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Written Answers

Volume 711: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

Written Answers

Monday 1 June 2009

Airports: Heathrow

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will respond to the report by the Independent Monitoring Board for Heathrow Airport, in particular its comment that it perceives a “deep-seated negative attitude” towards those detained in immigration custody at the airport. [HL3488]

The UK Border Agency is appreciative of the work of the Independent Monitoring Board at Heathrow Airport. Many of the suggested improvements referred to in the IMB's report had already been identified and are already work in progress. A response to the issues raised in the report is being prepared and will be sent to the chair of the board before the end of May.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take to address the Independent Monitoring Board for Heathrow Airport's comments about facilities for personal hygiene in five of the six detention areas. [HL3489]

The UK Border Agency is appreciative of the work of the Independent Monitoring Board at Heathrow Airport. Many of the suggested improvements referred to in the IMB's report had already been identified and are already work in progress. A response to the issues raised in the report is being prepared and will be sent to the chair of the board before the end of May.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take to address the Independent Monitoring Board for Heathrow Airport's comments about UK Border Agency escorting patterns when men, women and child detainees are brought to the airport. [HL3490]

The UK Border Agency is appreciative of the work of the Independent Monitoring Board at Heathrow Airport. Many of the suggested improvements referred to in the IMB's report had already been identified and are already work in progress. A response to the issues raised in the report is being prepared and will be sent to the chair of the board before the end of May.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take to address the Independent Monitoring Board for Heathrow Airport's comments about meeting reasonable welfare needs and treating detainees with humanity. [HL3491]

The UK Border Agency is appreciative of the work of the Independent Monitoring Board at Heathrow Airport. Many of the suggested improvements referred to in the IMB's report had already been identified and are already work in progress. A response to the issues raised in the report is being prepared and will be sent to the chair of the board before the end of May.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the chairman and members of the Independent Monitoring Board for Heathrow Airport will be included in any discussions or decisions which are made on their report. [HL3492]

The Independent Monitoring Board regularly meets representatives from the UK Border Agency and its contractors to discuss detainee welfare concerns. The UKBA is producing an action plan following the acknowledgement to the IMB's annual report from the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration. The IMB will be invited to attend meetings to review its progress.

Alcohol

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people attend accident and emergency departments on Friday and Saturday nights with alcohol-related problems; and how that figure compares with other weekdays. [HL3684]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many reported cases of domestic violence involve one or other party having drunk alcohol. [HL3685]

The British Crime Survey 2007-08 reports that 37 per cent of domestic violence incidents involve offenders who are perceived to be under the influence of alcohol.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the percentage of the population that regularly exceeds the Department of Health's recommended daily limit for alcohol consumption. [HL3687]

The department bases estimates of increasing risk and higher risk drinking on average weekly consumption as the nearest proxy for regular drinking in the adult population. This shows compliance or not with government lower-risk guidelines (not regularly drinking more than two to three units daily, equivalent to no more than 14 units weekly, for women; three to four units daily, equivalent to no more than 21 units weekly, for men).

The General Household Survey 2008, using 2006 data, reported that 31 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women reported drinking above lower-risk limits.

Armed Forces: Accommodation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the allowable rental on central London properties for military personnel serving in the Ministry of Defence main building on Whitehall for whom service accommodation is not available. [HL3922]

In recognition of the highly mobile nature of service life, it is Ministry of Defence (MoD) policy that service accommodation is provided for all entitled service personnel as part of their terms and conditions of service. In cases where no suitable service accommodation is available, substitute accommodation is sourced from the commercial rental market via the MoD accommodation agency contractor in order to meet this obligation. Substitute accommodation is normally provided within the same radius/travelling time from a place of work as service accommodation.

Different arrangements apply to single and family accommodation. Where the provision of substitute service single accommodation (SSSA) is required an indicative rental ceiling is applicable. Strict criteria also govern entitlement, property specification, furnishing, and standard.

Indicative rental ceilings are set by the MoD in conjunction with the contractor and reviewed regularly. The indicative rental ceilings as at 1 January 2009 are set out in the table below:

Indicative Monthly Rental Ceilings For SSSA effective from 1 January 2009

Band

Rank

London

A2

Rear Admiral/Air Vice Marshal/Major General or above

£1,380

A1

Commodore/Brigadier/Air Commodore or equivalent

£1,250

A

Captain/Colonel/Group Captain or equivalent

£1,240

B

Commander/Lt Colonel/Wing Commander/Lt Commander/Major/Squadron Leader or equivalent

£1,100

C

All other junior officers

£840

D

Warrant Officer/CPO/Staff Sgt/Flt Sgt or equivalent

£780

E

Leading Rating/Corporal and below

£770

Substitute service family accommodation (SSFA) broadly equates to a service person's equivalent entitlement to service family accommodation (SFA). Because of the unpredictability of the commercial rental market there is no indicative rental ceiling. Approval is required by defence estates, which is provided in accordance with a locally determined average of rents to ensure value for money. Occupants of SSFA pay daily charges for comparable SFA of a similar size/type.

Rental payment is made directly by the MoD to the contractor who then pays the landlord. Individuals may occupy properties in excess of their entitlement by payment of a personal contribution towards the rent.

Separate arrangements apply to a small number of official service residences.

Armed Forces: Pay

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the salary range on 1 April for Lieutenant-Colonels (or equivalent ranks in other services) up to 2-star level in (a) 1979, (b) 1989, (c) 1999 and (d) 2009. [HL3921]

The annual salary ranges (inclusive of X-factor1) for Lieutenant-Colonels (and equivalent ranks) up to Major-General (2-star rank and equivalents) are shown in the following table.

01 Apr 79

01 Apr 89

01 Apr 99

01 Apr 09

Lieutenant-Colonel

£10,921 to £12,078

£28,050 to £30,999

£47,366 to £52,359

£65,717 to £76,095

Colonel

£12,828 to £14,175

£32,346 to £35,748

£55,060 to £60,856

£79,716 to £87,655

Brigadier2(1 star)

£15,251

£38,748

£67,448

£95,128 to £98,984

Major-General2(2 star)

£ 18,000

£43,100

£68,115 to £76,250

£103,872.96 to £117,065.04

Notes:

1. X-factor was introduced in 1970 to recognise the relative disadvantage in conditions of service experienced by members of the Armed Forces in comparison to civilian life.

2. Prior to 2001, for Officers at 1-star rank and prior to 1999, for Officers at 2-star rank there was only one rate of pay, known as a “spot rate”. A new pay structure was implemented in 2001 and 1999 respectively, which introduced a pay range for 1-star and 2-star officers.

Armed Forces: Piracy

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (a) ships, (b) rotary wing aircraft, and (c) other assets, are deployed in combating piracy off the Horn of Africa. [HL3924]

There are currently three maritime assets (two ships and one helicopter) operating around the Horn of Africa. HMS “Portland”, with a Lynx MK8 helicopter on board, is conducting maritime operations which include counter- piracy and protecting vulnerable shipping. HMS “Portland” is supported by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker “Wave Knight”.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much British naval deployments in combating piracy have cost in each year since 2007. [HL3925]

Combating piracy is one of a number of concurrent tasks carried out by Royal Navy units. Therefore, the cost of the British naval deployments in combating piracy could only be broken down at disproportionate cost.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the number of (a) British ships, and (b) other maritime assets, participating in Operation Atalanta following the increase in size of Atalanta's area of responsibility. [HL3926]

The UK provided HMS “Northumberland” from the start of Operation Atalanta on 8 December 2008 to the 28 February 2009. Currently, we have no plans to contribute further UK assets to Operation Atalanta, but we keep this under review in light of UK operational priorities and force generation requirements.

Asylum Seekers

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in how many asylum 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 those cases from each of those years remain to be reconsidered; and 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. [HL3572]

The High Court shows that 831 asylum judicial reviews were withdrawn in 2006 and 997 asylum judicial reviews were withdrawn in 2007. However the High Court 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 and so this information is not available.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they record what happens to failed asylum seekers returned to their country of origin. [HL3705]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to him in my letter of 18 June 2008, a copy of which has been placed in the Library.

Autism

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which constabularies include formal modules on autism or autism awareness in their police recruitment training course; and, of those that provide such training, what training they provide. [HL3714]

Both the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) and the Police Community Support Officer learning programme contain modules relating to dealing with persons with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs). Both programmes also cover individuals with learning difficulties, which would apply to those with ASDs. All police forces in England and Wales, including the British Transport Police, are required to demonstrate that they meet all the learning outcomes of IPLDP.

A list of modules which are taken by all police officers as part of IPLDP are given in the attached table. The modules listed have a specific focus on vulnerable persons with a disability or learning difficulties. However, promoting equality, dealing with people in a fair and ethical manner and recognising and responding to the needs of individuals in respect of race and diversity is a theme that is evident throughout IPLDP. This includes having due regard to the Disability Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Act at all times in every situation and interaction. It is expected that during the delivery of training in any subject area, the trainer will make links to develop learning in this area at every opportunity where appropriate.

IPLDP Module

Overview

IND 06—assess the needs of individuals and provide advice and support

Includes a section on identifying vulnerable witnesses

IND10—using police actions in a fair and justified way

Covers communication skills and specifically mentions ASD as a condition that could affect communication

OP6a—interviewing victims and witnesses

Highlights the potential for communication difficulties and misunderstanding with ASD

Op6b—interviewing suspects

Covers dealing with vulnerable people, whether they are a victim, witness or suspect and the need to treat vulnerable people with particular consideration at all times

OP9—prepare and present case information, present evidence and finalise investigations

Features a section on witnesses with learning difficulties and deals with how witnesses with learning difficulties may find the criminal justice process especially stressful, and on occasion, traumatic

LPG 1.3.7—victims and witnesses

Looks at the code of practice for the victims of crime and specifically deals with vulnerable and intimidated witnesses

LPG 1.3.18—strategies for dealing with persons suffering from mental disorder

Includes identifying people with learning difficulties and court appearances for people with learning difficulties

LPG 1.3.19—mental health

Covers dealing with and interviewing people with learning difficulties and mental disorders. it looks at communication and memory difficulties and responses to perceived aggression

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 30 April (WA 57), what procedures are in place in Essex for educationalists making, confirming or overturning a diagnosis of autism. [HL3815]

Aviation: Air Shows

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government who is responsible for safety at air shows along the north-west coast of England. [HL3835]

Responsibility for safety at air shows in the UK lies with the organiser. The statutory responsibility for the safety regulation of United Kingdom civil aviation rests with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Article 80 of the Air Navigation Order 2005 requires organisers of flying displays to obtain the permission of the CAA.

The order covers civil and military aircraft participating in flying displays at civilian venues. The order does not cover flying displays at civilian venues where the only participants are military aircraft. Comparable safety standards covering United Kingdom and foreign military aircraft participating in Ministry of Defence and other air displays are contained in military joint service publications.

Banking: Bank of Scotland (Ireland)

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Myners on 20 April (WA 302–03) concerning monitoring the activities of the Bank of Scotland (Ireland) in the United Kingdom, what was meant by “regulated primarily by the Irish Financial Regulator”; and which of the bank's operations are regulated by the Financial Services Authority. [HL3143]

Benefits: Deflation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 5 May (WA 105), by what date deflation-proofing legislation would need to be commenced to enable any deflationary movement in the retail prices, Rossi and average earnings indices of September 2009 to be taken account of in the rating of benefits in April 2010; and what preparations they have made for any downrating. [HL3626]

In the 2009 Budget the Chancellor made the following commitment:

“the Government will at least maintain the cash value of all benefits, tax credits and personal tax allowances and thresholds in April 2010, despite the expectation RPI inflation will be negative in September this year”.

The existing legislation already allows for this.

Burma

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Burma about the Burmese political prisoner Myo Yan Naung Thein, in the light of recent comments by family members living in the United Kingdom. [HL3673]

Our ambassador in Rangoon has repeatedly raised the need for the release of all political prisoners in Burma with ministers in the military government. In the case of Yan Naung Thein, like many other prisoners, we are concerned that he is not in good health. Our embassy in Rangoon continues to inquire about specific cases with political prisoner support networks and those non-governmental organisations concerned with prisoner welfare.

In the UN’s human rights bodies we take every opportunity to press the regime to uphold international human rights norms and release political prisoners. We continue to support the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human rights in Myanmar, Mr Tomas Quintana. In a statement to the Human Rights Council on 18 March 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur called upon the Burmese authorities progressively to release all prisoners of conscience.

Our embassy in Rangoon continues to update Mr Quintana’s team on specific prisoners of particular concern, including Myo Yan Naung Thein.

China: Human Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they next intend to raise the situation of the blind Chinese human rights activist, Chen Guangcheng, with the Government of China; and whether in any representation they will request his early release from prison. [HL3253]

We raised the case of Chen Guangcheng at the last round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue on 12 January 2009, together with the cases of other human rights defenders. Although the Chinese side failed to provide us with a satisfactory response, we are aware that it has since replied to you with a more recent letter with further information on the case. We had also raised this case at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in January 2008 and had previously raised a number of concerns about his treatment in prison with the Chinese Government. We lobby through the EU as well and expect his case to be raised in the course of the next EU-China Human Rights Dialogue. We continue to monitor his situation and will raise his case if we receive reports of mistreatment.

Civil Service: Performance Pay

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Statement by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 31 March (cols. WS 83–84), what was the estimated size of the Home Office's non-consolidated performance-related pay pot for the Senior Civil Service in each of the last five years for which information is available. [HL2902]

Pay arrangements for the Senior Civil Service are based on recommendations by the independent Senior Salaries Review Body.

The size of the pot as a proportion of the pay bill in each year since 2005 is shown in the attached table.

Table showing Bonus Pot for each of the last five years

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

5.0%

6.5%

7.6%

8.6%

8.6%

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government (a) what the total monetary value of Senior Civil Service non-consolidated performance pay awards was in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (b) how many and what proportion of the Senior Civil Service staff in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office received performance pay awards by SCS pay band, and (c) how those awards were distributed by pay band and award category, for each of the past five years for which data are available. [HL3363]

Non-consolidated performance related pay arrangements for staff in the Senior Civil Service/Senior Management Structure in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) follow a framework set centrally for Whitehall departments and based on the Government's response to the annual recommendations of the Senior Salaries Review Body.

The total monetary value of non-consolidated, non-pensionable performance-related variable pay awards for SMS staff in the FCO in each year was:

2008: £2,435,100 for performance in 2007-08.

2007: £2,201,790 for performance in 2006-07.

2006: £2,086,636 for performance in 2005-06.

2005: £1,509,410 for performance in 2004-05.

The number and proportion of eligible staff who received non-consolidated performance payments in each year was:

2008: 288 (75 per cent)

2007: 348 (83 per cent)

2006: 336 (78 per cent)

2005: 375 (83 per cent)

Individual awards were distributed in the following ranges:

2008

Pay band 1: £0 - £11,500.

Pay band 2: £0 - £14,000.

Pay band 3: £0 - £17,000.

2007

Pay band 1: £0 - £11,000.

Pay band 2: £0 - £14,000.

Pay band 3: £0 - £16,000.

2006

Pay band 1: £0 - £9,000.

Pay band 2: £0 - £10,000.

Pay band 3: £0 - £14,000.

2005

Pay band 1: £0 - £6,000.

Pay band 2: £0 - £7,000.

Pay band 3: £0 - £13,000.

Breaking these bonus payments down further by category and pay band would involve disproportionate cost.

We do not hold records in our central database of payments before 2005.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Young of Norwood Green on 21 April (WA 384) concerning the amount of funding for Senior Civil Servants' performance-related pay, what were the figures requested. [HL3635]

The department was created on 28 June 2007. The information requested is set out below in terms of the total paybill and percentage agreed centrally for non-consolidated performance payment:

Year

SCS total paybill

Non-consolidated performance budget—% of paybill

Non-consolidated performance payments

2007-08

£10,488,146

7.6

£577,972

2008-09

£8,616,241

8.6

£311,500

2009-10

£9,918,215

8.6

£493,875

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 20 April 2009 (WA 318) concerning the amount of funding for Senior Civil Servants' performance-related pay, what were the figures requested. [HL3638]

The following amounts were paid in relation to performance related variable pay.

2008: £2,435,100 for performance in 2007-08 (8.6 per cent of senior pay bill).

2007: £2,201,790 for performance in 2006-07 (7.6 per cent of senior pay bill).

2006: £2,086,636 for performance in 2005-06 (6.5 per cent of senior pay bill).

2005: £1,509,410 for performance in 2004-05 (5 per cent of senior pay bill).

We do not hold figures in our central database for payments in 2004.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 27 April (WA 2) concerning the amount of funding for Senior Civil Servants' performance-related pay, what were the figures requested. [HL3640]

The following table gives the department’s total Senior Civil Service (SCS) pay bill figures for each year since 2005 together with the associated percentages which show the size of the non-consolidated pot as a proportion of pay bill:

Year

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Pay bill (£)

20,742,391.80

20,800,944.32

21,348,897.63

21,830,008.98

23,197,363.53

Non-consolidated Pot as %

5.0%

6.5%

7.6%

8.6%

8.6%

Pay bill figures given are as at 31 March for each year.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Carter of Barnes on 21 April (WA 383) concerning the amount of funding for Senior Civil Servants' performance-related pay, what were the figures requested. [HL3641]

A close and effective link between pay and performance and increased use of variable pay is a key element of the reward arrangements for the Civil Service and the Senior Civil Service in particular.

Year

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

Pot

5.0%

6.5%

7.6%

8.6%

8.6%

SCS Paybill

£2,301,562

£2,331,897

£3,659,835

£2,416,714

£3,751,564*

* This figure is an estimate only (payroll data for April 2009 are multiplied by 12)

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 20 April (WA 318) concerning the amount of funding for Senior Civil Servants' performance-related pay, what were the figures requested. [HL3642]

The information requested is set out below in terms of the total paybill and percentage agreed centrally for non-consolidated performance payments:

Year

SCS total paybill (£m)

Non-consolidated performance budget—% of paybill

Non-consolidated performance payments (£m)

2005-06

9.77

5.0

0.49

2006-07

9.83

6.5

0.64

2007-08

10.43

7.6

0.80

2008-09

9.26

8.6

0.80

2009-10

10.16

8.6

0.87

Colombia

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will monitor the trial of the head of the Colombian Internal Security Department, Jorge Noguera Cotes. [HL3782]

Our embassy in Bogota will follow this case. The allegations made against Jorge Noguera are serious and we are encouraged that a high level investigation is being taken forward. We hope that the investigation and any judicial process will be taken forward impartially and in accordance with Colombian law.

Common Agricultural Policy: Single Farm Payment

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many single farm payments are outstanding from 2005 to 2008; and what proportion were settled after the date they were due to be paid. [HL3465]

The payment window for the single payment scheme (SPS) is from 1 December to 30 June of the following calendar year.

The table below gives the number of claims under SPS that remain to be paid for the scheme years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. It also shows the percentage of claims where an initial payment was made after the regulatory payment deadline for the scheme years 2005, 2006 and 2007. The payment window for the 2008 scheme year is still open.

SPS Scheme Year

Number of Claims Outstanding at 13 May 2009

*** % Claims where First Payment was made after 30 June

2005

4*

8.8%

2006

12*

1.2%

2007

63*

0.95%

2008

4,100**

-

* These are primarily probate cases and those where payment has been made by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and returned by the receiving bank. RPA is working to resolve these issues with the customers involved.

** This figure includes claims that may not be valid for payment once all the necessary checks are completed.

*** This is a percentage of the total number of claims made.

Credit Cards

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they propose to require credit card companies to identify clearly in statements when monthly amounts should be settled and the timescale for posting cheques. [HL3379]

The Government already expect lenders to specify on statements the payment due date where an amount is due. Industry best practice guidance requires lenders to clearly state the payment due date in statements. Under that guidance, statements should also list the various methods consumers can use to make a payment, giving clear advice on how long they should allow to ensure that their payment reaches their lender in time.

Criminal Justice: Mental Health

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to establish criminal justice mental health teams in all primary care trusts in England, as recommended in the Bradley report; and whether these will be mandated in the next NHS Operating Framework. [HL3828]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to act upon the Bradley report recommendation for a 14-day waiting time target for transfers from prison to hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983. [HL3829]

Lord Bradley's report has made 82 recommendations and the Government endorse the aims behind these recommendations. However, Lord Bradley's report itself recognises many recommendations, including those relating to criminal justice mental health teams and the 14 day waiting time target to transfer prisoners to hospital, are longer term and will need further work to ensure that all implications are considered. This work will be remitted to the new National Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board which will report progress to Parliament in October 2009.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to explore the feasibility of transferring responsibility for commissioning healthcare in police stations to the National Health Service. [HL3830]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to conduct a review of the potential for early intervention with children and young people at risk of offending, as recommended in the Bradley report. [HL3831]

Lord Bradley's report has made 82 recommendations and the Government have produced a response to each of these recommendations in its Written Ministerial Statement, which was published alongside Lord Bradley's report.

The Government are clear in this response that the new Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board, set up as a result of another of Lord Bradley's recommendations, will examine the potential benefits of transferring commissioning in police stations to the National Health Service and report to Ministers on the options by April 2010. However, Lord Bradley's report itself recognises many recommendations, including that concerning a further review of the potential for early intervention with children and young people, are longer term and will need further work to ensure that all implications are considered. This work will also be remitted to the new National Health and Criminal Justice Programme Board, which will develop its delivery plan based on Lord Bradley's recommendations and report progress to Parliament in October 2009.

Cycling

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which departments are implementing their cycle to work scheme. [HL3774]

This information is not held centrally by the Department for Transport and the information we do hold is incomplete. It is for each department to implement a scheme for its employees as it chooses.

The Department for Transport has had a cycle-to-work scheme in place since November 2006, in addition to an advance of salary scheme to provide employees with access to a bicycle.

Cyclists

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to Westminster City Council about the re-arrangement of foot and cycle paths in the area of the Palace of Westminster to allow more clearly marked areas for cyclists. [HL3910]

None; 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 the relevant highway and traffic authority; in this instance, Westminster City Council.

De-militarisation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have been involved in discussions between Turkey, Iraq, the Kurdish Regional Government, the United States and the Kurdistan Workers Party about regional self-determination and de-militarisation; and what assessment they have made of progress on those issues. [HL3717]

The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK, and we are not involved in discussions with it. However, we continue to discuss PKK terrorist activity with the Governments of Iraq, Turkey and the US as well as with the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq (KRG). In this context the UK welcomes the tripartite mechanism set up between Iraq, Turkey and the US. The UK also welcomes the continued dialogue between Turkey and the KRG on this issue, which, together with addressing the economic, political and social needs of the south-east, should help to resolve the situation.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of (a) the number of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and (b) the effectiveness of the campaign to demobilise child soldiers. [HL3671]

A recent visit of the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict reported that in North Kivu there were 1,200 child soldiers. However, it is difficult to assess the accuracy of this figure or to find a reliable estimate regarding the overall number of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Last year new cases of recruitment of children were attributed to a number of armed groups including the Coalition of Congolese Patriotic Resistance, Mai-Mai, the National Congress for the Defence of the People, the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda and the Lords Resistance Army.

We are concerned by reports of continuing child recruitment in violation of international law, including those being integrated into the Congolese armed forces due to the lack of a proper screening process. The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) has reported some recent successes in freeing child soldiers, including the rescue of 23 children in South Kivu at the end of April 2009.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the final decision regarding the removal of Blaise Kamba and his two sisters to the Democratic Republic of Congo. [HL3703]

Disabled Children

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 30 April (WA 57), how disabled children receive services based on their needs as assessed by a multi-disciplinary team; and what bodies constitute that multi-disciplinary team. [HL3818]

The National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services chapter on disabled children and young people and those with complex health needs sets out guidance on integrated diagnosis and assessment for disabled children. A copy has already been placed in the Library.

Healthy Lives, Brighter Futures, the strategy for children and young people's health, reiterates the importance of multi-disciplinary teams. A copy has already been placed in the Library. These teams may include a range of health and children's services professionals, depending on the needs of the individual child, such as:

doctors, including community paediatricians;

community children's nurses;

health visitors;

allied health professionals including: physiotherapists; speech therapists and occupational therapists;

staff from child and adolescent mental health services; specialist health professionals for rare conditions; social workers;

school health services;

midwives; and

neonatal nurses.

Drugs: Khat

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are considering classifying khat as a controlled substance, following the report in the Guardian on 11 May. [HL3746]

Pursuant to our commitment in the Government's 2008 Drug Strategy Action Plan, we are currently updating our understanding of the individual and social harms caused by khat use, the needs of khat users and their families, and its impact on the UK Somali, Ethiopian and Yemeni communities. Following the outcome of this research work, we will reconsider our position on the control of khat under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

e-Borders

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many personnel will be required for case-by-case investigation of e-borders alerts when the system goes nationwide; and what will be the cost of undertaking those checks. [HL3472]

e-Borders alerts will be an integral part of agencies’ normal border activities including managing immigration, tackling smuggling and the detection and arrest of offenders. It is not possible to directly attribute the number of personnel required to investigate e-Borders alerts at the border or the cost of undertaking those checks.

Economy: National Debt

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have assessed any relationship between extending British working lives and reducing public borrowing. [HL3518]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have assessed any relationship between extending British working lives and reducing national debt. [HL3519]

The Government are committed to maintaining and improving the employment opportunities for older workers. Between 1997 and 2008 the employment rate of older workers rose from 65 per cent to 72 per cent. Currently, around 1.3 million people have chosen to carry on working past state pension age. The Government's existing policies on the state pension age are incorporated into projections for the public finances.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 10 January 2008 (WA 217) regarding the separation between researchers and those carrying out a woman's infertility treatment, whether a researcher at a licensed centre would be permitted to give medication or collect eggs from patients; and what steps they have taken to ensure that personnel engaged in the treatment of patients are not also directly engaged in research with gametes or embryos from the same patients. [HL3769]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised me that where donated gametes are used for the purpose of research, the HFEA code of practice requires clinics to ensure that aspects of the clinical and research roles are separated, and that personnel giving medication and carrying out egg collection are qualified and competent to perform such tasks.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 18 May (WA 251), why the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) sees no need to reiterate the public comments made by its former chair; and whether the HFEA still supports the comments of the former HFEA chair made in January 2004. [HL3859]

I have been advised by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority that the comments made by the former chair in January 2004 still stand.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 16 July 2008 (WA 153–4), 6 May (WA 117) and 18 May (WA 250), why it would be inappropriate for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to indicate how it might respond to potential licence applications, if the HFEA's Horizon Scanning Panel ensures that the HFEA is aware of potential licence applications in order to be prepared with an authority policy or position, and given that the HFEA previously consulted Dr P M Zavos's work. [HL3860]

I have been advised by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that licence applications have to be considered by a licence committee of the HFEA; they are not considered by the authority as a whole. HFEA licence committees are required to consider individual licence applications on their merits, taking into account the circumstances of the particular application before them. These can include the character and qualification of the person responsible to be named on the licence, the suitability of the proposed premises, scrutiny of whether use of embryos is necessary or desirable to carry out that particular research project and scrutiny of the protocols and consent forms. Therefore, general indications regarding whether the HFEA would grant particular licences would serve little purpose.

When making policy the HFEA may take into account any relevant advice received from its advisory committees and its horizon scanning panel, which keeps abreast of a wide range of scientific work.

Employment: Access to Records

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will allow employers to access records of school achievements, exclusions and expulsions in respect of young people entering the job market. [HL3757]

The department owns the National Pupil Database which contains pupil and student characteristic information from the School Census, matched to attainment data at each key stage. Under the Education (Individual Pupil Information) (Prescribed Persons) (England) Regulations 2009, the department may provide individual pupil information to prescribed persons. Potential employers are not included in the list of prescribed persons, and the department does not provide a service to employers to access pupil records.

Employment: Migrant Workers

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take to implement the High Court judgments of April 2008 and April 2009 regarding the settlement criteria for highly skilled migrants. [HL3487]

The UK Border Agency formed a new policy in July 2008, in order to implement the High Court judgment of April 2008.

Following the subsequent High Court judgment concerning the change in the qualifying time period for settlement, which was handed down on 6 April 2009, the court has given the UK Border Agency until 20 May 2009 to form a further new policy. This new policy will be published on the UK Border Agency website.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what conclusions they draw for improving the protection of foreign domestic workers from the decisions of the Employment Tribunal in the cases of Awan v Shariff and Salleh (case No 3302759/2007, judgment on 1 August 2008) and Asuquo v Gbaja (case No. 3200383/ 2008, judgment on 2 January). [HL3690]

It is for the tribunals to decide whether UK employment protection legislation applies to foreign domestic workers in particular cases. It would be inappropriate to comment on their decisions, but we note that the applicants in the cases cited were successful in, for instance, asserting their right to the national minimum wage.

Energy: Meters

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how the new agency created to manage Smart meters will ensure the security of personal data. [HL3702]

The Government published a consultation on smart metering on 11 May 2009 (available on the open consultations section of the DECC website). The consultation document sets out the Government's preference for delivery model under which suppliers would procure and install smart meters and a national communications network would be put in place to support smart meter communications. Final decisions on the delivery model will be taken once the consultation is complete.

The consultation document also includes discussion of the preparation programme that will be needed before the roll out of smart meters can begin. Data access and data protection will be considered as part of that programme. Privacy impact assessments and Data Protection Act compliance checks will be required at appropriate stages of the project, and the detailed design and delivery of the project as a whole will be taken forward in consultation with the Ministry of Justice and the Information Commissioner as appropriate.

Energy: Wind Farms

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements are in place to reconcile the requirements of draft proposals for Special Areas of Conservation with those of Round Three of the Crown Estate's leasing programme for wind farms. [HL3755]

Under the EC habitats directive, 1992, the UK is obliged to designate special areas of conservation. Their designation can be based only on scientific evidence and European case law rules that socio-economic impacts cannot be taken into account in the designation process.

My department is currently considering draft proposals for special areas of conservation (SACs) from the statutory nature conservation bodies. We are likely to conduct a formal consultation on these sites in November 2009.

Any development that is likely to have a significant effect on the SAC, either individually or in combination with other plans and projects, such as construction of wind farms, must be assessed in accordance with Article 6.3 of the habitats directive which is transposed and implemented in the UK by the Habitats Regulations 1994 and the Offshore Marine Conservation Regulations 2007. In the event of a negative assessment and absence of alternative solutions, a development may be carried out for reasons of overriding public interest, as long as compensatory measures are put in place to ensure the overall coherence of the site network. Designation of an area as an SAC does not necessarily restrict the construction or operation of wind farms in or near that area.

Equal Pay

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in light of the report in the Financial Times of 5 May, whether there is a gender pay gap in the Army Base Repair Organisation; if so, what is the percentage difference; and what are the reasons for the difference. [HL3720]

The Army Base Repair Organisation became part of the new Defence Support Group Trading Fund on 1 April 2008. I refer the noble Lord to a similar Answer I gave on 19 May (Official Report, col. WA 292-93) to the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi. I would also like to direct him to the tables on gender pay gaps as set out in the Civil Service Statistics, Table 27, which is provided at the following link at www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_labour/CivilService_tables_2008.xls.

Any overall pay gap figure is not relevant in the context of equal pay legislation as it does not compare like-for-like work.

Equal Pay: Government Departments

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what pay gaps there are in respect of gender, race and disability among employees of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. [HL3318]

This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

I refer the noble Baroness to tables 25 (ethnicity), 26 (disability) and 27 (gender) on the 2008 Civil Service Statistics website that provides details of the pay gaps that exist under the various categories for the department, in relation to gender and for the Civil Service as a whole, in relation to ethnicity and disability.

These details can be accessed via the attached link at www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_labour/CivilService_tables_2008.xls.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what pay gaps there are in respect of gender, race and disability among employees of the Home Office. [HL3458]

The latest published information on gender pay differentials in the Home Office is available on the Civil Service Statistics website (table 27 refers) at www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_labour/CivilService_tables_2008.xls.

Information about Home Office pay differentials relating to ethnicity and disability is not available for the same period, and to obtain it would incur disproportionate cost. However, the Civil Service Statistics website sets out this information for the Civil Service as a whole: Tables 25 (Median Earnings by Ethnicity) and 26 (Median Earnings by Disability) refer.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is a gender pay gap in the Wales Office; if so, what is the percentage difference; and what are the reasons for the difference. [HL3511]

Data available on staffing levels in the Civil Service is collected by the Cabinet Office and published in the Civil Service Statistics, a copy of which can be found at:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_labour/CivilService_tables_2008.xls

The Wales Office Annual Report 2008 (Cm 7404) includes details of staff by gender. A copy of the Wales Office Departmental Report 2008 can be obtained from the Library of the House.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in light of the report in the Financial Times of 5 May, whether there is a gender pay gap in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; if so, what is the percentage difference; and what are the reasons for the difference. [HL3721]

Pay gaps by gender for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are published in the Civil Service Statistics, and are set out below.

Median EarningsMean Earnings

Male

Female

% Diff

Male

Female

% Diff

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

32,130

27,600

14.1

37,640

30,920

17.9

It is important to note that the gap highlighted above is not relevant in the context of equal pay legislation, as it does not compare like-for-like work.

Equality Bill

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will seek the agreement of the Northern Ireland Executive for the Equality Bill to extend to Northern Ireland in relation to amendments to, and re-enactment of, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. [HL3739]

The decision on whether or not to seek the extension of the Equality Bill to Northern Ireland is a matter for the devolved Administration.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the report on the informal exercise on the extent to which some communities believe caste is a continuing social phenomenon within British society and on the question of whether there is evidence that individuals have been discriminated against on that ground; and what implications that exercise has for the Equality Bill. [HL3780]

To ask Her Majesty's Government why caste is not one of the protected characteristics listed in Clause 4 of the Equality Bill. [HL3781]

Caste has not been included within the scope of the Equality Bill because there is insufficient evidence that caste discrimination is a significant problem in Great Britain in the specific fields that discrimination law covers: namely, in employment; vocational training; the provision of goods, facilities and services; private clubs; the management or disposal of premises; education; and the exercise of public functions.

The informal exercise on the issue of caste that we conducted last year was intended to enable officials to gain a better understanding of the issues and to offer stakeholders the opportunity to put forward evidence of caste-based discrimination. It was not a formal consultation exercise and the Government do not plan to publish a report on the replies that were received.

The Government are keeping the matter under review and my officials will shortly be meeting representatives of organisations with an interest.

Ethiopia

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how many (a) journalists, and (b) aid workers, have been expelled from the Ogaden in the past two years by the government of Ethiopia; how many of each group were British citizens; whether they made representations on this subject; and, if so, with what result. [HL3794]

We have made no assessment of exactly how many journalists and aid workers have been expelled by the Government of Ethiopia from the Somali region of Ethiopia (the Ogaden) in the past two years or how many of them were British citizens.

The International Committee for the Red Cross is the most notable organisation to be expelled from the Somalia region (July 2007). Even though it is still working to a minimum level in the rest of Ethiopia, there are no signs that it will be allowed to re-enter the Somali region. We are also aware that Medicins Sans Frontieres (Switzerland) ceased operating in the region in mid-2008 claiming intimidation and inability to do its job.

We are aware that a British journalist visiting the region in late 2007 was detained for not having the requisite permissions to travel in the region and subsequently left the country.

We continue to press the Government of Ethiopia to allow aid agencies to have greater access to the Ogaden in order to assist with the humanitarian situation.

Finance: Trading of Derivatives

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will introduce measures regarding the transparency of the trading of derivatives and to enable regulators to limit the amount of derivatives that a company can sell or that any institution may hold. [HL3765]

Section 19 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 requires that anyone dealing in, or arranging deals in, investments be authorised by the Financial Services Authority. This includes firms or individuals trading in derivatives.

The Government support industry initiatives to clear more derivative products through central counterparties and international initiatives to update the regulations governing the derivatives market.

Geert Wilders

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Mr Geert Wilders was on the list of people recently published by the Home Secretary as having been banned from entering the United Kingdom. [HL3540]

No. The list published by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary on 5 May 2009 named 16 individuals who have recently been excluded from the UK by her on grounds of unacceptable behaviour.

Mr Wilders was refused admission to the UK on 12 February 2009 on public policy and public security grounds under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.

Government Departments: Bottled Water

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spent on bottled water in each of the past five years. [HL3463]

Defra's policy on tap and bottled water was set out in a notice to staff and published on 9 February 2007:

“The Department is to stop supplying bottled mineral water for meetings in order to be more environmentally-friendly. Instead, as of 19 February [2007], covered jugs will be left in meeting rooms, for meeting organisers to fill up with tap water from the nearest kitchen point.

This measure is a commitment by Defra to sustainable development. The bottling process is resource intensive and uses energy that generates greenhouse gas emissions, through both manufacture and transportation. It also generates waste plastic and glass which will, at best, have to be recycled if it is to be kept out of landfill. Even the recycling process uses energy and has an impact on the environment.

Defra's caterers will also remove bottled water from the hospitality menu”.

Prior to this date and from information held centrally, the value of mineral water supplied to the department, over the specified period, is tabulated below.

Year

2005

2006

2007

Total

Cost Per Annum

£18,699

£24,744

£3,392

£46,313

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Department for Work and Pensions spent on bottled water in each of the past five years. [HL3520]

Bottled water for meetings was sourced from a variety of contracts and not accounted for separately, so the information could only be provided at a disproportionate cost. The department stopped the provision of bought-in bottled water for meetings from mid-July 2008 following a request to all government departments to cease the provision of bottled water for meetings.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Department of Health spent on bottled water in each of the past five years. [HL3521]

The department has expended the following sums on providing bottled water in each of the past five years:

2004

not available

2005

£93,089

2006

£105,722

2007

£108,752

2008

£49,766

Reduction in expenditure during 2008 has been achieved by the introduction of bottling the direct water supply to departmental buildings which is presented to meetings in flasks provided for this purpose, thereby reducing cost, delivery mileage and emissions.

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 of Energy and Climate Change, and (2) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies, in each of the last three years; and what the targets for the department were in each case. [HL3240]

It is not possible to provide rates of staff absence as 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.

DECC was created on 3 October 2008 and at this time there is no published data on sick absence data for this department.

Guantanamo Bay

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 20 April (WA 342), (a) which of the following former Guantanamo Bay detainees are entitled to support in accordance with their immigration status, and (b) which of them are claiming some or all of that support: (1) Omar Deghayes; (2) Binyam Mohamed; (3) Jamal Abdullah Kiyemba; (4) Bisher al-Rawi; (5) Jamil al-Banna; and (6) Abdenour Sameur. [HL3073]

It is not the policy of the UK Border Agency to disclose to third parties personal information about individuals, including information concerning their immigration status.

All the foreign nationals who have been returned from Guantanamo Bay were previously legally resident in the UK. Once an individual's immigration status has been established they will be subject to UK tax arrangements and may also have access to certain benefits including those available from Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), National Health Service (NHS) and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Entitlements to these benefits are not solely based on their immigration status and other factors would need to be considered. While an individual is awaiting an immigration decision they may be entitled to support by UKBA, such as asylum or Part 4 (support) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

Only five of the individuals named were returned to the UK. Mr Kiyemba has not returned to the UK.

Gurkhas

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of Gurkha soldiers, who retired before 1997 and still live abroad, are known to want to move to the United Kingdom. [HL3271]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many retired Gurkhas are in receipt of pensions; and what was the aggregate value of pensions remitted to Nepal in the last year for which figures are available. [HL3556]

We believe that there are around 45,000 retired Gurkhas, most of whom live in Nepal. Of these, some 26,500 are retired British Army Gurkhas in receipt of service pensions, mostly under the terms of the Gurkha Pension Scheme but some also under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme.

There are about 10,500 veterans/veterans’ widows who do not qualify for a service pension but who receive a welfare pension from the Gurkha Welfare Scheme, which is the field arm of the independent charity, the Gurkha Welfare Trust. Over half of these are Gurkhas who served in the pre-independence Indian army.

The remainder are veterans who did not serve for long enough to qualify for a service pension and who are not yet old enough (60 years) or needy enough to qualify for a Welfare Pension. Many would have been made redundant with less than 10 years’ service when the Brigade of Gurkhas reduced in size, particularly in the late 1960s before the move from Malaysia to Hong Kong. They would have received a gratuity but no pension.

The welfare pension is paid from donations made to the Gurkha Welfare Trust. The Ministry of Defence makes a grant of over £1 million per year to the Gurkha Welfare Trust, which covers most of its administrative costs in Nepal.

The annual value of Gurkha Pension Scheme pensions that will be paid by the MoD in Nepal in 2009-10 is £54 million.

Health: Clinical Diagnoses

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 30 April (WA 57), whether local authorities have disputed other clinical diagnoses made by medical practitioners; and, if so, in what circumstances. [HL3814]

Health: Dietary Guidelines

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the 2008 paper A Call for Higher Standards of Evidence for Dietary Guidelines published by Paul R Marantz et al in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. [HL3758]

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) agrees with the author's argument that dietary recommendations should be based on sound scientific evidence. The FSA and United Kingdom Health Departments are advised on nutrition issues by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). The committee bases its recommendations on the totality of the scientific literature using an agreed framework (SACN, 2002) that uses a hierarchy approach that ranks studies on quality. Where there is insufficient evidence to make a recommendation, then SACN will state that this is the case. SACN's findings are published in reports which are made available to the public.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what research has been conducted by the Food Standards Agency to show that their dietary guidelines on salt, hydrogenated (trans-) fat and saturated fat consumption designed to address coronary heart disease do not create other risks to health. [HL3759]

The Food Standards Agency's (FSA) advice to consumers on salt, hydrogenated (trans-) fat and saturated fat is based on advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) on trans fatty acids (2007) and salt (2003), and its predecessor committee, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) on trans fatty acids (1994) and saturated fat (1994).

The SACN's recommendations are based on a consideration of studies against a published framework for the evaluation of evidence (SACN, 2002), and both the benefits and risks of a nutrient on health are considered under this framework.

The FSA has not funded specific research on risks associated with SACN and COMA advice but monitors scientific research as it is published.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in the light of their dietary recommendations for reductions in consumption of saturated fats and hydrogenated (trans-) fats, what advice they offer to consumers regarding the replacement of butter and margarine. [HL3760]

The Food Standards Agency's (FSA) saturated fat campaign encourages consumers to reduce their intake of saturated fat, as a means to improve their cardiovascular health. The FSA advises that people replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats—an example of this is to replace butter with margarine in the diet.

Most margarine products contain low levels of trans fats (less than 1 per cent), which like saturated fat is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, the current United Kingdom population trans fat intakes are about half the maximum recommended level of 2 per cent of food energy, as recommended by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA, 1994) and endorsed by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN, 2007). Government will continue to monitor saturated fat and trans fat intakes in the population.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the average calorie intake in the United Kingdom in 1980; what it was at the most recent date for which figures are available; what proportion of calories was in absolute carbohydrate intake and what proportion was in absolute fat intake for those years; and what was the percentage increase in overweight and obesity over that period. [HL3761]

Comparable information on average energy (calorie) intake for adults in Britain and the contribution of fat and carbohydrate to energy intake is available for 1986-87 and 2000-01. This is shown in the following table. These figures are taken from the Dietary and Nutritional Survey of British Adults aged 16 to 64 years, carried out in 1986-87 and the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of adults aged 19 to 64 years, carried out in 2000-01.

Data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) 2007 estimates that 24 per cent of men and women are obese and 61 per cent are overweight (including obese). In 1993, 13 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women in England were obese, while 53 per cent of adults were overweight and obese1.

1986-87*2000-01**

16-64 years

19-64 years

Men

Women

Men

Women

Energy intake (kcals/day)

2,450

1,680

2,313

1,632

% food energy from total fat

40.4

40.3

35.8

34.9

% food energy from total carbohydrate

44.7

44.2

47.7

48.5

% overweight (BMI >25 & <30)

37

24

41

33

% obese (BMI >30)

8

12

25

20

1 The Information Centre (2008) Statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet: England, January 2008: The Information Centre, Lifestyles Statistics.

* Data from Gregory J, Foster K, Tyler H, & Wiseman M. Dietary and Nutritional Survey of British adults. HMSO (London, 1990)

** Data from Henderson L, Gregory 3, Irving K & Swan G. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: adults aged 19 to 64 years. Volume 2: Energy, protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol intake. TSO (London: 2003).

Health: Former UK Residents

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 18 May (WA 260), how under European Union regulation 1408/71 the most recently agreed EEA health reimbursement annual average cost of £2,605.81 per head for United Kingdom pensioners and their dependants was calculated; what it would be this year; and when that 2003 figure will be subject to review. [HL3863]

The European Union (EU) approved United Kingdom average cost for pensioners and their dependants for 2003 was based on the overall domestic healthcare expenditure and the UK population for that year. Once average costs for any particular year have been approved at EU level, they are not subject to a further review. The UK average costs are calculated on the same basis for every year, in arrears. The average costs for this year will be calculated once the corresponding healthcare expenditure data are available.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 18 May (WA 260), why their representatives agreed at the European Union-level group an annual average cost for pensioners and their dependants for Ireland of €8,322 per head in 2004; and what assessment they have made of average costs for Ireland being three times greater than the United Kingdom figure of £2,605.81 per head. [HL3864]

The United Kingdom agreed average costs submitted by the Republic of Ireland in respect of 2003 and 2004 at a European Union (EU) level meeting in November 2008. Health Ministers considered that sufficient progress had been made in bilateral discussions on payments the UK makes to the Republic of Ireland under a bilateral health agreement to allow this agreement. During these ongoing bilateral discussions, UK officials have raised the difference between the UK’s and Ireland’s average costs. Under EU regulations, the UK has no direct say in how another member state calculates these costs. However, the UK has agreed with Irish officials that there will be an exchange of data in respect of Irish average costs for 2005 and onwards to enable a clearer understanding of how they are calculated and why any level of difference from UK average costs exists.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 18 May (WA 259), why they do not seek to obtain the numbers and nationalities of foreign European Union or EEA nationals treated in the devolved health services in order to add them to the United Kingdom annual reimbursement claim. [HL3865]

Department of Health officials are currently exploring the scope for obtaining data on overseas visitors treated by the devolved health authorities in order for the United Kingdom to make claims against other member states on their behalf.

Health: Heart Disease

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what has been the decrease in cardiovascular disease attributed to dietary changes between 1980 and 2008; and what has been the increase in cardiovascular disease associated with obesity and diabetes over that period. [HL3762]

Death rates from cardiovascular disease for people under age 75 are down by 44 per cent from 1995-97 baseline, saving nearly 33,000 lives in 2007, compared to 1996. The target of reducing premature mortality from coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke and related conditions by at least 40 per cent has also been met five years ahead of schedule.

The national service framework for CHD (March 2000) set out a 10-year framework for action to prevent disease, tackle inequalities, save more lives, and improve the quality of life for people with heart disease. A study into the reasons for declining mortality rates from coronary heart disease in England and Wales between 1981 and 2000, found that 58 per cent of the decline was attributable to major risk factors rather than treatment. The principal factor was reduced smoking.

Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of CHD and type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organisation's world health report 2002 estimated that, in developed countries about a third of CHD and ischaemic stroke and about 60 per cent of hypertensive disease was caused by being overweight.

Health: Influenza Virus

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what enquiries they have made of the World Health Organisation about their investigation into the release of material contaminated with the H5N1 influenza virus by Baxter International in Orth-Donau, Austria, earlier this year; what the circumstances were surrounding that release; and what risk it posed to public health. [HL3798]

No direct enquiries have been made with the World Health Organisation on the subject. However, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency became aware of the incident in February 2009 via an inquiry from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. There was no risk to public health in the United Kingdom.

In December 2008 cross-contamination of the replication deficient H3N2 influenza virus with wild-type H5N1 virus occurred in a research facility in Austria, the Baxter Biomedical Research Centre in Orth. This virus material was produced exclusively for laboratory analytical and research purposes and as the material was not for human use, good manufacturing practice for medicinal products was not applied to its preparation. The contaminated virus material was supplied to four test laboratories in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovenia between December 2008 and February 2009.

Baxter has reported that the contaminated material was transported and handled under appropriate bio-containment conditions and potentially exposed laboratory or transport personnel demonstrated no symptoms of influenza. When tested they were confirmed to be negative for the influenza virus. All affected facilities and equipment were disinfected and the contaminated virus material destroyed. Following root cause analysis, corrective and preventive actions have been taken by the company to prevent a recurrence of the incident.

Houses of Parliament: Demonstrations

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with those demonstrating about Sri Lanka in Parliament Square in order to reduce the level of disruption caused to the public. [HL3592]

The Foreign Secretary has met some demonstrators in wider meetings he has held with representatives of the Tamil community and British MPs to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why on Monday 11 May those demonstrating about Sri Lanka were allowed to block the road on two sides of Parliament Square; and what permission for their demonstrations was sought or granted. [HL3669]

The policing of demonstrations around Parliament is an operational matter for the Metropolitan Police.

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 Cabinet Office have refused to give evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees during the past five years. [HL2997]

I am not aware of any occasion where a Cabinet Office Minister has refused to give evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee during the past five years.

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 Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and its predecessors have refused to give evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees during the past five years. [HL2998]

Hussar Ltd

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the activities of Hussar Ltd, a United Kingdom company based in Jersey with a London office, with regard to the purchase of gold in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [HL3791]

The UN's Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has investigated the activities of Hussar Ltd in the trade of gold from DRC. Its inquiries covered Hussar Ltd's relationship with Uganda Commercial Impex Ltd, a company now subject to UN sanctions. We concluded in 2006 that it would not be appropriate to impose sanctions on Hussar Ltd through the UN. We have no information to indicate that Hussar is currently involved in the trade of gold from DRC. If it resumes its involvement in this trade, we would expect the company to act in compliance with the terms of the UN arms embargo and sanctions regime which apply in DRC.

Identity Cards

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they have chosen Manchester to launch the pilot ID card scheme. [HL3417]

Greater Manchester is already leading the way in the roll-out of identity cards. The city's airport is working with the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) as one of the first wave of airports which are introducing identity cards to airside workers from this autumn. Launching the service to the public in Manchester will widen the range of people in the region who are using the service.

It will give the public, retailers and service providers a chance to become familiar with the cards as supporting hardware such as chip and pin readers are introduced. Another factor in Manchester's favour is its large population of young people and students. Our research indicates that this group is particularly likely to need to be able to prove their age and identity and are thus likely to benefit from the early adoption of ID cards.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a telephone check to determine whether an ID card is genuine would rely on the ID card's number to establish its status. [HL3420]

A telephone check to IPS would include the ID card (product) number as well as certain other information on the face of the card. This information would be sufficient for IPS to determine whether such a card was issued and is still valid. Such a check would also require authentication that the requesting party was authorised to make the request, that they were doing so with the card holder’s consent, that the person presenting the card resembled the photograph on the card and that the card showed no obvious signs of tampering. The process for doing this would be very similar to the current Passport Validation Service, but the exact process is still being defined.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many foreign nationals have been issued with an ID card since November 2008; what was the unit cost of production; and how much each foreign national paid for their card. [HL3421]

As of the end of April 2009, the UK Border Agency had issued over 34,120 identity cards for foreign nationals.

The total estimated cost of the scheme from April 2009 to April 2019 is £379 million for non-EEA foreign nationals. These cost estimates are updated and published every six months in the Identity Cards Costs Report.

The cost of the identity card for foreign nationals is included within the immigration application fee for those in the relevant categories and these fees vary from category to category and can be found in the UKBA website. The cost of replacing a card if it is lost, stolen or damaged is £30 in 2009-10.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how the implementation of ID cards in Manchester is being explained to the population, particularly students. [HL3446]

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) is undertaking a range of communications activity with citizens in the Manchester area including:

Established pages on the Direct.gov.uk citizen facing website

To help improve communications around the development and launch of the identity card, IPS launched a website on 6 May 2009. Through the site located at www.direct.gov.uk/identity citizens will be able register their interest in identity cards and the National Identity Service (NIS). Once registered on the site they will receive regular e-newsletters providing help and advice around how to protect your identity, the development of the NIS and the introduction of identity cards.

Planned marketing activity

IPS is working with a media planning agency to finalise the marketing channel strategy for activity in and around Greater Manchester. We expect to be undertaking two campaigns. The first, due to go live during August, will be aimed at businesses in those sectors which are likely to come into contact with identity cards when they are selling products or services. The second, due to go live during October, is aimed at citizens to notify them about the ability to get an identity card in their area and explaining what it can do for them.

Recent stakeholder and communications activity

IPS has met with a large number of stakeholder organisations as part of a continuing programme to inform and consult on the NIS. These have included organisations from the public, private and third sector including the National Union of Students, Universities UK and other organisations representing students. In Greater Manchester in particular we have already met with organisations such as the Learning and Skills Council and the universities. The Home Secretary's speech on the 29 January in Manchester Town Hall was attended by 35 different organisations from Greater Manchester.

IPS will continue our programme of stakeholder involvement to ensure that important information regarding the NIS reaches the widest possible audience. We are planning events in Greater Manchester over the next two months and will ensure that student organisations are represented.

We also send out a monthly newsletter to stakeholders to keep them informed about the NIS and this currently goes to 600 organisations.

Activity with young people

During her recent visit to Manchester, the Home Secretary visited Newall Green School in Wythenshawe to meet young people who could be some of the first to be able to apply for cards from 2010. Together they discussed how identity cards will help young people strike out on their own by opening their first bank account, renting their first flat, or perhaps travelling to Europe for the first time.

Recent media activity

As part of the Home Secretary's recent visit to Manchester, the regional broadcast/print media were invited to attend and film her visit to a local school to discuss identity issues, and undertake interviews with the Home Secretary. We also issued a press notice including a supportive statement from Manchester Airport Group. IPS provided proactive briefings with regional media following the speech.

Local coverage of the event focused primarily on good pieces in the Manchester Evening News and Press Association, which was picked up more widely by local and regional media.

National online coverage was reported by BBC News, ITN Online, Channel Four Online, Eastern Daily Press and a range of global news sites.

Channel M filmed the Home Secretary's visit and Key 103, City Talk and XFM recorded interviews.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what benefits they expect as a result of immigrants being issued with ID cards; and how they are being monitored. [HL3447]

The identity card for foreign nationals provides evidence of the holder's nationality, identity and status in the U.K. It provides information that makes it easier to understand the migrant's entitlement, including any right to work or access public services. Taking biometrics, and then locking them to that person's details, provides a very safe and secure way of identifying that person and helps to combat illegal working and reduce illegal immigration to the UK.

The identity card helps businesses:

reduce administrative burden

make it easier for employers, sponsors and others to check entitlements

ensure those who are here illegally do not receive benefits and other privileges of living in the UK.

For the individual it makes it easier to:

provide proof of their right to live in the UK

prove their identity safely and quickly where and whenever this is required

get a job, as potential employers can use the card to check future employees identity and employment status quickly and easily.

The monitoring of these benefits is ongoing and includes a range of different statistical and survey methods.

Immigration

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 20 April (WA 348), how many of the 3,829 persons refused entry at the United Kingdom border on grounds relating to the public good were from member states of the European Union. [HL3653]

From 2006 to 2008, 1,026 EU citizens were refused entry to the UK on the grounds of public health, public safety or public policy.

A breakdown of each year's figures is provided in the following table:

Year

Total

EU

Non EU

2004

977

2005

645

2006

626

178

448

2007

828

423

405

2008

753

425

328

Total

3829

1026

2803

Prior to the introduction of the EEA Regulations in 2006, refusals of EU and non-EU nationals, on the grounds of public health, public safety or public policy, were recorded under the same code.

The data provided are based on locally collated management information, which may be subject to change and does not represent published national statistics.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 29 April (WA 37), how many of the 3,530 people granted indefinite leave to remain under immigration rule 276B(i)(b) were in receipt of public funds; what was the total cost to the public purse of hearing their cases; whether any are currently in receipt of public funds; and what were their countries of origin. [HL3655]

Information on the number of people granted indefinite leave to remain under immigration rule 276B(i)(b) who were in receipt of public funds, either at the time of their application or currently, is not centrally recorded. The country of origin of all those granted indefinite leave to remain is given in the attached table.

Nationalities of Applicants Granted Leave to Remain under Immigration Rule 276B

Nationality

Granted

Albania

Algeria

105

Angola

10

Antigua & Barbuda

Australia

25

Bangladesh

85

Barbados

20

Belarus

Belize

5

Bolivia

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Brazil

20

Bulgaria

5

Cameroon

10

Canada

35

Chile

5

China

80

Colombia

35

Congo

15

Ivory Coast

20

Croatia

10

Cyprus

15

Dominica

10

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

15

Egypt

15

Ethiopia

10

Fiji

Gambia, The

35

Georgia

Ghana

420

Grenada

10

Guatemala

Guinea

Guyana

20

Hungary

India

205

Indonesia

Iran

30

Israel

5

Italy

Jamaica

215

Japan

5

Jordan

5

Kenya

55

Lebanon

10

Liberia

Libya

5

Macedonia

5

Malawi

5

Malaysia

70

Malta

5

Mauritius

65

Mexico

5

Montenegro

Morocco

50

Burma

5

Nepal

10

Netherlands

New Zealand

10

Niger

Nigeria

670

Pakistan

210

Occupied Palestinian Territories

Peru

5

Philippines

45

Poland

10

Portugal

Montenegro

Romania

15

Russia

10

Rwanda

Saudi Arabia

Senegal

Serbia & Montenegro

15

Seychelles

Sierra Leone

130

Singapore

5

Somalia

5

South Africa

15

Korea (South)

5

Spain

Sri Lanka

105

St Kitts & Nevis

5

St. Lucia

25

St Vincent

15

Sudan

5

Taiwan

5

Thailand

20

Togo

Trinidad & Tobago

25

Tunisia

5

Turkey

45

Uganda

55

Ukraine

United Arab Emirates

Tanzania

25

America

95

Venezuela

Vietnam

5

Yemen

5

Yugoslavia

Zambia

55

Zimbabwe

80

Total

3,555

Figures are rounded to nearest five.

“” Indicates one or two.

“-” Indicates Nil.

Because of rounding, figures may not add up to totals shown.

The figures quoted are not provided under National Statistics protocols and have been derived from local management information and are therefore provisional and subject to change.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 29 April (WA 37), what is the current immigration status of the 15,965 people not granted indefinite leave to remain under immigration rule 276B(i)(b); how many have lodged an appeal; how many have been successfully removed; and how many are still resident in the United Kingdom. [HL3656]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government following the announcement by the Home Secretary on 5 May that 22 people were banned from coming to the United Kingdom between 28 October 2008 and 31 March 2009, when each individual applied to visit the United Kingdom; why each individual was barred from entering the United Kingdom; and what legislation was used in each case to prevent those individuals entering the United Kingdom. [HL3693]

An individual does not have to have applied to come to the UK in order to be considered for exclusion. Any person whose presence in the UK is not considered conducive to the public good may be excluded. The 22 individuals excluded by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary between 28 October 2008 and 31 March 2009 were all considered to be engaging in activities set out in the List of Unacceptable Behaviours, published by former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, in August 2005.

The Home Secretary may personally decide that an individual should be excluded from the UK because she considers that their exclusion is justified. This personal power is normally exercised on the grounds of national security, unacceptable behaviours, public order or relations with a third country, but this is a matter of policy not statute. The power is in fact broad and can be used in any circumstances, provided it is exercised reasonably, proportionately and consistently. An individual excluded by the Home Secretary must be refused entry to the UK, in accordance with paragraph 320(6) of the immigration rules.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their forecast of the numbers of European Union or European Economic Area citizens who will be banned from entering the United Kingdom under the policy announced by the Home Secretary on 5 May. [HL3694]

As announced by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary on 5 May, amendments to the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 which are expected to take effect from 1 June will enable her to make a personal decision to exclude a European Economic Area (EEA) national whom she considers presents a threat to public policy or public security.

We cannot provide a forecast of the numbers of people who might be excluded under the amended regulations. However, where it is in the public interest, the names of EEA nationals who are excluded on public policy or public security grounds as a result of their involvement in unacceptable behaviours will be disclosed on a quarterly basis, together with the names of non-EEA nationals excluded on unacceptable behaviour grounds.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which European Union or European Economic Area citizens they intend to ban from entering the United Kingdom under the policy announced by the Home Secretary on 5 May. [HL3695]

Following an amendment to the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, which is expected to come into effect on 1 June 2009, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will consider whether to exclude certain European Economic Area nationals who are considered a threat to public policy or public security. However, it is our policy not to discuss individual cases before a decision has been made.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take following the High Court judgment of 6 April in HSMP Forum (UK) Limited v the Secretary of State for the Home Department concerning the retrospective application of changes to the immigration rules for highly skilled migrants. [HL3718]

The court has given the UK Border Agency until May 2009 to implement the judgment handed down on 6 April 2009.

A policy will be published on the UK Border Agency website. This will give full details of how we will treat those affected by the judgment.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they issue on age determination in connection with immigration control; and whether they will await the findings of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which announced on 24 February that it had been asked to review the evidence and was considering how it would undertake this work, before issuing amended guidance. [HL3744]

The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) has issued detailed guidance to outline the policy and processes that asylum case owners apply when dealing with cases where the age of the person is in doubt. Consideration is being given to updating that guidance in light of recent developments, for example judicial proceedings in respect of age determination procedures. We will also take into account any revised advice on age determination issued by the Royal College.

Immigration: Deportation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many memoranda of understanding to facilitate the deportation of foreign nationals on grounds of national security and unacceptable behaviour are in place; with which countries; and in what years they were put in place. [HL3569]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many memoranda of understanding to facilitate the deportation of foreign nationals on grounds of national security and unacceptable behaviour are being negotiated; and with which countries. [HL3570]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many deportation actions on grounds of (a) national security, and (b) unacceptable behaviour, to countries with which the United Kingdom has a memorandum of understanding have been successful since September 2001; and how many have been unsuccessful. [HL3571]

Memoranda of understanding on deportation with assurances have been signed with Jordan, Libya and Lebanon (all in 2005) and with Ethiopia (in 2008). Separate arrangements, set out in an exchange of letters in July 2006, apply in respect of Algeria.

The Government are pursuing agreements regarding deportation with assurances with a number of countries. However, as I explained in my previous reply (22 July 2008, WA 243), identification of the parties would prejudice these negotiations. Copies of any further agreements concluded will be placed in the Library in due course.

No one has been deported to Jordan, Libya, Lebanon or Ethiopia on grounds of national security during the period for which information is sought. Over the same period, eight men have been deported to Algeria on national security grounds.

There are 14 cases where a proposed deportation to one of these five countries on national security grounds has been discontinued.

Twelve cases are at various stages in the appeal process, including one where the person concerned has applied to the European Court of Human Rights.

To date, we have not sought to deport anyone to any of these five countries on grounds of unacceptable behaviour.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government on how many occasions in the past 12 months people due to be removed from the country have been taken under escort to the airport of departure and their removal plan has then been cancelled because airline tickets have not been purchased. [HL3736]

To ask Her Majesty's Government which agency is responsible for purchasing the airline tickets for persons due to be removed from the United Kingdom. [HL3737]

In the past 12 months (1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009), the removal directions for 19 people have been cancelled after the individual had been taken under escort to the port of departure because of problems relating to the purchase of airline tickets.

These figures do not constitute part of National Statistics as they are based on internal management information. The information has not been quality assured under National Statistics protocols, should be treated as provisional and is subject to change.

Income

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Myners on 11 May (WA 155), in the light of the recently published annual households below average income data, what is their assessment of the trend in the gap between rich and poor people in the United Kingdom over the past decade. [HL3651]

On the latest data, the Gini coefficient—a measure of income inequality—is at a high level. However, since 1997-98, changes have been small compared with the sharp increases in inequality in the 1980s, when the Gini coefficient rose by almost 10 points.

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that tax and benefit reforms since 1997 have clearly been progressive.

Household survey data show that living standards for the poorest 20 per cent of households have risen by over 1.5 per cent a year in real terms since 1997-98, keeping pace with incomes of the richest 20 per cent of households.

This contrasts sharply with the period during the 1980s to the mid 1990s when the living standards of the poorest 20 per cent of households rose by less than 1 per cent a year compared with 2.4 per cent for the richest 20 per cent of households.

Iraq: Camp Ashraf

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 20 April (WA 349–50), whether they have assessed the recent Amnesty International report drawing attention to an interview by the Iraqi National Security Advisor, Dr Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, where he stated the intention to make “intolerable” the conditions of 3,000 People's Mujaheddin Organisation of Iran supporters in Camp Ashraf; and what is their reaction to it. [HL3149]

We are aware of the Amnesty International report of 20 April 2009 and the interview with the Iraqi National Security Adviser. We are continuing to urge the Government of Iraq to observe fully the human rights of the residents of Camp Ashraf and to find a humanitarian solution.

Iraq: NAPS Tablets

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 5 May (WA 103–4), on how many occasions countermeasures against chemical weapons were deemed necessary; and how many times operational commanders instructed troops to start and stop taking NAPS tablets between January and March 2003. [HL3731]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 5 May (WA 103–4), what method was used for the disposal of unused NAPS tablets once the threat that would necessitate their use had ended; and how they were accounted for. [HL3732]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 5 May (WA 103–4), whether there was any difference between the formulation of NAPS tablets issued to members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in 1990–91 and 2003 and those issued to members of the United States forces. [HL3733]

Orders were issued on 17 March 2003 authorising the taking of nerve agent pre-treatment sets (NAPS) by UK personnel in those areas where the NBC threat level was assessed medium or high. Subsequent orders dated 14 April 2003 instructed that their use should cease. Between these dates, operational commanders would have instructed troops to start and stop taking NAPS in accordance with the threat level in their particular area.

NAPS are a standard pharmaceutical preparation with no specific clinical disposal requirement. Once no longer required, disposal of unused tablets already issued to personnel would be the responsibility of the individual. Any that were returned to medical facilities would have been sent for incineration, in accordance with normal clinical waste procedures.

The active pharmaceutical ingredient, 30 mg pyridostigamine bromide, is the same in both the NAPS tablets issued to members of the UK Armed Forces in 1990-91 and 2003, and the soman nerve agent pre-treatment pyridostigmine (SNAPP) tablets issued by the US Department of Defense.

Israel

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the statement made to the United States media by the Hamas leader, Khalid Mish’al, that Hamas accepts the two-state solution, and full negotiations with Israel. [HL3437]

We are aware of the New York Times interview with Khalid Mish’al. We welcome Khalid Mish’al’s professed commitment to being “part of the solution”. However, we remain concerned about Hamas’s refusal explicitly to renounce violence, recognise Israel, and indicate its adherence to previous agreements. Hamas must do this in order for the UK to be in a position to engage with it.

Israel and Palestine: David Foundation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the Ir David Foundation is operating in Jerusalem in ways contrary to international agreements; and what assessment they have made of whether its activities may prejudice future negotiations for two states in Israel and Palestine. [HL3667]

We understand Ir David is a sub-group of the Elad foundation which specialises in encouraging Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem.

Settlement expansion is illegal and clearly presents an obstruction to the peace process. The UK condemns such activity. We continue to urge the Israeli Government to freeze all settlement activity as set out in the road map agreement.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary reiterated this in his statement to the UN Security Council on 11 May 2009.

Justice: Sharia Law

Question