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Written Answers

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 23 January 2007

Written Answers

Tuesday 23 January 2007

Afghanistan: Helmand Province

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether Defence Intelligence Staff personnel are attached to United Kingdom military forces deployed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan; and [HL1125]

How many Intelligence Corps and Defence Intelligence Staff personnel are attached to United Kingdom military forces deployed in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. [HL1126]

Both Defence Intelligence Staff and Intelligence Corps personnel are deployed in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

I am withholding details relating to the number of personnel, since its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our Armed Forces.

Armed Forces: Armoured Fighting Vehicles

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Arising from the published findings of the board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts in March 2003, what progress the Headquarters Director Royal Armoured Corps has made in developing doctrinal notes and standard operating procedures for the employment of armoured fighting vehicles at vehicle checkpoints in situations of both warfare and peacekeeping. [HL1206]

Doctrinal notes for the employment of Challenger 2 in vehicle checkpoints, covering both war-fighting and peacekeeping scenarios, were made available to all armoured regiments in December 2006. Doctrinal notes were already in place for Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) Scimitar/Spartan, Warrior and Fighting Vehicle 430 prior to the related recommendation by the board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Arising from the published findings of the board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts in March 2003, what steps have been taken, via the introduction of Bowman or otherwise, to provide personal role radio fully interoperable with the communications systems of armoured fighting vehicles. [HL1207]

The vehicle integrated personal role radio (VIPRR) is at present being rolled out for armoured vehicles in use in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trials on Clansman platforms took place in April and May 2005, and the first deliveries to Operation TELIC were made in June that year. Acceptance trials on Bowman platforms started in January 2006, with the first deliveries to Operation TELIC in August 2006, followed by deliveries to Operation HERRICK in September that year. To date 357 VIPRR kits have been delivered, and a further 278 are scheduled for delivery by May 2007.

Aviation: Passenger Identification

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What personal identification airline passengers on both domestic and international flights are required to show prior to take-off from United Kingdom airports; at what points in the journey from airport entrance to seat on the aircraft must this identification be shown; and under what primary or delegated legislation these requirements are laid down. [HL893]

It is not a security requirement for passengers to provide a passport or photographic ID at check-in. The request for photographic ID by some airlines has been introduced under the airlines’ own conditions of travel to prevent ticket fraud.

Airlines must, however, ensure that the person who checks in hold baggage is the same person who then boards the aircraft. The Department for Transport does not specify how airlines should achieve this to enable them to retain operational flexibility, though on international flights where passports are carried airlines may use these to confirm identity. These checks will be made at both check-in and the departure gate.

These requirements are laid down in the national aviation security programme under the Aviation Security Act 1982 as amended by the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990.

The Home Office is responsible for exit control checks.

Aviation: Security Alert

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the cost to date of the criminal investigations in connection with the United Kingdom airport security alert in early August 2006. [HL1178]

The total costs in respect of the criminal investigations are yet to be determined as these are still being collated.

Belfast Agreement: Release of Prisoners

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether terrorist offenders released as a result of the provisions of the Belfast agreement 1998 are monitored by the Irish police service; and whether information is provided to the United Kingdom authorities if they are involved in criminal or terrorist activity. [HL1010]

The monitoring of released prisoners in the Irish Republic is a matter for the Irish authorities and I am unable to comment on their activities.

As the current legislation stands, there may be occasions when an individual released within the terms of the agreement may commit an offence in Ireland and be subject to the revocation of their licence. I am advised that there are no processes in place in which An Garda Siochana routinely checks whether a person is on licence or not but understand that it is proactive in passing information to the PSNI if it does come to light.

British Citizenship

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 8 January (WA 13-14) concerning British overseas citizens of Nepalese origin, whether the British consulate-general in Hong Kong will provide such persons with written confirmation stating that they were a Hong Kong British Dependent Territories citizen on 4 February and 30 June 1997 to enable the Nepalese authorities to determine whether or not the person in question was a citizen of Nepal on 4 February and 30 June 1997; and what is the cost of obtaining such confirmation from the British consulate-general in Hong Kong. [HL1167]

Anyone can approach the British consulate-general in Hong Kong and request a letter confirming whether or not they hold, or ever held, British nationality. This service is covered under consular fee number 1(a) and costs the equivalent of £23.50.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Under what circumstances a person would not have been a British Dependent Territories citizen on 4 February and 30 June 1997 if (a) he was born in Hong Kong before 1 January 1949 and was therefore a natural-born British subject at birth, (b) immediately before 1 January 1949 he had not ceased to be a British subject, and (c) after 1 January 1949 he had not renounced British nationality. [HL1169]

Whether such a person would have a claim to be a British Dependent Territories citizen is a matter of law that can be determined conclusively only by the courts. However, from the information provided it appears that a person in the circumstances described would have been a British Dependent Territories citizen on those dates.

Chemicals: REACH Regulation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in gaining acceptance by companies of the requirements of the European Union Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals regulation since it was launched in October 2003.[HL1335]

The Government have always supported fully the aim of the REACH regulation to improve protection of human health and the environment and to maintain the competitiveness and innovation of the EU chemicals industry. We sought to consult widely with the UK chemicals industry and other sectors that will be affected by REACH to ensure that their views were taken into account and that they were kept informed of developments throughout the legislative process.

In October 2006, I announced that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) would act as the UK competent authority for the implementation of REACH. The HSE has set up a helpdesk to provide assistance and advice to all industrial sectors on the requirements of REACH. Various industry bodies are also taking active steps to make sure that companies understand about REACH and have access to advice.

The Government are confident that there is a widespread understanding of REACH and its requirements among the major industrial players. However, we are less confident that there is such an understanding among the significant numbers of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and among companies not in the chemical industry but which nevertheless use chemicals. With the formal adoption of the REACH regulation in December 2006, we are developing a communications strategy to ensure that SMEs in particular are fully aware of REACH requirements as they progressively come into effect from 1 June 2007.

Climate Change

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What new steps they will take in 2007 to support the various stages of the European Union environment and climate change measures agreed by the European Council of Ministers. [HL1189]

The Government will be taking an active role in pushing forward the environmental and climate change measures agreed at the December 2006 European Council and further strengthening the strong link between the EU climate change policy and energy policy.

We are working closely with Germany, which is intending to use its presidency of the EU and G8 to develop “expanding circles” of consensus through 2007 in the run-up to Conference of Parties 13 in Bali.

The UK will be taking an active role in the follow-up work on the Nairobi decisions, including how to breathe fresh air into the convention dialogue, ideally through the tabling of concrete proposals about future action. We will be looking to accelerate negotiations on future action by demonstrating clear EU leadership through securing an agreement on tough greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals for the EU and using the EU and G8 fora to seek high-level agreement on the elements that should form the basis of a future framework.

We announced a new Climate Change Bill, which will put into statute the Government's long-term goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 and set out a framework for achieving this. This will also strengthen our ability to be global leaders in a future international framework for climate change.

The Government support the Commission on its review of the EU emissions trading directive and in exploring the potential for linking the EU ETS with similar schemes, including non-Kyoto schemes.

Although unilateral linking is currently possible, mutual recognition of such schemes would require an amendment to the directive. This is being considered as one of the UK's priorities for the Commission's review of the emissions trading directive. The Government support the inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS and will be working with the Commission and other member states during negotiation of the directive on inclusion of aviation in the EU ETS.

Coastal Erosion

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will revise their estimate of the likely effects of coastal erosion and collapse in areas of vulnerable coastline around the United Kingdom mainland and islands; and what further measures they will consider to deal with coastal erosion and collapse in these areas. [HL1338]

Defra has overall policy responsibility for coastal erosion risk in England and grant-aids local authority improvement projects and related studies to manage this risk. The department does not build defences or direct the authorities on which specific projects to undertake. Management of coastal erosion risk and associated monitoring is the responsibility of the relevant local authority in each area.

Erosion risk will vary around the coastline depending on local conditions and defences in place. Defra has encouraged the relevant authorities to produce shoreline management plans (SMPs), which provide large-scale assessments of the risks associated with coastal processes and present long-term policy frameworks to manage these risks in a sustainable manner.

In 2001, Defra funded a national study of information on long-term coastal processes and evolution over the next century (Futurecoast). This is designed to be used by coastal authorities to inform their current revisions of SMPs. The Department of Trade and Industry's Foresight: Future Flooding report, published in 2004, also considered possible coastal erosion scenarios over the following 80 years.

Work under the cross-government Making Space for Water programme is focusing on methods for mapping erosion probabilities with the aim of producing national maps of coastal erosion probability in 2009, similar to those currently available for flood risk. Further work within this programme is looking at the national scale of the problems, with a view to considering future options for adaptation policy.

Funding for flood and coastal erosion risk management has increased significantly in recent years. New approaches to management of the risk in a broad sense are being considered under Making Space for Water. They include proposals for new outcome measures, on which we are currently out to public consultation, and for the Environment Agency to have a strategic overview of all coastal flood and erosion risk management.

Consultants

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many consultants the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has employed since 1 January; what they were employed to do; and at what cost. [HL876]

The table provides an analysis of payments made for consultancy expenditure since 1 January 2006 to 14 December 2006, linked to the associated consultancy projects.

Expenditure since 01/01/06

Subject of Consultancy

£407.68

Child protection workshop

£15,760.50

Electronic document records management

£2,608.00

Project adviser for capital projects

£350.00

Editorial services on architecture policy

£12,455.51

Consultation on strategy for sport

£25,875.00

Eel research project

£7,397.30

Article 4 and 10, tendering and site visit checks for European Union angling and water recreation development programmes

£7,875.00

Exercise to identify DCAL Inland Waterways and Inland Fisheries land and property assets and to scope the work and costs involved in proving legal title

£29,600.00

Research on the social and economic impact of recreation fisheries, angling and angling resources in Northern Ireland

£1,000.00

Otter and whooper swan survey at Tiraroe, Derrylin

£850.00

Flora and fauna survey on Upper Lough Macnean

£29.50

Report on Fisheries Conservancy Board financial projections to March 2007

£46,850.10

Internal audit

£12,000.00

Staff opinion survey

£15,100.00

Accountancy services

£75.00

Public Sector Quality Group customer survey

£9,640.50

PRONI new accommodation project

£29,114.75

Facilitation of strategic planning exercise

£13,271.59

Review of central library

£12,570.00

Business continuity plan

£1,994.81

Council of Europe Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

£520.00

Verification of Maid of Antrim European Union project

£1,144.00

Independent assessor of Big Lottery

£203.25

Contribution to a seminar in Greenmount College

£200.00

Speakers fees for adventure activities seminar

£4,880.00

Linfield/Irish Football Association agreement

£5,875.00

Northern Ireland Events Company and Rally Ireland arbitration

£4,000.00

Assessment and appointment of independent board member

£840.00

Independent assistance in reviewing a complaint

£8,400.00

Legal assistance on proposed Irish language legislation

£1,410.00

Charter Mark assessment

£272,297.49

Total consultancy expenditure 1 January to 14 December 2006

Court Martial: Sergeant Selman and Others

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Following the cases of Sergeant Selman and others acquitted at court martial, what action they have taken to improve the translation and interpretation facilities available to investigators in-theatre; and [HL1202]

Following the cases of Sergeant Selman and others acquitted at court martial, what procedures have been put in place to ensure that all statements taken in the course of an investigation, particularly those requiring interpretation and translation, are read back to interviewees and an addendum signed to confirm this. [HL1203]

Since the investigation into the death of Ahmed Jaber Kareem which led to the court martial of Sergeant Selman and others, two dedicated interpreters have been recruited and permanently attached to the Royal Military Police (RMP) Special Investigation Branch (SIB) in Iraq.

It is standard RMP practice for statements taken in operational theatres to be recorded in the local language. The statement is then read by the witness (or read back to the witness if he or she cannot read), amended as necessary and signed by the witness (and by the interpreter if the witness cannot read). In line with civil police guidelines, witness interviews are audio recorded. On rare occasions where this is not possible, comprehensive notes are maintained. During major incident investigations, it is standard practice for key witness interviews to be video recorded.

Courts: Charges

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Ashton of Upholland on 9 January (WA 67), whether they will publish the report of the review undertaken by HM Courts Service to evaluate whether the current system of exemptions and remissions adequately protects access to justice. [HL1289]

The outcome of the fundamental review of the system of exemptions and remissions will not be published in the form of a separate report. The issues identified and the proposals for revising the system of fee concessions will be published in a forthcoming consultation paper. The proposals build on a system already in place and ensure that we can be confident that the system is well targeted and affordable, while making more people aware of their entitlements.

Crime: Asset Seizures

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assets have been seized in South Armagh since 1 January; and how many prosecutions have followed as a result. [HL444]

A full answer could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has had a number of successes in County Armagh, including three seizures of counterfeit goods and counterfeiting equipment to the value of £146,317. Fifteen prosecution files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions as a result of activity at Jonesborough Market; however, none of these has yet been through the court.

Crime: Rape

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will introduce legislation to enable publication of information on whether compensation was paid or not paid under the criminal injuries compensation scheme in rape cases without identifying the name of the accuser and only identifying the name of the convicted; and [HL1255]

How many awards have been made by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to the accusers in the Leslie Warren and Warren Blackwell cases separately. [HL1256]

Legislation is unnecessary. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) already has discretion to disclose information about awards made for injuries inflicted by the same offender, provided that the authority is satisfied that any disclosure is unlikely to enable a particular victim, or the award made to a particular victim, to be identified. For example, CICA has disclosed more general information about awards made to victims of the late Harold Shipman and to victims of the 7/7 London bombings. It follows that CICA cannot release information relating to the second Question, including whether any applications for criminal injuries compensation have in fact been made in the Leslie Warren and Warren Blackwell cases.

Demonstrations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the boats that assembled and blew their hooters on the river outside Parliament on the morning of 10 January constituted a demonstration. [HL1304]

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police informs me that there was a demonstration involving 20 commercial vessels on the River Thames outside Parliament on 10 January. The demonstration was not authorised by the Metropolitan Police as required under Sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. I understand that the Metropolitan Police intend to write to the owners of each vessel informing them that they held an unauthorised demonstration and explaining how they should go about applying for authority to demonstrate in the future.

Energy: Demand Reduction Trials

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Statement by Lord Truscott on 21 November 2006 (WS 32), why £4.75 million is being transferred to the Department of Trade and Industry from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in respect of energy demand reduction trials; where the money is going; and whether it will be used for similar trials, or represents an underspend on trials that should have been carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. [HL1265]

The 2006 Budget announced funding of £5 million to run smart metering trials. Following discussions with stakeholders, the Government decided that there was a strong case for expanding the trials in order to pilot approaches aimed at securing household behavioural changes that would result in a reduction in energy demand.

Defra agreed to contribute £4.75 million from the £20 million announced in the same Budget to support work on household energy efficiency. The decision to create a single pot of money was taken in order to maximise administrative efficiency and to ensure a single coherent framework for designing, tendering and monitoring the trials. Close interdepartmental co-ordination is ensured through a joint Department of Trade and Industry, Defra and Ofgem steering committee.

Energy: Microgeneration

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Malcolm Wicks, on 13 December 2006 (Official Report, Commons, col. 1078W), by how much the costs of various microgeneration systems have already fallen; by how much further they are likely to fall before June 2008; whether such falls will equate to the sums of money that have been available through householder funding; and how much the population is to be made aware of the availability and costs of the various systems. [HL1296]

Since the launch of the Clear Skies scheme in 2002, the greatest number of projects have been solar thermal hot water installations. There has been a small increase in the price of solar thermal installations, which is believed to be part of the natural development of the market. However, we would expect prices to fall as the supply base develops. Under the solar PV major demonstration programme, which was launched in 2003, the price per installed capacity of solar panels has fallen on average by 15 per cent.

Under the low-carbon buildings programme (LCBP), launched in April 2006, we have yet to assess the impact of the capital grant programme on the cost of microgeneration systems. Even so, one of the main objectives of the scheme is to drive down costs, and we will be looking to assess the impact on cost over the life of the programme.

As part of the microgeneration strategy that was published in March 2006, we announced that there would be a review of the advice and information for consumers on microgeneration, and this will be carried out in due course.

Firearms

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many persons have died of injuries inflicted by handguns in each year since the passage of the Firearms Acts. [HL1196]

Available information is for England and Wales from 1997 to 2004-05 and for Scotland from 1997 to 2005-06.

Crimes recorded by the police in which handguns1 were reported to have caused fatal injury2, 1997 to 2005-06

Number of offences

Year

England and Wales

Scotland

1997

39

5

1997-98

..

5

1998-993

29

0

1999-00

42

0

2000-01

48

2

2001-024

59

0

2002-035

40

0

2003-046

35

0

2004-057

37

1

2005-068,9

..

3

.. Data not available.

1 For England and Wales this refers to converted imitation handgun, reactivated handgun, converted air pistols, other handgun and unknown handgun. For Scotland this refers to pistols and revolvers.

2 Fatal injuries do not include offender suicide.

3 There was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998 in England and Wales.

4 Figures for England and Wales may have been inflated by some police forces implementing the principles of the national crime recording standard before 1 April 2002.

5 The national crime recording standard was introduced on 1 April 2002 for England and Wales. Figures for some crime categories may have been inflated by this.

6 Figures may have been inflated for Scotland by some police forces implementing the principles of the Scottish crime recording standard before 1 April 2004.

7 The Scottish crime recording standard was introduced on 1 April 2004. Figures for some crime categories may have been inflated by this.

8 Data for England and Wales for 2005-06 will be available after publication on 25 January 2007.

9 In 2005-06 all Scottish forces agreed to try to identify weapons where possible. Figures should not be inflated by this.

Fishing: Drift Netting

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What impact the recent announcement by the Government of the Republic of Ireland that drift netting is to end off the Irish coast will have on the netting regime under the jurisdiction of the Irish cross-border Loughs Agency. [HL1180]

The Loughs Agency is in the process of developing its policy on mixed-stock fisheries, taking account of the policy operated in the Republic of Ireland. The Loughs Agency is currently consulting stakeholders. When it formalises its policy, this will be subject to the approval of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure as the department responsible for salmon policy in Northern Ireland.

Fishing: Lough Neagh

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Rooker on 8 November (WA 183) and 13 December (WA 206), whether the Fisheries Conservancy Board’s patrols on Lough Neagh are operationally efficient; and, in light of the proportion of boat patrols claimed that were incorrectly logged, they will take punitive or remedial action. [HL1116]

Patrols on Lough Neagh are the responsibility of the Fisheries Conservancy Board, which carries out patrol activity within operational budgets and the income available to it. In response to concerns that there has been a lack of enforcement patrols in 2006, DCAL staff have been made available to FCB to assist in carrying out such patrols. The department has written to the chief executive of FCB strongly emphasising the importance of providing accurate information in response to Parliamentary Questions and has sought and received details of measures taken by FCB to avoid a recurrence. Any further disciplinary action will be the responsibility of the board.

Gulf War 1990-91: Vaccines

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 20 January 2003 on the guidance given to doctors on the product licence summary that the anthrax vaccine licensed by the Secretary of State for Health should be used alone, whether this was observed when vaccinating troops deployed to the 1990-91 Gulf War; and what action was taken to try to ensure that it was observed. [HL1133]

Health: Waiting Times

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What inspection system they have in place to monitor National Health Service waiting lists in Northern Ireland and to ensure that hospital trusts are providing full and accurate information on waiting times; whether waiting times for initial consultant appointments are recorded separately from waiting times for treatment or surgery; and, if not, whether they will take steps to ensure that these statistics are recorded and published separately. [HL1179]

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety publishes official waiting list/times statistics on a quarterly basis. The publication includes:

out-patient waiting list/times, which comprise the number of patients waiting for their first out-patient appointment with a consultant, or a member of the consultant's team (or a locum in place for a member of the consultant's team); and

in-patient waiting list/times, which comprise the number of patients waiting for ordinary admission or daycase admission to hospital.

There are two distinct reporting systems in place for in-patient and out-patient waiting lists/times. Separate electronic reports providing the numbers of people waiting for in-patient admission and out-patient assessment are downloaded from patient administration systems (PAS) in each hospital by trust information staff. These provide information on the number of patients waiting for in-patient/daycase procedure and first out-patient assessment, together with an indication of how many months the patient has been waiting (in timebands) for each specialty. Validation checks are undertaken by these staff and information is then submitted to the Information and Analysis Directorate (IAD) in the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, where a further series of stringent validation procedures are undertaken prior to publication.

The quarterly waiting list/times bulletin is a National Statistics publication governed by the National Statistics code of practice and its associated protocols. The code and protocols require that procedures are in place to produce statistics that are relevant, have integrity, are of good quality and are accessible to the user. They are produced in the interests of all citizens by protecting confidentiality and balancing the needs of users and the burden on providers; they are also free from political interference.

The official waiting list bulletin is available at the DHSSPS website via the following link: www.dhsspsn i.gov.uk/index/stats_research/stats-pubs/stats-hospital _community_statistics.htm#waitinglists. Copies are also available in the Library. Official waiting list/times statistics for the quarter ending 31 December 2006 are due to be published on Thursday 1 March 2007.

Healthcare Commission: Annual Report

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the remarks by Lord Warner on 7 December (Official Report, col. 1294), to which specific areas of greater information he was referring when comparing the information provided by the annual report of the Healthcare Commission with the information provided by the James report to the Conservative Party prior to the general election in 2005. [HL894]

The Healthcare Commission produces a wide range of information about the National Health Service and its performance. The commission assesses NHS trusts through its annual health-check process. This provides information on trusts’ performance against the existing national targets, core standards and use of resources, as well as on progress made in specific healthcare areas such as mental health. Results for 2005-06 were published on 12 October 2006 and are available on the commission's website at www.healthcarecommission.org.uk.

The Healthcare Commission published its third State of Healthcare report on 30 October 2006. The report considers the state of healthcare services in England and Wales for the year ending 31 March 2006. For the first time, the report also includes an overview of standards in the independent healthcare sector. State of Healthcare 2006 is also available on the commission's website.

The Healthcare Commission's activities are summarised in its annual reports. Its report for 2005-06, Putting Patients First: A Better Experience of Healthcare, was published on 24 July 2006. The report is available on the commission's website.

Immigration: Children

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many children were detainees in immigration removal centres in each year since these centres were established. [HL948]

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. Information is available on the number of persons recorded as being under 18 detained on the last Saturday of each quarter since December 2003. All the figures exclude persons detained in short-term holding facilities, police cells and Prison Service establishments. All figures have been 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 minors 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: Costs of Detention

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the average cost of detaining a person under immigration laws in (a) an immigration removal centre, and (b) prison. [HL232]

The average cost of detaining a person for one night in 2005-06 was:

(a) immigration removal centre, £104; and

(b) prison, £78.

The cost provided for prison detention does not distinguish between those held under immigration laws and those held on criminal matters, as this is not discernible. Both figures reflect direct costs as per 2005-06 financial accounts.

Immigration: Deportation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What additional safeguards they have in place for those who have failed in their immigration applications and who are to be deported to countries where such differences as religious, cultural or sexual orientation are severely punished. [HL1288]

Applications are considered on an individual basis taking account of relevant country information and an applicant's personal circumstances, including where relevant their sexual orientation or their religious or cultural background. We will not remove someone where this is contrary to our obligations under the refugee convention or the European Convention on Human Rights, which includes a prohibition on torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. If an application for asylum is refused, the individual is entitled to appeal to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. This provides an additional safeguard and appropriate judicial oversight of the asylum process.

Immigration: Harmondsworth Removal Centre

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will provide a breakdown of the persons detained at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre on 27 November 2006 showing the average length of detention under Immigration Act powers and the nationalities of those detained (a) for fast tracking, (b) for removal or deportation following a custodial sentence for a criminal offence and (c) others, distinguishing separately where appropriate those who had claimed asylum at any stage. [HL1164]

On 27 November 2006 there were 494 persons detained at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre. The remainder of the information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only by examination of individual records at disproportionate cost.

Immigration: Zimbabwe

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 11 October 2004 (WA 21) concerning the organisation Zimbabwean Community in the United Kingdom, when the investigations made by the Immigration Service were completed; and what conclusions were reached. [HL1240]

The Immigration Service suspended an 11-month investigation into the organisation Zimbabwean Community in the United Kingdom in January 2005. The subjects of the investigation left their home addresses in the wake of allegations against them in the media and are now believed to be residing outside the United Kingdom. The Immigration Service remains ready to reactivate the investigation should these individuals come to light in the future.

India: Human Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make representations to the Government of India about the anti-conversion law recently passed by the Congress Government in Himachal Pradesh state.[HL1415]

We make representations to the Indian Government periodically about the anti-conversion laws in India, most recently in April 2006, with reference to Rajasthan. Although the Anti-Conversion Bill was passed by the Assembly of Himachal Pradesh on 13 December 2006, we understand that the Bill still needs to be ratified by the state governor before it becomes law. Our high commission in New Delhi will continue to monitor developments.

Inward Investment: North Tyrone

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to attract investment to North Tyrone. [HL1276]

The Government, through Invest NI, promotes Northern Ireland as an attractive and viable location for foreign direct investment. It also works to stimulate the development and growth of local businesses and entrepreneurial activity. The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) works to secure investment in tourism. Invest NI works closely with local stakeholders to encourage them to develop regional propositions to maximise the attractiveness of their area for potential investors.

This strategy has resulted in just under £5 million of assistance being offered towards total planned inward investment of £19.2 million in the Strabane District Council area in the four years to March 2006. Through its Accelerating Entrepreneurship Strategy, Invest NI has also assisted the creation of just under 270 new enterprises which have the potential to generate significant additional turnover in local businesses.

The NITB has prepared a strategic framework for action 2004-07 to focus on attracting visitors to NI, to increase the competitiveness of tourism businesses and to stimulate effective communication with the industry. Four regional tourism partnerships (RTPs) were set up under the framework to assist the promotion of tourism at local level. The Western RTP, which includes North Tyrone, has to date been allocated £125,000, representing 25 per cent of the £500,000 funding from the NITB towards this initiative. Projects from North Tyrone have also been eligible to compete for funding under the tourism development programme.

Iraq: Kurds

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make representations to the Kurdish regional authority (in Iraq) to accept for resettlement Kurds now living in Al Ruwaishid camp in Jordan and in other locations near the frontier. [HL1211]

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Amman reports that the Al Ruwaishid camp is populated by Palestinians not Kurds. Consequently, officials do not plan to make representations to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq.

Irish Language Bill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the proposed introduction of an Irish Language Bill will fulfil the Belfast agreement commitment to parity of esteem and equality between the Irish language and that of Ulster-Scots. [HL1342]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given on 8 November 2006 (WA 201) outlining the Government's current commitment to Ulster-Scots in accordance with the Belfast agreement.

Passports

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In what circumstances a resident of the Republic of Ireland can obtain a British passport of any type. [HL1341]

British passports can be issued only to those who hold British nationality. A resident of the Republic of Ireland who holds British nationality may obtain a British passport from the British embassy or by making an appointment to attend an Identity and Passport Service office for a premium service when visiting the UK.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements are in place to ensure that British diplomatic missions overseas that become aware of the arrest of British citizens inform the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the passport details of such citizens; and whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office passes this information to the UK Passport Agency. [HL1352]

Where available, consular staff record the passport details of every British national to whom they are providing consular assistance, including detainees. These details are entered on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office consular assistance database—Compass—making it available, in real time, to consular staff in London and overseas. The arrest by foreign authorities of British nationals overseas is not alone grounds for the removal of their passport facilities by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), the successor to the UK Passport Service. Consequently, we do not pass their details to IPS. However, we do automatically pass on the details of any lost or stolen passport to IPS.

People Trafficking

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many prosecutions and how many convictions there have been in (a) Scotland, and (b) Northern Ireland for trafficking for (i) sexual exploitation, and (ii) labour exploitation in each year since records have been kept. [HL1236]

Trafficking for sexual exploitation was made a specific offence by Section 22 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. Trafficking for any purpose, including that of labour exploitation, was made a specific offence by Section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004. There have been no recorded prosecutions or convictions under these Acts in either Scotland or Northern Ireland. No statistics on convictions for human trafficking are available prior to the introduction of this legislation.

Prisoners: Offender Assessment System

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the offender assessment system was used in the pilot scheme in the north-west region for new styles and methods for managing and resettling offenders sentenced to prison; and to what extent it was found helpful and effective. [HL1083]

The offender assessment system (OASys) is in use across England and Wales and was used in the offender management pilot, or pathfinder, in the north-west region.

The pathfinder benefited from the high-quality assessment of offenders that is delivered through use of OASys. It also highlighted where improvements might be made to OASys to better support offender management. An important step forward in relation to one such improvement—connectivity between the probation and prison OASys IT systems—was achieved in March 2006 when work was completed that linked probation areas to the public sector prisons.

Roads: High-occupancy Vehicle Lanes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How the requirement for vehicles using high-occupancy vehicle lanes to have more than one passenger is to be enforced; and by whom. [HL1362]

The enforcement of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on the trunk road network will be carried out by the police. The Highways Agency is working closely with them to agree appropriate measures for enforcement, prior to the introduction of the first HOV lane on the trunk road network.

Roads: Sprucefield to the Irish Border

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proposals they have to improve the safety of the road from Sprucefield to the Irish border. [HL1146]

The chief executive of Roads Service (Dr Malcolm McKibbin) has written to the noble Lord in response to this Question.

Letter from Dr Malcolm McKibbin to Lord Laird

You recently asked Her Majesty's Government a Parliamentary Question regarding what proposals they have to improve the safety of the road from Sprucefield to the Irish border.

I have been asked to reply as this issue falls within my responsibility as chief executive of Roads Service.

I am pleased to be able to advise that Roads Service has a substantial programme of work aimed at improving both the reliability of journey times and safety on the A1 Sprucefield to the border key strategic route. This programme, which is contained in the Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan 2015, published in March 2005, and in proposals for Expanding the Strategic Road Improvement Programme 2015, published for consultation in July 2006, includes plans to upgrade the whole route to dual carriageway standard; undertake improvements at selected junctions; and provide a safety barrier in the central reservation.

You will be aware that a nine kilometre stretch of dual carriageway between Loughbrickland and Beech Hill, costing £25 million, was opened to traffic in November last year.

Construction work is currently under way to upgrade a five kilometre portion of the road between Cloghogue and the border. This is part of the A1/N1 Newry to Dundalk link road cross-border project costing an estimated £33 million which is expected to be completed later this year. This will be a high-standard dual carriageway with a continuous safety barrier and one grade-separated junction.

Plans to provide a 12 kilometre high-standard dual carriageway from Beech Hill to Cloghogue, estimated to cost £109 million, are well advanced. These will incorporate a continuous safety barrier along the length of the scheme with access being provided at five strategically located flyover-type junctions. Construction work is expected to begin in the spring, with completion in 2009. When provided, this scheme will complete the dualling of the route from Sprucefield to the border.

Two junction improvement schemes have recently been completed on the A1. A new underpass was opened in June 2005, at a cost of £3.5 million, at Hillsborough Road at the northern end of the Dromore bypass, and a new flyover was opened in March 2004, at a cost of £4.5 million, at Rathfriland Road on the Banbridge bypass.

Plans for the construction of four further junction improvement schemes over the next three years, at a cost of £16 million, are also well advanced. A new flyover is planned for Dromore Road at the southern end of the Hillsborough bypass, while a new underpass is planned for Banbridge Road at the southern end of the Dromore bypass. A second new flyover is planned for Dromore Road at the northern end of the Banbridge bypass and a second new underpass is planned for Dublin Road at the southern end of the Loughbrickland bypass. I can also advise that the developer of the Bridgewater Outlet Centre at Banbridge is providing a new flyover at Newry Road, at Yellow Hill, at the southern end of the Banbridge bypass.

In our Expanding the Strategic Road Improvement Programme 2015 consultation document, we have included two further proposals for the A1. A four kilometre high-standard dual carriageway, estimated to cost £45 million, is proposed to link the M1 motorway to the A1 at Hillsborough. This will bypass the Sprucefield Retail Centre and will include a flyover at Hillsborough roundabout. Four more flyover junctions, estimated to cost £22 million, are also proposed between Hillsborough and Banbridge, which, together with the provision of a continuous central safety barrier between Hillsborough and Loughbrickland, will upgrade this section of the route to a higher-standard dual carriageway with no at-grade crossings.

These proposals represent a substantial investment of more than £250 million, of which £33 million has already been completed; £33 million is under construction; £125 million is expected to be constructed over the next three years; and a further £67 million is proposed in the Expanding the Strategic Road Improvement Programme 2015 consultation document.

Rural Payments Agency

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Who was responsible for drawing up and agreeing the specifications against which contractors, whether internal or external, worked to set up the information technology systems used for the single farm payments by the Rural Payments Agency; and whether those specifications are in the public domain. [HL1295]

The Rural Payments Agency had already begun a major procurement of information technology systems when proposals for reform of the common agricultural policy were negotiated within the EU. The original specification was intended to replace the software supporting the CAP schemes at that time and new elements such as a rural land register and integrated customer register. After an open tender, Accenture was contracted by RPA to deliver against this specification.

When it became clear that a mid-term reform of the CAP was likely to progress, RPA established a CAP reform implementation project which included representatives of the Defra policy team negotiating the regulatory changes. This led to major changes to the specification for the information technology work that was already under way. The changes involved additional tenders to extract data from legacy systems so that they could be used to inform customers of their historical claims and support the migration of these data into the Accenture-built systems (RITA). The second set of changes were to either enhance existing functionality or introduce new elements into the IT system (RITA), in order to implement the newly agreed single payment scheme.

The original specification for the Accenture contract and the amendments to adapt RITA to the single payment scheme are in the public domain and have been provided to the Efra Select Committee. The tender for the database to extract data from the legacy systems is also in the public domain.

Schools: Artigarvan

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made on the planning for a new building for Artigarvan Primary School in County Tyrone. [HL1145]

The Western Education and Library Board has confirmed that it hopes to appoint a consultant before the end of March 2007 to take forward planning of the proposed new building for Artigarvan Primary School. The board anticipates that the new school will be completed in 2009.

Schools: Devenish College, County Fermanagh

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What future plans they have for the development, including capital projects, of Devenish College in County Fermanagh. [HL1143]

A major capital scheme is planned to provide a new replacement school for Devenish College in Enniskillen. An outline business case for a public/private partnership project covering this scheme and several others has been submitted to the Department of Education for consideration.

Schools: EU Nationals

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many additional (a) primary schools, and (b) secondary schools are estimated to be required in each local authority area to meet the needs of children who have entered England and Wales from countries that joined the European Union in 2004. [HL1313]

It is the responsibility of local authorities to ensure that there are sufficient schools in their areas and to plan accordingly. They are required to inform the DfES of plans for new schools only when they publish statutory notices. I am not therefore in a position to say how many new schools will be required in local authorities to meet changes in population for whatever reason.

Somalia: US Bombing

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made to the Government of the United States concerning the recent bombing of Somalia. [HL1331]

UK officials are in frequent contact with US officials concerning all recent developments in Somalia. I refer the noble Baroness to the reply that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister gave to my honourable friend the Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) on 10 January (Official Report, Commons, cols. 281-82).

St Andrews Agreement

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 9 January (WA 85), what was agreed at St Andrews about 50:50 recruitment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. [HL1275]

Annexe B of the St Andrews agreement states what was agreed regarding 50:50 recruitment. The temporary 50:50 arrangements for recruitment to the PSNI will lapse when Patten's target for Catholic officers has been achieved.

Transport: Environmentally Friendly Vehicles

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will take steps to increase the use of eco-friendly vehicles in all government car pools. [HL1072]

The Government have introduced a new target to reduce carbon emissions from road vehicles used for government administrative operations by 15 per cent by 2010-11, relative to 2005-06 levels. All departments will be considering how to achieve this, including using the new OGC/DWP framework agreement for vehicle purchasing.

Waste Management

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What measures they will consider to reduce the annual amount of waste disposal per family in the United Kingdom below 0.5 tonnes per annum. [HL1314]

There are a number of measures already in place designed to encourage recycling and minimise waste, which are being driven by regional and local strategies and supported by nationally funded programmes. As well as encouraging more sustainable resource use, minimising waste and increasing recycling rates helps to divert waste from landfill and therefore contributes to our efforts to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest figures show that in 2005-06 households in England produced around 505 kilograms of waste per person. This is down from 520 kilograms in 2002-03. Of this waste, an estimated 26.7 per cent was recycled or composted. This exceeded our target of 25 per cent and was a rise of 4 per cent on the previous year.

The revised waste strategy, which is due to be published in the spring, will put forward the Government's proposals on the future of waste management in England.