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Written Answers

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 12 March 2008

Written Answers

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Arms Trade

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which 10 countries were the largest exporters of weapons to Africa in each of the past 10 years; what were the volumes of exports; and what receipts were generated from the exports. [HL2071]

The UK does not as a matter of course compile information about arms imports and exports, other than where the UK is an exporter. It would incur disproportionate cost for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to collate the information requested. Information about the UK's strategic export controls is available on the FCO website at www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=Open Market/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid= 1007029395474.

Cyprus

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in the light of the declaration of independence of Kosovo, they will review the right to self-determination of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; and whether their position on any such right is affected by the practicalities of retaining military bases in the south of Cyprus. [HL2072]

The independence of Kosovo does not set a precedent. There is no universal blueprint that can be applied to every post-conflict scenario; each is unique and different criteria apply. We should give no comfort to those looking to exploit Kosovo in relation to unrelated agendas, either in the Balkans or further afield.

Our long-standing policy on the non-recognition of the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” will not change. Our objective in Cyprus is to achieve a comprehensive and viable settlement, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality. We welcome the continued commitment of the leaders of both sides to these basic principles. Our continued support for a settlement is not affected by the presence of the sovereign base areas.

Democratic Republic of Congo

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make representations to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to ensure that evidence against Pastor Fernando Kutino obtained by alleged torture should not be used in his forthcoming trial and that he is held in humane conditions in the mean time. [HL2297]

We and our international partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the EU and UN, have registered our concerns at the conduct of the investigation and subsequent trial of Pastor Kutino with the Congolese on several occasions. The UN is in regular contact with the Congolese authorities on the issue of his treatment. Officials from our embassy in Kinshasa are considering what further action to take in conjunction with representatives of other EU member states.

Department for International Development: Personnel

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many staff are employed by the Department for International Development and bodies within its control; whether they have plans for staff reductions in that department; and, if so, in which areas such reductions would fall. [HL1757]

The Department for International Development currently employs 2,552 staff including UK based civil servants and staff employed locally overseas. This number is expected to fall by about a further 80 staff by the end of the current financial year.

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are making representations to the Government of Egypt following the arrest of 101 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including candidates in the provincial elections due on 8 April. [HL2103]

Officials raised their concerns about the recent arrest of Muslim Brotherhood members with the Egyptian embassy in London on 27 February 2008.

We regularly raise human rights issues with the Egyptian Government. We also look forward to these issues being discussed at the forthcoming EU-Egypt political sub-committee established under the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan.

Energy: Smart Meters

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to suspend the current programme of electricity meter replacements to await the introduction of smart meters; and [HL2184]

What safeguards they will incorporate into the smart meter programme to protect consumers and households from intrusion into their privacy and from changes in payment arrangements that benefit suppliers at the expense of their customers; and [HL2205]

Whether they intend to ensure that smart meters replace existing models in a sequence starting with the oldest first. [HL2206]

The Government have consulted on a range of metering and billing proposals, and will shortly respond to that consultation. In doing so, they will set out their views on the next steps on smart metering.

Equatorial Guinea: Simon Mann

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 21 February (WA 80-1), whether they were informed by the Zimbabwean authorities of the imminent extradition of Simon Mann from Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea immediately prior to his being extradited; what response they had from the Zimbabwean authorities regarding their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and what contact they have had with Simon Mann since his extradition. [HL2243]

Further to the Answer I gave the noble Lord on 21 February (Official Report, col. WA 81), we were not informed by the Zimbabwean authorities of the imminent removal of Simon Mann from Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea immediately prior to his removal. The Zimbabwean authorities have since told us that they believe they complied with their international obligations in this case.

Our Deputy High Commission in Lagos provides consular assistance to British nationals in Equatorial Guinea. Our consul in Lagos travelled to Malabo and visited Mr Mann in prison on 12 February and plans to do so again soon.

EU: Legislative Competence

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 4 February (WA 154), whether there has been any instance of a European Union legislative institution having altered legislation as a result of proceedings in either House of Parliament. [HL1990]

The House of Lords committee (HL Paper 27) recommendations on a restricted scope and the country of origin principle were incorporated into the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (amending the Television Without Frontiers Directive).

European Court of Human Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will seek to persuade other member states of the Council of Europe to introduce a pension plan for judges of the European Court of Human Rights to reinforce their independence. [HL2303]

The Government continue to look closely at opportunities to increase judicial independence for judges at the European Court of Human Rights. We are waiting to hear a joint proposal from the President of the Court and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will seek to persuade other member states of the Council of Europe to ensure that judges of the European Court of Human Rights are appointed in accordance with objective and transparent criteria based on professional qualification. [HL2304]

The criteria for office as a judge of the European Court of Human Rights are set out in Article 21 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that “the judges shall be of high moral character and must either possess the qualifications required for appointment to high judicial office or be jurisconsults of recognised competence”.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of which the United Kingdom is a member, has specified that national procedures for the selection of candidates for appointment as a judge at the court should respond to criteria of fairness, transparency and consistency.

The United Kingdom has selection procedures that meet these criteria and which are designed to ensure that the judge elected in respect of the United Kingdom fulfils the requirements of Article 21.

Although national selection procedures are a matter for each member state, we expect that those adopted by other member states would also meet the criteria of fairness, transparency and consistency. To encourage this among other member states, the United Kingdom has shared its own best practice in this regard.

Health: Contaminated Blood Products

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will hold a public inquiry into the deaths of haemophiliacs who have died because of transfusions of blood products contaminated with HIV or Hepatitis C. [HL2284]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration they have given to the decision of Lord Mackay of Drumadoon in the Court of Session to overturn the ruling of the Lord Advocate not to hold a full public inquiry into the deaths of haemophilia patients through contaminated National Health Service blood products on the ground that the decision was not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights; and what are the implications of the ruling for National Health Service patients elsewhere in the United Kingdom. [HL2387]

The decision of Lord Mackay was against the Scottish Government and it is for the Scottish Government to consider how to respond to it.

Health: Prescription Charges

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have for a review of prescription charges. [HL2372]

The Government will shortly be seeking comments on possible options for changes to prescription charges that are cost neutral to the National Health Service.

Homeless People

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proposals they have to increase investment in future services to raise the skills levels of homeless people. [HL2346]

We recognise that education, training and employment are a key route out of homelessness and the cycle of disadvantage. We are working closely with colleagues across government, at the Learning and Skills Council and in the voluntary and community sector to tackle the wider causes and symptoms of homelessness, including improving access to learning and skills provision, benefits and jobs. We believe one of the most effective ways we can help homeless people is to ensure that they have access to the skills they need to gain employment and to help them transform their own lives.

Through our World Class Skills reforms, we are committed to ensuring equal opportunities for all learners, including the most vulnerable in our communities. Our targets cover workers and learners of all ages and backgrounds and our reforms balance skills and economic prosperity with fairness and inclusion.

The funding settlement announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review represents the biggest ever government investment in skills. Of the £3 billion we are investing in each of the next three years in adult skills participation, we will invest some £1.5 billion annually in learning below level 2, to help the low skilled and workless learn, progress and achieve sustainable employment.

Our vision for the workforce of the future is of one unrivalled in its skills, dynamism, equity and inclusiveness. We are working with employers through train to gain to meet skill needs and to ensure that all employees have the basic skills, including literacy and numeracy and level 2 skills, to sustain and progress in employment. We also want employers to fill more of their vacancies with people who are further away from the labour market and to actively engage with their sectors and localities to lead on appropriate reform. We are increasing funding for train to gain from £440 million in 2007-08 to over £900 million in 2010-11.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What additional resources they will provide to charities that offer housing support to homeless asylum seekers, refugees and economic immigrants. [HL2349]

The Government have recently announced homelessness grant funding of £50 million for the voluntary sector and £150 million for local authorities, who in many cases fund voluntary sector organisations, over the next three years. This is the largest ever cash injection for homelessness services, and there are no current plans for further funding over and above this three-year settlement. Homelessness grant is used to support delivery of the Government's targets on homelessness and rough sleeping. Eligibility for public services, including housing, is determined by migrants' immigration status.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 28 February (WA 135–6) stating that membership of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority requires acceptance of the fundamental principles behind the authority's existence, whether that extends to expressing views contrary to a prohibition of reproductive cloning or the culture of embryos for more than 14 days in vitro. [HL2352]

The members of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority must be mindful of the full range of views held on embryology and assisted conception. While individual members may acknowledge such views, in carrying out their statutory functions they are obliged to recognise and act within the regulatory parameters of the 1990 Act and associated regulations.

Iraq and Afghanistan: Military Casualties

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the names, ages and, where appropriate, regiments of all British nationals who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 25 April 2007; and what are the dates of their deaths. [HL2049]

The details of UK military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan between 25 April 2007 and 27 February 2008 are shown in the following tables. Where an individual was holding an acting rank at the time of their death this has been given rather than their substantive rank.

UK military fatalities from operations in Iraq

Date

Name

Age

Regiment

13 December

Gdsm Stephen Ferguson

31

Scots Guards

20 November

Soldier A1

-

-

20 November

Soldier B1

-

-

14 October

LCpl Sarah Holmes

26

Royal Logistics Corps

21 September

Sgt Mark Stansfield

32

Royal Logistics Corps

5 September

Sgt Eddie Collins

33

The Parachute Regiment

9 August

LSgt Chris Casey

27

1st Battalion The Irish Guards

9 August

LCpl Kirk Redpath

22

1st Battalion The Irish Guards

7 August

LAC Martin Beard

20

1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment

6 August

Pte Craig Barber

20

2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh

31 July

Cpl Steve Edwards

35

2nd Royal Tank Regiment

21 July

LCpl Timothy Darren Flowers

25

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers2

19 July

SAC Matthew Caulwell

22

1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment

19 July

SAC Christopher Dunsmore

29

504 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force

19 July

SAC Peter McFerran

24

1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment

7 July

Cpl Christopher Read

22

Royal Military Police

7 July

LCpl Ryan Francis

23

2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh

6 July

Rfn Edward Vakabua

23

4th Battalion, The Rifles

28 June

Cpl Paul Joszko

28

2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh

28 June

Pte Scott Kennedy

20

3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland3

28 June

Pte Jamie Kerr

20

3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland3

22 June

Cpl John Rigby

24

4th Battalion, The Rifles

20 June

Maj Paul Harding

48

4th Battalion, The Rifles

16 June

LCpl James Cartwright

21

2nd Royal Tank Regiment

7 June

Cpl Rodney Wilson

30

4th Battalion, The Rifles

21 May

Cpl Jeremy Brookes

28

4th Battalion, The Rifles

6 May

Pte Kevin Thompson

21

Royal Logistics Corps

1 May

Maj Nick Bateson

48

Royal Corps of Signals

29 April

Rfn Paul Donnachie

18

2nd Battalion, The Rifles

1 Names, Ages and Regiments withheld due to the coroner's order. In the event that this order changes, I will inform the House.

2 Lance Corporal Timothy Darren Flowers was from the Corps of Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, but was attached to the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment at the time of his death.

3 Private Scott Kennedy and Private Jamie Kerr were from the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland but were serving on attachment to the Royal Welsh at the time of their deaths.

UK military fatalities from operations in Afghanistan

Date

Name

Age

Regiment

20 February

Cpl Damian Mulvihill

32

40 Commando Royal Marines

17 February

Cpl Damian Lawrence

25

2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (the Green Howards)

20 January

Cpl Darryl Gardiner

25

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

8 December

Sgt Lee Johnson

33

2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (the Green Howards)

4 December

Tpr Jack Sadler

21

2nd Squadron, Honourable Artillery Company

14 November

Capt John McDermid

43

The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

9 November

LCp1 Jake Alderton

22

36 Regiment Royal Engineers

4 October

Maj Alexis Roberts

32

2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles

20 September

CSgt Phillip Newman

36

4th Battalion, The Mercian Regiment

20 September

Pte Brian Tunnicliffe

33

2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters)

17 September

Cpl Ivano Violino

29

20 Field Squadron, 36 Regiment, Royal Engineers

8 September

Sgt Craig Brelsford

25

2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters)

8 September

Pte Johan Botha

25

2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters)

5 September

Pte Damian Wright

23

2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters)

5 September

Pte Ben Ford

18

2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters)

30 August

SAC Christopher Bridge

20

51 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment

23 August

Pte Aaron James McClure

19

1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

23 August

Pte Robert Graham Foster

19

1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

23 August

Pte John Thrumble

21

1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

11 August

Capt David Hicks

26

1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

10 August

Pte Tony Rawson

27

1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

29 July

LCpl Michael Jones

26

Royal Marines

27 July

Sgt Barry Kean

34

14 Royal Corps of Signals

26 July

Gdsm David Atherton

25

1st Battalion, The Grenadier Guards

25 July

LCpl Alex Hawkins

22

1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

12 July

Gdsm Daryl Hickey

27

1st Battalion, The Grenadier Guards

1 July

Sgt Dave Wilkinson

33

19th Regiment Royal Artillery

30 June

Capt Sean Dolan

40

1st Battalion Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment

24 June

Pte Thomas Wright

21

1st Battalion Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment

9 June

Gdsm Neil Downes

20

1st Battalion, The Grenadier Guards

6 June

LCpl Paul Sandford

23

1st Battalion Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment

30 May

Cpl Mike Gilyeat

28

Royal Military Police

28 May

Cpl Darren Bonner

31

1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

26 May

Gdsm Daniel Probyn

22

1st Battalion, The Grenadier Guards

20 May

Cpl George Russell Davey

23

1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

3 May

Gdsm Simon Davison

22

1st Battalion, The Grenadier Guards

UK civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan

During the same period, we are aware of the deaths of 12 UK nationals in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. These figures only include those cases where consular assistance has been sought. The figures do not include UK dual nationals. For reasons of confidentiality, we are unable to release specific details.

Kosovo

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will work with the Government of Kosovo, the NATO Kosovo Force, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and the relevant European Union institutions and officials to ensure the safety of all Kosovans, both north and south of the Ibar river. [HL2177]

The UK is committed to working with Kosovo's Government, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), the UN and EU to ensure the safety of all Kosovo's people.

The UK contributes around 175 troops to KFOR, a ready battalion to NATO's pan-Balkans reserve force and a two-star general, working to reform the Kosovo Protection Corps. In addition, around 60 UK police officers are working with the UN Mission in Kosovo. The UK intends to contribute a similar number to the EU's police and Rule of Law Mission to Kosovo.

Local Government Ombudsman

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 26 February (WA 113), when they last reviewed the powers of the Local Government Ombudsman in cases where a local authority has repeatedly not given effect to the ombudsman's findings; and whether they will establish a further such review. [HL2210]

While the Government keep the powers of the Local Government Ombudsman under careful review with the ombudsmen, there are no current plans for a specific review of this matter. The vast majority of local authorities and other bodies which fall within the ombudsman's jurisdiction abide by the ombudsman's recommendations. In 2007-08 to date, only two local authorities have been required to publish a statement of the kind referred to in my Answer of 26 February. No statements were published in 2006-07 and only one was published in 2005-06.

NHS: Staff

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many physical assaults on NHS staff were reported in the last three years; and what proportion of those assaults took place on (a) hospital premises, and (b) other NHS premises; and [HL2235]

How many incidents of nuisance and disturbance to NHS staff other than physical assaults were reported in the last three years; and what proportion of these took place on (a) hospital premises, and (b) other NHS premises. [HL2236]

In April 2003 the National Health Service Security Management Service (SMS) was created and assumed responsibility for tackling violence against NHS staff. Since 2004-05 the NHS SMS has collected data on the number of physical assaults reported against NHS staff in England, broken down by sectors as shown in the table.

Assaults by sector

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Ambulance service

1,333

1,104

1,006

Acute/foundation trusts

10,758

11,100

9,685

Primary care

5,192

5,145

3,445

Mental health/learning disability

43,097

41,345

41,569

Other (Special Health Authorities)

5

1

4

Total

60,385

58,695

55,709

Information on numbers of incidents of nuisance and disturbance to NHS staff other than physical assaults is not collated centrally.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With which Northern Ireland Members of the Legislative Assembly, Members of Parliament and Peers the chairman of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum has had meetings since his appointment. [HL2186]

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given on 3 March (Official Report, col. WA 156.)

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the average number of days per week that the chairman of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum spent in Northern Ireland between his appointment and the end of 2007. [HL2187]

The Northern Ireland Office does not keep a record of Mr Sidoti’s movements. The noble Lord may wish to write to the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the chairmanship of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum is a full-time position. [HL2188]

Chris Sidoti, the chair of the Bill of Rights Forum, has worked on a part-time basis since his appointment on 15 March 2007.

The Bill of Rights Forum is due to report to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission on 31 March 2008, by which time we estimate that Chris Sidoti will have worked 70 days.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the annual salary of the chairman of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum. [HL2189]

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given on 3 March (Official Report, col. WA 157).

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What payment the members of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum receive. [HL2221]

Northern Ireland: Equality Commission

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With which Northern Ireland Members of the Legislative Assembly, Members of Parliament and Peers the chairman of the Equality Commission has had meetings since his appointment. [HL2185]

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given on 28 February (Official Report, col. WA 137).

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether an equality impact assessment was prepared for the Northern Ireland Equality Commission's most recent allocation of funding; if so, whether they will place a copy in the Library of the House; and if not, why not. [HL2190]

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given on 28 February (Official Report, col. WA 137).

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland uses the Irish language on its website but not Ulster Scots when both languages are recognised as equal under the Belfast Agreement of 1998. [HL2218]

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given on 28 February (Official Report, col. WA 137).

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many cases have been referred to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland each year since its creation; how many have been supported by the commission; and of those how many have been successful in court. [HL2219]

I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given on 28 February (Official Report, col. WA 137).

Nuclear Weapons

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What measures they support to reduce the stock and proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world. [HL2273]

The UK is committed to working towards a world free from nuclear weapons and to zero tolerance of proliferation. We will use the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 2008 Preparatory Committee to take forward work to strengthen the treaty. The UK will promote consensus around key measures encompassing the treaty's three pillars: zero tolerance of proliferation; safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technology; and a reinvigorated commitment to a world free from nuclear weapons.

The UK has now met the commitment outlined in the 2006 White Paper on the future of the UK nuclear deterrent to reduce the number of operationally available warheads to fewer than 160. The explosive power of our nuclear arsenal has been reduced by 75 per cent since the end of the Cold War.

Passports

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many passports for (a) citizens, and (b) subjects were issued during 2007 by the British embassy in Dublin. [HL2274]

Our embassy in Dublin issued 9,543 passports between 1 January and 31 December 2007. Of these 9,501 were EU common format passports and 42 were non-EU passports.

EU common format passports can be issued to either British citizens or to British subjects who have a connection to Ireland, as both are eligible to receive the benefits that are afforded to EU citizens (eg free movement within the EU).

We do not hold figures on the proportion of these passports that were issued to British citizens and British subjects. Collating this information would incur disproportionate cost.

Planning

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Following the remarks of Mr Justice Mitting in Regina (Buglife—The Invertebrate Conservation Trust) v Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation that the biodiversity duty in Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 was weak and that the statutory duty of a development corporation to regenerate an area must prevail over it and all other considerations, including planning policy statement 9, whether they will strengthen planning policy statement 9.[HL2211]

We have no plans to amend planning policy statement 9 at this time. Planning policy statements set out the Government's national policies on different aspects of planning. Planning authorities must have regard to these policies when preparing plans and they are material considerations which must be taken into account, where relevant, in decisions on planning applications.

It would be inappropriate to comment on the merits of an individual case, particularly in advance of consideration of the full judgment and with the possibility of an appeal.

Prisoners: Life Sentences

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many life prisoners had their licences revoked and were recalled to prison under (a) Section 32(1) and (b) Section 32(2) of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 in each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. [HL2230]

The requested information is provided in the table below.

Number of life prisoners recalled

Year

Section 32(1)

Section 32(2)

2004

14

66

2005

21

93

2006

27

150

2007

3

130

Public Spending: Equality Impact Assessments

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 48) concerning equality impact assessments in Northern Ireland, what are the public authorities to which Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 applies. [HL2097]

Subsection (3) of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, as amended by the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 and the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002, defines the public authorities who are subject to the statutory duties set out in that section. The designation of public authorities is kept under review and a copy of the current list of all bodies subject to the duties will be placed in the Library of the House.

Quangos

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they plan to promote regional representation on quangos; and [HL1983]

Whether they will issue an official response to the report of the New Local Government Network entitled You've been Quango'd! Mapping Power across the Regions. [HL1984]

Appointments to the boards of public bodies are made on merit. The Government encourage applications for appointment from a wide range of candidates—and advertises in national and regional media as appropriate. The final decision, however, is made on merit and the successful candidate will have evidenced the necessary skills and experience required for the role. Where a public body has a particular regional or local focus, every effort is made to encourage applications from the local area. As the report of the New Local Government Network makes clear, the boards of local and regional public bodies—such as primary care trusts and regional development agencies—are already broadly representative of the communities they serve.

The Government note the report of the New Local Government Network with interest. However, they have no plans to issue an official response.

Railways: First Great Western

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the depots and platforms in the First Great Western area are long enough to accommodate any lengthening of trains which may be necessary by the end of the high-level output statement period in 2013; who they expect to pay for any modifications; and what measures they propose to take to alleviate overcrowding on local railway services in the Bristol area. [HL2264]

As part of the development of its strategic business plan, Network Rail is currently assessing platform lengths and other infrastructure issues relating to capacity enhancements required by the high-level output specification. This includes the Bristol area.

Republic of Ireland: Human Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made to the Government of the Republic of Ireland to ensure the establishment of human rights measures to a level at least equivalent to that in Northern Ireland. [HL2222]

There is no formal mechanism in the Good Friday Agreement for monitoring the progress of each Government other than the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. Human Rights issues have been discussed within this forum, both at ministerial and official level.

Restorative Justice

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 7 January (WA 178), what resource considerations might prevent the use of restorative justice as a commissioned service of Victim Support Plus. [HL2216]

Victim Support Plus is currently being rolled out across England and Wales. Until that is complete, it is not possible to be clear on what demand there will be for the new range of support services and their impact on resources, including grant funding from the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, funds raised by Victim Support itself, and Victim Support staff and volunteer time.

Teaching: Qualifications

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer on 31 of January (WA 146-7), what proportion of entrants to Bachelor of Education degree courses are candidates with less than two A-levels; what is the average A-level attainment of those entrants; and what is the overall average A-level attainment of all entrants, including candidates with less than two A-levels, in table 1 of the Answer. [HL2092]