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Written Answers

Volume 712: debated on Monday 6 July 2009

Written Answers

Monday 6 July 2009

Abattoirs

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have for further regulating United Kingdom abattoirs. [HL4544]

The Meat (Official Controls Charges) (England) Regulations 2009 and similar regulations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, will change the system of charging for meat hygiene official controls in approved meat plants, including abattoirs, from 28 September 2009. Under the new charging arrangements abattoirs will be charged a percentage of the time costs of meat hygiene official controls carried out at their premises. The change will not increase charges for businesses if official control time remains unchanged and will provide an incentive for businesses to improve standards and compliance and to use official control resources as effectively as possible.

The Government will shortly be undertaking public consultation on proposals to amend the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) Regulations 2008, which will include a proposal to require only slaughterhouses processing cattle requiring BSE testing to have an approved required method of operation (RMOP). As the age over which cattle must be tested for BSE was raised in January 2009, the effect would be that only abattoirs slaughtering cattle aged over 48 months, instead of the current 30 months, would require an approved RMOP. Similar consultation exercises will be held in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The European Commission published a proposal for a council regulation on the protection of animals at the time of killing, in September 2008. The proposed regulation will replace directive 93/119 on the protection of animals at the time of killing. The text of the proposed regulation has been under consideration since last autumn and political agreement was reached on a presidency compromise text at the Agriculture Council on 22 and 23 June.

Changes to the legislation regulating the welfare of animals in United Kingdom abattoirs will be required when the regulation applies in January 2013.

Africa: Malaria

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to reply to the Question for Written Answer tabled by Lord Tyler on 6 May (HL3404) and due for answer by 20 May. [HL4571]

Benefits: Deflation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 1 June (WA 8), 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 into account in the re-rating of public sector pensions; and what preparations they have made for any downrating. [HL4043]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer my noble friend Lord Patel of Bradford gave him on Tuesday 3 March (Official Report, col. WA 141). The Government are committed to maintaining at least the current cash value of state pensions and the same would be applicable for public sector pensions. The existing legislation already allows for this.

British Citizenship

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the then Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, on 29 April (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 1350W), what were the origins of the two individuals deprived of citizenship under Section 40(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981; why they were deprived of citizenship; and where they are currently residing. [HL4516]

British Overseas Territories

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any British Overseas Territories contribute to (a) the United Kingdom's subscriptions to international organisations, and (b) the United Kingdom's bilateral and multilateral aid expenditure. [HL4717]

The British Overseas Territories do not contribute to the UK's subscriptions to international organisations. Some territories make their own contributions to certain international organisations. For example, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and St Helena pay their subscriptions to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT).

None of the overseas territories contributes to the UK's bilateral and multilateral aid expenditure. Bermuda runs a small-scale aid programme to fund a number of projects chosen by Bermuda. Recent examples have been assistance to a South African township and to hurricane relief in the Caribbean.

Broadcasting: Analogue Radios

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how, in the event of the cessation of analogue radio broadcasting, analogue radios of no further use will be disposed of; and whether they will have to be dismantled into constituent components. [HL4431]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the event of the cessation of analogue radio broadcasting, the disposal of analogue radios of no further use will come under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive; and, if so, who will have the duty to dispose of them. [HL4432]

Under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations, householders can dispose of any WEEE, including analogue radios, either direct to distributors where they offer a take-back service on the purchase of a replacement product of equivalent use; or via local authority civic amenity sites which have been approved as designated collection facilities (DCFs).

Under the WEEE regulations, all producers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) have obligations to finance the collection, treatment, reprocessing and environmentally sound disposal of all separately collected products when disposed of by the householder.

All separately collected WEEE must be passed to an authorised approved treatment facility (AATF) which is responsible for treating equipment to approved treatment standards as required by the regulations.

Country of Origin Information Service

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect the Country of Origin Information Service to update its report on the Democratic Republic of Congo. [HL4492]

The Country of Origin Information (COI) Service will publish an updated COI report on the Democratic Republic of Congo by Friday 3 July 2009.

The revised report will be available on the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/country_reports.html. A copy will be placed in the House Library.

Crime: Drugs and Guns

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many overseas nationals were removed from the United Kingdom for drug- and gun-related crimes in each of the past three years. [HL4385]

The UK Border Agency is committed to ensuring that we remove those foreign nationals who pose a risk of harm to our society. We are targeting the most harmful first and any non-EEA national who receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or more is now subject to automatic deportation proceedings. In addition any non-EEA national who goes to prison for serious drug and gun offences no matter how long their sentence, will face deportation action as well as those, no matter the type of crime, who have received several custodial sentences totalling 12 months or more. EEA nationals convicted of gun or drugs offences will face deportation action if they are sentenced to 12 months or more in prison.

The chief executive of the UK Border Agency has written to the Home Affairs Select Committee on a regular basis to provide all of the most robust and accurate information available on the detention and deportation of foreign national prisoners. Copies of her letters are available in the Library of the House.

Cyclists: Helmets

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of rates of cycle helmet wearing among children in the United Kingdom, compared with those of other countries. [HL4682]

No such assessment has been made. However, the Department for Transport has commissioned a research project looking at a range of road safety and cycling issues. A review of the evidence base on the effects of helmet wearing legislation, other interventions to increase helmet wearing, and helmet use statistics will also be examined. A report is due to be published later this year.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their targets for cycle helmet wearing rates for children in the short and medium terms. [HL4683]

There are no set targets for cycle helmet wearing rates for children. However, we encourage the use of cycle helmets and measure cycle helmet wearing rates periodically.

Cycle helmet wearing rate studies were undertaken in 1994, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2006. The 2006 wearing rate survey, which was published in February 2008, shows that cycle helmet rates on major built-up roads for children increased from 14 per cent in 2004 to 18 per cent in 2006. Data from the 2008 wearing rate survey are due to be published later this year.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what good practice they have identified in measures to encourage children to wear cycle helmets. [HL4684]

The Department for Transport has commissioned research on a range of cycle safety issues, which includes identifying good practice in encouraging use of cycle helmets.

This research project commenced in 2008 and is likely to run for three years but we are aiming to complete the review of cycle helmet effectiveness later this year.

Education: Sponsor Licence

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 12 May (WA 186), how many international students are enrolled at colleges, schools and universities which have been refused a sponsor licence by the UK Border Agency. [HL4484]

The total number of international students who enrolled at colleges, schools and universities prior to 31/3/09, the date at which tier four of the points-based system commenced, who have subsequently been refused a sponsor licence by the UK Border Agency is around 3,940. Since 31 March 2009, none has been enrolled.

Elections: European Parliament

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the elections to the European Parliament in 2009 in Northern Ireland cost. [HL4488]

The total costs for the 2009 European Election in Northern Ireland are not yet available. However the noble Lord may wish to be aware that the European Parliamentary Elections (Returning Officer's Charges) (Northern Ireland) Order 2009 specifies that the maximum amount that may be recovered by the returning officer in respect of this election is £2,401,538.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is a scientific consensus regarding when cells in culture that are not intended for human application would no longer contain original cells, as indicated by paragraph 62 of the Human Tissue Authority Code of Practice 9 (Research); if so, whether stem cell lines might be viewed as containing original cells according to their pattern of asymmetric cell divisions; if not, what sort of variation might be expected if the classification of original cells were left to individual judgment. [HL4503]

There is no consensus about when cells in culture would no longer contain original cells. Cultured cells divide at different rates dependent on the cell type, local culture conditions, and in some cases the individual characteristics of the donor. As it is a matter for individual researchers to make a judgment, some variation in these decisions is to be expected, but the extent of any variation is unknown.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 15 June (WA 172–3), what are the technical issues around the derivation and biological properties of iPS cells that must be resolved before proceeding to clinical application; why the same issues would not impede corresponding applications with embryonic stem cells derived via cell nuclear replacement; and what implications such technical issues hold for research in which stem cells are used to test drug candidates rather than intended for transplantation. [HL4504]

There have been numerous approaches to generate induced pluripotent stem cell lines, but there is currently no scientific consensus on the most effective, reliable and safest method for subsequent application of these cells in patients. Other issues, such as the biochemical and genetic stability of any given type of pluripotent stem cell, also remain poorly understood at present and, unless resolved by researchers, could restrict the potential of any given type of stem cell in both drug testing and transplantation. The Government will continue to support all forms of stem cell research.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 29 September 2008 (WA 353–4) and 20 May 2009 (WA 317–18), why Dr Daniel Brison drew up a poster (co-authored by Dr Susan Kimber and Dr Maria Camarasa), which was presented to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's Scientific and Clinical Advances Group, showing the technique of outgrowing embryos used at Manchester on 14 June 2007 when the report of the inspection at St Mary's Hospital (also covering Manchester Fertility Services and the University of Manchester) on 26 September 2007 indicated that the derivation of stem cells from such embryos did not take place on those premises. [HL4522]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that the derivation of stem cells from outgrown embryos was not taking place at St Mary's Hospital (also covering Manchester Fertility Services and the University of Manchester) at the time of the inspection on 26 September 2007. The pictures of such embryos, provided by Dr Daniel Brison, were from research carried out prior to 26 September 2007.

Financial Services Regulation

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are considering changing the powers and responsibilities of the Financial Services Authority. [HL4586]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to give greater powers to the Bank of England. [HL4587]

Food: Labelling

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their position on the new European Union regulations on food labelling. [HL4540]

The Government welcome the European Commission's proposal for a regulation on the provision of food information to consumers. The proposal aims to consolidate general and nutrition labelling into a single text, updating existing labelling rules to reflect changes to the food market and consumer expectations over the past 30 years.

The Government are working closely with the Commission and other member states to ensure the proposal is proportionate and helps consumers make healthier and more informed choices.

Government Departments: Staffing

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment, Wildlife and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, on 22 April (Official Report, House of Commons, cols. 698–700W), whether there are permanent staff employed in human resources by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who do not work in the Legal and Strategic Human Resources group; and, if so, how many. [HL4473]

In addition to staff employed in the Legal and Strategic Human Resources group, human resources staff are employed in Defra's Shared Services Directorate, which provides transactional and helpdesk services to Defra, several of its network organisations and other bodies. Human resources staff are also employed in each of Defra's executive agencies.

The number of permanent, human resources staff employed in each of the areas is as follows:

Shared Services Directorate: 58. Of these, 57 are employed exclusively on HR and payroll transactional processing, of which 20 are employed exclusively on payroll processing.

Executive Agencies

Animal Health—25.

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)—Seven, supported by two people within the transactions department who do HR work as part of a wider role.

Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA)—16, including six in learning and development, payroll and occupational health.

Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA)—Two.

Rural Payments Agency (RPA)—184 including policy, transactional services, business partners, payroll staff, personnel support teams and learning and development.

Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA)—32.

Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD)—Four, including one person in learning and development.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 20 April (WA 348), of the six cases in which the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber found the United Kingdom in breach of the convention between 1 January 2004 and 10 March 2008, what form the violations by the United Kingdom took; against which articles of the convention; and what redress has been given to the applicants in each case. [HL4621]

The judgments of the Grand Chamber in which violations against the UK were found during the relevant period and that were referred to in the earlier Written Answer of 20 April 2009 were: Edwards and Lewis v UK (39647/98 and 40461/98), Hirst v UK (No. 2) (74025/01), Roche v UK (32555/96), Dickson v UK (44362/04), Saadi v UK (13229/03).

Details of the violations found, including the articles of the convention concerned, are contained in the judgments of the Grand Chamber. These are available for viewing online at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) website at:

http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action= html&documentId=706449&portal=hbkm&source= externalbydocnumber&table= F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649 (Edwards and Lewis v UK)

http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action= html&documentId=787485&portal=hbkm&source= externalbydocnumber&table= F69A27FD8FB86142BF0IC1166DEA398649 (Hirst v UK (no.2))

http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action= html&documentId=788085&portal=hbkm&source= externalbydocnumber&table= F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649 (Roche v UK)

http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action= html&documentId=826595&portal=hbkm&source= externalbydocnumber&table= F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649 (Dickson v UK)

http://cmiskpechr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?action= html&documentId=828277&portal=hbkm&source= externalbydocnumber&table= F69A27FD8FB86142BF01C1166DEA398649 (Saadi v UK)

Information on the execution of ECtHR judgments, including details of any individual measures taken by way of just satisfaction to the applicant, is available for viewing online at the website of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Information on the execution of judgments still under consideration can be found at:

http://www.coe.int/t/DGHL/MONITORING/EXECUTION/Reports/Current/United_Kingdom _en.pdf.

Information on the execution of judgments that are awaiting final resolution can be found at:

http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/execution/Reports/Cases6.1-2009en.pdf.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the investigative and regulatory procedures to be adopted and implemented by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and the Commissioner for Parliamentary Investigations, and the disciplinary powers to be exercised by the House of Commons, under the Parliamentary Standards Bill, must be compatible with common law and the European Convention on Human Rights principles of fairness and natural justice. [HL4687]

I have made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that in my view the provisions of the Bill are compatible with the convention rights.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether decisions of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will be subject to judicial review so as to comply with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. [HL4688]

Courts will review the exercise of functions of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority on the basis of the ordinary principles of administrative and human rights law.

Identity Cards

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many “failure to deliver” letters have been issued by couriers attempting to deliver identity cards to overseas students resident in the United Kingdom; and why no explanation is given for such letters to higher education institutions. [HL4538]

Where it has not been possible to deliver an identity card, a calling card is left for the addressee explaining why the courier was unable to deliver. The addressee is given the option to rearrange a more suitable delivery time or to collect their card direct from the depot.

To date, in total around 24,000 calling cards have been left, with the vast majority of cards successfully delivered on the second occasion. It is not possible to break down this information to show how many cards were issued to students.

Immigration

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 1 June (WA 40), what the countries of origin are of the 15,965 people not granted indefinite leave to remain under immigration rule 276B(i)(b). [HL4459]

The information requested is as follows:

Nationality of people not granted ILR between 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2009 in relation to previous Question HL3655

Nationality

No. of Cases

Nigeria

4,860

Ghana

3,195

Bangladesh

1,380

Pakistan

1,145

India

790

Jamaica

605

Algeria

325

Sierra Leone

235

Sri Lanka

225

Kenya

190

Turkey

185

Uganda

185

Zimbabwe

175

United States

140

Mauritius

135

Malaysia

125

China

115

Zambia

110

Gambia

105

Philippines

105

Ivory Coast

100

Colombia

85

Morocco

80

Cameroon

65

Guyana

65

Tanzania

60

South Africa

45

Thailand

45

Trinidad and Tobago

45

Ecuador

40

St. Lucia

40

Canada

40

Egypt

40

Nepal

40

British National (Overseas)

40

Congo (Democratic Republic) (formerly Zaire)

40

Ethiopia

35

Australia

30

Grenada

30

Brazil

30

Iran

30

Angola

25

Hong Kong

25

Lebanon

25

Nationality Currently Unknown

25

New Zealand

20

Serbia

20

Barbados

20

Cyprus

15

Sudan

15

Russia

15

Korea (South)

15

Japan

15

Malawi

15

Singapore

15

Croatia

10

Dominica

10

Ukraine

10

Bulgaria

10

Poland

10

Romania

10

Tunisia

10

Dominican Republic

10

Libya

10

Somalia

10

St Vincent

10

Yemen

10

Congo

10

Guinea

10

Vietnam

10

Indonesia

5

Jordan

5

Liberia

5

Macedonia

5

Occupied Palestinian Territory

5

Peru

5

Senegal

5

St Kitts and Nevis

5

Togo

5

Afghanistan

5

Albania

5

Portugal

5

Benin

5

Bolivia

5

Chile

5

Montenegro

5

Syria

5

Eritrea

5

Fiji

5

Hungary

5

Saudi Arabia

5

Taiwan

5

Antigua and Barbuda

5

Chad

5

Democratic Republic of the Congo

5

Iraq

5

Israel

5

Kosovo

5

Mexico

5

Myanmar

5

Rwanda

5

Seychelles

5

Argentina

+

Bosnia and Herzegovina

+

Botswana

+

Burkina

+

France

+

Georgia

+

Ireland

+

Italy

+

Niger

+

Panama

+

Surinam

+

Swaziland

+

Venezuela

+

Armenia

+

Belarus

+

Cuba

+

Germany

+

Greece

+

Guinea-Bissau

+

Kazakhstan

+

Kuwait

+

Madagascar

+

Moldova

+

Mongolia

+

Total

15,960

Figures are rounded to nearest 5.

+ Indicates 1 or 2.

“-” Indicates nil.

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

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the provisions of paragraph 6.2 of Annex H to Chapter 14 of the Home Office Nationality Instructions. [HL4509]

Paragraph 6.2 is part of a section which explains Nationality Group's understanding of Indian citizenship law. It states that, as the Indian authorities do not allow dual nationality “no adult (18 and over) can hold Indian citizenship in conjunction with any other nationality or citizenship. This applies irrespective of whether the person holds any passports (either Indian or that of their other nationality/citizenship)”.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the then Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, on 29 April (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 1354W), what was the origin of the person who was deprived of their right of abode in the United Kingdom in 2006 under Section 2A of the Immigration Act 1971; why that person was so deprived; and where they are currently residing. [HL4513]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 16 June (WA 200), how many Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian nationals have been given leave to enter the United Kingdom to undertake student courses in each of the past five years; and how many nationals of those countries have been given leave to remain in the United Kingdom indefinitely in those years. [HL4552]

The available data on Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian nationals for 2003 to 2007 are given in the attached tables. Corresponding data for 2008 are scheduled for publication in August 2009.

Statistics on students given leave to enter the United Kingdom and persons granted settlement (indefinite leave to enter or remain) by country of nationality are published annually in tables 2.3 and 5.7 respectively in the Home Office statistical publications Control of Immigration: Statistics United Kingdom. These publications may be obtained from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.

Table 1 Passengers given leave to enter the United Kingdom as students (1), excluding EEA and Swiss nationals, 2003 to 2007

United Kingdom

Number of journeys

2007 (4)(5)(6)(P)

Country of nationality

2003

2004(2)

2005

2006(3)

Recorded

Estimated

All nationalities

319,000

294,000

284,000

309,000

346,000

(358,000)

of which:

Bangladesh

2,590

2,000

2,910

3,220

3,490

..

India

15,400

16,600

17,600

21,100

22,100

..

Pakistan

6,730

12,600

8,920

11,000

10,600

..

(1) Excluding dependants.

(2) Includes nationals of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia before 1 May, but excludes them from this date.

(3) Due to some gaps in the data from ports, estimates have been used.

(4) Exclude nationals of Bulgaria and Romania.

(5) Where administrative records on non-EEA nationals were unavailable for statistical analysis, data has been estimated and this calculated figure is shown in brackets alongside the number actually recorded. It is not possible to estimate totals for individual nationalities from the available data.

(6) Includes Student Visitors.

P = provisional.

Data rounded to 3 significant figures.

.. = not available.

Table 2 Grants of settlement (1)(2) by country of nationality, excluding EEA and Swiss nationals (3), 2003 to 2007

United Kingdom

Number of persons

Country of nationality

2003

2004 (4)

2005

2006

2007 (5)(P)

All nationalities

139,280

139,210

179,120

134,445

124,855

of which:

Bangladesh

5,590

3,115

3,085

2,850

3,330

India

10,955

11,100

16,720

11,190

14,865

Pakistan

12,945

10,020

9,185

10,960

10,825

(1) Indefinite leave to enter or remain.

(2) Includes dependants.

(3) Data also exclude dependents of EEA and Swiss nationals in confirmed relationships granted permanent residence.

(4) Includes nationals of Cyprus, Czech Republic. Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland Slovakia and Slovenia before 1 May 2004 but excludes them from this date.

(5) Excludes Bulgaria and Romania.

P = provisional.

Date rounded to the nearest 5.

Immigration: Detention

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many detainees have escaped from each immigration detention centre in each of the past five years. [HL4382]

Information on the number of detainees who have escaped from each immigration removal centre is taken from local management information. This data are normally used for management information only and are not subject to the detailed checks that apply for National Statistics publications.

In 2004, there were 12 escapes from Oakington immigration removal centre.

In 2005, there were four escapes from Oakington and one from Campsfield immigration removal centres.

In 2006, there were 19 escapes from Oakington and one from Dungavel immigration removal centres.

In 2007, there were 63 escapes from Oakington, 26 from Campsfield and one from Yarl's Wood immigration removal centres.

In 2008, there were 25 escapes from Oakington, seven from Campsfield, one from Dungavel and two from Haslar immigration removal centres.

The UK Border Agency takes all escapes very seriously. Procedures are in place to seek to recover individuals who escape from detention. The police are informed immediately and the individuals' details are recorded on the police national computer (PNC) as an absconder should the individual be apprehended at a later date.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Bach on 22 June (WA 256), what is their assessment of the practical benefits to the people of the United Kingdom of allowing the right of individual petition under the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. [HL4637]

Assessment of the benefits will come in the light of the outcome of any applications that follow ratification. The Government will keep under review the applications that are made under this protocol, including how they are handled by the relevant committees at the United Nations, and whether the outcomes demonstrate significant additional benefits to people in the United Kingdom.

Legal Aid

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the costs of Mr Robert Toner's judicial review of the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland's refusal of a postal vote as his middle name was absent from his application form was met through legal aid; and, if so, under what criteria it was decided the case would be funded; whether two counsel were engaged on his behalf; and under what rule the absence of his middle name was regarded by the Electoral Office as a reason to refuse his application. [HL4623]

Mr Toner was granted legal aid to bring a judicial review of the Electoral Office's decision. Mr Toner was granted funding for one counsel. As no case report has been submitted in respect of the judicial review proceedings the legal aid costs are not known. The statutory criteria involved in determining applications for civil legal aid, including judicial review proceedings, is whether:

the applicant satisfies the financial means test as set out in Article 9 of the Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order 1981; and

the applicant had shown reasonable grounds for taking, defending or being a party to proceedings and is it is reasonable in the particular circumstances of the case that legal aid be granted as set out in Article 10 of the 1981 order.

I cannot comment on the basis for the decision of the Electoral Office to refuse Mr Toner's application. My officials have, however, consulted with colleagues in the Northern Ireland Office who advise that Regulation 9 of the European Parliamentary Elections (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2004 sets out the requirements that must be met to ensure that an absent vote application is successful.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the costs of Mr Tiarnan O Muilleoir's judicial review of the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland not contacting him because his sister's national insurance number was on his postal vote application was met through legal aid; if so, under what criteria it was decided the case would be funded; and whether two counsel were engaged on his behalf. [HL4624]

The Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission has no record of an application for civil legal aid for Mr Tiarnan O Muilleoir.

North Korea

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether British naval vessels have been given authority to compel North Korean ships to dock at foreign ports in support of paragraph 13 of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874. [HL4613]

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 does not provide the UK with legal authority to compel North Korean ships to dock at foreign ports.

Consequently, Royal Naval ships have not been directed to do so.

Northern Ireland Office: Efficiency

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 19 May (WA 301) concerning 170 efficiency initiatives identified by the Northern Ireland Office, why, if the initiatives have been identified, they could be listed in a parliamentary Written Answer only at a disproportionate cost. [HL3998]

The department delivered £103.6 million of efficiencies against a target of £90 million and was permitted by HM Treasury to carry over £11 million of this over-achievement to its current value for money programme. A list of the 136 initiatives that delivered these savings has been placed in the Library.

The original 170 efficiency initiatives were identified as part of the planning process for the 2004 Spending Review (SR04) which took place in late 2003. Over time, as the SR04 period progressed, these initiatives were modified as plans were firmed up and new information became available. As a result, the final number of efficiency initiatives at the end of the SR04 period totalled 136. To track through these changes and reconcile the original and final lists of initiatives would involve a manual trawl and investigation of electronic and paper files. This exercise would cost in excess of the £750 disproportionate cost threshold.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether their response to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's consultation about a possible Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland will suggest parity of esteem for Ulster Scots culture, language and history. [HL4476]

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's advice to the Government on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland include proposals for rights relating to identity, culture and language. The Government will be consulting on their response to the advice.

Offender Management: Staff

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many staff will be employed by each Director of Offender Management in England and Wales in the current financial year. [HL4626]

Proposed staffing levels within each Director of Offender Management's office are shown in the table below.

To bring the respective area and regional offender management organisations of the prison and probation services together effectively the Regional Restructure Project was commissioned and implementation of the model began in April 2009. It provides a framework upon which every new regional office will operate around a core structure, with similar roles being carried out nationally by individuals of the same grade. A number of other roles also exist, outside of the core structure, but which report into the Director of Offender Management.

Director of Offender Management—Proposed Staffing Levels

Full Time Equivalent Staffing (core and non-core)

East of England

65

East Midlands

47

London

44

North East

51

North West

81

South East

140

South West

45

Wales

30

West Midlands

70

Yorkshire and Humberside

47

Total

617

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Directors of Offender Management in England and Wales will have (a) a prisons background, and (b) a probation background. [HL4627]

There are 10 Director of Offender Management (DOM) posts. Of these, three have a predominantly Prison Service background and a further two have experience in the Prison Service alongside other Civil Service roles. One of the DOMs has a predominantly Probation Service background. One of the DOMs trialled the role in a pathfinder in Wales and the other three DOMs have no previous experience in prisons or probation.

Organophosphates

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether commercial formulations for Roundup are safe for developing embryos in the light of recent research by Gilles-Eric Seralini et al of the University of Caen that polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), used as a surfactant, amplified the toxic effects on human cells at concentrations more diluted than those used on farms and lawns, supported by other research from Argentina that reported a high incidence of birth defects and cancer in people, and genetic malformations in amphibians, living near crop spraying areas. [HL4563]

The chairs of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) and its Medical and Toxicological Panel have considered the paper by Benachour and Seralini, Chem.Res.Toxicol 2009, 22, 97-105. This paper reports on in vitro work examining the effects of glyphosate, the glyphosate metabolite AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid), a co-formulant POEA (polyethoxylated tallow amine) and some Roundup formulations. It was concluded that the study did not suggest that regulatory action was required.

The Chemicals Regulation Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive has considered some information on a study in Argentina that may be the work mentioned. The methodology used in this study means that the results are not relevant to mammals, including humans.

Passports

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of passports can be read electronically at United Kingdom ports and airports; and what steps are they taking to increase that percentage. [HL4549]

In order for passports to be read electronically at United Kingdom ports and airports the page containing the biographical data of the holder must be constructed in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Document 9303.

The UK Government do not collect data on the percentage of passports that can be read electronically. Research completed earlier this year by the Migration Experts Sub Group of the G8 Lyon/Roma Group suggests that 82 per cent of the countries in the world issue passports which comply with the ICAO Document 9303 and can thus be read electronically. The majority of those countries which do not comply issue comparatively few passports. Therefore the overall percentage of passports presented at UK ports of entry which can be read electronically is in fact significantly higher than the above figure.

The UK continues in international meetings including of the International Civil Aviation Organisation to press for greater use of and enhanced standards in machine-readable travel documents.

Planning

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many extant planning permissions there are for sites on which the developer has yet to begin building homes. [HL4502]

Planning: Eco-towns

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the timetable for the publication of successful eco-town bids. [HL4500]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with eco-town promoters over the past six months; and what assessment have they made as to the viability of the bidders' proposals. [HL4501]

Proposals put forward by eco-town promoters have been assessed in the sustainability appraisal and habitats regulations assessment and the financial viability study of the eco-towns programme, which were published as part of the eco-towns consultation. This ran from 4 November 2008 to 30 April 2009, and promoters and other parties have responded to this. As part of this the Government have had contact with promoters to update them on the eco-towns programme and to clarify issues related to proposals where necessary.

Responses to the consultation are currently being considered by the Government, and they expect to publish the final eco-towns planning policy statement and list of locations with potential to be an eco-town in the summer.

Presbyterian Mutual Society

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure that any resolution of the situation of depositors in the Presbyterian Mutual Society is not linked to the transfer of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Executive. [HL4774]

Retirement Age

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will raise the retirement age to 70 for those born after 1960. [HL4646]

Sir Alan Sugar

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government to which Minister the Enterprise Champion, Sir Alan Sugar, will report. [HL4150]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Enterprise Champion, Sir Alan Sugar, will be required to consult the Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business, Baroness Vadera, on the exercise of his responsibilities. [HL4153]

The Enterprise Champion will offer independent advice to government from a business perspective drawing on his own experience and on consultations around the country. He will raise awareness among entrepreneurs and businesses about the practical help that is available from Government and other sources. He will also champion the cause of viable small companies with banks, encouraging lending to continue during the recession.

As Minister for Economic Competitiveness, Small Business and Enterprise, I expect to be the champion's main ministerial contact point for the advice he provides.

Sufi Muslim Council

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much funding (a) Communities and Local Government, (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. [HL4481]

The Sufi Muslim Council has received the following funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government in each of the past five years:

2004-05—£0;

2005-06—£0;

2006-07—£160,000;

2007-08—£82,500; and

2008-09—£150,000

This group has not received funding from any of the department's agencies or non-departmental public bodies during the past five years.

Taxation: Income Tax

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Myners on 19 June (WA 238–9), whether they will review their policy of not disclosing the contents of discussions with other Governments. [HL4491]

As I said in my response to the noble Lord on 12 May (Official Report, House of Lords, WA 180), it is a long-standing practice that the Government do not normally publish details of the meetings of UK Ministers and officials with their counterparts in other Governments, as to do so might prejudice free and frank discussions. I have nothing further to add on this matter.

Tourism: Holiday Lettings

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will meet representatives of the Holiday Cottages Group and Tourism Alliance to discuss the proposed changes to the furnished holiday lettings rules announced in the Budget in April. [HL4602]

The Government will be publishing draft legislation at the Pre-Budget report in the autumn, and will be happy to receive comments at that time.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the proposed changes to the furnished holiday lettings rules announced in the Budget in April will be revenue-neutral once the economic impact on rural tourism is taken into account. [HL4603]

The net impact of the changes to the furnished holiday lettings rules on rural areas will be set out in the impact assessment, to be published alongside draft legislation at the Pre-Budget Report.

Transport: Pet Travel

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review the operation of the Pet Travel Scheme to take account of animal welfare issues and in the light of any risk of the introduction of animal diseases not endemic in the United Kingdom. [HL4520]

Taking your pet abroad is a serious business and should not be undertaken lightly. Pet owners should always consult their vet before they think about taking their pet abroad so that they can get advice about how best to protect its health and welfare when it is travelling.

The Pet Travel Scheme does not lay down specific welfare requirements. However, the Animal Welfare Act (2006) does put a duty of care on pet owners. As part of that duty of care, animals should be given protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Pets travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme are required to be vaccinated against rabies and treated against ticks and tapeworms before they can enter or re-enter the UK. This protects the country against rabies and certain other non-endemic diseases of dogs and cats. These measures are designed to protect public as well as animal health.

UK Independence Party

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 10 June (WA 151), whether the Security Service has been or is active inside or towards the United Kingdom Independence Party or any of its members. [HL4590]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 10 June (WA 151), whether the security services or the police have collaborated or are collaborating with the European Anti-Fraud Office or any other organ of the European Union in relation to the United Kingdom Independence Party or any of its members. [HL4591]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Security Service has investigated or is engaged with the United Kingdom Independence Party. [HL4592]

The established policy of successive Governments is not to comment on questions about Security Service investigations.

The Security Service Act 1989 sets out its functions and prohibits it doing anything in furtherance of the interests of a political party. It does not investigate anyone for being a member of a campaigning organisation.

Police operations are a matter for the relevant chief officer who is under no duty to report such matters to the Government.

Waste Management: Refuse Collection

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage the use of recycled plastics in the construction of wheeled bins for the collection of household, commercial and industrial waste. [HL4396]

Local Authorities are responsible for the procurement of wheeled bins and it is for them to specify the amount of recycled content used in the production, if appropriate.

Worker Registration Scheme

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what benefits are available to European Union migrant workers who have joined the Worker Registration Scheme. [HL4434]

Since 1 May 2004, migrant workers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia (the A8 countries) have been required to register under the Home Office's Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) once they find work.

A8 nationals have worker status while they are working and registered with the WRS. While legally in work they may qualify for in-work benefits such as tax credits, child benefit, housing benefit and council tax benefit in the same way as other EEA nationals. Part-time workers may qualify for income-based jobseeker's allowance. A8 workers in registered employment may also qualify for income-related employment and support allowance if they are temporarily unable to work due to an illness or accident. Once they have completed 12 months’ registered work, they will be eligible for the full range of benefits in the same way as other EEA nationals, providing they meet the qualifying conditions.

Zimbabwe

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have carried out, or intend to carry out, research into the number of farmworkers displaced by farm evictions in Zimbabwe; and what channels they will use for future assistance to farmworkers and small farmers in Zimbabwe. [HL4598]

Since the formation of the inclusive government in February 2009, there have been a number of reported threats and violent or illegal incidents aimed at farmers in Zimbabwe. 3,000 farm workers have been evicted and displaced over the past two months. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is monitoring the situation closely and offering consular and other assistance as appropriate.

The Department for International Development (DfID) is providing wide-ranging humanitarian and other essential support to the poorest and most vulnerable across Zimbabwe, including both smallholder farmers and evicted farm workers. Our support includes:

£6.5 million of support to over 240,000 internally displaced people, as well as Zimbabwean migrants deported from neighbouring countries through the International Organisation for Migration (the UK is the largest donor);

£10 million in last financial year towards supporting rural livelihoods and subsistence farmers, including making seeds, tools and fertiliser available to improve local harvests; and

£500,000 for the re-integration of displaced communities into agriculture projects.

This year we have announced a £60 million package of support to the people of Zimbabwe, including a focus on boosting food security and helping the country to feed itself.