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Written Answers

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Abortion

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Earl Howe on 16 December 2014 (HL Deb, cols 101–2), whether they sought the endorsement of (1) the British Medical Association, (2) the General Medical Council, and (3) any of the Royal Medical Colleges, for their Guidance in Relation to the Requirements of the Abortion Act 1967; and if so, what were the respective responses.[HL3890]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Department developed the guidance in conjunction with a number of professional organisations and bodies; these included the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The guidance was published solely by the Department.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the answer by Earl Howe on 16 December 2014 (HL Deb, cols 101–2), what status the Guidance in Relation to the Requirements of the Abortion Act 1967 has, and whether abortion providers are legally required to comply with it.[HL3891]

Earl Howe: When exercising power under section 1(3) of the Abortion Act 1967 to approve a place for the termination of pregnancy, the Secretary of State will only consider a provider if they undertake to comply with the Required Standard Operating Procedures which in turn require compliance with the Department’s guidance.

Armed Forces: Vehicles

Question

Asked by Earl Attlee

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what lessons were learnt from Exercises Crusader in 1980 and Lionheart in 1984 with regard to using civilian ports not normally used for particular types of ships for loading particular types of vehicles. [HL4027]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The post exercise reports into the two exercises held in 1980 and 1984 make little mention of the use of civilian ports. However, both exercises were considered a success and found little difficulty in the loading of the vehicles onto ships at civilian ports.

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Bahrain

Questions

Asked by Lord Luce

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the nature and purpose of the new agreement with Bahrain in relation to the naval base at Mina Salman.[HL3965]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The Ministry of Defence has had a Naval Base in Bahrain since the 1950s. The new arrangement will enhance the naval and logistics facilities that support our operations in the Gulf. The agreement (signed in December 2014) reaffirms the UK’s and Bahrain’s joint determination to maintain regional security and stability in the face of enduring and emerging regional challenges.

Asked by Lord Luce

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how the new defence co-operation arrangements with Bahrain differ from the previous arrangements.[HL3966]

Lord Astor of Hever: The arrangement signed in December 2014 supports our existing agreements with Bahrain, comprising three extant Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) covering issues such as Status of Forces, Defence Equipment Cooperation, Exercises and Training. The key MOU was signed in the run up to the first Gulf War. This was principally about facilitating the movement of UK forces through Bahrain including making facilities available for UK forces; this continues to the present day with the hosting of the UK Maritime Component Commander and basing of UK minehunters on operations in the Gulf. The UK/Bahrain high level Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation which was signed in 1971 remains in force.

Asked by Lord Luce

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether defence arrangements with Bahrain extend to any areas other than Mina Salman.[HL3967]

Lord Astor of Hever: The Arrangement that the UK signed with Bahrain in December 2014 concerning naval basing also changed the jurisdiction arrangements that apply to UK military personnel who are serving throughout Bahrain. From 1994 to 2014, the UK had exclusive jurisdiction over UK military personnel in Bahrain but we now have concurrent jurisdiction which recognises that both UK and Bahraini law applies. The Arrangement contains a mechanism to allow the UK and Bahraini authorities to determine which set of national laws should be applied to a member of the UK Armed Forces if it is alleged that they have committed a crime.

Asked by Lord Luce

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the defence co-operation arrangements with Bahrain differ from defence arrangements with other countries in the Gulf or elsewhere.[HL3968]

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Lord Astor of Hever: We have similar defence co-operation arrangements with other countries. Each is governed by a range of international agreements agreed on a bilateral basis.

City Link

Question

Asked by Lord Myners

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will examine the financial support undertakings given to City Link by its owner; and whether they have estimated the cost to the taxpayer of the withdrawal of the committed support.[HL4008]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): The Insolvency Service will consider the conduct of the directors of City Link in connection with the management of the company. This would include any issues associated with financial support offered by its owner or by third parties.

It is not uncommon that an insolvent company has insufficient money to pay their creditors in full—including employees—and that is why there are special arrangements for employees who are made redundant on the insolvency of their employer. These provisions ensure employees receive a basic minimum of the debts owed by the employer from the National Insurance Fund.

It is too early to provide an estimate of the cost of the payments to former employees of City Link. However, I can confirm that there are statutory limits on these payments, such as the £464 cap on a week’s pay.

Cyprus

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 2 December 2014 (HL3199), who issued and on what authority the invitations to the 270 guests who attended the Armistice Sunday service at Wayne’s Keep; why relatives of the deceased were not invited and on whose authority that decision was made; and whether any representative of the Cyprus Government was invited and attended.[HL3958]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The service held at Wayne’s Keep on Remembrance Sunday was a United Nations service of Remembrance organised by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The guest list was determined by UNFICYP. The attendance list has not changed in several years and is designed around the invitation of UN Staff, the military and diplomatic community, and military charities in Cyprus, notably Greek and Turkish Cypriot veterans associations. The Ambassador to the Embassy of the Hellenic Republic in the Republic of Cyprus was invited, but was unable to attend.

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Defence: Expenditure

Question

Asked by Lord Renwick of Clifton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to continue to abide by the NATO principle urging all member states to spend two per cent of gross domestic product on defence.[HL4046]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): This Government is committed to spending 2% of GDP on Defence and we expect to do so through the end of this Parliament. Decisions on Defence spending after financial year 2015-16 will be determined in the next Comprehensive Spending Review. NATO assess the UK to be the largest defence spender in the EU, the second largest in NATO and one of only four countries in NATO currently meeting the NATO 2% GDP guideline.

East Coast Railway Line

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the infrastructure of the East Coast Main Line has sufficient capacity to enable the Virgin/Stagecoach consortium to deliver both faster and more frequent trains under the InterCity East Coast franchise. [HL4150]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The enhanced infrastructure, provided by Government’s Rail Investment Strategy for Control Period 5 (2014-2019) and as part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP), and new trains, provided by IEP, will allow Virgin Trains East Coast to deliver improvements to the East Coast train service. In addition to this any decision on the allocation of further capacity made available by these enhancements will be taken by the Office of Rail Regulation.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why, in the light of the demand for track access exceeding the availability of train paths on the East Coast Main Line, open access operators are paying discounted variable track access charges.[HL4152]

Baroness Kramer: Existing Open Access Operators are charged the same Variable Track Access charges as franchised operators with the exception of the Capacity Charge. This is because implementing the full Control Period 5 (CP5) rates would equate to a real term average increase of 450% in the Capacity Charge from which Open Access Operators have no protection. In light of the Office of Rail Regulation’s statutory duties to promote the use of the railway network, protect the interests of users of railway services and to promote competition in the provision of railway services, they deemed it appropriate to hold Capacity Charge at CP4 rates for both existing services and any new entrant Open Access Operator in line with European law and

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their statutory duties. Any additional services introduced by existing Open Access Operators will be charged at CP5 rates.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on total passenger capacity of the East Coast Main Line of the use of 280-seat trains on 17 per cent of the long distance train paths into and out of King’s Cross, as compared with the 530-seat trains used by the InterCity East Coast franchise.[HL4191]

Baroness Kramer: Decisions on the allocation of track capacity on the railway are matters for Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation. Clearly, where the number of available train paths on a route is constrained, as in the case of parts of the East Coast Main Line, the use of trains with fewer seats than the maximum operationally possible would reduce passenger capacity. However there are other factors influencing the allocation of train paths, including the need for services to cover a range of different routes and stopping patterns, and the availability of rolling stock. The Government would expect such considerations to be taken into account within the decision process.

Electoral Register: Young People

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what additional funding (1) has been, and (2) is being, made available in the current Parliament to (a) Electoral Registration Officers, and (b) democracy organisations, to support youth and student voter registration and voter engagement efforts in the United Kingdom. [HL3946]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): On 9 January Government announced that almost £10 million will be given to local authorities and to national activity to boost the number of people registering to vote around the country. This is in addition to the £4.2 million announced last year.

£6.8 million of the funding has been allocated to local authorities so that they can expand their programmes of canvassing and other activities aimed at encouraging people to register to vote.

Up to £2.5 million will be used to fund wider activity, including working with national organisations to encourage groups who are not as well represented on the electoral register in general, such as young people including students and overseas voters.

English Language: Education

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to increase the attention paid to vocabulary building within literacy syllabuses in the national curriculum from pre-school onwards.[HL4136]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets out that literacy development during the early years involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Both the reading and writing literacy goals in the Statutory Framework set out the skills that most children should meet by the end of the foundation stage. Children must also be given access to a wide range of reading materials to ignite their interest.

The importance of vocabulary development is emphasised and integrated throughout the National Curriculum framework. This covers both general vocabulary development and the subject-specific language that pupils need to be able to use to progress in, for example, mathematics and science. Both the reading and writing domains of the English programmes of study emphasise the importance of building pupils’ vocabulary, so they understand and can use a wide range of words.

The approach to developing vocabulary is first through securing word reading and comprehension and secondly through pupils developing an understanding of how words and meaning can be created using prefixes and suffixes. Morphology and etymology are emphasised at key stage 2 to further develop pupils’ capacity for understanding and developing vocabulary. This is brought together in the appendix to the English programmes of study covering vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, which also sets out the terminology that pupils should be taught to use to discuss their writing.

EU Budget: Contributions

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Deighton on 15 December 2014 (HL3255), why the repayment conditions were not agreed in advance of the European Commission announcing the additional contribution to the European Union Budget; and what contingency planning they had undertaken to prepare for such an additional repayment demand.[HL3898]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): In line with the Own Resources system—which underpins Member State contributions to the EU budget—adjustments are made to Member State contributions towards the end of each year, as a result of statistical revisions to factors underlying the contributions.

As the Prime Minister said in his statement following the October European Council last year, in some years the UK adjustment has been negative and in some years we contribute a little bit more. This happens every year. However, what has never happened is for €2 billion to be demanded.

The Prime Minister also made clear that it was an unacceptable way for the Commission to suddenly present a bill like this for such a vast sum of money and with so little time to pay it.

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Commission Vice-President Georgieva confirmed that there was no way that Member States could have known the net figure until 17 October 2014.

Following intensive discussions with the Commission and at the November ECOFIN meeting, the Government halved the bill for the UK, delayed the bill, will pay no interest on the bill, and has changed the rules of the European Union so that such unacceptable behaviour never happens again.

Forests

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the acreage of land in England that was wooded at the beginning of 2015; and what they expect the acreage to be at the beginning of 2020.[HL4089]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): Woodland statistics are published annually by the Forestry Commission. The latest available figures on woodland area in England are to 31 March 2014. These showed a total woodland area of 1,302,000 hectares (3,217,000 acres), comprising 74% broadleaves and 24% conifers.

We will be working to further increase the area of woodland over the next five years. The Government’s Forestry and Woodland Policy Statement, published in 2013, set out our aspirations to increase woodland cover in England from 10% to 12% by 2060, representing an average planting rate of 5,000 hectares (12,355 acres) per year. Achieving this challenging aspiration will be dependent on Government-supported woodland creation combined with the efforts of the private and third sectors.

General Election 2015

Question

Asked by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whom they have appointed to carry out the review of the operation of Part 6 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 in relation to the 2015 general election as provided for in section 39 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014.[HL3929]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Reviewer will be appointed before the end of January 2015 in accordance with section 39 of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014.

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HIV Infection

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether funding for the national HIV prevention programme will be reduced from April 2015, and if so, by how much. [HL3884]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consultation has taken place about the possibility of a reduction in funding for the national HIV prevention programme.[HL3885]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the possible impact of a reduction in funding for the national HIV prevention programme from April 2015 on rates of HIV transmission in the United Kingdom.[HL3886]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): We have no plans to reduce funding for the national HIV prevention programme for 2015-16.

Holiday Accommodation: Greater London

Question

Asked by Baroness Gardner of Parkes

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the regulations in relation to Clause 33 of the Deregulation Bill will be available in print; and whether this will be before consideration of the relevant clauses at Report Stage of the Bill.[HL4045]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Government’s draft regulations which set out the detail of reforms to legislation on short-term letting in London will be brought forward following Royal Assent of the Deregulation Bill. The Government intends to write to all Peers shortly with a detailed policy position, to inform the debate on Clause 33 at Lords Report Stage.

Honours

Questions

Asked by Lord Lexden

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to publish the results of their inquiry into the premature disclosure of certain honours included in the New Year’s honours list; and if so, when. [HL4073]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what criteria are used to determine (1) appointment as MBE, and (2) award of the British Empire Medal.[HL4075]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): As is the practice of previous Governments, we do not normally comment on such inquiries.

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The honours committees have adopted the following indicative guidelines as to the criteria for assessing the award of MBEs and BEMs:

Member of the British Empire (MBE)

Achievement or service in and to the community which is outstanding in its field and has delivered sustained and real impact which stands out as an example to others.

British Empire Medal (BEM)

Achievement or contribution of a very “hands-on” service to the community in a local geographical area. This might take the form of sustained commitment in support of very local charitable and/or voluntary activity; or innovative work that has delivered real impact but that is relatively short (three to four years) in duration.

ICT: Education

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to encourage the teaching of computer coding in schools.[HL4138]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): The new national curriculum in computing is now being taught in maintained schools. It is a compulsory subject in all key stages and the programmes of study include coding from key stage 1. Primary school pupils will be taught about algorithms and how to design and write programs, while at secondary school pupils will be taught to use at least two programming languages. The Government has made £3.5 million available to provide training and support to existing teachers to ensure they are fully prepared to teach computing and have the skills to engage and enthuse their pupils.

In Vitro Fertilisation

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 30 October 2013 (WA 259), 26 November 2013 (WA 263), 3 December 2013 (WA 36), 3 December 2014 (HL3158), 16 December 2014 (HL3461) and 5 January (HL3839), whether the Chief Medical Officer’s views are the only obstacle they are aware of to a universally agreed definition of genetic modification; if not, what are the “rather mixed and odd ways” in which others have used terms like “genetic modification”, “GM” and “germline”.[HL3892]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): I have nothing to add to the information I gave the noble Lord in my Written Answers of 16 December 2014 (HL3461) and 6 January 2015 (HL3839).

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Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Statement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health, Jane Ellison, on 17 December 2014 (HC Deb, cols 96–7WS) and the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 5 January (HL3754), why the draft Regulations laid before Parliament do not mention the regulatory process that would involve analysis of the POLG gene; whether they still consider Leigh syndrome to be one of “the most serious disorders that can arise from unhealthy mitochondria”; and whether certain patients presenting with Leigh syndrome might therefore be contraindicated as candidates for pronuclear transfer or spindle-chromosomal complex transfer due to heterozygosity for POLG mutations as reported in the Journal of Pediatrics (May 2007, Volume 150, Issue 5, pages 531–534), Human Mutation (February 2009, Volume 30, Issue 2, pages 248–254), Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (May 2009, Volume 1787, Issue 5, pages 484–490) and the European Journal of Paediatric Neurology (September 2012, Volume 16, Issue 5, pages 542–548).[HL3893]

Earl Howe: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised that it will design the regulatory process following the passage of any regulations to allow mitochondrial donation. Should Parliament pass the mitochondrial donation regulations, the technique could only be licensed for the avoidance of serious diseases caused by inherited mutations in mitochondrial DNA, not nuclear DNA. It is anticipated that the regulatory process would require case by case approval of each application relating to each particular patient.

Iraq Committee of Inquiry

Question

Asked by Lord Morris of Aberavon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when “Maxwellisation” letters were sent to witnesses to the Chilcot inquiry.[HL4201]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The timing of Maxwellisation is a matter for the independent Inquiry.

Magistrates’ Courts

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) district, and (2) deputy district judges, are currently serving in magistrates’ courts; and how many such judges they estimate will be appointed in 2015. [HL3917]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): As at 31 December 2014, there were 137 District Judges (Magistrates’ Court) and 140 Deputy District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) in post. It is anticipated that the Judicial Appointments Commission

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will run a selection exercise for District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) later this year, but the number of vacancies is to be confirmed. There are currently no plans to run a Deputy District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) selection exercise in 2015.

Military Decorations

Question

Asked by Lord Ashcroft

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Astor of Hever on 15 December 2014 (HL3258), whether any gallantry medals have been awarded but not gazetted in the last 15 years.[HL3897]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): Unless precluded on National Security grounds all gallantry medals awarded are a matter of public record via an announcement in the London Gazette.

Ministers’ Private Offices

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Government Ministers routinely inform all members of Parliament of the names, phone numbers and email addresses of their private offices; and if not, why not.[HL3960]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Cabinet Office publication, the List of Ministerial Responsibilities, includes email addresses and phone numbers of Minister’s private offices. Copies are available in the Vote Office, Printed Paper Office, and the Libraries of both Houses. It is also available on GOV.UK. I have a sent a copy to the Noble Lord for his ease of reference.

Palestinians

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to speed up payment of the sums pledged in Cairo for the reconstruction of Gaza; and whether they will ask Israel to contribute. [HL3933]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Northover) (LD): At the Gaza Reconstruction Conference, the UK pledged £20 million for early recovery assistance. DFID has already disbursed £5 million and will provide the remainder in 2015/16. We urge other donors to deliver their pledges. The UK continues to press the Government of Israel to meet its obligations as an occupying power under International Humanitarian Law, including by facilitating the entry of reconstruction materials into Gaza.

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Pensions

Question

Asked by Lord McFall of Alcluith

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to promote (1) increased competition, and (2) the levying of fair fees and commissions, in the private pensions industry.[HL4159]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Government and regulators have introduced a package of measures, including establishing Independent Governance Committees to improve governance in contract based pension schemes, improved governance standards for trust based schemes and the introduction of a 0.75 per cent cap on charges in the default funds of schemes used for automatic enrolment. Subject to Parliamentary approval, these changes will come into effect from April.

The Government is also banning a number of charges which are no longer appropriate in the context of automatic enrolment into workplace pensions. From April 2015, we will extend the existing ban on consultancy charging to all contract-based schemes used for automatic enrolment. Likewise, adviser commission and Active Member Discounts, which penalise those who stop contributing or leave their employer and move jobs, will be banned in all schemes used for automatic enrolment from April 2016. We are also introducing measures to improve transparency throughout the value chain in the workplace pensions market and expect that this will lead to increased competition on costs and charges to the benefit of the consumer.

The recent pensions flexibility reforms are also an opportunity for the retirement income industry to develop new products that meet the evolving needs of consumers. The new flexibility will help consumers choosing to select an annuity or another option to access their pension savings to get a better deal in a more competitive market place. The shape of the market will now be driven by the choices consumers make, placing power back into the hands of savers.

Furthermore, as of the end of December, over 5.1 million workers have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension. This is having a significant impact on the private pensions market and by 2020, we estimate that automatic enrolment will have generated an additional £8 to £12 billion a year in workplace pension saving. The growth in this market is supporting strong competition between providers and schemes.

Pensions: Fees and Charges

Question

Asked by Lord McFall of Alcluith

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the charges, fees and commissions paid by consumers in relation to private pensions are transparent.[HL4158]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): The Government is committed to improving the transparency of costs and charges in workplace pension schemes. The Government’s Command Papers ‘Better Workplace Pensions: Further measures for savers’ and ‘Better Workplace Pensions: Putting savers interests first’ published in March and October 2014 set out a range of measures including a cap on charges in default fund arrangements, a ban on inappropriate charges and proposals to introduce minimum governance standards and improve transparency across workplace defined contribution schemes.

The Government has recently consulted on draft legislation which, subject to parliamentary approval, will introduce new requirements on trustees to improve the transparency of costs and charges in occupational schemes from April 2015. Under these new requirements, trustees will be required to annually report on costs and charges for the first time. Similar rules are to be introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority to require the newly formed Independent Governance Committees to report on costs and charges in workplace personal pension schemes.

Later this year we will consult on ways to build on this first phase of enhanced transparency, to meet our duties under the Pensions Act 2014 requiring information about transaction costs to be disclosed to members of workplace pension schemes, and the publication of costs and charges information. The FCA also intends to consult on amending its rules to with a view to introducing equivalent enhanced transparency provisions for workplace personal pension schemes during 2015.

Public Interest Lawyers

Question

Asked by Lord Blencathra

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the statement made by the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon MP, on 17 December 2014 (HC Deb, cols 1407–9), whether they will investigate what other cases Public Interest Lawyers may have pursued on the basis of false allegations.[HL3956]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): Many of these cases are currently being investigated by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, and we await their findings. If these investigations find a number of the complaints to be untrue, we will consider asking the Solicitors Regulation Authority to investigate how the firm identifies its clients.

Pupils: Disadvantaged

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans the Department for Education have to increase funding for summer schools.[HL4137]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): Since 2012, the Department for Education has provided funding to enable secondary schools to run a summer school for their new pupils who are classed as disadvantaged. These events provide an excellent opportunity for secondary schools to help disadvantaged pupils understand what and how they will be studying in key stage 3, and also to help those who are behind in key areas such as literacy and numeracy to catch up with their peers.

The 2015 summer schools programme opened for registrations on Monday 19 January 2015. As in previous years, schools will receive £250 (if running a one-week summer school) or £500 (if running a two-week summer school) for every eligible pupil who confirms they want to attend the summer school.

Any decision on the future of the summer schools programme would be made as part of the next Spending Review.

Redundancy Pay

Question

Asked by Lord Mendelsohn

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will list all the payments made by the Redundancy Payments Office, their value, and the companies in respect of which each was made, in each year from 2003 to 2014.[HL4093]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): The Insolvency Service’s Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) receives on average 75,000 individual claims a year.

In the last four financial years, the RPS has paid out the following in statutory payments:

DateCases receivedAmount paid by RPS

2010-2011

12,356

£576,526,767

2011-2012

10,883

£414,210,703

2012-2013

13,355

£440,256,838

2013-2014

9652

£334,377,039

Annual data prior to 2010 and a breakdown of the individual case names and payments are not readily available, and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Tobacco: Packaging

Question

Asked by Lord Rennard

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when regulations will be introduced to implement plain paper packaging for cigarettes.[HL3912]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Government has not yet made a final decision on whether to introduce

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standardised packaging of tobacco products. The Government continues to consider carefully all issues relevant to the introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco products. Any decision about the appropriate Parliamentary timetable for the proposed regulations will be made if required, when the Government has made its final decision.

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The draft regulations were notified to the European Commission under the Technical Standards Directive on 29 August. This started an initial three month “standstill” period. We have received a detailed opinion from a Member State which extends the “standstill” period to six months and regulations cannot be made until after this period.