Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 713: debated on Tuesday 20 October 2009

Written Answers

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Alcohol: Young People

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in order to help curb alcohol abuse by young people, they will consider trebling the excise duty on strong cider so as to bring it broadly into line with the excise duty on beer of a similar strength. [HL5624]

The Government take the problems associated with alcohol misuse seriously. The Government published their alcohol strategy Safe, Sensible, Social in June 2007. This commits all departments to work together to address a society-wide problem.

The primary purpose of alcohol duty is to raise revenue, not to tackle problem drinking. Decisions on alcohol duty rates are made by the Chancellor as part of the Budget process.

Armed Forces: Aircraft Carriers

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures have been taken to maintain aircraft carrier operating capabilities during the deployment of Joint Force Harrier on Operation Herrick in Afghanistan. [HL5667]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many aircraft from navies other than the Royal Navy have landed on Her Majesty's ships in each of the last three years. [HL5668]

While the UK Harrier force was on active service in Afghanistan, a minimum level of aircraft carrier operating capabilities was maintained through routine embarkations of UK Harrier aircraft and Harriers from other nations.

In 2007, a total of 26 aircraft from the US, Spanish and Italian navies embarked on Her Majesty's ships. These aircraft were participating in joint exercises with the UK. No such aircraft embarked in 2008 and no such embarkations are planned for 2009.

Armed Forces: RAF Brize Norton

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether parents of service personnel are allowed access to the Brize Norton military base to collect their offspring on arrival from overseas duties or deliver them to leave for overseas duties when one or more of the parents holds a non-United Kingdom passport. [HL5614]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will issue appropriate identification permits to parents of service personnel in order that they may access the Brize Norton military base to collect their offspring on arrival from overseas duties or deliver them to leave for overseas duties. [HL5615]

Parents of service personnel are permitted access to RAF Brize Norton by prior arrangement with the station. The station publishes a passenger terminal information leaflet, which sets out the procedure for UK nationals and non-UK nationals. This enables parents to gain temporary passes to access the terminal in order to drop off or collect a passenger. The leaflet can be downloaded from the following website: www.raf.mod.uk/rafbrizenorton/flyinginfo/airterminal.cfm.

Armed Forces: Travel Expenses

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the arrangements for payment of excess baggage charges when service personnel use commercial airlines on returning from home leave to base carrying their military kit and equipment. [HL5617]

There is no entitlement for service personnel to reclaim excess baggage charges when travelling on leave. Service personnel are not expected to take their military kit and equipment home on leave with them; they should either leave it on base, or transfer it between bases using the military facilities available to them. However, if they do take their kit home, this is done as a matter of personal choice and convenience rather than service need. Therefore, any excess baggage charges incurred will be at personal expense, with payment being made directly by the passenger to the carrier.

When personnel are travelling on official duty—for example, when returning to a home unit following duty elsewhere—excess baggage can, in some circumstances, be permitted if authorised in advance of travel. At the time of booking, an annotation is made on the ticket confirming that excess baggage is authorised and the MoD can then be billed accordingly without the passenger incurring any charges. But if it is not agreed in advance, the individual will be liable for excess baggage charges at check-in. Refunds may be permitted through the unit administrative staff if circumstances are such that arrangements could not be made in advance of travel or an administrative error has occurred.

When any service person feels that their circumstances have fallen outside current policy and that they are being unfairly disadvantaged, they may always submit casework to the pay and allowance casework and complaints cell in accordance with established service procedures, requesting exceptional consideration.

Banking: Lloyds TSB and HBOS

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of their facilitation of the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds Bank and their 43 per cent holding in the merged company, they will resist any attempt by the European Commission to force Lloyds Banking Group to divest itself of bank accounts or business subsidiaries. [HL5556]

Talks with the European Commission about Lloyds Banking Group and possible state aid restructuring measures are ongoing and an announcement will be made in due course.

Benefits

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are considering setting a level of income above which no-one can claim social care benefits. [HL5544]

The Green Paper Shaping the Future of Care Together lays out the Government's vision for a national care service and considers how we can make this fair, simple and affordable for everyone. As part of this, we will need to consider how best to target resources at those most in need of support. The Green Paper is an opportunity to consider a range of options on how best to achieve this. We are currently consulting on all of the options considered in the Green Paper, in our Big Care Debate, which will run until 13 November this year.

Department for Children, Schools and Families: Staff

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many officials work in the Young People Directorate of the Department for Children, Schools and Families. [HL5629]

Four hundred and five staff (based on full-time equivalents) work in the Young People Directorate, organised around five groups focused on improving the outcomes for all young people in England.

Department for Communities and Local Government: Office Repainting

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cost of repainting the private office of Ms Hazel Blears upon her resignation as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. [HL5433]

Departmental officials asked for this work to be done before a new Secretary of State was appointed. It cost £287.36 (excluding VAT) to repaint the inner walls of the Secretary of State's private office.

Government Initiatives: Advertising

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which initiatives of HM Treasury or its agencies have been advertised in each of the past five years; how much was spent in each case; and which were carried out via the Central Office of Information. [HL5325]

There have been no initiatives advertised by either the Debt Management Office or the Office of Government Commerce between 2004-05 and 2008-09. HM Treasury ran media campaigns through the Central Office of Information for stakeholder savings and investment products at a cost of £3,032,000 in 2005-06 and the Money Guidance service and the FSA's Moneymadeclear service at a cost of £2,250,000 in 2008-09. These figures do not include regular recruitment advertising.

Health: Drugs

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent advice has been published by the Chief Medical Officer and the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence on the side-effects of prescribed drugs. [HL5568]

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) routinely considers the side-effects of specific treatments when developing its recommendations on clinical and cost effectiveness and such information is contained in NICE's published guidance available on its website at www.nice.org.uk.

The Chief Medical Officer has not recently issued any such advice.

The safety of all medicines is kept under continuous review by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in conjunction with its independent scientific advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to increase patients' awareness of the potential withdrawal symptoms of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. [HL5569]

The issue of withdrawal reactions following use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) has been under close review by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and its predecessor, the Medicines Control Agency, since the early 1990s. Any new data have been carefully evaluated as they become available and updated advice issued as appropriate.

Warnings about the risk of withdrawal reactions upon stopping treatment with SSRIs have been included in the patient information leaflets (PILs) for SSRIs for many years. Following a comprehensive review by an expert working group on the safety of SSRIs, established by the Committee on Safety of Medicines, the warnings in the product information for prescribers and the PILs were updated to include clear and detailed advice on the management of withdrawal. A thorough evaluation of all available data coupled with feedback from patients and patient organisations informed the updates.

Current National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance recommends clearly that all patients prescribed antidepressants should be informed about the risk of withdrawal reactions and the importance of gradual withdrawal over several weeks. The British National Formulary (BNF), which is distributed by the Department of Health to doctors and community pharmacies, also contains information on withdrawal reactions following stopping treatment with SSRIs. The MHRA is in discussion with the BNF over whether there is scope for further updates to this information to aid discussions between prescribers and patients.

Health: Haemophilia

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to hold a debate on the Department of Health's response to the report of the Independent Public Inquiry, headed by Lord Archer of Sandwell, into the 1,937 deaths of haemophilia patients caused by contaminated NHS blood and blood products. [HL5530]

I refer the noble Lord to Lord Darzi's Answer of 3 June to Lord Morris (Official Report, col. WA 92). The decision on whether to hold a debate on the government response to the Archer report remains a matter for the House business managers.

Health: Hydration

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether patients entering NHS hospitals can request that their hydration is not stopped by doctors, nurses or other healthcare professions; and, if so, how. [HL5496]

Yes. They may make their request in any manner they wish. However, clinicians cannot be compelled to provide the particular treatment requested. In deciding upon such a request from a patient, healthcare professionals may need to make a distinction between requests for fluids to keep the patient comfortable and hydration for a purpose that they consider to be “clinically unnecessary, futile, or inappropriate”.1

Note:

1 Paragraph 9.5 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005: Code of Practice

Health: Sedation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether patients entering NHS care may specify in advance that they do not consent to be treated by continuous deep sedation; and, if so, how. [HL5495]

Yes. A person aged 18 or over who has the capacity to make such a decision may make an advance decision to refuse any treatment and, unless it relates to life-sustaining treatment, may do so verbally or in writing. An advance decision to refuse life-sustaining treatment has to be in writing, be signed and witnessed, and contain clear statements that it applies even if life is at risk. Where a person has made no advance decision and lacks the capacity to consent to a particular form of treatment, healthcare professionals should make decisions based upon the patient's best interests, where practical taking account of the views of those close to them.

House of Lords: Fair Trade Goods

Question

Asked by

To ask the Chairman of Committees which fair trade goods and produce the House of Lords Refreshment Department purchases; and what plans the department has to expand these. [HL5683]

The Refreshment Department currently offers the following fair trade items: hot drinks such as tea, coffee and chocolate; confectionery bars, biscuits and cakes; sugar sachets; and bananas when they are available. The department looks to expand the range of fair trade products whenever new goods are being procured.

Housing

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the latest forecast of the number of homes which will be built in 2009; and how that compares with previous years. [HL5602]

The department does not publish forecasts for housebuilding. In 2008, 142,400 new-build dwellings were completed in England.

The latest statistics on housebuilding starts and completions in England were published in the Communities and Local Government statistics release of 20 August 2009 and accompanying live tables. The web links are show below:

link to housebuilding statistics release:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/housebuildingq22009; and

link to housebuilding live tables:

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

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans there are for relaxing planning regulations and rules to allow more homes to be built on greenfield sites. [HL5605]

Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3) sets out the Government's policy on planning for housing. It sets a national annual target that at least 60 per cent of new housing should be provided on previously developed land (brownfield land). In 2008, on a provisional estimate, 79 per cent of dwellings (including conversions) were built on previously developed land. The Government have no plans to review PPS3 at the present time.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what incentives are being provided to private landlords and developers to build more houses to rent; and what other measures they are considering to increase the availability of rental accommodation. [HL5606]

In May this year, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) launched its private sector renting initiative with the priority of encouraging new long-term institutional and other equity investors into the private rented sector. At the same time, this Government published their response to the Rugg review of the private rented sector. The government response contained wide-ranging proposals aimed at improving the professionalism and quality of the sector and thereby creating a supportive framework for its growth.

Housing: Enabling Development

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the rules and guidelines regarding “enabling development”. [HL5561]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is a mechanism which requires the owner of a grade 1 listed building to offer it for sale on the open market before “enabling development” is granted. [HL5562]

Updated guidance for local planning authorities on enabling development was published by English Heritage in 2008. This was based on the policies in Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) Note 15 (Planning and the Historic Environment). Criteria for use in determining applications for enabling development have been incorporated in the draft of a new planning policy statement to replace PPG 15, which is currently subject to consultation. The consultation period ends on 30 October.

There is no absolute requirement to offer a listed building for sale before enabling development can be approved. The guidance advises that it would normally be necessary for an applicant to demonstrate that efforts have been made to find a viable use for the building. While this would normally include market testing of the property, whether marketing was appropriate would depend on the particular circumstances of the application.

NHS: IT Strategy

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish updated annexes for the National Programme for IT in the NHS: Benefits Statement 2006–07 to show (a) how far the programme has been implemented since March 2007, and (b) what actual and recurrent savings have been made as a result. [HL5560]

In response to a recommendation by the Public Accounts Committee, in its report on the national programme published in January 2009, the department has agreed to consider producing an annual report of the programme's progress against published timetables and expenditure forecasts. Consideration is being given to publication, from 2009-10, of a single document combining the annual report with a restructured statement of the costs and benefits of the programme.

Pensions

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in today's prices, how many men and how many women will be eligible in (a) 2020, (b) 2030, (c) 2040 and (d) 2050 for the state earnings-related pension scheme or the state second pension of (1) under £20 a week, (2) £20–35 a week, (3) £35–50 a week, and (4) more than £50 a week. [HL5547]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many men and women would require pension credit by (a) 2020, (b) 2030, (c) 2040 and (d) 2050 if the basic state pension and the state second pension were combined into a single pension. [HL5548]

Combining the basic state pension and the second state pension into a single pension payment would not alter entitlement; the total amount in payment would be unchanged. Because both basic state pension and second state pension are treated in the same way for pension credit purposes (both are counted as income in full), projected entitlement to pension credit would remain as under the current system.

Projections of entitlement to pension credit can be found in the Projections of Entitlement to Income Related Benefits to 2050 fact sheet, which is available at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/projections-of-entitlement-to-incomerelatedbenefitsjune2008.pdf. Pension credit is paid at benefit unit level, so projections of entitlement are not available separately for men and women.

Updated projections of entitlement will be published on the Department for Work and Pensions website shortly after Pre-Budget Report.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what would be the net cost of ensuring that everyone with a full basic state pension in (a) 2020, (b) 2030, (c) 2040 and (d) 2050 received sufficient state second pension to ensure a minimum income of £130 per week. [HL5549]

The information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Police: Northern Ireland

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Ashton of Upholland on 20 December 2004 (WA 113) and by Lord Rooker on 16 July 2007 (WA 6–7) relating to an incident involving Royal Ulster Constabulary Constable Trevor Purcell during a riot on 13 July 2001, whether, following the dismissal of court proceedings against him on 29 November 2004, the misconduct proceedings instigated against the constable by the Police Service of Northern Ireland have been concluded; and, if not, to what extent the continuation of those proceedings takes account of the interests of justice, the public interest and any effects on the officer. [HL5520]

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.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Ashton of Upholland on 20 December 2004 (WA 113) and by Lord Rooker on 16 July 2007 (WA 6–7) relating to an incident involving Royal Ulster Constabulary Constable Trevor Purcell during a riot on 13 July 2001, what assessment they have made of Sir Hugh Orde's handling of the case when he was chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. [HL5521]

Specific regulations are in place which provide for the operation of disciplinary procedures by the chief constable. It is not for Government to carry out an assessment of the chief constable's handling of any individual discipline case. However, on conclusion of internal misconduct proceedings, including the chief constable's review, an officer will be notified of his right to appeal to the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Ashton of Upholland on 20 December 2004 (WA 113) and by Lord Rooker on 16 July 2007 (WA 6–7) relating to an incident involving Royal Ulster Constabulary Constable Trevor Purcell during a riot on 13 July 2001, whether they will review disciplinary procedures and examine the need to compensate the constable for any loss of promotion opportunities and for any stress caused by the disciplinary proceedings. [HL5522]

The chief constable has advised that these matters remain the subject of ongoing disciplinary proceedings. The chief constable has responsibility for the direction and control of the police and, as such, Government do not intend to review the disciplinary procedures applied to this individual case or to examine the need to compensate the officer for loss of promotion opportunities or stress caused by disciplinary proceedings.

Post Office: Armed Forces

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect on morale within Her Majesty's Armed Forces of withdrawing the British Forces Post Office from units in mainland Europe. [HL5718]

The MoD has taken account of the potentially adverse impact associated with the changes to the affected forces post offices and measures are being put in place to ensure that our personnel and their dependants are not significantly disadvantaged. BFPO services will now be retained at a number of NATO headquarters. A basic postal receipt and dispatch facility will be maintained and the BFPO numbers, which are useful for administrative purposes such as banking and internet shopping, will be retained. Further information regarding this is contained in Defence Internal Briefing 37a (DIB 2009/37a), a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

Rights of Way: Maps

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect the rights of way stakeholder working group on the updating of the definitive map and the 2026 cut-off date to report as intended before the end of this year. [HL5599]

Taxation: Inheritance Tax

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their most recent estimate of the costs of increasing the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million for each of the next five years. [HL5484]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their most recent estimate of the number of tax-paying estates that would benefit from an increase in the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million; and how much those estates would save, broken down by value of estate. [HL5485]

The cost of increasing the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million with effect from April 2010 is estimated at £500 million in 2010-11, £1.2 billion in 2011-12, £1.4 billion in 2012-13 and £1.5 billion in 2013-14. Forecasts beyond 2013-14 have not been made.

The latest estimates of numbers of estates for deaths in 2010-11, which would be taxpaying under the current regime, and the amount of tax that would no longer be payable under the increased threshold, are shown in the table below.

Number of estates benefiting from £1 million threshold by estate size (year of death 2010-11)

Estate size

Number of estates

Total tax no longer payable (£ billion)

£0-0.5 million

3,000

0.1

£0.5-1 million

5,000

0 5

Over £1 million

3,000

0.7

Tote: Sale

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make it a requirement of the sale of the Tote that the new owners consider the employment of those who work at the Tote's headquarters in Wigan; and whether there will be a requirement on the new owners to continue the Tote's support for racing. [HL5698]

The arrangements for the sale of the Tote are yet to be determined and discussions are continuing with all the relevant parties. The present intention is that the sale process itself will not start until summer 2010, with a latest completion date of March 2011. We expect to be able to give further details on the process in the next few months.

The Government's position remains that we will honour our commitment to return half of the net proceeds of any market sale to racing subject to the requirements of European state aid and competition rules. I am unable to disclose commercially confidential or sensitive information about the valuation of the Tote or prospective government payments to agents.