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Written Answers

Volume 693: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

Written Answers

Thursday 28 June 2007

Alcohol: Advertising

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the new rules published on 19 June which strengthen the code on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks by banning alcohol-branded replica sports kit in children's sizes and preventing producers urging consumers to drink rapidly. [HL4436]

The Government welcome the strengthening of the code on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks by banning alcohol-branded replica sports kit in children's sizes and preventing producers urging consumers to drink rapidly.

As set out in Safe. Sensible. Social. The next steps in the National Alcohol Strategy, the Government are determined to eliminate irresponsible promotions and, in particular, to protect children from the influence of alcohol promotions and advertising.

The Government continue to work with industry to include health information on alcohol bottles, the setting up of local partnerships such as “Best Bar None”, which promote responsible management of licensed premises, the implementation of the alcohol industry's social responsibility standards for the production and sale of alcoholic drinks in the UK, and the forming of an independent charity, the Drinkaware Trust, to promote sensible drinking.

As outlined in the renewed strategy, consultation will take place on the effectiveness of the industry's social responsibility standards in contributing to a reduction in alcohol harm, and following public consultation, a review will consider the need for regulatory change in the future, if necessary.

Allotments

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many local authorities are not fulfilling their statutory obligations under Section 8 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908. [HL4218]

Under the Allotments Act 1925, a local authority must obtain consent from the Secretary of State before selling, appropriating, disposing of or using for any other purpose land which is designated for use, or is being used, as an allotment. The duty to obtain consent before disposal falls upon local authorities to fulfil. We have no evidence to suggest that local authorities are not fulfilling their duty.

Anti-social Behaviour Orders

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, and if so to what extent, the use of anti-social behaviour orders has increased the number of mentally ill people serving prison sentences in England and Wales.[HL4500]

British Citizenship

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the basis for the statement in paragraph 4.9.4 of Chapter 14 Annex D of the Home Office Nationality Instructions that it can be presumed that a person holding a Nepalese citizenship certificate in 1997 while at the same time holding British nationality is a citizen of Nepal, when senior officials of the Nepalese Ministry of Home Affairs advised Home Office officials, as recorded in the minutes of the meeting on 22 November 2006, that “the most important thing to remember was that Nepalese citizenship law does not allow for dual nationality in any circumstances” and that a person must “renounce his foreign nationality” before applying for Nepalese citizenship; and [HL4470]

What discussions British officials have had with the Nepalese Consulate-General in Hong Kong; and whether the Consulate-General has agreed that, where appropriate, he is authorised and able to issue written confirmations stating whether or not a person is a citizen of Nepal as contemplated in paragraph 4.9.4.D of Chapter 14 Annex D of the Home Office Nationality Instructions.[HL4471]

Where an applicant has presented a passport or other official document indicating possession of another citizenship at the relevant date, it will be appropriate to ask him or her to obtain further clarification of status from the issuing authority. Notwithstanding the information provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs at the meeting in 2006, it would not be appropriate for British officials simply to assume, without further inquiry, that a citizenship certificate issued by the Nepalese authorities to a person holding British nationality had been issued in error and had no effect under Nepalese law. Officials at the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong have been informed by the Nepalese Consulate-General there that some such certificates have been issued in error.

Children: Severe Learning Disabilities

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which organisations within each primary care trust area in England are providers of (a) specialist National Health Service services, and (b) social care services for adults and children with severe learning disabilities.[HL4480]

This information is not held centrally. It is the responsibility of each primary care trust and social services department to commission suitable services for their learning disabled population through a range of provider organisations.

Crime: Drink-driving

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the enforcement by the police of drink-drive legislation is being reviewed. [HL4434]

Enforcement of the drink-drive legislation is an operational matter for the police. We are, however, planning to explore ways of making such enforcement easier for them. The Department for Transport is planning to undertake a consultation on this later this year.

Embryology

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the creation of an animal embryo that has been altered by the introduction of one or more human cells comes under the reserved matters set out in the Scotland Act 1998, bearing in mind that an embryonic animal-human chimera that is destroyed before half the gestation or incubation period has elapsed does not come under the remit of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. [HL4273]

The Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) regulates procedures applied to protected animals for experimental and other scientific purposes that may cause the animal pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm. Protected animals are defined under the Act to include any living vertebrate other than man which has reached a specified developmental stage. For mammals, this is when half the gestation or incubation period for the relevant species has elapsed.

An animal embryo altered for an experimental or other scientific purpose by the introduction of one or more human cells would be governed by the provisions of the ASPA once it reached the halfway point of gestation or incubation because for the purposes of the Act it would be considered to be a living vertebrate other than man. The subject matter of the ASPA is a reserved matter under Part II B7 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998.

Section 1(3) (b) of the ASPA enables the Secretary of State by order to alter the stage of development at which an animal attains protected status under the ASPA, therefore allowing an animal in its embryonic form to become a protected animal and subject to the regulation of the Act. In the light of that power, scientific procedures applied to animals at an earlier developmental stage are covered by the reservation.

We therefore take the view that the creation of an animal embryo altered for an experimental or other scientific purpose by the introduction of one or more human cells falls within the subject matter of the ASPA for the purposes of the Scotland Act 1998 and is a reserved matter.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 19 June (WA 29), how many children have been born using embryos created since 1991.[HL4472]

Information on the number of embryos that developed to a live birth is not held centrally or by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Data on the total number of treatment cycles, the number resulting in a live birth, and the number of embryos created are shown in the following table. A treatment cycle will have involved the transfer to the patient of multiple embryos, up to a maximum of three. The live birth outcomes include multiple as well as singleton births.

Total number of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment cycles, embryos created and treatments resulting in live births 1991 to 2004 1

Treatments involving fresh (non-frozen) embryos

Treatments involving frozen embryos 2

Non-treatments 3

Year

Treatment cycles

Embryos created

Treatment cycles with live birth outcome

Treatment cycles

Treatment cycles with live birth outcome

Non-treatment cycles

Embryos created

1991

5,948

26,543

822

696

105

-

-

1992

16,022

75,456

2,114

2,233

252

-

-

1993

18,860

92,809

2,757

2,939

376

-

-

1994

21,345

106,425

3,144

3,491

402

-

-

1995

24,753

126,078

3,856

4,548

542

-

-

1996

27,428

148,691

4,765

5,994

691

-

-

1997

27,811

146,066

4,933

6,178

707

-

-

1998

29,078

163,206

5,584

6,445

781

-

-

1999

28,212

163,840

5,833

6,602

844

804

575

2000

28,591

170,406

5,981

6,877

908

976

728

2001

28,812

176,947

6,171

7,415

1,017

898

603

2002

29,781

178,794

6,708

7,639

1,070

756

724

2003

30,069

179,906

6,924

7,449

1,178

713

968

2004

32,141

185,409

7,123

7,956

1,167

694

1,038

Notes:

1 2004 is the most recent year for which information is available.

2 Embryos used in these cycles may have been created in previous years as part of fresh treatment cycles.

3 These are IVF cycles that, although started, did not progress to embryo transfer. These embryos may have been used in a patient's later frozen treatment cycles or for embryo donation. No data are held for years 1991-98.

Source: HFEA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 19 June (WA 29), why no data are held regarding embryos created using cell nuclear replacement (cloning) as part of a research project.[HL4473]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) does not routinely collect data on the number of embryos created using cell nuclear replacement, as they are not used within treatment services but are created as part of a research project. The HFEA requires research centres to keep these data locally and for them to be made available to the HFEA upon inspection and under periodic reporting regimes.

Energy: Nuclear Reactors

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans the Health and Safety Executive has to involve private sector experts in the regulators' generic design assessment of new nuclear power stations.[HL4507]

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is discussing with several organisations the possibility of their providing technical and scientific advice to the HSE in relation to, among other things, new nuclear power station designs. Even if such advice is provided, the responsibility for carrying out generic design assessments and for making regulatory decisions will remain with the HSE.

Firearms: Ex-Prisoners

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any ex-prisoners have been granted firearms certificates for high velocity rifles for sporting purposes or other use; if so, how many ex-prisoners have been granted such licences; and whether the Government will provide their names. [HL4408]

Section 21 of the Firearms Act 1968 restricts the possession of firearms by certain categories of persons imprisoned following conviction. Those sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three years or more are not allowed to possess firearms and those sentenced to a term of three months or more, but less than three years, must not possess firearms until five years after the date of release. Information is not held centrally about persons who have been granted firearm certificates.

Housing: Buy-to-Let

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the effect of the buy-to-let market on (a) the price of housing in the past five years; (b) the amount of housing left empty; and (c) anti-social behaviour of all kinds; and whether they intend to commission research on these matters. [HL4453]

Estimating the precise impact of buy-to-let on the housing market is difficult and there is little evidence available. The buy-to-let market has expanded rapidly in the past 10 years since the creation of dedicated buy-to-let mortgages in 1996, rising from 6 per cent of the private rented stock in 2000 to almost 35 per cent in 2006.

Despite this increase in buy-to-let, the overall size of the private rented sector has remained relatively stable and has only experienced a slight increase as a proportion of total stock from about 10 per cent to 12 per cent. There has been an increase in the proportion of private rented sector properties that are buy-to-let, implying that the increase in buy-to-let mortgages is a reflection of a change in the composition of supply within the private rented sector.

No specific research has been undertaken on the impact of buy-to-let on the amount of housing left empty or anti-social behaviour. The National Affordable Housing and Planning Unit is considering further analysis of the impact of buy-to-let on affordability.

Immigration: Country-specific Guidance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will amend the country-specific operational guidance for all relevant countries to reflect the recent changes made to the country guidance relating to Sudan, which requires that an asylum claim should be decided on the basis of the personal circumstances and characteristics of the applicant which are relevant, where internal relocation is considered.[HL4466]

It is already the case that the individual circumstances and characteristics of each and every asylum applicant, including the viability of internal relocation, are assessed against the background of the latest country information and operational guidance before a final decision on their claim is made.

Immigration: Family Indefinite Leave to Remain

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will repeat the family indefinite leave to remain exercise of 2003; and [HL4305]

Whether, in deciding whether to repeat the family indefinite leave to remain exercise of 2003, they will take account of the likely impact of removing children who have become fully integrated into British society, or who have no knowledge of their countries of origin. [HL4306]

I can reassure the noble Lord that officials from the Border and Immigration Agency will take into account the position of children, including the impact of their removal, in line with the requirements of the Immigration Rules. This is not dependent on any repeat of the family indefinite leave to remain exercise of 2003.

Immigration: Republic of Ireland

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In what way the movement of illegal immigrants into the United Kingdom is controlled at the land border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland; and how many illegal immigrants entered the United Kingdom via the Republic of Ireland in each of the past three years for which figures are available. [HL4329]

The Common Travel Area (CTA), consisting of the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland, was put on a statutory footing by the Immigration Act 1971 which states that a person's arrival in or departure from within the CTA is not subject to control and a person does not require leave to enter. This is subject to exceptions provided for by Section 9(4) of the Immigration Act 1971 and the Immigration (Control of Entry through Republic of Ireland) Order 1972 which include where a deportation order has been made or where there are national security grounds. Travellers falling within one of these categories must obtain leave to enter despite travelling within the CTA. Guidance can be found at http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/lawandpolicy/immigrationrules/partl. Persons subject to immigration control entering the Republic of Ireland from outside the CTA would be examined by the Irish immigration authorities and checked against watchlists, including data provided from the UK. The UK and Republic of Ireland work closely together at all levels to maintain the appropriate checks within the CTA and will continue to do so in the future. The Border and Immigration Agency, UK police and the Garda National Immigration Bureau work collaboratively and run regular intelligence-led operations to counter potential risks to the intra-CTA borders.

As the Home Secretary set out in his evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 23 May 2006, following the dismantling of embarkation controls beginning in 1994, no Government have been able to produce an accurate figure for the number of people who are in the country illegally, and that remains the case. The Home Secretary has set a clear goal of reintroducing systems to count everyone in and out of Britain.

Israel and Palestine

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have assessed the compliance of the Government of Israel with (a) their international obligations as regards the occupied West Bank and controls over Gaza; and (b) all previous agreements with the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority; and whether they will publish their conclusions. [HL4399]

We have made no specific assessment about Israel’s compliance with international law with regard to its actions in the West Bank and around Gaza and its previous agreements with the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority. However, we regularly call upon the Government of Israel to comply fully with their legal obligations in respect of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Local Government

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the basis for the statement by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 20 June (Official Report, col. 222) that the evidence shows that executive governance arrangements are most likely to lead to and support the strong and accountable leadership that local authorities need; what research they have undertaken on this matter and where it is published; and on what other research they are relying.[HL4478]

On 20 June, the Government published the research paper, Does Leadership Matter—a summary of evidence on the role and impact of political leadership in English local government. It brings together research evidence on the impact of the governance arrangements introduced through the Local Government Act 2000 in terms of strong and accountable leadership. There is also a series of reports from the independent evaluation of New Council Constitutions and the ethical framework undertaken for CLG by the University of Manchester. All these papers can be found on the department's website at www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=l137115.

Local Government: Parishes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many parishes in England have (a) fewer than 150 electors, and (b) a parish council; and what is the size in terms of number of electors and location of each of those with a parish council.[HL4479]

This information is not held centrally. There are approximately 10,000 parishes in England of which around 8,900 have parish councils. We do not have information centrally on their size, whether in terms of number of electors or their location. In a county area, some of this information may be available from that county's association of local councils, reflecting the very local nature of this information.

Parliamentary Ombudsman

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the statement by Lord Davies of Oldham on 21 June (HL Deb, cols. 404–5), whether they support measures to enable members of the public to bring complaints of maladministration by the Executive directly to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.[HL4499]

The Government remain of the view that complaints to the Parliamentary Ombudsman should be channelled through a Member of Parliament.

Waste Management: NHS

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What estimate they have made of (a) the amount, and (b) the cost of disposing of clinical waste generated by National Health Service trusts in the United Kingdom by category.[HL4510]

In 2005-06, the National Health Service in England reported that it disposed of 110,875 tonnes of clinical waste at a cost of £43 million. This cost includes transport and disposal but excludes handling costs within the NHS organisation.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What guidance they have issued to National Health Service trusts on the purchase of reusable products to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.[HL4511]

A large amount of advice and information has been made available to National Health Service trusts on sustainable procurement and development through the departmental and NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency websites. However, there has been no specific guidance issued on the purchase of reusable products to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.