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Written Answers

Volume 698: debated on Monday 4 February 2008

Written Answers

Monday 4 February 2008

Bank of England

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 22 January (Official Report, col. 119), what is the well established timetable for the appointment of the Governor of the Bank of England. [HL1590]

Under the Bank of England Act 1998, the Governor of the Bank of England is appointed for a period of five years. The governor’s current term of office expires on 30 June 2008. The timetable followed is established in line with this. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 30 January 2008 that Her Majesty the Queen has appointed the governor for a further five-year term.

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the contract agreed with external suppliers to outsource the call centre element of the proposed information and guidance service to support the proposed Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. [HL1625]

Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What contracted financial liabilities have been agreed in anticipation of the implementation of the Child Support and Other Payments Bill; and what are the amount, nature and timing of those liabilities; and [HL1626]

What unavoidable expenditure there will be in the event of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill not being enacted or being substantially amended. [HL1629]

As my honourable friend, James Plaskitt, announced on 25 July, (Official Report, Commons, col. 87WS) and on 22 January, (Official Report, Commons, cols. 48-49WS) urgent expenditure estimated at £300,000 has been met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund for the recruitment costs of the C-MEC chair, commissioner and non-executive board and £1,012,000 for the financial and human resources system.

If the Bill were to fall, the two Contingencies Fund advances would need to be repaid to the Treasury, and any expenditure incurred under them would be lost. If the Bill were to be substantially amended, any financial effects would depend on the nature of the amendments, and in particular whether they had a bearing on the areas covered by the two advances.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will place in the Library of the House updated figures for the operational improvement plan used by the Child Support Agency, including progress made to date under each of the original targets set out in the plan. [HL1627]

Copies of the Child Support Agency quarterly summary of statistics are placed in the Library on publication. The latest figures were published on Wednesday 30 January and copies are available in the Library.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any plans to seek power to incur expenditure under Section 82 of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 to provide for information technology systems to be introduced as a result of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill. [HL1628]

Conservation: Haslar Hospital

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In light of Haslar Hospital no longer being required by the Ministry of Defence, what steps they are taking suitably to conserve the buildings and park on the site and satisfactorily effect the transition to new ownership. [HL1621]

The Royal Haslar Hospital will remain an asset of the Ministry of Defence until December 2009. Prior to disposal, the department will engage with Gosport Borough Council, the local planning authority, with regard to its future use.

Many of the buildings and historic structures are listed and therefore benefit from statutory protection.

Crime: Community Service

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will consider using persons sentenced to do community service for clearing litter along roads. [HL1521]

It is already the case that probation areas require persons sentenced to unpaid work (the current name for community service) to undertake projects that involve clearing litter. Unpaid work must not replace paid employment.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the total number of hours of community service carried out by offenders in each of the past five years. [HL1522]

A broad estimate of the number of hours of unpaid work (formerly community service) that are carried out by offenders on behalf of the community each year is given in the table below. The data are available only for the past three years and are estimated on the basis of the actual hours ordered and the rate of successful completions. All figures are gathered from large scale administrative systems which may be subject to input errors.

Year

Estimated Hours Worked (millions)

2006/07

6.7

2005/06

6.3

2004/05

5.2

Democratic Republic of Congo

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the agreement with the Government of the Republic of Congo to allow the deployment of British forces for the possible evacuation of British citizens from the Democratic Republic of Congo; and on what assessment of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo this agreement was reached. [HL1618]

The agreement signed with the Republic of Congo on 22 January 2008 is intended to facilitate the evacuation of British nationals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the event of a crisis. The UK entered into the agreement as a routine precaution. It forms part of the consular contingency plan of our embassy in Kinshasa and is not connected with efforts to end the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

We will consult the Government of the Republic of Congo as to whether they are content for a copy of the agreement to be placed in the Library of the House.

Demonstrations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements are in place to warn the public in London in advance of demonstrations due to lead to road closures in central London; and who has responsibility for implementing such closures. [HL1620]

The Metropolitan Police Service authorises and implements road closures for demonstrations. The Metropolitan Police Service has a dedicated traffic team which liaises closely with transport-user partners to minimise the disruption that demonstrations create.

Details of forthcoming road closures are publicised through a number of channels including the Metropolitan Police Service website, local newspapers via Transport for London and dot-matrix signs on all major roads approaching London.

Egypt: Identity Cards

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, at the European Neighbourhood Policy meeting on 23–24 January, they raised the issue of the legal bar by the Egyptian authorities against Baha'is obtaining identity cards; and, if so, with what result. [HL1616]

On 23-24 January, the European Union and Egypt were scheduled to hold a meeting of the sub-committee on political dialogue and human rights, established under the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan.

At the request of the Egyptian Government this meeting was postponed. No new date has yet been found, but we encourage the European Commission and the Egyptian Government to set a new date soon.

Elections: Voting Age

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress the Youth Citizenship Commission has made in its examination of the advantages of reducing the voting age to 16. [HL1439]

Enforced Disappearance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have considered the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in cases of enforced disappearance in Turkey and Chechnya in Russia; and, if so, how those judgments will affect future policy towards and dialogue with these countries. [HL1537]

The UK regularly considers progress in the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on the implementation of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights against a number of states. The committee last did so in December 2007. The Government fully support the work of the European Court of Human Rights and full implementation of its judgments by Council of Europe member states.

In EU and bilateral human rights consultations with the Russian Government, the UK regularly raises its concerns over ongoing human rights violations, including cases of enforced disappearances in the North Caucasus region. We have consistently urged the Government of Turkey to pursue a comprehensive policy of reforms to ensure comprehensive alignment with EU standards and we will continue to do so.

It is important to stabilise the North Caucasus region. To this end, we have assisted development through our £1 million bilateral Global North Caucasus Education Initiative, the European Commission’s €20 million technical aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States programme for the North Caucasus as well as by supporting specific projects through dedicated funds such as the Global Conflict Prevention Pool.

EU: Parliamentary Scrutiny

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many times European Union legislative institutions have altered legislation as a result of recommendations from Select Committees of either House of Parliament; and whether they will identify those occasions. [HL1234]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their assessment of the extent to which the Parliamentary European Union scrutiny committees can fulfil their purpose in scrutinising European Union legislation, with a view to possible amendment by the European institutions, bearing in mind that during 2004–2006 the Government overrode the scrutiny reserve 157 times in the House of Lords and 180 times in the House of Commons. [HL1235]

The Government are committed to working closely with the parliamentary European Union scrutiny committees of both Houses to ensure effective scrutiny of the numerous documents and legislation proposals deposited annually for scrutiny. The Government work hard to avoid using the provisions of the scrutiny reserve resolutions of both Houses in order to allow them to support agreement of instruments adopted by the Council of Ministers before our parliamentary scrutiny procedures have been fully completed in one or both Houses. The trend of overrides has been declining. There are few cases where Ministers take decisions on matters where the scrutiny committees have been unable to consider and express a view. Overrides usually reflect an accelerated pace of development in EU discussions which overtakes debate in Parliament. In those cases the Government will have received the views of the scrutiny committees at earlier stages in the process. In all cases Ministers explain in writing to the chair of the scrutiny committees why agreement was necessary.

EU: Reform Treaty

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will take steps to ensure that the granting of legal personality to the European Union by the reform treaty will not lead to British citizens speaking against the European Union being charged with xenophobia. [HL1523]

EU: Select Committee Recommendations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many times European Union legislators have altered legislation as a result of recommendations from Select Committees of either House of Parliament in each of the years 2005, 2006 and 2007; and whether they will identify those occasions. [HL1389]

Forced Marriage

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to ensure that all complaints about forced marriage are dealt with effectively. [HL1563]

The joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office-Home Office Forced Marriage Unit helps British nationals in the UK and overseas facing the threat of and living with the consequences of forced marriage. The unit works closely with other agencies in the UK, such as the Ministry of Justice, the police, social services and specialist non-governmental organisations. Our embassies overseas provide direct support to victims and potential victims of forced marriage. This can include rescue and repatriation to the UK. The unit has published guidelines for agencies working with forced marriage victims. These will be placed on a statutory footing with the implementation of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act later this year. The unit carries out an extensive outreach programme to raise awareness of the issue and of the support services that they offer.

Government: Ministers' Private Offices

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What guidance, proposals or instructions have been issued or what arrangements have been made to ensure that the staffing of Ministers' private offices reflects the proportion of ethnic minorities in the Civil Service or in the United Kingdom. [HL1380]

All departments and agencies are taking forward action through the 10-point plan on delivering a diverse Civil Service to ensure that the Civil Service is as representative as possible of the wider population.

Identity Security

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether any projects in HM Treasury have been suspended or delayed due to concerns about identity security; if so, which projects have been delayed; and what the impact on the overall performance and work of the Treasury will be. [HL1567]

Immigration: Anna Zurabishvili

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On what date the decision in the Immigration and Asylum Appeal Tribunal in the case of Anna Zurabishvili (No. VA/27417/2007) was communicated to the entry clearance officer at the British embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. [HL1604]

The entry clearance officer at our embassy in Tbilisi received the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal’s decision on Ms Zurabishvili's appeal on 28 January. The Home Office had sent it by diplomatic bag on 14 January.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the deemed date of receipt of the decision in the Immigration and Asylum Appeals Tribunal in the case of Anna Zurabishvili (No. VA/27417/2007) by the entry clearance officer at the British embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. [HL1605]

The entry clearance officer at our embassy in Tbilisi received the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal's (AIT) decision on Ms Zurabishvili’s appeal on 28 January. The Home Office had sent it by diplomatic bag on 14 January. The decision, promulgated by the AIT on 19 December 2007, will have been deemed to have been received by the Home Office presenting officer (the respondent’s representative) five days after the date of promulgation (on 24 December 2007).

asked Her Majesty's Government:

On what date the appeal submission in the name of Nino Trollope in the case of a visa application by Anna Zurabishvili of Georgia was first considered by the entry clearance officer at the British embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. [HL1606]

The entry clearance officer at our embassy in Tbilisi has never received the appeal against the decision of 31 May 2007 refusing Ms Zurabushvili’s application for a visit visa.

Israel and Palestine: Detention

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they will next make representations to the Government of Israel on the continued long-term detention of Palestinian prisoners without due process. [HL1651]

We continue to monitor the situation with regard to all Palestinian prisoners. Most Palestinian prisoners have been tried by Israeli courts and have the right of appeal. However, we do have concerns about Palestinian prisoners that are being held in administrative detention. All Palestinian prisoners should have access to a fair trial and we call on Israel to ensure that any actions are in accordance with international law. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities.

We are in close contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross, which monitors conditions in Israeli prisons. Where appropriate we raise our concerns with the Israeli authorities. The Israeli Prison Service has stressed its commitment to honouring its international obligations with regard to the humane and dignified treatment of prisoners.

National Insurance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the estimated numbers of people and estimated costs for (1) 2010; (2) 2020; (3) 2030; (4) 2040; and (5) 2050 for United Kingdom residents and for non-United Kingdom residents respectively of purchasing an additional six years and nine years respectively of additional national insurance contributions assuming 6 per cent and 15 per cent take-up rates if purchasing those additional years were available (a) only to those who already had 10 years national insurance contributions; (b) only to those who already had 15 years national insurance contributions; and (c) only to those who already had 20 years national insurance contributions. [HL1123]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the median income distribution by deciles, and the number of men and women respectively, of both United Kingdom residents and non-United Kingdom residents respectively, buying additional class 3 voluntary national insurance contributions for the past three years for which figures are available; and [HL1362]

What is the median income distribution by deciles, and the number of men and women respectively, of both United Kingdom residents and non-United Kingdom residents respectively, assuming a six per cent and a 15 per cent take up, who might buy an additional nine years of class 3 voluntary national insurance contributions (above and beyond any existing entitlement) in 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2020. [HL1363]

The information is not available. The payment of class 3 national insurance contributions is voluntary. The rates are set annually and are not based on a person's income. There is, therefore, no business requirement to collect or record such information.

Olympic Games 2012: Police

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the European Union Gendarmerie Force will assist with the 2012 Olympic Games in the United Kingdom; and what role they foresee for this force in the United Kingdom. [HL1552]

The Government have not received any proposals on the use of non-UK police forces in support of security of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We will consider any such proposals carefully. Policing in the UK is carried out with the consent and co-operation of the community. We would not want to interfere with these long-established policing traditions of which we are justly proud.

Olympic Games 2012: Poverty Reduction

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether there is any quantification of the estimated contribution which the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will make to reducing poverty, deprivation and inequalities among families and households in London. [HL1189]

The 2012 Games will bring significant improvements in terms of skills training, new jobs and better quality of life, particularly in the host boroughs of Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. Key stakeholders are working together to deliver programmes in these areas which will contribute to reducing poverty, deprivation and inequality. The impact of these programmes will be monitored and evaluated, and as data become available they will be put in the public domain.

Police: Databases

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In the past year, how many individuals' fingerprints and biological samples have been taken without consent in connection with a non-imprisonable offence; and [HL1310]

How many sets of (a) fingerprints, and (b) biological samples have been taken by police from individuals who were arrested for a recordable offence and were (1) not charged, and (2) subsequently acquitted. [HL1311]

No information is held centrally on the number of individuals who have had fingerprints and DNA samples taken without consent in connection with a non-imprisonable offence.

Data on arrest and criminal histories such as subsequent charges, convictions and acquittals are not held on the National Fingerprint Database (IDENTI) or the National DNA Database (NDNAD), but are held on the Police National Computer (PNC). Such data, including data on the number of persons arrested for a recordable offence, have their fingerprints and DNA taken and who were (1) not charged or (2) acquitted are not available routinely at present, but the National Policing Improvement Agency which has responsibility for the delivery of NDNAD services is working towards being able to provide such data regularly from the NDNAD and PNC. The information requested could be obtained currently only at disproportionate cost by cross-searching all the records retained for such person on the PNC.

However, some information was obtained at the end of October 2007, which was published in an answer given in another place, (Official Report, 13 December 2007, col. 761W).

Police: DNA Database

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the stages of the process of removing an innocent individual's data from the National DNA Database. [HL1292]

Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), the police have the power indefinitely to retain profiles on the National DNA Database (NDNAD) derived from samples taken from persons arrested for a recordable offence and detained in a police station, regardless of whether they are charged or convicted. While the decision on whether to agree to a request from an individual to have their DNA profile removed from the NDNAD lies with the chief officer of the force which took the sample, profiles will normally be retained unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) issued guidance to chief officers on the consideration of applications for removal at the end of January 2006. The then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Andy Burnham, made a Written Ministerial Statement relating to the guidance on 16 February 2006, (Official Report, col. 11 7WS) a copy of which has been placed in the Library.

ACPO has tasked a specialist unit within Hampshire constabulary (known as ACPO Criminal Record Office (ACPO CRO)) to assist chief officers in arriving at a decision, by providing examples of how requests have been dealt with in other forces and offering advice. However, the final decision remains with chief officers, who are not obliged to refer cases to ACPO CRO or to agree with its recommendations.

The procedure recommended by ACPO CRO is that, on receipt of a request for deletion, the force should ensure that sufficient detail is available to identify the applicant correctly. The applicant will be invited to state the grounds upon which they believe their case to be exceptional. The chief officer is asked to consider any response and either reply to the applicant rejecting the application for the removal of the record(s), or refer the case papers to ACPO CRO, who will provide advice based on any relevant precedents held.

The chief officer will then decide whether to retain or remove the record(s), and respond directly to the applicant with notification of this decision. If it is decided to remove the profile, the police force will inform the NDNAD, and the profile concerned will be removed.

Russia: Deportations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the European Court of Human Rights has heard any cases arising from the deportation from Russia since 2006 of Georgian citizens without court orders or appeal procedures; and what stage the inter-state case initiated by the Government of Georgia has reached. [HL1538]

The European Court of Human Rights is an independent judicial body. Allocation and processing of cases is a matter for the court. All publicly available information on execution of judgments can be found on the website of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers: www.coe.int/T/E/Human_Rights/execution.

Russia: ECHR Judgments

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the complainants in the cases of Bitiyera and X v Russia (No. 57953/00 and No. 37392/03) and Musayev and Others v Russia (No. 57941/00 and No. 58699/00 and No. 60403/00) have received the damages awarded to them by the European Court of Human Rights. [HL1541]

In accordance with Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Committee of Ministers supervises the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

Information on execution of judgments is publicly available on the Council of Europe website at: www.coe.int/T/E/Human_Rights/execution.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will seek ways to improve and allocate the processing of cases pending from Russia before the European Court of Human Rights. [HL1542]

The European Court of Human Rights is an independent judicial body. Allocation and processing of cases is a matter for the court. The UK is a consistent supporter of the European Court of Human Rights and a strong advocate of reform measures to improve its effectiveness. An efficient court is essential for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Both the UK and Russia agree on the need for reform of the court to ensure that it functions more effectively. The UK believes that Protocol 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights must be implemented to achieve this goal. We are disappointed that Russia is the only Council of Europe member state not to have ratified the protocol. We, in concert with the majority of Council of Europe member states, the EU presidency and other EU member states have called on Russia to ratify Protocol 14 swiftly.

Russia: Freedom of Assembly and Worship

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make representations to the Government of Russia, following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Barankevich v Russia (No. 10519/03), concerning freedom of assembly and freedom of worship. [HL1540]

We regularly raise the issues of freedom of assembly and worship with the Government of Russia, through our discussion on human rights issues both bilaterally and through the EU. A recent example of our support for freedom of assembly in Russia is the EU statement of 4 December 2007 on the Russian Duma elections which reported,

“many reports and allegations of media restrictions as well as harassment of opposition parties and non-governmental organisations in the run up to the elections and on election day, and that procedures during the electoral campaign did not meet international standards and commitments voluntarily assumed by Moscow”.

We do not comment on individual cases but information on execution of judgments is publicly available on the Council of Europe website at: www.coe.int/T/E/Human_Rights/execution.

Russia: National Minorities

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they supported the resolution of the Council of Ministers of May 2007 (CM/Res CMN(2007)7) on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in Russia; and whether the Government of Russia have responded to that judgment. [HL1539]

The UK joined the consensus in the Committee of Ministers on adoption of the resolution on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in Russia. During discussion on the draft resolution Russia accepted the resolution and underlined that it would continue to work on protection of minorities and would publish the second opinion on Russia of the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

Teaching: Qualifications

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proportion of teachers entered the profession via the Bachelor of Education degree qualification. [HL1495]

The information requested is not available for all teachers who are currently in teaching service.

Information is available with respect to newly qualified entrants entering service. The latest provisional estimates are for teachers who achieved qualified teacher status (QTS) in 2005 and were in full or part-time service in England in March 2006. Of the 25,460 teachers in this category some 18 per cent (4,040) were recorded as acquiring QTS by achieving an undergraduate degree. These include predominantly Batchelor of Education degrees but also a small number of other first degrees where QTS is also conferred.

The sources of this information are the Database of Teacher Records (DTR) for the numbers of teachers entering service and General Teaching Council for England (GTCE) for the qualifications information. The overall figure provided includes teachers acquiring QTS through all routes including employment-based training and may be slightly underestimated due to the under-reporting of part-time teachers and the late receipt of some teachers’ records.

Young Offender Institutions: Thorn Cross

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have for the 60-bed unit for juveniles at the open young offender institution at Thorn Cross. [HL1511]

The Youth Justice Board has announced that it does not wish to purchase beds for juveniles at Thorn Cross. A decision on the future use of these beds will be taken as soon as possible.

Young People: Custody

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many young people in custody were previously accommodated in a children's home. [HL1513]

Information showing the total number of prisoners in all prison establishments in England and Wales who at one time were accommodated in children's homes is not available.

Departmental records at the Department for Children, Schools and Families show that, out of the 240 children who ceased to be looked after by local authorities in the year ending 31 March 2007 due to being sentenced to custody, 80 were previously placed in children's homes (Source: SSDA903).

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.