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Written Answers

Tuesday 1 July 2014

A14

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will arrange for the Highways Agency (1) to use variable message signs on the A14 trunk road to display anti-littering messages, and (2) to clear up those lengths of the A14 which require it.[HL500]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Highways Agency uses anti-litter messages on their network of motorway variable message signs which urge all road users to take responsibility and carry a bag for litter in their vehicle, and to dispose of this responsibly when they take a break or reach their destination.

The Agency ran a targeted national litter campaign using variable signs on a number of routes in March and April this year. However, the A14 was not included on this occasion. We have asked the Agency to consider including the A14 for their next campaign once they have reviewed the effectiveness of the different messages used and assessed customer feedback nationally.

Litter picking on most trunk roads is the responsibility of local authorities. The Agency has responsibility for litter picking on only a very small section of the A14 - from a point 420 metres south east of its junction with Rusts Lane in Alconbury, Cambs to its junction with the A1 trunk road.

The Agency requires its maintenance contractors to inform local authorities where trunk road litter is falling below required standards and to provide opportunities for them to collect litter on trunk roads within Agency road works. We have asked the Agency to ensure that this duty is being performed on the A14.

Advisory Bodies

Question

Asked by The Countess of Mar

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the remit of their advisory committees which report on pesticides; whether there is any overlap in their activities; and to whom each committee reports. [HL570]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): The Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) Terms of Reference are set out in the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, as published on the following website:

http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/guidance/industries/pesticides/advisory-groups/acp/acp-committee-information/acp-terms-of-reference.htm

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The ACP provides independent advice to Ministers responsible for pesticides in Defra, the Department of Health, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Food Standards Agency and to the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Defra Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) Terms of Reference are available on the following website:

http://www.pesticides.gov.uk/Resources/CRD/Migrated-Resources/PRiF_TOR.pdf

The PRiF reports to Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser and provides advice to the Ministers in Defra and the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

These two committees have separate responsibilities. Their activities are related but do not overlap.

The ACP also works closely with other government advisory committees where their wider work is relevant to pesticides.

Alcoholic Drinks and Drugs

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Dundee

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of people currently damaged by alcohol and drug abuse in the United Kingdom.[HL416]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The United Kingdom Drug Policy Commission collect data on the numbers affected by drug addiction and publish their findings in their report Supporting the Supporters: families of drug misusers 2009. The findings estimate that nearly 1.5 million people are affected by drug addiction in their families, mostly in poor communities.

Estimates in the Office of National Statistics report ‘Deaths Related to Drug Poisoning in England and Wales, 2012 and Alcohol-related deaths in the UK, registered in 2012’ showed that there were 1,496 drug misuse deaths in England.

In England, data on the number of adults who report some signs of drug or alcohol dependence is published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, in the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity in England, 2007 report. The report includes information on rates of dependency and access to treatments. This data will be updated in 2014 and will be available in 2017.

The Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University, published on 25 March, ‘Updating England-specific Alcohol-attributable Fractions’, with revised estimates for England showing that over 21,000 people died in 2010 and that over 900,000 people were admitted to hospital in 2010-11 for alcohol-related causes.

Public health prevention, treatment and care in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a matter for those Devolved Administrations. Each country maintains its own information. For example:

- In 2012-13 there were 5,683 drug related discharges from a general acute hospital in Scotland (a European age-sex-standardised rate (EASR) of 107 discharges

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per 100,000 population). The National Records of Scotland reported that there were 581 drug related deaths in 2012 in Scotland.- In 2012-13 there were 35,926 alcohol related discharges from a general acute hospital in Scotland (a European age-sex-standardised rate (EASR) of 693 discharges per 100,000 population).- There were 25,000 referrals for drug and alcohol misuse recorded in 2012 -13 on the Welsh National Database for Substance Misuse.- Data on the number of drug - related deaths in Northern Ireland is collected by the General Register Office and published in their annual report. The most recent estimates show that there were 110 drug related deaths in 2012.- Data on the number of drug and alcohol – related hospital admissions is collected by the Hospital Inpatient System in Northern Ireland. The most recent estimates show that there were 15,701 drug and alcohol admissions to hospitals in Northern Ireland.

Data may not be comparable across the UK in all cases.

Asked by The Earl of Dundee

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their current level of funding of charities and institutions that seek to reduce alcohol and drug abuse in the United Kingdom.[HL417]

Earl Howe: The Innovation Excellence & Strategic Development Fund (IESD) provides funding from one to three years to support proposals in the health and care field.

A total of £658,902 has been awarded by the Department’s IESD Fund in 2014-15 to organisations seeking to reduce alcohol and/or drug misuse. This amount is in respect of seven separate projects. The scope of the activity of these projects and the IESD Fund in general is within England only. The main responsibility for funding of services reducing alcohol and drug misuse is for local authorities. The Department does not hold detailed information on local funding.

A significant proportion of alcohol and drug treatment services is provided by charities and voluntary organisations and is funded by local authorities though the public health grant.

Asked by The Earl of Dundee

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to co-operate with institutions and other governments to reduce alcohol and drug abuse internationally.[HL419]

Earl Howe: We recognise the importance of international cooperation in preventing alcohol and drug misuse effectively.

We continue to work with international partners, the United Nations, the European Union and through the British-Irish Council to promote the lessons the United Kingdom has learnt from its effective drugs

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strategy, and the benefits of a balanced, evidence based response within the international drug control conventions.

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union recognises that Member States have the prime responsibility for public health, including preventing and reducing harm from alcohol, while the EU has a role to support Member States in this function. Discussions are currently taking place with Member States and the European Commission to develop:

- A new EU Alcohol Action Plan on youth drinking and binge drinking to run from 2014 to 2016 within the current EU Alcohol Strategy; and- ideas for a new EU Alcohol Strategy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a leading role in further building the evidence base, the development of policy tools and the establishment and maintenance of a global information system on alcohol and health as set out in the WHO global alcohol strategy.

The WHO UK Alcohol Focal Point which represents the UK, including the Devolved Administrations, is chair of the 53 European Alcohol Focal Points and sits on the WHO Global Co-ordinating Council for delivery of the global alcohol strategy.

Angola

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had regarding the food situation in Angola; and whether they will use their trade partnership with that country to encourage the government of Angola to act to avert a humanitarian crisis.[HL481]

Baroness Northover (LD): We have not had recent bilateral discussions with the Government of Angola regarding the food situation. The Government of Angola is leading the food assistance programme to respond to the situation and is best placed to prepare for and lead the response to humanitarian disasters with the support of UN partners. The UK government does not have a bilateral development programme in Angola, but will continue to monitor the humanitarian situation.

Under the High Level Prosperity (HLP) Partnership, the UK Government also works closely with the government of Angola to secure increased trade and investment between the UK and Angola, which will contribute to mutual prosperity and deliver sustained equitable economic growth. The UK government will continue to engage closely with the Government of Angola under the HLP partnership and will discuss the humanitarian situation where appropriate.

Anticoagulants

Questions

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many people in England are treated with (1) warfarin, and (2) novel oral anticoagulants each year.[HL624]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of the total number of prescriptive items for apixaban, dabigatran etexilate, rivaroxaban, and warfarin sodium in England were for warfarin sodium in the last year for which figures are available.[HL625]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Information is not held centrally on the number of people treated with warfarin or novel oral anticoagulants. The following table provides information on the number of prescription items written in England and dispensed in the community in the United Kingdom, for the latest calendar year, for apixaban, dabigatran etexilate, rivaroxaban, and warfarin sodium.

Prescription items written in England and dispensed in the community in the United Kingdom for 2013 1
Medicine 2Items (000s)

Apixaban

14.4

Dabigatran etexilate

174.0

Rivaroxaban

190.0

Warfarin sodium 3

11,022.8

Total for apixaban, dabigatran etexilate, rivaroxaban, and warfarin sodium

11,401.2

Percentage of warfarin sodium compared to the total for apixaban, dabigatran etexilate, rivaroxaban, and warfarin sodium

96.7%

Source:

ePACT and Hospital ePACT, NHS Prescription Services, part of the NHS Business Services Authority

Notes:

1.

The figures include prescriptions written in a hospital in England but dispensed in the community in the United Kingdom.

2.

These medicines are also used in secondary care, however no equivalent measure to a prescription item is available for secondary care data.

Some patients treated with warfarin may receive prescription items for two or three different strengths of warfarin to allow the dose to be altered in response to monitoring of INR. (NB: warfarin is available as 0.5mg, 1mg, 3mg and 5mg tablets).

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to increase the uptake of novel oral anticoagulants in the management of atrial fibrillation.[HL626]

Earl Howe: Decisions on the prescribing of medicines are a matter for clinicians in discussion with their patients.

National Health Service commissioners are legally required by regulations to fund those anticoagulant treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence(NICE) in its technology appraisal guidance.

The NICE Implementation Collaborative published a consensus statement on supporting the use of novel oral anticoagulants in non-valvular atrial fibrillation on 18 June 2014. This is available at:

www.nice.org.uk/resource/CG180/pdf/c/cg180-atrial-fibrillation-nic-consensus-statement-on-the-use-of-noacs?id=gvyb3hjdqrcjtn6ytpwx3ydb64

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NICE published its updated clinical guideline on the management of atrial fibrillation on 25 June 2014 which recommends that novel oral anticoagulants should be offered where appropriate.

The latest data from the Innovation Scorecard show that uptake of new anticoagulants across England is increasing. Further information is available at:

www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB13669

Autism

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support autistic adults receive to protect them from abuse and neglect; and whether they have any plans to increase that support.[HL371]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Care Act 2014 sets out the local authority’s responsibility for adult safeguarding for the first time in primary legislation. This is vital to ensure clear accountability, roles and responsibilities for helping and protecting adults with care and support needs, including autistic adults, who are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect.

The Act requires local authorities to carry out a safeguarding enquiry where they have reasonable cause to expect a person is at risk of abuse or neglect. Authorities must consider what if any actions are needed, and who should carry these out, to stop abuse and neglect taking place. The draft guidance clarifies that where a local authority has started a safeguarding enquiry it should continue the needs assessment for care and support in parallel, and determine whether the person has eligible needs which it must meet.

The Act places the establishment of Safeguarding Adults Boards on a statutory footing, so as to ensure local authorities, National Health Service and police (as well as any other agency deemed appropriate) work together to develop and implement adult safeguarding strategies and conduct safeguarding adult reviews in serious cases to ensure lessons are learnt and applied. This will better equip local agencies with relevant care and support functions both to prevent abuse and to respond when it occurs.

Transforming care, the Government’s programme to address issues identified by the abuse of people at Winterbourne View hospital aims to ensure that people with learning disabilities and autism are safe and get good quality care when they are in hospital, and where appropriate following an assessment of their care and needs, they are able to live with support in the community.

Coalition Governments

Question

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government by what date they plan to publish their response to the report of the Constitution Committee on Constitutional implications of coalition government (5th Report, Session 2013–14, HL Paper 130) published in February 2014.[HL554]

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to Lord Lexden on 23 June 2014 (Official Report) Column Ref: WA113.

Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme

Question

Asked by Lord MacKenzie of Culkein

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will reintroduce some or all of the funding which they withdrew in 2011 to the Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP) so that CHIRP’s work in promoting maritime safety may be further developed.[HL603]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): Her Majesty’s Government has no plans to fund CHIRP for maritime. CHIRP’s activities to promote maritime safety have continued since 2011, now funded by maritime sector sponsors. This is a welcome arrangement, which illustrates the commitment of maritime organisations to support safe operations for the benefit of all mariners.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Question

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the report by Freedom from Torture Rape as torture in the DRC: Sexual violence beyond the conflict zone which suggests that United Kingdom development aid money could be funding programmes for police and security personnel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who are responsible for raping opponents of President Kabila.[HL434]

Baroness Northover (LD): DFID welcomes the analysis in the report by Freedom from Torture into the concerning issue of rape used as torture in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We welcome the recommendations made that urge the Government of DRC to honour their commitments to tackling sexual violence, and DFID to continue projects to support reform of the security sector to promote respect for human rights. The report underlines the importance of DFID’s on-going constructive engagement to promote police reform. The UK has and will continue to raise our concerns about sexual violence and torture at the highest level to lobby the Congolese authorities to end impunity for those who abuse or violate human rights.

Diabetes

Questions

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps are being taken to ensure that people with diabetes receive the care processes recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. [HL401]

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps are being taken to ensure that the treatment targets for people with diabetes recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence are being met.[HL402]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The management of people with diabetes is measured and reported on through the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), the CCG Outcomes Indicator Set (OIS) and National Diabetes Audit. These publications and data are used by local commissioners, providers and healthcare professionals to assess the quality of the services provided and to drive improvements.

General practitioners (GPs) are incentivised to ensure completion of the care processes recommended by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) through the QOF. The latest available data (2011-12) shows a 60.5% completion rate of all the eight measurable NICE-recommended care processes for diabetes. However, it is for individual GP practices, working with the CCGs in their area, to assess their own performance on completion of the care processes, and take action where improvement is necessary.

CCGs can use the information reported from the OIS indicator on completion of the care processes for people with diabetes to assess progress in improvement in their area and against their peers. Where completion rates are low, CCGs can then take action jointly with other practices in their area to make improvements.

To support local commissioning, NHS England has also developed a non-mandatory service specification for diabetes, based on the diabetes NICE Quality Standard, which is currently being piloted with some CCGs. The pilot will be evaluated to assess how useful the specification has been to commissioners, and this will inform decisions about its future development.

The Patient Experience of Diabetes Services survey, part of the National Diabetes Audit, is measuring the healthcare experiences of people with diabetes in England and Wales. The survey pilot tested an online-only approach to measure patient experience in GP and specialist diabetes services. Any diabetes service in England and Wales should be able to use the survey to get feedback from their patients. The survey can help to raise standards and drive out variation, and also empower services to understand at a local level how satisfied their patients are with the service being provided.

Doctors

Question

Asked by Lord Patel of Blackburn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that hospitals have senior doctors on duty overnight.[HL577]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Everyone Counts: Planning for patients 2013-14 committed the National Health Service to move towards routine services being available seven days a week. The NHS Services, Seven Days a

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Week Forum was established to provide evidence and insight to support commissioners and providers to make this happen – which is essential to delivering a much more patient focused service, and one which offers the opportunity to improve clinical outcomes.

The Forum’s Summary of Initial Findings concluded the NHS should adopt 10 evidence-based clinical standards to end current variations in outcomes. It was recognised the presence of consultants and the supervision they provide to doctors in training is integral to the delivery of the clinical standards, and should be available seven days a week.

To achieve this NHS England will use the range of commissioning tools and levers at its disposal, including the NHS Contract.

A seven day service does not mean individual doctors or nurses having to work every day of the week. Instead they will require hospitals to adjust their staffing rotas, making full use of the 76% increase in consultants since 2000.

Driving: Visual Impairment

Question

Asked by Baroness Scott of Needham Market

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the use of bioptic devices to facilitate driving for those with impaired vision. [HL614]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The use of bioptic devices has been considered by an expert working group established by the European Commission Driving Licence Committee, which included a representative from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

They concluded that the minimum standards for driving should not be changed before further research is conducted into the evidence and technological development of the devices.

The use of bioptic devices for driving would be considered only if they do not compromise road safety.

Egypt

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have about the number of persons detained in Egypt without charge or trial; and whether they will make representations for a review process leading to the release of those not charged with civil or criminal offences.[HL424]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): There are no reliable figures on the number of persons currently detained in Egypt without charge or trial as the Egyptian authorities do not publish this data. The 2013 US State Department Human Rights report suggests that there are as many as 2,000 pre-trial detainees. In August 2013 the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my

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right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), called for the release of all political detainees unless there are criminal charges to be laid against them, and emphasised that it is vital that any charges are not politically motivated. In his statement on 28 April he urged the Egyptian authorities to ensure that human and legal rights are fully upheld in the country as a whole. On 5 June the 28 Member States of the EU issued a statement calling on the Egyptian authorities to ensure defendants’ rights to a fair and timely trial based on clear charges and to respect due process.

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations to the government of Egypt about the protection of the rights of Al Jazeera journalists to a fair trial and to freedom of expression under international law.[HL509]

Baroness Warsi: The British Government is appalled by the sentences given to Egyptian and international journalists in Cairo on 23 June, two of whom were British Nationals. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), made a statement on 23 June expressing his concerns and urging the Egyptian government to demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression by reviewing this case as a matter of urgency.

The Egyptian Ambassador, Ashraf el-Kholy, was summoned to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on 23 June. FCO Political Director, Simon Gass, told the Egyptian Ambassador that the British Government was deeply concerned by the verdicts, along with the procedural shortcomings seen during the trials. There is provision for freedom of expression contained in the Egyptian constitution and he asked that the Egyptian authorities review the sentences against this standard.

The UK believes that a free and robust press is the bedrock of democracy and we will continue to raise this case with the Egyptian authorities.

Electoral Register

Question

Asked by Lord Wills

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in calculating the Local Government Finance Settlement, they make any assumptions about the sums that will be spent by local authorities on electoral registration.[HL490]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): Revenue Support Grant and retained business rates are un-hypothecated, and no assumptions of spend on any particular service were used in the settlement calculations. The methodology for the Local Government Finance settlement for 2014-15 was set out for consultation in the technical consultation of July 2013 and the consultation on the provisional settlement of December 2013.

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Expert Evidence

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the allegations made regarding expert witnesses in the BBC Panorama programme Justice for Sale, broadcast on 9 June, they intend to review independently the evidence given by Michael Ansell in the Asil Nadir trial.[HL415]

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) (LD): No. Michael Ansell was instructed by the defence in the trial of Asil Nadir and if the defence have concerns about the evidence given by one of their witnesses it is a matter for them to take forward.

Ferries: Minimum Wage

Question

Asked by Lord MacKenzie of Culkein

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the national minimum wage provisions are applied in the case of the crews of ferries operating on routes into and out of the United Kingdom.[HL598]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Government is currently reviewing the application of the legislation to seafarers. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), where responsibility for the NMW legislation lies, are leading this review. It will primarily consider those seafarers working on ferry services. It is considering the Irish Sea routes as the maritime unions have raised concerns in regard to services on those routes. Other routes where potential avoidance or lack of awareness of the legislation is evident will be considered in due course.

Government, industry stakeholders and unions are working on this review.

Flood Control

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are planning to take in order to prevent flooding in the future, in the light of recent experience. [HL592]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): We will be spending more than £3.2 billion over the course of this parliament on flood and erosion risk management (between 2010/11 to 2014/15). Going forward, we have also made an unprecedented long-term 6-year commitment to record levels of capital investment in improving defences right up to 2021. By the end of the decade, we will have provided a better level of protection to at least 465,000 households.

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In response to the exceptional events of the winter, Defra has made an extra £270 million available to repair, restore and maintain critical defences. This new funding will help the Environment Agency ensure that the most important defences are returned to, and maintained at, target condition as soon as possible.

We are also working to enable action by landowners, communities and others to manage local flood risk, including through the River Maintenance Pilot scheme.

Georgia

Question

Asked by Lord Jopling

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what actions they will take at the NATO summit in Wales regarding proposals to give Georgia a Membership Action Plan.[HL483]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The agenda for the NATO Summit in Wales, including on enlargement issues, is still under discussion within the Alliance. The UK recognises the significant progress that Georgia has made on its path to membership, including holding three free and fair elections since October 2012, and their contributions to NATO operations, including the International Security Assistance Force. We encourage Georgia to continue to make progress on reform, including strengthening the rule of law and judicial independence.

Decisions on next steps for Georgia will be taken by NATO on the basis of consensus amongst all Alliance members.

Government Departments: Correspondence

Question

Asked by Lord Mawson

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Department for Work and Pensions has sent correspondence to elderly members of the public that does not contain in the letter a named person with their contact details; and if so, what is their justification for doing so.[HL546]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Department for Work and Pensions standard for correspondence to elderly members of the public includes a named person and contact details in the letter.

The Department for Work and Pensions standard for IT system generated letters is for the name of the Pension Centre or Office Manager to be shown at the end of the letter with a reply/contact address and telephone number.

The templates for clerical letters include a space for the senders name and job role to be entered at the end of the letter.

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Government Departments: Pay

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they plan to take to ensure that all Government employees are paid the Living Wage.[HL597]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The Government supports all employers who choose to pay the living wage and encourages businesses to pay the living wage where it is affordable. The majority of Government departments already pay their employees above the living wage.

It is for workers and employers to decide the level of wages above the National Minimum Wage based on current circumstances. This includes the Government as an employer and procurer.

Human Rights

Question

Asked by Baroness Hodgson of Abinger

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many United Kingdom experts currently sit on the treaty-monitoring bodies of the United Nations international human rights treaties, and the other human rights bodies of the United Nations; and who they are. [HL517]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): There are 10 treaty-monitoring bodies, three of which have a United Kingdom expert as a member. Sir Nigel Rodley chairs the Human Rights Committee, Malcolm Evans OBE is Chair of the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture, and Diane Mulligan is a member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Independent Living Fund

Question

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what local authority support will be available to current Independent Living Fund users in 2015–16.[HL533]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): Local Authorities have a statutory duty to assess and fund the eligible care needs of all disabled people.

The funding that would have been allocated to the ILF in 2015/16 to support its users from July 2015 onwards will all be transferred to local authorities in England and to the devolved administrations in other parts of the UK.

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Local Government: Audit

Question

Asked by Lord Christopher

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what local authority studies corresponding to those previously undertaken by the Audit Commission are planned for 2014–15.[HL510]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): The Commission will produce its final report under Section 33 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 in October 2014: Protecting the Public Purse 2014. The Comptroller and Auditor General was given new powers on 9 April 2014 to carry out examinations into the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which relevant local authorities have used their resources in discharging their functions, under section 35 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Question

Asked by Lord MacKenzie of Culkein

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of surveyor posts in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are unfilled; and what steps are being taken to rectify the situation.[HL600]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has a complement of 205 posts which either involve the physical activity of surveying, or where the job is graded at the same level as a surveyor. Of these posts, 24% are unfilled, although a high proportion are vacant because the postholder has been seconded or temporarily promoted to other roles which do not entail surveying. In these cases, their marine surveyor skills remain available to the MCA.

The MCA continues to campaign on a national basis to fill vacancies and the last campaign was launched in May 2014. Interviews are planned for week commencing 30 June.

The MCA is trialling Skype interviews to improve the accessibility for candidates working overseas or on vessels.

The MCA has been running a Graduate Scheme for marine surveyors since 2010.

Middle East

Questions

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have sought advice concerning the legality of current Israeli military action in the West Bank; and, if so, what conclusions they have drawn.[HL521]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We consider Israel to be an occupying power, which therefore has obligations

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to the local population under the Fourth Geneva Convention. We have not however formed a definitive legal view on the legality of current Israeli military actions.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel concerning the reported death of Mohammed Dudeen.[HL523]

Baroness Warsi: Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have raised our concerns over this case with the Israeli National Security Council. The Israeli authorities have said they will investigate the shooting.

Motor Vehicles: Excise Duties

Question

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what arrangements local authorities will have in place, following the abolition of the paper Vehicle Access Duty tax disc from 1 October, to check the status of a vehicle parked in a bay or location authorised only for use by a disabled driver.[HL660]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): It is for individual local authorities to decide how to establish the licensing status of vehicles parked in areas restricted to disabled drivers following the abolition of the vehicle tax disc.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has liaised with local authorities about the abolition of the tax disc and provided a broad range of information to help inform their customers. A specific email address has been established to deal with any queries from local authorities and a workshop has been organised for 2 July.

The DVLA has also enhanced its online vehicle enquiry system, which now includes information about the taxation class of a vehicle.

National Parks

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect to publish their decision on the extension of boundaries of national parks.[HL499]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): A public inquiry into proposed extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks was held in June last year. The Planning Inspector’s report was submitted to Defra in October and is being given careful consideration by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s decisions will be issued in due course.

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NATO

Question

Asked by The Marquess of Lothian

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held in relation to the possibility of establishing a permanent NATO presence in the Baltic states.[HL539]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Russia’s actions in Ukraine represent the most serious security crisis in Europe this century. As a result, NATO has undertaken a number of measures to reassure Allies in Eastern Alliance territory. These include air policing, maritime deployments and exercising. The UK is playing an active role in delivering NATO reassurance measures and has offered additional support in a number of areas. We are contributing aircraft to reinforce the Baltic Air Policing mission and as part of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force. We have also augmented some NATO exercises that we were already committed to and are contributing to additional ones. On Wednesday 25 June, the NATO Secretary General announced that NATO Foreign Ministers agreed to develop a robust Readiness Action Plan for the NATO Summit in September. Allies have not made any decision to base forces permanently in the Baltics.

Palestinians

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they and the European Union intend to have with the government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organisation to prepare for the Palestinian elections; and whether the position of imprisoned members of the Palestinian Legislative Council will be discussed.[HL493]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The UK and EU will continue to engage with the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation to discuss the prospects of the elections, including participation.

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they last discussed with the government of Israel progress on United Nations-funded projects in Gaza (1) for which clearance has been given, and (2) for which clearance is awaited; and with what result.[HL496]

Baroness Warsi: We remain concerned at the impact of Israeli restrictions on private sector and humanitarian construction. We press Israel, as the Occupying Power, to ease its restrictions – including on construction materials - on Gaza, stressing the damage that those restrictions are doing to the living standards of ordinary

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Palestinians and that supporting legal trade for Gazans is firmly in Israel’s long-term interests. Officials in Tel Aviv discussed UN reconstruction projects in Gaza with the Israeli authorities in April 2014. Subsequently United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) received re-approval from the Israeli authorities for eight previously approved construction projects. In addition one new project was approved.

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they plan to take to ensure that the search for the missing Israeli teenagers does not result in the use of live ammunition against Palestinian children. [HL522]

Baroness Warsi: The Government continues to raise with Israel the need for a proportionate response to the kidnappings of the three Israel teenagers, and calls on both sides to avoid any actions which could further exacerbate current tensions. As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), said in his statement of 15 June “It is vital that all security operations are conducted with due care and proportionate use of force.”

Personal Independence Payment

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the implementation of the Personal Independence Payment; and whether they have any plans to re-examine the tender documents supplied by Atos in its bid for the contracts.[HL556]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): As with all programmes of reform, we are continually monitoring and evaluating the implementation of personal independence payment. We have no plans to review the tender documents supplied by either of our assessment providers except in the normal course of business for contract reviews.

Private Education

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the charitable status of fee-charging educational foundations with more than 75 per cent of pupils from outside the United Kingdom. [HL604]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Charity Commission. I have asked the Commission's Head of Policy to reply.

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Letter from Jane Hobson, Head of Policy, Charity Commission, to Lord Storey, dated 26 June 2014.

I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question on what assessment the Government has made of the charitable status of fee-charging educational foundations with more than 75 per cent of pupils from outside the United Kingdom [HL604].

The Charity Commission is the regulator of charities in England and Wales; we assess applications for registration, provide guidance on charity law for trustees and investigate serious concerns about the management of charities.

All charities must have exclusively charitable purposes that are for the public benefit. Advancing education is a charitable purpose. Charities established in the UK are not required to benefit only people in the UK.

All charities must operate within their stated purposes and comply with the requirements of charity law. A charitable educational foundation established in the UK would not be limited to providing education only to persons resident in, of from, the UK unless its charitable purpose says so. Many charitable educational foundations cater for students from within and outside the UK. There is nothing in charity law which specifies what proportion of UK and non-UK students a charity can educate. If an educational charity's purpose does not specify where students must reside, or be from, it would not affect its charitable status even if 100% of its students were from outside the UK.

Railways

Question

Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what other high speed rail links they are planning in addition to HS2.[HL548]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The Government’s goal for high speed rail is for a truly national network that will bring the UK and its cities closer together. We are clear that the benefits of high speed rail should extend as widely as possible, and we will continue to explore options for future links to achieve this.

Roads

Question

Asked by Lord Marlesford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which sections of trunk road have been de-trunked in each of the last 10 years.[HL408]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer): The following trunk road de-trunking Orders have been published in the last 10 years:

The A59 Trunk Road (Liverpool–Preston) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 1801

The A6 Trunk Road (South of Leicester to A14) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 1893

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The A6 Trunk Road (Leicester to M1 Motorway) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 1894

The A47 Trunk Road (Leicester to A1) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 2088

The A696/A68 Trunk Road (Prestwick Road End to Carter Bar) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 2155

The A66 Trunk Road (Temple Sowerby Bypass and Improvements at Winderwath) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 2623

The A5195 Trunk Road (Birmingham Northern Relief Road Link Road) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 2666

The A435 Trunk Road (Alcester to Gorcott Hill) De-Trunking Order 1993 (Revocation) Order 2004

2004 No. 2675

The A4 London to Bristol Trunk Road (Colnbrook Bypass) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 2691

The A45 Trunk Road (M1 Junction 16 Roundabout) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 2890

A63 Trunk Road (M1 Junction with A63 Selby Road to A1 Milford Lodge) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 2901

The A590 Trunk Road (Whitestone to Cartmel Lane) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 3174

The A 52 Trunk Road (Dunkirk Roundabout) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 3209

The M62 Motorway (Junction 21 Improvements) (Slip Roads) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 3431

The A1033 Trunk Road (Hedon Road) (Trunking and Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 3434

The A63 Trunk Road (Barlby Junction to Bridge Farm) (Detrunking) Order 2004

2004 No. 3435

The A428 Trunk Road (Caxton Gibbet to Cambourne Improvement) (Detrunking) Order 2005

2005 No. 1150

The A428 Trunk Road (Cambourne to Hardwick Improvement) (Detrunking) Order 2005

2005 No. 1152

The A6514 Trunk Road (A52 to A60) (Detrunking) Order 2003 (Revocation) Order 2005

2005 No. 1391

The A40 Trunk Road (M5 Motorway Junction 11 to the Gloucestershire/Oxfordshire County Boundary) (Detrunking) Order 2005

2005 No. 1574

The A419 Trunk Road (Commonhead Junction Improvement and Slip Roads) (Detrunking) Order 2005

2005 No. 2079

The A500 Trunk Road in Cheshire (Basford-Hough-Shavington Bypass to M6 Junction 16) (Detrunking) Order 2005

2005 No. 2249

The A2 Trunk Road (Pepperhill to Cobham) (Detrunking) Order 2005

2005 No. 2934

The A7 Trunk Road (Carlisle City Boundary to The Scottish Border) (De-Trunking) Order 2005

2005 No. 60

The A1 Trunk Road (Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, Various Locations and Detrunking) Order 2005

2005 No. 73

The A30 Trunk Road (Bodmin to Indian Queens Improvement and Slip Roads) (Detrunking) Order 2005

2005 No. 77

The A74 Trunk Road (Carlisle to Guards Mill Section) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 1096

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The A63 Trunk Road (East of Peckfield Bar to Boot & Shoe) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 1285

The Al Trunk Road (Al (M), A614 and B6045 Junction Improvement Blyth) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 1419

The A419 Trunk Road (Blunsdon Bypass and Slip Roads) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 1546

The A1 Trunk Road (A57 and A614 Junction Improvement Apleyhead) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 1698

The A1 Trunk Road (B1174 Junction Improvement Gonerby Moor) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 2172

The A595 Grizebeck to Chapel Brow Trunk Road (Parton to Lillyhall Improvement) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 2180

The A550 Trunk Road (Improvement between Deeside Park and Ledsham) (Detrunking) Order 1994 (Revocation) Order 2006

2006 No. 2261

The A38 Trunk Road (Dobwalls Bypass) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 2270

The A69 Carlisle to Newcastle Trunk Road (Haydon Bridge Bypass) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 2784

The Al Trunk Road (A57, A638 and B1164 Junction Improvement Markham Moor) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 2862

The A3 Trunk Road (Hindhead) Detrunking Order 2006

2006 No. 3078

The A1 Trunk Road (B1081 Junction Improvement Carpenter’s Lodge) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 3164

The A1 Trunk Road (Bramham to Wetherby Upgrading) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 3302

The A5092 Trunk Road (Between A595 and A590) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 922

The A595 Trunk Road (Calder Bridge to A5092 at Grizebeck) (Detrunking) Order 2006

2006 No. 923

The A14 Trunk Road (Haughley New Street to Stowmarket Improvement and Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 1250

The A650 Trunk Road (Aireville Road to Hard Ings Roundabout) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 2248

The A629 Trunk Road (City Boundary to Hard Ings Roundabout) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 2249

The A629 Trunk Road (Snaygill Roundabout to County Boundary) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 2251

The A629 Trunk Road (Thorlby Roundabout to Snaygill Roundabout) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 2253

The A629 Trunk Road (Ings Lane to Cononley Lane) (Detrunking) Order 1996 (Revocation) Order 2007

2007 No. 2273

The A449 Trunk Road (Dudley, Staffordshire and Worcestershire) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 2298

The A1 Trunk Road (A151/B676 Junction and B6403 Junction Improvements Colsterworth) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 232

The A435 Trunk Road (Warwickshire and Worcestershire) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 3394

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The A446 Trunk Road (Bassetts Pole, Staffordshire to M6 Junction 4, Coleshill, Warwickshire) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 3395

The A46 Trunk Road (A46/M40 Junction 15 (Longbridge) Bypass) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 3609

The A590 Trunk Road in the District of Barrow-in-Furness (From Junction with A5087 Hindpool Road to Junction with C6011 Park Road) (Detrunking) Order 2007

2007 No. 955

The A421 Trunk Road (M1 Junction 13 to Bedford Improvements and Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 2107

The A1 Trunk Road (Dishforth to Barton) (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 2254

The A556 Trunk Road (Turnpike Wood, Over Tabley-A56 Bowdon Roundabout) (Detrunking) Order 1996 (Revocation) Order 2008

2008 No. 234

The A465 Trunk Road (Llangua Bridge to A49/A465 Belmont Roundabout) (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 2350

The A4123 Trunk Road (Sandwell and Dudley) (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 2502

The A570 Trunk Road (North of M58 to the Lancashire County Boundary) (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 2510

The A570 Trunk Road (Lancashire County Boundary to the Kew roundabout) (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 2511

The A65 Trunk Road (From M6 Junction 36 to the Roundabout Junction with the A59) (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 3199

The A38 Trunk Road (Weeford, Staffordshire to Minworth, Birmingham) (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 3291

The A38 Trunk Road (Langley Mill, Warwickshire/Birmingham) (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 3292

The A4 Trunk Road (Bath to Bristol) (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 342

The A456 Trunk Road (Detrunking) Order 2008

2008 No. 585

The A5117 Trunk Road (Parkgate Road Roundabout) (De-Trunking) Order 2009

2009 No. 1370

The A421 Trunk Road (A421/A600 Junction Westbound On Slip Road) Detrunking Order 2009

2009 No. 2716

The A19 Trunk Road (A19/A63 Junction at Barlby to A19/A63 Junction at Selby Crossroads) (Detrunking) Order 2009

2009 No. 282

The A63 Liverpool-Leeds-Hull Trunk Road (North & West Yorkshire) (Revocation and Detrunking) Order 2009

2009 No. 283

The A40 Trunk Road (Gloucestershire Border to Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire) (Detrunking) Order 2009

2009 No. 284

The A46 Trunk Road (Newark to Widmerpool Improvement and Slip Roads) (Detrunking) Order 2009

2009 No. 52

The A52 Trunk Road (A46 Newark to Widmerpool Improvement and Slip Roads) (Detrunking) Order 2009

2009 No. 53

The A11 Trunk Road (Fiveways to Thetford Improvement) (Detrunking) Order 2011

2011 No. 1070

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The A419 Trunk Road (B4040 Swindon Road and Cricklade Roundabout) (Detrunking) Order 2011

2011 No. 2890

The A453 Birmingham to Nottingham Trunk Road (M1 Junction 24 to A52 Nottingham Improvement) (Detrunking) Order 2012

2012 No. 1218

The A168 Trunk Road (Blakey Lane) (Detrunking) (No.2) Order 2013

2013 No. 189

The A46 Trunk Road (Newark to Widmerpool Improvement and Slip Roads) Margidunum Roundabout (Detrunking) Order 2013

2013 No. 1930

The A1 Trunk Road (Dishforth to Barton) (Supplementary Detrunking) Order 2013

2013 No. 2824

The B1248 Trunk Road (Scarborough Road/Brambling Fields Interchange) (Detrunking) Order 2013

2013 No. 764

These published orders are publicly available on the following website:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/2004-2014?text=detrunking

Spinal Injuries

Questions

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to ensure that there are enough designated beds in spinal injury centres for patients with spinal injuries resulting in paralysis.[HL561]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how long the waiting lists for beds for patients with spinal injuries are at the spinal units at (1) the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, (2) the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre, Salisbury, and (3) the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore.[HL562]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): NHS England has advised that all three centres have periodically experienced problems admitting patients promptly, especially for those patients requiring ventilation, and consequently waiting lists for admission have developed. To ensure patients awaiting admission receive appropriate assessment and support, the centres have been providing outreach care to patients at the hospitals to which they are admitted, which will usually be a major trauma centre.

The fluctuations of waiting times and the ability to discharge a patient to the next phase of their care are key factors in enabling the admission of new patients to a centre. NHS England, the eight specialist centres in England and the Spinal Injuries Association are working together to recommend changes to the continuing care process that would enable spinal cord injured patients to move to the next stage of their care as soon as clinically appropriate.

The overall bed complement for England is being reviewed through a demand and capacity project, led by the Spinal Cord Injury Clinical Reference Group (CRG). The CRG aims to produce a report in 2015-16.

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Syria

Questions

Asked by Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the suggestion by non-governmental organisations of a new approach to humanitarian aid in Syria, as reported in The Guardian on 30 May. [HL435]

Baroness Northover (LD): The UK Government agrees that it is unacceptable that people in need in Syria continue to be denied life-saving aid, and condemns the siege and starvation tactics being practised by the Syrian regime and other armed groups. The UK government agrees that the international community must work to ensure Syrians get the aid they need by the most direct routes possible, including through sustained delivery across conflict lines and borders.

Since the start of the Syria crisis, the UK has provided £76 million to agencies working cross-border to provide medical help, food and other aid to hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need inside Syria.

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by Baroness Warsi on 17 June (WS 586–88), whether they plan to abandon their demand that President Assad step down and to urge co-operation between his government and the official opposition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham and other Islamic terrorist groups in Syria.[HL453]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The Assad regime is the primary cause of terrorism in Syria, not the solution to it. The most effective way to tackle terrorism in Syria is to support the moderate opposition in its efforts to protect the Syrian people from the twin threats of tyranny and terrorism. The only sustainable solution to the crisis in Syria is to reach a negotiated political transition by the mutual consent of both sides – this is the principle in the Geneva Communiqué as endorsed by the UN Security Council.

UN Human Rights Council

Question

Asked by Baroness Hodgson of Abinger

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were the financial and time costs of running the election campaign for the United Kingdom member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2013. [HL518]

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): A total of £33,045.55 was spent over two years on the Human Rights Council election campaign. This covered the cost of developing

1 July 2014 : Column WA254

campaign materials and campaign events in Geneva, New York and London. The Human Rights Council election was designated as the priority election by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), in 2013.

Staff in London and across our network of diplomatic posts worked on the Human Rights Council campaign. It is therefore not possible to accurately quantify time costs.

Unemployment: Young People

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the euro on youth unemployment in the European Union.[HL558]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): We have made no specific assessment. However the Government recognises that unemployment is the biggest social challenge facing the EU today, caused by slow growth and labour market barriers in Europe. Solving youth unemployment should involve creating flexible labour markets across the EU, and this is a matter of national competence.

Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill (Draft)

Question

Asked by Lord Norton of Louth

To ask Her Majesty’s Government by what date they plan to publish their response to the report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill (HL Paper 103, Session 2013–14) published in December 2013.[HL553]

Baroness Northover (LD): The Government continues to reflect on the report from the Joint Committee on Prisoner Voting Rights and is considering its recommendations.

This is not a straightforward issue and the Government is looking carefully at the Committee’s conclusions, which included new options for implementation.

Work Capability Assessment

Question

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the new Work Capability Assessment contract or contracts will (1) require customer-facing staff to be suitably qualified to take decisions, and (2) lead to an improvement in the quality of assessments.[HL535]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The future contract for provision of Work Capability Assessments to the DWP will detail requirements in relation to

1 July 2014 : Column WA255

recruitment, training and monitoring of healthcare professionals designed to assure the quality of assessments.

Young People

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their (1) current estimate, and (2) projected estimate as of 7 May 2015, of the number of (a) 16 to 17 year-olds, and (b) 18 to 24 year-olds, in the United Kingdom; and, of their current estimate, what proportion of

1 July 2014 : Column WA256

(1) 16 to 17 year-olds, and (2) 18 to 24 year-olds, in the United Kingdom are currently registered to vote.[HL365]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) mid-2013 UK Population Estimate can be found here: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/pop-estimate/population-estimates-for-uk--england-and-wales--scotland-and-northern-ireland/2013/index.html. The ONS has not made a projected estimate for 7 May 2015.

Data on the proportion of 16 to 17 year olds and 18 to 24 year olds registered to vote is not held.