Tuesday 27 January 2009
Access to Work Scheme
Jobcentre Plus is committed to supporting disabled people or individuals with a health condition, including those who become disabled during the course of their employment. Any individual concerned about losing their current employment because of their health condition can be seen by a disability employment adviser. Disability employment advisers work with the individual and their employer to explore practical ways to help them to keep their job. They can also signpost individuals and their employers to the support available from Access to Work.
The Access to Work national delivery team is currently implementing an internal marketing strategy to ensure that all Jobcentre staff involved with disabled customers are fully aware of Access to Work. Internal presentations have been given to the Jobcentre Plus national sales team, which works with larger national employers. An online aide-memoire about Access to Work is being produced, which Jobcentre Plus employer-facing staff can use to raise the profile of Access to Work.
Access to Work is also being promoted through presentations and exhibitions, as well as through close working partnerships developed with the major disability groups such as the Royal National Institute for Blind people, the Royal National Institute for Deaf people and MIND. Partnerships with the Employers' Forum on Disability and with large employers such as the Royal Mail Group have been developed. An initial dialogue has begun with Remploy, Unison and Unite to discuss making their members more aware of Access to Work. Exploratory work has begun with Skill (National Bureau for Students with Disabilities) on how best Access to Work can support the transition of disabled students from education to employment.
Information about Access to Work is available on the Jobcentre Plus and Directgov websites. Directgov, as a source of information about Jobcentre Plus services for disabled people, is widely publicised.
The Government envisage that the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) will be established and able to start giving advice to potential applicants this autumn and ready to begin receiving applications from spring 2010. The timing of any application for a new runway is a matter for the operator of Heathrow Airport, not the Government. Whether or not the IPC would act as the decision-maker on such an application is also dependent on the availability of a designated national policy statement on airports, which is planned for publication in draft by 2011.
Decisions on alcohol duty rates will be made by the Chancellor as part of the Budget process.
Pricing decisions by alcohol manufacturers, retailers, pubs and bars are determined by competitive conditions in the relevant markets.
The revenue forecast published in the PBR assumes that changes in duty are passed on in full to consumers, as explained in annexe A, paragraph A.2.3 on page 131 of the 2008 Budget document. The Government do not see taxation primarily as a tool for reducing alcohol-related harm. However, the Government remain committed to tackling problem drinking.
The review of the impact of alcohol pricing and promotion carried out by the University of Sheffield School of Health and Related Research was a systematic review of international evidence. This work reflects the assumption made in a number of other studies that alcohol duty increases are passed on in full to consumers.
In practice, pricing decisions by alcohol manufacturers, supermarkets, pubs and bars are determined by competitive conditions in the relevant market. Therefore, the extent to which duty increases are passed through to consumer prices will vary across different markets and different sectors.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the calculations and assumptions made in terms of (a) consumption and (b) revenue, ahead of the changes to alcohol duties announced in the Pre-Budget Report. [HL742]
The calculations and assumptions on the effects of changing alcohol duties at the Pre-Budget Report were based on a HM Customs and Excise working paper, which is published on the HMRC website. The paper is available at http://customs.hmrc. gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/downloadFile? contentID=HMCE_PROD_008459.
A copy of this paper will be placed in the Library of the House. Although the Pre-Budget Report measures were intended to leave alcohol prices broadly unchanged, the analysis in this paper still applies as prices of non-excise goods will fall relative to alcohol prices due to the VAT rate cut.
The revenue received from alcohol duty for beer, wine and spirits in each month since January 2007 can be found in the HM Revenue and Customs national statistics bulletins for beer and cider, made wine, spirits and wine of fresh grape, which are available from the HM Revenue and Customs website addresses at:
The figures are shown in the table below:
Year Month Total Beer Total Wine* Total Spirits 2007 Jan 319 185 170 Feb 178 164 127 Mar 197 166 142 Apr 296 221 168 May 240 193 175 Jun 284 221 197 Jul 254 214 165 Aug 242 223 177 Sep 306 220 183 Oct 227 192 167 Nov 276 259 270 Dec 274 280 318 2008 Jan 268 185 168 Feb 181 190 136 Mar 219 243 250 Apr 263 200 135 May 249 209 167 Jun 287 217 182 Jul 267 226 175 Aug 260 248 182 Sep 265 211 184 Oct 272 232 213 Nov 271 257 292
* Total wine includes wine of fresh grape and made wine.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will issue guidance to United Kingdom deposit-taking institutions advising them that the maintenance of an address within the United Kingdom by British subjects should not be necessary for opening a deposit account in the United Kingdom. [HL221]
The law is clear. There is no legal bar to accepting deposits from non-residents. The decision by a bank whether to accept deposits from non-residents is therefore a commercial one on which it would not be right to issue guidance.
There is a wide range of social security benefits in the UK, with different rules governing how non-EEA1 nationals can access them. As a general rule, non-EEA nationals who are subject to immigration control have no access to income-related benefits and other non-contributory benefits administered by DWP. However, non-EEA nationals who are working in the UK and paying NI contributions have access to contributory benefits.
1 EEA includes EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
EEA nationals who have paid national insurance contributions will qualify for contributory benefits on the same basis as UK nationals. EEA nationals can claim UK disability benefits if they are normally resident in Great Britain and have been in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey for at least 26 out of the past 52 weeks. In certain circumstances, time spent in another EEA state can be aggregated to count towards the 26 weeks. Access to income-related benefits such as income-based jobseeker's allowance is subject to the habitual residence test and includes the requirement that a person must have a right to reside and be habitually resident in the UK.
UK Financial Investments Limited (UKFI), which is wholly owned by the Government, will oversee the conditions attached to subscribing to the Government's recapitalisation fund, including in relation to remuneration policies. UKFI will work to ensure management incentivisation based on long-term value maximisation, which attracts and retains high-quality management and which minimises the potential for rewarding failure.
More broadly, on 13 October the chief executive of the Financial Services Authority wrote to the chief executives of the major banks and building societies, setting out the criteria for remuneration policies and practices which are properly aligned to sound risk management and controls. The FSA is currently undertaking a review of regulated firms’ remuneration practices and the authorities have made it clear that failure to comply with the standards set out in the 13 October letter will be reflected in the FSA's risk assessment of firms and taken into account when setting capital requirements.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding they have provided to (a) the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and (b) the Government of Bangladesh, for the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar; and whether the British High Commission in Dhaka will visit the camps in which the refugees live and report on the conditions. [HL900]
The UK Government do not presently provide direct financial assistance to the Rohingya refugees. The British high commissioner visited the Rohingya refugee camps on 30 October 2008. He has asked the British Council to carry out a scoping study for the provision of English language training in the camps. British high commission officials will again visit the camps before the end of the current financial year.
Practical help for the Rohingya refugees is provided by UK-supported development partners such as the European Union and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). They support the operation of the official camps and the daily care and protection of the families living there. A number of smaller national non-governmental organisations also operate in the camps.
The UK is a major contributor globally to the UN agencies. In Bangladesh, in addition to the UNHCR's management of the camps, the United Nations Children's Fund, the Word Food Programme, the World Health Organisation and United Nations Population Fund have all provided various forms of assistance to the Rohingya refugees, some directly to the camp residents and some to Rohingya communities around the camps.
In the White Paper Raising Expectations and Increasing Support: Reforming Welfare for the Future, we accepted that there is a need to look closely at the challenges that the current system of benefits presents to carers. However, it would not be right to do this in isolation. Many of the challenges faced by carers occur because of the interaction between different aspects of the wider welfare system, not just the rules of carer's allowance. Therefore, we remain committed to looking at carers' benefits in the context of our wider ambitions for the welfare state and to ensuring that the needs of carers are central to the future reform of the benefit system.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the United Kingdom donated in aid to China over the past 12 months; and how much money was channelled through the United Nations Population Fund and International Planned Parenthood Federation to the Chinese Population Association in each of the past five years. [HL448]
The United Kingdom's development programme with China was £38.5 million in 2008. Between 2004 and 2006, the Department for International Development (DfID) provided the United Nations Family Planning Association with £99,000 to assist with monitoring and evaluation of family planning surveys carried out by UNFPA. None of this money was channelled to the China Population Association. The DfID programme in China provided no funds during the past five years to the International Parenthood Association.
Common Agricultural Policy: Single Farm Payment
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether farmers allegedly overpaid the single farm payment in 2005 and 2006 have been given 30 working days in which to arrange repayment; and, if not, whether the 30 days allocated included the Christmas and New Year bank holidays. [HL565]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all the farmers allegedly overpaid the single farm payment in 2005 and 2006 have been notified of the requirement to repay; and, if not, when the overpayment calculations will be complete. [HL566]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all farmers notified of a requirement to repay alleged overpayments of the single farm payment in 2005 and 2006 have also been notified of the correct procedure for appealing against the demand. [HL567]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any farmers notified of a requirement to repay alleged overpayments of the single farm payment in 2005 and 2006 had previously been assured that the payments made to them were correct. [HL568]
While every single payment scheme (SPS) claim undergoes a series of validation checks, changes or new information can come to light, either notified by the farmer or identified by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). In these cases RPA has an obligation to ensure that the correct money is paid. This means that a claim that was deemed to be complete and correct at a point in time can change and result in underpayments and overpayments to previous scheme year claims. Any future changes of information could result in new cases of overpayments being identified.
Customers who received a partial payment for SPS 2005 and 2006—an action taken to ensure that farmers received payments as quickly as possible—were sent a letter advising them that, if the partial payment was greater than the final payment due, they would be obliged to repay the difference.
Farmers who have been written to recently about overpayments for the SPS have been asked to arrange repayment or agree a repayment plan within one month of the date on their invoice, not 30 working days. Where the notification was sent out in early December, this period would include the Christmas and New Year bank holidays.
All farmers who applied for the SPS in 2005 and 2006 were provided with a scheme handbook giving details of the procedure for appealing if they were unhappy with any decision taken by RPA.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what financial support they have given to Co-operation Ireland since 1997; for what reason; and whether they will place the relevant business cases in the Library of the House. [HL603]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide funding to Co-operation Ireland in this and the next financial year. [HL604]
Crime: Domestic Violence
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of cases involving domestic violence passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by the police are proceeded with in (a) specialist domestic violence courts, and (b) other courts; and what proportion of cases are dropped by the CPS without being heard in court. [HL488]
While the records held by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) include a count of cases proceeded with in specialist domestic violence courts, these data are not yet considered sufficiently robust to provide a reliable indication of the relative workload of these courts. The CPS is working with the cross-agency Specialist Domestic Violence Courts Steering Group to ensure improvements in the recording and analysis of information on these proceedings in future.
The table below shows the number of defendants prosecuted for domestic violence in all courts during the year ending December 2008, together with the outcome of proceedings. Convictions were recorded in respect of 47,451 defendants, representing 72 per cent of the total. Unsuccessful outcomes were recorded for a further 18,490 defendants, representing 28 per cent of the total. The latter included 14,348 proceedings dropped by the CPS before evidence was heard in court, amounting to 21.8 per cent of completed cases of domestic violence.
Outcome Number % Administrative Finalisation 650 1.0 Discharged Committal 140 0.2 Prosecutions Dropped 14,348 21.8 Dismissed after Trial 2,493 3.8 No Case to Answer 275 0.4 Judge-directed Acquittal 80 0.1 Jury Acquittal 504 0.8 Unsuccessful Outcomes 18,490 28.0 Guilty Plea 42,552 64.5 Conviction after Trial 4,790 7.3 Proof in Absence 109 0.2 Conviction Outcomes 47,451 72.0 Total Outcomes 65,941
Dismissed after Trial
No Case to Answer
Conviction after Trial
Proof in Absence
The information requested has been placed in the Library of the House.
Crown Prosecution Service
The Crown Prosecution Service advertises vacancies in a range of media to attract potential recruits from all sectors of the community. All recruitment is undertaken on a fair and open basis, and selection is on merit.
Equality and Human Rights Commission
In 2005, no money was spent on consultants and staff costs in preparation for the establishment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. In 2006, £1,810 was spent on consultants’ fees and £369,100 was spent in staff costs preparing for the establishment of the commission. In 2007, £1,828,825 was spent on consultants’ fees, and the commission's staff costs up to the establishment of the commission on 1 October 2007 were £8,397,505.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask the United Nations Security Council to hold a session devoted exclusively to worldwide issues concerning slavery and forced labour and their connection to global poverty and the millennium development goals. [HL185]
The Government take the issues of slavery and forced labour seriously and recognise that these continuing violations of human rights present an obstacle to achieving the millennium development goals and tackling world poverty.
The Government pursue the objective of abolition of slavery and forced labour through the appropriate UN organs, notably the United Nations Human Rights Council, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). In September 2007, at the UK's instigation, the Human Rights Council established a new UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.
Under Article 24 of the United Nations Charter, the UN Security Council is conferred with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It is not, therefore, the appropriate forum for discussing slavery and forced labour.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the provision of free contraceptive devices to children under the age of 16 in state secondary schools would constitute aiding and abetting the criminal offence of having sexual relations with a minor under 16 years of age. [HL855]
No. The Sexual Offences Act does not prevent the provision of confidential advice and treatment to young people under 16. Those who provide sexual health services to young people are not committing an offence if they act for the purpose of:
protecting the child from sexually transmitted infection;
protecting the physical safety of the child;
preventing the child from becoming pregnant, or
promoting the child's emotional well-being by the giving of advice.
The exception covers not only health professionals, but also anyone who acts to protect a child—for example, teachers, Connexions personal advisers, teenage magazine advice columnists, parents, other relatives and friends.
The purpose behind the Sexual Offences Act is to enable the prosecution of abusive and exploitative sexual activity. This will not lead to the prosecution of mutually agreed sexual activity within normal adolescent behaviour, where there is no evidence of exploitation.
House of Lords: Cross-Bench Peers
Since 13 September 2007, eight Cross- Bench Peers have been appointed.
Housing: Waiting Lists
The number of households on local authority housing waiting lists in England was 1.77 million as at 1 April 2008. Information for Wales is not held by the department, as Wales is a devolved region.
Further information on local authority housing waiting lists can be found in the statistical release Local Authority Housing Statistics England: 2007-08: Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) & Business Plan Statistical Appendix (BPSA) This was published on 22 January 2009 on the Communities and Local Government website at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/lahousing200708.
Natural Environment Research Council
The Department for Innovation Universities and Skills published its CSR 2007 allocations in December 2007. This included £1,236 million to the Natural Environment Research Council to cover the spending period 2008-09 to 2010-11. Funding has risen from £259 million in 2003-04 to £436 million in 2010-11. This represents a major and continuing commitment by the Government. The level of funding in 2011-12 and beyond will be determined in future spending rounds.
Northern Ireland Assembly: Policing and Justice
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will release details to all members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the public of the agreement to devolve policing and justice to the Northern Ireland Assembly and plans to implement it. [HL652]
The Government published a discussion paper on the proposed framework for the devolution of policing and justice in February 2006. This was followed in March 2008 by the publication of illustrative draft legislation, which sought to show how the devolution of policing and justice would work in practice. The timing of devolution remains a matter for the Assembly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many states have deposited an instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers, laid before Parliament in August 2008 (Cm 7328); whether the United Kingdom intends to do so; and, if so, when. [HL762]
At the October 2008 Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) Working Group, it was announced that 12 countries had ratified the protocol. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) website, five more countries are needed to bring the protocol into force. The United Kingdom expects to implement the protocol fully in the spring, whereupon we shall be able to ratify it.
The Government are fully engaged with international efforts to reduce ground-level ozone and the associated harmful effects on ecosystems and public health. As signatories to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, the UK, the United States and most other European countries have ratified the 1999 Gothenburg protocol.
The Gothenburg protocol aims to address acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone by setting emission ceilings, to be met by 2010, for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and ammonia. Technical annexes to the protocol and supporting guidance documents provide information on how to meet those ceilings. Within the EU, the main obligations of the protocol have since been given effect through several measures that help to tackle ground-level ozone pollution, notably the national emission ceilings directive (2001/81/EC). The Government support action to promote ratification of the Gothenburg protocol by non-EU countries.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the assessment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission that institutional racism is no longer a feature of British society but that systemic bias exists, requiring different responses. [HL827]
The Government agree with the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission that institutional racism has not been eliminated but that there has been much progress since the Macpherson report was published 10 years ago. The Government's new equality Bill, announced in the Queen's Speech in December, will help to address the issue by creating a single new equality duty on public bodies to tackle discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and encourage good community relations. The new duty will cover race, disability, and gender, as now, but will also include age, sexual orientation, gender reassignment and religion or belief, replacing the three existing, separate duties with a single more effective framework. The equality Bill will also contain provisions on positive action that go further than ever before, to the limits of what is permissible under European law. Any use of these provisions will remain voluntary, but we believe that there are sound and compelling business arguments for organisations to take positive action steps to ensure that they employ a diverse workforce. Diverse workforces ensure that organisations such as the police services better reflect the make-up of the society that they serve.
Schools: Support Staff
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 12 December 2008 (WA 14) and on 13 January (WA 138-39), whether they would set targets for the number of male and female support staff in schools if the proportions of male to female staff given in the Answer on 13 January were reversed.[HL735]
The recruitment and deployment of support staff are the responsibility of schools and local authorities taking into account local priorities and needs. There are currently no plans to introduce targets for the number of male and female support staff in schools.
Shipping: Irish Lights
To ask Her Majesty's Government following the publication of the Review of Funding for the Commissioners of Irish Lights, what is the current subsidy paid by ships entering United Kingdom ports for maintaining maritime lights in the Republic of Ireland; and what is the estimated subsidy for 2009, 2010 and 2011. [HL347]
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much subsidy has been paid to the Government of the Republic of Ireland to operate and maintain navigation aids in the Republic (a) since the creation of the Irish Free State; and (b) since the last agreement was reached in 1985; and whether the ending of this subsidy can be achieved by an even distribution of costs rather than ending the service providing integrated aids to navigation. [HL348]
The approximate contribution from the General Lighthouse Fund to the provision of aids to navigation off and around the coast of the Republic of Ireland in each year since 1985 is set out below. Data prior to 1985 are not readily available.
Year £ million 1985-86 5.3 1986-87 5.4 1987-88 4.7 1988-89 5.3 1989-90 3.9 1990-91 3.9 1991-92 4.6 1992-93 5.1 1993-94 4.8 1994-95 4.6 1995-96 4.7 1996-97 4.7 1997-98 4.1 1998-99 4.2 1999-00 3.8 2000-01 4.5 2001-02 4.9 2002-03 5.4 2003-04 5.9 2004-05 6.5 2005-06 6.4 2006-07 6.8 2007-08 7.0 2008-09* 8.9 2009-10* 8.2 2010-11* 8.5
Her Majesty’s Government have undertaken to review the current funding arrangements for the Commissioners of Irish Lights with the Government of the Republic of Ireland. Maintaining an integrated aids-to-navigation service around our coasts benefits both our countries. The two Governments are reviewing the benefits enjoyed by each country from this integrated approach, which will inform our continuing work to ensure that a more sustainable funding solution for Irish Lights is put in place.
The Government's policy on membership of the single currency is unchanged. It remains as set out by the previous Chancellor in his Statement to the House of Commons in October 1997, and again in the Chancellor's Statement on the five tests assessment in June 2003. The determining factor underpinning any government decision on membership of the single currency is the national economic interest and whether the economic case for joining is clear and unambiguous.
The working tax credit is already available to single people, couples without children and carers. Anyone who fulfils the qualifying work conditions can apply. Full details of eligibility criteria are available on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/.
Taxation: Corporation Tax
The Government keep all taxes under review to ensure that they meet the objectives of a fair, modern and competitive tax system while ensuring that all sectors pay a fair share of tax. The Government have no plans to impose a higher rate of corporation tax on international media companies.