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Written Answers

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 5 March 2008

Written Answers

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Afghanistan: Study Group Report

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have received a copy of the Afghanistan Study Group report, Revitalizing our Efforts, Rethinking our Strategies, released on 30 January by the United States Centre for the Study of the Presidency; and when they will respond to, or comment on, this report. [HL2120]

Officials at the Ministry of Defence have received copies of the Afghanistan Study Group report by the United States Centre for the Study of the Presidency; the report and recommendations have been noted.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to proposals that each major United Kingdom airport should be owned and managed separately. [HL2224]

Following a reference by the Office of Fair Trading in March 2007, the Competition Commission is carrying out an inquiry into the supply of airport services by BAA.

The issues statement published by the Competition Commission in August 2007 ( identifies ownership as one of the issues that they will be considering in detail as part of the inquiry. This will include considering the evidence on the extent to which separately owned airports compete. The inquiry is due to conclude by March 2009.

The Competition Commission is the UK's independent competition authority and is therefore carrying out this investigation independent of government, industry or other parties. The role of the Department for Transport in this investigation is, like other parties, to respond to requests for evidence. It has no role in determining the Competition Commission's final views but will of course have a keen interest in those findings and the extent to which they may have implications for the delivery of the air transport White Paper policies.

Armed Forces: Healthcare

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 7 January 2008 (Official Report, 7/1/08; col. WA 137), what criteria are used to determine the “appropriate circumstances” for a service unit to reimburse the travel and subsistence costs for relatives visiting injured service personnel at the National Health Service Selly Oak Hospital in the absence of a medical recommendation that relatives should stay with that patient. [HL2022]

Service units have delegated authority to arrange travel and subsistence costs for up to three nights for up to two people (including at least one close family member) to visit a service person admitted to a hospital in the UK, when that admission is unexpected. This includes service personnel injured in an operational theatre who are subsequently moved to a hospital in the UK. This delegated authority enables units to make prompt arrangements, in advance of making a fuller assessment of the circumstances and gaining authority for longer periods or additional family members, where required.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Ministry of Defence provides toiletries and basic clothing for injured service personnel being treated at the National Health Service Selly Oak Hospital who are separated from their possessions. [HL2023]

Defence Medical Welfare Service staff supply all military in-patients at Selly Oak hospital who are separated from their possessions with “comfort kits” of toiletries, plus any clothing they require and items such as rucksacks, TV cards, loan of portable computers with internet access, or TVs in their ward, if none are otherwise available. In addition, all in-patients at Selly Oak receive incidental expenses at a daily rate of £5 a day. This allowance is designed to cover necessary personal incidental expenses.

Armed Forces: Medical Care

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in advance of their response to the House of Commons Defence Committee's report on medical care for the Armed Forces, they will take action to improve care for personnel leaving the services with long-term mental illnesses after suffering traumatic stress during service. [HL1999]

The Government are considering the committee's recommendations and will submit their formal response to the committee within the next two months. However, I would like to reassure my noble friend that the MoD takes its duty of care to service personnel and veterans seriously and already has measures in place for personnel leaving the services with long-term mental illnesses.

Medical discharge from the Armed Forces due to psychological illness is low; around 150 personnel (less than 0.1 per cent) are discharged annually for mental health reasons, whatever the cause. Once a decision has been taken to medically discharge an individual with mental health problems, the Defence Medical Services mental health team that has been caring for that individual will begin a liaison with appropriate civilian healthcare providers (e.g. the general practitioner (GP) and civilian mental health team) to ensure that transfer of care and patient history takes place. In addition, we have mental health social workers who manage the individual's wider resettlement issues, liaising with relevant civil agencies such as local housing authorities, financial authorities, service welfare and charitable organisations, with the aim of ensuring that the individual's transfer into the civilian environment is as smooth and as seamless as possible.

It is also recognised that, in some cases, it may be many years after discharge before a veteran begins to display mental health symptoms arising from their service. With this in mind, the department announced in a Written Ministerial Statement on 12 June 2007 (Official Report, Commons, 12/6/07; col. 40WS) an extension of the medical assessment programme (MAP), based at St Thomas's Hospital, London, to include all veterans who have served on operations since 1982, including the Falklands conflict. The MAP offers assessment by an expert in the mental health problems arising from military service and will include, where appropriate, a recommendation to the individual and their GP for treatment. Veterans who have concerns about their mental health can seek a referral to the MAP by their doctor; the cost of the assessment is borne by the MoD.

In conjunction with the Department of Health, we also launched in November of last year the first of a number of community mental health pilots. Each site will have a trained community veterans' mental health therapist, and veterans will be able to access this service directly or through their GP, ex-service organisations, the Veterans' Welfare Service or social service departments. Four pilots are now operational (at South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Camden and Islington, Bishop Auckland and Cardiff), with one in Cornwall due to follow shortly. A similar pilot scheme in Scotland, based in the Lothian region, was announced recently by the Scottish Executive. If the pilots prove successful, the model will be rolled out more widely across the UK.

In addition, the MoD provides assessment and treatment for demobilised reservists with operational service since 2003. MoD is also the major donor to the charity Combat Stress, which offers care to ex-service personnel suffering from service-related post-traumatic stress disorder. The MoD has increased the fees that we pay to 45 per cent from 1 January 2008.

Armed Forces: Oil Prices

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What impact the current level of world oil price is having on the cost of fuel for the Armed Forces; and to what extent this is leading to (a) reduced operational activity, and (b) overruns on budgeted costs. [HL2138]

Initial estimates are that fuel price and related currency exchange rate changes (predominantly affecting maritime and aviation fuel) have added outturn costs of around £80 million in 2007-08 to the departmental fuel bill compared with 2006-07.

The cost of fuel for operations is reflected in this figure. However, such expenditure is paid for from the Treasury Reserve, and operational activity is therefore unaffected by higher fuel costs.

Armenia: Genocide

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the vandalism of the Armenian genocide monument in Cardiff on Holocaust Memorial Day; and [HL2000]

What action they are taking to protect the Armenian community in the United Kingdom from attacks following the vandalism of the Armenian genocide monument in Cardiff on Holocaust Memorial Day. [HL2002]

The Government deplore attacks on all communities, including the Armenian community. Citizens and visitors to the United Kingdom should be free to live, work and carry on their daily lives without fear of abuse or physical attacks against them and their community and vandalism of their monuments.

The director of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs has advised that the police are investigating and treating the attack on the Cardiff monument as criminal damage. Therefore the Government cannot make any further comments on this particular matter.

Central-Local Concordat

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What changes they propose to make to the policies and working arrangements of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs following the signing of the central–local concordat on 12 December 2007, both in general and in specific response to the agreement in the concordat (a) that “there should be a presumption that powers are best exercised at the lowest effective and practical level”; (b) that central government undertakes to “progressively remove obstacles which prevent councils from pursuing their role, including reducing the burden of appraisal and approval regimes, the ring-fencing of funds for specific purposes and the volume of guidance it issues”, (c) that the number of national indicators should be “around 200”; (d) that in relation to the negotiation of new-style local area agreements “this objective will require major changes in behaviour and practice from central government departments, their agencies, government offices, councils and local partners”; and what is the process and timetable for such changes. [HL1727]

The central-local concordat, agreed between the Government and the Local Government Association (LGA) on behalf of local authorities in England, was signed in December last year. It commits both parties to a framework of principles to secure a new relationship between central government and local government. Discharging the rights and responsibilities of central government and local government set out in the concordat will require major changes in the behaviour and practice of both parties. The operation of this agreement will be monitored on a continuing basis, through renewed central-local partnership arrangements.

We are discussing with the LGA how we take forward the concordat, focusing on its guiding principles and specific commitments. These include encouraging councils to make effective use of their power to promote the well-being of their area; enabling local government to conduct a growing share of the business of government; central government consulting and collaborating with councils in setting national policies and proposing legislation; reducing the burden of appraisal and approval regimes and the volume of guidance issued by central government to local authorities; supporting and encouraging strong leadership and effective partnership working at local level; and increasing local democratic accountability of key public services, in particular the police and health services.

A single set of 198 national indicators for local authorities and local authority partnerships was announced as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007, and consultation on detailed definitions of the set concluded on 21 December 2007, with the aim of announcing final decisions in February.

Local authorities across England are engaged in discussions with government offices on behalf of all government departments on the content of new-style local area agreements, which will have effect from 2008-09.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has responsibilities in relation to a number of local government services including, waste, street cleanliness, flood management and protection of the natural environment. The department has worked with local government to develop a streamlined set of 13 indicators for these services and for new areas such as climate change, as part of the new national indicator set.

The department welcomes and is fully engaged through its officials in government offices in the negotiation of the new-style LAAs.

The department retains very few “ring-fenced” funding arrangements, and these usually exist where it is agreed with local government that the arrangement is the most appropriate solution to targeting support for small projects dealing with, for example, contaminated land.

Climate Change: Carbon Emissions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the issue of new planning policy will affect the adoption of the “Merton Rule” (reducing carbon emissions from new buildings by 10 per cent) by the majority of local authorities. [HL2179]

The new Planning Policy Statement (PPS) on climate change will boost the use of local renewable and low-carbon energy in new development in England. The PPS sets out our “Merton-Plus” approach. It expects all local planning authorities to have a council-wide target (like existing Merton rules) and, additionally, tailored targets for sites where there is greater potential for using decentralised energy to supply new development. These targets should be flexible enough to consider community schemes (for example, wind turbines or CHP schemes serving more than one site) as well as building specific technologies.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many reviews of the need for detention were carried out in accordance with rule 9(1) of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 (SI 2001/238) in each of the last three years; how many detainees were thus reviewed; and whether the grade of the officials conducting the successive reviews complied with chapter 38.8 of the Home Office operational enforcement manual. [HL2176]

The information requested is not held centrally and could only be obtained through examination of individual records at disproportionate cost.

Falkland Islands: Defence

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What financial contribution the Administration of the Falkland Islands make to the cost of the British garrison. [HL2123]

The Falklands Islands Government directly contribute some £178,000 per annum to the cost of the Falkland Islands garrison. This contribution is in the form of the building of two married quarters each year (approximately £150,000) and part-funding the maintenance of the air terminal building (£28,000).

Forced Labour

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they intend to ensure that, following the recent judgments of United States federal prosecutors, no produce sold in the United Kingdom from Florida has been harvested using trafficked migrant workers or forced labour. [HL1924]

There is currently no domestic or European legislation that enables the UK to prevent the sale or importation of products from forced labour. We do not believe that any attempt to impose legislation in this area would be successful, practically or legally. Where there are instances of forced labour in a country, it is for that country to address them, as the USA has done in the example alluded to in the noble Lord's Question.

For its part, as a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the UK Government actively encourage ILO member states to work towards ratifying and meeting the provisions of the “core” labour conventions, including those concerned with forced labour.

Local Government: Code of Conduct

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they intend to issue the model code of conduct for local authority officers.[HL1964]

The Government are committed to considering the introduction of a statutory model code of conduct for local government employees. In taking this forward, we wish to be able to take into account any lessons learnt from the first year's operation of the revised model code for local councillors, which came into effect in May 2007. We therefore intend to consider further a model code for local authority employees later this year, following our review of the impact of the model code for local councillors.

Nigeria: Country Guidance

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will issue new country guidance in respect of Nigeria, following the tribunal case known as F.I. (Nigeria); and if so, when they will issue such guidance, and whether there will be specific guidance concerning particular social groups. [HL2016]

There are no plans to amend our country policy in the light of the tribunal’s determination, as this case was concluded on the particular facts of the individual case.

Northern Rock

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether Treasury guarantee arrangements for Northern Rock plc extend to obligations of Northern Rock to make payments on the repurchase of mortgages under the documentation for the Granite securitisation programme. [HL2058]

As set out in HM Treasury's announcement on 18 December, the guarantee arrangements for Northern Rock cover all obligations of Northern Rock plc to make payments on the repurchase of mortgages under the documentation for the “Granite” securitisation programme.


asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are giving consideration to giving local authorities the power to charge applicants the full cost of the consideration of planning applications, either through the Planning Bill or otherwise. [HL2160]

The draft Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications and Deemed Applications) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2008 are currently before Parliament. The proposed increase in planning application fees is aimed at enabling local authorities to recover the costs of determining fee-paying planning applications.

As part of the planning White Paper package in May 2007, the Government published the consultation paper Planning Fees in England: Proposals for Change, in which respondents were specifically asked to indicate their views on the principle of each local planning authority being able to set its own (non-profit making) planning charges in future.

The Government's response to consultation replies was published on 29 November 20071. In relation to local fee setting, opinion was divided, business being generally against the proposal and local planning authorities split. Businesses which trade across the country wanted certainty about what fees they could be charged, and local variation would frustrate this. The Government concluded that,

“there is insufficient support for this at present, but we will consider whether there are ways in the future of dealing with some of the issues raised”.

This would include working in consultation with the Local Government Association and other stakeholders.

1 The Planning Fees in England: Proposals for Change—Government response to consultation replies—

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are giving consideration to altering the status or definitions of conservation areas, either through the Planning Bill or otherwise. [HL2161]

The Planning Bill will not include proposals relating to conservation areas. However, the Government intend to publish a draft Heritage Protection Bill for prelegislative scrutiny in spring 2008. This will set out proposals to take forward the reform programme outlined in the heritage protection White Paper Heritage Protection for the 21st Century. These include proposals to merge conservation area consent with planning permission and to amend the Demolition Direction and the General Permitted Development Order to provide that demolition and partial demolition of a building in a conservation area is classed as “development”.

Plant Health Regulations

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the Plant Health (Import Inspection Fees) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/3013), why the new reduced inspection rates vary from 3 per cent to 50 per cent; with whom they have been agreed for each product; and what method has been used to assign them to the producing countries. [HL2183]

Under EU legislation, certain third-country plant and plant material must be inspected at the point where it first enters the EU. Where plant and plant material from a specific country can be shown not to present a plant health risk, a reduced rate of inspection reflecting that risk may be applied.

The reduced rate of inspection is determined by the European Commission in consultation with the member states according to a fixed formula. This takes account of the volume of that particular trade from the country in question over a three-year period and the history and seriousness of interceptions of quarantine pests associated with that trade. The safer a trade proves to be, coupled with the volume of trade in the particular product from that country, the lower will be the reduced inspection rate which may be applied. Therefore, the reduced inspection rate may vary for the same material depending on its origin. Where a trade already subject to a reduced frequency of inspection proves to be less safe than previously, the reduced frequency percentage may be increased according to a fixed formula back up to the maximum of 100 per cent inspections.

I have arranged for a full list of the current reduced inspection rates to be placed in the Library of the House.

Regulators: Criminal Prosecutions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 28 January (Official Report, 28/1/08; col. WA 91-92) on regulators: criminal prosecutions, what were the categories of offences for which the prosecutions were brought. [HL2165]

Financial Services Authority —the FSA's prosecutions fall into two categories: prosecutions brought under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and prosecutions under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965.

Offences under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 usually relate to the failure of industrial or provident societies to provide the FSA with financial or other documents (such as balance sheets) when they are to do so. The FSA brought 41 prosecutions under this Act in the relevant period.

There have been three prosecutions under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. These prosecutions were for unauthorised deposit taking, making a misleading statement to the market and for offences relating to acting as an unauthorised stockbroker.

Private Security Industry Act 2001—these offences are prosecuted by a range of different authorities, including the Crown Prosecution Service, local authorities and the Security Industry Authority itself.

Of the 335 prosecutions under the Private Security Industry Act 2001 from 2004 to 2006, 306 prosecutions were for offences related to carrying out licensable activities without a licence.

Other prosecutions were for a range of offences, such as using an unlicensed wheel-clamping operative, or offences related to the Security Industry Authority's powers of entry and inspection.

Statistics Board/Office for National Statistics—all prosecutions brought by the Office for National Statistics were brought under the Statistics of Trade Act 1947. These offences usually relate to the failure to provide the Office for National Statistics with information when requested to do so in accordance with the Statistics of Trade Act.

Schools: Teachers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 22 February (Official Report, 22/2/08; col. WA 96), for each year from 1998 to the present, how many secondary school teachers left the profession (a) within the first five years; (b) after more than five years and less than 10 years; and (c) after more than 10 years and less than 15 years. [HL2140]

The following table provides the number of full- and part-time regular qualified teachers who left service from local authority-maintained sector secondary schools in each year from 1997-98 to 2005-06, the latest year available, broken down by the total length of service. It is not known whether these teachers were leaving service permanently.

Full- and part-time1 regular qualified teachers leaving service from local authority maintained secondary schools2

Coverage: England

Length of service3


Less than 5 years

5 and less than 10 years

10 and less than 15 years

Over 15 years

Total leaving service











































2004-05 (p)






2005-06 (p)






Source: Database of Teacher Records (DTR).

(p) Provisional estimates.

1. 10-20 per cent of part-time teachers may not be included in these data.

2. Teacher has left local authority maintained service in England. Teachers moving to other phases of education in the English local authority maintained sector are excluded.

3. Total length of recorded service which may not all have been completed in English maintained sector service or be continuous.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which section of the Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1991 prevents a planning inspector from considering evidence on the impact on the environment when determining a definitive map and public path order through a site of special scientific interest. [HL2108]

The rights of way legislation in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides only for the recording, on the definitive map and statement, of public rights of way that already exist and that consequently the public may already use. Therefore, when making a decision under this Act, a local highway authority, or the Secretary of State, would be beyond their jurisdiction to consider anything other than the existence of the public right of way in law. There are provisions in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 that enable local authorities to manage any impact from a public right of way through a site of special scientific interest.

Utilities: Direct Debit

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the imposition of extra monthly charges is justified for customers of telephone and other utilities companies who do not pay bills by direct debit. [HL1810]

Over the years, telephone and other utility service providers have applied a price differential between customers who pay their accounts by direct debit and those who pay by other means. This reflects the increased processing and debt-management costs associated with payments not made by direct debit. Such differentials are common practice.

The independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), announced on 6 June 2007 that it would carry out a full review of communications providers' additional charges. Ofcom expects to announce the conclusions of its review soon, and progress may be monitored on its website While gas and electricity suppliers also have differentials between various payment methods, they do not impose additional monthly charges for customers who do not pay by direct debit.