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Written Answers

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 30 March 2010

Written Answers

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Armed Forces: Reserve Forces

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the members of Her Majesty's reserve forces they estimate they have up to date addresses for. [HL2728]

Members of the volunteer reserve forces are able to maintain their details on the joint personnel administration (JPA) system or through unit administration staff. It is the responsibility of the individual reservist to ensure their personal details are up to date.

Members of the regular reserve, which consists of some 43,600 former members of the regular forces who have a liability for mobilisation, are required under service regulations to inform the Ministry of Defence of any changes in personal details, such as name, address or next of kin. The employment termination process allows the address to be stored on JPA. In addition, the Army and the Royal Navy use an annual reporting letter as a method of updating regular reservists contact details held on JPA. The RAF discontinued the annual reporting letter in 1999 which had no effect on its ability to mobilise the required number of reservists for operations in Iraq in 2003.

Civil Service: Redundancy

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Statement by Baroness Crawley on 3 February (WS 9–10), what are the proposed arrangements for civil servants made compulsorily redundant when (a) aged under 50, and (b) aged over 50, in terms of any enhancement of pension and lump sum and the first date of payment of pension. [HL3066]

The service-related lump sum redundancy payments under the new arrangements described in my Statement are payable irrespective of whether civil servants are under or over the age of 50 when they are made compulsorily redundant. There is no enhancement to pension (and associated lump sum), which is preserved for payment at normal pension age. Where civil servants wish to draw pension before pension age, it is subject to actuarial adjustment; civil servants within five years of pension age who choose to use their redundancy payment to buy-out the actuarial reduction will be able to receive an unreduced pension.

Crown Prosecution Service

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Crown Prosecution Service uses the same criteria in deciding whether to prosecute for rape as for other offences. [HL3151]

When deciding whether or not to prosecute in cases of rape, the Crown Prosecution Service applies the full code test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. This consists of two stages. First, there must be sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. Secondly, a prosecution must be in the public interest.

There is no difference in the way that decisions to prosecute are made in rape cases as compared with any other case. The full code test must be met before any prosecution can be brought, regardless of the type of offence.

Department for Work and Pensions: Pilot Schemes

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what existing pilot schemes have been promoted by the Department for Work and Pensions since 2005; and when each pilot is scheduled to complete. [HL2883]

The activities of the Department for Work and Pensions cover a very wide range of programmes and services. Information on all departmental pilots since 2005 is not collated centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Information about current Jobcentre-Plus-led pilots and pathfinders is collated centrally and is set out in the table.

Jobcentre-Plus-led pilots currently in operation

Start Date

End Date

Extension of New Deal + Outside London

01/04/08

31/03/11

Extension of New Deal + Inside London

01/04/08

31/03/11

Customer Transitions Project - Enquiries Solution - Trailblazer

22/03/10

To be agreed

Fit for Work Service Pilots

01/11/09

31/03/11

Right to Bid—Letter on Demand

01/10/09

31/03/10

Right to Bid—Women Like Us

01/02/10

31/08/11

Paper Reduction Programme: E-Signing

22/03/10

18/06/10

In and Out of Work Project —extend to Employment and Support Allowance pilot (Department for Work and Pensions/HM Revenue and Customs/ Local Authorities closer working)

01/01/10

31/03/10

Revised Service Hours Pilots

24/08/09

31/10/10

Department for Work and Pensions Change Programme—Customer Transitions Project—Well Enough to Work Pilot

01/03/10

18/06/10

Extended Partnerships in Social Housing

12/10/09

30/04/11

Customer Contact Intelligence Pilot

01/02/10

31/03/10

Overpayments, Decisions, Calculations and Appeal Review

04/01/10

01/10/10

Government Departments: Consultancy Services

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much the Department of Energy and Climate Change and its agencies has spent on (a) public relations consultants, and (b) public affairs consultants, since its inception; and for what purposes. [HL2497]

Between September 2008 and March 2009, DECC spent approximately £119,000 through public relations agencies on COI's rosters. In 2009-10, DECC has been invoiced to spend a total of approximately £90,000 on public relations. These figures include all PR expenditure incurred by the department on the Act On CO2 campaign, including media relations activity and PR for roadshows.

The Energy Saving Trust has hired the services of communication agencies to support the in-house communications team in reaching consumers across the UK. The Carbon Trust employs public relations consultants and public affairs consultants to enable it to deliver its mission of accelerating the move to a low-carbon economy by helping organisations to cut their emissions now and by developing the low carbon technologies, businesses and markets which will deliver emission reductions in future.

As private companies limited by guarantee, the details of how much the Carbon Trust and the Energy Saving Trust have spent on these purposes are a matter for their boards. The Energy Saving Trust has hired the services of communication agencies to support the in-house communications team in reaching consumers across the UK.

The Carbon Trust employs public relations consultants and public affairs consultants to enable it to deliver its mission of accelerating the move to a low-carbon economy by helping organisations to cut their emissions now and by developing the low carbon technologies, businesses and markets which will deliver emission reductions in future.

As private companies limited by guarantee, the details of how much the Carbon Trust and the Energy Saving Trust have spent on these purposes are a matter for their boards.

Government Departments: Staff

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they require departments to fill appropriate vacancies by drawing on their redeployment pool first, then on other departments' pools. [HL3064]

Departments, agencies and relevant NDPBs are required to follow the Cabinet Office protocols on handling surplus staff situations. Employers unable to fill a vacancy internally (including consideration of their own surplus employees) must advertise the vacancy exclusively, for a minimum period of 10 working days, to the wider community of surplus civil servant/NDPB employees using the CSVacs vacancy handling system.

The protocols were agreed by the Cabinet Office and the general secretaries of the CCSU and endorsed by Permanent Secretaries, the Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Office Ministers. Only in exceptional circumstances are departments granted dispensation to bypass the CSVacs process.

India: Orissa

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the pilot project to improve justice in Orissa state, mentioned on page 22 of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Annual Report on Human Rights 2009. [HL3032]

This pilot project is due to run until 31 March 2010. We will then assess its impact and consider appropriate follow-up action. We will also continue to monitor progress on delivery of access to justice for the victims of violence in Orissa.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they will offer to the Government of India to foster community reconciliation in the aftermath of communal violence in Orissa state, India. [HL3033]

The EU delegation identified cross-community peace-building initiatives and improving the capacity of victims’ lawyers as important areas to address on the visit to Orissa from 2 to 5 February. The delegation, in which a member of our high commission participated, has reported the outcomes and recommendations arising from its visit to the EU which will now consider follow up. This issue was also raised with the Indian Government during discussions at the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue meeting on 25 March 2010.

The Government have also provided assistance to the Indian authorities to help address some of the underlying issues that contributed to the violence in 2008. The Department for International Development has allocated £10 million for community development in four districts of Orissa, including Kandhamal. These funds will help to increase incomes, reduce malnutrition and improve water and sanitation for more than 375,000 tribal men and women.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will encourage European Union partners to raise the issue of communal violence and its aftermath, including the anti-Christian attacks in Orissa in 2008, during the European Union–India human rights dialogue. [HL3037]

The issue of communal violence and its aftermath, including the attacks against Christians in Orissa in 2008, was discussed with the Indian Government at the EU-India Human Rights Dialogue meetings in February 2009 and March 2010.

India: Religion

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the government of India about implementing the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in May 2007. [HL3030]

Progress on human rights issues, including the UN conventions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of May 2007 to which India is signatory, were discussed at the most recent EU-India Human Rights Dialogue meeting on 25 March as part of our ongoing dialogue with India. The existing UN processes, including the Universal Periodic Review, consider progress on human rights issues including UN recommendations and commitments.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of India about implementing the recommendations in the report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief following her mission to India, released on 26 January 2009. [HL3031]

The recommendations in the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief's report of 26 January 2009 were discussed during the most recent EU-India Human Rights Dialogue on 25 March 2010. We will continue to raise the issue of minority rights, including the right to freedom of religion and belief, with the appropriate Indian authorities as part of the ongoing EU-India Human Rights Dialogue. The existing UN processes, including the Universal Periodic Review, consider progress on human rights issues including UN recommendations and commitments.

Iran

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ask the Government of Iran for clemency in the case of Miss Zaynab Jalalian, sentenced to death in Kermanshah for being “an enemy of God”. [HL3045]

We are committed to making frequent representations to the Iranian authorities about their use of the death penalty. Our long-standing opposition to capital punishment, in all its forms and under all circumstances, is clear. We use every appropriate opportunity to raise these concerns with the Iranian authorities bilaterally and through the EU, calling on Iran to end its application of the death penalty. We did so on over 70 separate occasions last year, and will continue to do so.

On 20 November, the EU presidency summoned the Iranian ambassador in Stockholm to condemn a spate of executions, and plead for clemency in the case of 13 others of Kurdish origin, including Miss Jalaliyan, facing the same fate. The presidency noted there was credible information to suggest that the sentences appeared to be politically motivated. On 20 January, my honourable friend Ivan Lewis raised the cases directly with the Iranian ambassador, expressing concern at reports that they faced imminent execution. Mr Lewis reiterated our long-held concerns about the trials not meeting international standards, and urged the Iranian Government to show clemency.

Nuclear Weapons

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the status of weapons containing white phosphorus, tungsten shrapnel or flechettes under international law; and whether their use in densely populated civilian areas is prohibited. [HL2992]

White phosphorous, tungsten shrapnel and flechettes are not prohibited under international law when used appropriately. However, Protocol III of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons prohibits or restricts the use of incendiary weapons against civilian populations and the use of air-delivered incendiary weapons against military objectives located in areas where there is a concentration of civilians, for those countries (including the UK) who are signatories to the protocol.

Pensions: NEST

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much is expected to be loaned to the National Employment Savings Trust in each of the years 2010–11 to 2014–15; when it is expected that the loans will be repaid; and what rates of interest will be charged. [HL2933]

My department continues to work with the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority to refine cost estimates for NEST, which will ultimately depend on a number of factors including the size and nature of its membership, and the outcomes of a number of outstanding procurements.

However, based on our current estimates, we envisage that the loans made to the NEST Corporation each year will be of the order of:

Year

2010/11*

£90-95m

2011/12

£65-70m

2012/13

£80-90m

2013/14

£85-100m

2014/15

£90-110m

* Amounts for 2010/11 include amounts lent to PADA in 2010/11 prior to NEST Corporation being established

The period in which the loan to NEST Corporation will be repaid will also depend on a variety of factors, including the final costs of NEST and the size and nature of its membership. We anticipate that the total loan period, including the years in which NEST borrows from Government and the subsequent repayments, will last in the region of 20 years.

The terms and conditions of the loan agreement between my department and the NEST Corporation will not be finalised until after the NEST Corporation has been established. We anticipate, however, that the loan will be given at a commercial rate of interest in accordance with government-lending rules and that, in recognition of the extra costs NEST faces in fulfilling its public service obligation to accept all those employers who wish to use the scheme, NEST will be provided with interest relief to reduce the finance costs its members will bear to the Government's own cost of borrowing.

Ports and Harbours

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to limit the financial support available to assist employee share ownership schemes in preparing any bid under proposals by the private sector under the Ports Act 1991. [HL3170]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will support the Dover Harbour Board's intention to establish a community fund by allowing the proposed Port of Dover Community Trust to receive a percentage of the proceeds of any sale of the assets of the Dover Harbour Board. [HL3171]

I will take full account of the representations received, including any on employee share ownership or the proposed Port of Dover Community Trust, before considering whether or not to approve the transfer scheme put forward by Dover Harbour Board. The statutory period for representations ended on 25 March 2010.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether proposals by trust ports defined as public corporations to sell their undertakings will be subject to the same conditions as apply to all public corporations. [HL3172]

Any proposals by trust ports to sell their undertakings would be carried out in accordance with the Ports Act 1991.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, before issuing guidance on the procedure for selling trust ports, they considered classifying the revenue and assets of trust ports defined as public corporations in accordance with guidance notes published by the Office for National Statistics. [HL3173]

Classification of expenditure was not considered a relevant matter for inclusion in the department’s guidance on the sale of trust ports.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the six trust ports in England and Wales defined as public corporations are included in the Department for Transport's resource accounts.[HL3174]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, David Jamieson, on 13 July 2004 (HC Deb, col 1018W), what are the latest figures for the net worth of the six trust ports in England and Wales defined as public corporations. [HL3175]

The latest published accounts we have received from the major trust ports defined as public corporations show on the balance sheets values of net assets of each port as follows:

£ million

Port of London

54.8

Port of Tyne

136.7

Shoreham Port

22.4

Milford Haven Port Authority

50.4

Harwich Haven Authority

43.9

Port of Poole

12.6

Port of Dover

160.3

All account information is at 31 December 2008 except Poole which is as at 31 March 2009.

Public Bodies: Websites

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many websites of central public bodies were found to be in operation by the Central Office of Information in its departmental websites reviews. [HL2624]

Public Libraries: Internet

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in the light of the figures provided in the analysis of the People's Network in the recent Policy Statement on the Modernisation Review of Public Libraries, what information is available on the numbers of visits made to public libraries to use the internet in each year since 2003. [HL3127]

The three-yearly public library user survey found that 25 per cent of library users surveyed in 2006-07 intended to use a computer during their visit to the library.

In December 2009, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned Ipsos MORI to carry out research into public library usage. This involved face-to-face surveys with a representative sample of 5,000 people aged 15-plus in England. This omnibus survey found that 16 per cent of library users had used a library computer when visiting the library. From 2011, the omnibus survey questions on use of library computers will be included in the DCMS Taking Part survey.

DCMS does not hold centrally the number of visits made to public libraries to use the internet in each year since 2003.

State Pension: Weekly Age Addition

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the additional State Pension for those over 80 years old; when that sum was fixed; and what is its purpose. [HL3152]

The weekly age addition for those getting the state pension at the age of 80 and over is worth 25p. When it was introduced in 1971 it was intended to recognise, albeit in a small way, the special claims of very elderly people who on the whole need help rather more than others.

Unemployment

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which agencies in the north east of England receive funding for providing training for young people not in education, employment or training; and how much each agency received in 2009. [HL2748]

In 2009-10, the DWP allocated £36 million in the north-east region to provide employment-related support delivered through contracts with training providers. Through the DWP's Executive Agency—Jobcentre Plus—eligible customers, including young people not in education, employment or training, are referred to these training providers for help with securing employment. Additionally a range of measures has been introduced in response to the recession such as the Young Person's Guarantee. This includes £1.4 million contracted through the Learning and Skills Council for 2009-10 with three training providers in the north-east. It is not possible to disaggregate any of this spend to young people not in education, employment or training.

In 2009-10, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) made £360 million available to the Learning and Skills Council in the north-east to provide education and work-based learning for 16 to 19 year-olds. This funding is not specifically for those not in education, employment or training, but provides for any 16 to 19 year-old who wishes to follow these learning routes. In addition, a further £1.8 million has been provided to meet the January guarantee of an offer of an Entry to Employment place for 16 and 17 year-olds who were not in education, employment or training in January 2010.

Through DCSF and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the National Apprenticeship Service allocated £64 million in 2009-10 to training providers contracted in the north-east region to supply apprenticeship training to young people aged 16 to 25, of which £47 million was for those aged 16 to 18. Again it is not possible to identify the proportion of this funding that went towards supporting young people not in education, employment or training.