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Written Answers

Volume 716: debated on Thursday 7 January 2010

Written Answers

Thursday 7 January 2010

Education: Home Schooling

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 11 December (WA 167), whether they will provide an example to justify the statement that the release of the data requested might lead to individual children being identified. [HL812]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 11 December (WA 168–9), whether they will provide an example to justify the statement that the release of the data requested might lead to individual children being identified. [HL813]

Some years ago a journalist located two children convicted of murdering another child using statistics provided through the Department of Heath secure units bulletin. Since then the Department for Children, Schools and Families has adopted protocols that prevent individual children from being identified through published statistical information.

The department has closely examined and reviewed its statistical disclosure controls when considering the release of data that could lead to individuals being self-identified or identified by others. Where there is a risk that individual children could be identified, the data are released by aggregation with other data, or released in a form where small numbers are rounded or suppressed.

We have applied this policy to the information collected recently on home education. We released much of the raw data in the form of graphs, which allowed users to see the distribution of data but which did not identify individual local authorities. This is because where numbers are low it would be possible for journalists or other researchers to combine press reports or other information collected formally or informally with published statistical information to identify individual children subject to child protection plans, or young people not in education, employment and training, for example.

This could lead to home-educating families being pursued for further information about their children—for example, the sort of information set out in the Answers given on 11 December (Official Report cols. WA 167 and WA 169) and 15 December (Official Report cols. WA 206 and WA 207-WA 209).

We are considering how we can release more of the statistical data collected in a format that protects individuals from being identified but which is more informative than the data already released.

Elections: European Parliament

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the electorate in Northern Ireland for the European Parliament elections in (a) 2004, and (b) 2009. [HL861]

The Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland is responsible for maintaining the electoral register in Northern Ireland and publishing related statistics. Statistics relating to the eligible electorate in respect of particular elections can be found on the Chief Electoral Officer’s website (http://www.eoni.org. uk/index/statistics/election-statistics.htm) and demonstrate that the eligible electorate for the 2004 European elections was 1,072,669, and for the 2009 European elections was 1,141,979.

The noble Lord may wish to write to the Chief Electoral Officer directly with any further queries.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the percentage turnout in Northern Ireland at the European Parliament elections in (a) 2004, and (b) 2009. [HL862]

The Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland is responsible for publishing information relating to turnout at particular elections. Statistics relating to the 2004 and 2009 European elections can be found on his website at http://www. eoni.org.uk/index/statistics/election-statistics.htm and show that the percentage turnout in 2004 was 51.72 per cent, and in 2009 was 42.81 per cent.

The noble Lord may wish to write directly to the Chief Electoral Officer if he has any further queries.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many applications for postal votes there were in Northern Ireland for the European Parliament elections in (a) 2004, and (b) 2009. [HL863]

The Chief Electoral Officer for Northern Ireland is responsible for collecting information relating to postal vote applications. Statistics relating to postal vote applications at particular elections can be found on his website at http://www.eoni.org.uk/index/statistics/election-statistics.htm and show that there were 3,184 applications for postal votes in respect of the 2009 European elections (this excludes applications for an absent vote for an indefinite period in the run-up to the elections). The website does not contain information relating to postal vote applications for the 2004 European elections and the noble Lord may wish to write to the Chief Electoral Officer directly to request additional statistics.

EU: Legislation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish the recent opinions of the European Commission regarding the United Kingdom allegedly not giving full effect to European Union equality legislation. [HL826]

The understanding between the European Commission and member states is that infraction correspondence remains confidential. The Commission publishes the fact that a reasoned opinion has been sent but not the letter itself. The Government will therefore not be publishing the two reasoned opinions that the Commission sent to us on 20 November.

NHS: IT Strategy

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was the gross expenditure on the NHS National Programme for IT at actual and constant prices in each year from 2002–03 to 2008–09; and what is the forecast expenditure for 2009–10. [HL827]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their forecast of the expenditure required from 2010–11 to 2013–14 to complete the NHS National Programme for IT in the light of the Pre-Budget Report; and when they expect to complete the programme. [HL828]

Comprehensive information is not available in the form requested. This is in part because relevant local expenditure information is not collected in a way that differentiates expenditure on the national programme for information technology from other local IT-related expenditure. In addition, the department does not routinely produce programme-level expenditure figures separately from those covering its wider responsibilities for National Health Service IT.

Expenditure information covering all those responsibilities, for the years for which it is available, is shown in the following table.

Actual Expenditure

Forecast Outturn

2004-05 £ million

2005-06 £ million

2006-07 £ million

2007-08 £ million

2008-09 £ million

2009-10 £ million

Capital

360.0

429.0

589.0

686.0

535.1

562.6

Revenue

260.0

539.0

528.0

507.0

528.4

573.8

Notes:

1. All sums are actual expenditure for the year in question, compiled using the accruals accounting convention, and exclude capital charges.

2. The amounts include the original costs of NPfIT contracts, which have not changed, but also include new and additional requirements that have been added, supported by separate business cases and funding, as reported by the National Audit Office.

The expenditure is made up of a very significant number of different components and activity contracted at different times across the period. Converting the figures to a meaningful common price base could only be done at disproportionate cost.

The national programme comprises a number of separate systems and services for which, as a whole, there is no single national completion date. Systems will continue to need to be upgraded in the light of new technology and changing NHS requirements. Expenditure plans for years beyond 2009-10 are currently being reviewed in the light of announcements made in the Pre-budget Report, and of the evolving IT needs of the NHS.

Northern Ireland Office: Cars

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of officials in the Northern Ireland Office are in car-sharing schemes for work purposes which are officially encouraged. [HL870]

A scheme is available at www.travelwiseni.co.uk through which staff can make car-share arrangements with other civil servants. Staff are encouraged, where possible, to car-share when travelling on official business.

The Northern Ireland Office does not keep statistics on the number of staff who are in car-share schemes, either for work purposes or for journeys to and from work.

Northern Ireland Office: Political Directorate

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the sections into which the Political Directorate of the Northern Ireland Office is divided; and what are their roles. [HL663]

The Political Directorate of the Northern Ireland Office consists of four divisions: Rights, Elections and Legacy; Constitutional Policy and Liaison; Political Liaison and Protocol (including the work of the British Irish Secretariat); and Inquiries and Corporate Services. The Private Office, which supports the work of Ministers in the department, is also managed within the Political Directorate.

The role and objectives of the Political Directorate of the Northern Ireland Office are published in the annual departmental report, which can be found at:

http://www.nio.gov.uk/northern_ireland_office_departmental_report_2009.pdf.

A copy of the departmental report is also available in the Library of the House.

People Trafficking

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether 77 children suspected of having been trafficked went missing from a children's home near Heathrow since March 2006; if so, whether any of them have been found; and what steps have been taken to prevent such a situation happening again. [HL832]

Children who enter the UK without an adult to take responsibility for their care, which could include children who may have been trafficked into the country, will become looked after by the local authority where they present. Where any looked-after children subsequently go missing from their care placements, the local authority must report their absence to the local police so that all necessary action can be taken to locate them and make sure that they are safe.

Information about the outcomes of individual children who have gone missing from care in any local authority is not collected centrally. However, following the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Answer to the honourable Member for Hayes and Harlington in the other place on 6 May, officials from the Home Office and the DCSF were asked to investigate concerns about potentially trafficked children from abroad going missing from the London Borough of Hillingdon.

Hillingdon works very closely with other local partner agencies through the Hillingdon Local Safeguarding Children Board, which has a child trafficking sub-group. Since 2007, stronger process and systems have been put in place to disrupt the trafficking of children through Heathrow Airport, which has had the effect of reducing the numbers both of young people arriving at Heathrow suspected as being at risk of trafficking and of children later going missing from residential care.

Prisoners: Literature

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Bach on 7 December (WA 96), why individual prison governors can determine which books may be received by inmates of their prisons. [HL878]

The type of items and the frequency with which they may be received by prisoners while in custody are decided by individual prison governors in line with prison Rule 43(2) of the Prison Rules 1999.

The rule enables governors to exercise discretion as to the types of items that they consider to be appropriate for their local circumstances, the profile of their prison population (for example, whether a certain publication will have an adverse effect on a prisoner’s physical or mental condition) and to fit in with their locally devised incentives and earned privileges scheme.

Prisons: Muslim Chaplains

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 30 April (WA 44), whether the report into Muslim chaplains in public service has been completed; if so, how much it cost; and whether they will place a copy in the Library of the House. [HL825]

In June 2008, The Experience Corps produced a draft framework of standards and recruitment process to be used voluntarily by institutions when engaging Muslim chaplains in public service. The Experience Corps was awarded £88,708 (excluding VAT) to complete this work.

Following a tendering process in August 2008, Faith Matters was contracted to pilot the draft recruitment process and standards. Following the pilot, Faith Matters will produce a final standards framework and recruitment process, which will be promoted for voluntary use in public institutions from spring 2010. The project is projected to cost a total of £90,000, with final payment on completion. A copy of the final documents will be placed in the Library of the House.

Roads: Motorways

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 8 December (WA 118) which indicated that there have been no recent discussions on the joint funding of a motorway in Northern Ireland with the government of the Republic of Ireland, what discussions have taken place; when they took place; and what was the outcome. [HL806]

The funding package for the incoming Northern Ireland Executive was announced by the Treasury on 23 March 2007. That package included details of the provision of £400 million to be made available by the Irish Government over four years as a contribution towards the new roads programme. Subsequent discussions on funding are a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government.

No minutes have been found of any meetings at which these matters were discussed between members of Her Majesty’s Government and the Irish Government either prior to devolution or subsequently.

Taxation: Personal Allowance

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in which years since 1977 income tax personal allowances have not risen in line with inflation. [HL800]

The information requested is in the table below.

Personal allowance risen by less than inflation

1978-79

Personal allowance risen by more than inflation

1977-78, 1979-80, 1982-86, 1988-89, 1996-98, 2008-10

Personal allowance held constant

1981-82, 1993-95, 2003-04,2010-11

In years not shown, the allowance increased in line with indexation.