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Written Answers

Volume 710: debated on Monday 18 May 2009

Written Answers

Monday 18 May 2009

Africa: Ilemi Triangle

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the authorities in southern Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia about resolving the disputed borders of the Ilemi Triangle; and what assessment they have made of the chance of conflict in the area arising from competition for natural resources, the discovery of oil, and from inter-ethnic conflicts. [HL3552]

No discussions have taken place with the authorities in southern Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia about resolving the disputed borders of the Ilemi Triangle. No recent assessments have been made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about the chance of conflict in the area arising from competition for natural resources, the discovery of oil or from inter-ethnic conflicts.

Africa: Malaria

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what research they have carried out into any negative effects of the United Kingdom's anti-malaria programmes in Africa on local production of, and trade in, mosquito nets. [HL3403]

Long-lasting insecticide impregnated bed nets are a key part of efforts to reduce malaria. Monitoring local production and markets is important.

The Department for International Development (DfID) supported programmes in Nigeria and Mozambique, managed by the Malaria Consortium, to monitor the source of nets. This helps track changes in the size and production of the net market from local suppliers. These programmes are working closely with local distribution networks to understand how best to foster local markets. Mozambique now has good data from research over three years, which are currently being analysed. There appears to be no evidence that DfID support has undermined local net production, rather the contrary, as it is actually creating and expanding the market. Social marketing and communication activities are promoting long-lasting insecticide treated nets, which are much more effective than cheap, imported and low quality untreated nets, thereby helping to ensure that the market is more quality conscious.

In Ghana, DfID has supported the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to conduct research with a voucher scheme in collaboration with private sector sellers, to promote the local trade of insecticide treated nets.

Bahrain: Human Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what human rights issues were raised during the visit by the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Bill Rammell, to Bahrain in April; what explanation was given to the Minister for (a) the detention of 26 human rights activists; (b) stopping human rights campaigners from leaving the country; (c) the blockage of human rights blogs and websites; (d) discrimination against Shia citizens; and (e) granting citizenship to large numbers of foreign Sunnis. [HL3213]

During meetings with the Bahraini Government my honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Bill Rammell, welcomed the King's decision to release 178 prisoners and call for a renewed national dialogue in Bahrain. While the specific issues raised were not addressed during this visit, our embassy in Bahrain maintains an ongoing dialogue with the Bahraini authorities on human rights issues. This dialogue includes discussion of specific human rights cases.

Banking

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in what form and when they received the depositions of (a) Northern Rock, (b) Dunfermline Building Society, and (c) the Presbyterian Mutual Society. [HL3145]

I am not aware of any depositions made to the Government by Northern Rock, Dunfermline Building Society or the Presbyterian Mutual Society nor am I aware of the form such depositions would take.

With regard to Northern Rock, after taking all the wider considerations into account, the Government concluded that private sector alternatives did not protect the taxpayer's interest when compared with a period of temporary public ownership.

The Government and the Bank of England took action in respect of Dunfermline Building Society after the Financial Services Authority had ruled that it was no longer capable of trading as a going concern.

The affairs of Presbyterian Mutual Society (PMS) are a devolved matter for the Northern Ireland Executive; the society is now in administration.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of individuals whose taxable annual income exceeds (a) £100,000 or (b) £150,000 are employed in banking or other financial services. [HL3323]

Around one in five people with incomes exceeding £100,000 are employed in the finance intermediation industrial sector. The proportion rises to one in four for those with incomes exceeding £150,000.

These estimates are based on the Survey of Personal Incomes for 2006-07 projected to 2010-11 in line with Budget 2009 assumptions. They do not take account of behaviour or changes to the pattern of employment by industry sector since 2006-07.

Banking: Loan Guarantee Scheme

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much has been spent in the current financial year under the small firms loan guarantee scheme; and what is the proportion of the guarantees available under the scheme. [HL2160]

During FY 2008-09, Her Majesty's Government have spent £84.6 million on the small firms loan guarantee (SFLG).

The Government guarantee under SFLG is 75 per cent of the value of the loan.

SFLG was replaced by the enterprise finance guarantee (EFG) on 14 January 2009.

Biometric Data

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, apart from the destruction of the fingerprints and DNA samples of the applicants in the case of S and Marper v United Kingdom, as reported to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (1051st meeting (DH), 17–19 March 2009), in respect of how many other persons whose DNA and fingerprints were taken before the judgment in this case have the samples been destroyed and retained respectively, and what algorithm they are now following, in determining whether to retain or destroy samples taken after the judgment. [HL2893]

Other than the relevant fingerprints and DNA samples belonging to S and Marper, no fingerprints or DNA samples have been destroyed as a result of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of S and Marper v United Kingdom.

Article 41 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms provides that if the court finds that a violation has occurred, just satisfaction must be made to the injured party. The application of the judgment to others in similar situations must be considered in the light of the full content of the judgment. The judgment does provide for the member state to consider the scope for achieving a proper balance with the competing interests of tackling crime and preserving respect for private life.

We do acknowledge the need to implement the judgment in a timely manner but we also recognise the over-riding importance of introducing a proportionate response which has been subject to wide public debate as well as consideration by Parliament. That is why on the 7 May 2009 the Home Secretary launched the public consultation “Keeping the Right People on the DNA Database”. The consultation paper sets out the Government's proposals to implement the S and Marper judgment and the proposed framework to ensure public protection and safeguard the rights of the individual.

The responses from the consultation will assist in the forming of draft regulations to be submitted to Parliament for approval later this year. Until Parliament has amended the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 on the retention of DNA and fingerprints, the current law remains in place.

Individuals who wish to have their DNA samples and fingerprints destroyed can apply to the chief police officer of the force which took the samples and fingerprints for them to be removed under the exceptional case procedure. The decision whether or not to agree to the request for removal is a matter for the discretion of the relevant chief police officer.

Care Services

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will grade all employers of social care workers and publish their results. [HL3392]

The regulation of adult social care providers is now the responsibility of the new independent regulator, the Care Quality Commission, which took over from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission on 1 April 2009. All providers of regulated health and adult social care services must be registered with the Care Quality Commission.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection published quality ratings of adult social care providers and the Care Quality Commission will continue to do so.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what qualifications are required for a person to be employed as a carer. [HL3559]

The Domiciliary Care Agencies Regulations 2002 and associated national minimum standards (NMS) set out the qualifications required of staff who are employed to care for people in their own homes.

The regulations require that all care workers must have integrity and be of good character, have the experience and skills necessary and be physically and mentally fit for the purposes of the work which they are to perform.

The NMS for Domiciliary Care Agencies require that care or support workers delivering personal care who do not already hold a relevant care qualification are required to demonstrate their competence and register for the relevant NVQ in care award—either National Vocational Qualification in Care level 2 or level 3—within the first six months of employment and complete the full award within three years.

The regulations stipulate that agencies should ensure that employees receive training and appraisal which are appropriate to the work they are to perform, together with suitable assistance, including time off, for the purpose of obtaining qualifications appropriate to such work.

Children: Nutrition

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they are taking to provide parents with nutritional guidance for one- to three-year-olds, in light of the 2009 Infant and Toddler Forum poll of 1,000 mothers in which 43 per cent of mothers say they have not received clear and consistent advice on feeding the under-threes. [HL3497]

The Healthy Child Programme (Child Health Promotion Programme) is the core programme that oversees the health and development of children aged 0-5 years and supports parents to protect and promote their child's health. The programme provides for a number of development reviews at which health professionals are expected to discuss the child's nutrition needs from breastfeeding onwards. As announced in Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: One Year On we will provide additional guidance to practitioners and the National Health Service on the review when the child is 2 to 2½ years old, including recommendations on promoting healthy nutrition and physical development, and that we will support children in the important early years of their development through a single set of evidence-based messages on healthy eating and active play.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what training exists for health and childcare professionals (HCPs) on child nutrition for one- to three-year-olds, in light of the Department of Health's Child Health Promotion Programme stating that advice and information on family nutrition should be given by HCPs. [HL3498]

The core training of health visitors is around child health and includes food and nutrition.

As part of the Healthy Child programme (HCP), formerly the Child Health Promotion Programme (CHPP), we are developing an e-learning programme to support professionals with their professional development. As part of this, we are looking at modules that are likely to include health and nutrition.

Change4Life is a new initiative, supported by the department, bringing together health and education professionals, industry and the third sector with the shared aims to improve children's diets and levels of activity so reducing the threat to their future health and happiness.

New growth charts have been launched and training packages and tools have been developed to help professionals identify weight issues.

Primary care trusts have a local responsibility to ensure staff are trained around local priorities such as childhood obesity.

Children: Poverty

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what initiatives they propose to realise the target of reducing the level of child poverty by half by 2010; and what initiatives have been successful in the past 10 years in reducing child poverty. [HL3590]

Since 1998-99, 500,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty and the number of children in absolute poverty has halved from 3.4 million to 1.7 million. Government measures announced since Budget 2007 will lift around a further 500,000 children from relative poverty.

The causes and consequences of child poverty are multiple and complex. Tackling child poverty requires a holistic, sustainable strategy: work that pays; responsive financial support; improvements in children's life chances; and safe, cohesive communities.

Communications Data

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (a) processing capacity, (b) energy, and (c) storage capacity that would be required to implement the collection and storage by communications service providers of third party data crossing their networks, as proposed in the consultation on Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment. [HL3422]

Analysis has been undertaken of the processing capacity, energy requirements and storage capacity of the options set out in the consultation on Protecting the Public in a Changing Communications Environment. Making this analysis public would allow criminals and terrorists to understand better the current and possible future capability available to the UK's law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies to obtain communications data in support of their statutory functions.

Crime: Suspicious Activity Reports

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many names are on the suspicious activity reports database of the Serious Organised Crime Agency. [HL3208]

The Serious Organised Crime Agency's database, known as ELMER, on which suspicious activity reports are recorded, does not have the capability to provide the information sought.

Data on the volumes of SARs received, including by sector, are available in the Suspicious Activity Reports Regime Report 2008 on the SOCA website.

Data Entry: Error Rates

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Carter of Barnes on 31 March (WA 220), what is the highest error rate allowed for data entry in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform; which system employs it; how frequently results are checked against it; and what proportion of checks show that the standard has not been met. [HL3165]

The department does not employ large volume data entry processing systems. Its IT services and systems have been outsourced. The department's office automation, finance and HR corporate systems are designed to make use of appropriate field validations to help ensure data quality. These validation techniques include data type restrictions, table look ups, check balances and limits, check digit formulas as well as system specific data and processing checks.

Egypt

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Egypt about reports that their state security forces demolished the services building belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Masrah Matrouh, assaulting the Coptic priests and Coptic women and men, on 26 April at 7.30 am. [HL3479]

The facts of this case are not totally clear. We understand from informal contacts, however, that the building in question was privately owned by an Egyptian Coptic Christian. A second storey had apparently been added illegally prompting the involvement of the State Security forces to demolish the extension. There are differing reports on the level of force used and we are still trying to verify the facts. We do understand, however, that the owner gifted the building to the Coptic Church only after the demolition of the extension.

We actively raise human rights including the freedom of religion with the Egyptian authorities and remind them of their international obligations whenever appropriate.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 6 May (WA 117), whether the Horizon Scanning Panel of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) ensures that the HFEA is aware of potential licence applications and is prepared with an authority policy or position, as currently stated on the HFEA website. [HL3484]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised me that its Horizon Scanning Panel is aware of potential licence applications and informs the authority accordingly.

The latest horizon scanning report can be found on the HFEA's website at www.hfea.gov.uk/157.html.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 6 May (WA 117), in what circumstances a licence application might be viewed more favourably when under consideration by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority than when submitted to a research council for funding. [HL3485]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised me that it cannot comment on a research council's criteria for awarding funding to research projects.

The HFEA may issue a research licence only for the purposes outlined in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001. A licence committee of the HFEA would refuse a research licence application if it was not satisfied that the proposed research was necessary or desirable for one of the prescribed purposes and that the use of an embryo was necessary.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 6 May (WA 117), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority would decline to grant a potential licence or would revoke a current licence if the ultimate aims of a potential or current licensee's work included any use of nuclear transfer in reproduction, or if the project would not derive stem cells for use in treatments. [HL3486]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has informed me that the granting or revocation of a licence would be considered with reference to the requirements of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001.

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 6 May (WA 117), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) proposes to reiterate public comments made by the former HFEA chair in January 2004 about Dr P M Zavos's work; and, if so, when. [HL3553]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised me that it sees no need to reiterate the public comments made by its former chair in January 2004.

Energy: Power Stations

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their projection of the replacement cost for all power stations in the United Kingdom which are due to be phased out of production in the next 12 years. [HL3407]

Capital costs for different generating technologies vary and it cannot be assumed that replacement generation will be on a like-for-like basis.

The Redpoint Report on Dynamics of GB Electricity Generation Investment, for the 2007 energy White Paper, lists capital costs for various types of generation (www.berr.gov.uk/files/file38972.pdf page 75).

Energy: Wind Generation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what impact the proposed cut in production announced by Vestas will have on its targets for wind generation. [HL3507]

The Government do not have a specific target for the level of energy to be sourced from wind generation, but are committed to meeting their share of the EU renewables directive target of 15 per cent of total UK energy being sourced from renewables by 2020.

Following a consultation over summer 2008, we will publish a new UK renewable energy strategy later this spring. This will set out a package of measures to meet the UK's share of the 2020 target.

We understand that Vestas' announcement primarily concerns production facilities that supplied blades for export to the US onshore wind turbine market. There are a number of suppliers active in the UK onshore wind market including Vestas, and commercial decisions on the supply of turbines for renewable generation are of course a matter for the companies concerned.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 24 April (WA 419–20), to whom the results of the Equality and Human Rights Commission staff survey were made available and on what basis. [HL3222]

The results of the Equality and Human Rights Commission staff survey have been available to all members of staff, via the commission's intranet site, since 19 December 2008. A copy was also released to a journalist following a specific request.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 24 April (WA 419–20), whether the Equality and Human Rights Commission has made copies of its staff survey available to the press; and how members of the public can obtain copies of that survey. [HL3223]

One journalist has requested a copy of the staff survey and a copy was supplied. As an internal document, the commission does not intend to formally publish the survey. However, in the interests of transparency, a copy would be provided in response to any specific request.

Ethiopia

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government following the recent visit to Turkana by Her Majesty's High Commissioner to Kenya, what assessment they have made of the potential threat to the sustainability of Lake Turkana of the building of the Gibe III hydro-electric dam on the Omo River in Ethiopia; what response they have had from the government of Ethiopia to the representations they made about the potential social and environmental impact of that project; and what discussions they have had with the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank about the implications of that project. [HL3551]

Our high commissioner in Nairobi visited the town of Turkana (with relevant Kenyan Ministers) in late April 2009 to launch a Department for International Development programme, the Hunger Safety Net Programme, which forms part of the UK's investment in Kenyan social protection. No recent assessment has been carried out by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the potential threat to the sustainability of Lake Turkana posed by the building of the Gibe III hydro-electric dam on the Omo River in Ethiopia, including during the high commissioner's visit. The FCO has made no recent representations relating to the potential social and environmental impact of the above project nor had discussions with the European Investment Bank and the Africa Development Bank about its implications.

EU: Legislation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Carter of Barnes on 28 April (WA 28), and in the light of the proximity of the election to the European Parliament, whether they will reconsider their decision not to undertake research into the proportion of United Kingdom legislation originating in the European Union, in order to provide this information to voters.[HL3285]

UK legislation of EU origin may be directly applicable in member states. Other legislation requires incorporation into national law. This is sometimes done by primary legislation, sometimes by secondary legislation, but on other occasions by administrative means. In yet other situations, domestic legislation which is being amended for other purposes may also incorporate changes to reflect EU directives. This makes it extremely difficult to determine how many legislative measures have been introduced in the UK as a result of EU measures. Such figures would also have only a very limited purpose: some EU measures may require numerous pieces of domestic legislation to bring them into effect, or a number of EU measures may be given effect in one piece of domestic legislation. We therefore remain of the view that it would entail disproportionate cost to research and compile this information.

Fluoridation

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 20 April (WA 336), whether the Answer recognised that the Australian review which it cited: (a) explicitly took the York report as the basis for its findings under all headings; (b) found only three additional “small” studies on bone fracture (5.3.1.3), and four on cancer which should be interpreted “with caution” (5.4.1.3), all but one of which were of the lowest level of evidence (“Level IV”); (c) found no recent studies on Down's syndrome (5.5.1.2) and confirmed York's finding of a “weak” association with water fluoridation; (d) found one “Level IV” study each on coronary heart disease and kidney stones (5.5.1.3); and whether they consider that it is accurate, in the light of York's mixed evidence of harm in these areas, to describe such evidence as providing “nothing” to support claims of harm. [HL3356]

The York report did not refer to “mixed evidence of harm” but concluded that there was “no association” between water fluoridation and bone fractures and cancers and “the miscellaneous other adverse effect studies did not provide enough good quality evidence of any particular outcome to reach conclusions”. In its public statement on its review, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council concluded that “there is no clear association between water fluoridation and overall cancer incidence or mortality” and there is “little effect on fracture risk,” in fact, “it may lower overall fracture risk”. The statement recommends fluoridation of drinking water as “the most effective and socially equitable means of achieving community wide exposure to the caries prevention effects of fluoride”.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 20 April (WA 337), how they reconcile South Central Strategic Health Authority's decision, given the support of 28 per cent of respondents by one measure and 32 per cent by another during the recent consultation on water fluoridation in the Southampton area, with the assurance given by Lord Warner that “fluoridation schemes would only be introduced where the local population were in favour”. [HL3358]

We have full confidence in the South Central Strategic Health Authority's (SHAs) judgment. The legislation requires SHAs to take account of the cogency of the arguments made during a consultation. In his advice to South Central SHA, the Director of Public Heath noted that the consultation highlighted the challenge of discussing public health issues in the age of the internet where people need to try and evaluate the mass of information available on water fluoridation, some of which is unreliable and inaccurate. The results of the telephone survey showed that a quarter of those people who opposed water fluoridation did so because of a fear that it would damage their health, but successive research studies have found no association between water fluoridation and systemic illness. The survey also found that 69 per cent of respondents had little or no knowledge of fluoridation.

Gaza

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask the government of Israel to pay towards the restitution to civilians in respect of deaths, injury and the destruction of buildings and other assets in the recent Gaza conflict. [HL3435]

We are deeply concerned by the deaths and injury of innocent civilians in conflict, and the destruction of civilian buildings and assets, including in the recent Gaza conflict. We would welcome an Israeli contribution to compensation for innocent civilians. But any claim for compensation is a matter for the individuals concerned—or their relatives—and Israel.

Government Departments: Bottled Water

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Ministry of Justice or its predecessors spent on bottled water in each of the past five years. [HL3566]

The data requested are not held centrally. However, it should be noted that all government departments have been encouraged to replace bought-in bottled water with tap water for all meetings. Furthermore, with regards to the use of water coolers, government sustainability policy encourages public sector organisations to change arrangements from bottled water coolers to plumbed-in mains fed provision so that tap water can be used where possible.

Government Departments: Outstanding Debts

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the total debts outstanding to government departments and their agencies. [HL3082]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the total amount owed to the public sector in unpaid debts. [HL3083]

Information on debtors to government departments and their agencies can be found in the resource accounts of individual departments. These are available in the House of Commons Library and on departmental websites.

Information on the total amount owed to the public sector in outstanding and unpaid debt, disaggregating out amounts owed between public bodies, would be available only at disproportionate cost.

Government Departments: Staff Absence

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what the rates of staff (a) absence, and (b) sickness absence, were at (1) HM Treasury, and (2) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies, in each of the past three years; and what the targets for HM Treasury were in each case. [HL3237]

Sickness absence data for all central government departments from 2005 to 2007 were published annually by the Cabinet Office at http://beta. civilservice.gov.uk/about/who/statistics/sickness.aspx. The last report was for the financial year 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007.

From 1 April 2007 it became the responsibility of individual departments to produce sickness data and the Cabinet Office has published a combined departmental quarterly report. This is available on http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/reports/absence.aspx.

In respect of the financial year 2007-08, the average working days lost due to sickness for HM Treasury and its agencies were:

HMT 4.7 days;

National Savings and Investments 5.8 days;

Government Actuary Department 4.2 days;

Office Government Commerce 4.0 days;

Office Government Commerce Buying Solutions 7.7 days; and

Debt Management Office 4.2 days.

There are no published absence targets. Data for 2008-09 are not yet available.

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 Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, 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. [HL3241]

Arrangements for absence such as annual leave, maternity leave, and training are agreed locally between line managers and their staff. Asking each individual line manager in the department for details would incur disproportionate cost.

The Cabinet Office has introduced a revised format for reporting sickness absence statistics across the Civil Service. The new format was introduced at the end of March 2008 and sickness absence reports for the department's predecessor, the Department of Trade and Industry, for 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006-07 are published on the Civil Service website along with data for other departments and agencies at www.civilservice. gov.uk/about/who/statistics/index.aspx.

I have approached the chief executives of the Insolvency and Companies House and they will respond to you directly.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what the rates of staff (a) absence, and (b) sickness absence, were at (1) the Department of Health, 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.[HL3280]

Information about absences other than sick leave is not held centrally and to establish it would incur disproportionate cost. All staff are entitled to 30 days annual leave per year.

The figures for sickness absence in the department and its agencies for the past three years are given below:

Sickness absence rates shown as average working days lost per person

DH

MHRA

PASA

2008-09

5.6

6.0

5.1

2007-08

5.3

6.9

4.7

2006-07

6.5

The figure for 2006-7 is combined, because in that year (and before) the report was prepared in that way by an external company directly from payroll data.

Reducing the level of sickness absence is an important issue for the whole Civil Service. All government departments have been set a target of reducing the average days of sickness absence per person per year to 7.5 or less.

More information on sickness absence is available on the Civil Service statistics website at www. civilservice.gov.uk/about/who/statistics/sickness.aspx.

The figures for sickness absence in the past three years for the non-departmental public bodies associated with the department are given below:

Name of Non-Departmental Public bodySickness absence rates shown as Average working days lost per person

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

The Alcohol Education and Research Council

0.00

0.00

1.00

Appointments Commission

5.86

9.78

5.44

Commission for Social Care Inspection

11.65

12.49

11.92

Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence

6.20

3.70

1.90

General Social Care Council

2.44

2.00

2.57

Health Protection Agency

8.17

8.32

9.00

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

5.10

6.70

6.50

Human Tissue Authority

4.00

4.00

5.00

Monitor-Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts

2.10

2.80

2.90

Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board

5.20

11.00

7.50

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 International Development, 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.[HL3283]

The Department for International Development (DfID) does not keep comprehensive central records of all non-sickness related absences.

(1) The average number of working days lost to sickness absence in the Department for International Development (DfID) from 2006 onwards, are shown in the table below:

Year

2006

2007

2008

Average working days lost to sickness absence

5.0

4.4

6.0

Through this period, DfID worked towards a target of 5.5 average working days.

(2) During the period 2006 to present, DfID has had two non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs). Crown Agents Holding and Realisation Board was wound up on 1 April 2008, and Commonwealth Scholarship Commission is still in operation. None of these non-departmental public bodies employed any staff.

Guantanamo Bay

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Malloch-Brown on 20 April (WA 343) and on 30 March (WA 188), what has been the total cost of transport by air and car, including accompanying officials, involved in returning each of the 14 Guantanamo Bay detainees released to the United Kingdom; what are the budgeted ongoing costs for each detainee in the United Kingdom; and which of those released are categorised as United Kingdom nationals and which as previously legally resident in the United Kingdom. [HL3056]

We requested the release and return of UK nationals from Guantanamo Bay in 2003. We also requested the release and return of former legal residents in 2007, in order to see the detention facility closed as quickly as possible by helping reduce the number of detainees. All the return operations involved officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and from our embassy in Washington, accompanied by officers of the Metropolitan Police Service to ensure the security of the flight and to comply with police procedures during the return. In all cases military or private charters were necessary both to ensure security and because no other flights were available from Guantanamo Bay to the UK.

A total of 14 individuals have been returned from Guantanamo Bay to the UK, nine nationals and five former legal residents, in five separate operations between January 2005 and February 2009. The total transport costs involved, including accompanying officials, was approximately £617,000.

Of the UK nationals, Tarek Dergoul, Jameal Udeen, Shafiq Rasul, Rhuhel Ahmed and Asif Iqbal, were returned to the UK on 10 March 2004. Feroz Abbasi, Moazzam Begg, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar were returned on 25 January 2005.

Of the individuals previously legally resident in the UK, Bisher Al Rawi, was returned to the UK on 1 April 2007; Abedennour Sameur, Jamil el Banna and Omar Deghayes were returned on 19 December 2007; and Binyam Mohamed was returned on 23 February 2009.

With respect to the budgeted ongoing cost on return to the UK, the entitlement to support for an individual in the UK is assessed on their particular circumstances, including a range of factors such as personal and family circumstances, employment and immigration status. As a matter of policy we do not comment on individual cases.

Health: Former UK Residents

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 30 April (WA 58–59), whether the devolved administrations supply them with details of non-nationals provided with healthcare in order to arrange reimbursement under European Union Regulations (1409/71); and what numbers were involved in the past three years. [HL3501]

The devolved Administrations do not supply details of the overseas visitors they treat in order for the United Kingdom Government to make claims against other member states. The devolved authorities do not cover the cost of healthcare for their citizens in other European economic area member states under European Union regulations nor does England reimburse the devolved authorities for the cost of treating overseas visitors.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 30 April (WA 58–59), whether the healthcare reimbursement waivers for Denmark, Norway and Malta are mutual; and for what reasons no money was claimed from Cyprus, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2007–08. [HL3502]

The waivers, as part of the bilateral agreements the United Kingdom has with Denmark, Norway and Malta, are mutual. The UK did not make claims against Cyprus, Iceland and Latvia in 2007-08 either because no citizens from those countries were treated by the National Health Service, the necessary data were not captured to allow the UK to make a claim or claims are still being assessed.

Health: Irish Citizens

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 6 May (WA 120), how much the United Kingdom pays the Republic of Ireland per pensioner to fund health treatment; and how much the Republic of Ireland pays the United Kingdom per pensioner. [HL3499]

The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland make payments to each other to cover the cost of providing healthcare to each other's citizens, including pensioners and their dependants. Payments for pensioners and their dependants are made on the basis of an average cost, which is in line with European Union (EU) regulations (1408/71). Each European economic area (EEA) member state's average costs are scrutinised and agreed by an EU-level group of which the UK is a member.

The Republic of Ireland's most recently agreed annual average cost for pensioners and their dependants is for 2004 and is €8,322 per head. The UK's most recently agreed annual average cost for pensioners and their dependants is for 2003 and is £2,605.81 per head.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 6 May (WA 120), whether the number of years pensioners have paid national insurance is part of the health treatment calculation in relation to payments to the Republic of Ireland for United Kingdom pensioners residing there; from what data source the numbers are estimated; and whether the amount varies each year. [HL3500]

The number of years pensioners have paid national insurance contributions plays no part in the calculation of payments the United Kingdom makes to the Republic of Ireland under a bilateral agreement. The payments each country makes for pensioners and their dependants are based on an agreed average cost and the numbers of pensioners each country is liable for on the basis of a triennial survey. The numbers do vary due to demographic shifts.

Houses of Parliament: Cyclists

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have consulted or propose to consult the appropriate authority about rearranging foot and cycle paths in the area of the Palace of Westminster to allow more clearly marked areas for cyclists. [HL3579]

Decisions about restricting the use of particular sections of road between different classes of user, and the placing of associated traffic signing and road markings, are the responsibility of Westminster City Council, which is the relevant highway and traffic authority in this instance.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how the requirements for appointment to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission differ from those for the Equality and Human Rights Commission; and what are the reasons for any differences. [HL3248]

All appointments for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission are made in accordance with guidance from the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Beyond this, some differences stem from the different statutory bases for appointments to the two bodies. The Equality Act 2006 established the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Under the terms of the Act, EHRC can have no fewer than 10 and no more than 15 commissioners including the chair. Candidates are selected on merit and are required to meet the standards of an independent panel before they can be considered for appointment. The Minister for Women and Equality has the final decision on appointments, based on the panel's recommendations.. In making appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Secretary of State has an obligation under Section 68(3) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 to, as far as practicable, secure that the commissioners, as a group, are representative of the community in Northern Ireland. In the most recent public appointments process to the commission in 2007, candidates were assessed against the following published criteria: corporate focus, responsibility and accountability, judgment and strategic thinking, and specialist expertise.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 5 May (WA 102) concerning their assessment of human rights in other countries, what was meant by “our missions overseas regularly report on a variety of issues, including human rights, where appropriate”; who decides whether a country is appropriate; and on what basis. [HL3414]

British diplomatic missions overseas—including high commissions, embassies and consulates—report events, activities and other information relevant to our policy goals back to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and to other government departments. Reporting on human rights issues can be requested directly by the FCO or other government departments. Examples include when preparing the FCO's annual human rights report, assessing whether or not to grant an export licence, or taking forward work to eradicate torture or promote freedom of expression globally. In addition posts use their own judgment in reporting significant developments and providing analysis relevant to policy priorities.

Identity Cards

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how a business or an employer without a biometric reader will check whether an ID card is genuine. [HL3419]

The identity card will contain a number of visual security features that can be verified by those businesses without access to a biometric reader, in order to confirm that the card presented is genuine. Guidance on these features will be made available at the appropriate time to businesses and employers.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in light of the increase in cost of ID cards, how much they expect each card to cost an individual who asks for one. [HL3444]

ID card specific costs remain unchanged as set out in the response to PQ HL3449. Similarly, the fee to an individual also remains unchanged. In 2009 and 2010, the ID card will be issued to volunteers at a charge of £30, in line with ministerial commitments. The charging strategy beyond 2010 has not yet been agreed.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government under what conditions the proposed implementation of ID cards is being undertaken. [HL3445]

The rollout of the National Identity Service and proposals for the introduction of identity cards are described in the National Identity Service Delivery Update 2009 published on 6 May 2009. A copy of this document is available in the Library of the House and may be found at www.ips.gov.uk/identity/downloads/Doc_D_percent20IPS delivery_report_8.pdf. The Identity Cards Act 2006 sets out the statutory basis for the introduction of identity cards and the detailed arrangements, such as the information on the card, the application process and the fee to be charged, will be set out in secondary legislation under the Identity Cards Act.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have taken steps to have cancellation penalty clauses built into the ID card contracts; and, if so, what they are. [HL3448]

All contracts for the National Identity Service contain provisions for termination. Termination provisions are based on Office of Government Commerce guidance and include terms for ending a contract in the case of poor performance or where a decision is made to terminate early (for “convenience”). In the case of termination for convenience where 12 to 18 months’ notice is given a supplier may recover costs incurred and those associated with terminating the contract. Where less than 12 to 18 months’ notice is given, in addition to costs incurred, anticipated profit lost as a result of the decision to terminate may be claimed.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what has justified the increase in costs of the development of ID cards; and what changes have been made in the terms of contracts which have been entered into. [HL3449]

The ID card specific costs in the last cost report were £1,190 million for the time period of October 2008 to October 2018 in 2008-09 prices. In this cost report the cost is £1,310 million for the time period of April 2009 to April 2019 in 2009-10 prices.

The contracts just awarded in April 2009 for application and enrolment and the National Biometric Identity Service have not increased these total costs. The contracts for passport design and production and card design and production will be awarded later in 2009.

Iran

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made and propose to make regarding the safety and freedom of association and worship of the Baha'i community in Iran. [HL3111]

We have expressed our concerns regarding the Baha'i community in Iran on several occasions to the Iranian Government and, alongside our EU partners, continue to express our firm opposition to all forms of discrimination and oppression. Most recently my right honourable friend Bill Rammell, Minister for the Middle East, issued a statement on 16 February 2009, backed by an EU statement on 17 February 2009, expressing our concern about the seven imprisoned leaders and calling for the Iranian Government to allow independent observation of the judicial proceedings.

The Iranian authorities are reluctant to engage with the international community, and refuse to receive formal representations on human rights issues from the EU. In this context we believe the most significant impact we can have is by ensuring that international attention remains focused on the human rights environment in Iran. We will continue to urge Iran to put an end to persecution of religious minorities and respect the right to freedom of religion and belief as described in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the number of Baha'is killed and imprisoned in Iran since 1 January 2000. [HL3112]

The use of short-term detention in Iran is particularly fluid and difficult to monitor, therefore it is difficult to accurately determine the number of Baha'is imprisoned in Iran since 2000. However, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials are in close contact with the National Spiritual Association of the Baha' is of the UK, who have provided information dating back to 2004.

Our records show that 228 Baha'is have been arrested since August 2004. Of those:

three are currently imprisoned in Iran;

81 have been arrested and released on bail and are awaiting trial;

nine have been arrested and released without bail;

84 have been tried and sentenced and are free pending appeal or summons to begin serving their sentences;

10 have been tried and sentenced and have completed their prison terms;

eight have had charges cleared in their original trials or have had their verdicts overturned on appeal; and

three have served their prison sentences and have begun their terms of exile.

Whilst we have received reports of members of the Baha'i community being killed or executed since 2000, we cannot directly attribute those deaths to the fact that they were Baha'is. The last documented killing of a Baha'i in Iran dates back to July 1998, with the execution of Mr. Rúhullah Rawhani.

The persecution of individuals based solely on the grounds of their religion or beliefs is wholly unacceptable, and alongside our EU partners we have repeatedly expressed our firm opposition to all forms of discrimination and oppression. We will continue to urge Iran to respect and protect its religious minorities and free all prisoners held due to their faith or religious practice.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what responses they have received from the Government of Iran concerning their representations about the trial of seven leaders of the Baha'i faith in Iran. [HL3568]

We have expressed our concerns regarding the Baha'i community in Iran on several occasions to the Iranian Government and, alongside our EU partners, called for the seven imprisoned leaders to be given a fair trial with independent observers. However, the Iranian authorities are reluctant to engage with the international community, and refuse to receive formal representations on human rights issues from the EU.

In this context we believe the most significant impact we can have is by ensuring that international attention remains focused on the human rights environment in Iran. We will continue to urge Iran to put an end to persecution of religious minorities and respect the right to freedom of religion and belief as described in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Israel

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support the Government of the United States' efforts to persuade the Government of Israel to support the two-state solution. [HL3434]

Both the UK and the US have been clear, in public and in private, on the need to pursue a two-state solution in the Middle East. The UK will continue to work alongside the US and other parties to help achieve this objective, which we regard as a priority. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary reinforced our commitment during his intervention at the UN on 11 May 2009.

Justice: Sharia Law

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to other countries that impose Sharia law within their borders about its effect on human rights. [HL3473]

The Government have not made representations to any country on the compatibility of Sharia with human rights law. However, the UK makes frequent representations to countries that violate human rights law whatever legal system they have.

Mortgages

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to assist the development of building societies as primary sources of mortgage finance for home buyers. [HL3261]

On 19 January, the Government announced measures designed to reinforce the stability of the financial system and support lending in the economy, benefiting individuals and businesses. These build on measures announced on 8 October last year.

Although UK building societies only have a 20 per cent share of the mortgage market, the sector has traditionally had a strong role in providing mortgages and savings products. The Government are keen to support the sector and the 3 million adult members buying their homes this way.

The Government will put forward further proposals in a forthcoming paper to strengthen the mutuals sector. This will include actions relating to the development and design of capital instruments and the potential for shared services between mutuals.

Ofsted

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, having regard to the report of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) on Haringey Council's child protection services shortly before the death of Baby P, any action will be taken regarding Ofsted. [HL3591]

Olympic Games 2012

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 23 April (WA 412) that the Government Olympic Executive (GOE) “is the only body overseeing the entire Olympic project”, what is the role of the London Organising Committee of the Olympics in staging the 2012 Games, given the GOE's “specific focus on staging”. [HL3367]

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is responsible for preparing and staging the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. To deliver the whole range of services required to host the Games, LOCOG works with a number of partner organisations, including the Government.

The team focused on staging within the Government Olympic Executive is responsible for ensuring the effective and efficient delivery of the government guarantees given to the IOC as part of the London 2012 bid, which outline the public services that need to be delivered for the Games. These include, for example, provision of public sector-owned venues, provision of broadcasting spectrum and guidance on the importation of goods and visas. The team also leads on planning across government on, for example, national operations during the Games and international dignitary visits.

The staging team also leads on carrying out the appropriate assurance of LOCOG's work, reporting to the Minister for the Olympics and the DCMS accounting office in relation to the Government's guarantee to the IOC to act as the ultimate financial guarantor should there be any shortfall in the LOCOG budget.

Pensions: Uprating

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their 2009 Budget projections assume that up-rating the basic state pension by reference to earnings will commence in 2012–13 or 2013–14; and, if not, what the impact on public sector net borrowing and net debt would be if up-rating commenced in either of those years. [HL3196]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the economic forecasts in the 2009 Budget show that the introduction of earnings up-rating of the basic state pension is affordable in 2012–13; and, if not, what improvement in the forecast would be required to achieve affordability. [HL3197]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the fiscal position shown in the forecasts in the 2009 Budget show that the fiscal position will allow the introduction of earnings up-rating of the basic state pension in 2012–13; and, if not, what improvement in the fiscal position would be required. [HL3198]

The Government have committed to relink the uprating of the basic state pension to earnings. Their objective, subject to affordability and the fiscal position, is to do this in 2012, but in any event by the end of the next Parliament at the latest.

The 2009 Budget set out the Government's overall assumption for public sector current expenditure (PSCE) for the three-year period beyond 2010-11 in table C4. Departmental budgets, and announcements on their content, will not be set for this period until the time of the next spending review. The Government have committed to making a statement on the precise date that earnings uprating will be introduced at the beginning of the next Parliament, at which point an assessment of affordability will be made taking into account the fiscal position.

Police: Records of Questioning

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether police officers are required to keep a notebook or tape recording of questioning of a suspect before and after an arrest; whether such records are expected to be made available to any person wishing to make a claim against the police; in how many cases involving the Metropolitan Police in the past two years requests for such evidence have been refused due to it being mislaid; and what disciplinary action has been taken against police officers for failure to retain such records in a safe manner. [HL2991]

The code of practice on the statutory power of arrest by police officers (PACE Code G) issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 requires that the arresting officer must record in his pocket book or by other methods of recording information about the nature and circumstances leading to the arrest; the reason or reasons why arrest was necessary; the giving of the caution; and anything said by the person at the time of arrest. Such a record should be made at the time of the arrest unless impracticable to do so. If not made at the time, the record should then be completed as soon as possible thereafter.

The information given by the arresting officer on the circumstances and reason or reasons for arrest must be recorded as part of the custody record.

PACE Code E on the audio recording of interviews with suspects requires that audio recording must be used at police stations for any interview with a person cautioned for an indictable offence. At the end of the interview, the suspect must be handed a notice which explains how the audio recording will be used; the arrangements for access to it; and that, if the person is charged or informed that they will be prosecuted, a copy of the audio recording will be supplied.

PACE Code of Practice C for the detention, treatment and questioning of persons by police officers provides that a solicitor or appropriate adult must be permitted to consult the custody record as soon as practicable on arrival at the police station and any other time when the person is detained. A copy of the custody record must be made available if requested by a solicitor or appropriate adult after a person leaves police detention. This entitlement lasts for 12 months after release. The detainee and appropriate adult or legal representative shall be permitted to inspect the original custody record after the detainee has left police detention.

The Metropolitan Police advise that they do not hold a central record of instances where requests for evidence made by persons wishing to make a claim against the force has been refused due it being mislaid.

Disciplinary action against individual police officers or police staff is an operational matter for chief officers.

Police: Stop and Search

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in relation to the latest figures showing exercise of police stop and search powers, what proportion of those searches related to operations specifically against knife crime. [HL3313]

The information requested is not available. Information on the individual circumstances of stops and searches is not reported to the Home Office; therefore, it is not possible to identify which stops and searches resulted from operations specifically against knife crime.

Available information from 2007-08 shows that, of the 1,045,923 stops and searches conducted in England and Wales under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), 98,529 were for offensive weapons (including knives). Also, 12,447 arrests for possession of offensive weapons resulted from stop and search procedures under Section 1 of PACE during this period.

Additionally, 53,250 searches in anticipation of violence were conducted under Section 60 of PACE, under which 759 persons were found to be carrying an offensive weapon and dangerous instrument.

Postal Services: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following the changes envisaged in the Postal Services Bill and the change of regulatory framework for postal services, the commitment to a continued Universal Services Obligation for postal services means that the obligation will continue to apply to citizens, businesses and consumers in Northern Ireland on the same terms as those in the rest of the United Kingdom; and whether any subsequent changes in the obligation will be agreed in consultation with Consumer Focus and specifically with the Consumer Focus post covering Northern Ireland. [HL2980]

The Government's first priority is to secure the provision of a strong universal postal service. We want to protect customers by securing the universal postal service, at the current standards we enjoy in the UK, and this will, of course, include customers in Northern Ireland.

The new Postal Services Bill enshrines in legislation the minimum requirements of a universal postal service. The result is that the minimum requirements of the universal postal service are protected—there will always be at least one collection and at least one delivery of letters every working day, and there will always be a one price goes anywhere service.

Once the Bill becomes an Act, and Ofcom takes responsibility for regulation of the postal services market, it will conduct a market assessment which will help decide which products should be provided as a universal service. Ofcom will consult fully, including with Consumer Focus, before it reaches decisions on this very important area.

Presbyterian Mutual Society

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many savers in England they estimate have lost part or all of their savings in the Presbyterian Mutual Society since it went into administration. [HL3273]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many savers in Scotland they estimate have lost part or all of their savings in the Presbyterian Mutual Society since it went into administration. [HL3274]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many savers in Wales they estimate have lost part or all of their savings in the Presbyterian Mutual Society since it went into administration. [HL3275]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many savers in Northern Ireland they estimate have lost part or all of their savings in the Presbyterian Mutual Society since it went into administration. [HL3276]

The Presbyterian Mutual Society is currently in administration. The Government have made no estimate of the number of members of the society who may have lost part or all of their investment. The administrator website now states that his report is delayed, that he will be providing a statutory progress report on or before 16 June and he hopes to put a formal arrangement to the members in September.

Railways: Electrification

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will authorise the electrification of the railway line from Gospel Oak to Barking. [HL3506]

Railways: Franchises

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government on what date cap and collar protection for revenue shortfall came into effect, or comes into effect, for each train operating company. [HL3394]

The information in respect of train operators which have franchise contracts with the Department for Transport is set out in the table below.

Train Operating Company

Cap and Collar arrangement

DFT Entitlement State Date

Cap and Collar arrangement

TOC Entitlement Start Date

East Midland Trains (EMT)

Revenue share

11-Nov-07

Revenue support

11-Nov-11

National Express East Coast (NXEC)

Revenue share

09-Dec-07

Revenue support

09-Dec-11

Northern Rail

Revenue share

12-Dec-04

Revenue support

12-Dec-08

TransPennine Express (TPE)

Benefit share

01-Feb-04

Revenue support

N/A

First Capital Connect

Revenue share

01-Apr-06

Revenue support

01-Apr-09

London South Eastern Railway

Revenue share

01-Apr-06

Revenue support

01-Apr-10

Southern

Not applicable

26-May-96

N/A

Stagecoach South Western (SSW)

Profit share

04-Feb-07

Revenue support

04-Feb-11

Arriva Cross Country (AXC)

Revenue share

11-Nov-07

Revenue support

11-Nov-11

C2C

Not applicable

N/A

Not applicable

N/A

Chiltern

Not applicable

N/A

Not applicable

N/A

National Express East Anglia (NXEA)

Revenue share

01-Apr-04

Revenue support

01-Apr-08

First Greater Western

Revenue share

01-Apr-06

Revenue support

01-Apr-08

London Midland (LOM)

Revenue share

11-Nov-07

Revenue support

11-Nov-11

Virgin West Coast (VWC)

Revenue share

12-Dec-06

Revenue support

08-Dec-08

Railways: Level Crossings

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the consultation on improving road safety will include the misuse of railway level crossings. [HL3508]

The Department for Transport published on 21 April a consultation document on a new road safety strategy.

Although this made no mention of railway level crossings, the Road Safety Act 2006 gave the Secretary of State new powers to improve safety around railway level crossings, either following a request from the crossing operator or at his own instigation.

Retirement Age

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what aims, relating to social or employment policy, justify the United Kingdom's statutory retirement age. [HL3199]

The UK does not have a mandatory retirement age. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations aim to tackle unjustified age discrimination in employment and vocational training. The default retirement age, which employers may use if they wish, and the employee's right to request working beyond retirement age were introduced to deliver the Government's labour market objectives of recognising the need for workforce planning and avoiding adverse impact on the provision of occupational pensions and other work-related benefits. Our position was also set out in the joint Written Statement by the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to the House on 14 December 2004 at col. 127WS.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether raising or abolishing the United Kingdom's statutory retirement age would improve the current economic situation. [HL3200]

We are of course monitoring the developments in the labour market and have introduced a wide range of help for businesses and households in order to help them deal with the current economic situation and prepare for the future.

In terms of the policy on the default retirement age we remain committed to undertaking an evidence- based review. With the assistance of representatives of the business community, trade unions and age groups we are in the process of gathering the evidence which will be needed to enable us to undertake this review in 2011. If the conclusion of the review is that the evidence demonstrates a default retirement age is no longer necessary, we will take the necessary steps to remove it.

Roads: Traffic Officers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 30 April (WA 77), whether the introduction of traffic officers has released the police from traffic duties and patrols; and, if so, what is the financial saving to police budgets. [HL3386]

Prior to the introduction of Highways Agency traffic officers, it was estimated that the associated transfer of particular roles and responsibilities would free up the equivalent of 540 full- time equivalent police officers. The police remain, however, responsible for tackling crime and enforcing the law on roads as elsewhere and for investigating road traffic collisions. Police patrols can also provide reassurance and increase public confidence. It is for individual chief officers to decide how to deploy their resources as they consider most effective and appropriate, including the resources freed up by the introduction of traffic officers.

Schools: Internal Management

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what priority they give to continuity rather than change in the internal management of schools. [HL3432]

All schools need to balance the benefits of continuity and change in striving to improve all aspects of their provision. Schools have three-year funding settlements which give them the confidence and stability to plan their budgets for the long term. Revised school improvement and performance management arrangements are in place to support more streamlined school strategic planning.

Schools: Teaching Mathematics

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why one in five primary school children do not have a secure grasp of essential mathematical skills. [HL3516]

The premise of this Question is wrong. In 2008, 79 per cent of children reached or exceeded level 4+, the expected level in key stage 2 (20 per cent more than in 1998 and 2 per cent more than in 2007). An additional 15 per cent of pupils achieved level 3 in 2008 and it would be wrong to suggest that a child achieving this level does not have a secure grasp of basic mathematical skills. At level 3, a pupil has a range of mathematical skills; for example the ability to solve whole number problems involving multiplication and division, use simple fractions, recognise negative numbers and extract and interpret data from simple tables and lists.

In 2008, fewer than 36,000 children (less than 6 per cent of pupils) failed to reach level 3 at KS2. For these children, the department is rolling out new programmes to raise standards in maths. The Every Child Counts intensive intervention programme targets the lowest attaining 5 per cent of pupils and will have national coverage from September 2010.

The maths specialist programme aims to train 13,000 primary teachers over 10 years so that every primary school will have access to a maths specialist who will improve maths teaching and learning.

By 2010-11, we aim to provide one-to-one tuition to 300,000 children a year in each of English and mathematics.

Social Care

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what checks are made to ensure the social care system is working efficiently. [HL3532]

Monitoring of adult social services' efficiency in England is undertaken by a number of organisations: the Care Quality Commission (CQC), as part of its role as the independent health and social care regulator, the Audit Commission, and the Department of Health.

The CQC was established by the Health and Social Care Act (2008) and replaced the Commission for Social Care Inspection, as well as the regulators for healthcare and the Mental Health Act. Under the provisions of the 2008 Act, the CQC carries out a number of activities related to the regulation of local health and social care services, including registration of providers to ensure minimum quality standards are met, regular reviews of providers and commissioners of services, and inspections of particular care services.

The CQC undertakes periodic reviews of all local authority adult social services, and publishes its assessment of the quality of those services, and their capacity to deliver improved outcomes for local people. This judgment includes a specific criterion on the local authority's efficient use of resources to meet the needs of its local community.

The CQC's assessment of adult social care is further used as part of the evidence base for the annual comprehensive area assessment (CAA) published by the Audit Commission. The CAA, which will be published for the first time in October 2009, brings together the assessments of six national regulators to form an overall judgment of the delivery of public services in a locality. It will publish an area assessment (providing an overall judgment on the locality) and an additional organisational assessment of the local authority management. This latter assessment will make a scored judgment on two corporate areas: managing performance and use of resources, and so will contribute towards the checks on efficiency in adult social care.

The Department of Health also works to support efficiency in adult social care, and has put in place a number of programmes to help local authorities achieve efficiencies. For instance, the Care Services Efficiency Delivery programme has invested about £5 million per year to specifically support the local efficiency agenda through working with local authorities to improve planning and procurement, developing more efficient systems for the assessment and delivery of care with a strong focus on re-ablement and recovery. Additionally, the Partnership for Older People Projects have supported 19 local pilot programmes to develop a wide range of innovative services and focus on early interventions to reduce long-term care needs.

Social Care: Employers

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make the reporting of all missed visits by social care workers mandatory. [HL3389]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make provision for penalising employers of social care workers who do not fulfil their legal requirements. [HL3452]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make provision for prosecuting firms providing social care workers who provide inaccurate information about missed calls. [HL3453]

The regulation of adult social care providers is now the responsibility of the new independent regulator, the Care Quality Commission, which took over from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission on 1 April 2009. The new commission will take a risk-based proportionate approach to its regulatory role.

The commission has a range of enforcement actions it can take against registered providers of adult social care who do not fulfil their legal obligations. These include:

a formal non-statutory caution;

a notice requiring improvement within a specified time period;

conditions that place restrictions on registration (for example, preventing the provider from running a particular service or preventing further admissions to a service);

prosecution of organisations and/or individuals—resulting in fines or, in extreme cases, imprisonment; and ultimately

cancellation of registration, which closes the service down.

The commission could also refer the matter to another body—for example, the police.

National minimum standards for domiciliary care providers recognise that people want care workers who are reliable, dependable and arrive and depart at the time expected. They specify that care staff should arrive at the home of the person using the service within the time band specified and work for the full time allocated. They also say that people who use services should be kept informed about their care and told in advance of any changes.

If any agency fails to meet its obligations contained in service specific regulations in relation to operation and the care of its customers, the commission will consider if a prosecution is suitable and in the public interest.

Separately, the commission may also consider the viability of continued registration of the provider. The provision of inaccurate information to the commission would be a serious matter, which would be considered in the context of the case and the overall safety of people using services.

From April 2010, we are introducing a new registration framework for providers of regulated health and adult social care activities. We are currently consulting on a number of policy issues to support the new framework, including what incidents should require notification to the commission. We are intending to set out the categories of information that providers will need to supply to the commission in regulations which we will put before Parliament later this year. The Care Quality Commission will be able to take enforcement action against providers of regulated activities who do not meet the requirements.

We have no specific plans to make the reporting of all missed visits by social care workers mandatory at this time. However, the proposals in the consultation for incidents that require notification include:

an allegation that a person who uses services has been abused;

an incident which is reported to, or investigated by, the police and involves the health and well-being of people who use services; and

an allegation of misconduct in relation to registration requirements against a person working for the purpose of carrying out a regulated activity.

The Care Quality Commission is currently working to develop the precise detail, content, format and timescale of notification it will require.

In addition, all providers of regulated activities will need to meet a set of registration requirements in order to register with the Care Quality Commission, and to maintain registration. These include requirements to treat people with dignity and respect, keeping records of the provision of care and treatment, and involving people in making informed decisions about their care and treatment.

Where providers are not meeting the registration requirements, the commission will have the flexibility to use its independent enforcement powers to bring poor providers back into compliance or to prevent people who use services from being exposed to serious risk of harm.

Social Care: Inspectors

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many social care inspectors there are; and how they are distributed around the country. [HL3454]

Inspection of adult social care providers is now the responsibility of the new independent regulator, the Care Quality Commission, which took over from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission on 1 April 2009.

I am informed by the Care Quality Commission that the number of social care inspectors it employs is as shown in the table below.

Social care inspectors employed by the Care Quality Commission

Location

Position

Total

West Midlands

Pharmacy Inspector

3

Regulatory Inspector

89

Service Inspector

1

Total

93

South-West

Pharmacy Inspector

4

Regulatory Inspector

98

Service Inspector

1

Total

103

London/South-East

Pharmacy Inspector

5

Regulatory Inspector

228

Service Inspector

6

Total

239

Newcastle/York and Humber

Pharmacy Inspector

2

Regulatory Inspector

117

Total

119

Eastern / East Midlands

Pharmacy Inspector

3

Regulatory Inspector

143

Service Inspector

3

Total

149

North-West

Pharmacy Inspector

5

Regulatory Inspector

91

Service Inspector

3

Total

99

Grand Total

802

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether social care worker inspectors notify people before making visits. [HL3530]

The regulation of adult social care providers is now the responsibility of the new independent regulator, the Care Quality Commission, which took over from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission on 1 April 2009.

The commission has the power to conduct an inspection of any registered service provider at any time if it considers it appropriate, with or without prior notification.

Social Care: Regulator

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what powers the regulator of social care workers possesses. [HL3531]

The General Social Care Council (GSCC) was established under the Care Standards Act 2000 as the regulator for social care workers in England. Similar bodies have been established in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The functions of the GSCC are to promote high standards of conduct and practice among social care workers and high standards in training. The council has wide general powers to enable it to carry out these functions effectively, efficiently and economically subject to any directions or guidance from the Secretary of State. It is specifically required to maintain a register of social workers and such social care workers as are specified in regulations. Currently the council registers social workers, including visiting social workers from relevant European states, and student social workers.

The council is required to grant applications for registration if they are satisfied of the applicant's good character and fitness to perform the work required and may require certain training conditions to be fulfilled and impose other conditions relating to conduct and competence. It has powers to register applicants unconditionally or subject to conditions or refuse applications. It may also remove or suspend applicants from the register and can restore registrations.

The council is required to make rules about the requirements for application to and removal from the register and the maintenance of the register. It may also make rules relating to requirements as to conduct and competence, the approval of courses in relevant social work, further training and training for social care workers, and the visiting of places at which relevant courses are given or examinations held. Rules made by the council which may make provision for the payment of fees must be made with the consent of the Secretary of State.

The council is, subject to appropriate consultation, also required to prepare, publish and keep under review codes of practice for social care workers and their employers or those seeking to employ them. These codes may also include social workers when carrying out the functions of approved mental health professionals.

Sport: Security

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to protect travelling sports teams from potential attacks similar to the one recently made on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. [HL2583]

The Government's refreshed counterterrorism strategy, CONTEST, published in March, aims to reduce the risk of international terrorism to the UK and our interests overseas, so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence. This includes sports teams in the UK and those travelling overseas.

The police have long-standing arrangements in place to work closely with sports organisations to ensure that security requirements are adequately considered. Security at sporting events is kept under constant review as a matter of course based on assessment of risk, which takes into account both threat and vulnerability. There are well established and exercised plans in place to deal with a wide range of potential situations. The Government's long-standing policy is not to comment on specific protective security measures as to do so could compromise any arrangements that are in place.

Swine Flu

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the projected total cost of their response to the outbreak of swine flu. [HL3441]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had regarding the naming of swine flu and the dissemination of information about it. [HL3478]

At the outset of the outbreak, World Health Organisation (WHO) officials were referring to the new virus strain as “swine flu”. On 30 April 2009 the WHO decided to refer to the new influenza virus as “influenza A (H1N1)”. Following this WHO decision, HM Government considered the question of the naming of swine flu, and decided to continue to use the term “swine flu” in order not to confuse the public in our communications.

We have also produced a leaflet entitled Important information about swine flu. This contains important information about this flu outbreak and started going out to all United Kingdom households on 5 May. We expect everyone to receive their leaflet by 19 May.

Terrorism Act

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many authorisations under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 are in force; and how long they have been in force. [HL3467]

The Home Office does not make the fact of the existence of an authorisation in any particular area public while it is running or for how long a particular force has had an authorisation. Each authorisation will last for a maximum of 28 days as set out in Section 46(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000. However, it is open to the chief officer to share this information where he thinks it is appropriate on a local level.

Terrorism Act: Section 44 Powers

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the geographical extent of each of the authorisations under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 that are in force. [HL3468]

The Home Office does not make the fact of the existence of an authorisation in any particular area public while it is running or for how long a particular force has had an authorisation. This includes the geographical extent of each of the authorisations. It is the responsibility of an ACPO rank officer in the relevant police forces to justify reasons for an authorisation to cover a whole force area or a designated area. It is open to the chief officer of the relevant police force to share this information where they think it is appropriate.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many authorisations under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act have been subject to legal scrutiny, as referred to in Home Office circular 027/2008. [HL3469]

Under Section 36 of the Terrorism Act 2006 a report on the operation of the provisions of the Terrorism Act 2000 and Part 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006 must be laid before both Houses of Parliament every 12 months.

The reviews of and reports on these Acts are carried out by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC in his role as independent reviewer of terrorism legislation and this includes scrutiny of Section 44 authorisations which he conducts twice yearly. The only legal challenge to a Section 44 authorisation was in R (Gillan) v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2006] UKHL 12. The challenge was rejected by the House of Lords.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what community impact measures have been taken in areas where authorisations under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 have been made. [HL3470]

A community impact assessment is completed by all forces prior to a Section 44 authorisation being confirmed. Forces need to consider whether it is appropriate to consult representatives of the local community in advance of authorising the powers. However, any decision not to consult with the community, due to operational reasons, should be fully explained and justified by the authorising officer.