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Written Answers

Volume 716: debated on Thursday 14 January 2010

Written Answers

Thursday 14 January 2010

Alcohol

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have to charge those who require National Health Service treatment due to the regular consumption of alcohol. [HL951]

None. The founding principle of the National Health Service is that access to services is based on clinical need and is free of charge, a principle recently reconfirmed in the NHS Constitution, except in limited circumstances where charges are expressly sanctioned by Parliament, for example for prescription charges.

Chief of the General Staff

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what lump sum was paid to Sir Richard Dannatt on his retirement as Chief of the General Staff; and whether that payment was enhanced for any reason. [HL956]

Sir Richard Dannatt was awarded a terminal grant and pension commensurate with his rank and length of service. The amounts awarded are considered personal data and are therefore protected from disclosure under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Climate Change: Copenhagen Conference

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether further countries will sign the Copenhagen Accord; and whether they have taken steps to encourage other nations to sign up before the 31 January deadline for submission of emission-reduction plans. [HL1135]

On 11 January the UN Secretary-General held a meeting in New York to discuss climate change priorities following the Copenhagen conference. The majority of interventions at that meeting either welcomed the Copenhagen Accord or recognised it as a building block to a future legally binding treaty.

The UK wholeheartedly associates itself with the Copenhagen Accord and will be writing to the UN to this effect. We believe this represents a real step change in global action to combat dangerous climate change.

We will be encouraging others to show the same level of support and urging all parties, including the EU, to show maximum ambition in their submissions to the appendices to the accord by 31 January.

Constable of the Tower of London

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government who advises the Prime Minister prior to him making a recommendation to HM The Queen on the appointment of the Constable of the Tower of London. [HL953]

To ask Her Majesty's Government who has served as Constable of the Tower of London since 1979; and what have been their qualifications for appointment to the post. [HL954]

The Secretary of State for Defence makes the recommendation to the Prime Minister after seeking advice from the current service Chiefs of Staff.

Since 1784 and in accordance with Queen's Regulations for the Army, the ceremonial office of Constable of the Tower of London has been conferred on a retired senior military officer. Since 1979, the following former Chiefs of the Defence Staff and/or Chiefs of the General Staff have been appointed as constables.

From

To

Field Marshal Sir Geoffrey Baker GCB, CMG, CBE, MC

1975

May 1980

General Sir Peter Hunt GCB, DSO, OBE

June 1980

July 1985

Field Marshal Sir Roland Gibbs GCB, CBE, DSO, MC, KStJ

August 1985

July 1990

Field Marshal Sir John Stanier GCB, MBE

August 1990

July 1996

The Rt Hon Field Marshal The Lord Inge KG, GCB, PC, DL

August 1996

July 2001

General Sir Roger Wheeler GCB, CBE, ADC

August 2001

July 2009

General Sir Richard Dannatt GCB, CBE, MC

August 2009

To date

Democratic Republic of Congo

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that during the Kimia II operation in North Kivu 7,000 women have been raped, 900,000 people have been forced from their homes and 6,000 homes have been burnt down; and what representations they have made to the Governments of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda about pursuing political initiatives and a sustained peace process over further military offensives, such as Operation Amani Leo. [HL1151]

The Government agree that significant human rights abuses were committed during Operation Kimia II, although precise numbers are very difficult to verify in an area such as Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We regularly raise the issue of civilian protection with the Government of DRC, and were instrumental in the renewal of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the DRC (MONUC) mandate, with its sharper focus on protection of civilians. We fully support the decision by MONUC to withdraw support from the Congolese military (FARDC) units which commit serious human rights abuses, and continue to press the Government of DRC to take action against any members of the DRC armed forces who commit such abuses.

We continue to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict, for example by supporting the voluntary disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda combatants, which has been successful in encouraging some of these combatants to lay down their arms.

We agree that long-term peace in DRC depends on good relations between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. There are signs of improvements in these relations and DRC made a welcome exchange of ambassadors with Rwanda in 2008 and Uganda in early 2009. Through our ambassador in Kinshasa, and High Commissioners in Kigali and Kampala we continue to support co-operation between the states.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will continue to review whether to appoint a special envoy for the African Great Lakes region to report on cross-border human rights issues, including ethnic tensions and cross-border military activity. [HL1152]

At this point in time, we are content that we have sufficient coverage and leverage in the region to pursue our objectives of improving conflict situations and the quality of governance throughout Africa. This has been provided through the work of our posts in the region and by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 7 January 2008 (WA 151) and Baroness Thornton on 9 November 2009 (WA 111), whether the explanation for the inaccuracy in the figures given by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) chief executive in his letter on 9 November 2009 was also provided to the unidentified author of a letter to the HFEA on 18 September 2006; if not, why such an explanation was not given; and what alternative response was provided. [HL969]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 7 January 2008 (WA 151) and Baroness Thornton on 9 November 2009 (WA 111), why the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) supplied incorrect figures in response to the Freedom of Information request (F-2005-00134) regarding research licence R0152, given that the person responsible for that licence indicated in writing to Lord Alton of Liverpool on 4 September 2007 that accurate data were provided to the HFEA and records were checked by the HFEA when the licence was reviewed. [HL970]

To ask Her Majesty's Government with regard to a letter from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's legal advisor on 7 December 2009 describing the volume of correspondence about the use of eggs under research licence R0152, how many members of the press requested such information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000; what response was provided to each of those applicants; how many letters or telephone calls were exchanged between members of the HFEA on that subject; how many were exchanged with external authorities; and what proportion of the HFEA's time was spent dealing with such enquiries. [HL971]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the author of the September 2006 letter has been provided with a copy of the letter sent to the noble Lord, by the HFEA's chief executive, on 9 November 2009.

In the November letter, the HFEA's chief executive stated that information relating to research licence R0122 was mistakenly included in the authority's response to the freedom of information request (F-2005-00134) as data relating to research licence R0152. The HFEA has advised that it has nothing further to add to the information given in that letter.

The HFEA has also advised that it has received a number of enquiries from the press about the use of eggs under research licence R0152. Only one such enquiry was made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The response to that enquiry concerned the number of eggs used between August 2004 and November 2005 and the regulatory oversight of the research licence.

I have asked the HFEA to examine all records of correspondence and telephone communications concerning the use of eggs under research licence R0152 and to let me have the information requested by the noble Lord. The volume of documentation to be examined is substantial but the HFEA will endeavour to complete this within 20 working days, which is the statutory time period prescribed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I will write to the noble Lord in due course and place a copy of my letter in the Library.

Energy: Electricity Generation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect to assess the Wave Hub project for electricity generation off the coast of Cornwall. [HL654]

The Government formally assessed the business case for the Wave Hub project early last year to ensure value for money to the taxpayer. Construction on the project began in late 2009 and is due for completion in August 2010 with the first wave energy devices expected to be deployed in 2011. The project's progress is being monitored and will be assessed by funders (including Government) in the normal way once it is complete.

Energy: Supply Forecast

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what forecast they have made of the demand for and supply of energy between 2015 and 2020. [HL546]

It is assumed that the question refers to future UK demand and supply. The latest energy projections are those published as part of the Low Carbon Transition Plan, July 2009. The table shows the central case projection of UK total primary energy demand by fuel for the years 2015 to 2020. The total supply of each fuel will equal total demand.

UK Primary Energy Demand, Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Solids

30.6

29.0

26.9

28.5

26.1

24.7

Oil

80.7

80.3

79.9

79.5

79.0

78.6

Natural gas

79.0

76.9

76.9

71.9

70.6

66.1

Renewables

14.3

16.9

19.0

21.5

24.1

27.2

Primary

10.7

10.0

7.4

7.0

6.1

7.6

Electricity

0.8

0.8

0.8

0.8

0.8

0.8

Total

216.2

213.9

210.9

209.2

206.7

205.0

All renewable energy is included within the renewable category, whereas by normal statistical convention, primary renewable energy sources (eg wind, wave) would be included within “primary electricity”. Figures shown in the “electricity” category represent net electricity imports.

Environment: Areas of Outstanding Beauty

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to the proposals of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the Campaign for National Parks, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty for a "smart" electricity grid which minimises damage to the most beautiful landscapes, and for a long-term programme of investment to bury the estimated 8 per cent of existing transmission lines that cross protected landscapes such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. [HL1215]

In deciding upon the location and design of required transmission infrastructure a balance has to be struck between a number of concerns including delivering new transmission network to meet our climate change objectives and security of supply needs, protecting the local environment, and the cost to consumers. The planning system enables all stakeholders to have their views considered when decisions are made.

Any assessments on undergrounding existing transmission lines are a matter for Ofgem and the network operators and would be carried out as part of the price control review mechanism through which the transmission network companies are regulated.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the erection of new electricity transmission pylons in protected landscapes such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. [HL1216]

It is for the planning system to decide upon the location of required transmission infrastructure and the framework is in place to allow all relevant concerns, including environmental impacts, to be fully considered when making such decisions.

Environment: Uplands

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the Natural England report Vital Uplands: Natural England's vision for the upland environment in 2060. [HL959]

Natural England's report on the vision for the upland environment in 2060 is a helpful contribution to the debate on the future of the English uplands. The English uplands are some of our most iconic areas, providing vital environmental benefits in the form of biodiversity, natural resource protection and valued historic landscapes. The Government remain committed to supporting upland farmers in England for their crucial role in maintaining the upland landscape and environment. This is why we will shortly be launching our new upland entry level stewardship scheme to reward farmers for environmentally beneficial land management practices, with the first agreements starting from July 2010.

EU: UK Resident Citizens

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many United Kingdom citizens are resident in each other European Union state. [HL1089]

The last time the FCO gathered these figures was for the period April 2006 to March 2007.

The results for the EU states are provided below:

Country—Estimated Size of the British National Community

Austria

7,369

Belgium

39,867

Bulgaria

1,700

Cyprus

60,000

Czech Republic

3,183

Denmark

13,183

Estonia

220

Finland

4,350

France

381,000

Germany

115,554

Greece

31,470

Hungary

2,640

Ireland

112,548

Italy

71,990

Latvia

400

Lithuania

250

Luxembourg

4,480

Malta

6,000

Netherlands

73,600

Poland

2,531

Portugal

34,624

Romania

6,000

Slovakia

1,000

Slovenia

157

Spain

840,989

Sweden

15,000

Food: Breast Milk

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to persuade relevant United Kingdom companies to comply with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions. [HL978]

In 2007, the Government asked an expert group to look at the effectiveness of new provisions in the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula (England) Regulations 2007. These set tighter controls on the marketing and advertising of these products in line with the principles and aims of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

The expert group has engaged with a wide range of relevant interests, including United Kingdom companies providing breast milk substitutes. We expect the expert group to report shortly on its findings.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken following the recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child to signatories of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to implement fully the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions. [HL979]

In 2007, the Government introduced new provisions in the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula (England) Regulations 2007. These set tighter controls on the marketing and advertising of these products, implementing European Commission Directive 2006/141/EC which revised existing measures on the marketing of breast milk substitutes, giving effect to the principles and aims of World Health Organization (WHO) Code of Marketing of Breast-milk substitutes.

At the same time, the Government asked an expert group to assess the effectiveness of these measures on the way breast milk substitutes (know as infant formula and follow-on formula) are advertised and presented. We expect the expert group to report shortly on its findings.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to ensure that European directives are compliant with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions. [HL980]

In 2007, the Government put in place the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula (England) Regulations 2007, which sets tighter controls on the marketing and advertising of these products and implements European Commission Directive 2006/141/EC. This directive gives effect to the principles and aims of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

The Government also set up an independent review of the effectiveness of the revised measures on the way infant formula and follow-on formula are advertised and presented. We are awaiting the final report of this review.

Food: Imports

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they continue to allow the import from France of meat and meat products from animals fed on sewage sludge. [HL932]

The use of sewage sludge in animal feed has been specifically prohibited in European feed legislation since 1991.

Government Departments: Bonuses

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government for each of the last three years for which figures are available, how many people were eligible for performance bonuses and special bonuses in Communities and Local Government and its agencies, by civil service band; how many people received each type of bonus, by civil service band; what the average payment was for each type of bonus, by civil service band; and what the maximum payment was for each type of bonus, by civil service band[HL34]

An element of the Communities and Local Government overall pay award is allocated to non-consolidated variable pay related to performance. These payments are used to drive high performance and form part of the pay award for members of staff who demonstrate exceptional performance, for example by exceeding targets set or meeting challenging objectives.

Non-consolidated variable pay awards are funded from within existing pay bill controls, and have to be re-earned each year against pre-determined targets and, as such, do not add to future pay bill costs. The percentage of the pay bill set aside for performance-related awards for the SCS is based on recommendations from the independent Senior Salaries Review Body.

The table below details how many people were eligible for and received a non-consolidated variable pay awards and the average and the maximum payment for a non-consolidated variable pay award, by civil service band, awarded under the Communities and Local Government standard pay and performance management process for the three most recent financial years.

Financial Year 2007-08Financial Year 2008-09Financial year 2009/2010

SCS

Non-SCS

SCS

Non-SCS

SCS

Non-SCS

Number of staff eligible for non-consolidated performance payment

121

2188

132

2015

134

1940

Number of staff who received a non- consolidated performance payment

102

391

100

570

99

Information not yet available

Average value of non-consolidated performance payment

6,513

850

8,200

752

7,262

Information not yet available

The value of maximum non- consolidated payment

16,270

850

20,500

850

12,500

Information not yet available

Percentage of SCS paybill set aside for non-consolidated performance payments

6.5

N/A

7.6

N/A

8.6

N/A

In addition, two individuals employed on a SCS non-standard form contract, which links a higher than normal percentage of their pay to delivery-based objectives, received a non-consolidated award of £12,500 for their performance in 2009-10, and one individual in 2008-09 received a non-consolidated award of £16,270 in 2007-08.

The department also operates a scheme for all staff below the Senior Civil Service under which individuals or teams may receive a small non-consolidated award in recognition of an outstanding contribution over a limited period. The maximum payment made under these arrangements is £600 but records are not available to show the number of payments made under this scheme.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government for each of the past three years for which figures are available, how many people were eligible for performance bonuses and special bonuses in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and its agencies, by civil service band; how many people received each type of bonus, by civil service band; what the average payment was for each type of bonus, by civil service band; and what the maximum payment was for each type of bonus, by civil service band [HL35]

An element of the DCMS overall pay award is allocated to non-consolidated variable pay related to performance. These payments are used to drive high performance and form part of the pay award for members of staff who demonstrate exceptional performance, for example by exceeding targets set or meeting challenging objectives.

Non-consolidated variable pay awards are funded from within existing pay bill controls, and have to be re-earned each year against pre-determined targets and, as such, do not add to future pay bill costs. The percentage of the pay bill set aside for performance-related awards for the SCS is based on recommendations from the independent Senior Salaries Review Body.

The table below details how many people were eligible for and received a non-consolidated variable pay awards and the average and the maximum payment for a non-consolidated variable pay award, by civil service band, awarded under the DCMS standard pay and performance management process for the three most recent performance years for which the relevant payments have been published in the department's accounts.

The department, and its executive agency, make non-consolidated performance payments to its employees for two purposes: (a) in-year non-consolidated performance payments to reward outstanding contributions in particularly demanding tasks or situations; and (b) year-end non-consolidated performance payments to reward highly successful performance over a whole year. In both cases they support and help drive high performance in both the department and its executive agency.

These figures cover all civil servants on standard terms. They are exclusive of two key senior staff in the Government Olympic Executive, who were appointed on non-standard terms with fixed-term contracts ending in 2012 and whose remuneration reflects extensive relevant experience and the unique challenge of delivering the Olympics to a fixed deadline. Details of their remuneration were published in the departmental annual reports and accounts 2009.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport DCMS

Performance Year 2006-07Performance Year 2007-08Performance Year 2008-09

SCS

Non- SCS

SCS

Non-SCS

SCS

Non-SCS

Number of staff eligible for non-consolidated performance payment

35

504

37

471

41

433

Number of staff who received a non-consolidated performance payment

25

219

32

345

25

369

Average value of non-consolidated performance payment

£6,455

£1,395

£6,947

£953

£7,072

£940

The value of maximum non-consolidated payment

£10,000

£2,400

£13,000

£2,500

£13,500

£2,500

Percentage of SCS paybill set aside for non-consolidated performance payments

6.5%

N/A

7.6%

N/A

8.6%

N/A

The Royal Parks

As the number of SCS employed by the Royal Parks is less than five, this information has not been disclosed due to reasons of confidentiality.

Performance Year 2005-06Performance Year 2006-07Performance Year 2007-08

SCS

Non-SCS

SCS

Non-SCS

SCS

Non-SCS

Number of staff eligible for non-consolidated performance payment

N/A

58

N/A

81

N/A

80

Number of staff who received a non-consolidated performance payment

N/A

16

N/A

33

N/A

39

Average value of non-consolidated performance payment

N/A

£510

N/A

£403

N/A

£418

The value of maximum non-consolidated payment

N/A

£510

N/A

£510

N/A

£750

Percentage of SCS paybill set aside for non-consolidated performance payments

6.5%

N/A

7.6%

N/A

8.6%

N/A

Government: Correspondence

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many letters were received by Ministers from MPs and Peers in 2009; and which department was (a) the best, and (b) the worst, in meeting the target times for replying to such correspondence. [HL1136]

The Cabinet Office publishes, on an annual basis, a report to Parliament on the performance of departments in replying to Members’ and Peers’ correspondence. Information for 2009 is currently being compiled and will be published as soon as it is ready.

A copy of the report for 2008 can be accessed at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/propriety_and_ethics /publications/correspondence_2008.aspx and is available in the Library of the House.

Government: Ministerial Visits

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times Government officials travelled to Dublin in 2009; what modes of transport they used; and what the total cost was. [HL949]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cross-departmental policy regarding visits by MPs to Government establishments in the run-up to a general election; what establishments are covered by the policy; where the policy is published; and how the time when the policy applies is calculated. [HL1024]

On the announcement of a general election, the Cabinet Office issues guidance on the handling of departmental business, including visits to government establishments, during the pre-election period. The 2005 general election guidance is in the Libraries of both Houses, and can be found on the Cabinet Office website http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/cabinetoffice/propriety_and_ethics/assets/electguide.pdf.

Government: Office Equipment

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Barbara Follett, on 9 December 2009 (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 390W), what was the average purchase price, excluding value added tax, of a 500 sheet ream of white A4 80 gsm photocopier paper paid by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in the latest period for which figures are available. [HL1032]

The Department of Energy and Climate Change purchases white, A4 80 gsm photocopier paper at £1.67 per ream excluding value added tax. The paper provided is 100 per cent recycled.

Government: Scottish Ministers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government who is responsible for the terms and conditions of service of the Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government. [HL1146]

The Civil Service Order in Council 1995 gives the Minister for the Civil Service the power to make regulations and give instructions for the management of the Home Civil Service. The Civil Service Management Code then sets out regulations and instructions to departments and agencies regarding the terms and conditions of service of civil servants. It also sets out the delegations that have been made by the Minister for the Civil Service and any conditions attached to those delegations.

In relation to the Senior Civil Service, a number of terms and conditions of service are set and managed centrally so come under the authority of the Minister of the Civil Service, administered by the Cabinet Office. The delegated terms and conditions of service come under the authority of the individual to whom they have been delegated. In relation to civil servants supporting the Scottish Government, who are members of the unified Home Civil Service, this would be the First Minister, administered by the Scottish Government.

The Civil Service Management Code, which sets out which terms and conditions are centrally set and managed centrally and which are delegated, is available at http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/resources/csmc /index.aspx.

Health: Bilateral Agreements

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the United Kingdom has bilateral health agreements with (a) Azerbaijan, (b) Kazakhstan, (c) Georgia, (d) Armenia, (e) Moldova, (f) Guernsey, and (g) the Isle of Man; and if so, whether there are proposals to bring any of those agreements to an end. [HL1010]

The United Kingdom Government have held agreements with all of the countries listed. The agreement with the Channel Islands (which includes Guernsey) ended with effect from 1 April 2009 and the agreement with the Isle of Man is due to end with effect from 1 April 2010. There are no current plans to end the other agreements, which do not involve the UK Government providing a financial allocation.

Health: Vaccinations

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 25 March 2008 (WA 81), how many current members of the emergency services have been vaccinated for anthrax. [HL1093]

Decisions about vaccination are made on the basis of a risk assessment of the potential threat. To date, no members of the emergency services have been vaccinated against anthrax. As part of our national emergency preparedness strategy, a stockpile of licensed anthrax vaccine is maintained.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 25 March 2008 (WA 81), how many current members of the emergency services have been vaccinated for smallpox; how many of those have had adverse complications; and what is the status of the programme of vaccination which commenced in 2008. [HL1094]

A cohort of frontline health workers was vaccinated in 2005 to deal with any initial suspected or confirmed case of smallpox if they were to occur. The cohort comprised a total of 516 vaccinated personnel of whom 147 were doctors, 164 were nurses, 100 were ambulance staff, 32 were scientists and 73 held other related healthcare occupations. All were carefully screened and monitored and none had adverse complications that required vaccinia immunoglobulin. In order to maintain their protection against smallpox, a programme of revaccination commenced in 2008 and is ongoing. There is no proposal to increase the numbers of people in the cohort.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to vaccinate for smallpox and anthrax (a) members of the emergency services who will be involved in the London 2012 Olympic Games, and (b) others likely to be involved in transportation, stewarding and activities within the Olympic village during the games; and whether such treatment will be voluntary. [HL1095]

The current risk assessment for the 2012 Olympic Games does not indicate any need to change the current national preparedness arrangements in relation to smallpox or anthrax. There are, therefore, no plans to introduce vaccination against anthrax for any of those involved in the Games nor to increase the numbers of people in the current cohort of healthcare workers who are vaccinated against smallpox. This risk assessment, as with all other assessments, will be kept under review in the context of the Games, as will our systems for the detection of, and response to, infectious diseases in the United Kingdom and any new challenges they may present.

Health: Voluntary Groups

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will introduce an award to recognise long service by voluntary groups in the health sector. [HL1057]

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the United Kingdom to recognise work done in their local communities. Her Majesty's Government have no plans to introduce any further awards to recognise long service by voluntary groups in the health sector.

Houses of Parliament: Mail

Question

Asked by

To ask the Chairman of Committees how many items of mail were received in the Palace of Westminster in 2009; and, of those, what percentage was received in the House of Lords. [HL1139]

In total, 3,540,080 items of mail were received in the Palace of Westminster in 2009. The House of Lords received 885,020 of these, or 25 per cent. These figures do not include courier items or internal mail.

Interpal

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will acknowledge or reply to the letter to the Foreign Secretary of 18 November 2009 from Ibrahim Hewitt, chairman of Interpal, regarding the status of that organisation. [HL952]

Isle of Man

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether payment of £8.4 million by the Government of the Isle of Man to health authorities in north-west England for patients referred for specialist treatment and the existing reciprocal health agreements between the United Kingdom and other countries outside the European Union were considerations in the decision to end this year the reciprocal health agreement with the Isle of Man; and whether they will reconsider the decision. [HL1065]

All relevant factors were taken into consideration in deciding to terminate the current agreement with the Isle of Man. The decision was made on economic grounds and took account of the payment of £8.4 million for elective treatment commissioned by the Isle of Man, which is partly offset by a financial allocation provided by the United Kingdom Government. The Government are not minded to revisit the decision to end the current agreement.

Kazakhstan

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what will be the agenda for the 2010 Kazakhstan chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. [HL988]

Kazakhstan will officially unveil its full chairmanship programme on 14 January 2010 when Foreign Minister Saudabayev addresses the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council in Vienna.

We expect Kazakhstan to balance its work across all three OSCE dimensions, and that priority items on its chairmanship agenda will include tolerance and non-discrimination; the rule of law; protracted conflicts; and issues relating to Afghanistan.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government by what criteria they will assess the 2010 Kazakhstan chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe as to its success. [HL989]

Kazakhstan is working hard to manage its responsibilities across the full range of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)'s activities. As with all OSCE chairs, it can expect scrutiny from the international community.

We expect Kazakhstan to live up to its public assurances to uphold the principles of the organisation as chair and to balance its work across all three OSCE dimensions.

We want Kazakhstan's year in the chair to be a success. With that in mind, we continue to offer assistance where we can, underlining the importance of living up to its OSCE commitments.

Nigeria

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to encouraging mechanisms to ensure a transparent process for ensuing rounds of elections in Nigeria; what assessment they have made of the report by the Electoral Reform Committee led by Justice Mohammed Uwais; and what assessment they have made of the merits of option A four of that report. [HL1132]

The UK is working hard to encourage transparent elections in Nigeria, and to improve democratic governance more broadly, including through the Department for International Development's Deepening Democracy in Nigeria and Democratic Governance for Development programmes, joint-funded by the European Commission, Canadian International Development Agency and United Nations Development Programme.

The UK welcomes the report of former Justice Mohammed Uwais' Electoral Reform Committee. It is now for the Nigerian National Assembly, State Houses of Assembly, and the presidency to work together, with civil society, to agree reforms that deepen the democratic process based on independent and transparent electoral institutions. The UK and international partners will continue to support these efforts where we can.

Overseas Territories Consultative Committee

Question

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To ask Her Majesty's Government what decisions were taken at the Overseas Territories Consultative Committee meetings in December 2009. [HL1001]

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs had open and frank exchanges with the Overseas Territory leaders (except Gibraltar, which did not attend) at this year's Overseas Territories Consultative Council on a wide range of subjects. We agreed the following in a communiqué issued after the meeting:

we would continue discussions on the relationship between the UK and the Overseas Territories;

the principles of good governance will be reported;

the UK would, where appropriate, assist the territories to meet their international obligations;

respect for human rights and the need to safeguard children will be guaranteed;

territories would extend to all the populated territories of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, during the course of 2010;

the territories would manage their finances so they are better placed to guard against downturns in their economies;

the Overseas Territories borrowing guidelines will be reviewed;

the importance of implementing recommendations from the Foot review of British offshore financial centres will be implemented in full; and

the UK would support efforts to tackle crime in the Overseas Territories.

Planning

Questions

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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the terms of reference, outputs, timing and measures of success of the Penfold review of non-planning consents were decided by the steering board, or whether they were decided before the steering board was set up; and, if so, by which department or departments. [HL1217]

The terms of reference, outputs, timing and measures of success of the Penfold review of non-planning consents were all decided by the steering board at its first meeting on 10 December 2009.

The terms of reference to the Penfold review can be found at www.bis.gov.uk/penfold.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the recruitment process for the position of independent reviewer for the Penfold review of non-planning consents; and what are his terms of engagement and remuneration. [HL1218]

Research across BIS and CLG, with input from the Whitehall and Industry Group, identified Adrian Penfold as a strong candidate for the role of independent reviewer. Following advice from officials and a short telephone interview Ian Lucas, the Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform, appointed Mr Penfold as independent reviewer.

The terms of engagement are a commitment of approximately one to two days a month until April 2010, without remuneration. Necessary expenses will be paid by BIS.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government to which department or departments the Penfold review of non-planning consents will report; and which Minister or Ministers will make a decision on which recommendations to accept. [HL1219]

Decisions on which review recommendations to accept will be taken collectively by the relevant government departments at the appropriate time. The Better Regulation Executive, within BIS, will co-ordinate the government response to the review. Ian Lucas, Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform, will be the Minister with responsibility for agreeing the cross-government response.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Penfold review of non-planning consents can propose changes to the regulatory regimes relating to non-planning consents; or whether its focus will be on the systems involved in issuing consents. [HL1220]

The Penfold review terms of reference enable the review to consider how obtaining consents, that are considered problematic by developers and other stakeholders, could be made simpler and more cost-effective. On this basis, the review has the ability to make recommendations affecting both regulatory regimes and to the systems involved in issuing consents.

Rainforests

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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether revenue from the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme will be used to prevent destruction of rainforests. [HL186]

In general, the Government do not hypothecate revenue. Income from taxes and other revenues are pooled in the Consolidated Fund so that spending can be prioritised across the range of government activities in the most efficient way.

Last December, the Government and other EU member states committed to non-legally binding commitments to spend sums equivalent to half of the revenues from EU ETS auctioning to tackle climate change both in the EU and in developing countries. One of the possible areas identified for funding was reducing deforestation and increasing afforestation.

The Government are also working hard to ensure that emissions from deforestation in the developing world are included in a Copenhagen climate change agreement.

Rights of Way: Maps

Question

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To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 20 October 2009 (WA 65) stating that “Natural England's Stakeholder Working Group on Rights of Way is still expected to deliver its final report by the end of 2009”, what has caused the delay in delivering the report; and when the group is now expected to report. [HL1045]

The stakeholder working group largely completed its deliberations before the end of 2009. The group agreed that an additional meeting should be held in late January to enable members to seek and discuss any final comments from key contacts within their sectors on the package of recommendations it has developed. The group is expected to report in February.

Trees: Sudden Oak Death Syndrome

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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have commissioned research to find measures to combat phytophthora ramorum (Sudden Oak Death); and whether they have assessed its practical effect over the next decade. [HL1051]

Defra and the Forestry Commission have funded research into the diseases caused by Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae since 2002 and 2003 respectively. This has included research into managing the pathogens in woodlands, heritage gardens, heathlands and plant nurseries. A policy review and public consultation was held in 2008 on these two pathogens; this was supported by an impact assessment of the policy and management options, and by pest risk analyses. It concluded that increased effort was required to protect woodlands, heathlands, heritage gardens, and nurseries, thereby reducing impacts on the environment and rural economies.

As a result, a new five-year disease management programme was established on 1 April 2009, led by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera). The programme includes three elements: disease control; awareness and behavioural change; and research. The research (£1,500,000 over five years) will directly support the other elements of the programme, especially disease control. A mid-term review of progress on all elements of the programme will be carried out in 2012 and again in 2014.

Visas

Question

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To ask Her Majesty's Government how many student visa applications have been (a) received, and (b) granted, in each year since 1997, broken down by country of origin. [HL421]

Tables have been placed in the Library showing, for each nationality, the number of (a) student visa applications received and (b) student visas issued in each of the financial years from 2004-05 to 2008-09. This information is not available for previous years.

Waterways

Question

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To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 7 December 2009 (WA 104), whether any assessment has been made of the prospects of disposing of substantial assets of British Waterways; and, if so, whether the results of such an assessment will be made available for public comment. [HL1167]

The Government's position on British Waterways’ (BW) non-operational property assets is set out in the Government's asset portfolio. This was published on 7 December 2009 alongside the Smarter Government White Paper. The Government currently have no plans to dispose of BWs' non-operational assets. However, the Government recognise that there may be benefits in considering alternative structures for BWs' business as a whole, including its property portfolio, such as mutual or third sector structures. Under any scenario, ensuring the continued maintenance and protection of the waterways will continue to be an important objective for the Government.