Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 701: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

Written Answers

Thursday 1 May 2008

Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Statement by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 22 April (WS 150), under what legal authority the Department for Work and Pensions is spending £2,400,000 on setting up the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission in advance of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill receiving Royal Assent. [HL3217]

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many more repayable cash advances from the Department for Work and Pensions' contingencies fund are likely to be required to pay for setting up the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission prior to the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill receiving Royal Assent. [HL3219]

Further contingency fund advances will only be sought if essential to the successful introduction of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will conduct an urgent review of the financial planning for the establishment of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. [HL3220]

No. The programme to establish the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission is subject to internal DWP scrutiny in line with best practice. The programme is also reviewed by the Office of Government Commerce. Decisions by HM Treasury to provide advances from the contingency fund are subject to review and are scrutinised carefully by the National Audit Office.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether consultations have been held with the National Audit Office on the decision to spend £2,400,000 from the Department for Work and Pensions' contingencies fund on the setting up of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission prior to the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill receiving Royal Assent. [HL3221]

HM Treasury does not consult the National Audit Office prior to agreement of a contingencies fund advance, as this is not a requirement. All contingencies fund advances are carefully reviewed and scrutinised each year by the National Audit Office.

Civil Service

asked Her Majesty's Government:

(a) how many civil servants have been employed by HM Treasury in each year since 1997; (b) how many civil servants joined HM Treasury in each of those years; and (c) how many civil servants left HM Treasury in each of those years. [HL3101]

The latest statistics on the number of civil servants entering and leaving departments are published by the Office for National Statistics. Data can be found dating back to 1997 and can be accessed from the following website: www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=2899_&_Pos=1_&_ColRank=2_&_Rank=272

Crime: Victims

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether rape victims and persons leaving prostitution will benefit from (a) the follow-up to the Tackling Violence Action Plan, and (b) social inclusion policies; and to what extent local partnerships providing services for people in these categories will be helped from central funds. [HL3166]

The Tackling Violence Action Plan, published on 18 February, set out the Government's priority areas of work to tackle serious violent offences, including rape, sexual exploitation and prostitution.

In relation to rape, the action plan focuses on improving the investigation and prosecution of cases and providing enhanced support for victims by continuing to monitor local performance of police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service and on a commitment to more than double the current number of sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) and continue to support the national rollout of independent sexual violence advisors (ISVAs). The action plan also contains a commitment to consider the feasibility of setting up a national sexual violence helpline.

We have committed significant resources to ensuring that all victims of sexual violence will be able to access a SARC and an ISVA within the next three years. It is important to ensure that services are sustainable. As police and health budgets are devolved, Home Office funding is intended to supplement funding provided locally. The action plan and the new public service agreements on making communities safer and justice for all are key to ensuring that local funding providers prioritise and take seriously the issue of sexual violence and support local services.

In relation to sexual exploitation and prostitution, the action plan restates our commitment to take forward a range of measures under the existing co-ordinated prostitution strategy and the UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking. It also sets out a commitment to conduct a review of what more can be done to tackle the demand for prostitution and to reform the law on street offences to support routes out of prostitution and exploitation. Ensuring that dedicated work takes place to support routes out of prostitution is also part of the action plan. A decision on how this work will be taken forward is likely to be made early in the financial year.

Energy: Renewables

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform's programme to develop the renewable obligation certificate for microgenerators. [HL3150]

The renewables obligation (RO) was introduced in 2002, and microgenerators have always been eligible to participate under the scheme. We recognise that it is not always appropriate to treat microgenerators under the RO in exactly the same way as larger generators, and we have made a number of changes to the RO to reflect this. These include:

allowing ROC claims to be made either monthly or annually;

removing the need for microgenerators to enter into sale and buyback agreements in order to be eligible for ROCs;

introducing a simplified online accreditation form and guidance; and

allowing agents to represent microgenerators and to pool the ROCs of two or more microgenerators to help obtain a better price.

The most recent changes were made in April last year with the introduction of agents. Since then, the number of microgenerators accredited under the RO has risen by 250 per cent. Later this year we will also be consulting on a more flexible annual ROC claim process for microgenerators, with a view to implementation in April 2009.

Fluoridation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 1 April (WA 155), whether they will answer the three parts of the Question. [HL3192]

We understand that, in the British Fluoridation Society's (BFS) view, the prevalence of dental fluorosis of aesthetic concern in populations in the United Kingdom drinking artificially fluoridated water is lower than suggested by the York report. The BFS is independent of government, and the department has no influence on the content of its website. The information on the BFS's website differs from that provided in the York report in that it includes research studies completed after the report was published.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 1 April (WA 155) and Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 30 January 2001 (WA 55) in which they accepted the findings of the York systematic review of fluoridation, (a) whether the three studies on the British Fluoridation Society's website which were published after the York review are sufficient to overturn that review's estimate of a prevalence of fluorosis of aesthetic concern of 12.5 per cent; and (b) whether the other two studies on the website, published before the York review, were of sufficient quality to meet that review's inclusion criteria; and [HL3193]

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 1 April (WA 155), whether the words of caution cited from the executive summary of the York review referred to the extent of fluorosis of aesthetic concern or to the number of people who would have to be exposed to water fluoridated at 1 part per million (ppm) as compared with 0.4 ppm for one additional person to develop fluorosis of aesthetic concern. [HL3194]

In the report Water Fluoridation and Health, published in 2002, the Medical Research Council (MRC) also suggested that the prevalence of aesthetically important dental fluorosis was probably lower than that reported in the York review. The MRC goes on to cite the three studies on the British Fluoridation Society's website which were published after the York review. Of the two studies on the website which pre-date the York review, one is cited in the review and the other is not. It is because of the conflicting research evidence that we have commissioned a new research project on the standardisation of the measurement of fluorosis using digital photography. If our research showed that concern about dental fluorosis was greater than we have assumed, one option would be to consider reducing the target concentration of one part per million currently used in artificial fluoridation schemes, but we would need to take into account any loss in the protective effect on teeth that a lower concentration would have.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 1 April (WA 155), what steps they will take to ensure that the new research project therein referred to will take note of the comments in the executive summary of the York review by controlling adequately for the effects of potential confounding factors and observer bias. [HL3195]

The research is investigating whether photographic images can be automatically assessed by software to provide an objective assessment of the degree of fluorosis without the need for subjective assessments by examiners. This will enable true blinding of fluorosis studies to take place in accordance with recommendations of the York report.

Freedom of Information

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which public bodies have exemption provisions in the Freedom of Information Act. [HL3172]

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 contains 23 exemptions under which requested information may be withheld in specific circumstances. All exemptions apply to all public authorities that are subject to the Act, with the exception of the exemption for information relating to the “Formulation of government policy, etc”, which applies only to information held by a government department (including a Northern Ireland department) or the Welsh Assembly Government.

Schedule 1 of the Act lists bodies covered by the Act, some of which are covered in respect of certain of their functions only. A total of 16 individual bodies and eight categories of bodies are listed subject to exclusions of some of their functions. Full details are in the table below.

Freedom of Information Act 2000: List of public authorities* in respect of which exclusions apply

Part under Schedule 1 of the Act

Public body/category of bodies

Function excluded or specific functions covered (highlighted in bold)

Part I - General

The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills

In respect of information held for purposes other than those of the functions exercisable by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills by virtue of Section 5 (1)(a)(iii) of the Care Standards Act 2000

Part I - General

The Armed Forces of the Crown

Except (a) the special forces, and (b) any unit or part of a unit which is for the time being required by the Secretary of State to assist the Government Communications Headquarters in the exercise of its functions

Part II - Local Government in England and Wales

The Common Council of the City of London

In respect of information held in its capacity as a local authority, police authority or port health authority

Part II - Local Government in England and Wales

The sub-treasurer of the Inner Temple or the under- treasurer of the Middle Temple

In respect of information held in his capacity as a local authority

Part III -The National Health Service England and Wales

Any person providing primary medical services or primary dental services or primary ophthalmic services (a) in accordance with arrangements made under Section 92 or 107 of the National Health Service Act 2006, or Section 50 or 64 of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006 or (b) under a contract under Section 84 or 100 or 117 of the National Health Service Act 2006, or Section 42 or 57 of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006

In respect of information relating to the provision of those services

Part III - The National Health Service England and Wales

Any person providing general medical services, general dental services, general ophthalmic services or pharmaceutical services under the National Health Service Act 2006 or the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006

In respect of information relating to the provision of those services

Part III - The National Health Service England and Wales

Any person providing personal medical services or personal dental services under arrangements made under Section 28C of the National Health Service Act 1977

In respect of information relating to the provision of those services

Part III -The National Health Service England and Wales

Any person providing local pharmaceutical services under (a) a pilot scheme established under Section 143 of the National Health Service Act 2006 or Section 92 of the National Health Service (Wales) Act 2006 or (b) an LIDS scheme established under Schedule 12 to the National Health Service Act 2006 or Schedule 7 to the National Health Services (Wales) Act 2006

In respect of information relating to the provision of those services

Part I II - The National Health Service Northern Ireland

Any person providing primary medical services, general dental services, general ophthalmic or pharmaceutical services under Part VI of the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1972

In respect of information relating to the provision of those services

Part V – Police Miscellaneous

Any person who (a) by virtue of any enactment has the function of nominating individuals who may be appointed as special constables by justices of the peace, and (b) is not a public authority by virtue of any other provision of this Act

In respect of information relating to the exercise by any person appointed on his nomination of the functions of a special constable

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Bank of England

In respect of information held for purposes other than those of its functions with respect to (a) monetary policy, (b) financial operations intended to support financial institutions for the purposes of maintaining stability, and (c) the provision of private banking services and related services

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The British Broadcasting Corporation

In respect of information held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Channel Four Television Corporation

In respect of information held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection

In respect of information held for purposes other than those of its functions exercisable by virtue of paragraph 5(a)(i) of the Care Standards Act 2000

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Commission for Social Care Inspection

In respect of information held for purposes other than those of its functions exercisable by virtue of paragraph 5(a)(ii) of the Care Standards Act 2000

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Competition Commission

In relation to information held by it otherwise than as a tribunal

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel

In relation to information held by it otherwise than as a tribunal

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Gaelic Media Service

In respect of information held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

Any regional development agency established under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998

Other than the London Development Agency

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

In respect of information held by it otherwise than as a tribunal

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

In respect of information held by it otherwise than as a tribunal

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

Sianel Pedwar Cymru

In respect of information held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Traffic Commissioners

In respect of information held by them otherwise than as a tribunal

Part VI - Other Public Bodies and Offices General

The Verderers of the New Forest

In respect of information held by them otherwise than as a tribunal

* ie bodies/offices and categories of bodies/offices listed in Schedule 1 FOIA but subject to FOIA in respect of some, but not all, of their functions

Health: Diabetes

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What evidence is available to support the use of home testing of blood sugar for type 2 diabetes. [HL3158]

In September 2002, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued clinical guidelines on Management of Type 2 Diabetes—Management of Blood Glucose. The guidelines include advice on the self-monitoring of blood glucose and state that self-monitoring can have benefits but should be carried out as part of an integrated self-care package and if the purpose is clear and agreed with the patient.

The guidelines are under review and will be reissued as part of the Type 2 diabetes: the management of type 2 diabetes (update), expected to be published by NICE in May 2008.

Health: Multiple Births

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to reduce the neonatal morbidity rate among multiple birth pregnancies. [HL3148]

Twin and other multiple pregnancies carry a higher risk of the factors related to neonatal mortality and morbidity, such as pre-term birth and low birth weight. We are supporting research into gaining improved understanding and prevention of the trigger factors that are associated with pre-term birth through a range of funding mechanisms across the National Health Service National Institute for Health Research and the department's policy research programme.

The Government are committed to the provision of high-quality maternity and neonatal services to help ensure that all babies have the best possible start to life. We have developed a new maternity indicator, through the “Better Care for All” public service agreements, aimed at ensuring that women have early access to maternity care. This will enable early identification of women with a multiple pregnancy, enabling the progress of the pregnancy to be closely monitored.

For babies requiring neonatal critical care, we have facilitated the development of 23 neonatal networks across England to provide safe and effective services. A neonatal task force has recently been established to support the NHS to identify and deliver any further improvements.

Housing: Prices

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their reaction to the estimate that house prices may drop by 30 per cent over the next three years. [HL3129]

Budget 2008 set out the Government's view of recent housing market developments. Sound economic fundamentals clearly distinguish present conditions from the late 1980s, when mortgage interest rates peaked at 15 per cent and led to a collapse in the housing market.

Ministry of Justice: Annual Reports

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which annual reports the Ministry of Justice is required by Acts of Parliament to produce; and, in each case, what is the authorising Act. [HL3132]

The Ministry of Justice is obliged by statute to lay the following annual documents before parliament:

Annual report by:

Authorising Act of Parliament

Chief Inspector of Prisons

Prison Act 1952

Criminal Cases Review Commission

Criminal Appeal Act 1995

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995

Her Majesty's Courts Service

Courts Act 2003

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Court Administration

Courts Act 2003

Independent Monitoring Boards

Prison Act 1952

Information Commissioner's Office

Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000

Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman

Constitutional Reform Act 2005

Judicial Appointments Commission

Constitutional Reform Act 2005

Law Commission

Law Commissions Act 1965

Legal Services Commission

Access to Justice Act 1999

Office of the Legal Services Complaints Commissioner

Access to Justice Act 1999

Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman

Courts and Legal Services Act 1990

Parole Board

Criminal Justice Act 2003

Probation Boards

Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000

Sentencing Guidelines Council

Criminal Justice Act 2003

Statistics on race and the criminal justice system (by OCJR)

Criminal Justice Act 1991

Statistics on women and the criminal justice system (by OCJR)

Criminal Justice Act 1991

Tribunals Service

Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995 after consultation with the Scottish Ministers in accordance with the Scotland Act 1998

Victims' Advisory Panel

Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004. An annual report is only required by the Act if the panel is consulted by the Secretary of State in a particular year.

Prisoners: Sentences

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many people are currently serving indefinite sentences of imprisonment for the protection of the public; and at what rate this number is increasing each year; and [HL3130]

How many people are currently serving notional minimum sentences of (a) two years or less; (b) between two and three years; (c) between three and four years; (d) between four and five years; and (e) more than five years. [HL3131]

As at the end of February 2008, there were 4,000 offenders serving indeterminate sentences for public protection (IPPs) in prison establishments in England and Wales. This compares to 2,300 at the end of February 2007 and 550 at the end of February 2006. 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, so the numbers have been rounded to the nearest 50.

Prison population information held centrally does not include complete information on the notional minimum sentences (tariffs) to be served by all offenders currently sentenced to an IPP. However, a research study on offenders received into prisons in England and Wales under IPPs between April 2005 and March 2006 collected valid tariff information on 685 of the total 707 IPPs, of which (a) 280 had a tariff of two years or less; (b) 195 had a tariff of over two years up to three years; (c) 107 had a tariff of over three years up to four years; (d) 46 had a tariff of over four years up to five years; and (e) 57 had a tariff of over five years. (These recorded tariffs are believed to include reductions for remand time served). These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems and data returns from prison establishments which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Tax Credits

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the latest estimate of the take-up of child tax credit among households eligible for such benefit, giving the estimated number of (a) households and (b) children. [HL3191]

Estimates of the take-up rates for child and working tax credits in 2005-06 by size of household, for which latest figures are available, are produced in table 7 of the HMRC publication Child and Working Tax Credit Take-up rates 2005-06. This publication is available on the HMRC website at www. hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-take-up.htm.