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Written Answers

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 6 April 2010

Written Answers

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Agriculture: Genetically Modified Crops

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 10 March (WA 61-2), where all experimental data sets contained in applications to market genetically modified food or feed products are publicly available; and what steps they take to ensure that those data sets are available for independent peer review. [HL2863]

Summaries of applications to market genetically modified food or feed are available on the website of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In addition, the public can request access from EFSA to all the information contained in applications. Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2003 requires these to be made publicly available, apart from certain information that meets defined criteria for confidentiality.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many trials of genetically modified crops were undertaken in England in each year from 2002 to 2009; how many were completed; and what evaluations were carried out on them. [HL3012]

The information requested on the number of genetically modified (GM) crop trials planted and completed from 2002 is given below:

Year

No. of trials planted

No. of trials completed

2002

109

95

2003

8

5

2004

1

1

2005

0

0

2006

0

0

2007

1

1

2008

2

1

2009

1

1

Of the trials planted in 2002, 87 were for the government-sponsored Farm Scale Evaluations research project. This studied the impact on farmland biodiversity of the novel herbicide use associated with GM herbicide-tolerant maize, beet and oilseed rape. The results showed that the herbicide regimes applied in the trials for the GM beet and oilseed rape crops had a negative effect on wildlife compared to the herbicide regimes for the equivalent conventional crops, whereas the results for the GM maize were better than those for its non-GM counterpart.

Nine of the trials planted in 2002 and one of those planted in 2003 were conducted as part of the national list process for the marketing of new seed varieties. Under this statutory process, overseen in England by the Food and Environment Research Agency, varieties are trialled to assess whether they are distinct, uniform and stable, and whether they are an improvement over existing varieties. Only those that meet the required criteria are entered on the national list of approved varieties. As most of the GM-related national list trials in 2002 and 2003 were not completed, no evaluation was made of the outcome.

All of the other trials planted from 2002 to 2009 were undertaken by companies or academic research institutes for their own purposes. Defra has not evaluated the results of these trials. As the regulatory authority, Defra's role was to ensure that these trials were conducted in accordance with the relevant statutory conditions, and formal inspection visits were made for this purpose.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are proposed for disposing of waste products after starch extraction from Amflora potatoes; and, if they are to be processed into animal feeds, whether they will be (a) labelled, and (b) studied for possible adverse effects. [HL3088]

Specific measures are not required for disposing of the residue from these genetically modified (GM) potatoes after starch extraction. The use of the residue for animal feed has been authorised in the European Union (EU) after a robust safety assessment. Feed derived from the potatoes would have to be clearly labelled to indicate its GM origin. The consent holder, BASF Plant Science GmbH, is required to undertake monitoring for possible adverse effects and provide annual reports on this to the Commission. The Amflora GM starch potato will not be marketed or grown in the UK. We do not have a potato starch processing industry or possess an EU quota for the production of starch potatoes.

Agriculture: Maps

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many farmers have had their landholding reduced after having been sent a final map by the Rural Payments Agency. [HL3008]

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) does not record information on the number of farmers who have had their landholding reduced or increased after having been sent a final map in a form that is readily accessible.

There are reasons why landholdings may be reduced following receipt of final maps. These include findings from inspections and changes the farmer asks to be made.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of (a) landholdings, and (b) the area covered by the mapping scheme, had been notified by the Rural Payments Agency to landholders by the end of February. [HL3009]

The Rural Payments Agency has been updating the rural land register and as part of this mapping update project had sent a new set of maps to 102,455 customers by the end of February 2010. This equates to 94.6 per cent of customers and 94.4 per cent of the area registered.

Some 5,767 holdings were treated differently and did not receive initial maps because they were subject to remote sensing or a physical inspection for the 2009 single payment scheme. They will receive their updated maps after the end of February once all inspection findings have been taken into account.

Anguilla

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the outcome of their recent discussions with the Chief Minister of Anguilla. [HL3169]

The Chief Minister, Mr Hubert Hughes, and a delegation visited London on 18 March and held meetings with the Minister for the Overseas Territories and with the Director for the Overseas Territories at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Those meetings focused on the difficult economic challenges that Anguilla faces in addressing a sizeable budget deficit and on the commitment of the new Government of Anguilla to tackle crime and corruption. The Chief Minister sought advice and assistance in tackling these issues. The Minister and the director committed to working in partnership with the Government of Anguilla on these and other issues.

Animal Health: Exotic Diseases

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government who will take the lead in the event of an outbreak of exotic disease under their proposals for sharing costs and responsibility for animal health and welfare. [HL3089]

Under the responsibility and cost-sharing proposals, the board and its chair will be responsible for day-to-day decisions on animal disease control measures in the event of a disease outbreak in England. The board will take decisions on the advice of the England CVO, in consultation with the CVO (UK), core stakeholders, and the devolved Administrations, as well as other appropriate parts of government. The England CVO will lead the immediate response. The chair and board will keep Ministers and the wider government informed as necessary.

Armed Forces: Afghanistan

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the approaches of the Governments of the United States and Argentina towards British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, they will reduce the number of British troops in Afghanistan. [HL2941]

Afghanistan remains the Ministry of Defence’s main effort and we keep our force levels under constant review to ensure that commanders have the capabilities that they need to complete the tasks that we ask of them.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Taylor of Bolton on 16 March (WA 147), whether the Ministry of Defence received representatives of the aid agencies on 26 January when they expressed concerns about the role of provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan; and, if so, when they intend to address those concerns; and how. [HL3183]

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was represented at an outreach event for civil society, including aid agencies, convened prior to the London conference on 26 January 2010. We understand that some aid agencies hold concerns about the role of provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) in delivering development projects.

The UK-led international PRT in Helmand delivers through personnel from the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the stabilisation unit and the MoD. It works closely with the Afghan local and provincial authorities to enable them to address the reconstruction and development needs of Helmand.

The UK continues to work closely with International Security Assistance Force, the Afghans and aid agencies to ensure that PRTs are delivering the most effective support to the Afghan Government, depending on their local situation.

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many Harrier aircraft are (a) in service with HM Armed Forces, and (b) in operational condition. [HL2944]

To ask Her Majesty's Government where the Harrier aircraft which are (a) in service with HM Armed Forces, and (b) in operational condition, are based. [HL2945]

“In service” has been taken to mean the effective fleet, which includes all aircraft barring those that are redundant, declared as surplus or awaiting disposal.

For the month of February 2010, there were a total of 72 Harriers in service, of which 46 aircraft were available to Joint Force Harrier (JFH) for tasking. The number of aircraft in the available fleet will fluctuate from day to day depending on planned maintenance or unforeseen rectification work, so the figure provided is an average rounded to the nearest aircraft. The remaining aircraft were either undergoing depth maintenance or rectification work, awaiting disposal or being used as trial aircraft.

All Harriers in the in-service fleet are based at RAF Cottesmore, Wittering and Coningsby. After a very successful five years deployed in Afghanistan providing close air support to troops on the ground and tactical surveillance/reconnaissance, JFH is now undergoing a period of regeneration to rebuild the wider skill sets not utilised in Afghanistan.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there will be a gap in capability during the transition between retiring Harrier pilots and training Joint Strike Fighter pilots. [HL2946]

The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are jointly developing a transition plan to ensure that the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) Force is manned by transferring personnel from the Joint Force Harrier (JFH), from other aircraft types and directly from initial training. This plan will ensure that both JFH and JCA are appropriately manned through this transition period.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many military exercises involving a take-off and landing from an aircraft carrier the Royal Air Force has conducted in the past four years; and using which aircraft. [HL2947]

There have been 15 military exercises in the past four years that the RAF has conducted involving take-off and landing from an aircraft carrier. The aircraft used were Harriers from the Joint Force Harrier and RAF Chinook helicopters.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of soldiers serving in the Parachute Regiment are fully qualified to conduct a static-line jump from a Hercules aircraft. [HL2948]

As at 20 March 2010, 84 per cent of officers and soldiers of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Parachute Regiment have passed the basic parachute course and are therefore qualified to conduct a static-line jump from any aircraft, including Hercules.

There will always be a number of personnel awaiting qualification given the constant output of newly trained soldiers and other factors, including the recent bad weather, which disrupted the training programme. We are confident that the trained percentage will increase over the next few months.

I am withholding the information for 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the Armed Forces.

Armed Forces: Job Cuts

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what (a) regiments, and (b) service roles, will the cut of 500 jobs from the Army be aimed at, following the announcement by the Ministry of Defence on 22 March. [HL3070]

Decisions on the particular regiments and service roles on which soldier manning control points will be focused have not yet been made, but this is not a reduction in the overall strength of the Army. It is a sensible approach to delivering the correct manning balance across the Army.

Armed Forces: Languages

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the number of Dari Persian speakers deployed to Afghanistan serving in Her Majesty's Armed Forces. [HL2997]

The military requirement for deployed Dari speakers is evolving and is under constant review, with Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) and the Defence Operational Languages Support Unit (DOLSU) working closely together to define all aspects of the language requirements.

The increased requirement is being met through language training at all levels as appropriate, and the use of previously trained personnel. Language training opportunities are widely advertised through defence internal communications channels and generate significant interest. Selection panels are held to select the strongest candidates for long language training.

As Dari is a mandated operational language, military Dari linguists with tested and current language skills are entitled to payments under the Defence Operational Languages Award Scheme (DOLAS) which has been put in place to encourage military personnel to gain, actively use and maintain language skills.

Armed Forces: Wounded Personnel

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures are in place to protect injured service personnel at Selly Oak Hospital from abuse by civilian patients and their visitors. [HL3068]

We condemn any acts of disrespect towards any patients including military and members of the United Kingdom Armed Forces in general. However, for operational security reasons, it would be inappropriate to discuss the specific details of measures currently in place to protect military patients being treated by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust at the Selly Oak and Queen Elizabeth hospitals.

Security, as at all hospitals, is kept under constant review at Selly Oak Hospital. Liaison arrangements are in place between the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, the hospital, Special Branch, and the local police.

Later this year, the new military ward will be in use at the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston. Here military patients will typically be accommodated together in four-bedded rooms, which will further reduce the risk of abuse by civilian patients or visitors. All staff are appropriately trained and briefed in how to respond to such situations.

Bangladesh

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they are making to the Government of Bangladesh and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to address humanitarian issues in the camps for Rohingya refugees on the Bangladesh-Burma border. [HL2846]

We have raised the plight of the Rohingyas and their status with the Government of Bangladesh, both bilaterally and in concert with EU partners. Most recently my right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State raised the conditions of the Rohingyas in the camps with the Minister for the Environment and Forests during a meeting in London on 17 March. Officials from the British High Commission in Dhaka, including the High Commissioner, have visited the camps for displaced Rohingyas. Officials also held discussions with representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on 15 March in Dhaka.

BBC: Public Service Broadcasting

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the BBC Trust about the relative costs to licence fee payers of (a) BBC Radio 6, (b) BBC Asian Network, (c) BBC Radio 3 (television); and what assessment they have made of the contribution each station or channel makes to the BBC's public service broadcasting responsibilities. [HL3126]

Neither I nor the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has discussed these matters with the BBC Trust.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport met the Director-General of the BBC on 8 March, at which the director-general gave him a brief summary of the BBC's strategy review, which had been published on 2 March.

The Government have made no assessment of the kind suggested by my noble friend. The BBC Trust is now conducting a public consultation on the BBC's proposed strategy. Under the terms of the Royal Charter, the BBC Trust is responsible for securing the effective promotion of the BBC's public purposes and for holding the executive board to account for its performance in delivering the corporation's services and activities.

Belfast Agreement

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 16 March (WA 151), what discussions they have had about funding to the Irish and Ulster-Scots communities since 1 January. [HL2980]

The responsibility for the promotion of the Irish language and Ulster-Scots language and culture, with the exception of broadcasting issues, is devolved.

As part of the St Andrews agreement, the Government made a commitment to work with the Executive to support their work in these areas. The Government continue to have a range of discussions on how this can be done.

British Embassies: Military Attaches

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many British embassies were without a military attaché in each year since 2005. [HL2764]

The following table shows the number of British embassies and high commissions that have been without a defence attaché/adviser since 2005; the figures include attaché representation to the United Nations HQ in New York.

04-05

05-06

06-07

07-08

08-09

09-10

Total Embassies and High Commissions

150

150

142

143

142

140

Total Defence Sections

84

85

82

81

74

69

Embassies and High Commissions without Military Attaché

66

65

60

62

68

71

In addition to the countries where we have a resident defence attaché/adviser, 73 other countries or overseas territories are covered by non-resident attachés. The MoD keeps the attaché network under review to ensure that the most effective and efficient coverage is provided for UK security interests.

Budget: Efficiency Savings

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the breakdown of the £11 billion of efficiency savings announced in the 2010 Budget to be achieved by 2012–13, detailing each item forecast to save more than £25 million. [HL3181]

Budget 2010 announced further detail of £11 billion of cross-cutting efficiency savings to be delivered by 2012-13. This includes:

£8 billion from the operational efficiency programme;

at least £500 million from reforming and rationalising arm’s-length bodies;

over £650 million from reducing departmental consultancy spend by 50 per cent and departmental marketing and communications spend by 25 per cent;

£500 million from reducing spending on IT programmes across government;

£300 million from increasing energy efficiency across the public sector;

£140 million from reducing the cost of the Senior Civil Service by 20 per cent and reducing sickness absence in the public sector, and

at least £600 million from making better use of telephony and e-channels.

Alongside the Budget, departmental press notices have broken down each department’s share towards the £11 billion and contain further details of how these savings will be delivered.

Chemicals: REACH Regulation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost of gaining authorisation of a critical substance under the European Union Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH); and whether there is a further cost on each occasion the substance is used. [HL3057]

The fees for applications for an authorisation, or a subsequent review, are set out in Commission Regulation (EC) No 340/2008 on the fees and charges payable to the European Chemicals Agency. The agency is required to be self-financing through the fees and charges made for the services it provides. There is a standard authorisation base fee of €50,000 per application for a specific use of a substance. Where more than one substance is being included in an application the additional fee is reduced to €10,000 per substance. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) attract a scale of reduced fees. There is no additional cost applying to an authorised substance on each occasion that it is used.

A further cost to industry for an authorisation will be that of gathering the necessary data on the properties of the substance to support an application. The authorisation process has not yet reached the stage where companies need to put together application dossiers so it is impossible to quantify what this cost might be for any particular company applying for an authorisation.

Children: Creches and Nurseries

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what regulations are in force for crèches and nurseries in England and Wales concerning access to open space by children. [HL2991]

In England, the Childcare (Early Years Register) Regulations 2008 require any provider caring for children aged from birth up to five to register on the early years register and deliver the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS), unless exempt. Under the framework, providers are required to provide access to outdoor play areas. Where access to outdoor play areas is not possible, outings should be planned and taken on a daily basis.

Crèches are exempt from registering on the early years register because they are designed to provide short-term care only. Therefore, there is no requirement on crèches to provide access to open space. Childcare provision in Wales is governed by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Cluster Bombs

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government following the passage of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill, when all cluster bombs will be removed from the American bases at RAF Lakenheath, RAF Welford and Diego Garcia. [HL3110]

I can confirm that the US has identified its cluster munitions on UK territory as exceeding its worldwide operational planning requirements. Therefore, these cluster munitions will be removed from sites in the UK in 2010 and from all UK territories by 2013, as announced on 8 December 2009 by Baroness Kinnock during the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill Second Reading in the House of Lords (Official Report, col. 1020).

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in which American military bases on British soil and in British overseas territories are cluster bombs held; and what verification arrangements they have made to ensure that those weapons are removed. [HL3111]

The United States stores various weapons in the UK. The US inventory of weapons is declared annually to the Ministry of Defence who ensure that all weapons are appropriately licensed and stored. It would be inappropriate to disclose the numbers, types and locations of such weapons. Therefore, I am withholding the detailed information as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and the United States.

However, I can confirm that the US has identified its cluster munitions on UK territory as exceeding its worldwide operational planning requirements. Therefore, these cluster munitions will be removed from sites in the UK in 2010 and from all UK territories by 2013, as announced on 8 December 2009 by Baroness Kinnock during the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill Second Reading in the House of Lords (Official Report, col. 1020).

Common Agricultural Policy: Single Payment Scheme

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 15 March (WA 118), what estimate the Rural Payments Agency has made of the cost to those farmers awaiting full payment of claims under the single payment scheme for 2007 and 2008 of the delay in making those payments; and whether the agency provides any funds towards those costs. [HL3090]

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is not able to estimate costs incurred by individual farmers as they vary with each business.

Where a full payment under the single payment scheme cannot be made by the end of the payment window for a particular scheme year, a substantial interim payment is made in most cases. However, that is not always possible, particularly where the reasons for delay are outside of RPA's control such as probate.

The RPA makes interest payments, above a de minimis level of £50, for any sums paid after the end of the payment window. Interest is paid at the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) plus 1 per cent, calculated from 1 July.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 15 March (WA 118), whether the 35 outstanding claims for 2007 include the 31 claims referred to in the footnote; whether the 92 claims for 2008 include the 67 claims referred to in the footnote; and, in either case, why the total for both years was given as 157. [HL3091]

In respect of the Written Answer by Lord Davies on 15 March (WA 118), the 35 outstanding single payment scheme (SPS) claims for the 2007 SPS scheme year include the 31 claims referred to in the footnote and the 92 claims for the 2008 SPS scheme year include the 67 claims referred to in the footnote.

The total of 157 was an arithmetic clerical error and should have read 127. I have requested that the Official Report be corrected.

Community Broadband Network

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Young of Norwood Green on 23 March (WA 275) concerning the funding of the community broadband network, whether they will place copies of the business cases supporting the funding in the Library of the House. [HL3130]

Council Tax

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Myners on 15 March (WA 120), whether they will publish the summary of key property types, with personal information that would contravene the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 redacted. [HL2974]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Myners on 15 March (WA 120), whether a conservatory is considered by the Valuation Office Agency when assessing the value of a dwelling for a council tax valuation or revaluation; and what estimate the agency has made of the average increase in capital value of a dwelling as a consequence of the addition of a conservatory. [HL2975]

The addition of a conservatory is likely to be value significant and would constitute a “material increase” under Section 24(10) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. As such, it would not affect a council tax band unless and until a “relevant transaction” took place (and only then if it added sufficient value to put a property into a higher band).

In the event of a revaluation, the existence of a conservatory would be taken into account, as would any other feature, positive or negative, that affects value in the market at the time.

Dwellings are valued “as a whole” and as such the value of a conservatory is not separately calculated.

Courts Service: Estates

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Statement by Lord Bach on 18 March (WS 80–81), how many magistrates' courts there were in 1997; how many there will be following the closures announced in the Statement; how many serving magistrates there were in 1997; how many there are at present; how many men and how many women magistrates there were in 1997; and what are the present numbers. [HL3114]

Up until 1 April 2005, magistrates' courts were the responsibility of locally managed magistrates' courts committees which were statutorily independent. The Ministry of Justice does not hold information on the number of magistrates' courts prior to 2005, as they were not required by statute to inform the department of closures that were not subject to an appeal under Section 56(3) of the Justices Peace Act 1997 (now repealed). Research suggests that there were 479 magistrates' courts in 1997 and 335 will remain following the closures announced in the Statement.

In 1997, there were 30,374 magistrates of which 14,516 (47.8 per cent) were female and 15,858 were male. As at 25 March 2010, there are 28,761 magistrates of which 14,633 (51 per cent) are female and 14,128 are male.

Crime: Rape

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many convictions for rape there were in each of the past five years in England and Wales; and what percentage of prosecutions for rape resulted in convictions. [HL3149]

The number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates' courts and found guilty at all courts for rape of a male and female, England and Wales 2004 to 2008 (latest available) can be viewed in the following table. The table includes conviction rate figures which are based on the proportion of defendants proceeded against who were found guilty.

Court data for 2009 are planned for publication in the autumn, 2010.

The number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates' courts, and found guilty at all courts for rapes(1) England and Wales 2004 to 2008 (3) (4) (5)

Year

Proceeded against

Found guilty

Conviction rate (%)(2)

2004

2,453

644

26

2005

2,558

694

27

2006

2,335

754

32

2007

2,138

777

36

2008

2,181

822

38

(1) Includes: Rape of a female and male (excludes attempted rape).

(2) Proportion of defendants proceeded against who were found guilty.

(3) The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

(4) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

(5) Excludes data for Cardiff magistrates' court for April, July, and August 2008.

Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services in the Ministry of Justice.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government in how many prosecutions for rape in the past five years the defence of consent was raised. [HL3150]

Rape prosecutions are a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service. However, this information is not collated centrally as no central record is maintained of defences in these cases.

Debt: Rural Areas

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government with reference to the Commission for Rural Communities' report Rural Money Matters: a support guide to rural financial inclusion, how the 24 face-to-face debt advisers funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills who work in rural areas divide their time across the country. [HL3050]

The advisers are based at specific locations in 22 citizens advice bureaux (CABx) around England, and operate from these locations across more rural parts of various counties. They typically undertake around a third of their work at outreach locations, to help reach the most financially excluded clients. The counties (and the locations in which they are based) are as follows:

No. of Advisers

Counties

Locations they are based

3

Northumberland

Berwick-upon-Tweed, Morpeth, Hexham

3

Cornwall

Penzance, Redruth, Liseard

2

Devon

Barnstaple

2

Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight

2

Cambridgeshire

Ely, Fenland

2

North Yorkshire

Hambleton, Harrogate

1

Somerset

Mendip

1

Dorset

Weymouth

1

Wiltshire

Trowbridge

1

Norfolk

Diss and Thetford

1

Lincolnshire

Boston, West Lindsey

1

Herefordshire

Hereford

1

Shropshire

Shrewsbury

1

Cumbria

Eden, Windermere

1

County Durham

Barnard Castle

1

East Yorkshire

Goole

In addition, the CABx make available a varied and wide-ranging nature of face-to-face advice provision in areas outside their fixed points of contacts so people can get help without the need for them to travel to a main CABx.

Advisers operate on different days between the main office and their outreach locations and also they work across other CABx within the same county and run outreach at local community centres, village halls, GP surgeries, schools, prisons and so on, plus arranging home visits for clients who would have difficulties in accessing a main office or outreach location (for example, people with disabilities).

Democratic Republic of Congo

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Minister for Africa, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead, raised with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo during her recent visit the treatment of "shegues" (street children in Kinshasa) who have been sent to Angenga and Buluwo prisons. [HL3107]

The UK Government are deeply concerned at the problems faced by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We have worked with REJEER, a children's rights non-governmental organisation, to fund a leaflet aimed at children to explain their rights under the 2009 Child Protection Law. We are also funding projects for improving access to primary education through the Department for International Development which will help children.

I did not raise the issue of shegues with the Government of DRC on my recent visit, but we have asked the UN for confirmation of reports that street children are being imprisoned and of the conditions in the prison, which we are waiting to receive.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to (a) the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, (b) the government of Rwanda, (c) the government of Uganda, (d) donor countries, and (e) representatives of the United Nations on allegations that the National Congress for the Defence of the People have gained further control of Congolese mines. [HL3154]

The CNDP is no longer active as a militia group. Ex-CNDP elements integrated into the Congolese army (FARDC) are still in control of some mines in the east. I spoke to PM Muzito and reiterated the need to reform the mineral sector when I visited the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in February.

The Government, through DfID, have been working with the international community (World Bank, EC, IMF and UNDP), to increase transparency in the DRC. We are supporting government institutions to develop a more efficient and transparent public financial management system and are working to improve the quality of government audit and budgeting processes.

The UK has not lobbied the Governments of Rwanda and Uganda on the issue of ex-CNDP elements of FARDC controlling Congolese mines.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to (a) the government of Rwanda, and (b) the African Union, and through the European Union and the United Nations, on the extradition of Laurent Nkunda to the Democratic Republic of Congo to face trial for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Kivus. [HL3194]

We have made no representations to the Governments of Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as to how they should handle this issue, nor have we discussed the case in the fora of the African Union, EU or UN. We understand that detailed bilateral discussions, on a political and legal level, are under way between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on the case of Laurent Nkunda to establish whether the legal problems in extradition, including the DRC’s retention of the death penalty, can be overcome. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Disabled People: Mobility Scooters

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken to implement the recommendations of Carriage of Mobility Scooters on Public Transport—Feasibility Study, published by the Department for Transport in 2006, to “widen the definition of the reference wheelchair to include ‘mobility aids'”, to issue guidance on which mobility scooters are suitable for use on public transport, and to ensure that operators should be required to transport such scooters. [HL3211]

To ask Her Majesty's Government when guidelines will be made available to all local bus operators regarding the use of wheelchairs and mobility scooters on their services; and how passengers will be made aware of any specifications with which their mobility scooters must comply. [HL3212]

The feasibility study identified areas where further work is required in order that firm policy and guidance be formulated. The study suggested that smaller and lighter mobility scooters (“class 2” devices) equipped with dry cell or gel batteries could be safely carried on public transport in the right circumstances. The Department for Transport continues to keep this matter under review.

Guidance for users of public transport services Get wise to using public transport has been published by the British Healthcare Trades Association in conjunction with the Department for Transport, and can be found at:

www.dft.gov.uk/transportforyou/access/tipws/getwheelchairwise/getwheelchairwiseawheelchair6l66.

The guidance highlights that it may be possible for class 2 scooters to be carried but that it is a decision for the individual operator as to whether they carry mobility scooters on their services, given that the design of individual buses and levels of occupancy may impinge on what is practicable in different places.

The department has also published guidance about using buses and coaches in the form of frequently asked questions for disabled passengers, which is on the department's website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/transportforyou/access/buses/frequentlyaskedquestions?page=2.

Drugs: Heroin

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the economic and social effects in Switzerland of making heroin legally available for addicts under medical supervision in the health service; and whether they plan to introduce a similar scheme under the National Health Service. [HL3056]

An expert group convened by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse to consider the issues in relation to injectable opioid treatment heard evidence from the Swiss experience of supervised consumption of prescribed heroin, presented by one of the Swiss researchers.

The department is providing funding for a randomised injectable opiate treatment trial (RIOTT), in line with the Government's Drug Strategy 2008 commitment to explore pilots of injectable heroin in controlled, clinical settings.

RIOTT is a United Kingdom study exploring the role of prescribed injectable diamorphine (pharmaceutical heroin) and injectable methadone in a number of supervised clinic settings for the treatment of opiate misusers who have not responded to other types of treatment.

Initial results were announced at a conference on 15 September 2009 and the results are due to be published in a medical journal shortly.

The department will consider the evaluation of the trial before any future decisions on the issue are taken.

Elections: Armed Forces

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (a) British Armed Forces personnel, and (b) British Armed Forces personnel deployed to Afghanistan, are registered to vote; and what action they are taking to increase those numbers before the next election. [HL3069]

The latest report of the survey on service voter registration was conducted by Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) in November 2008 and a copy of the survey is available in the Library of the House. The figures from the DASA Service voters survey for 2009 are currently being compiled.

The Armed Forces are currently running an additional information campaign encouraging all service personnel to ensure they have registered to vote. We are targeting in particular units that are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan as well as those that will be in Afghanistan during an election period.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the activities authorised by Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority research licence R0152 include the use of donor nuclei from diabetic patients; and whether research licence R0152 specifically covers the use of donor nuclei from adults with a serious mitochondrial disease. [HL3059]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the research licence R0152 includes the derivation of stem cell lines from embryos created by cell nuclear replacement using nuclei taken from a patient with type 1 diabetes. The licence was authorised by the HFEA licence committee, 16 March 2005.

The HFEA has advised that R0152 does not specifically cover the use of donor nuclei from adults with a serious mitochondrial disease.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why the most recent progress report for Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority licence R0145 (pertaining to an inspection on 15 May 2008) made no reference to mitochondria; why it stated on page 4 that there were no proposed licence variations; when the lay summary for licence R0145 was revised to “also study the mitochondria”; whether the centre had requested to incorporate any new activities in that licence between 15 May 2008 and 28 September 2009; and how the three lay summaries on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's website constitutes consolidation of project aims. [HL3062]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that a progress report on research project R0145 received from the licensed centre in April 2009 informed the HFEA of a change to the project's objectives: determining how mitochondrial DNA mutations segregate between blastomeres and the derivation of human embryonic stem cell lines from embryos donated by couples in which the female partner carried mitochondrial mutations. The HFEA advises that the updated objectives did not change the licensed activities of the research project, and that the project continued to meet the statutory tests for the grant of a licence.

Following receipt of a renewal application in July 2009, the lay summary for R0145 was revised to reflect the change of objective, by adding the phrase “also study the mitochondria”. A consolidated lay summary is on the HFEA website at www. hfea.gov.uk

The centre did not request the incorporation of new activities to licence R0145 between 15 May 2008 and 28 September 2009.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the remarks by the then Minister of State at the Department of Health, Dawn Primarolo, on 22 October 2008 (Official Report, Commons, col. 387), which scientific authorities indicated that the nucleus in a cell should be considered to be cytoplasm; how restricting regulating powers to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial diseases via the cytoplasm would not necessarily exclude transmission via the cell's nucleus; and whether cloning involves the transfer of a nucleus rather than the cytoplasm. [HL3061]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the remarks by the then Minister of State at the Department of Health, Dawn Primarolo, in the Public Bill Committee on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill on 3 June 2008 (col. 28), whether it remains their intention to ban any alteration to nuclear DNA being permitted under regulations; whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 provides a regulation-making power for embryos to be used in treatment if they have been processed in a manner allowing the avoidance of serious mitochondrial diseases; and how the definition of such treatments precludes the transfer of an adult somatic cell nucleus into an enucleated egg. [HL3063]

The remarks made by the then Minister for State on 22 October 2008 (Official Report, Commons, col. 387) were a response to an amendment tabled to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. The proposed amendment was to a provision intended to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial diseases. The point being made by the Minister was that the proposed amendment could introduce uncertainty around definitions of cell structures, and could therefore potentially render the provision ineffective. The Minister asked that the amendment be withdrawn, which it was.

The Government, and Parliament, have made it clear that they are not prepared to countenance human reproductive cloning. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) does so by prohibiting the placing in a woman of an embryo, egg or sperm that has had its nuclear or mitochondrial DNA altered.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) contains a regulation-making power to allow the use of embryos in treatment which have had applied to them a prescribed process designed for the very specific purpose of preventing the transfer of serious mitochondrial disease. It is not clear precisely what that process might be. Before any regulations concerning this were made there would be a full public consultation and debates in both Houses of Parliament.

Energy: Microgeneration

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the value for money for the public purse of the £8.6 billion estimated cost of the feed-in tariff scheme. [HL3164]

The FITs scheme is intended to encourage deployment of additional small-scale, low-carbon electricity generation, particularly by individuals, householders, organisations, businesses and communities who have not traditionally engaged in the electricity market. For these investors, delivering a mechanism which is easier to understand and more predictable than the renewables obligation, as well as delivering additional support required to incentivise smaller scale and more expensive technologies, were the main drivers behind the development of this policy.

The feed-in tariff impact assessment, published on 1 February alongside the Government’s response to the summer 2009 consultation, reported on the benefits and value-for-money case for the scheme. The document is available on the DECC website at www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/elec_financial/elec_financial.aspx.

The estimated resource cost of the policy, cumulative to 2030, is £8.6 billion. Resource costs are the additional costs to society as a whole of the policy—that is to say the additional cost of renewable generation incentivised by FITs relative to conventional generation (assumed to be gas CCGT). Costs to consumers on the other hand are the costs ultimately assumed to be borne by electricity consumers given that FITs will be funded by a levy placed on electricity suppliers. The estimated cost to consumers, cumulative to 2030, is £6.7 billion.

Energy: Wind Turbines

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether Teesside has been listed as a potential location for the Mitsubishi wind turbine investment in the United Kingdom. [HL3119]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what sites in the United Kingdom they recommended to GE and Siemens as potential locations for wind turbine manufacture. [HL3121]

EU: Border Surveillance

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the use of pilotless drones and other unmanned air vehicles for European Union border surveillance; and what is their assessment of any implications for asylum seekers having their applications assessed in Europe. [HL2949]

The UK has followed the development of unmanned aerial vehicles with interest. We continue to examine their potential for deployment to detect and deter unauthorised crossing of EU land and sea borders. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles for this purpose is being researched by the EU.

Improvements in EU border security are intended to deter illegal migrants from entering the EU, not to prevent genuine asylum seekers from receiving protection. EU member states are signatories of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the principles of granting protection to those in genuine need are enshrined in EU law.

EU: External Action Service

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how the proposed budget of the European External Action Service of €45 billion over seven years will be spent; what will be the heads of expenditure; and whether they have assessed any risk of the new service duplicating the functions of the existing international representatives of the European Commission. [HL3125]

The budget for the European External Action Service (EEAS), including the heads of expenditure, has not yet been agreed. A Commission proposal on the budget of the EEAS is expected once the Council has adopted the decision establishing the organisation and functioning of the EEAS. The Government consider that the EEAS administration budget should aim to be budget-neutral. In October 2009 the European Council endorsed guidelines stating that “unnecessary duplication of tasks, functions and resources with other structures should be avoided” and that the establishment of the EEAS should be guided by the “principle of cost-efficiency aiming towards budget neutrality”. EU delegations have replaced the existing network of Commission delegations around the world with staff from the Council Secretariat and member states incorporated.

EU: Financial Stability

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they will hold with Governments of the eurozone member states about financial markets' stability. [HL3017]

The Government hold regular discussions with all member states of the European Union on European economic matters, including the stability of financial markets.

Financial Institutions: Financial Stability

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that executives of financial institutions take decisions which assist long-term financial stability instead of short-term profit. [HL3015]

The Government have taken measures to ensure factors that contributed to the onset and severity of the financial crisis are not repeated.

Sir David Walker was commissioned to review corporate governance practices in the banking sector and his recommendations will be implemented throughout 2010, while the FSA remuneration code came into force on 1 January 2010 and covers the remuneration paid by large systemic banks operating in the UK. The Financial Services Bill also contains measures intended to strengthen the FSA's hand in its regulatory oversight of remuneration and provide the government with the powers necessary to make requirements for greater disclosure of pay. In addition, the Chancellor announced at Budget that the Government will consider whether institutional shareholder voting disclosure should remain voluntary or become mandatory, and that the Government will also consult on whether there are practical measures to facilitate the consent of owners to executive remuneration arrangements.

Financial Services Authority

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure the Financial Services Authority can appropriately supervise the activities of large financial groups in the stock market. [HL3019]

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is an independent non-governmental body, given statutory powers by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This statutory independence means that the Government do not have control over the day-to-day running of the organisation.

Following the internal audit report into its supervision of Northern Rock in 2008, the FSA launched the supervisory enhancement programme, fundamentally changing how it delivers supervision.

The FSA completed the supervisory enhancement programme in August 2009 and continues to enhance the processes and people needed to deliver the intensive supervisory approach required for the very largest firms.

The FSA business plan for 2010-11 states that the FSA will appoint around 260 additional staff to work on supervisory processes. These staff will be targeted on specific areas of need, in particular high-impact and systemically important firms. The FSA will also continue to develop and implement its training and competence scheme to improve the quality and consistency of firm supervision.

Fluoridation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 23 February (WA 282-3), (a) why South Central Strategic Health Authority in its 2008 public consultation document on water fluoridation stated that the 2006 osteosarcoma study by Elise Bassin “was part of a larger study [13]”, and did not state in the text (4.6) or references section (6.0) that their reference 13 was to a letter and not to a larger study; (b) whether that statement took account of good scientific practice; and (c) why the strategic health authority stated in 4.6 that the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit had completed detailed analyses of bladder cancer and osteosarcoma, when the referenced study [14] had not addressed osteosarcoma. [HL2920]

I do not consider that the strategic health authority (SHA) has been misleading. The letter cited in the consultation document refers to a larger study in which two sets of cases have been collected over the period 1993-2000. The SHA was seeking to summarise research findings in a format accessible to the public. The reference to the bladder cancer study would have informed readers of the role of the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit from where they could gave obtained the unit's osteosarcoma study to which I referred in my earlier reply.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Thornton on 23 February (WA 282-3), what further steps will be taken to assess the risks of osteosarcoma in young males who have resided in fluoridated areas, given that the 2006 study by Elise Bassin has not been refuted, and given the difficulty of analyses such as that by the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit in detecting harms among populations; and whether the proposed study by the Bone Cancer Research Trust will address that question. [HL2921]

I can confirm that the Bone Cancer Research Trust will address the question of whether there is an association between the fluoridation of drinking water and osteosarcoma. We will be examining the results of the study closely to see if there is any correlation with Dr Bassin's findings.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 20 July 2009 (WA 280), what advice if any they have received about the analysis by Dr Peter Mansfield of unpublished data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2000–2001 suggesting an overconsumption of fluoride among populations receiving fluoridated water. [HL3072]

I have been advised that only a small proportion of the adult population sampled in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey would have exceeded upper limits on fluoride consumption recommended by the European Food Safety Authority and the American Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. Birmingham has been fluoridated since the 1960s and there are areas of the United States of America that have been fluoridated since the late 1940s, but no long-term effects on health have been identified. Some ingested fluoride is taken up in the bones, but the systematic review of water fluoridation conducted by the National Health Service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination of the University of York found no association between water fluoridation and bone fracture.

Government: Law Officers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 22 February (WA 227–28) and 22 March (WA 246), whether Ministers of the Crown are entitled to seek to influence the advice given by or conduct of Law Officers of the Crown on matters of law or the public interest. [HL3100]

Government: Ministerial Visits

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 16 March (WA 163), whether they will set out the visits by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to the United States since 1 January in advance of the annual publication of foreign visits by Cabinet Ministers by the Cabinet Office. [HL2981]

The list of overseas travel by Ministers for 2009-10 will be published by the Cabinet Office as soon as possible after the end of the financial year.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times during the past four years (a) the Prime Minister, (b) the Foreign Secretary, and (c) other ministers, met (1) the President, the Prime Minister or other ministers from the Republic of Cyprus, and (2) the President, the Prime Minister or other ministers from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; and to what extent the frequency of those meetings reflects their support for both communities in Cyprus. [HL3095]

It would exceed the disproportionate cost threshold to establish exactly how many meetings had taken place over the last four years. However, the Government maintain frequent dialogue at ministerial level with the Republic of Cyprus both bilaterally and in multilateral fora such as EU meetings. The Government hold meetings with Mr Talat as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, in relation to the Cyprus problem. Most recently, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister met both leaders during their separate visits to London late last year, while my honourable friend the Minister for Europe met both leaders during his visit to the island in November 2009. The Government's continued engagement with all parties involved in the settlement process, including Greece and Turkey, reflects the UK's commitment to supporting a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus.

Haiti: Reconstruction

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made in the reconstruction of Haiti; and what contribution they are making towards it. [HL2950]

International agencies in Haiti continue to provide humanitarian relief. The UK has significantly supported this, including by sending a UK search and rescue team and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship, which has delivered equipment, vehicles and other food and non-food items. The UK has provided £20 million for humanitarian support and a UK team remains in Port-au-Prince to oversee delivery of this aid, which has already helped to support more than 380,000 people.

In anticipation of the reconstruction of Haiti, the UK: provided a humanitarian expert for the team that has produced a draft post-disaster needs assessment; has earmarked a further £2 million for future disaster risk reduction interventions; and, through the Stabilisation Unit, is assisting the Haitian Ministry of Justice to reconstruct three prisons. Several multilateral organisations have already announced support to Haiti’s reconstruction. This includes €200 million from the European Commission, $100 million from the World Bank and $120 million from the Inter-American Development Bank. The UK’s share of the reconstruction funding announced by these organisations amounts to approximately $50 million.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements are in place for co-ordinating international assistance in the regeneration of Haiti; and what is the role of the United Nations and non-governmental organisations in that. [HL2952]

The Government of Haiti will lead the co-ordination of international assistance for reconstruction after the earthquake. We expect the Government to be supported in this co-ordination effort by the UN, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Other donors, agencies and NGOs will contribute to reconstruction under the co-ordination of the Government. The reconstruction conference on 31 March is expected to set out how this co-ordination will be organised.

Health: Cancer

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to improve the intra-operative radiation therapy services available to those diagnosed with breast cancer. [HL3201]

We are currently funding a trial to compare targeted intra-operative radiotherapy with conventional post-operative radiotherapy for women with early breast cancer through the National Institute for Health Research.

The TARGIT trial, as it is known, began on 1 September 2009 and is due for completion on 29 February 2012.

Health: Contaminated Blood Products

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many cases of transfusion-transmitted infections have been reported in each year since the inception of the United Kingdom Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT) haemovigilance programme in 2006; what were the infectious organisms; and how many fatalities have occurred. [HL3085]

Reports of suspected transfusion-transmitted infections are made to both the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT)/Health Protection Agency (HPA) Epidemiology Unit and to the Serious Hazards of Transfusion (SHOT) scheme. Data are collated by the NHSBT/HPA Epidemiology Unit.

The following table shows all transfusion-transmitted infections reported to either or both schemes between October 1996 (the inception of the SHOT scheme) and December 2009. Data to 2008 are also available in the SHOT Report 2008, published at www.shotuk.org.

The SHOT Report for 2009 will be published in July 2010.

Number of transfusion-transmitted infections reported to the NHSBT/HPA Epidemiology Unit and/or SHOT, by year of report and infection, October 1996 to December 2009. The total number of infected recipients is shown, with the number of those recipients having died shown in brackets.

Infection

1996-97

1997-98

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Total

Bacteria

3

1(1)

6(2)

5(2)

4(1)

5

3(1)

2

2(1)

3

6(2)

3(1)

43(11)

Hepatitis A

1

1

1

3

Hepatitis B

1

2

2

2

1

2

1

11

Hepatitis C

1

1

2

Hepatitis E

1

1

HIV1

3

1

4

HTLV2

1

1

2

Malaria

1 (1)

1

1(1)

Prion3

1

1

vCJD

1(1)

1(1)

1(1)

3(3)

Total

10 (1)

3(1)

9(2)

7(2)

6(1)

6

9(2)

2

5(1)

3(2)

3

6(2)

3(1)

72(15)

Notes:

1 Human immunodeficiency virus

2 Human T-lymphotropic virus

3 Evidence of prion infection found at autopsy, death was from an unrelated cause.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they have taken to prevent transfusion-transmitted infections; and what consideration is given to emerging pathogens and those whose range will be extended by climate change. [HL3086]

All blood establishments must comply with the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations (2005), as amended. The principal measure to protect patients against transfusion-transmitted infections is the careful selection of blood donors, supplemented by methods to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination during the collection of blood, and specific testing for evidence of infections which can be transmitted by blood.

The UK blood services are advised on the risks to the United Kingdom blood supply from outbreaks of infection and emerging infections both within and outside the UK by a specialist committee, the Standing Advisory Committee on Transfusion Transmitted Infection (SACTTI). SACTTI has well established national and international links with other blood services and with communicable disease organisations such as the Health Protection Agency.

A list of general blood safety measures can be found on the website for the Joint Professional Advisory Committee to the United Kingdom Blood Transfusion Services at www.transfusionguidelines.org.uk/index.aspx? Publication=DL&Section=12&pageid=389.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of the Department of Health memoranda from 1985 about patients with haemophilia who contracted HIV and hepatitis C from blood transfusions, as reported in the Guardian on 23 March. [HL3098]

The three documents quoted in the Guardian article of 23 March 2010 are publicly available on the Department's website at:

www.dh.gov.uk/en/Freedomofinformation/Freedomofinformationpublicationschemefeedback/FOIreleases/DH_076693

They can be found in the file marked “Vol.79 June 1978—February 1996”. The department is committed to releasing all relevant documents held from the period 1970 to 1985. Over 5,500 documents have been placed on the department’s website since 2006.

Health: Diabetes

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how many (a) adults, and (b) children, in the United Kingdom have type 1 diabetes. [HL2884]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of people in England who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year compared with (a) Scotland, and (b) Wales. [HL2885]

We have not undertaken a formal assessment of the number of adults and children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Data from the quality and outcomes framework (QOF) show that that number of people with diabetes has increased annually. However, it is not possible from the QOF data to differentiate between people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

QOF—Number of patients with a recorded diagnosis of diabetes

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

1,766,391

1,890,663

1,961,976

2,088,335

2,213,138

The diabetes register only includes patients aged 17 years and over, as the care of children with diabetes is generally under the control of specialists. Data from Growing Up with Diabetes: Children and Young People with Diabetes in England reported that in February 2009 there were 22,947 children and young people with diabetes. Of this number, 20,488 were classified as having type 1 diabetes.

Without exact data on the number of people with type 1 diabetes, we are not able to make direct comparisons with other countries.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the cost to the National Health Service of treating type 1 diabetes and its effects. [HL2886]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the lifetime cost of medical treatment for a patient with type 1 diabetes. [HL2887]

We have not undertaken either a formal assessment of the costs of treating people with type 1 diabetes, or estimated the lifetime costs of treating a person with type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes is a complex lifelong condition that can affect every part of the body, and there are a number of associated complications with the condition; this makes it difficult to calculate the exact cost to the National Health Service.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people with type 1 diabetes who use insulin pump therapy are offered access to a dose adjustment for normal eating (DAFNE) course or an equivalent course. [HL2931]

There are no data held centrally about how many people with type 1 diabetes who use an insulin pump have attended a dose adjustment for normal eating (DAFNE) course or such equivalent.

Patient education is an essential part of diabetes care and many diabetes services commission or run courses to educate patients about type 1 diabetes.

The DAFNE course is designed to educate patients (usually over the age of 17) with type 1 diabetes to help them manage their multi-injection therapy, the most common treatment for type 1 diabetes. The DAFNE course is not designed specifically for people with insulin pumps. However, centres that provide DAFNE would advise that all potential pump users attend a DAFNE course before commencing pump therapy.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many working days have been lost due to diabetes and its effects in each of the past five years. [HL3020]

There are no data collected centrally about how many working days have been lost due to diabetes and its effects in each of the past five years.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the cost of diabetes and its effects. [HL3021]

Diabetes is a complex lifelong condition that can affect every part of the body. There are a number of associated complications with the condition which makes it difficult to calculate the exact total cost to the National Health Service.

The department's programme budget figures indicate £1.26 billion of departmental gross expenditure in England in 2008-09 was spent on diabetes. This figure does not include spending on prevention or on general medical services or primary medical services.

£000s

Diabetes expenditure

DH gross expenditure

Diabetes as a proportion of gross expenditure

2004-05

687,402

71,922,179

1.0%

2005-06

866,000

80,185,241

1.1%

2006-07

1,043,021

84,193,209

1.2%

2007-08

1,151,183

93,183,426

1.2%

2008-09

1,262,066

96,814,987

1.3%

In England in 2008, according to the NHS Business Services Authority, about £595 million for diabetes-related items was spent on prescriptions dispensed in the community; ie by community pharmacists and appliance contractors, dispensing doctors, and prescriptions submitted by prescribing doctors for items personally administered. Also included are prescriptions written in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man but dispensed in England.

Drug group

NIC(£000s)

Insulins

285,764.0

Antidiabetic drugs

165,323.6

Treatment of hypoglycaemia

3,092.1

Diagnostic and monitoring agents

139,147.6

Total

593,327.3

(Net Ingredient Cost (NIC)

NIC is the basic cost of a drug. It does not take account of discounts, dispensing costs, fees or prescription charges income).

Further expenditure will have taken place throughout the NHS system that is not possible to identify. Diabetes UK estimates spending in the United Kingdom is approximately £9 billion across the NHS.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have undertaken a cost-benefit analysis of the effects of the qualifying age range of 40 to 74 for the NHS Vascular Risk Assessment programme on the level of risk of diabetes of (a) persons over 25, and (b) black, Asian and minority ethnic persons over 25. [HL3022]

The National Health Service Health Check programme (formerly vascular checks) is a universal and systematic programme for everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 that will assess an individual's risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes and will support people to reduce or manage that risk through individually tailored advice. The programme was developed on the basis of advice from the National Screening Committee. It advised that, on current evidence, there was not a case for whole population screening for diabetes. However, there was a good case for targeted screening for diabetes in the wider context of cardiovascular risk assessment.

The department undertook modelling on a vascular risk assessment and management programme, which included diabetes, to establish whether such an approach would be cost and clinically effective as well as identifying the optimal starting age. Both the technical consultation on the modelling and the impact assessment are available in the House of Lords Library. Three different starting ages for the programme (40, 45 and 50) were modelled. The age range of 40 to 74 for everyone was found to be both clinically and cost effective.

In taking the decision about the age range with which to launch the programme, the department took further advice from the National Screening Committee and leading United Kingdom diabetologists. Their view was that, given the current state of knowledge, age 40 represented a good starting point for combined diabetes, cardio-vascular and kidney disease risk assessment. The content and age parameters of the programme will be kept under review.

We understand that some primary care trusts may be inviting people into the programme who are under 40 years of age, for example, in areas that have significant South Asian communities who are generally at higher risk of vascular disease including diabetes. However, this scenario was not tested through the modelling, and so we have no evidence of its clinical or cost effectiveness.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether insulin-dependent diabetes has been successfully treated in any species by nuclear transfer; and, if so, how. [HL3060]

The Government are not aware of insulin-dependent (or type 1) diabetes having been successfully treated in any species by nuclear transfer. This Government will continue to support all types of stem cell research to maximise the possibility of developing new treatments for unmet medical needs, such as type 1 diabetes.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of diabetes with the drug Avandia. [HL3079]

The Government have made no such assessment. The independent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has made a number of recommendations about the use of thiazolidinediones, which include rosiglitazone (Avandia), in its clinical guideline on newer agents for type 2 diabetes published in May 2009. Further information can be found on NICE’s website at http://guidance. nice.org.uk/CG87

Health: Doctors

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with interested parties, such as the British Medical Association and employers, to resolve gaps in junior doctor rotas. [HL2893]

It is for strategic health authorities (SHAs) and National Health Service trusts to ensure that they resolve any gaps in their service delivery to ensure patient safety. It has been agreed that future monitoring will be managed at SHA and trust level.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking regarding junior doctor training within the scope of the European working time directive. [HL2894]

There is a review under way, which is looking at the impact of the European working time directive on junior doctors' training in the reduced hours environment. This is independently headed by Professor Sir John Temple, on behalf of Medical Education England.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what research they have undertaken to ascertain the effect of gaps in junior and middle-grade doctor rotas on patient safety. [HL2895]

Quality assurance of middle and junior rota gaps began in March 2009 and continued until July 2009.

Trusts were asked to report via the strategic health authorities (SHAs) on potential service risks around the August 2009 medical change over dates.

The trusts were asked to report on the impact of the European working time directive, as well as any shortfall in specialty recruitment and shortages of medical locums. A risk rating for each trust was provided along with mitigating actions.

Daily situation reporting arrangements were set up to cover the first two weeks of August 2009.

From August 2009, only those rotas experiencing compliance difficulties were monitored.

The return in January 2010 reported a continual improvement in the compliance position and a steady reduction of the number of rotas reporting difficulties.

SHAs and trusts will manage any future monitoring.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the opportunities for use of simulation in junior doctor training. [HL2896]

The use of simulation-based training is already well established for junior doctors. We encourage the appropriate use of modern education techniques including simulation-based clinical training for all clinical staff to improve training and patient outcomes.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had on alterations to junior doctor training following the implementation of the European working time directive in August 2009. [HL2897]

Professor Sir John Temple is leading an independent review on the impact of the European working time directive on junior doctors' training in the reduced hour environment, on behalf of Medical Education England.

This comprehensive review is taking account of evidence from a wide range of stakeholders including junior doctors.

Health: Republic of Ireland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 17 March (WA 189), whether they will place in the Library of the House the exchange of letters between the United Kingdom and Ireland on the payment of €100 million healthcare costs for 2003–06, and on the settlement for 2007–09. [HL2993]

Correspondence between the department and the Irish Government on this matter has been provided on a confidential basis. Therefore, to publish it would be a breach of confidence and would be prejudicial to international relations with the Irish Government. For these reasons, the exchange of letters will not be placed in the Library.

Health: Tuberculosis

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what provision is made for the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, including drug-resistant tuberculosis, amongst failed asylum seekers and those in detention centres. [HL3103]

The diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) is free to all people, including failed asylum seekers and those in detention centres.

The healthcare in immigration removal centres operates to a standard which is equivalent to that found in the community.

Detainees who have possible TB symptoms are investigated in line with standard NHS procedures, and treatment delivered is in line with the NHS clinical protocols, including for multi-drug resistant TB.

All detainees are seen by a nurse within two hours of arrival for health screening and are given an appointment to see a general practitioner (GP) within 24 hours. Where there are concerns, an appointment is made earlier. Thereafter, detainees can access healthcare on demand subject to a triage service similar to that found in a GP’s surgery.

Detainees who require secondary treatment are referred to the local primary care trust in the community.

House of Lords: Members

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government following proposals to reduce the number of members of the House of Lords, whether the Prime Minister will desist from nominating more Peers, except those formerly holding certain senior offices such as Head of the Civil Service and Chief of the Defence Staff. [HL3153]

House of Lords: Members' Broadband Useage

Question

Asked by

To ask the Chairman of Committees what broadband connectivity performance Peers are provided with during working hours; when that was last independently audited; and what was the outcome. [HL3094]

For access to the internet off the Parliamentary Estate, PICT currently provides broadband connectivity through a contract with Demon which uses BT to provide the connection lines to the BT exchange, with an average speed ranging from 2 to 8 Mb. The actual speed of the line for each user is dependent on the level of modernisation at the local BT exchange to which each user's service is attached, and also on the distance of the user from the BT exchange. PICT provides services across the United Kingdom and does not measure the capacity at each BT exchange used to connect its customers to broadband.

For access to the internet on the Parliamentary Estate, on the parliamentary network, the lines have a maximum speed of 100Mb per second.

Immigration

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many travellers arriving in the United Kingdom in each of the last 12 months have been refused entry at the border; and how many of those have claimed asylum. [HL2957]

Our records show almost 22,000 incidents of persons being refused entry to the UK at the border between 1 March 2009 and 28 February 2010. Of these, 425 claimed asylum. This is in addition to 29,000 incidents of persons who attempted to enter the UK illegally but were thwarted by officers at juxtaposed controls.

The monthly breakdown is as follows*:

Month

Total number of refusals at UK border

Number of which claimed asylum

March 09

1,877

37

April 09

1,750

30

May 09

1,993

34

June 09

1,891

40

July 09

1,902

29

August 09

1,924

37

September 09

1,917

44

October 09

1,864

35

November 09

1,619

51

December 09

1,869

45

January 10

1,697

24

February 10

1,696

19

Total

21,999

425

* Data are management information and are from a live database. They have not been subject to the detailed checks required for National Statistics.

India: Dalits and Adivasis

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the attainment of the millennium development goals among Dalits and Adivasis in India. [HL3040]

The Department for International Development (DfID) has not carried out an assessment of the attainment of the millennium development goals (MDGs) among Dalits and Adivasis in India. However, DfID recognises that tackling social exclusion is critical to achieving the MDGs in India. All our programmes there have a clear focus on supporting marginalised groups such as Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims, to gain greater access to development and economic opportunities. In addition, DfID supports specific programmes that help marginalised groups to access their rights. We gather data disaggregated by social group to track our progress.

Evidence shows that our approach is making an impact: DfID support to the Government of India's Education for All programme has helped to increase the number of Dalit children in the school population. The proportion of Dalits amongst school children now exceeds their share in the overall population.

India: Orissa

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the success of the Department for International Development's programmes in Orissa state, India. [HL3039]

The Department for International Development (DfID) evaluates the impact of all its programmes on a continuous basis. To date, our programme in Orissa has had some notable successes, including:

supporting an additional 275,000 children from tribal districts to complete primary education;

enabling 360,000 people to move out of poverty through improved watershed management;

reducing the prices of essential drugs by 25 per cent through improved procurement practices; and

supporting reform of the commercial tax system, leading to 20 per cent year on year increases in tax collection since 2004-05.

Israeli Embassy: Demonstrations

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many individuals have been charged, convicted and imprisoned following arrest in the January 2009 demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy. [HL3115]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many individuals who were arrested in the January 2009 demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy are Muslim. [HL3116]

The Crown Prosecution Service has informed me that a total of 75 people were charged with criminal offences arising out of the protests. Some 41 of those have pleaded guilty and been sentenced, of whom 22 have received custodial sentences by the Crown Court. Six further defendants have pleaded guilty and await sentence. Nine individuals have pleaded not guilty and await trial.

Information about how many individuals arrested are Muslim is not held.

Local Authorities: Funding

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their most recent estimate of the cost to central Government of providing every council with top-up funding to mitigate for council taxpayers the effect of an expected rise of 2.5 per cent starting in 2011–12. [HL2266]

It is estimated that it would cost £675 million in 2011-12 and £1,380 million from 2012-13 onwards for central Government to reimburse local authorities in England for the income forgone by not increasing their band D council tax by 2.5 per cent in each year.

Levels of council tax are determined annually by local authorities, not by the Government. Therefore, the council tax figures for 2010-11 used to support this costing are based on the arithmetic average of council tax increases over the past three years. These figures cover all authorities, police authorities and fire and rescue authorities in England. Responsibility for council tax and other local authority matters in Scotland and Wales rests with the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly Government. The above calculation assumes that all authorities are compensated for lost revenue if freezing their council tax in 2011-12 and 2012-13, after taking any council tax base increases into consideration.

EU: Scrutiny Override

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why the scrutiny reserve resolution was overridden on the proposed Council Decision extending restrictive measures against the leadership of the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova; and what steps they are taking to avoid a repeat of those circumstances. [HL3186]

The sanctions measures against the leadership of the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova were due to expire on 27 February 2010. If the new Council decision was not adopted before then, the existing measures would have lapsed. The override arose due to an error by Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials who were unclear when the Scrutiny Committees would sit after the Recess in February.

The FCO takes its scrutiny commitments very seriously. It does everything it can to avoid an override and to keep the Scrutiny Committees informed on sanctions matters. The relevant teams within the FCO are therefore discussing what steps to take to prevent this error occurring again.

Montserrat

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk to British citizens in Montserrat caused by the partial collapse of the dome and subsequent volcanic activity of the Soufrière Hills volcano; and what emergency contingency plans are in place. [HL3168]

The Soufrière Hills volcano is monitored continuously at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), which is permanently staffed by professional volcanologists. The MVO regularly assesses the hazard and risk posed by the volcano to the community of Montserrat. The director of the MVO provides advice to the Governor and the Government of Montserrat on the volcanic activity and decisions on appropriate responses are taken. The safety of the community is the top priority.

The current increased activity and accelerated dome growth began on 4 October 2009. This resulted in major pyroclastic events before Christmas 2009, which forced the night-time evacuation to the north of the island of those residents living in the zones closer to the volcano. Further large pyroclastic events followed on 8 January, 5 February and 11 February. Since the last event, volcanic activity has returned to relatively low levels. The evacuation order remained in place until 23 February 2010, when residents were allowed to return to their homes full time. The current Montserrat hazard level rating is 3, on a 1 to 5 scale where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest.

With support from the Department for International Development (DfID), Montserrat’s National Disaster Response Advisory Committee, chaired jointly by the Governor and the Chief Minister, has commissioned an assessment of the pyroclastic flow and surge models in the occupied zones closest to the volcano to review current risk and hazard levels.

In addition, a disaster management capability review of Montserrat was carried out by Foreign and Commonwealth Office and DfID officials in November 2009, which examined Montserrat’s state of preparedness and its plans for all disasters, including volcanic eruptions and hurricanes.

Nuclear-powered Submarines

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the intended stationing of a tender for nuclear-powered submarines in the British Indian Ocean Territory will involve the USS “Emory S. Land”; and, if so, whether they will examine the stationing of the vessel at the US naval base at La Maddalena/Sardinia in 2007 and the circumstances of its withdrawal and the closing down of that base. [HL1994]

The UK and US are currently discussing the proposed stationing of the US submarine tender “Emory S. Land” to the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Organophosphates

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effects exposure to organophosphates have upon mitochondrial function, in particular, to adenosine diphosphate to adenosine triphosphate re-conversion. [HL3087]

The Health Protection Agency advises that no specific evaluation has been made. However, potential toxicological effects due to disruption of mitochondrial function would be identified from the standard package of toxicological tests required for the active ingredients of pesticides, including organophosphates.

Pensions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the (a) payments to members, (b) employee contributions, and (c) employer contributions, of the 10 largest public sector pension schemes in the past three years. [HL2871]

Detailed information and data for individual public service pension schemes are available from the relevant government department. The 10 largest schemes, with published information sources where available, are as follows:

NHS England and Wales, Teachers England and Wales, Principal Civil Service and Armed Forces Pension Schemes—resource accounts are laid before Parliament annually and copies are placed in the House Library;

Local Government Pension Scheme England and Wales—administered locally but annual statistical releases are provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government;

Police England and Firefighters England Pension Schemes—administered locally and information is provided on request by the Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government; and

the Scottish Teachers Superannuation Scheme, NHS Scotland and Local Government Scotland Pension Schemes—annual accounts are presented to the Scottish Executive.

Police: Protests

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many persons were arrested in 2009 in Greater Manchester following demonstrations against Israel's military action in Gaza; how many of them were charged; how many convictions there have been since then; what sentences were imposed; and how many trials are pending. [HL2816]

Prisoners: Voting

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the recommendations of the Electoral Commission on 29 September 2009 in response to the Ministry of Justice's Voting Rights of Convicted Prisoners Detained within the United Kingdom: Second stage consultation as regards the implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst v United Kingdom. [HL3188]

The Electoral Commission’s response to the Government’s second stage consultation on prisoners' voting rights confirmed that it did not take a view on which prisoners should or should not be able to vote. The Electoral Commission broadly supported the Government’s proposed approach to the administration of a system of registration and voting for prisoners, but also made additional recommendations. The commission acknowledged that the current legislative framework around voting would need to be changed to implement support prisoner voting.

The commission’s response is being considered alongside the other responses to the second consultation on prisoner voting rights.

Rwanda

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made directly or through the Commonwealth to the Government of Rwanda about the treatment of the political opposition there; and whether they will encourage the Government of Rwanda to fulfil their international obligations by holding free and fair elections. [HL3108]

In our dialogue with the Government of Rwanda, we have continuously reiterated to them the importance of holding credible elections this year. Most recently, I raised this with Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo. I underlined the importance of improving political space for the opposition and media.

In addition, our High Commissioner in Kigali has discussed the registration and operation of new political parties and issues surrounding political space with the relevant Ministers in the Rwandan Government. We have lobbied for both an EU and a Commonwealth election monitoring mission to be deployed to the elections this year, and welcome the Commonwealth's decision to send a mission. Furthermore, we have encouraged the implementation of the recommendations of the EU monitoring mission report on the 2008 elections. We also continue to engage with the Rwandan National Election Commission (NEC) over the practicalities of the forthcoming August 2010 presidential elections. Along with other donors, the UK has provided budget support for the NEC, including for the elections budget for 2010.

We remain in regular contact with political parties in Rwanda, including opposition parties currently seeking registration.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of recent grenade attacks in Rwanda. [HL3155]

We have received reports of grenade attacks in central Kigali on 19 February and 4 March. According to the Rwandan National Police, total casualties were two killed and 49 injured. There have been no claims of responsibility and the identity of those responsible has yet to be established. Security has been heightened in Kigali. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice has been amended and we continue to monitor the situation closely.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they are giving to the independent electoral commission in Rwanda; what is their assessment of the prospects of a free, fair and democratic presidential election in Rwanda this year; which organisations from the United Kingdom have been invited to monitor elections in Rwanda; and whether they will assist in the recruitment of election observers. [HL3159]

The UK is working closely with the Rwandan National Electoral Commission (NEC) to monitor preparations for the 2010 presidential elections. We have encouraged the NEC to implement the recommendations of the 2003 and 2008 EU election observation missions, to ensure that the 2010 elections comply with international norms. The Department for International Development is providing the NEC with £3 million assistance in support of its strategic plan for 2008-12. The Government of Rwanda have invited international election observers, including from the Commonwealth, the EU and the African Union. During his visit to Rwanda in January 2010, the Commonwealth Secretary-General indicated that the Commonwealth plan to send a monitoring team.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with the Government of Rwanda about beginning a dialogue with Rwandan Hutus living in eastern Congo. [HL3193]

I raised reconciliation issues with the Rwandan Foreign Minister during her recent visit to London. We are supportive of the work of the Rwandan Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission in returning to Rwanda former combatants from the eastern Congo region. We also remain supportive of the role of the UN High Commission for Refugees in returning to Rwanda civilian refugees in the eastern Congo. The aim of both of these programmes is the reintegration of these groups into Rwandan society. We further continue to support the efforts of the UN force in the Congo (MONUC) in persuading Rwandan Hutu rebels in the Congo to disarm, demobilise and repatriate to Rwanda in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1804.

Schools: Church Schools

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the role of Church of England schools in improving interracial stability and the integration of young people. [HL3139]

No assessment has been made of the role of Church of England schools in improving interracial stability and integration of young people.

However, all maintained schools in England, including schools with a religious character, have a duty to promote community cohesion, which is about building an appreciation of diversity, a sense of belonging and a common vision among all pupils regardless of their background.

Ofsted inspects schools to ensure compliance with this duty. HMCI's annual report 2008-09, published in November 2009, showed that of the primary schools inspected, 68 per cent are good or outstanding in meeting their duty to promote community cohesion, while the figures for secondary and special schools are 72 per cent and 84 per cent respectively.

Smoking

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they propose to make smoking in cars which contain children an offence. [HL3128]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have to reduce the impact of passive smoking on children. [HL3129]

We strongly urge people to stop smoking in cars, especially those used to transport children. We have no plans to legislate on this at present but we are committed to reviewing the smoke-free law later this year. As part of that review we will take into consideration the recommendations on ending smoking in cars which were included in the report Passive Smoking and Children published by the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians on 24 March.

As set out in A Smokefree Future, a copy of which has been placed in the Library, we will continue to raise awareness about the harms of secondhand smoke. We will continue to support people to make their homes and their cars smoke free. We will focus our efforts on communities with the highest smoking rates so as to have the greatest impact on children's exposure to secondhand smoke.

Taxation: Double Taxation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend Clause 59 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill to override existing double taxation agreements in respect of Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords. [HL3199]

Where a Peer or MP has income, gains or assets from a state which has a double taxation agreement with the UK, they will be taxed in accordance with that double taxation agreement. The effect of the provisions in Part 6 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill will be that MPs and the Lords Temporal are to be treated like the vast majority of people in the UK who are resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. As such they will be subject to double taxation agreements in the same way as the majority of people in the UK.

Taxation: House Credit

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will introduce a tax regime for the house credit market in which interest charged at rates of 100 per cent or above is liable to tax at 100 per cent or above. [HL2837]

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is reviewing the high-cost credit market, and potential measures to improve its regulation, including caps on interest rates. The Government will respond to the OFT's recommendations when the results of this review are published.

Taxation: Information Exchange Agreements

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government with which countries they have tax information exchange agreements other than those announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his recent Budget speech. [HL3198]

The countries and territories with which the United Kingdom has signed a tax information exchange agreement and which were not mentioned in the Budget speech are Bermuda, the Isle of Man, the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Anguilla, the Turks & Caicos Islands, Gibraltar, the Bahamas, Antigua & Barbuda, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and San Marino.

Since the G20 London summit in April 2009, the United Kingdom has also signed a number of agreements for the avoidance of double taxation (including protocols to existing agreements) in order to provide for the exchange of tax information to the same international standard. These agreements are with the Cayman Islands, Belgium, Qatar, Luxembourg, Singapore, Switzerland, Malaysia, Austria, Montserrat and Bahrain.

Other agreements are being negotiated.

Taxation: Personal Allowance

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost of providing a transferable income tax personal allowance for all married couples with children under three. [HL2841]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of (a) married couples, (b) families, and (c) all people, would benefit from providing a transferable income tax personal allowance for all married couples with children under three. [HL2842]

Due to the complex nature of these questions the following estimates should be treated with caution. These estimates exclude any behavioural response to the change, which could be significant given the magnitude of the change.

The estimated cost in 2010-11 of allowing the personal tax allowances of married couples with children under three to be transferable would be £0.6 billion.

The percentage of families and individuals benefiting, for the following groups, would be:

5 per cent of all married couples;

2 per cent of all families; and

2 per cent of all people.

These estimates have been calculated using HM Treasury's tax and benefit micro-simulation model using Family Resources Survey 2007-08 data.

Traffic Management Act 2004

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 5 March (WA 392), what was the outcome of their liaison with the Local Government Association about the view of its members outside London on the introduction of the moving traffic contraventions provisions of Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004. [HL3191]