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Written Answers

Volume 711: debated on Wednesday 17 June 2009

Written Answers

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated cost of the war in Afghanistan to date. [HL4144]

MoD identifies the costs of operations in terms of the net additional costs it has incurred. The costs that would have been incurred regardless of the operation taking place, such as wages and salaries, are not included. Savings on activities that have not occurred because of the operation—such as training exercises—are taken into account in arriving at the net figures.

The total annual costs of operations in Afghanistan since 2001 are set out below:

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09*

Total to Date*

Resource Costs (£M)

187

236

36

58

148

560

1,071

1,656

3,952

Capital Costs (£M)

34

75

10

9

51

178

433

967

1,757

Total (£M)

221

311

46

67

199

738

1,504

2,623

5,709

Note: The figures for 2008-09 are provisional outturn figures that are subject to final audit.

Our forecast cost for operations for 2009-10 will be published in main estimates shortly.

Benefits: Uprating

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much extra monies in (a) social security benefits, and (b) public sector pensions, are forecast to be paid in the financial year 2009–10 to take account of the 5 per cent and 6.3 per cent inflationary upratings determined by the prices indices of September 2008. [HL3627]

My right honourable friend the Minister for Pensions and the Ageing Society provided an estimate of the costs of uprating DWP social security benefits at the appropriate rates in 2009-10 on 12 February 2009 (House of Commons, Official Report, col. 1545).

The Government do not hold detailed costings for indexation in respect of the full range of public sector pension schemes, but the overall cost of the 5 per cent uprating in 2009-10 has been estimated at around one and a quarter billion pounds.

Community Empowerment, Housing and Economic Regeneration

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 7 May (WA 134), what criteria were applied in deciding whether further changes in policy and practice discussed in the White Paper Communities in Control required legislation. [HL4049]

Government can promote changes in the policies and practices of external bodies through a variety of means, such as legislation, the provision of funding information or guidance, by piloting initiatives, and by spreading best practice. The assessment of the best means in any circumstances is carried out on a case by case basis.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 7 May (WA 134), on what grounds they have decided not to take forward “a number of more minor proposals, namely on remote attendance and voting by councillors, payments for councillors on loss of office, and incentives to vote in local elections”.[HL4050]

Most of the proposals for change in the White Paper Communities in Control do not require legislation. For those where legislation is required, the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, which is currently before Parliament, contains the major provisions, including a number added since introduction.

Given the stage of the parliamentary cycle, we have decided to concentrate our energy on this, and not to publish a Draft Community Empowerment Bill, which would have contained only a few more minor proposals.

Substantial progress has been made since Communities in Control was published. We published a “Communities Progress Report” on 1 June. Copies are in the Libraries of the House.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 7 May (WA 134), what the remaining proposals are which require legislation, in addition to any legislation responding to the consultation on Changing Council Governance Arrangements and proposed reforms to parish governance. [HL4051]

The Government have no current plans for legislation to implement proposals in the White Paper Communities in Control, beyond those provisions in the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, currently before Parliament.

Cycling

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Home Office is implementing the Government's cycle-to-work scheme. [HL4113]

The Home Office has included the implementation of the cycle-to-work scheme in its business plan for 2009-10 and is committed to its implementation.

Equality and Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 24 April (WA 419) and 4 June (WA 105), what performance assessment process is in place for reappointing members of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, including the criteria and evidence used in making the assessment. [HL4098]

As required by the Cabinet Office and the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments, commissioner performance appraisals have been carried out to provide the necessary evidence for considering any reappointments. The chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission completed annual appraisals for the commissioners, assessing their performance against their own objectives and the key objectives of the commission.

Food: Labelling

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in future consultations with food retailers and trade associations, they will propose inclusion of information additional to guideline daily amounts in front-of-pack nutritional labelling. [HL4032]

Future consultations on front of pack (FoP) labelling will take account of the independent research published on 6 May 2009, which found that a FoP label that included the words “high, medium and low”, traffic light colour coding and percentage of guideline daily amount (per cent. GDA) was most effective in terms of consumer comprehension and enabling consumers to assess the healthiness of a product. The published report is available at www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/ 2009/may/pmp.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development missions have been combined under the co-location programme; and when the benefits of co-location will be assessed. [HL4203]

Since the start of the Comprehensive Spending Round 07 period, Department for International Development (DfID) missions in Brasilia, Georgetown, Harare, Kampala and Lilongwe have co-located with Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) posts. The FCO is currently co-located with DfID in a total of 28 overseas sites, and are working with DfID on 10 further co-location projects.

Each co-location proposal is assessed on the basis of a cost benefits analysis carried out between DfID and the FCO. This considers both financial and non financial elements with a focus on achieving best value for the Government. Ongoing assessment of joint missions will take place as part of annual budget planning exercises.

Gurkhas

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Gurkha ex-servicemen who retired prior to 1 July 1997 are living (a) in the United Kingdom, and (b) overseas. [HL4110]

We believe that there are approximately 36,000 former Gurkhas who retired before 1 July 1997. Of these we estimate that approximately 3,500 are already resident in the United Kingdom and the remaining 32,500 are living overseas.

Health: Clinical Diagnoses

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 1 June (WA 28), what they estimate would be the cost of obtaining centrally the information referred to in the Question. [HL4025]

Clinical diagnosis is a matter for clinicians. We would not normally expect a dispute over diagnosis to arise. Should this happen we would expect roles and responsibilities to be clarified at a local level. This would not, therefore, be an appropriate issue for a national data collection and it is not possible to make an estimate of costs.

Homeless People

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to respond to the increase in the number of homeless persons in town and city centres; and what are the implications of that increase for mental health and voluntary social care services. [HL4118]

Over the three years until 2011, the Government are investing more than £220 million through local authorities and voluntary sector organisations to tackle homelessness. This includes a range of specialist provision for people sleeping rough. The £80 million Places of Change programme is transforming hostels to help rough sleepers rebuild their lives.

Our new strategy “No One Left Out” signals our intent to work with partners to end rough sleeping by 2012. This builds on the considerable success over the past decade substantially to reduce rough sleeping.

Homelessness: Rough Sleepers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many rough sleepers were estimated to be in the Greater London area in (a) 2000, (b) 2005, (c) 2007, and (d) 2008; and how those figures were obtained. [HL4129]

Annual rough sleeping figures for London are based on local authority street counts and estimates where street counts did not take place. Number of rough sleepers in London:

2000—546;

2005—221;

2007—248; and

2008—238.

Houses of Parliament: Select Committees

Question

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 Government Equalities Office and its predecessors have refused to give evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees during the past five years.[HL3139]

Housing

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many new residential property starts have been made since 1999. [HL4253]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many new residential property starts were made in the first quarter of 2009. [HL4254]

The latest statistics on house building starts and completions for England were published in the Communities and Local Government statistics release of 21 May 2009 and accompanying live tables. The web links are shown below:

link to house building statistics release:

www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/housebuildingq12009.

link to house building live tables:

www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingresearch/housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/housebuilding/livetables/.

Justice: Sharia Law

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the answer by Lord Bach on 4 June (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 296), whether they will take steps to ensure that resident Muslim men cannot bring their second, third or fourth wives, together with their children, to live in the United Kingdom and to draw benefits. [HL4145]

It is government policy to prevent the formation of polygamous households in this country. Entry clearance or leave to enter or remain is refused if the applicant's spouse has another spouse living who is, or at any time since their marriage has been, in the UK, or who has been granted a certificate of entitlement in respect of right of abode under Section 2(1)(a) of the Immigration Act 1988, or who has been granted entry clearance to enter the UK on the basis of their marriage.

There are certain exceptions to this general restriction: a spouse who seeks leave to entry or remain if he/she has been in the UK before one August 1988, having been admitted on the basis of his/her marriage; or, if he/she has, since his/her marriage, been in the UK at any time when there was no such other spouse living. At the present time we see no firm evidence that further legislation and/or other restrictions, on top of the existing tight restrictions, are necessary.

Latvia and Republic of Ireland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether economic support to Latvia and the Republic of Ireland will be provided only by nations in the eurozone or by the whole of the European Union; and what are the implications of such support coming from the United Kingdom. [HL4148]

Latvia secured agreement to a €7.5 billion financial support package in December 2008, including €3.1 billion from the European Union's medium-term balance of payments facility and €1.7 billion from the International Monetary Fund. The UK did not make a bilateral contribution.

The Government are not aware of any request from Ireland for international economic support.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding was provided as legal aid in Northern Ireland in each of the past 10 years. [HL4048]

The funding provided to the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission for legal aid in Northern Ireland in each of the past 10 years is as follows;

Financial Year

Legal Aid Fund £m

99-00

34.5

00-01

37.5

01-02

41.5

02-03

45.0

03-04

49.9

04-05

58.6

05-06

57.2

06-07

68.5

07-08

73.7

08-09

80.0

NHS: Ageism

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to tackle ageism in the National Health Service in the light of the survey of British Geriatrics Society members reported by Help the Aged in January 2009. [HL4169]

The Government are strongly committed to ending age discrimination. The National Health Service (NHS) Constitution, published in January 2009, states that “the NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief” and sets out patients' right not to be unlawfully discriminated against in the provision of NHS services, including on grounds of age once the relevant provisions of the Equality Bill are brought into force for the health sector. The Bill, currently before Parliament, includes provisions to prohibit age discrimination in the provision of services and the exercise of public functions. This will apply to health and social care.

NHS professionals are dedicated to offering good care to all patients irrespective of age, but we recognise that more needs to be done to improve services for all age groups and tackle age discrimination where it exists.

The Secretary of State for Health has initiated a national review of age discrimination led from the south-west region by Sir Ian Carruthers, chief executive of the South West Strategic Health Authority, and Jan Ormondroyd, chief executive of Bristol City Council. The review is looking at the key actions health and adult social care should take to prepare for implementation of the ban on age discrimination. More widely, the department is considering how health and social care organisations can ensure that people receive high quality services, whatever their age. The review will make its recommendations in a published report in October 2009.

Parliaments: Members' Costs

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the average annual cost of maintaining a member of (a) the House of Lords; (b) the House of Commons; and (c) the European Parliament including salaries, pensions, attendance allowances, travelling allowances and office expenses for the most recent year for which figures are available. [HL3826]

Poland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Poland about the safety of black British citizens visiting Poland. [HL4233]

We are not aware of any reports in the Polish press of abuse, harassment or threatening behaviour being directed towards black British citizens in Poland. We do not, therefore, have any plans to make representations to the Polish Government about the safety of black British citizens in Poland.

Population Statistics

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they supply the United States Census Bureau with United Kingdom population statistics; and, if so, in what form and how frequently. [HL4053]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply

Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician, to Lord Taylor, dated June 2009.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Question asking whether Her Majesty's Government supply the United States Census Bureau with United Kingdom population statistics; and, if so, in what form and how frequently. (HL4053)

Population statistics are published on the ONS website where they are available publicly for all users at www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk= 601&More=N.

No other Census or other population statistics are supplied to the United States Census Bureau.

Public Bodies

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what recourse they have if a body set up by an Act of Parliament exceeds its brief. [HL3544]

There are a wide range of public bodies set up by Acts of Parliament. Any concerns about the actions or performance of a particular public body should be raised with the chairman of the body concerned and/or the relevant sponsor department.

Public Sector: Contracts

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place in the process for tendering public sector contracts to protect local specialist providers of services from exploitation by prime contractors. [HL4103]

The Office of Government Commerce has issued guidance which encourages departments to seek effective management of supply chains by their prime contractors.

This guidance will be reviewed and updated as part of a programme of work to implement the recommendations of the Glover Advisory Committee, which published its report Accelerating the SME economic engine; through transparent, simple and strategic procurement in November 2008. That work includes a project to help ensure small businesses and other firms acting as sub-contractors obtain contract conditions, for example, promptness of payment, that are comparable to those applied to the prime contractor.

Within central government it is mandatory for major new construction projects to adopt the principles set out in OGC's Guide to Best Fair Payment practices. That requires departments to adopt the principles of OGC's Fair Payment Charter for their construction supply chains.

Questions for Written Answer: Websites

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they refer to websites to answer parliamentary questions instead of supplying the information, and whether they will ensure that in future answers are provided in full in the Official Report. [HL4003]

The presumption should be that, unless it is of such size and complexity that it would not be practicable to do so or would involve disproportionate cost, requested information which is readily available should be provided in the relevant Written Answer itself, in addition to referring the Member to the published sources. I will be reminding departments of the need to do so.

Shipping: Ferry Operators

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 9 June (WA 147-8), whether the agency issued a temporary passenger-carrying certificate on or about 12 September 2008 for MV “CANNA”. [HL4221]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 9 June (WA 147-8), whether a temporary passenger-carrying certificate was requested from the agency on or about 5 September 2008 for MV “CANNA”. [HL4223]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 9 June (WA 147-8), what was meant by “had the MCA issued the correct paperwork, the passenger certificate would have been valid for a full year through to 18 September 2008”. [HL4226]

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a short-term passenger certificate, valid for one month, for the MV “CANNA” on 12 September 2008, following an in water survey. No request was made to the MCA for a temporary passenger-carrying certificate in September 2008.

An error occurred in the re-issue of passenger certification in July 2008 to take account of a change of operator to the current operator. This certification should have reflected previous changes, unrelated to the current operator, which would have confirmed that the certification was valid until 18 September 2008, rather than 31 August 2008.

On 5 September 2008 the operators of the MV “CANNA” informed the MCA that the vessel could not be surveyed out of water before 18 September 2008, the date that the operators believed their survey window expired based on the assumption that the certificate would be valid for 12 months from the date of the last survey. It was during the request for the out of water survey that the basis for confusion was revealed. The surveys on this vessel were current even if the paperwork did not always reflect this.

Following the out of water survey, a new five-year passenger certificate was issued on the 5 October 2008.

Smoking

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they raised in tobacco-related taxes in 2006–07. [HL4258]

Total tobacco duty received by the Exchequer in 2006-07 was £8,149 million and is published in the National Statistics Tobacco bulletin available at www.uktradeinfo.com/index.cfm?task=bulltobacco.

Statutory Instruments

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many statutory instruments were laid in each of the Sessions 1996–97; 1997–98; 2001–02; 2002–03; 2006–07; and 2007–08. [HL4177]

The number of statutory instruments laid in each of the specified Sessions was a follows:

Session

Number of instruments

1996-97

1054

1997-98

1816

2001-02

1730

2002-03

1391

2006-07

1358

2007-08

1306

Territorial Army

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Territorial Army soldiers who are currently unemployed are able to claim jobseeker's allowance whilst attending to their Territorial Army duties. [HL4092]

Unemployed people who are Territorial Army soldiers can claim jobseeker's allowance provided they are available and actively seeking work. Most TA units have a minimum commitment to train for around three hours per week, one weekend per month and to participate in an annual two week camp for basic training, which may take place in the UK or abroad.

The only time their TA activity would impact on JSA entitlement is during the annual two week training period per year. Normally when a TA solider attends their annual training they tend to close their claim to JSA, as the full time nature of the training means they cannot be available for or actively seeking work during this period.