623]

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Kyloe House Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL624]

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Orchard Lodge Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL625]

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Redbank Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL626]

On how many occasions physical restraint was used at Sutton Local Authority Secure Children's Home on, respectively, male and female clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November. [HL627]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Orchard Lodge Local Authority Secure Children's Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL840]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Kyloe House Local Authority Secure Children's Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November; and [HL841]

On how many occasions physical restraint occurred at Kesteven House Local Authority Secure Children's Home in relation to, respectively, male and female black and ethnic minority clients during each of the 12 months prior to 1 November. [HL842]

Incidents of restraint in secure children's homes (SCHs) have been reported centrally to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) since February 2006. At present, information is not collected about the use of restraint by gender and ethnicity but the YJB will also be collecting this additional data from February 2007. In this context, restraint refers to occasions when “force is used to overpower a young person”. The numbers of incidents of restraints reported to the YJB in Kesteven House; Kyloe House; Orchard Lodge; Redbank and Sutton Place SCHs are listed in the table.

2006

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

Kesteven House (Lincolnshire)

1

5

4

10

10

16

11

12

30

Kyloe House

6

17

6

4

6

28

17

9

20

Orchard Lodge

3

8

2

21

9

10

14

27

48

Redbank

40

29

28

29

21

32

20

15

28

Sutton Place

9

8

7

14

38

25

18

6

11

Secure Training Centres: Physical Restraint

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the data covering staffing levels, use of restraint and non-accidental injuries in secure training centres for the period July to September 2006 will be placed in the Library of the House. [HL637]

The information referred to, which has been supplied by the Youth Justice Board, is in the table below. I am placing a copy in the Library.

Staffing, non-accidental injuries and use of restraint in secure training centres, July - September 20061

Medway

Rainsbrook

Oakhill

Hassockfeld

Minimum Staffing Levels (MSL) met?

Met

Met

Not fully met2

met

Occasions of injuryarising from self-harm3

47

18

96

31

Other non-accidental injuries

0

0

0

0

Occasions on which restraint was used

282

144

199

109

1 The data have been supplied by the secure training centres and verified by the YJB monitoring team. The centres have been asked to report “all occasions of injury from self harm, no matter how minor”.

2 Oakhill met its MSL requirement for custody officers throughout the quarter, apart from a period from the evening of 22 September to the afternoon of 24 September when up to three custody officers were absent. On 11 July, one of the MSLs of five health care staff required between 07.30 and 08.30 was not met. The centre was unable to meet the MSL for provision of a social worker as part of its assessment team from 28 July until 11 September.

3 The majority of injuries required no treatment, the most common being superficial scratches.

Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2006: Designation of Land

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether (a) road blocks, and (b) warning signs qualify as obstacles for the protection of a site for the purposes of defining an outer perimeter for sites designated or protected under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. [HL570]

Sections 128 to 131 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 do not specify how the outer perimeter of protected sites should be defined. In the majority of cases, it is likely that the perimeter would be based on the existing physical boundary of the site which could be comprised of security fencing, walls, hedgerows or buildings. In all cases, a key consideration would be to ensure, through appropriate means, that the boundary of the protected site was permanent, continuous and clear to members of the public.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether it is an offence to trespass on sites designated under Sections 128 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 when the site is (a) under construction; (b) inactive; or (c) being decommissioned. [HL571]

Under Sections 128 and 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 it is a criminal offence to trespass on any protected site. A protected site is either a licensed nuclear site or a site designated in an order by a Secretary of State under Sections 128(3) or 129(3). It is not an offence to trespass in the area around Parliament designated under Section 138, but it is an offence to demonstrate in this area without authorisation from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Single/Double Summer Time

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there is police evidence showing a reduction in street crime at dusk involving elderly and vulnerable pedestrians during the winter months if the current use of Greenwich mean time and British Summer Time was replaced by lighter afternoons and evenings with single/double summer time. [HL975]

We are not aware of any research which provides such evidence or any evaluations of interventions that have included reverting to single double summer time.

The available research indicates that the majority of robbery victims are young people and there are peak robbery times during the day. We are actively encouraging the police and crime and disorder reduction partnerships to adopt a problem solving approach, to identify potential victims and problem times, to determine the appropriate tactics to deploy in preventing robberies and deterring offenders.

Solicitors

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they plan to prohibit the trafficking of personal injury and industrial disease claims between solicitors and third parties. [HL839]

The Government do not wish to see the trafficking of any personal injury claims. The Compensation Act 2006 provides a robust statutory framework for the regulation of claims management services, including claims made for personal injury handled by previously unregulated third-party claims companies. Such companies will now need to be authorised and required to follow strict rules of conduct including how claims are obtained and referred to solicitors. Effective regulation of all aspects of claims handling is vital to ensure proper safeguards for consumers and the department is working closely with the Law Society, Financial Services Authority and other regulators to achieve this.

Taiwan: WHO Membership

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What response they have made to the 7th Report of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (HC 860, Session 2005–06) which recommended that they should support full membership of the World Health Organisation for Taiwan. [HL831]

The Government's response was published in document HC 860-II Session 2005-06, October 2006, which can be found in the Library of the House. The response reads in full:

“The Government strongly supports the principle enshrined in the WHO constitution that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being. However, there are difficulties over Taiwan's involvement in a United Nations forum where statehood is a prerequisite for full membership. Additionally, observer status, of and by itself does not automatically confer any rights or benefits on the holder.

Consequently, the Government's approach has been to press for practical solutions. The Government, both bilaterally and through the EU, has sought to strengthen and deepen the relationship between the WHO and Taiwan. The EU has urged the WHO Secretariat to find mechanisms to allow medical and public health officials from Taiwan to participate in relevant activities of the WHO. Through the Secretariat's efforts, Taiwan is more involved now than before. We continue to monitor the situation closely”.

Recently, at the request of member states including the UK, the European Commission and presidency have agreed to approach the new WHO director-general regarding Taiwan's further participation.

Turkey: Non-Muslim Religious Bodies

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made to the Government of Turkey concerning the law passed by the Turkish Parliament on 9 November that would have made it easier for non-Muslim religious bodies to reclaim property confiscated by the state, including orphanages, schools, hospitals and churches, which was blocked by the Turkish president. [HL756]