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Written Answers

Volume 692: debated on Tuesday 5 June 2007

Written Answers

Tuesday 5 June 2007


asked Her Majesty's Government:

What percentage of aggregate extracted from United Kingdom waters’ seabed is exported. [HL3793]

Approximately 30 per cent of marine aggregates are for export. In 2006, 24.29 million tonnes (mt) of aggregate were dredged, 6.7mt (28 per cent) of which were exported.

Armed Forces: Casualty Reporting

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How often they review the standard operating procedures for casualty reporting for the Armed Forces. [HL3950]

The operating procedures for casualty reporting are extremely robust. However, they are continually reviewed to ensure that where appropriate best practice is applied in order they remain relevant to the requirements of the services and the needs of the next of kin.

Armed Forces: Medical Services

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the status of the tender for the works project to develop the layout of the military-managed ward at the National Health Service Selly Oak Hospital; and what estimate they have made of the completion date for the project. [HL4011]

A contract for this works project was awarded by the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHBFT) in late April. Work started on 14 May and progress has been monitored by UHBFT and staff at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine. I am advised that the project will be completed shortly. The main change to the configuration of the ward will be the partitioning off of two six-bedded bays and two isolation rooms. Military patients will be nursed together in that part of the ward when it is clinically appropriate to do so.

Armed Forces: Personnel

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any plans to increase the number of personnel in the Armed Forces. [HL3952]

The Ministry of Defence intends to make good personnel shortfalls where they exist, but has no plans to increase the overall requirement for Armed Forces personnel.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will establish an inquiry into the banking industry's treatment of its personal customers. [HL3975]

The Government have put in place a regulatory framework for the financial services sector which ensures appropriate prudential and conduct of business regulation of financial services firms by the independent Financial Services Authority. Consumers also have a statutory right to take complaints against individual firms to the independent Financial Ombudsman Service.

The FSA's overall retail strategy is to “help retail consumers achieve a fair deal”. The FSA is seeking to deliver this strategy through its “Treating Customers Fairly” initiative (TCF). Through TCF, the FSA intends to deliver a retail marketplace where consumers can be confident that they are dealing with firms where the fair treatment of customers is central to the corporate culture.

The banking industry also has its own voluntary code—the Banking Code—which sets out standards of good practice for banks and building societies in the UK. A triennial review of the Banking Code is currently underway and the independent reviewer is due to announce his recommendations shortly following extensive consultation with stakeholders.

Census: British Kashmiris

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps have been taken to clarify the ethnic identity of British Kashmiris in the next census. [HL3960]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Dennis Roberts, Director of Registration and Corporate Services, to Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, dated 5 June 2007, in the absence of the National Statistician.

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what steps have been taken to clarify the ethnic identity of British Kashmiris in the next census. I am replying in her absence. (HL3960)

We are aware of requests from several different stakeholders for Kashmiri to be identified as an ethnic group in the 2011 census, and this is one of a range of issues that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is considering as part of our process of consultation and question development.

The ONS has carried out recent consultation on requirements for information on ethnicity and identity, and we are currently considering all the responses to this consultation. The relevant documents are available on the National Statistics website at

Space constraints mean that there are limits to the number of questions and tick-boxes that can be accommodated in the 2011 census. In particular, it will not be possible to have separate tick-boxes for all ethnic groups; however, space will be provided for people to write in their ethnic group if they consider it is not covered by the specific tick-boxes.

A White Paper setting out the Government's proposals, including the wording of any questions about ethnicity and identity, is scheduled to be published in 2008. However it will not be possible to confirm what questions and response categories are to be included in the 2011 census until the consultation and question testing programme is complete and formal approval is given by Parliament in 2010.

Courts: Interpretation and Translation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration they are giving to the routine collection of data relating to interpretation and translation services used in court. [HL4050]

The routine collection of data relating to interpretation and translation services at court is being considered by Her Majesty's Courts Service as part of wider work on interpreting and translation in the criminal justice system, being led by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to ensure transparency in the provision of interpretation and translation services used in court. [HL4051]

The national agreement on arrangements for the use of interpreters, translators and language service professionals in investigations and proceedings within the criminal justice system, revised in January 2007, and also the terms and conditions for individuals providing face-to-face interpreting services at court, introduced in February 2007, are available to the public via the HMCS website. These documents give detailed information on the procedures adopted by Her Majesty's Courts Service for the provision and payment of interpretation and translation services used in court.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to ensure that those on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters are used in criminal proceedings wherever possible; and [HL4052]

Whether the standard of interpreting used in criminal proceedings is being maintained at a suitable level. [HL4053]

In January this year, the Office for Criminal Justice Reform issued revised guidance on arrangements for the use of interpreters and translators in the criminal justice system, aimed at ensuring that only suitably qualified interpreters and translators are used in criminal proceedings. The guidance stipulates that every interpreter working in courts and police stations should be registered on one of the recommended registers; that is, the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) or the Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACDP). We believe that NRPSI continues to represent an appropriate standard for interpreting in criminal proceedings. I have placed a copy of the guidance in the Library.

Crime: Prison Officers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any prison officers have been arrested and convicted of corruption or other offences in connection with their duties as prison officers serving at HM Prison Bullingdon. [HL3968]

Two prison officers from HM Prison Bullingdon have been convicted of separate offences in connection with their duties. The first of these was convicted and sentenced in December 2005 to two years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to supply cannabis. The second was convicted and sentenced in September 2006 to six years’ imprisonment for possession of controlled drugs with intent to supply.

Elections: Postal Votes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there is a need to alter the timetable for future elections to provide more time to deal with the dispatch and receipt of postal votes. [HL3718]

There are currently no plans to amend the timetable for either local or national elections. However, we will wish to consider, in the light of the Electoral Commission's reports on the recent elections and discussions with stakeholders, whether there may be sufficient justification to extend the timetable for the administration of elections in the future.

Gambling: Casinos

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Davies of Oldham on 18 April (WA 65), 26 April (WA 155) and 9 May (WA 263-4), whether they expect to be able to make any announcement on the action they will take following the proceedings in both Houses of Parliament on the draft Gambling (Geographical Distribution of Casino Premises Licences) Order 2007 before the Summer Recess. [HL3782]

Iraq and Afghanistan: Military Casualties

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to include individuals categorised as “very seriously ill/injured/wounded” or “seriously ill/injured/wounded” in the casualty reporting figures for Iraq and Afghanistan; and what definition of illness they currently use to exclude these figures from casualty reporting. [HL3948]

The numbers of casualties classified as very seriously injured/wounded or seriously injured/wounded (battle and non-battle injuries) are specifically set out in the reported casualty figures for Afghanistan and Iraq and can be viewed on the MoD website at The number of casualties caused by disease and non-battle injury (DNBI) classified as very seriously ill/injured/wounded and seriously ill/injured/wounded are also collected and included in the totals for field hospital admissions. No types of illness are excluded.

These figures are published at pages:; and

Local Government: Council Tax

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the shortfall in council tax revenues resulting from the exemption for full-time students is met by central government or any other body. [HL3970]

The distribution of formula grant to local authorities in England takes account of the circumstances of each authority's area and its relative ability to pay council tax, expressed in terms of the council tax base. The calculation of a council's tax base does take account of exempt student properties. Other things being equal, the smaller the council tax base of a council's area, the larger its formula grant. This effect is modified, however, by the application of grant “floors”; that is, a guaranteed minimum percentage increase in grant each year on a like-for-like basis.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many British passports were cancelled in each of the past 12 months as a result of (a) non-delivery; (b) loss by holder; and (c) theft from holder; and what is the average length of time between reported loss or theft and cancellation. [HL3498]

The number of confirmed losses as a result of (a), non-delivery, whereby the British passports have been cancelled, is 728 for the period February 2006 to January 2007. At this time, the Identity and Passport Service cannot report up to the end of April 2007 in relation to (a).

During the 12 month period up to and including April 2007, the number of British passports cancelled due to (b), loss by holder, and (c), theft from holder, is 246,422 and 42,335 respectively.

The IPS cannot report on the length of time between reported loss or theft and cancellation, without reference to each individual record.

Pensions: British Overseas Territories

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many citizens living in each British Overseas Territory and in receipt of United Kingdom state pensions are affected by the regulations freezing their pensions at the level current on the date they left the United Kingdom. [HL3897]

Our records do not differentiate British citizens from other citizens in receipt of a UK state pension.

The latest available information is in the table below.



Ascension Island


British Antarctic Territory


British Indian Ocean Territory


British Virgin Islands


Cayman Islands


Falkland Islands and Dependencies (South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands)




Pitcairn Island


St Helena


Tristan da Cunha


Turk & Caicos Islands


Source: Pensions Strategy Computer System, February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which British Overseas Territories are (a) subject to, and (b) not subject to the frozen pension regulations. [HL3898]

The UK state pension is not uprated for those living in the following British Overseas Territories; Anguilla, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn Island, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, St Helena and Dependencies (Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha) and Turk and Caicos Islands, but it is uprated for those living in Bermuda, Gibraltar and the sovereign base areas on Cyprus.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What would be the cost of removing the frozen pension regulations for citizens who are resident in British Overseas Territories. [HL3899]

The cost of uprating the UK state pension for recipients residing in the British Overseas Territories would be just under £500,000 for 2007-08 on the assumption that the frozen pension is brought up to the current value and then uprated.

Source: September 2006 Retirement Pension and Widows Benefit administrative data, 5 per cent sample.

People Trafficking

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What decisions have so far been taken by the Interdepartmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking in respect of both sexual and labour exploitation; and how often the group meets. [HL3853]

The Interdepartmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking was established at the beginning of 2005 and meets on a quarterly basis. It has oversight of government policy on human trafficking and recently approved the content of the UK Action Plan on human trafficking which was published on the 23 March 2007.

The UK Action Plan pulls together all the work that is currently underway across Government to tackle human trafficking and sets out what else we plan to do. It applies to all forms of human trafficking, including trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced labour and child trafficking.

Police: Northern Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the work over the past six years of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland has led to an indictable case against a former member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary coming to court. [HL3772]

The Police Ombudsman has confirmed that work by her office over the past six years has led to three indictable cases against former members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary coming to court.

Public Sector: IT Projects

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, as recently stated by the Chief Information Officer at the Department for Work and Pensions, £14 billion a year is being spent on public sector information technology projects. [HL3917]

This is not the case. The £14 billion figure quoted by the Chief Information Officer at the Department for Work and Pensions refers to an independent estimate of the total IT expenditure across the public sector for 2005-06. This figure includes annual running costs on operational systems and processes as well as expenditure on projects. The Government's transformational government annual report, published in January 2007, estimated that public sector annual IT expenditure was £12.4 billion for 2005-06.

Waste Management: London

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many London boroughs, on present plans, will meet the London Plan target of recycling 45 per cent of municipal waste by 2020; what the current position is for London overall on progress towards that target; and how much improvement there has been in the past three years. [HL3776]

It is not known how many London boroughs, on present plans, will meet the municipal recycling targets in 2020.

However, I am pleased to report that London's household recycling rate has more than doubled since 2001. Many of the London authorities have already achieved recycling and composting rates which exceed, or are equal to, the Government's 2007-08 targets. The Government and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) are targeting engagement and support in order to improve the recycling rates of the poorest performing local authorities.

The table below shows the marked improvement in the amount of municipal waste recycled in London over the past three years. Municipal waste is mainly household waste, but also includes any other waste collected by municipal waste authorities.




Municipal waste recycled/composted




Source: Defra municipal waste statistics

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What percentage of London's waste is burned in landfill sites compared with the national average for all English authorities using the latest available information; what percentage of that waste is burned in sites within the area of the Greater London Authority; how the percentage burned within London compares to that in Greater Manchester and Birmingham; and what plans exist to increase the percentage burned within London by 2010 and 2013. [HL3779]

As no waste is burned in landfill sites, I assume the noble Lord means “buried”. For the sake of clarity and context, information on both the landfilling and incineration of waste is set out below.

London landfilled about 2.7 million tonnes of municipal waste in 2005-06—this is 64 per cent of the total municipal waste of 4.2 million tonnes. A further 0.77 million tonnes (18 per cent) was incinerated. This compares to national figures of 62 per cent landfill and 10 per cent incineration for municipal waste.

In 2005-06, about 0.3 million tonnes of London's municipal waste (12 per cent of that landfilled or 7 per cent of the total) was landfilled and 100 per cent of incinerated waste was incinerated within the area of the Greater London Authority.

Greater Manchester incinerates 8 per cent of municipal waste and landfills 69 per cent, while Birmingham incinerates 64 per cent and landfills 20 per cent. As Greater Manchester and Birmingham are not government regions, it is useful to note for comparison that the north-west region incinerates 3 per cent and landfills 70 per cent and the West Midlands region incinerates 31 per cent and landfills 44 per cent of municipal waste. Table A, below, contains further information.

The Environment Agency is not aware of any definite plans to increase landfill capacity in London. However, it is expected that a new 585,000-tonne capacity incinerator will be built in the London Borough of Bexley during the next three years. This will help London achieve its landfill allowance targets in 2010 and 2013.

The above figures all refer to municipal waste. However, in London, non-municipal waste is around 14 million tonnes. In all, about 6.6 million tonnes of London's total waste is landfilled. Around 1.3 million tonnes (19 per cent) is landfilled within London and the remaining 5.3 million tonnes (81 per cent) is disposed of at landfills mainly in adjacent regions.

We do not have figures available for Greater Manchester or Birmingham on total waste.

Table A

Management of municipal waste 2005-06 (thousands tonnes)





West Midlands

Greater Manchester

North West
































































Source: WasteDataFlow

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why separating waste collection and contracting for waste disposal is inappropriate in London when a two-tier system exists outside London and produces higher levels of recycling and greater landfill self-sufficiency. [HL3781]

As the only wholly urban region in England, London faces particular challenges. It is therefore more appropriate to compare London's performance on recycling with metropolitan boroughs, which have a similar range of performance.

As we move to new, more sustainable ways of managing waste, it is becoming increasingly important to integrate collection and disposal. Joint working is particularly important in two-tier areas, where responsibilities for waste collection and waste disposal are split between different authorities. The Government have proposed new powers to allow the creation of joint waste authorities, where authorities wish to work together to discharge some, or all, of their waste functions.

Water Supply: Greywater

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will consider stronger measures to promote greywater information and usage advice for United Kingdom households to re-use domestic water supplies in regular WC cleansing practices. [HL3986]

Greywater harvesting systems are still largely regarded as a developing technology in the UK. Research conducted in the area of greywater harvesting has tended to conclude that these systems are not generally economic, except perhaps for larger users such as hotels and public buildings. The feasibility of installing greywater systems in households still needs to be established.

To address the information gap, the Government's market transformation programme is looking at technologies that could potentially reduce overall water consumption by reusing rainwater and/or greywater. A project has been started to develop the necessary evidence, economic case, feasibility, performance standards, policy action plan and impact scenarios to determine the best use of rainwater/greywater technology.