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Written Answers

Volume 689: debated on Thursday 22 February 2007

Written Answers

Thursday 22 February 2007

Aviation: B-naphthylamine

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What discussions have taken place with the Civil Aviation Authority concerning the presence of B-naphthylamine in synthetic jet oil; and what level of B-naphthylamine is permitted in aircraft cabin air; and [HL1960]

What is their response to advice from ExxonMobil that B-naphthylamine is present in its Jet Oil II product. [HL1961]

There have been no discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority on this substance. The department is not aware of the presence of B-naphthylamine in aircraft cabin air. The Government are not aware of such advice from Exxon. We are aware, from the ExxonMobil safety data sheet for Mobil Jet Oil II, that the oil contains N-phenyl 1 Naphthylamine.

Children: Healthy Eating

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in the Department of Health's food and drink advertising and promotion forum on developing restrictions on the non-broadcast advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt to children; and when proposals for restrictions will be published. [HL1912]

The Food and Drink Advertising and Promotion Forum was established to review, supplement, strengthen and bring together existing provisions in non-broadcast areas. It allows a range of interested stakeholders, representing the views of advertising, industry and non-governmental organisations, to consider what further action is needed on rules for advertising food and drink to children in non-broadcast media.

The Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP), which owns the non-broadcast code on advertising practice, has committed to transpose Ofcom's content rules for television advertising into non-broadcast where appropriate. We expect the CAP to publish these new rules shortly. The committee has also said that new rules on the content of non-broadcast advertising will come into effect at the same time as Ofcom's new content restrictions.

In addition, the forum has been considering what further action could be taken in areas not covered by the CAP code, such as point of sale, packaging, sponsorship and new media.

Committee on Toxicity

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How future air sampling carried out as part of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment's research into contaminated air will be funded. [HL1942]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have had discussions with the chairman of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment concerning the attendance of representatives from the Global Air Quality Executive at the committee's meetings. [HL1945]

There have been no discussions between the Government and the chair of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) regarding the attendance of representatives of the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) at the committee's meetings. The meetings have been fully attended by observers with direct interests and who could provide additional expertise to the COT consideration. The COT secretariat had been advised that GCAQE was not a recognised union representing pilots.

Government: Composition

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Bassam of Brighton on 13 December (WA 203), why the answer given related to the Civil Service and not to the Government to whom the question was addressed; and whether they will now answer the original question. [HL1066]

The Civil Service acts on behalf of the Government, and the previous Answer demonstrated that the Civil Service is broadly representative of the community it serves.

The Cabinet Office deals only with Civil Service employees, and consequently only holds Civil Service workforce data.

Health: Diabetes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the same standards of blood monitoring of diabetics will be maintained following the outcome of their consultation on Part IX of the drug tariff. [HL586]

Maintaining and improving patient care was one of the key objectives of the department’s review of the arrangements for items under Part IX of the drug tariff, which included blood glucose testing strips. The final decision on the reimbursement price for some of these strips aimed to recognise the existing services provided by manufacturers to the benefit of patient care, while moving to secure better value for money for the National Health Service overall. I am satisfied that the final outcome represents a fair balance of considerations.

The department had been consulting on a proposed reduction in the reimbursement price for chemical reagents under Part IX of the drug tariff since October 2005. The proposed reduction was 15 per cent. The process concluded at the end of August and no empirical data are submitted to suggest that the proposed reduction was not justified.

However, some responses indicated that a reduction of 15 per cent might make it difficult for manufacturers to maintain the free provision of related services, including the supply of educational material, helplines and meters. Given this, we decided to implement a staged reduction of 12 per cent, effective on 1 October 2006, and a further 3 per cent only if manufacturers indicated that they would withdraw their free services.

Subsequent to that decision, all those manufacturers whose products were affected by the changes confirmed to the department that they would maintain the provision of free services. In addition, they have agreed to self-declare on a quarterly basis to the prescription pricing division of the NHS Business Services Authority, and that they will continue to do so.

House of Lords: Reform

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How, for the purposes of achieving consensus on House of Lords reform as envisaged in the Queen's Speech, they define consensus. [HL2004]

All three main parties are committed in their manifestos to the reform of the House of Lords. Consensus does not mean unanimity on all the issues but, as has been evident through the cross-party discussion, the Government are seeking general agreement on key areas.

Immigration: English Language Courses

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many refugees and asylum seekers have benefited from English for speakers of other languages courses. [HL1922]

Since 2001, 1.9 million people have taken up the opportunity to improve their English language skills.

Using analysis of the Learning and Skills Council's (LSC's) individualised learner record (ILR) data, there were 42,353 enrolments by asylum seekers on English for speakers of other languages courses in 2004-05, the latest year for which figures are available. This figure includes 4,378 enrolments by learners aged 16 to 18 and 37,975 by learners aged 19 plus. LSC ILR data do not record refugee learners separately from mainstream FE learners.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration they gave to the effect on community cohesion and integration of the decision to cut the provision of English for speakers of other languages courses; and whether they will review this decision in due course. [HL1923]

The changes announced to arrangements for supporting English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) are not intended to reduce provision. Changes were announced as a result of growing demand for ESOL to ensure that public funding is targeted at those learners most in need of public support.

Under current arrangements, some learners who most need ESOL for employability and social cohesion are unable to access courses due to excessive demand. Changes will help to refocus funding and provision towards this group.

Learners in receipt of income-related benefits—for example jobseeker’s allowance—or the higher rates of working tax credit will continue to automatically receive full fee remission. That means that prospective ESOL learners who are unemployed, unwaged or in very low paid jobs, all those who are least able to contribute to the cost of their learning, will continue to receive full fee remission. The Government will continue to support the cost of learning for those asked for a contribution and will fund around 62.5 per cent of the course fee.

The changes to funding arrangements are part of a package of measures designed to increase the choice available. New ESOL for work qualifications being developed will enable those who do not need the full package of support available through ESOL to access shorter, more work-focused courses.

Proposals for changes to ESOL were cleared through the Ministerial Committee on Asylum and Migration and received the support of both the Home Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government. Clearance for the changes was received in September 2006.

The Department for Education and Skills has also carried out a consultation as part of the race equality impact assessment on the changes. Consideration has been given to the impact on community cohesion through this process, and further refinement of the proposals will be included when the report is published later in February.

Legal Aid

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the decline in the number of legal practitioners willing to take on asylum cases, due to the rates of legal aid in such cases. [HL2035]

A practitioner’s decision to withdraw from immigration work is likely to be influenced by a number of factors, not least the very significant fall in the number of people seeking asylum. The Legal Services Commission has also taken steps to exclude poorly performing firms from this area of work.

The Legal Services Commission is committed to establishing an increasingly quality-assured supplier base that is sufficient to meet the need for immigration services. The commission monitors the supply of legal practitioners at a regional level, and, where there has been concern over a shortfall, it has always worked closely with local suppliers to address it.

NHS: Staff

asked Her Majesty's Government:

By how much they propose to reduce the number of National Health Service staff over the next two years. [HL1077]

The NHS will employ sufficient staff in the next two years to deliver the required services within the available resources.

Since 1997 the total number of staff in the NHS has increased by more than 300,000 (29 per cent) including 32,000 (37 per cent) more doctors, over 85,000 (27 per cent) more nurses and over 38,000 (40 per cent) more qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff.

Pensions: Civil Service

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their estimate of the average longevity of members of the Principal Civil Service pension scheme; and how this compares with the average longevity of (a) members of other defined benefit pension schemes, and (b) the United Kingdom population as a whole. [HL1899]

The last full actuarial valuation of the Principal Civil Service pension scheme took place in 2003. At that time, a male scheme member retiring at age 60, in normal health, was expected to live for another 24.4 years on average. The corresponding average future life expectancy for a female scheme member was 27.4 years. The demographic assumptions underlying these figures are set out in Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme: Review of Accruing Superannuation Liability Charges (ASI-Cs) as at 31 March 2003, a copy of which is available in the Library for the reference of noble Lords.

Comparable information on the longevity of members of defined benefit pension schemes outside the public service is not held centrally.

For the United Kingdom population as a whole, based on assumptions current in 2003, the Government Actuary's Department estimated that a man retiring at 60 could on average expect to live for another 23.5 years, while a woman retiring at 60 could on average expect to live for a further 26.5 years.

Questions for Written Answer

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why they have not answered the six Questions for Written Answer (HL1158 to HL1163) tabled by Lord James of Blackheath on 9 January, bearing in mind that the target time for answering Questions is two weeks. [HL1649]

Railways: Crime

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many criminal offences were committed in each of the past 10 years at (a) Liverpool Street Station; (b) Charing Cross Station; (c) Victoria Station; (d) King's Cross Station; (e) Euston Station; (f) Paddington Station; (g) St. Pancras Station; (h) Fenchurch Street Station; (i) Waterloo Station; and (j) London Bridge Station, broken down by type of offence. [HL2096]

This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police, which can be contacted at: British Transport Police, 25 Camden Road, London NW1 9LN, e-mail: general.enquiries@btp.pnn.police.uk.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many criminal offences were committed on the (a) Stansted Express; (b) Heathrow Express; and (c) Gatwick Express in each of the last eight years, broken down by type of offence. [HL2097]

This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police, which can be contacted at: British Transport Police, 25 Camden Road, London NW1 9LN, e-mail: general.enquiries@btp.pnn.police.uk.

Railways: Pacer Trains

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why Pacer trains remain in service while more reliable alternative trains are placed in storage. [HL2040]

Government specify the minimum level of service that train operators must provide. It is for operators to ensure that they have the rolling stock and other resources necessary to meet those requirements.

Roads: Parking on Footpaths

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many people have been charged with parking their cars on the footpath in Belfast in each year since 2003. [HL1225]

The information requested is not available.

The specific offence of parking on the footpath does not exist. In recording offences, no distinction is made between offences committed on the road or on the footway.

Smoking: Cigarette Packets

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will introduce a ban on the sale of cigarettes in packets of fewer than 20 cigarettes, similar to the ban being introduced in the Republic of Ireland, to discourage teenagers from starting to smoke. [HL822]

A ban on cigarettes in packs of fewer than 20 is not currently government policy. The department will continue to monitor evidence on the effectiveness of introducing such a measure.

Special Advisers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

By what means, on what basis and in what circumstances is the commitment by the Government in their response to Recommendation 19 of the 9th Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life to make Ministers personally accountable to Parliament for the disciplining of special advisers to be exercised. [HL1259]

The responsibility for the management and conduct of special advisers, including discipline, rests with the Minister who made the appointment. The Ministerial Code makes clear that individual Ministers will be accountable to Parliament for their actions and decisions in respect of their special advisers.

Transport: Seat Belts

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they will take in response to the mid-term review of the European Road Safety Action Programme 2006/2112 (INI) in respect of the requirement to wear seat belts in areas where fatal and serious injury accidents are rising. [HL2086]

Seat-belt wearing has been a legal requirement in most vehicles for many years. Observed wearing rates are very high in cars and are improving in vans. The department campaigns to improve seat-belt wearing rates through publicity. The police are responsible for enforcement, and in England and Wales in 2004 they issued some 200,000 fixed-penalty notices to those not using seat belts. However, in many cases, rather than prosecute the police prefer to educate drivers about the need to use seat belts.

The UK is implementing Directive 2003/20/EC in full. It updates the requirements for children to use type-approved child seats or boosters and makes seat-belt wearing compulsory for those in the rear of buses and coaches where seat belts are fitted. Implementation will be completed for children under 14 years in buses/coaches following further consultation about who should be legally responsible for ensuring that they use seat belts.