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Written Answers

Volume 710: debated on Thursday 7 May 2009

Written Answers

Thursday 7 May 2009

Arson

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the practice of the Police Service of Northern Ireland of obtaining details of primary and secondary fires involving suspected arson from the Fire and Rescue Service is working effectively; and how many such cases were reported in the past three years. [HL3090]

That is an operational matter for the chief constable. I have asked him to reply directly to the noble Lord, and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Association of Chief Police Officers

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they have paid the Association of Chief Police Officers for project work in each of the past three years. [HL2911]

To ask Her Majesty's Government for what projects they have paid the Association of Chief Police Officers in each of the past three years. [HL2912]

The Home Office has provided funding for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) since 1997.

In addition to an annual grant in aid payment, the Home Office has made regular payments to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to fund a number of specific projects or in support of initiatives that are best delivered by those with professional police experience. All the grants are prescribed only for the project or use specified. From the information currently held by the department, the payments made to ACPO since 2006-07 have been listed as an annexe to this response.

Home Office Payments to ACPO

Financial year

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Detail

Project

£

£

£

Funding allocated only for these purposes

Grant Aid

836,232

836,232

836,232

To meet the costs of the ACPO President and part of the ACPO office costs

ACIST

2,988,115

To fund the ACPO Change & Implementation Support Team

Criminal Records project

110,000

110,000

110,000

UK Central Authority for exchange of criminal records

Operation Sycamore

700,000

Investigation into prostitution project

Community Tensions project

60,000

60,000

82,172

To fund the ACPO National Community Tensions Team

Domestic Extremism project

2,000,000

2,000,000

2,000,000

To fund the ACPO Domestic Extremism Team

Disaster Victims Identification

253,128

314,296

216,060

To fund the ACPO UK DIVI Management Team

Stockwell project

230,000

Learning lessons of the Stockwell incident

Drugs Conference

10,000

Contribution to ACPO conference

Cannabis cultivation

40,000

Funding part of the costs of a co-ordinator

Wildlife crime

15,367

15,367

150,000

Funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit

Vehicle Intelligence

100,000

Funding for ACPO Vehicle Intelligence Service

Car Parking

200,000

185,000

130,000

Funding for ACPO Safer Car parking Scheme

Co-ordination of Counter-Terrorism policing

5,300,664

4,000,000

Funds the national co-ordination functions: the National Co-ordinator of Special Branch, media liaison work, CT training needs analysis and the police contribution to the Border Management programme.

Prevent

355,586

1,159,500

Prevent Channel project

Prevent

4,705,810

Prevent policing

Protective Services

60,600

189,400

Co-ordination costs

Level 2

2,000,000

Level 2 project

Operation Overt

268,581

PNICC work on the air terrorist action

RIUs

8,000,000

8,000,000

Setting up Regional Intelligence Units

Policing the Olympics

220,000

Co-ordinating work

Prisoner Intelligence Network

948,665

3,841,899

4,598,961

Support funding for programme

AVCIS (ACPO vehicle crime intelligence service)

420,000

Organised vehicle crime investigation

AVCIS—TruckPol

50,000

Freight crime intelligence service

ACPO Drugs CBA

10,000

10,000

Contribution to ACPO organised drugs conference

Operation Cube (ACRO)

450,000

0

0

DNA analysis

Operation Element (National Community Tension Team)

200,000

170,000

NCTT—Operation Element (2007-08 funding)

Knife Crime

0

0

81,250

Knife Crime £100,000 funding approx agreed for 8 mth (mid Sep 08 to mid May 09)

Domestic violence posters

0

0

4,690

Domestic violence awareness campaign. Grant agreement signed—funding awaited

Totals

14,571,507

22,258,225

16,804,075

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the role of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in the organisation and operations of police forces in the United Kingdom; what is its role in the formation of Government policy on policing and security; what is the annual cost of the ACPO; and how and by whom it is financed. [HL2942]

The Association of Chief Police Officers is an independent organisation made up of representatives of forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which works in partnership with both the Government and the Association of Police Authorities to co-ordinate the direction and development of the police service.

ACPO plays a key role advising the Government on behalf of the police service as a whole on major national projects aimed at developing the capacity of the service. It also advises on how to tackle serious and ongoing strategic threats that might put the public at risk. In times of national need, ACPO is specifically tasked with co-ordinating the strategic policing response on behalf of all chief officers.

ACPO is funded by a combination of Home Office grant, contributions from each police authority, membership subscriptions and the proceeds of its annual exhibition.

The Home Office annual grant in aid payment for 2008-09 was £836,232.

The grant in aid contribution is used to cover the cost of the ACPO president's role and their office. The department also provides specific project-related funding.

Badgers and Bovine Tuberculosis

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to record the incidence of tuberculosis infection in the badgers that they intend to vaccinate with the BCG vaccine. [HL3235]

There are no plans to record the incidence of tuberculosis infection in the badgers that are vaccinated with the BCG vaccine as part of the badger vaccine deployment project. To meet the aim of deploying injectable badger vaccines in a way which supports the long-term goal of oral vaccination, resources need to be concentrated on vaccinating as many badgers as possible. Carrying out diagnostic work would be expensive and would divert resources away from badger vaccination. This would not demonstrate a practical long-term method for vaccination.

Banking: Royal Bank of Scotland

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the answer by Lord Myners on 28 April (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 107) that Sir Fred Goodwin employed someone at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) headquarters solely to ensure that banknotes dispensed from ATMs in that building bore his signature, whether, as majority shareholders in RBS, they can confirm (a) the job title and specification of that employee; (b) the rate of pay of that employee; and (c) whether the post has been abolished since the government became the majority shareholder.[HL3277]

Questions about the operations of RBS are a matter for the directors of the bank. The framework document between HM Treasury and UK Financial Investments (UKFI) sets a requirement that UKFI will not intervene in the day-to-day management decisions of investee companies, with the companies retaining their own independent boards to manage the banks and determine their strategy.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the answer by Lord Myners on 28 April (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 107) that Sir Fred Goodwin employed someone at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) headquarters solely to ensure that banknotes dispensed from ATMs in that building bore his signature, who advised Lord Myners about this employee's duties; when Lord Myners was given that advice; and at whose request the advice was provided.[HL3278]

Treasury Ministers receive advice and input on a wide range of issues, from a variety of individuals and organisations in the public and private sectors, as part of the process of policy development and analysis. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of advice given to the Treasury.

Carers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will give better protection to carers for the elderly who inform on bad employers. [HL3026]

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 gives full protection of the law to employees who act in the public interest, and the penalties for those who penalise staff for doing so are potentially very severe.

The department sponsors a helpline run by the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work, which provides confidential advice for employees by legal experts on how to raise concerns responsibly. It can be accessed by anyone who is concerned about standards of care or other relevant matters.

The Care Quality Commission can make use of the powers it has in relation to registration to take action against providers who are failing to comply with relevant legislation such as that relating to whistleblowing.

Civil Service: Performance Pay

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Myners on 9 March (WA 197-98), what proportion of civil servants are eligible to receive non-consolidated performance payments; and how they are selected for those payments. [HL2089]

A close and effective link between pay and performance is a key element of the reward arrangements for the Civil Service. Under the delegated arrangements for staff outside the Senior Civil Service (SCS), eligibility criteria for such payments are determined by individual departments and agencies. Information on the reward arrangements for the SCS, which is managed centrally by the Cabinet Office, is available on the civilservice.gov.uk website.

Copies have been placed in the Library.

Common Fisheries Policy

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the European Commission's statement that the common fisheries policy is not working and that 88 per cent of stocks are overfished, they will give notice that they intend to withdraw the United Kingdom from the common fisheries policy. [HL3175]

The European common fisheries policy (CFP) will be reformed by the end of 2012. The European Commission published a Green Paper on reform to the CFP and presented this to the Fisheries Council on 23 April.

The UK Government welcome the Green Paper's call for fundamental reform and much of its analysis of the problems with Community fish stocks. However, the solution is not to withdraw from the CFP—fish stocks moving across Community waters require a common approach—but to build on and improve it.

The UK is considering its response to the Green Paper, but we need a reformed CFP to focus more effectively on achieving sustainable fisheries and to devolve appropriate powers and responsibilities to those involved in the industry. We need more emphasis on long-term planning supported by robust science and better integrated fisheries and marine conservation policies, and to tackle the waste of dead fish being thrown back in the sea while enabling fishermen to land more fish while catching less.

Community Empowerment, Housing and Economic Regeneration

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to bring forward the proposed Community Empowerment, Housing and Economic Regeneration Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny. [HL2444]

The White Paper Communities in Control was published in July 2008. The overall aim is to pass power into the hands of local communities, to generate vibrant local democracy in every part of the country and to give real control over local decisions and services to a wider pool of active citizens.

These reforms require widespread changes in policy and practice by the whole range of public sector agencies, and most do not require legislation. For those proposals where legislation is required, the major provisions are included in the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, which is currently before Parliament. They include the proposed new duty on local authorities to promote democracy, measures to boost the role of petitions in local democracy, an extended duty on public authorities to secure the involvement of persons in their functions, steps to strengthen local authority overview and scrutiny procedures, provisions on local freedoms and honorary titles, and changes to Widdicombe rules on politically restricted posts in local authorities.

Given the scope of this Session's Bill, we have decided not to publish further draft provisions on empowerment for pre-legislative scrutiny during the current Session. We will discuss with key stakeholders how best to take forward any remaining proposals where legislation may be required. In particular, we will consider our response to the recent consultation Changing Council Governance Arrangements, which raised issues on elected mayors, and will discuss with the National Association of Local Councils how best to take forward proposed reforms to parish governance. We do not currently propose to take forward a number of more minor proposals, namely on remote attendance and voting by councillors, payments for councillors on loss of office, and incentives to vote in local elections.

Substantial progress has been made over the past nine months on major commitments from Communities in Control. We plan to publish a communities progress report soon.

Counterterrorism

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Colin Cramphorn Memorial Lecture speech made by Charles Farr OBE, director general of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office, represented government policy; and, if so, why it was made by a civil servant and not a Minister. [HL2945]

Charles Farr OBE, director-general of the OSCT, was invited by the Policy Exchange to give the third Colin Cramphorn memorial lecture on a counterterrorist topic. The lecture explained the historical background to and some of the thinking behind CONTEST 2, the government counterterrorist strategy. This had been published in revised form the previous day, 24 March 2009; the drafting was co-ordinated in the OSCT. It is not uncommon for a civil servant to explain the context for a specialised policy area of this kind. Home Office Ministers were aware of the invitation to give the lecture and had approved it. The text had been circulated and cleared with other government departments.

Courts: Consent Orders

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in how many immigration cases in (a) 2006, and (b) 2007, a consent order was made in the High Court where the claimant agreed to withdraw an application for judicial review and the Secretary of State agreed to reconsider the claimant's case; how many of the cases from each of those years remain to be considered; and, of those which have been considered, what was the average and the maximum number of days between the consent order and the Secretary of State's reconsidered decision in each of those years. [HL2979]

The High Court shows that 353 non-asylum judicial reviews were withdrawn in 2006 and 535 in 2007. However, it does not record reasons why the JR was withdrawn and this information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost by the examination of individual case files. The UK Border Agency does not record timescales for reconsidering cases following consent orders on our database, so this information is not available.

Crime: Drinking

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 22 April (HL2771), why 1,887 people aged between 18 and 25 were found guilty of drinking offences in Northumbria compared to 172 in the Metropolitan Police area in 2007. [HL3021]

There are a number of reasons as to why these areas differ in numbers of young persons being found guilty of drinking offences. These are predominately around culture, geography, policy and priorities, although the difference cannot be directly attributed to any single factor. Local strategic assessments have been in place since April 2008 and an alcohol plan was a requirement of part of this.

These plans are specifically tailored to meet local needs, so will continue to impact on local policies and will highlight the different problems faced in different parts of the country, which will continue to create a disparity in numbers.

Crime: Fraud

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration the Director of Public Prosecutions has given to bringing a prosecution against Bernard Madoff in the United Kingdom for financial fraud perpetrated against United Kingdom investors. [HL2607]

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced an investigation into the collapse of the Bernard Madoff (Madoff) investment scheme on 8 January 2009. This was in response to widespread public concern in the UK about Madoff's UK operations.

The SFO investigation is looking at all aspects of the affair as they touch on the UK, but does not contemplate a prosecution of Madoff in the UK. There are sound legal and public policy grounds for this, which I set out below.

For a prosecution to be brought in this country, it would have to be shown that an offence had been committed over which the UK courts had jurisdiction. It may be that by causing intermediaries to solicit investment in the investment scheme, Madoff has committed fraud in the UK. It is likely that by moving money invested with him via the accounts of Madoff Securities International Ltd (MSIL) in London, he has committed the offence of money-laundering. It would, however, be a bar to prosecution if Madoff could show that he had already been convicted of offences covering the same alleged conduct (this is the legal doctrine of “autrefois convict”).

Madoff pleaded guilty to an indictment containing 11 counts in New York on 12 March 2009. The indictment to which he pleaded included charges of money-laundering, fraud and perjury. It is almost certain that any conduct that might give rise to criminal liability in the UK is covered by the offences to which Madoff has pleaded guilty in the US. Accordingly, there could be no prosecution in the UK.

There are good public interest reasons not to conduct separate proceedings in this country. As a result of his guilty pleas, Madoff's bail was revoked and it is widely anticipated that he will receive a sentence that will mean he spends the rest of his life in prison. In those circumstances it is difficult to see what purpose a UK prosecution would serve.

Of course, one of the principal concerns for investors will be the payment of restitution. The US Criminal Court will administer property forfeited by Madoff for the benefit of all investors. This process will work in tandem with the compensation scheme administered by the Securities Investments Protection Corporation, which reimburses losses up to $500,000 to those with named accounts with Madoff.

The SFO investigation is focusing on the activities of MSIL, and is playing a significant role in helping investors to understand how the fraud operated.

The SFO is anxious that the interests of investors in the UK are taken into account, and is taking active steps to trace and preserve assets falling under the jurisdiction of the UK courts so that they can be returned to investors.

Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they chose to transpose the European Union data retention directive into United Kingdom law by means of a statutory instrument rather than by primary legislation. [HL2943]

The European directive aims to harmonise data retention within communication companies across Europe and therefore transposition into UK law using the European Communities Act is an appropriate mechanism.

Drugs: Cannabis

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of cannabis seized by police in the United Kingdom last year was skunk. [HL3023]

The information requested is not collected centrally. Skunk cannabis is not separately identifiable from herbal cannabis in the Home Office's drug seizures collection.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans the Equality and Human Rights Commission has to set performance indicators for local authorities to measure (a) equality, and (b) diversity. [HL3156]

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has no plans to set performance indicators for local authorities. However, local authorities and all other public bodies do have legal obligations to promote equality, under the public sector equality duties. The commission is working with the Audit Commission, and other inspectorates, to develop ways of ensuring local authorities meet those obligations within the context of local area agreements and comprehensive area assessment, and the agreed framework of existing indicators, so that good performance on equality is recognised as central to overall performance. The commission has also worked with the Improvement Development Agency to revise its equality framework, which is a voluntary tool to support local authorities in improving performance on equality.

EU: Rural Development

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 30 March (WA 184-85), how support for rural development has been calculated across European Union countries. [HL3164]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 30 March (WA 184-85) on the annual allocations of European Union rural development support to member states, why Belgium's support for 2013 will be 95.6 per cent of that for 2012. [HL3183]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 30 March (WA 184-85) on the annual allocations of European Union rural development support to member states, why the Czech Republic has had falls for two years followed by increases. [HL3184]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 30 March (WA 184-85) on the annual allocations of European Union rural development support to member states, why Spain had a fourfold increase from 2007 to 2008. [HL3185]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 30 March (WA 184-85) on the annual allocations of European Union rural development support to member states, why the United Kingdom's support doubled from 2007 to 2008. [HL3186]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 30 March (WA 184-85) on the annual allocations of European Union rural development support to member states, why Slovenia's support decreases each year with support in 2013 being 95.1 per cent of that in 2012. [HL3187]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 30 March (WA 184-85) on the annual allocations of European Union rural development support to member states, why Slovakia's support declines until 2011, rises thereafter, and rises by 15.4 per cent from 2012 to 2013. [HL3188]

Support for rural development is set out in a Commission decision and the details of the calculation are a matter for the Commission, taking account of conclusions from the Council. My Answer of 30 March (WA 184-85) set out how the calculations are constructed.

Factors that can affect the funding profile for member states include the changing status of convergence regions, changes to rates of voluntary and compulsory modulation and ad hoc changes to budgetary allocations (an example of this is the Spanish allocation as set out below).

In the case of the United Kingdom, the doubling of the allocation from 2007 to 2008 is due to the inclusion of voluntary modulation from 2008. Prior to this, voluntary modulation was not included in the UK allocation details.

For Spain, the reason there is a fourfold increase from 2007 to 2008 is that a number of the Spanish regional programmes (Andalucia, Aragon, the Balearics, Asturias, Comunidad Valenciana, Rioja and the Canary Islands) were approved in 2008 not 2007. Approval was given for the 2007 allocations to be transferred to 2008.

For Belgium, the declining profile is due to the reduction in convergence funding. The Belgium region of Hainault is a convergence phasing-out region.

I do not have detailed information on the budget profiles for Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Government Departments: Staff Absence

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what the rates of staff (a) absence, and (b) sickness absence, were at (1) the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and (2) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies, in each of the past three years; and what the targets for the Department were in each case. [HL3239]

The department was created on 28 June 2007. The department reports on targets for sickness absence and the sickness absence data for the department and its agencies including the average number of days since its inception are published on the department's website at www.dius.gov.uk/news_and_speeches/announcements/dius_staff.

The department does not report against any absence targets other than sickness absence.

All non-departmental public bodies for which the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has responsibility have their own systems, and information is not kept centrally and could only be established at disproportionate costs.

A breakdown of sickness absence by department and agency is unavailable and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Guantanamo Bay: Binyam Mohamed

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many cases are involved in the Attorney General's inquiry into matters arising from the case of Mr Binyam Mohamed. [HL2214]

I do not propose to give a running commentary on consideration of the matter. What can be said publicly at any given point may depend upon a variety of factors, including whether any police investigation is to follow (and the need to avoid prejudicing any such investigation and potential prosecution), and the need to protect national security.

House of Lords: Official Report

Question

Asked by

To ask the Chairman of Committees what was the average sale of the daily and weekly editions of the House of Lords Official Report in each month in 2008; and how this figure compares with the average sale of the daily and weekly editions of the House of Commons Official Report. [HL3080]

The average circulation per edition of each publication in each month of 2008 is set out below. These figures include direct delivery copies to both Houses, as well as subscription copies and standing order copies.

Month

Lords (daily)

Commons (daily)

Lords (weekly)

Commons (weekly)

January

1036

1467

141

212

February

975

1448

140

213

March

1018

1444

141

211

April

1002

1447

141

211

May

979

1443

141

211

June

1009

1461

141

184

July

1025

1428

141

212

Aug

0

0

141

162

Sept

1025

1448

0

0

October

1026

1447

141

211

November

975

1449

140

207

December

1025

1402

141

163

Houses of Parliament: Select Committees

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 20 April (WA 346), on how many occasions and in what circumstances Ministers of the Home Office have refused to give evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees during the past five years. [HL2981]

Home Office Ministers take their accountability to Parliament very seriously and normally give evidence before parliamentary Select Committees when called.

The information requested is not collated centrally. A Minister refusing to give evidence to a Select Committee is however a rare occurrence.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 20 April (WA 346), on how many occasions and in what circumstances Ministers of the Attorney General's Office have refused to give evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees during the past five years. [HL2996]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 20 April (WA 346), on how many occasions and in what circumstances Ministers of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have refused to give evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees during the past five years. [HL3000]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 20 April (WA 346), on how many occasions and in what circumstances Ministers of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and its predecessors have refused to give evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees during the past five years. [HL3057]

According to records held, no Ministers at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills or its predecessors, in respect of responsibilities inherited by DIUS from them, have refused to attend parliamentary Select Committees to give evidence.

Housing

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 20 April (WA 346-47) saying that “Information on the regional housing pot budget of £4 billion for 2009-10 is not available by local authority”, whether the information provided to local housing authorities in a document signed by Terrie Alafat, a civil servant within the Department for Communities and Local Government, that the regional housing pot grant determination 2009 that “determines the authorities to which grant is to be paid and the maximum amount of grant to be paid” was made by the Minister of State for Housing and Planning in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003 is accurate; and, if so, why the details of those amounts are not available. [HL3169]

There are three elements of the regional housing pot: the national affordable housing programme (NAHP); local authority decent homes funding; and private sector renewal funding.

The total budget for the whole pot in 2009-10 of £4 billion cannot be broken down to local authority level. The NAHP element of the pot is administered through the Homes and Communities Agency and allocated to housing associations and other affordable housing providers through a competitive bidding process. For further details I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to him on 30 April (Official Report, cols. WA 60-66.)

The document signed by authority of the Minister for Housing and Planning determined the grant to local authorities for the private sector renewal element of the regional housing pot, the details of which are available and were advised to the government offices on 26 March 2009.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what powers 4NW possesses that allowed it to allocate regional housing pot funds for 2009-10 to local authorities in the north west, as stated in the letter dated 27 March from Jo Lappin, Deputy Regional Director for Housing, Planning and Transport at the Government Office for the North West; and how that relates to the determination made by the Minister of State for Housing and Planning in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003. [HL3170]

The North West Leaders Forum, 4NW, provides advice to Ministers on the payment of grants to local housing authorities from the regional housing pot in its capacity as the regional housing board. The Minister makes the decision.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what influence and status any work, documents and proposals relating to the proposed regional strategy for the North West have before the relevant clauses of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill [HL] are enacted and commenced in relation to (a) the regional housing pot allocations for 2009-10, and (b) any other policies and actions. [HL3171]

Until new legislation is enacted, any work relating to the proposed regional strategy for the north-west will consist of draft policy and proposals. This work will not influence regional housing pot allocations for 2009-10. It is intended that, in the long term, the regional strategy will provide the overarching framework to guide the activities, plans and investment decisions of key public sector agencies, local authorities and other regional partners. The existing regional spatial strategy and regional economic strategy will remain in force until replaced by the new strategy following due process.

Immigration: Homelessness

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will grant funding to voluntary organisations who work with European Union accession state migrant workers with a view to avoiding increased homelessness in the United Kingdom.[HL3114]

The Government have provided £200 million to local authorities and the voluntary sector over three years to tackle homelessness, including rough sleeping. This is the biggest ever cash injection for homelessness services provided by any Government. It has provided £360,000 in additional homelessness grant funding in 2008-09 to some London councils, who in turn fund the voluntary sector, to prevent homelessness among A10 nationals—for instance, by paying for destitute A10s to return home.

Immigration: Marriage

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 20 April (WA 377), how many marriages subsequently failed during the probationary period; how many of those married couples had children born in the United Kingdom; and how many spouses were sent back to their country of origin after the failure of their marriages in each category. [HL2993]

To answer would require the examination of individual cases and would therefore incur disproportionate cost.

Paragraph 287 of the Immigration Rules (HC 395) requires that an applicant for indefinite leave to remain by the spouse of a person present and settled in the UK is still the spouse of the person he or she was admitted or granted an extension of stay to join, that the marriage is subsisting, and that each of the parties intends to live permanently with the other as his or her spouse.

Paragraph 289A of the Immigration Rules relates to victims of domestic violence, and states that a spouse who was previously granted a probationary period and who is able to produce such evidence as may be required by the Secretary of State to establish that the relationship was caused to break down permanently before the end of that period as a result of domestic violence may, subject to meeting the other requirements of the rule, be granted indefinite leave to remain.

Internet: Security

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice and support they have given parents to restrict access to illegal content on the internet. [HL3010]

Internet service providers (ISPs) through the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) minimise the amount of illegal content hosted in the UK. The IWF operates a “notice and takedown” service to its members if the content is hosted in the UK and the IWF list enables ISPs to block child sexual abuse images if they are hosted abroad.

The Home Office launched the BSI kitemark in April 2008, which is a publicly available specification for parental controls and filtering software. The kitemark will serve to give parents confidence in such products, encourage product development among manufacturers and, most significantly, help to reduce the amount of harmful content seen by children. The Government fully support the kitemark and encourage companies to apply for it.

The Home Office has also published good practice guidance for social networking sites in April 2008, which contains safety messages for parents and carers, including how to report abuse to law enforcement.

Justice: Family Law

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have proposals to secure the continued representation by solicitors and counsel in independent practice, paid from public funds, of persons involved in family law disputes.[HL3117]

The consultation Family Legal Aid Funding from 2010, published by the Ministry of Justice and the Legal Services Commission, closed on 3 April 2009. The Legal Service Commission is currently analysing the responses. The consultation covers two payment schemes, the private family law representation scheme and the family advocacy scheme, which will cover representation by solicitors and counsel in independent practice.

Marine Environment: Pollution

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will support the government of Sweden's objective, as holder of the European Union presidency from 1 July, to launch programmes to reduce pollution in the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. [HL3203]

The Government certainly support the Government of Sweden's objective to launch programmes to reduce pollution in the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean when it takes up the European Union presidency on 1 July.

The UK has a vision for the marine environment to achieve “clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas”, and reducing pollution to the marine environment is an essential component of achieving this vision.

Pollution enters the marine environment mainly from land-based sources such as industry, agriculture, power generation, transport and households, but also from shipping, and offshore industries. In the UK and those countries bordering the north-east Atlantic Ocean that are members of the European Community (EC), pollution is generally well controlled, particularly through the requirements of various EC directives (for example, the water framework directive, the integrated pollution prevention and control directive and the marketing and use directive), which set risk-based limits and thresholds designed to protect the receiving waters.

The Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have a number of countries not subject to EC requirements, some of which may be less advanced in pollution control practices and standards. This will be a key reason why Sweden is targeting these seas within its proposal.

Multi-area Agreements

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 23 January (WA 248) on multi-area agreements, whether Pennine Lancashire multi-area agreement number 137/PL3 will involve the potential removal of green belt designation. [HL3159]

Regional spatial strategies prepared by regional planning bodies set the framework for green-belt policy for each region, forming the context for local plan-making by local planning authorities. Any proposal to alter the detail of a green-belt boundary would have to be pursued through the plan-making process, and would be subject to robust public consultation and independent scrutiny. Boundaries can be changed only in exceptional circumstances. The policy is set out in planning policy guidance note 2, GreenBelts. Any proposal that were to arise from a multi-area agreement would be subject to this process.

Muslims

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding (a) the Home Office, (b) the Department for Communities and Local Government, and (c) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have given to the British Muslim Forum.[HL3122]

Prisoners: Voting Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether effective domestic remedies are available under United Kingdom law for prisoners prevented by the current blanket ban on serving prisoners voting in elections to the European Parliament who seek to rely on their rights under Article 3 of or Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst (No 2) v United Kingdom. [HL3062]

The question of the voting rights of prisoners was considered extensively in our domestic courts prior to the proceedings in Strasbourg. Although our courts' decision to uphold the ban on prisoners voting differed from the subsequent decision of the European Court of Human Rights, this nevertheless demonstrates how the Human Rights Act (HRA) has permitted issues relating to the convention rights to be considered by our courts. In addition, as the case of Smith v Scott [2007] SC 345 demonstrated, it is possible to seek a declaration of incompatibility under Section 4 of the HRA. There exists, therefore, in our domestic law a procedure by which a remedy for breach of the convention rights can be sought. However, in respect of prisoners' voting rights, legislation will be required to implement the European Court of Human Rights judgment in Hirst (No. 2). The Government remain committed to implementing the court's judgment, and have recently published a second-stage consultation paper as the next stage in that process. It is proposed in that paper that legislation on the issue would extend to European parliamentary elections. It would be premature to introduce legislation before the second consultation has completed.

Prisons: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people were employed in the Northern Ireland Prison Service on 1 January of each year since 1999. [HL3244]

The number of people employed in the Northern Ireland Prison Service on 1 January of each year since 1999 was:

1 January

1999

*3156

1 January

2000

*2884

1 January

2001

*2140

1 January

2002

*2117

1 January

2003

*2089

1 January

2004

*2025

1 January

2005

*2055

1 January

2006

*2070

1 January

2007

*2087

1 January

2008

2213

1 January

2009

2309

* These figures reflect the full-time equivalent staff. Actual staff in post figures are only available from 2008 onwards.

Tamil Tigers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware of any systemic remittances of funds to the Tamil Tiger movement by Tamils resident in the United Kingdom; and, if so, what they are doing to halt those payments. [HL3027]

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is a proscribed organisation and raising funds for such organisations is an offence under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Measures aimed at preventing the raising of such funds are operational matters for the police. As a proscribed organisation, the LTTE continues to be the focus of police investigations, disruptions and criminal prosecutions.

Terrorism: Channel Project

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many individuals are being supported by the police's Channel Project.[HL3120]