Tuesday 7 October 2008
In April, certain provisions of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and the associated regulations came into force. These increased local authorities' powers to direct when works by statutory undertakers may take place and where apparatus may be placed, as well as allowing authorities to operate a permit scheme, with the Secretary of State for Transport’s approval, to control all works in the highway.
The Department for Transport has commissioned an assessment of the impact of certain parts of the Traffic Management Act 2004 on congestion for all road users, which is due to be completed in summer 2010.
The department regularly monitors the punctuality of bus services. The latest figures from Bus Punctuality Statistics GB: 2007, available in the Libraries of the House, show some improvements in performance in England (outside London) since the last survey in 2005. However, it is not possible to draw a link between the introduction of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and improved punctuality, as the survey was not designed for this purpose.
Civil Service: Women
The number of women in the senior Civil Service (SCS) in each government department and the percentage of the total number of each department's SCS who are women (as at October 2007) are set out in the following table:
Current department Number of Women % of Senior Civil Servants Assets Recovery Agency 1 33 Cabinet Office 54 35 Central Office of Information 4 31 Charity Commission 5 42 Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service 14 40 Crown Prosecution Service 12 36 Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform 62 32 Department for Children, Schools and Families 46 42 Department for Communities and Local Government 68 48 Department for Culture, Media and Sport 8 24 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 51 27 Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills 15 29 Department for International Development 34 36 Department for Transport 44 24 Department for Work and Pensions 107 37 Department of Health 154 40 Estyn (HM Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales) 4 100 Export Credits Guarantee Department 2 14 Food Standards Agency 14 38 Foreign and Commonwealth Office 12 30 Government Communications Headquarters 5 13 Government Offices for The Regions 31 47 Health and Safety Executive 12 24 HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate 1 33 HM Revenue and Customs 106 25 HM Treasury 35 32 Home Office 54 30 Land Registry 11 32 Ministry of Defence 28 11 Ministry of Justice 77 34 National Archives 3 50 National Savings and Investments 2 22 National School of Government 6 55 NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (PASA) 1 13 Northern Ireland Office 4 21 Office for National Statistics 13 26 Office for Standards In Education 13 54 Office of Fair Trading 10 31 Office of Gas and Electricity Markets 6 32 Office of Government Commerce 10 32 Office of Rail Regulation 5 33 Ordnance Survey 2 40 Parliamentary Counsel Office 17 39 Postal Services Commission 2 33 Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office 2 25 Scottish Executive 85 34 Serious Fraud Office 3 27 Treasury Solicitor’s Department 32 45 Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) 3 43 Welsh Assembly Government 50 34 Total 1340 32
Number of Women
% of Senior Civil Servants
Assets Recovery Agency
Central Office of Information
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
Crown Prosecution Service
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Department for Children, Schools and Families
Department for Communities and Local Government
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
Department for International Development
Department for Transport
Department for Work and Pensions
Department of Health
Estyn (HM Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales)
Export Credits Guarantee Department
Food Standards Agency
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Government Communications Headquarters
Government Offices for The Regions
Health and Safety Executive
HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate
HM Revenue and Customs
Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Justice
National Savings and Investments
National School of Government
NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (PASA)
Northern Ireland Office
Office for National Statistics
Office for Standards In Education
Office of Fair Trading
Office of Gas and Electricity Markets
Office of Government Commerce
Office of Rail Regulation
Parliamentary Counsel Office
Postal Services Commission
Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office
Serious Fraud Office
Treasury Solicitor’s Department
Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat)
Welsh Assembly Government
Note: Data are based on departmental returns and where applicable reflect numbers in post at October 2007, irrespective of funding arrangements. It excludes some civil servants who work at a senior level, such as senior diplomatic and military personnel (source: Cabinet Office SCS database).
The next diversity strategy for the Civil Service, Promoting Equality, Valuing Diversity—a Strategy for the Civil Service, was launched on 17 July 2008 and includes new diversity targets for the SCS:
39 per cent of the senior Civil Service to be women;
34 per cent of top management posts to be held by women;
5 per cent of the senior Civil Service to be minority ethnic staff; and
5 per cent of the senior Civil Service to be disabled people.
The aim is to reach these targets within five years, with a stretch target of doing so within three years, and we will publish progress against them every six months. These targets will be underpinned by diversity targets for the SCS in each government department, as well as for their feeder grade populations and grades below where there is under-representation in particular groups.
Department for International Development: Fair Trade Products
The amounts spent on hospitality for meetings for the last three years are as follows:
2006-07: £189,332; and
Due to various changes in our catering service providers, we are unable to provide information for the earlier two years without incurring disproportionate cost.
Precise figures for the proportion of the spend which was fair trade are not available, but based on value it is estimated that it represents around 35 per cent. All tea and coffee served at meetings is fair trade.
The UK Government's updated seven-year AIDS strategy, Achieving Universal Access—the UK's strategy for halting and reversing the spread of HIV in the developing world, continues to give priority to the needs and rights of children affected by HIV/AIDS. Social protection programmes, including cash transfers, have been shown to be highly effective in reaching children affected by AIDS and promoting their access to basic services. This approach was endorsed at the recent International AIDS Conference in Mexico.
Through support for broadly defined social protection programmes, the Government are also tackling the wider issues that make children affected by AIDS vulnerable to exploitation and abuse or at risk of ending up on the street. Predictable, regular cash transfers to households looking after children affected by AIDS are part of this response and can be a simple and cost-effective way to ensure children stay in a family environment and get the protection, nutrition, education and health care they need.
The Department for International Development (DfID) has been working closely with UN agencies and NGOs to develop guidance on social protection for vulnerable children in the context of HIV and AIDS. This guidance recognises that many children, such as street children, may live outside the family environment and therefore also require appropriate legislation and child protection services to detect neglect, exploitation and abuse and where possible support family reunification. Our increased funding for social protection, including support for underfunded social welfare ministries, will help strengthen these services.
In addition, we are supporting the International Harm Reduction Association's (IHRA) international youth network on harm reduction, to help ensure issues related to street children, young people and drug use are highlighted in international fora.
The UK Government are committed to review the social protection programmes they support, in terms of how well they respond to the needs of children affected by HIV and AIDS, on a biannual basis, to ensure that the approach is effective in reaching the most vulnerable, including those children living outside the family environment.
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why the categories of “orphans and vulnerable children” and “children affected by AIDS” in the updated HIV/AIDS strategy do not refer to street children's lives; and how that strategy will ensure that the needs of street children form a part of national plans of action. [HL5018]
“Orphans and vulnerable children” (OVC), and “children affected by AIDS” (CABA) are accepted and internationally recognised terms that encompass all aspects of vulnerability to and from AIDS, and includes street children.
Many national plans of action are already prioritising street children. For example, in Zimbabwe, DfID's programme of support is going to reach organisations such as Streets Ahead who are providing health, educational and psychosocial support for vulnerable children and children living on the street.
The UK Government are the second largest donor to UNICEF and provided £105 million to support the work of the organisation in 2006. This encompasses action in 13 African countries where UNICEF is actively supporting national plans for orphans and vulnerable children. These plans will ensure vulnerable children, including street children, access basic services and are protected from abuse. UNICEF also supports direct help for street children affected by AIDS. For example in Haiti, UNICEF advocates for and supports a package of services to 1,500 street children in Port-au-Prince including medical care, counselling, prevention, treatment and vocational training services.
A copy of the updated strategy Achieving Universal Access—the UK's strategy for halting and reversing the spread of HIV in the developing world and the supporting evidence paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. These are also available on the DfID website at www.dfid.gov.uk.
The UK Government support comprehensive education and HIV and AIDS strategies within national plans. These include prevention programmes that target in and out-of-school children, including street children.
The updated AIDS strategy recognises the importance of non-school-based prevention programmes for out-of-school children, and encourages Governments to work with civil society organisations to reach the most excluded out-of-school children, including street children.
The Department for International Development's (DfID) bilateral programmes aim to serve street children and other out-of-school children to benefit from service provision and information.
In Kyrgyzstan, for example, DfID supports prevention and rehabilitation services for street children. The programme works with street children on issues including personal health, awareness of protection from exploitative practices, HIV and AIDS, the dangers of drug abuse and life skills. In Burma, DfID is contributing £450,000 to the street and working children programme, which includes HIV and AIDS education.
Access to HIV and AIDS treatment remains poor for all children. Achieving universal access therefore commits DfID to increase its support to £200 million for social protection programmes and to provide £6 billion on strengthening integrated health systems and services over seven years to 2015. Stronger health systems are critical to scaling up the response to AIDS and achieving universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support including to marginalised groups such as street children.
Israel and Palestine: Gaza
Access to safe drinking water remains a key challenge in Gaza. Two things are needed to help the infrastructure cope with Gaza's water shortages. First, the lifting of restrictions on spare parts and other material to repair the sewerage and water systems. On this, the Government fully support the efforts of the quartet representative to negotiate with Israel on getting vital equipment into Gaza to repair the water and sanitation infrastructure.
Secondly, enough fuel is required for the Gaza power plant so that it can generate sufficient electricity for the water treatment plants to operate effectively. The availability of fuel is an issue we have repeatedly raised with the Government of Israel.
We therefore welcome the recent increase in delivery of fuel to the Gaza power plant. Although it remains less than what is required for the power plant to operate at full capacity, this is a welcome step towards increasing water availability and improving the lives of ordinary Palestinians in Gaza. Fuel to the Gaza power plant is paid for by the European Commission (EC). The UK provides 17 per cent of the EC's overall budget and has contributed substantially to its temporary international mechanism in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
North Korea: Food Shortages
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What assessment they have made of the World Food Programme's investigation of potential famine in North Korea; whether they intend to provide additional food aid to North Korea; and whether they will make representations to the Government of North Korea to provide access to the closed counties of that country. [HL5208]
We are considering the World Food Programme's (WFP) assessment and will take a decision on whether to provide additional food aid once we have discussed it with our European Union partners. Discussions should take place in the next few weeks. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has granted the WFP access to previously closed counties. We continue to press for access to those counties that remain closed.
We have no development programme in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. We provided food aid of £700,000 in 2007 in response to a United Nations flood appeal. This supported programmes by the World Food Programme and Save the Children UK. Most NGOs are put off working in the DPRK by the operating difficulties and restrictions on their work. We are always willing to advise, and to facilitate where possible, if an organisation is keen to set up in the DPRK.
Transport: Fuel Consumption
Department for Transport officials have not analysed the impact of raising average speeds of traffic by 2 per cent, and so do not have an estimate of the effect on fuel consumption.
The impact on fuel consumption of raising average speeds will primarily depend on whether raising the average speed on different types of road will move individual vehicles closer to or further away from their optimal fuel efficient speed.
The optimum speed for most cars is around 40 to 45mph, thus for roads where the average speed is below this optimal speed, an increase in the average speed may reduce fuel consumption for a given journey, although this may also have a negative impact on road safety and accidents. For roads where average speed is above this optimal speed, an increase in the average speed may increase fuel consumption for a given journey.
Transport: Illegal Drivers
The Government are concerned about vehicles being driven on our roads by drivers who do not have the correct driving entitlement or appropriate insurance.
To tackle those driving without a licence, we do all that we can to assist the police and the courts in detecting and prosecuting cases of unlicensed driving. A critical step has been the provision to the police of 24-hour access to accurate and up-to-date driver licensing information (including a photograph where appropriate) at the roadside to assist detection and enforcement. There are also good IT links between the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the courts to assist in effective prosecution of offenders.
We have already introduced a number of measures to tackle insurance evasion. In 2005, police access to the motor insurance database was improved. This enabled them to have data on uninsured vehicles for use with their automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) equipment. The police were also given powers to seize, and in appropriate cases destroy, vehicles being driven uninsured.
The Road Safety Act 2006 introduced a new offence of being a registered keeper for which there is no valid motor insurance. Further regulations are required to bring the provisions into force and the detail of the scheme will be consulted on this autumn. The new offence will allow enforcement action to be taken where it is shown from the record that there is no valid insurance in place. The intention is to roll the new scheme out from 2010-11.
In August 2008, a new offence of causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured was introduced, carrying a custodial sentence of up to two years.
UN: Defamation of Religion
The UK has consistently voted against resolutions on defamation of religion in the UN Human Rights Council. Under international human rights law it is individuals (and not religions) who have rights, beliefs or philosophies. The UK is concerned that the concept of defamation of religion can be used to undermine human rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of religion itself. We strongly believe that freedom of expression and freedom of religion go hand in hand and that both rights are complementary and necessary in a democratic society.