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Written Answers

Volume 712: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009

Written Answers

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Agriculture: Bluetongue

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ban the importation of cattle and livestock from areas in Europe affected by bluetongue. [HL4427]

Defra has no plans to impose an import ban on cattle and livestock from areas in Europe affected by bluetongue. Provided that EU movement rules for bluetongue susceptible species are being complied with, the risk posed by bluetongue in other member states is very low, and does not justify such a ban. Also, BTV-8 is being effectively managed through vaccination in most EU member states.

Movements of bluetongue susceptible species are governed by EC Regulation 1266/2007, which was developed with the best available scientific advice, balancing risks proportionately against impact on trade. Where new evidence has become available, rules have been adjusted. We will continue to consider emerging evidence and any implications for movement conditions.

As of 3 November 2008, all of Great Britain became a single confluent restricted zone for Bluetongue serotype 8 (BTV-8). We are therefore effectively in the same BTV-8 restricted zone as neighbouring EU member states. Animals can be moved freely within this restricted zone, and to and from other BTV-8 restricted zones in Europe provided that they meet the generic import/export requirements and are accompanied by an export health certificate which has been signed by an official veterinarian. In the case of BTV-1, we are not part of this restricted zone which currently includes France and Spain. In this case movement controls into the UK are much stricter.

We have implemented a robust post-import testing regime for all imported livestock, and where livestock test positive for Bluetongue, appropriate risk management action will be taken, depending on the serotype detected. Since December 2008 no imported livestock have tested positive for bluetongue. We urge industry to consider the risks and check the health and vaccination status of livestock when sourcing susceptible animals from abroad.

Alcohol

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the recommendation on alcohol abuse among young Londoners Too Much Too Young?; and whether they have in place other measures to reduce the level of alcohol abuse among young people. [HL4355]

The Youth Alcohol Action Plan set out the actions that Government will take to tackle young people's drinking through a mixture of education, enforcement and action with industry. Both of the national policy recommendations that the GLA report makes are already being addressed through delivering our Youth Alcohol Action Plan's commitments related to education.

We are currently revising the drug and alcohol guidance for schools, and Ministers have announced their intention to making drug and alcohol education statutory as part of personal, social, health and economic education, subject to consultation and parliamentary process. We are also developing a national communication campaign to discourage harmful drinking among under-18s. Our recent consultation on Children, Young People and Alcohol is part of this development work and the results will inform the campaign and the appropriate branding.

For those young people who do develop problems there are a record number of treatment places available for substance misuse (23,905 nationally). Alcohol is the second most common issue for young people currently in treatment.

Broadcasting: Analogue Radios

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the numbers of analogue radios in use (a) in private homes, (b) in cars, (c) in vans, and (d) elsewhere. [HL4428]

The information is not available in the form requested. However, Ofcom's research in September 2008 showed that about 45.9 million analogue radio devices were in use at least once a week:

Device

Used at least once a week (millions)

Personal music player with radio

9.1

Mobile phones with a radio

5.3

Clock radios/alarm clocks

8.8

Radio sets/portable radio sets

8.4

Hi-fis/music systems with radio

14.3

In addition Ofcom's research showed that there were about 22.5 million cars with an analogue radio.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how any decision to end analogue radio broadcasting will affect private broadcasters. [HL4430]

The Digital Upgrade Plan contained in the Digital Britain report proposes that on a determined date all services carried on the national and local DAB multiplexes will cease broadcasting on analogue. At the same time small local commercial stations and community stations will occupy the vacated FM spectrum. Commercial broadcasters have been fully engaged in these plans.

Burma

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of evidence presented to them of alleged abuses of human rights, crimes against humanity and genocidal acts committed by the Burmese military regime; and in what circumstances they would submit such evidence to the United Nations Security Council requesting referral to the International Criminal Court. [HL4526]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

We remain deeply concerned at the human rights situation in Burma. Over 2,100 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, continue to be detained. Political freedoms are completely absent and any dissent is brutally crushed. Treatment of Burma's ethnic groups is of particular concern.

Appalling human rights abuses are undoubtedly happening in Burma. However, as Burma is not a state party to the Rome statute, it would require a Chapter VII UN Security Council resolution to refer the situation in the country to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. In the past two years our efforts have helped to secure unprecedented Security Council action on Burma, in the form of two strongly worded presidential statements. It is, however, highly unlikely that the council would agree to pass a binding resolution on this issue. Our efforts to secure a non-binding resolution on Burma in 2007 were blocked by other members. We regularly test the degree of consensus as we seek Security Council action and strong resolutions in the Human Rights Council and General Assembly.

Chagos Islanders

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to respond to the European Court of Human Rights' suggestion that there should be an out-of-court settlement concerning the future of the Chagos Islanders. [HL4411]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

The Government have been invited by the European Court of Human Rights to submit written observations on the admissibility and merits of the application by the Chagos Islanders and to inform the registry of the Government's position concerning a friendly settlement by 17 July 2009. The Government expect to meet that deadline.

Cyprus: Property

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the compliance with human rights norms of Greek Cypriots being able to litigate through the European Court of Justice in respect of property in the north of Cyprus but Turkish Cypriots being prevented from doing so in relation to their property occupied by Greek Cypriots in the south. [HL4372]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has no direct jurisdiction in relation to disputes over property between private parties. The ECJ works in conjunction with the national courts of the EU member states, which themselves apply Community law. Any national court which is called upon to decide a dispute involving Community law may, and sometimes must, submit questions of Community law to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling. Turkish Cypriots may pursue relevant complaints before the courts of member states where those courts have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the dispute.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role of the Greek President of the European Court of Justice in taking an active role in the Apostolides v Orams case and in making a visit to southern Cyprus before delivering the judgment. [HL4373]

We have made no assessment of the role of the Greek President of the European Court of Justice in the Apostolides v Orams case. The European Court of Justice is an independent judicial institution. We have no reason to doubt the court's impartiality.

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), 4 June (WA 105) and 17 June (WA 209), who is responsible for conducting an appraisal of the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission; and on the basis of what criteria. [HL4443]

Jonathan Rees, director general of the Government Equalities Office, is responsible for completing the annual appraisal of the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The appraisal is based on OCPA guidelines which assess the chair's performance against objectives agreed for him and the commission.

Euro

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the remarks by the Lord President (Lord Mandelson) promoting the adoption of the euro by the United Kingdom represented Government policy; and, if so, whether it is their intention to hold a referendum before joining the eurozone. [HL4406]

The Government's policy on membership of the single currency is unchanged. It remains as set out by the then Chancellor in his Statement to the House of Commons in October 1997, and again in the Statement on the five tests assessment in June 2003. The determining factor underpinning any government decision on membership of the single currency is the national economic interest and whether the economic case for joining is clear and unambiguous.

Fishing: Netting Restrictions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that United Kingdom fishermen use fishing nets adapted to reduce discards, as suggested by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science. [HL4469]

UK fisheries departments continue to fund a range of work, in collaboration with the industry, looking at making the respective fishing activity more selective in terms of either species or size. The industry is encouraged to use any such gear modifications which prove successful. For example, the UK has been working with the industry on ways to avoid North Sea cod, but still allow fishermen to continue to fish stocks such as North Sea haddock. We have instigated a system whereby fishers are granted additional fishing days where they adhere to closures to avoid spawning or young cod, and are willing to change gear that catches fewer young fish, or create fishing plans that commit to significantly reducing cod discards.

Gambia

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of the Gambia on behalf of the jailed British couple, David and Fiona Fulton; whether they have information that Mr Fulton's sentence is to be extended by a further three years; when British officials last saw Mr and Mrs Fulton; and what assessment the officials made about their health and well being. [HL4525]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

Mrs Fulton has requested that no information be given out about her case. Our high commission in Banjul have raised a number of issues on Mr Fulton's behalf with the Gambian Ministry of Interior. We understand that Mr Fulton was sentenced on 26 March 2009 to an additional three years' imprisonment for forgery, but is appealing against the sentence. Consular staff last visited Mr Fulton on 19 June 2009. Consular staff are not medically trained, but with the permission of a detainee can ensure that any medical problems they might have are brought to the attention of the relevant authorities.

Guantanamo Bay

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the status of the two former British residents held at Guantanamo Bay; how long they have been held; and what action they will take to secure their release. [HL4343]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

The Government's decision to seek the release and return of former residents was limited to those who were lawfully resident in the UK prior to their detention. Following the safe return of five former legal residents to the UK, only one individual with this status, Shaker Aamer, is at Guantanamo Bay, where he has been held since February 2002. We requested his release and return to the UK in August 2007. The US has so far declined our request, owing to security concerns. We continue to make clear that our request stands for his release and return. We maintain an ongoing dialogue with the US regarding Mr Aamer's welfare, and are in frequent contact with his family and legal representatives.

Housing

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people were on local authority waiting lists for housing in each of the past 10 years. [HL4394]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what the household growth figures were in each of the past 10 years. [HL4395]

The latest household estimates for England were released in the Communities and Local Government statistics release of 21 May 2009 and accompanying live tables. The web links are show below:

link to household estimates and projections statistics release: http://www.communities.gov.uk/ publications/corporate/statistics/2031households0309.

link to household estimates and projections live tables: http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/ housingresearch/housingstatistics/housingstatisticsby/householdestimates/livetables-households/.

There were 21.5 million households in England in 2006, a 1 per cent increase from 21.3 million in 2005 and a 9 per cent increase from 19.7 million in 1996.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what countries they monitor for potential human rights abuses. [HL4392]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

I refer to the Answer given to the noble Lord on 15 June 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 182-83), which explains the Government's approach to reporting on international human rights and foreign policy. As such, the Government do not set or maintain a list of countries where they monitor human rights abuses, potential or actual.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2008 annual human rights report gives many examples of our engagement with countries around the world on human rights issues.

India: Orissa

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are discussing with the Government of India the future resettlement for Christians in Orissa and nearby who are living in camps. [HL4493]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

The EU maintains a constructive dialogue with the Indian authorities about human rights and minority rights issues, which includes the situation in Orissa and its neighbouring states following the violence in 2008. Officials from our high commission have had an active part in these discussions. However, the Government have not raised the resettlement of Christian communities with the Indian Government outside the framework of the EU dialogue.

Justice: Foreign and International Courts

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made concerning their amicus brief on behalf of the British citizen Linda Carty, who is facing a death sentence in Texas. [HL4344]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

On 4 May 2009 the Government filed an amicus curiae brief with the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the court currently considering the case of Ms Linda Carty, a British national sentenced to death in Houston, Texas. The brief focused on two related issues: the lack of consular notification in Ms Carty's case, and ineffective assistance of counsel. The fifth circuit has yet to rule on Ms Carty's outstanding appeal or comment on the contents of the brief.

Prior to our recent intervention, the Government also filed an amicus curiae brief in relation to Ms Carty's case when it was before the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas on 12 May 2006. That brief focused only on the lack of consular notification.

New Forest: Animals

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many riding horses have been kept in the New Forest in the past 10 years; and how many ponies, cattle and sheep grazed in that area over the same period. [HL4423]

The extent of information available is shown in the table below. Figures for riding horses and sheep were not recorded pre-2006.

Year

Riding horses

Ponies

Cattle

Sheep

1998

Not available

3593

2936

Not available

1999

Not available

3885

2890

Not available

2000

Not available

3990

2991

Not available

2001

Not available

3799

1658

Not available

2002

Not available

3440

1685

Not available

2003

Not available

3477

1762

Not available

2004

Not available

3913

2175

Not available

2005

Not available

4309

2745

Not available

2006

Not available

4204

2572

41

2007

3537

4479

2529

55

North Korea

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made about the cargo, movements and destination of the North Korean vessel, the Kang Nam; and whether the sale of arms by North Korea to Burma constitutes an infringement of United Nations Security Council Resolutions. [HL4524]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

We are aware of the media reports about the Kang Nam and are monitoring the situation. We can confirm that UN Security Council Resolution 1874 placed an embargo on the export of all arms from North Korea. We are working with international partners to ensure that all measures in the resolution are swiftly and effectively enforced.

Northern Ireland Office: Hire Cars

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 9 June (WA 144–45) concerning the cost of hire cars for staff of the Northern Ireland Office, how much was charged to the private car hire expenditure code in error; why; and when. [HL4362]

The Northern Ireland Office, including the Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland but excluding its agencies and executive NDPBs, overstated the total amount paid to suppliers of private hire cars as follows:

Year

£'000

2003-04

4

2004-05

43

2006-07

73

Total

120

This was due to errors made in miscoding invoices for other travel costs to the private car hire expenditure code.

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 15 June (WA 183–84) concerning the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, on what basis the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is satisfied that he has met the obligation in Section 68(3) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 that the commissioners should represent the community in Northern Ireland. [HL4366]

Under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is obliged, when making appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, to secure, so far as practicable, that the commissioners as a group are representative of the community in Northern Ireland.

The composition of the existing commission is taken into account when appointments are made, so that this obligation can be met.

The Secretary of State has complied with this obligation in every appointment that has been made to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 16 June (WA 202) concerning the funding of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, whether they will place in the Library of the House the application made to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by the commission for approval for external funding. [HL4393]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 16 June (WA 202), what form the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's proposal to access external funding from Atlantic Philanthropies took; how much funding is involved; whether they took legal advice on the proposal; and whether they will publish their correspondence with the commission on the matter. [HL4447]

Approval was sought to access £110,000 of external funding provided by Atlantic Philanthropies for a set of projects relating to work on a Bill of Rights. Legal advice was taken in relation to this matter. Copies of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's proposal requesting approval to access external funding and the letter detailing the Northern Ireland Office's response will be placed in the Library of the House.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in any recent discussions between the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the commission was informed of the view expressed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland before the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on 1 April that it had exceeded its remit. [HL4489]

I refer the noble Lord to my previous Answers of 19 May 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 298) and 8 June 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 132). The Secretary of State has shared his view with the commission.

Piracy

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number, origins and conditions of detention of persons held at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti and on United States ships in the gulf of Aden. [HL4345]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

We have no information on either the detention facilities at Camp Lemonier or the numbers, origins or conditions of detention for persons held there and have therefore made no assessment. The UK is not involved in the detention of individuals in Djibouti.

Police: Northern Ireland

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for the future of the full-time reserve of the Police Service for Northern Ireland. [HL4389]

The Government have accepted Patten's recommendation, echoing the Royal Ulster Constabulary's own fundamental review, that the full-time reserve should be phased out, as the security situation allowed. A programme of severance was negotiated and agreed so that all officers will have left the service by 31 March 2011.

The chief constable's assessments of policing needs and of the security situation inform his decision about the number of full-time reserve officers that is required at any time. The chief constable last week recommended that, following his recent security review, the current programme of phasing out of the FTR should continue.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to reorganise the staffing and location of the Police Service for Northern Ireland in County Tyrone. [HL4490]

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

Prisoners: Hunger Strike

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they issue regarding forced resuscitation of prisoners on hunger strike in prisons, special hospitals and other hospitals. [HL4507]

The department issued Seeking Consent; Working with People in Prison in 2002. It was issued to prisons by means of Prison Service Instruction (PSI) 38/2002, which should be read in conjunction with Department of Health guidance Reference Guide to Consent for Examination or Treatment issued in 2001. Both documents are available on the department's website and have been placed in the Library.

The issues covered in Seeking Consent; Working with People in Prison includes the right of a competent adult patient to refuse treatment; assessment of “competence”; circumstances in which patients who lack capacity can receive treatment; the position of young people; dealing with violent or threatening behaviour, where patients may also have associated health problems; self-harm and food refusal.

Guidelines on the clinical management of people refusing food in immigration and removal centres and prisons have been developed and will be published shortly by the department.

There is no specific guidance on this particular area in relation to secure mental health hospitals. In certain circumstances, treatment can be provided to patients detained under the Mental Health Act without their consent. Such treatment needs to be for their mental disorder, but in some cases that can include treatment for physical health problems where this is related to the mental disorder.

Railways: High-speed Line

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what submissions they have received in relation to the proposal for the High Speed Two rail link; and from how many companies and organisations. [HL4545]

Since the creation of High Speed Two, the Department for Transport has received 44 specific written representations with “High Speed Two” or “high speed rail” as a subject heading, from a number of individuals, organisations and companies. In addition, the department receives general correspondence covering many policy areas, including high speed rail. Department officials are also in direct contact with stakeholders regarding this subject.

Railways: Signalling

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 22 June (WA 260), whether the European Rail Traffic Management System being introduced on the Cambrian Line is being installed on any other line in Europe; and whether it is compliant with the recently agreed standard in Europe. [HL4577]

The European Rail Traffic Management System is in operation on high speed lines in Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Germany. In Spain alone, more than 1700 km route kilometres have been equipped with the European Rail Traffic Management System. Further implementations are expected in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and France.

Between 2001 and 2008, the European legislation specifying the European Rail Traffic Management System has been revised several times. The European Rail Traffic Management System on the Cambrian line is fully compliant and can safely be implemented with the specification in place in 2006. However, there is an upgrade path to current specifications.

Railways: Ticketing

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how the Ticketing and Settlement Agreement affects the ability of train operators to make flexible offers during the present economic climate. [HL4576]

No assessment had been made. The Ticketing and Settlement Agreement, an industry agreement owned and managed by train operators, permits train operators to react to market conditions and create flexible offers with the minimum of administrative burden through its temporary fares provisions.

Regional Spatial Strategies

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the timetable for publishing the Regional Spatial Strategies for all regions of England. [HL4506]

There are eight regional spatial strategies covering England (London has its own strategic plan in the form of the London Plan). Seven out of the eight RSSs have been published as follows:

North East RSS—published 15 July 2008;

North West RSS—published 30 September 2008;

Yorkshire and Humber RSS—published 21 May 2008;

East Midlands RSS—published 27 March 2009;

West Midlands Phase 1—published 15 January 2008;

East of England—published 12 May 2008;

South East—published 6 May 2009;

West Midlands RSS—has taken a phased approach to the revision of its RSS, phase 1 has already been published, phase 2 to be published in 2010 and phase 3 in 2011;

South West RSS—will be published in 2009; and

London Plan—further alterations to the London Plan (first published in 2004) were published in February 2008.

The mayor will present a draft London Plan to the GLA Assembly in June 2009, which will be the first stage in reviewing the plan, leading to the publication of a revised London Plan in 2011.

Sir Alan Sugar

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much National Savings & Investments has spent on advertising and promotional campaigns featuring Sir Alan Sugar. [HL4330]

In the past five years NS&I has spent approximately £13.9 million on advertising and promotion campaigns in which Sir Alan Sugar has featured. This includes national TV, press and online advertising supporting a range of initiatives.

Sir Alan Sugar has publicly stated that the fees he has received from NS&I work have been donated through his charitable trust, and the Great Ormond Street Hospital has been a major beneficiary.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to continue using Sir Alan Sugar in promotional campaigns for National Savings & Investments. [HL4332]

Sir Alan will not take part in any further promotional campaigns for NS&I, following his appointment as enterprise champion in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Sir Alan Sugar has publicly stated that the fees he has received from NS&I work have been donated through his charitable trust, and the Great Ormond Street Hospital has been a major beneficiary.

St Andrews Agreement

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 16 June (WA 205–6) concerning the St Andrews agreement of 2006, whether the agreement has been fully implemented by both governments and all parties involved. [HL4390]

Significant progress has been made on the implementation of the St Andrews agreement. Discussions between the Northern Ireland parties on those elements of the agreement which relate to the devolution of policing and justice continue. It is for the parties to agree when these powers will devolve.

The Government remain committed to working with the parties to ensure the successful implementation of the St Andrews agreement.

Sufi Muslim Council

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding (a) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (b) each of its agencies, and (c) non-departmental public bodies, have given to the Sufi Muslim Council, in each of the past five years. [HL4483]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

The Sufi Muslim Council has not received any funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, its agencies or non-departmental public bodies in any of the past five years.