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Written Answers

Volume 714: debated on Thursday 12 November 2009

Written Answers

Thursday 12 November 2009

Access to Work Scheme

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have completed their review of their guidance to the access to work scheme for disabled councillors. [HL5677]

We regularly review access to work guidance and update it in response to customer feedback in order to provide a continually improving service to those with disabilities and health problems.

The review of guidance in relation to disabled councillors was completed earlier in the year. I am looking further at this matter, however, and will write to the noble Lady shortly giving her details of the outcome of this work.

Afghanistan: Casualties

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the non-battlefield casualty rates amongst Her Majesty's armed forces serving in Afghanistan compared with those for similar units serving in the United Kingdom. [HL5670]

Non-battlefield casualty rates among the Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan are published monthly by Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) and are publicly available at www.dasa.mod.uk.

Patients admitted at field hospitals in Afghanistan for non-battlefield injuries are as follows:

Period

Total field hospital admissions

Of which admissions for disease and non-battle injuries

2006

240

155

2007

832

598

2008

1,008

773

1 Jan to 15 Oct 2009

954

568

These data include all UK personnel (military and civilian) admitted to any field hospital, whether operated by UK or coalition medical facilities.

To provide a comparison between units serving in Afghanistan and those serving in the UK, some comparison can be made by comparing information regarding very seriously injured (VSI) and seriously injured (SI) casualties.

For the period 15 October 2008 to 14 April 2009 (HERRICK 9), 36 UK Armed Forces personnel had an initial notification of casualty (NOTICAS) listing of VSI or SI which occurred during operations in Afghanistan, a rate of 4.4 per 1,000 troops deployed. All of these were a result of hostile action; no non-battlefield VSI or SI casualties were recorded in Afghanistan for this period.

For the same time period, 57 UK Armed Forces personnel—wherever serving, from all services—had an initial NOTICAS listing of VSI or SI as a result of non-operational injuries, giving a rate of 0.3 per 1,000 strength. Of these 57 cases, 40 occurred in the UK.

Some injuries or illnesses suffered by personnel serving in the United Kingdom are treated by non-MoD facilities. Particularly if of a more minor nature, these would not necessarily be captured centrally by MoD record systems. Consequently, a fuller answer would involve disproportionate cost to compile.

Alcohol

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will research the health and financial consequences of awarding benefits to those with long-term excess alcohol consumption. [HL5935]

The Government have no current plans to conduct such research. Benefits are awarded to people on the basis of them meeting the conditions of entitlement. People who are dependent upon alcohol have to meet the same conditions of entitlement as any other claimant.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the income to HM Revenue and Customs from duty on alcohol in (a) 2005 to 2009, and (b) 1995 to 1999. [HL6187]

Total receipts from alcohol duty for 2005 to 2008 and 1995 to 1999 are shown in the tables below. 2009 data are not shown as they would be incomplete.

Alcohol Duty (£ million)

Alcohol Duty (£ million)

2005

7,969

1995

5,670

2006

7,813

1996

5,569

2007

8,103

1997

5,718

2008

8,689

1998

5,906

2009

n/a

1999

6,387

Alcohol receipts for 2000 onwards are published in the National Statistics Beer and Cider bulletin available at https://www.uktradeinfo.com/index.cfm?task=bullbeer. Historical alcohol receipts data are published in the Alcohol Factsheet available at https://www.uktradeinfo. com/index.cfm?task=factalcohol.

Alcohol and Drugs

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the overall benefit to the community of reclassifying cannabis as a class B drug; on what evidence their judgment was based; to what extent that evidence indicated that reclassification will positively affect late-night behaviour in public and early-hours crime; whether the police were consulted; and whether the police were given additional resources to implement the change.[HL6183]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what comparative assessment they have made of the relative effects on communities of 24-hour alcohol licensing and cannabis remaining a class C drug. [HL6184]

The likely effects of the reclassification of cannabis to a class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, alongside the associated enforcement response, were evaluated in the regulatory impact assessment (IA) produced to accompany the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2008.

The IA focused on potential additional liabilities for the police and the criminal justice system (CJS). It also identified potential benefits of the policy change in terms of the change in the estimated population of serious cannabis users, reflecting the gradual desistance through contact with the CJS and consistent with current trends as measured by the British Crime Survey. It did not specifically address the overall benefit to the community of reclassifying cannabis as a class B drug. The full IA can be found at: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2008/em/uksiem_20083130_en.pdf.

The Home Office has consulted and worked closely with the police to implement the changes to the enforcement approach to cannabis possession by adults as well as actions to tackle commercial cultivation. It has provided funding for a series of measures to support this work.

The Home Office conducted an assessment of the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on levels of crime and disorder. A report, The Impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on Levels of Crime and Disorder: An Evaluation (2008), by Hough et al was published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport earlier this year. The main conclusion to be drawn from the evaluation is that licensing regimes may be one factor in effecting change to the country’s drinking culture and its impact on crime.

The Government have made no formal comparative assessment of the relative effects on communities of 24-hour alcohol licensing and cannabis remaining a class C drug and there has been no specific or formal assessment of how cannabis reclassification will impact on late-night behaviour in public and early-hours crime.

Armed Forces: A400M

Question

Asked by

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my honourable friend, the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, in another place on 12 October 2009, (Official Report, cols. 424W and 425W).

Armed Forces: Fatalities

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in which conflicts since the end of the First World War there have been British military fatalities; how many British fatalities occurred in each; and whether they keep details of those killed. [HL6094]

The number of British military fatalities for the First and Second World War is held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Ministry of Defence holds records on fatalities from 1948, with the exception of fatalities on operation in Palestine where MoD records start from 1945. Conflict has been defined as operations for which campaign medals have been awarded. The number of British military fatalities by conflict is as follows:

Table: Fatalities of UK Service Personnel by Conflict, 1945-2009

Medal Theatre

Date

Number fatalities

Palestine

3 September 1945 to 30 June 1948

771

Malaya

16 June 1948 to 31 July 1960

1,443

Yangtze

20 April 1949 to 31 July 1949

45

Korea

27 June 1950 to 27 July 1954

1,149

Canal Zone

16 October 1951 to 19 October 1954

403

Kenya

21 October 1952 to 17 November 1956

94

Cyprus

1 April 1955 to 18 April 1959

361

Near East (Suez)

31 October 1956 to 22 December 1956

24

Arabian Peninsula

1 January 1957 to 30 June 1960

59

Congo

10 July 1960 to 30 June 1964

2

Brunei

8 December 1962 to 23 December 1962

7

Borneo

24 December 1962 to 11 August 1966

160

Cyprus UNIFCYP1

27 March 1964 to present

1

Radfan

25 April 1964 to 31 July 1964

13

South Arabia

1 August 1964 to 30 November 1967

160

Malay Peninsula

17 August 1964 to 11 August 1966

39

Northern Ireland

14 August 1969 to 31 July 2007

655

Dhofar

1 October 1969 to 3 September 1976

25

Rhodesia

1 December 1979 to 20 March 1980

5

South Atlantic (Falklands)

2 April 1982 to 12 July 1982

237

Gulf 1

2 August 1990 to 7 March 1991

44

Air Operations Iraq

16 July 1991 to 30 April 2003

5

Cambodia (UN)

1 October 1991 to 30 September 1993

1

Sierra Leone

5 May 2000 to 31 July 2002

5

Afghanistan2

11 September 2001 to present

232

Balkans2 3

1 July 1992 to present

72

Iraq2

20 January 2003 to present

178

1. as at 31 December 2008

2. as at 10 November 2009

3. includes the Former Yugoslavia, Sarajevo Airlift (UN), Georgia (UN), Kosovo and Macedonia

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will ask the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to memorialise those members of the British Armed Forces who died in conflicts since the end of the First World War; and whether they will assist relatives to find out details of their deaths and burials. [HL6095]

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is an independent, internationally funded body, established by royal charter, which defines the commission’s dates for commemoration. Her Majesty's Government have no direct control over its activities and we have no plans to propose an extension of the charter.

Before the First World War and during the inter world war years, the burying of the deceased was traditionally a function of the ship, regiment or unit to which they belonged or of the individual's family. No formal assistance was offered by the then Admiralty, War Office or Air Ministry, and over the succeeding years only a limited number of such graves have been maintained by the Ministry of Defence. These are usually in a military cemetery funded by the Ministry of Defence, where failure to maintain all the graves to the same standard would detract from the overall appearance of the cemetery.

With effect from 1 January 1948, UK Armed Forces personnel who die in service are provided, subject to their next of kin's agreement, with a suitable funeral and military headstone and their grave maintained in perpetuity through the Ministry of Defence. In addition, there is the Armed Forces Memorial (AFM), which is located at the National Memorial Arboretum and commemorates some 16,000 service personnel who were killed or who have died on active service or as a result of terrorist action since 1 January 1948.

Rolls of honour that record all known service personnel who have died while in service will be placed in the Church of St Martin in the Fields for the Royal Navy, the Chapel of the Royal Hospital Chelsea for the Army and the Church of St Clement Danes in the Strand for the Royal Air Force. Their details can already be found on the Armed Forces Memorial website at the following link: http://www.forcesmemorial. org.uk/roll-of-honour.asp.

Armed Forces: Helicopters

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to maintaining Apache helicopters beyond their planned out-of-service date of 2030. [HL6288]

Asked by

The UK MoD has a fleet of 70 Merlin aircraft that are currently in service. The Merlin Mk1 which is used by the Royal Navy entered service in March 1999. The Merlin Mk 3 entered service in June 2000 and the Merlin Mk3a achieved initial operating capability in March 2008; both of these are used by the RAF. The first Merlin to be deployed in Afghanistan has just arrived, and others will follow shortly.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the delay in the upgrade to the Puma helicopter. [HL6320]

There is no delay to the Puma upgrade programme. The contract was placed in mid-September 2009 and is progressing to schedule. We expect that the upgrade programme will be completed by the end of 2014.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what factors they are taking into account in deciding between upgrading the Sea King helicopter and purchasing more Chinooks. [HL6321]

Following the Defence Select Committee’s review into battlefield helicopters in June 2009, we have been looking again at our future helicopter strategy, including whether there is an opportunity to replace some of our older types earlier than planned. We concluded in September 2009 that we should proceed with the planned upgrade to the Puma fleet but have continued to review our plans for the Sea King fleet and how best to meet our future helicopter requirements. This work has focused on ensuring continued delivery on operations, increasing the percentage of our future fleet that can operate effectively in the harsh conditions that we are experiencing in Afghanistan, and reducing the through-life cost of owning and operating our fleets, including by minimising the number of types operated and the variation of build-standard within each type. We anticipate being in a position to clarify our future plans in the coming weeks.

Armed Forces: Medical Treatment

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many service personnel have been (a) hospitalised in each of the past five years, (b) off duty for 12 months or more, and (c) medically discharged due to mental illness attributed to service in Afghanistan. [HL5990]

The MoD's Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) organisation publishes on its website statistics on new attendances to the MoD's in-patient contractor, effective back to 2007. Equivalent verified data prior to 2007 are not available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. New patients assessed as having a mental disorder and admitted to the MoD's in-patient contractor by deployment are shown in the following table. Note that, for those who deployed to Afghanistan, this does not specifically attribute their disorder to that deployment.

Year

All first admissions assessed with a mental disorder

Of which, patients who had previously deployed to Afghanistan

2007

247

33*

2008

213

35

2009 (to 30 June 2009)

108

19

* Prior to April 2007, precise individual deployment dates are not available centrally. Therefore, for in-patients in the first quarter of 2007, it is only possible to identify whether they were deployed at some point prior to 1 April 2007 but not whether this was prior to their in-patient admission date.

The single services record, for management reasons, the numbers of personnel who are at any one time “unfit for task” or “unable to deploy”, although their records do not identify the length of time each individual has been so categorised. Details of the numbers of personnel fit for task and fit to deploy in each quarter since 2006 were given in Answers dated 20 and 22 January 2009 (Official Report, cols. 1262-64W and 1664-66W) and 28 April 2009 (Official Report, col. 1156W). The majority of those personnel who fall into the category of medically “not fully fit” remain fit enough to work in some capacity and therefore continue to make a contribution to operational effectiveness, often within theatres of operation.

The number of UK service personnel medically discharged with a principal condition of mental and behavioural disorders during the period 2004-08 is shown in the following table.

Of this total, number previously deployed to Afghanistan

Total

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Naval Service1

6

185

29

46

42

39

29

Army

27

602

121

119

111

114

137

RAF

8

271

65

38

78

49

41

1 includes Royal Navy and Royal Marines

Figures have been compiled using the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems version 10 (ICD 10 codes F00-F99).

Note that a previous deployment should not be assumed to be the cause of the principal disability leading to medical discharge. Although medical boards recommend medical discharges they do not decide whether the principal disability is attributable to service. A medical board could take place many months or even years after an event or injury and it is not clinically possible in some cases to link an earlier injury to a later problem which may lead to a discharge.

Armed Forces: Royal Gibraltar Regiment

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Royal Gibraltar Regiment served in Afghanistan; and whether there is presently any problem in deploying the regiment to Afghanistan. [HL5786]

The primary role of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment is to support the defence and security of Gibraltar. Deployments in support of other tasks have been undertaken by individual volunteers; 15 personnel from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment have deployed on operations in Afghanistan between August 2004 and February 2009. Since then there has been a temporary suspension in volunteers being deployed while we investigated a potential issue with compensation arrangements covering such deployments. The Royal Gibraltar Regiment is entitled to compensation benefits under its own terms and conditions of service including when deployed to Afghanistan. Work has commenced to bring these compensation arrangements in line with the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme through legislation. The temporary suspension has now been lifted.

Armed Forces: Staff

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many service men and women there were in (a) the Royal Air Force, (b) the army, and (c) the Royal Navy, in 1997; and how many are in each service currently. [HL6298]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many foreign service personnel there were in (a) the Royal Air Force, (b) the army, and (c) the Royal Navy, in 1997; and how many there are in each service currently. [HL6299]

The following table gives strength of the trained UK regular forces by service and nationality as at 1 April 1997 and 2009.

Strength of the Trained UK Regular Forces by Service and nationality as at 1 April 1997, 2009

Number

01 Apr 97

01 Apr 09

All Services

193 630

168 240P

UK

..

159 380P

Non-UK

..

7 670P

Unknown

..

1 190P

Naval Service

41 680

34 400P

UK

..

33 580P

Non-UK

..

660P

Unknown

..

160P

Army

97 760

94 590P

UK

97 190

86 770P

Non-UK

570

6 910P

Unknown

-

900P

Royal Air Force

54 200

39 250P

UK

..

39 030P

Non-UK

..

100P

Unknown

..

120P

Source: DASA (Quad-Service)

Nationality data for the Naval Service and RAF are only available from 1 April 2007 after the introduction of the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) System.

Trained UK Regular Forces excludes Gurkhas, Full Time Reserve personnel, and mobilised reservists.

- denotes zero or rounded to zero

.. denotes not available

p denotes provisional

Due to ongoing validation of data from the Joint Personnel Administration System, Army strength statistics from 1 April 2007, and Naval Service and RAF strength statistics from 1 Apri12008 are provisional and subject to review.

Figures have been rounded to 10. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

Where rounding has been used, totals and sub-totals have been rounded separately and so totals may not equal the sums of their rounded parts.

Armed Forces: Type 45 Destroyers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Type 45 Destroyer will be built in the next five years; and how many such Destroyers will be built. [HL6300]

There are six ships being built as part of the Type 45 Destroyers Programme and all six are in various stages of build, including five ships in the water. The first of class, DARING, is expected to enter service in early 2010 while the remaining five vessels Dauntless, Diamond, Dragon, Defender and Duncan will enter service progressively through to the middle of the next decade.

Armed Forces: Typhoon

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to retrofitting RAF Typhoons with thrust vectoring nozzles. [HL6289]

Armed Forces: War Pensions

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many arrears payments have been made by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency to dependants of war pensions who were over the age of retirement, in receipt of the unemployability supplement and who died between 8 April 2006 and 6 April 2008; and [HL5503]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many war pensioners over the age of retirement or their dependants are entitled to payment of arrears of their unemployability supplement from the war pension scheme; what measures they have taken to ensure that such people are aware of their entitlement to arrears; what measures they have taken to establish whether any such payments are outstanding; what assessment they have made of the amount of arrears; what measures they have taken to ensure that persons entitled to payment of arrears have received them; and whether there is a deadline for persons entitled to payment of arrears to claim them. [HL5504]

As I advised my noble friend in the Answer I gave on 5 October 2009 (Official Report, col. WA 462), no arrears of payment of unemployability supplement were made by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency as a result of this change. Any arrears that accrued would have been for state pension, which falls within the responsibilities of the Department for Work and Pensions, and which does not hold this information.

Details of the number of war pensioners to whom arrears were paid and the amounts involved when legislation was changed in 2006 to permit this are not held, and corporate knowledge of any measures taken at that time to ensure that personnel were made aware of this entitlement no longer exists. If my noble friend is aware of any war pensioners who have not received the correct state pension payment as a result of this issue, I shall, subject to the provisions of their personal details, be happy to arrange for their cases to be investigated by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Armed Forces: Wounded Personnel

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision is made for care and support for armed service personnel injured and incapacitated on duty; and how the adequacy of such provision is monitored and assessed. [HL5722]

The Defence Medical Services (DMS) provide an extensive range of medical treatment and wider welfare support for wounded service personnel. This starts in the operational theatre, with life-saving medical treatment on the frontline and in our field hospitals. Those who need further specialist care back in the UK are normally returned to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital, which is at the leading edge in the treatment of multiple trauma injuries as commonly sustained by our battle casualties, and has a military-managed ward.

If patients require further rehabilitation care they may be referred to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court in Surrey, or for outpatient treatment at one of the MoD's 15 military regional rehabilitation units. We also provide mental health care for those who need it, primarily through our 15 military out-patient Departments of Community Mental Health across the UK plus centres overseas; in-patient care is arranged for those who need it.

Wider support to those who are injured is overseen by a Welfare Coordinator, who will work with appropriate specialists to offer support and advice in such areas as housing, access to services and counselling if required, as well as providing support through key transition points, such as a move to or from Headley Court. If injured personnel are discharged from the services, the responsibility for overseeing welfare provision switches to the Veterans Welfare Service, run by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency. We also provide compensation to those injured in the line of duty through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).

All medical and welfare provision is regularly reviewed internally to ensure it remains fit for purpose. In addition, an independent external review of the Defence Medical Services was carried out in 2008-09 by the Healthcare Commission; a new Defence Medical Inspector General post was created in 2008, whose remit includes following the commission's review with a wider internal review across the whole DMS and other appropriate defence process owners. Lord Boyce, former Chief of the Defence Staff, is also currently chairing a review of the AFCS to assess its effectiveness.

Ascension Island

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), whether the "value for money" criteria for Ascension Island's taxation levels based on quality and quantity of services received create a precedent; and whether those criteria are also applied in the United Kingdom and other British overseas territories. [HL6311]

Our assessment of whether the services received from the Ascension Island Government represent best value for money takes into account not only the quality and quantity of services received but also the value of services provided by the MoD to the Island authorities and community. The taxation regime in Ascension Island together with the services provided by the MoD are unique and therefore the assessment of value for money does not constitute a precedent.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), whether, if the HM Revenue and Customs study leads to a significant reduction in levels of taxable income for the Government of Ascension Island, they will include Ascension Island among the British Overseas Territories receiving grant aid and other subsidies. [HL6312]

An independent review, commissioned by the Ascension Island Government, is currently being undertaken.

The purpose of the review was to provide advice on alternative taxation regimes appropriate to Ascension's circumstances and also to provide advice on alternative non-taxation options such as levies or charges. Any alternative proposal will need to generate sufficient revenue to meet the provision of common services on Ascension. In line with government policy on the overseas territories, it is not envisaged that Ascension Island will receive budgetary support or grant aid but that it should remain self-financing—that is, with costs met by those using the island.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), whether other main employers on Ascension Island, particularly the former members of the London Committee, are kept in formal contact about the dispute about the Ministry of Defence's tax liability; and, if so, whether they have been invited to make representations. [HL6313]

The Ascension Island employing organisations meet formally in London each quarter. The meeting is chaired by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Ascension Island Administrator and representatives of the Ministry of Defence attend the meeting. Representatives of the employing organisations, which include the former members of the London Committee are kept informed of developments on all Ascension Island Government issues, and have an opportunity to make representations on any of the subjects covered. The dispute over unpaid property tax was discussed at the last meeting.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), whether the Ascension Island taxation dispute has been discussed with representatives of the government of the United States or the Unites States Air Force. [HL6314]

This issue has not been raised formally with the United States Government or the United States Air Force. However, routine discussions on issues on Ascension Island affecting both the UK and USA regularly take place.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 3 November (WA 33), when they expect the taxation dispute with Ascension Island to be resolved. [HL6315]

The decision by the Ascension Island Government to remove a variation in the Ministry of Defence's annual property tax liability, which had the effect of almost doubling the tax payable, is still in dispute. Discussions are still ongoing to resolve the issue and we await the outcome of the HMRC-led study, supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, into tax arrangements on Ascension Island.

Asylum Seekers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish the UK Border Agency's asylum process instruction about storage and retention of DNA and isotope data of asylum seekers. [HL6304]

Aviation: Air Passenger Duty

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider abolishing air passenger duty, or deferring the introduction of the new rates, if evidence shows that the duty has led to a decline in the number of foreign visitors travelling to the United Kingdom. [HL6256]

Azad Ali

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which departments and non-departmental public bodies are advised by Mr Azad Ali, President of the Civil Service Islamic Society, either individually or as part of an advisory or other committee. [HL6191]

Banking

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of the separation of investment and retail banking in the Glass-Steagall Act 1933 of the United States before such separation in the United Kingdom. [HMT][HL6329]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the answer by Lord Myners on 3 November (Official Report, col. 149) saying "the decoupling of investment banking from retail banking has never been achieved anywhere", whether that answer took account of the Glass-Steagall Act 1933 of the United States which operated for 60 years; and whether they will publish the evidence for his statement. [HMT] [HL6330]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will discuss with the Governor of the Bank of England his proposals for separating investment banking from retail banking. [HMT][HL6331]

The Government recognise that the Glass-Steagall Act 1933 prohibited, in the United States, commercial banks from underwriting securities and investment banks from taking deposits. The Government note that the Act was repealed in 1999.

As set out in Reforming Financial Markets in July 2008, the Government do not believe that provisions imposing artificial limits on activity are an appropriate means of managing the risks posed by systemically significant financial institutions.

Instead, the Government’s policy for dealing with financial firms whose failure could pose a systemic threat includes:

enhanced prudential regulation, including differential capital requirements for banks’ riskier activities;

maintaining stronger resolution arrangements, including the requirement that firms prepare “living wills”; and

general measures to increase the efficiency and stability of financial markets, including stronger market discipline and improvements to market infrastructure.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England meet regularly to discuss a range of issues.

Banking: Bank of Scotland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how requiring the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to divest itself of Churchill and Direct Line insurance companies will (a) improve competition in retail banking, and (b) accelerate RBS's repayment of public money. [HMT][HL6332]

The recapitalisation of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and RBS’s participation in the asset protection scheme are both subject to state aid approval from the European Commission. The Treasury has reached an in-principle agreement with Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes as to the pricing and consequent disposals that RBS must make as a result of receiving state aid, including the disposal of RBS’s insurance business, including brands such as Churchill and Direct Line. RBS has been closely involved throughout the negotiations.

The Government welcome the in-principle agreement and strongly support the EU’s state aid and competition framework. It is vital that institutions that require state aid support do not have unfair commercial advantage over their competitors. The package of disposals is now subject to agreement by the college of Commissioners, which is expected shortly.

The disposal of RBS Insurance along with the other divestment obligations will take place over a four to five-year period. The sale will help strengthen RBS’s balance sheet and enhance long-term viability. The sooner RBS returns to stand-alone commercial viability, the sooner taxpayers will be able to recover their investment.

Biometric Data

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom has been implemented in relation to the functions of the UK Border Agency. [HL6305]

Cabinet Office: Strategy Committee

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the then Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office, Kevin Brennan, on 15 May (HC Deb, col. 1054W), what is the name of the committee or working group that was convened each Wednesday in Downing Street to discuss strategy that was attended by Mr Damian McBride; and whether it has met since the resignation of Mr McBride. [HL6074]

Care Services: Children

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many named guardians have been appointed by the courts in each of the past 10 years to represent children and their interests in care and related proceedings. [HL6198]

Precise data on the number of guardians appointed by the courts to represent children in care proceedings are not available. However, one guardian is usually appointed in each care proceeding and, for the years in which the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) has existed and kept records, the number of care proceedings were as follows:

Financial Year

Total number of care proceedings

2002/03

6,394

2003/04

6,036

2004/05

6,316

2005/06

6,613

2006/07

6,786

2007/08

6,241

2008/09

6,486

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many complaints have been made by children in each of the past 10 years in respect of named guardians appointed by the courts to represent their interests in care and related proceedings. [HL6199]

The DCSF does not maintain records of the number of complaints made by children in respect of named guardians. CAFCASS does not collect this information in a centralised system but has provided the following statistics for the number of complaints made by children to CAFCASS. Without further investigation, CAFCASS cannot clarify how many of these complaints relate specifically to guardians.

Financial Year

Total Number of Children’s Complaints Recorded*

2005-06

8

2006-07

12

2007-08

20

2008-09

31

April 2009-4 November2009

23

*Note: Figures given may differ from those published in CAFCASS annual reports because data may have been added or amended after those reports had been published. CAFCASS statistics are not available for the years before 2005.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to strengthen the safeguards for children involved in care and related proceedings. [HL6202]

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) has a statutory responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people who are the subject of court proceedings. It offers advice to the courts about applications made to them, makes provision for children to be represented in court proceedings, and provides information, advice and support for the children and their families.

We continue to work closely with CAFCASS to ensure that its organisation, staffing and delivery systems are robust and sufficient for it to fulfil its statutory responsibilities. Our aim is to ensure that every child involved in court proceedings receives the high quality support he or she needs while managing within finite resources to meet the needs of all the children in the system.

Child Support Agency

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will commission research to examine whether the recent reduction in applications to the Child Support Agency (CSA) is caused by poorer parents with care who are in difficult relationships with their former partners not applying for CSA help. [HL6165]

Research is underway to provide, amongst other things, more detail on the economic situation of parents and their views on relationships with former partners. This will provide a much broader view of the different types of maintenance arrangements made by different socio-economic groups within the population and their effectiveness. Research findings are planned for the spring/summer of 2010.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to publish the latest Child Support Agency figures on outstanding child maintenance debt owed to parents with care. [HL6166]

Information relating to outstanding child maintenance arrears is routinely published on page 20 of the Child Support Agency's Quarterly Summary Statistics; the latest version of which is available in the House of Commons Library or online at: http://www.childmaintenance.org/en/pdf/qss/QSS 0909.pdf.

Latest figures show that in September 2009 the amount of outstanding child maintenance arrears was £3,796 million, a decrease from £3,811 million in June 2009. These figures are unaudited, pending the publication of the Client Funds Accounts.

Arrears are owed by non-resident parents as a result of their failure to meet their responsibilities to their children. £152 million child maintenance arrears have been collected in the 12 months to September 2009. The new enforcement powers set out in the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 will give the commission the tools it needs to further increase compliance.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of parents with care who are owed money are receiving maintenance through the Child Support Agency or private arrangements. [HL6168]

Quarterly figures as at the end of September 2009 show 73 per cent of cases handled by the CSA where maintenance was due were receiving maintenance. Cases are counted as having a positive maintenance outcome if they have received a payment via the collection service in the quarter or have a maintenance direct agreement in place.

The commission, with the Department for Work and Pensions, is in the process of commissioning work to build an annual survey which will provide an estimate of the number of separated families and the proportion with effective arrangements. This will include arrangements made privately.

Children Act 1989

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there has been any recent consultation on amending section 41 of the Children Act 1989; if so, which organisations were consulted; according to what timetable; and what were the outcomes of the consultation. [HL6197]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many organisations representing children have requested abandonment of named guardians for children to represent their interests in care and related proceedings. [HL6200]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when a minister last met organisations representing children to discuss amending Section 41 of the Children Act 1989. [HL6201]

The work of CAFCASS guardians is crucial in securing the well-being of vulnerable children in the family justice system.

There has been a good deal of discussion about the most effective use of guardian resource in recent months. In particular, my officials have taken the views of the Family Justice Council on this issue. I have also received a number of representations, including from the Interdisciplinary Alliance for Children.

The Secretary of State has recently written to Sir Mark Potter in his role as the chair of the Family Justice Council to propose a way forward on this issue and a copy of this letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Control Orders

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much has been spent since April 2007 on payments towards the cost of living of individuals subject to control orders. [HL6238]

Between April 2007 and the end of October 2009, the Home Office spent £611,470.93 on accommodation, council tax, utility bills, telephone line rental, pre-paid telephone cards, phone bills and other subsistence paid to individuals subject to control orders.

Counterterrorism

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they ensure that the "pursue" and "prevent" strands of their counterterrorist strategy stay separate in order not to collect unnecessarily data and personal information on Muslim citizens. [HL6177]

The Government's counterterrorism strategy, CONTEST, highlighted the importance of managing the connection between “pursue” and “prevent”.

Ensuring that the mutually supportive elements of the two strands are complementary and do not undermine one another requires effective information sharing. We expect the police and their partners to act on the risk they assess from the information available to them. This will determine whether a “prevent” or “pursue” response is more appropriate and which partner or agency should act to protect the public from harm. It is for the police to decide, on a case-by-case basis, if an identified risk should be considered for “pursue” action.

This does not entail the collection of unnecessary data and personal information on Muslim citizens. Information is gathered and shared by the police and local partners only when it is necessary, proportionate and lawful to do so.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to recent comments by the Quilliam Foundation, which receives funding from the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, on collecting data on members of the Muslim community. [HL6179]

We completely disagree with the remarks made by the Quilliam Foundation and have written to it to make this clear. Neither on this nor on any other issue does Quilliam speak for the Government.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding has been made available for Counter-Terrorism and Extremism Liaison Officers for the Gulf states in each year since 2001; and which department provided that funding. [HL6193]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding will be made available for Counter-Terrorism and Extremism Liaison Officers for the Gulf states in (a) 2009–10, and (b) 2010–11; and which department will provide that funding. [HL6194]

There are two counter-terrorism and extremism liaison officers (CTELO) in the Gulf states: Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. HMG do not hold historical funding data for individual CTELO posts. However, the estimated cost for 2009-10 for the two posts is £345,650. Funding for CTELO posts for 2010-11 has not yet been determined. The Home Office currently funds the CTELO post in Saudi Arabia; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently funds the CTELO post in Bahrain.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which local authorities received or are scheduled to receive money under the Prevent strand of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy in (a) 2007, (b) 2008, (c) 2009, (d) 2010, and (e) 2011. [HL6270]

A list of local authorities who have received/will receive funding for Prevent from Government between 2007-08 and 2010-11 is set out below. This includes funding from Communities and Local Government to local authorities through the Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder Fund (2007-08), Area Based Grant (from 2008-09 to 2010-11), the Community Leadership Fund (CLF) and funding from the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT).

Local Authorities

2006-07

Reading

London Borough of Redbridge

Peterborough

2007-08

LAs above, plus

London Borough of Hounslow

London Borough of Brent

London Borough of Ealing

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

London Borough of Harrow

London Borough of Hillingdon

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

London Borough of Barnet

London Borough of Camden

London Borough of Croydon

London Borough of Enfield

London Borough of Greenwich

London Borough of Hackney

London Borough of Haringey

London Borough of Islington

London Borough of Lambeth

London Borough of Lewisham

London Borough of Merton

London Borough of Newham

London Borough of Southwark

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

London Borough of Waltham Forest

London Borough of Wandsworth

City of Westminster

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Bristol City Council

Crawley Borough Council

Oxford City Council

Slough Borough Council

Reading UA

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (2007-08 and 2010-11 only)

Woking Borough Council

Wycombe District Council

Bedford Borough Council

Luton Borough Council

Peterborough City Council

Watford Borough Council

Leicester City Council

Derby City Council

Nottingham City Council

Birmingham City Council

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Walsall Council

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Bradford

Calderdale

Leeds City Council

Wakefield City Council (2007-08 and 2010-11)

Kirklees

Rotherham Borough Council

Sheffield Council

Newcastle City Council

Middlesbrough Borough Council

Bolton

Bury

Manchester City Council

Oldham

Rochdale

Salford (2007-08 and 2010-11 only)

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council

Trafford Council

Wigan Council (2007-08 only)

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Hyndburn Borough Council

Pendle Borough Council

Preston City Council

Ribble Valley Borough Council (2007-08 only)

Rossendale Borough Council (2007-08 only)

2008-09

All LAs above (except where stated), plus

West Sussex (2008-09 and 2009-10 only)

Swindon (2008-09 and 2009-10 only)

Plymouth (2008-09 and 2009-10 only)

London Borough of Bromley

London Borough of Sutton

London Borough of Kingston upon Thames

Aylesbury Vale Council

Milton Keynes Council

Southampton City Council

Portsmouth Council

Coventry City Council

East Staffordshire Borough Council

Wolverhampton City Council

Liverpool

Wokingham (2008-09 only)

Northamptonshire County Council (2008-09 only)

Northampton Borough Council

2009-10

All LAs above (except where stated), plus

London Borough of Bexley

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames

Brighton and Hove City Council

St Albans District Council

Solihull (2009-10 only)

Chiltern (2009-10 only)

Gateshead (2009-10 only)

Halton (2009-10 only)

2010-11

All LAs above (except where stated), plus

Gloucester City Council

Medway Council

Cambridge City Council

Charnwood Borough Council

Telford and Wrekin Council

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

Kingston upon Hull UA

Stockton on Tees

Sunderland

More than 60 local authorities also received funding from a £3 million Challenge and Innovation Fund in 2009-10. A full list of the local authorities who received funding is available on the Communities and Local Government website at http://www.communities.gov.uk /communities/preventingextremism/challengeinnovationfund/

DCSF also provided £1.6 million to all top-tier local authorities (150) in 2008-09 to support the roll-out of the schools toolkit “Learning to be Safe Together”.

Courts: Family Cases

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how, in allowing the media access to the written evidence and substance of cases in the family courts, they have sought to protect other children in families with a child involved in care proceedings from media exposure. [HL6224]

The Government’s proposed measures to be included in the Children, Schools and Families Bill will strengthen the anonymity afforded to children and families involved in care proceedings by making it of indefinite duration and extending it to all persons involved in the proceedings. The Bill will also include provisions for the court to prohibit or restrict publication of information if it is likely to prejudice the welfare of a child or the safety of any person.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether children involved in care and related proceedings will be informed that discussions they have with child care professionals such as doctors and social workers may be subject to media reporting due to the media having access to written evidence and the substance of proceedings in the family courts. [HL6225]

It is clearly right that children who are of sufficient age and understanding are informed about the presence of accredited media representatives in the court and the fact that material may be published. We would expect professionals to use their judgment about the most effective and appropriate way to do this.

Crime: Religiously Aggravated Offences

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many cases of religiously aggravated crime against (a) Christians, (b) Jews, (c) Muslims, (d) Sikhs, (e) Buddhists, (f) Hindus, and (g) persons of no religious belief, were recorded in each year since April 2003; and how many of those crimes involved violence. [HL6189]

The information requested is not collected centrally. The Home Office collects statistics on recorded racially or religiously aggravated offences for some specific categories of offence. However, it is not possible to determine from the police recorded crime data whether an offence was of a racial or religious nature because the data received is in aggregate form. In addition, the recorded crime data series does not collect any information on the religion of victims.

Crime: Violence

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the levels of early-hours crime and street violence in England and Wales in each year since November 2005; and what were the figures in 1995 to 1999 inclusive. [HL6185]

The information requested is not collected centrally. The police-recorded data supplied to the Home office are in aggregated form and it is not possible to determine the time at which individual offences occur. In addition, it is not possible to determine centrally the location of recorded offences of violence.

Latest findings from the 2008-09 British Crime Survey show that the overall number of violent incidents decreased by 10 per cent between 2005-06 and 2008-09 from 2,349,000 to 2,114,000. However, the proportion of violent incidents that occurred at night (between midnight and 6 am) has increased from 12 per cent in 2005-06 to 19 per cent in 2008-09.

Evidence from Home Office research in specific locations such as an evaluation of the impact of the licensing Act of 2004 and an evaluation of Tackling Alcohol-Related Street Crime in Cardiff and Cardiff Bay in 2003 indicate that incidences of violent crime and disorder are more prevalent between 11 pm and 3 am. The evaluation of the licensing Act found that some crime was displaced into the small hours of the morning, but overall levels of crime associated with the night-time economy remained largely unchanged, and there was a small fall in serious crimes of violence.

Department for Communities and Local Government: Meeting with MPs

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which Members of Parliament attended the meeting on 7 July between the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Mr John Denham, and MPs who have constituencies in ports; and whether they will place minutes of the meeting in the Library of the House. [HL5437]

Austin Mitchell MP (Grimsby), Shona Mclsaac MP (Cleethorpes); Ian Cawsey MP (Brigg and Goole); and Louise Ellman MP (Liverpool Riverside) attended the meeting. No formal minutes were taken.

Disabled People: Leonard Cheshire Report

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to Leonard Cheshire Disability's Review 2009; what response they are making to the charity; and what action they will be taking on its findings. [HL6339]

The Government welcome the Leonard Cheshire Disability Review 2009 and are considering the policy implications of its findings. We are progressing work across many of the areas mentioned in the review towards our goal of equality for disabled people by 2025.

Drugs: Cannabis

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current scientific evidence upon which the classification of cannabis as a class B drug is based. [HL6203]

As my right honourable friend the former Home Secretary (Jacqui Smith) advised in her Statement of 7 May 2008 in the other place, the reclassification of cannabis as a class B drug is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to scientific evidence. Reclassification on 26 January 2009 was a preventative measure to protect the public, particularly the future health of young people.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, in its report Cannabis: Classification and Public Health, published in April 2008, set out its assessment of the harms of the drug based on the available scientific evidence.

Dublin: British Embassy

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the annual cost of running the British embassy in Dublin in each of the past five years. [HL6283]

The annual cost of running our embassy in Dublin in each of the past five years was:

financial year 2008-09—£2,217,968;

financial year 2007-08—£2,362,167;

financial year 2006-07—£2,975,981;

financial year 2005-06—£1,600,844; and

financial year 2004-05—£1,591,670.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what function the British embassy in Ireland has in monitoring social changes in that country; and how the embassy monitors human rights in Ireland. [HL6284]

All of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's overseas missions have a responsibility to monitor and report on social developments in their host countries.

Education: Home Schooling

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House details of the evidence which led Mr Graham Badman to say that 22 per cent of young people who were home-educated and had turned 16 by August 2008 were not in education, employment or training. [HL5979]

Local authority data on electively home-educated children not in education, employment or training has been placed on the Every Child Matters website in the form of a histogram (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/everychildmatters/ete/independentreviewofhomeeducation/irhomeeducation). We have not provided the names of individual local authorities, as some of the figures provided by smaller local authorities were so small that there was some risk that individual children could be identified. The evidence provided by 47 local authorities found that 270 electively home-educated leavers who had turned 16 in the year to the end of August 2008 were not in education, employment or training when contacted in the autumn of 2008. The total number of electively home-educated leavers reported by the 47 local authorities is 1,220.

Elections: Armed Forces

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many of the 191,000 regular military personnel are registered to vote. [HL6243]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of military personnel registered to vote have applied for (a) postal votes, and (b) proxy votes. [HL6245]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many military personnel were registered to vote in (a) 2000, (b) 2005, and (c) 2008. [HL6247]

The report of a survey on service voter registration conducted by Defence Analytical Services and Advice in November 2008 provides an estimate of the number of service personnel who are currently registered to vote and draws comparison with the results of similar surveys carried out in each of the previous three years. The survey indicates that 65 per cent of service personnel were registered to vote in 2008 compared to 60 per cent in 2005. A copy of the survey is available in the Library of the House. Information prior to 2005 is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

We do not hold data on the numbers of service personnel registered to vote who have applied for a postal or a proxy vote.

Embryology

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 4 November (WA 59–60) regarding the extension of the research project entitled Improving the efficiency of human somatic cell nuclear transfer, whether the Medical Research Council (MRC) acts in accordance with the remarks by Lord Darzi of Denham on 29 October 2008 at col 1615 that it “would be a significant obstacle to research” if “scarce human eggs would be used over animal eggs”; and, if so, how the MRC has financially supported research with human-admixed embryos undertaken by Stephen Minger. [HL6297]

The Medical Research Council acts in full accordance with the legislative principles regarding human somatic cell nuclear transfer referred to by my noble friend, Lord Darzi of Denham, on 29 October 2008. Research excellence continues to be the primary consideration in the MRC's funding decisions. The MRC has not awarded funding to Dr Stephen Minger to undertake research involving admixed embryos.

EU: Article 308

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government on how many occasions the European Union has used Article 308 of the treaty establishing the European Community to enact legislation since 1996. [HL6336]

The information requested cannot be provided except at disproportionate cost.

In assessing the legal basis of proposals brought forward by the Commission, the Government apply criteria laid down by the Court of Justice in case law dating back to the 1980s and consider each proposal as a whole, and in particular its aim and content. Article 308 requires that a proposal be necessary for the attainment of a Community objective, and that the council must act unanimously. The Government have given an undertaking that where the Commission puts forward a legislative proposal citing Article 308 as its legal base, the Commission's justification of its choice of legal base will be provided to the Scrutiny Committee.

EU: Council President

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the addresses and the rateable values, according to (a) the 2005 rating list as amended, and (b) the draft 2010 rating list, of each individual hereditament within a port that has been recently valued or revalued as part of the new regime of business rates on ports. [HL6033]

The 2005 non-domestic rating list and the draft 2010 non-domestic rating lists are published on the website of the Valuation Office Agency and are available to be inspected at http://www.voa.gov.uk/.

The rating lists are compiled at billing authority level. The Valuation Office Agency does not hold lists at a lower spatial level, for instance for smaller locations such as ports. The information requested could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Properties located within the ports that satisfy the tests of rateability have always been subject to separate assessment—this is not a new regime. The Valuation Office Agency's review of ports was to ensure ports and separate business properties located within ports are accurately assessed for rates. Prior to review, around 1,600 business properties located within ports were separately assessed for rates. Around 700 were separately assessed for the first time following review.

The Government have listened to the concerns of businesses with significant and unexpected backdated bills, including some businesses within ports. It has legislated to enable such bills to be repaid over an unprecedented eight years rather than in a single instalment, helping affected businesses to manage the impact on their cash flow during the downturn by reducing the amount they are required to pay now by 87 per cent.

As at 8 October 2009, local authorities have reported that ratepayers occupying 221 properties within ports had fully discharged their backdated liability and ratepayers occupying a further 200 business properties within ports had been granted a schedule of payments.

Extremism

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider developing a single fund to counter all forms of extremism. [HL6178]

The Government are determined to tackle extremism wherever it arises and have a wide range of policies to do this. We are not persuaded that it would be effective to seek to deal with extremism of different origins through a single fund.

Finance: Lending

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what effect the global economic recession has had on (a) International Monetary Fund lending to the poorest and least developed countries, and (b) the volume of lending by the International Development Association. [HL6318]

In the year following the onset of the crisis last September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) made new commitments of $3.4 billion to 26 low-income countries. This is nearly six times the average level of IMF lending to low-income countries in the three years before the crisis. The IMF expects to lend a total of $8 billion to low-income countries in 2009 and 2010. The sharp increase in the IMF’s assistance to the poorest countries follows the London Summit commitments to double the level of finance available from the IMF for each low-income country and to double the total capacity of the IMF to lend to all low-income countries.

In order to help poor countries tackle the effects of the economic downturn, the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank has agreed measures to fast-track and frontload funds. Fast-tracking refers to using streamlined processes that allow new funding to be approved more quickly. Frontloading means allowing countries to anticipate funding from next year to allow more investment in the current year. In response to the crisis, IDA members agreed to increase the amount of funding that could be frontloaded from 30 to 50 per cent. These measures resulted in IDA commitments reaching $14 billion in the IDA’s financial year 2008-09, which ended in June 2009. This is a record, and 25 per cent higher than the previous year. However, there has not been a similar increase in the spending of these funds, and we continue to press for reforms that will improve the Bank’s performance in this area.

At the London Summit, G20 leaders asked the Prime Minister to review the adaptability and responsiveness of the IFIs. His report was submitted to G20 leaders in September and has been placed in the Library of the House. One of its key findings was that the World Bank lacked the means to provide additional funding to the poorest countries when shocks occurred, and the Prime Minister proposed a new crisis response facility within the IDA. Shareholders have agreed to ask the Bank to bring forward proposals on establishing such a facility.

Forensic Science Service Ltd

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they plan to close the Forensic Science Service in Chorley; and what proposals they have for the services it offers to be provided for elsewhere in the north-west. [HL6119]

The FSS has recently announced a transformation programme, which the Government fully support. As part of this, the FSS will move to a new national structure based around four primary sites at Birmingham, Huntingdon, London and Wetherby. A number of factors were carefully considered when selecting the sites to support this structure. One of the main considerations was the co-location of body fluid examination with DNA analytical facilities to meet customers’ needs. DNA analytical facilities are currently based at Huntingdon, London, Trident Court (Birmingham) and Wetherby.

The services currently provided by the Chorley laboratory will become part of the new national structure, operated from the four sites listed above. It is worth highlighting that proximity to a forensic science laboratory does not appear to be a key consideration for forces when selecting a forensic science provider. For example, north-west police forces awarded approximately 10 per cent of their main casework to the FSS in the recent tender incorporating the 14 police forces from the north-west, the south-west and Wales.

Formby Beach: Prehistoric Footprints

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to preserve the prehistoric animal footprints on Formby beach in Sefton Metropolitan Borough; and what grants are available for that preservation. [HL6023]

The prehistoric footprints on Formby beach provide important insights into how animals and humans were moving about in the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. We have taken the advice of specialists in this period. The human and animal footprints have been exposed in soft tidal silts through coastal erosion, and therefore cannot be preserved “in situ”, since they are constantly eroded by the tide, but they can be recorded as they appear.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has earmarked funding of £1,174,000 towards proposals for a Landscape Partnership Scheme on the Sefton coast, which covers the area with the footprints. The earmarked funding includes funding of £57,200 to further develop the bid. Landscape Partnerships is an HLF grant programme to support schemes of between £250,000 and £2 million led by partnerships of local, regional and national interests, which aim to conserve areas of distinctive landscape character throughout the United Kingdom. This scheme includes a project which involves training volunteers to record the footprints, and helping to make information available to the public about them.

Gaza

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they, the European Union and United Nations agencies have made to the Government of Israel about persons under 18 arrested in the West Bank and convicted by military tribunals on confession evidence obtained in the absence of parents or legal advisers; whether such representations referred to the number of education or family visits during their sentences in Israeli prisons; and what replies have been received. [HL6285]

We are extremely concerned by aspects of the Israeli military justice and detention system, including allegations of Palestinian children being detained and interrogated without access to a lawyer or to visits by family members; and allegations that they are subjected to treatment that breaches the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984, in order to obtain confessions.

The Government expressed their concern about this issue at the Human Rights Council in November 2008. It was also one of several concerns highlighted in a report, published in May 2009, by the UN Committee Against Torture. Israel is a state party to both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and the UN Convention against Torture of 1984. Israel has also stated it takes seriously its periodic reports before the treaty bodies, using them as an opportunity for in-depth self-examination. We strongly urge Israel to abide by its obligations in the UN conventions and other relevant rules of international law.

Great Scotland Yard

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Myners on 27 October (WA 128), for how long 3-5 Great Scotland Yard has been unoccupied; what was the cost of maintaining and safeguarding 3-5 Great Scotland Yard for each of the years it was unoccupied; whether the Crown Estate has a strategic plan for its unoccupied or part-used buildings; and, if so, what that plan says about the future of 3-5 Great Scotland Yard. [HL6216]

Since the building was surrendered with vacant possession in November 2004, its attributable maintenance and safeguarding have averaged £30,000 p.a.

The Crown Estate has plans for all of its unoccupied or part-used buildings, with specific asset plans for each individual property. Different options are being considered for the future of 3-5 Great Scotland Yard, and both timing and choice are affected by current market conditions.

Health: Brain Tumours

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they propose to meet the challenges associated with the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumours, in the light of the initiatives provided by International Brain Tumour Awareness Week. [HL6296]

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published Improving Outcomes guidance in 2006 on the healthcare that should be provided for people with brain tumours and other central nervous system (CNS) tumours to ensure the best outcomes, including early diagnosis. It is for the National Health Service locally to implement this guidance, and the National Cancer Action Team continues to work with the NHS at local level to agree implementation plans.

The National Cancer Peer Review Programme is currently developing measures for brain and CNS tumours, which will be incorporated into the Manual for Cancer Services. Other work includes supporting the British Neuro-Oncology Society with the development of national guidelines for rarer brain tumours. It is planned that all brain services in England will be reviewed against these measures from April 2011 in order to establish how well the Improving Outcomes guidance has been implemented.

In September 2009, we announced plans to further improve access to diagnostics in primary care by offering all patients access to tests and results, which can confirm or exclude cancer within one week. Our aim is to start rolling this out from 2011-12 over a five-year period.

Heritage Maintenance Funds

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many heritage maintenance funds have been approved by HM Treasury. [HL6049]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their most recent estimate of the total value of assets currently held in heritage maintenance funds approved by HM Treasury; and on what date that estimate was made. [HL6050]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many heritage maintenance funds have been approved by HM Treasury (a) between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2004, and (b) since 1 January 2005. [HL6051]

A total of 135 heritage maintenance funds have been approved to date.

Information about the value of assets is not updated after a maintenance fund is approved. Details of the number of heritage maintenance funds approved at the specified dates could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. HMRC's systems do not capture the date of approval, and the documentation relating to funds is extensive.

Higher Education

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take to enhance the principle of a “community of scholars” in considering the future of higher education. [HL6278]

Although the phrase “community of scholars” may sound old-fashioned, it contains an important truth which is relevant today. Being “a cohesive and self-critical academic community” is still the key criterion for being a university. Our recently published framework for higher education, Higher Ambitions, shows that we are committed to maintaining the global excellence of research and scholarship in our universities, as well as wanting them to engage more effectively with business and the wider community.

Higher Education: Accreditation Bodies

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when Kings College of Management in Manchester and Queens College International, formerly Yorkshire College Manchester, were accredited; by which accreditation body they were accredited; and whether they remain accredited colleges. [HL6219]

Kings College of Management in Manchester and Queens College International are not registered with the United Kingdom Border Agency. Kings College of Management in Manchester was accredited by the Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC) and, according to the ASIC website, is still accredited. There is no trace of Queens College International on any accreditation body websites and the college does not appear to have its own website.

Higher Education: Overseas Students

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Statement by Lord Mandelson on 3 November on higher education, to what extent the increase in university applications is due to applications from foreign students. [HL6269]

In his Statement on 3 November, Lord Mandelson referred to the over 1 million entrants expected to enrol in higher education courses for the 2009-10 academic year. This relates to all levels of study (postgraduate and undergraduate) and all modes of study (full-time and part-time). At present information is not held on the region of domicile of all these expected entrants. The most detailed information available is the number of accepted applicants to full-time undergraduate courses via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

The table below shows the increase in accepted applicants for 2009-10 academic year by region of domicile compared with the same point last year.

Accepted applicants to full-time undergraduate courses via Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) by region of domicile 2008-09 and 2009-10, as of 55 days after A-level results day

2008-09 (8 October)

2009-10 (14 October)

% increase

UK

400,314

422,126

5.4

Other EU

21,180

23,384

10.4

Non-EU

30,377

31,767

4.6

Total overseas

51,557

55,151

7.0

Total

451,871

477,277

5.6

Source: UCAS

Higher Education: Radicalism

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, David Lammy, on 15 July (HC Deb, col. 507W), which higher education institutions will receive further targeted support for Prevent funding in the new academic year. [HL6271]

Further targeted Prevent funding and support will be given to specific higher education institutions in Prevent priority funded local authority areas to ensure that these institutions are fully linked up to local police and Prevent partnerships that already exist in these areas. The exact list of institutions which will be receiving additional Prevent funding has not yet been finalised.

Higher Education: Research

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take, in considering the future of higher education, to recognise the effect of the relationship between research and teaching in a university on the quality of teaching and to ensure that all universities provide research opportunities. [HL6275]

The Government’s policy is to invest in the very best research. This has helped ensure that we have a research base which is second only to that of the United States. Whilst it is appropriate for some universities to build on their own research expertise in their teaching, a healthy university system will have a diversity of missions and diversity of approaches to teaching. The choice on whether to provide research opportunities should be for individual universities to take as autonomous institutions.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take, in considering the future of higher education, to support research in the social sciences and humanities in the context of the sustainability and qualitative well-being of society. [HL6276]

I will write to my noble friend and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they will take, in considering the future of higher education, to ensure that original research is suitably recognised and funded in the context of the long-term well-being of society. [HL6277]

I will write to my noble friend and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

HMS "Caroline"

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a decision has been taken about the future of the naval training ship HMS Caroline in Belfast; and, if not, when the decision will be made. [HL6042]

Following the Answer given by my noble friend Lady Taylor to the noble Lord on 15 July (Official Report, col. WA224), and recognising the unique heritage value of HMS “Caroline”, the trustees of the national museum of the Royal Navy have agreed to broker a heritage solution to the ship's future. This process will take some time, but I would hope to be in a position to announce the plans for the ship in the spring. In the mean time the ship will remain in the commission of the Royal Navy.

HMS "Illustrious"

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the costs of HMS Illustrious visiting Merseyside in October; and who met those costs. [HL6024]

HMS “Illustrious” undertook a port visit to Merseyside from 22 to 27 October 2009 as part of naval regional engagement, following her participation in exercises off the north-west coast. This also provided the Royal Navy with an opportunity to bring this year's Fly Navy 100 celebrations to the north of the UK.

The cost of the visit was approximately £77,000, which was met by public funds. This sum includes costs associated with the ship's berthing; the conservancy and environmental fees; stewarding and security; and site costs (ie road closures, provision of toilets for members of the public visiting the static park, site management and barriers).

Separately, a reception was held onboard the ship on 23 October to mark the centenary of naval aviation. The cost of this was met by non-public sponsorship received by Fly Navy 100.

In addition, a Royal Marines Band concert, in aid of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, took place on 24 October. The marginal costs for this were funded by the charity.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government by what human rights standards they gauge a country in order to have full diplomatic relations with it; and how those standards are monitored. [HL6281]

The UK has diplomatic relations with more than 190 countries. The establishment of diplomatic relations and of permanent diplomatic missions takes place by mutual consent.

All of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's overseas missions have a responsibility to monitor and report on developments in their host countries. This includes monitoring and reporting on a country's human rights situation and raising particular concerns with the host Government.

Immigration

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 16 June (WA 200–1) stating that it is not possible to identify which category of leave-to-remain students from Pakistan applied after their student leave expired, whether they will introduce a data field in the relevant leave-to-remain statistics describing the type of United Kingdom entry visa originally issued in such cases. [HL6217]

We currently do not plan to add a data field to the relevant leave-to-remain database from which the statistics are derived, because we are exploring a different and more cost-effective means to extract the information via our new and sophisticated reporting tools.

Checking the current and previous immigration status of all persons applying for further and indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom is mandatory for UK Border Agency caseworkers because the applicant’s status will affect whether they are eligible to qualify for the category that they are applying for and whether their application carries a right of appeal. This information is noted and saved on the applicant’s Home Office file.

We are looking to link information sources to enable the report to be extracted. However, if this approach does not prove to be feasible, we will examine the business case for adding an extra data field and the options to achieve this end.

Immigration: Deportation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in each year since 2001, against how many individuals the Home Secretary and his predecessors have begun deportation proceedings on the ground of national security; and how many individuals have been deported on the ground of national security. [HL6272]

Comprehensive details of the numbers of cases where a notice of intention to deport on grounds of national security was served are not available for the period 2001-04.

During the period 2005 to end October 2009, the number of cases where a notice of intention to deport on those grounds was served is as follows:

2005—31 people;

2006—nine people;

2007—none;

2008—one person; and

2009—12 people.

Nine people have been deported on grounds of national security since 2005: three in 2006 and six in 2007.

Immigration: Detention Centres

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether staff at immigration detention centres who are in contact with children are checked by the Criminal Records Bureau before they are employed; and, if not, what plans they have to undertake such checks. [HL6207]

All staff at immigration removal centres and escorts who have contact with children are checked by the Criminal Records Bureau before they are employed. In very exceptional circumstances, essential workers may be employed provisionally while the checks are completed. In these circumstances, individuals are accompanied by a fully cleared member of staff while undertaking their duties and do not have free access to the removal centre or lone access to individuals detained.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken at immigration detention centres to implement the recommendations of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and of the Children's Commissioner for England. [HL6208]

Service improvement plans setting out action to be taken to achieve those recommendations in individual HM Chief Inspector of Prisons' reports that are accepted are drawn up, agreed and generally sent to the inspectorate within two months of publication of final reports. Agreed service improvement plans are available in the House Library.

A similar approach was taken in relation to the recommendations in the Children's Commissioner for England's report and our response was sent to the commissioner in August.

Immigration: France

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what impact the closure of the asylum camp in Calais has had on the number of attempts to enter the United Kingdom illegally through ports in Kent. [HL6157]

The area of Calais known as “the jungle” was cleared on 22 September 2009, following commitments made by both the UK and French Governments under the Evian agreement. We continue to build on cross-border joint intelligence and enforcement work in order to dismantle organised immigration crime groups. In addition to this, we work closely with our French partners to improve port security and increase the number of returns flights.

As a result of these measures, in October 2009, 569 individual attempts to enter the UK illegally via the juxtaposed controls were detected, compared to 1,170 over the same period in 2008, a reduction of over 50 per cent.* In addition, the number of illegal entrants discovered in the UK, suspected of having entered through ports in Kent, has decreased from 204 in October 2008 to 132 in October 2009, a reduction of 36 per cent.

* Statistics have been sourced from locally collated management information held within locally accessed computer systems and do not represent national statistics. They have not been the subject of national statistics protocols and verification and should therefore be treated as provisional and subject to change.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the role and expectations of the Joint Intelligence Unit formed with the French authorities to counter unauthorised entry from France to the United Kingdom. [HL6158]

The Joint Intelligence Unit [JIU] is an intelligence-sharing forum incorporating the UK Border Agency, Kent Police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Department of Work and Pensions, Police Aux Frontières and L'Office Central pour la Répression de l’Immigration irrégulière et de l'emploi d'Étrangers Sans Titre (the French anti-trafficking unit). Its role is to build intelligence on both sides of the Channel, to target and dismantle organised immigration crime groups.

The JIU acts as a conduit for information and intelligence from the constituent investigating authorities and develops intelligence products to drive and support action against organised immigration crime. This will result in a stronger border, increased prosecution of facilitators, and improved co-operation between cross-border agencies.

Immigration: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how those with leave to enter the United Kingdom who enter through the Northern Ireland land frontier with the Republic of Ireland can get their passports stamped to prove a United Kingdom arrival date, as required for applications for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. [HL6096]

The common travel area (CTA) comprises the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. One of the principles of the CTA is that a person’s passport will be endorsed upon entry into the CTA. The holder is not required to obtain a further endorsement when travelling to another part, as long as they hold valid leave to enter/remain.

Immigration: Polygamy

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 21 July (WA 301-02), whether the Minister's officials have come to a conclusion as to whether changes to the UK Border Agency's Entry Clearance Guidance are required, in the context of polygamous marriages. [HL6337]

Legal Services Commission

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the penalties available to the Legal Services Commission against solicitors who wrongly claim higher payments for legal aid than they are entitled to, or submit claims and are paid for work that does not qualify for legal aid; and why the Legal Services Commission does not seek the return from lawyers of incorrect payments or prosecute such lawyers where fraud is involved. [HL6218]

Claims for higher payments for legal aid work do not usually involve dishonesty and can arise from misunderstandings of the fee schemes, or failure to obtain sufficient evidence of clients’ means. In these cases, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) recovers the monies due from future payments or by immediate payment of the full amount by the provider concerned. Contract sanctions or a formal warning may also be given if appropriate.

Where deliberate overclaiming or misclaiming is identified, the LSC can terminate the provider’s contract and seek reimbursement of monies which have been overpaid. The LSC has a dedicated counter fraud team that investigates allegations of fraud against legal aid providers in accordance with relevant legislation and approved internal procedures. However if the provider refuses to co-operate with the investigation, the LSC terminates the contract and refers the matter to the police or other law enforcement body when there are sufficient grounds to do so. It is then for the police to decide how to take these matters forward and the LSC counter fraud team provides them with any assistance that may be requested.

Libya

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the request for compensation from the Government of Libya by relatives and dependants of those killed or injured by arms and explosives supplied by that government. [HL5882]

The Government have considered requests for compensation from Libya and taken soundings on the issue since the restoration of diplomatic relations in 1999. We did this in 2004, 2006, 2007 and most recently in February 2009. Libya accounted for its past support of the IRA in 1995 and on all subsequent occasions this matter has been discussed, Libya has stressed they believe the matter is firmly closed.

On 6 Sept 2009 my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced enhanced support for the campaign by victims and families of victims of IRA terrorism for compensation from the Libyan Government. This recognises the Government's assessment that the most likely way for the victims and their families to succeed is for them to address the Libyan Government directly, supported by the British Government. From 8 Sept the FCO-based Libya/Northern Ireland Reconciliation Unit was established to provide logistical support and advice to the campaign. The British Government themselves are not negotiating directly with Libya.

Ministry of Defence: Headquarters

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was their original estimate of the cost of reconstructing the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence; how much has so far been spent on the project; and what they now estimate will be the ultimate cost. [HL5844]

National DNA Database

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether foreign intelligence agencies and agents have access to the United Kingdom's DNA and fingerprint databases and other private or sensitive information they hold on British citizens and others stopped under terrorism laws. [HL6310]

NATO: Baltic States

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to raise with NATO the organisation's lack of contingency plans to safeguard the territory of its Baltic member states. [HL6264]

Collective defence and deterrence remains NATO's core purpose. Under Article V of the Washington treaty, an armed attack against any ally is considered an attack against all 28. Threat assessments and the requirement for contingency planning are reviewed as required, and are routinely considered in the North Atlantic Council, NATO's Military Committee and Allied Command Operations.

With regard to the Baltic, NATO allies continue to conduct air policing in the region, with quick reaction alert aircraft operating out of Lithuania. As part of a UK initiative, Defence Ministers agreed in June that the NATO Response Force should be given an overt Article V territorial defence role including in the three Baltic states. In this capacity, the UK would support the NATO Response Force exercising in the Baltic region.

NATO: Defence

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the collective defence of the European territory of NATO member states is a priority of that organisation. [HL6262]

Collective defence and deterrence remains NATO's core purpose. Under Article V of the Washington treaty, an armed attack against any ally is considered an attack against all 28.

Nepal

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will encourage the Government of Nepal to honour its obligations under international human rights treaties by guaranteeing freedom of religion and belief in their new constitution. [HL6317]

We regularly raise with the Government and political parties of Nepal the importance of ensuring that the new constitution is fully in line with Nepal's commitments under international human rights treaties. The interim constitution of Nepal already provides for freedom of religion, and Nepal was declared a secular state by the interim parliament in 2007. We will continue to urge the government of Nepal to give priority to the implementation of all rights and freedoms, including religious freedoms.

Non-Domestic Rating Regulations 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the remarks by Lord McKenzie of Luton on 14 October (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 295) on the Non-Domestic Rating Regulations 2009, whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the note on whether primary legislation would be required to stop backdated liabilities of port taxes. [HL6124]

The note I referred to at the debate was an informal briefing note informing me that the legal opinion provided by the Ports Lobby group had been received by the department. This note is no longer available to be put into the House Library.

The department is considering the content of the legal opinion provided.

Northern Ireland Office: Business Cards

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what savings have been made by the Northern Ireland Office since 2004 by reducing the use of printed business cards. [HL6280]

Printed business card savings of £5,000 have been made since 2004 by the Northern Ireland Office (including its arm’s-length bodies and the Public Prosecution Service Northern Ireland but excluding its agencies and NDPBs).

Northern Ireland Office: Efficiency Initiatives

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the corporate file plan to manage parliamentary Questions in the list of efficiency initiatives identified by the Northern Ireland Office as part of the 2004 Comprehensive Spending Review; and how much has been saved as a result each year. [HL6279]

This initiative reflects savings in staff time across the Northern Ireland Office as a result of introducing a more efficient IT-based system for managing the parliamentary Questions process using the department’s corporate file plan. This has generated recurring savings of £64,000 per annum since 2005-06.

Northern Ireland Office: Staff

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many posts there are in the Northern Ireland Office Political Directorate; whether the number of posts has reduced in recent years; if so, by how much; and what is the annual saving therefrom. [HL6253]

There are currently 120 posts in the Political Directorate of the Northern Ireland Office. The following table details the number of staff in the Political Directorate over the last five years:

Year (April)

Actual Staff in Post

2008

93

2007

82

2006

103

2005

90

2004

99

The increase in staff for the current year resulted from the management of both Hillsborough Castle and Stormont House moving from another directorate into the Inquiries and Corporate Services Division, which is part of the Political Directorate.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the objectives of the Northern Ireland Office's Political Directorate; and why it has been absorbed into the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat. [HL6254]

The Northern Ireland Office's departmental strategic objectives (DSOs) arising from CSR07 are published on the Department's website (http://www.nio.gov.uk/index/a-z.htm).

The Political Directorate of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has lead responsibility for DSO 1—a stable devolved government in Northern Ireland with responsibility for policing and justice, and a society reconciled with the past.

The NIO Political Directorate has not been absorbed into the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat (BIIGS). BIIGS is a separate body which was established as a result of an international agreement between the British and Irish Governments. The British side of the Secretariat is staffed by civil servants from the NIO Political Directorate.

Northern Ireland Office: Taxis

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 2 November (WA 19) concerning the cost of taxis used by the Northern Ireland Office, why the cost of taxis increased from £24,163 in 2004-05 to £74,767 in 2008-09. [HL6249]

The increase in expenditure on taxis in the Northern Ireland Office followed a review in 2007 when the department adopted a policy which made greater use of taxis rather than private hire cars. While this change in policy has led to an increase in the cost of taxis, it has generated estimated whole-year net savings of £150,000.

Each member of staff is advised that, before any business-related journey is made, the most cost-effective means of transport must be considered. Where the use of public transport or private car is not possible or economic, the journey may be made by taxi.

The NIO keeps the cost of travel on official business under regular review.

Northern Ireland: Atlantic Philanthropies

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what checks they carried out on Atlantic Philanthropies before that organisation was allowed to provide funding to public bodies. [HL5988]

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's initial proposal requesting permission to access external funding from Atlantic Philanthropies included its assessment that the organisation was a credible funding body.

To inform the Secretary of State's decision on this matter, further research was carried out to establish background information on the organisation, including its purpose and aims, criteria for funding, corporate governance arrangements and financial information. Information on existing funding relationships was also considered and it was noted that the organisation has funded a wide range of bodies in the public, private and voluntary sector on a non-sectarian basis. That information is all publicly available and supports the initial assessment of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

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 12 October (WA 16) concerning the supply of funding by the Atlantic Philanthropies to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, why the funding was considered to be appropriate; and whether they considered the issue of equality. [HL5883]

Correspondence explaining the decision in full has been placed in the Library of the House. As set out in my answer of 12 October 2009, Official Report, Cols WA 16-17, the decision to allow the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to access external funding was permissible under the terms of its management statement and financial memorandum. There is no reason to believe that this decision had a significant impact on equality of opportunity.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many appraisals of the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have been presented to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland since her appointment; and whether they will place copies of such documents in the Library of the House. [HL5885]

Informal appraisals of the chief commissioner's performance have taken place throughout her tenure and informed the Secretary of State's decision on her suitability for reappointment in 2008. Details relating to the performance of any public appointee, whether formal or informal, would generally be regarded as personal information.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House all correspondence they had with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in the first two weeks of September 2009. [HL5985]

On 9 September 2009, an invitation was sent to the chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to a dinner at Hillsborough Castle on 14 September 2009. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House.