Written questions and answers

Written questions allow Members of Parliament to ask government ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments.

Historical written answers can be found in Hansard.

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Unique Indentifying Number – Every written question in the House of Commons has a UIN per Parliament. In the House of Lords each written questions has a UIN per parliamentary session.
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Q
Asked by Lord Moonie
Asked on: 10 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
China
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what help they are providing to Uighur refugees.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

We remain concerned by all restrictions placed on ethnic minority rights in China, including in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. We are also troubled by reports which suggest that large numbers of Chinese Uyghurs are arriving in neighbouring South East Asian countries and claiming asylum. We regularly raise our concerns with Chinese officials, such as during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in May 2014, and with officials from neighbouring countries. We highlight our broader concerns in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy.

Asked on: 12 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Malaysia
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports of the ill-treatment and death of North Korean workers at a mine in Sarawak; and whether they have raised those reports with the government of Malaysia.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

We are aware of reports of fatalities at a mine in Sarawak and wider concerns about labour rights in Malaysia, in particular for foreign workers. Our High Commission in Kuala Lumpur is in close touch with civil society and regularly hears their concerns.

Asked on: 12 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of disabled people in North Korea.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

As set out in the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office Human Rights Annual Report, there was no evidence of improvement in the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2013, with the possible exception of a marginal improvement in disability rights.

The DPRK signed the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in July 2013. We understand that, following revision of its relevant legislation, the DPRK government is aiming to ratify the Convention by the end of 2016.

During 2014, our Embassy in Pyongyang has worked where possible with international and domestic organisations in the DPRK to promote disability rights and improve the treatment of disabled people. This included supporting a sports and cultural event for disabled children on the “National Day of People with Disability” to raise awareness of disability issues.

Internationally, we are keeping the spotlight on the DPRK on the range of human rights issues. We strongly supported the recent country resolution on human rights in the UN General Assembly Third Committee.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Department of Health
Neurology
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they propose to respond to the survey of Acute Neurology Services issued by the Association of British Neurologists in December; and what action they plan to take to ensure that clearly defined quality standards in acute neurology are achieved evenly throughout the United Kingdom in the near future.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 31 December 2014

NHS England recognises that, as this report from the Association of British Neurologists (ABN) shows, there is room for improvement in the way neurology services are delivered in acute settings. It has been working with the ABN, the Neurological Alliance, the National Clinical Director for Neurological Conditions and representatives from the Strategic Clinical Networks to develop a framework for improving neurology standards within acute settings.

The aim of this framework, which is in the process of being developed, is to help patients and their carers understand what standard of care they should expect, and to support clinicians, National Health Service staff, commissioners and others in the NHS and elsewhere that are responsible for the care of people with neurological conditions to understand how Acute services can be better delivered.

Neurological care in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is matter for the devolved administrations of those countries.

Q
Asked on: 15 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Middle East
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the treatment of homosexuals in Middle East countries, in particular in (1) Israel, (2) the Palestinian Territories, and (3) Gaza.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

The Government's clear message is that human rights are universal and should apply equally to all people.

We believe that the international community must address all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and we must also promote respect for diversity. Work in combating violence and discrimination against LGBT people forms an important part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's wider international human rights work.

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv has marched in the Gay Pride parades in Tel Aviv over recent years. At this year's march, Her Majesty's Ambassador to Israel spoke at the large public gathering and referred to Israel becoming a more tolerant society over the past decade.

We are deeply concerned about the treatment of the LGBT community in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly in Gaza where they are subject to widespread social discrimination for cultural and religious reasons. Homosexuality remains a taboo subject in the OPTs. In some places, such as Ramallah, these taboos are relaxed, but in more conservative areas the situation is very challenging. There are no laws protecting LGBT people, however, we are not aware of any recent legal cases being prosecuted against LGBT people.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Burma
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of illicit jade and drug trading in Burma and the actions of the government of that country in respect of tackling the trade of such goods into China.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

Burma remains the main source of drugs in the region and is the world’s second largest producer of opium poppy, which along with illicit trade of jade, provides significant sources of income that have helped fuel Burma’s internal conflicts. The production of methamphetamine is also a growing concern, with the majority of the production in Burma exported to neighbouring countries.

We are aware of plans for improved cooperation between the nations of the Mekong region, including Burma, to tackle the illicit drugs trade. This includes the recent establishment of a regional centre in Chiang Mai, Thailand, staffed by drugs enforcement officers from Burma, Thailand, China and Laos. The UK welcomes these efforts and encourages coordination with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boko Haram
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the main source of Boko Haram's weapons; and what is their assessment of the strategy adopted by the government of Nigeria in respect of that organisation.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

Reliable assessments of the source of Boko Haram’s weapons are not available. However, reports indicate that Boko Haram obtain weapons from a variety of sources, including illegal arms smuggling and theft from the Nigerian military.

On the military side, the Government of Nigeria has increased the number of forces in the North East. However, tackling the threat of Boko Haram requires a comprehensive response, including economic development, led by the Nigerian government, with the support of its neighbours and other international partners.

The UK’s package of support includes training and advice to Nigerian military units, deployed against Boko Haram; support to the Nigerian government in bringing increased development and prosperity to the North East; and a commitment to draw one million more children into education in Northern Nigeria by 2020.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Kenya
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the evidence provided by Human Rights Watch in respect of the availability of justice for those who experienced mass killings and rape associated with the 2007 presidential election in Kenya.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

Pursuing transitional justice is important for long-term peace and stability in Kenya. We acknowledge the steps taken by the Government of Kenya to address the needs of some victims of post-election violence. The UK encourages greater efforts by the Government of Kenya to promote reconciliation and make further substantial progress on this agenda. It is therefore essential that the needs of the victims continue to be placed at the centre of efforts to deliver justice.

Q
Asked on: 15 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Israel's proposed "nation-state" bill.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

While we have not made an assessment on this issue, we have raised with the Israeli authorities the importance of maintaining equal rights for all of Israel’s citizens.

Q
Asked on: 15 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Israel
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel concerning reports of the Israeli Civil Administration’s confiscation of wet weather tarpaulin sheets on 27 November from the Samen Bedouin Community in East Jerusalem.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

While we have not raised this specific issue with the Israeli authorities, the Government believes that Israel has legal obligations as an Occupying Power with respect to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, under applicable international law. We have a regular dialogue with the Government of Israel, with regards to the implementation of those obligations, and raise our serious concerns regarding such issues as demolitions of Palestinian property, as well as permitting and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Q
Asked on: 15 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Libya
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will propose a resolution of the United Nations Security Council following the referral to that body by the International Criminal Court of the finding of non-compliance by the government of Libya in respect of failure to surrender Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to the Court and failure to return seized documents to the defence.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

On 10 December the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber dealing with Saif Qadhafi’s case issued a decision, which found that Libya had failed to comply with the Court’s request to surrender Qadhafi. It decided to refer Libya’s non-compliance to the United Nations Security Council. The United Kingdom fully supports the ICC’s decision and urges Libya to surrender Qadhafi to the Court. We will work within the Security Council for an effective response to the ICC.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Department of Health
NHS England Specialised Commissioning Task Force
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will publish the full terms of reference of the NHS England specialised commissioning task force review, particularly in respect of its work relating to the funding and commissioning of treatments for rare diseases.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 31 December 2014

The aim of the specialised commissioning taskforce is to improve ways of working and to ensure that specialised commissioning is undertaken in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Within the task force work programme there are specific projects. A number of the work streams are relevant to the funding of all specialised services, of which rare diseases will be an element.

NHS England provides regular updates on the work of the taskforce to external and internal stakeholders every 3-4 weeks. There are also briefings given at key meetings and to key groups - for example the Patient and Public Voice Assurance Group. Updates can be found on the NHS England website.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Department of Health
NHS England Specialised Commissioning Task Force
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the NHS England specialised commissioning task force will take into account the outcome of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence review of the process for evaluating highly specialised technologies.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 31 December 2014

The Rare Diseases Advisory Group (RDAG) makes recommendations to NHS England and the devolved administrations of NHS Scotland, NHS Wales and NHS Northern Ireland on issues related to highly specialised services.

RDAG makes recommendations to the Clinical Priorities Advisory Group about how highly specialised services should be commissioned.

RDAG receives recommendations from Clinical Reference Groups set up by NHS England, and in addition formulates its advice by calling on sources of sound evidence from outside the National Health Service, such as professional bodies and patient groups.

RDAG will respond to consultations issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Highly Specialised Technology Programme, and provide advice to NHS England and the devolved administrations on the most appropriate services to deliver those highly specialised technologies that receive a positive technology appraisal determination from NICE.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Department of Health
Rare Diseases Advisory Group
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what advice they have received from NHS England’s Rare Diseases Advisory Group.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 31 December 2014

The Rare Diseases Advisory Group was established in March 2014 by NHS England. It was set up to provide NHS England and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with consistent advice on developing and implementing the strategy for rare diseases and highly specialised services. The Department has not received any advice from the group.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Department of Health
Diseases
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what budget NHS England has established to fund treatments for rare diseases.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 31 December 2014

NHS England holds a budget of £13 billion with which to commission 145 specialised services. NHS England does not separately identify the costs of the treatment of rare diseases because many of the specialised services – for example neurosciences – include treatments for patients who have both rare diseases and traumatic injuries.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Department of Health
Diseases
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimates they have made of the potential cost of treatments for rare diseases over the next five years.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 31 December 2014

No forecast by NHS England of aggregate future expenditure on rare diseases is available.

NHS England uses a number of methodologies to estimate the potential costs of any new treatment for rare diseases. This includes working with the horizon scanning team from the National Institute for Health Research as well as with industry representatives and other stakeholders such as patient groups and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Department of Health
Diseases
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the process by which NHS England makes decisions on whether to support the funding of (1) National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) highly specialised technologies (HST) approved rare disease treatments, (2) non-NICE HST approved rare disease treatments, and (3) rare disease treatments that are not selected for HST evaluation.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 31 December 2014

The Rare Diseases Advisory Group (RDAG) was established in March 2014 by NHS England. It was set up to provide NHS England and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with consistent advice on developing and implementing the strategy for rare diseases and highly specialised services. The RDAG will also provide advice to NHS England and the devolved administrations to enable it to respond to consultations issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Highly Specialised Technology Programme and to provide advice to NHS England and the devolved administrations on the most appropriate services to deliver those highly specialised technologies that receive a positive technology appraisal determination from NICE.

At the three meetings held by RDAG in 2014 the group has addressed proposals for some new treatments to be considered for provision in the National Health Service. It has also considered a number of services, currently provided within the NHS, that meet the criteria of Highly Specialised Services (HSS) and should be considered as highly specialised and re-configured to be provided in expert centres. The group has also considered a number of service specifications for HSS. Recommendations have been made to the Clinical Priorities Advisory Group based on these decisions. Any recommendations agreed by NHS England will go out for a full three month consultation.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Department of Health
In Vitro Fertilisation
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 15 December (HL3301), how many foetal reductions performed following in vitro fertilisation over the past decade were performed between (1) weeks 0–5, (2) weeks 6–13, and (3) weeks 14–16.
A
Answered by: Earl Howe
Answered on: 31 December 2014

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that in the decade preceding 31 December 2012, the Authority’s register records the following incidences of foetal reductions performed following in vitro fertilisation:

Foetal reduction in weeks 0-5

Foetal reduction in weeks 6-13

Foetal reduction in weeks 14-16

0

156

27

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Foreign and Commonwealth Office-funded organisations in North Korea pay their in-country partners in North Korean Won or in foreign currency; and how the British Embassy pays its North Korean staff.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

Foreign and Commonwealth Office projects in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) are usually delivered through international partners, such as the British Council, International Committee of the Red Cross or the Royal United Service Institute. Where we or partners make payments in-country for specific goods or services, this is usually done in euros. Our Embassy in Pyongyang does not pay for project costs in North Korean won.

The local staff who work at our Embassy in Pyongyang are not directly employed by the Embassy, but employed and assigned by the DPRK government. This arrangement is common to all Embassies and international organisations working in the DPRK. Basic salaries are paid to the DPRK’s General Services Bureau, while allowances, overtime and bonuses are paid directly to individuals. All payments are made in euros.

Asked on: 15 December 2014
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
North Korea
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what anti-bribery measures are in place for Foreign and Commonwealth Office-funded organisations working in North Korea in the light of the assessment in Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Index of corruption among North Korean public officials.
Answered on: 31 December 2014

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) projects in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) are usually delivered through international partners such as the British Council, International Committee of the Red Cross or the Royal United Services Institute. Before we select an implementing partner we carry out relevant due diligence checks, which include, but are not limited to, obtaining assurances about: training provided to staff in relation to reporting bribery and corruption; how those concerns are shared with donors; and what policies and principles and/or procedures the organisation has in place to regulate its own conduct.

In line with standard FCO project requirements, detailed budgets are required for all projects and these are carefully checked to ensure both in-country and other costs are reasonable. Project implementers are required to provide quarterly financial reports and originals or copies of all invoices and receipts, as well as a Project Completion Report containing a detailed breakdown of all expenditure during the project period. The final payment on any project is only released after submission of a satisfactory Project Completion Report.

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