29 Oct 2014 : Column WA153

Written Answers

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Apprentices

Question

Asked by Lord Smith of Clifton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many (1) 16 year-olds, (2) 17 year-olds, and (3) 18 year-olds started apprenticeships in the academic years 2012–13 and 2013–14 in England.[HL2335]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): Table 1 shows the number of apprenticeship starts for 16, 17 and 18 year olds in 2012/13 and provisional full year apprenticeship starts for the same ages in 2013/14. Provisional data are subject to change and should not be directly compared with data from earlier academic years.

Table 1: Apprenticeship starts by age (2012/13 and 2013/14 provisional full year)
2012/132013/14
Full year
AgeFull year(provisional)

16

25,080

25,170

17

35,810

38,320

18

53,430

54,140

Notes

1) Volumes are rounded to the nearest 10.

2) Age is calculated based on age at start of the programme rather than based on 31 August.

3) Provisional data are subject to change and should not be directly compared with data from earlier academic years.

China

Questions

Asked by Lord Eames

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether any discussions have been held with the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China concerning the findings of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, especially on the issue of the forcible repatriation of North Korean refugees and the People’s Republic of China’s obligation under the United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees. [HL2199]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials raised concerns on the forcible repatriation of refugees with the Chinese Embassy in London on 13 August 2014. FCO officials also raised this issue and the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue on 19-20 May 2014, which representatives from the Chinese Embassy in London attended. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth

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Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), raised the issue with the Chinese Permanent Representative in Geneva on 18 June.

Asked by Lord Eames

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have raised concerns with the People’s Republic of China concerning its compliance in the treatment of North Korean refugees within Chinese territory with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention against torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.[HL2200]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The Government regularly raises with China the treatment of North Korean refugees. We have made clear that people who have escaped from North Korea are entitled to protection under the International Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (1967). We have also made clear that the Chinese government should allow people from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea safe passage to resettlement in third countries; and we encourage the Chinese government to work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to facilitate this. We expect China, like all countries, to comply fully with its obligations under international human rights conventions. The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Mr Swire), raised these issues with the Chinese Permanent Representative in Geneva in June 2014.

Coalition Governments

Question

Asked by Lord Lexden

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 23 June (HL244), whether they will now set a definite date for the release of their written response to the report of the Select Committee on the Constitution on the Constitutional implications of coalition government (HL Paper 130, Session 2013–14) published on 12 February and debated on 13 May. [HL2131]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Government is grateful to the Select Committee on the Constitution for its work on these important issues. The Government is considering these issues carefully and will respond shortly.

Disabled Students’ Allowances

Question

Asked by Lord Addington

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of reforms of the disabled student allowance, there is a clear guide to the duties of higher education sectors towards disabled students.[HL1991]

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Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con): The Government has published draft guidance which sets out what Disabled Students Allowances will fund in the 2015-16 academic year. Institutions have a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 to provide reasonable adjustments. It is not the role of Government to set out what an institution should do to meet that legal duty.

Electronic Warfare

Question

Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any provision comparable to that made by the United States towards the creation and retention of a service dedicated to cyber warfare technology; and whether there is a services’ cyber commander in post.[HL2197]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The United Kingdom’s approach to military cyber operations recognises that the contemporary operating environment now requires commanders at every level to understand cyberspace. The Ministry of Defence is therefore mainstreaming cyber throughout the Department and the Armed Forces to ensure that every part of Defence sees cyberspace as part of their responsibilities. For those elements of Defence that are cyber specialists, the Chief of the Defence Staff has issued direction to the four star commander of the Joint Forces Command appointing him as the Joint Commander for the planning and conduct of Defence’s cyber operations. Responsibility is delegated through the Chief of Defence Intelligence to the Joint Forces Cyber Group, who plan and direct the activities of our Joint Cyber Units. The Senior Responsible Owner for the integration of Cyber across Defence is the two-star Director of Cyber Intelligence and Information Integration.

EU External Trade: USA

Questions

Asked by Baroness Manzoor

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have undertaken an impact assessment of the potential impacts on the National Health Service of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which is being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.[HL2373]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the implications for the National Health Service and the staff who work in the National Health Service if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is agreed.[HL2374]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what are the implications for hospitals and foundation trusts if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is agreed.[HL2375]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will not affect the way the United Kingdom Government runs the National Health Service. It has been made clear by negotiators from both the United States and the European Union that it is up to the UK alone to decide how the NHS is run and any assertion that TTIP will undermine the Government’s control of the NHS is a red herring.

The TTIP could offer great benefits to British business and for British jobs. Greater consistency in existing and new regulatory requirements would make it easier for companies—especially small and medium enterprises—to access markets and, for patients, potentially help to increase access to new medicines and medical devices.

General Practitioners

Question

Asked by Lord Browne of Belmont

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many general practitioner practices in England have closed since June 2010; and how many have opened since January 2013.[HL2108]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The data requested is shown in the following table. It is not possible to show this by calendar month.

It is important to note that these figures also include practice mergers and takeovers and do not provide an accurate representation of activity or service provision. For example, the merger of three practices would show as three practices closing and one opening.

Closed: EnglandOpened: England

2010

79

x

2011

111

x

2012

124

x

2013

126

13

2014 (to 31 August)

78

9

Source: HSCIC

Notes:

Details for opened practices in 2010 to 2012 have not been provided, but are available.

Gibraltar: Spain

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Anelay of St Johns (HL1709), how many incursions by Spanish state vessels into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters there have been in 2014 to date and in each of the preceding five years; and, in the light of these numbers, what is their assessment of the efficacy of the defence of United Kingdom sovereignty over these waters using current methods.[HL2285]

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): There were 247 unlawful incursions between January and September this year. There were 103 in 2010, 24 in 2011, 229 in 2012 and 496 in 2013, as stated in the reply of 17 June, Official Report, column WA38, given by the former Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the right hon. Baroness Warsi. The Government cannot readily provide statistics for incursions before 2010 as this could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost.

Incursions are a violation of sovereignty, not a threat to it. They do not change the fact of British sovereignty over British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. The Government challenges and protests all unlawful incursions and these actions effectively defend our sovereignty over British Gibraltar Territorial waters.

Higher Education: Finance

Question

Asked by Lord Blencathra

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in view of the latest Times Guide to Universities ranking all United Kingdom universities in terms of performance, what plans they have to cut or reduce funding to the poorest performers.[HL2118]

Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con): The reforms this Government has introduced mean that funding now follows the decisions of students and that students can access better information, including about University performance, to support their choices. In September 2012 we introduced the Key Information Set to provide comparable information which students have said they find useful when choosing their higher education course. It includes on student satisfaction ratings, graduate salaries and employment outcomes, tuition fees and financial support, and the cost of accommodation.

Homelessness

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the findings of the recent research by Crisis into the treatment of single homeless people by local authorities in England.[HL2305]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): This Government is committed to preventing and tackling homelessness. We have increased homelessness prevention spending, making over £500 million available since 2010 to local authorities and the voluntary sector to help the most vulnerable in society.

We are improving services through the new £8 million Help for Single Homeless Fund. This will enable local authorities, working with local partners such as the health and probation services, to better tackle and prevent single homelessness.

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We are helping single homeless people find and sustain accommodation in the private rented sector through our £13 million funding to Crisis. By 2016 we expect the Crisis scheme to have helped 10,000 single homeless people since it started in 2010.

We are continuing to tackle and prevent rough sleeping. Thousands of vulnerable people have been helped off the streets through the No Second Night Out and Streetlink initiatives. £20 million funding has been made available to the voluntary sector through the Homelessness Transition Fund which has helped No Second Night Out schemes across the country. There have been 18,000 Streetlink referrals since December 2012.

In Vitro Fertilisation

Question

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 22 July 2008 (HL4926 and HL4927) and by Earl Howe on 9 July 2012 (HL1211), of how many cycles the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority are aware in which fresh embryo transfers took place after 15 or more eggs were collected over each of the past ten years.[HL2287]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): The number of treatment cycles in which fresh embryo transfers took place after 15 or more eggs were collected, in each of the last 10 years, is shown in the following table:

YearsCycles in which fresh embryo transfers took place after 15 or more eggs were collected

2004

5602

2005

5737

2006

5843

2007

6345

2008

6589

2009

7344

2010

7801

2011

8195

2012

8200

2013(1)

8128

Source:

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

(1)

2013 is the most recent year for which information is available.

India

Question

Asked by Lord Ramsbotham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether Foreign and Commonwealth Office-sponsored officials from the Indian Prison Service were charged for a visit to HMP Grendon; and if so, how much, and on what grounds.[HL2116]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) charged Penal Reform International £1,000 for running a full day visit to HMP Grendon in

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June 2014, involving ten Indian Prison Officers, two Indian Training Academy officials and one Penal Reform International representative. The charge covered the costs of NOMS staff screening and arranging the visit and HMP Grendon’s staff costs for escorting and providing refreshments for the thirteen delegates.

Most of the international visits to prisons that NOMS arranges are at the request of other governments and are not charged. NOMS applies charges in a few cases to cover its costs where, as on this occasion, a private company or non-governmental organisation approaches NOMS as an intermediary and has a funded programme of which the visit is part.

Israel

Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to government of Israel concerning the banning of non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International from working in Israel.[HL2208]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): We have not raised this issue with the Israeli authorities as Amnesty International are not banned from working in Israel.

Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have, however, raised our concerns with the Israeli National Security Adviser and the Israeli Office for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) on access to Gaza for non-governmental organisations. Our deputy Ambassador to Tel Aviv sent a letter to the Head of COGAT, Major General Mordechai, in mid-August requesting that Amnesty be granted access to Gaza.

Mental Health Services

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what effect spending pre-emptions by NHS England have had on the ability of NHS England to ensure parity of esteem as required by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, the NHS Mandate for 2013 to 2015 and the Refreshed Mandate for 2014 to 2015.[HL2183]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): Funding for mental health has increased by £120 million in 2014-15, a rise of 1.4% in cash terms. Total mental health spending will rise from £8.5 billion in 2013-14 to £8.62 billion in 2014-15.

The Government has committed an additional £40 million funding boost for mental health services in 2014-15. A further £80 million in 2015-16 will be freed by NHS England from existing budgets.

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The Department and NHS England continue to work together to ensure that there are consistent messages to commissioners and providers about the importance of delivering parity of esteem for people with mental health needs.

Monitor and NHS England are responsible for setting the national tariff arrangements and are working together to develop a national payment system for mental health which promotes early intervention, access to effective evidence-based care, improved outcomes and recovery.

The national tariff arrangements for 2015-16 will include examples of new and innovative payment models which local commissioners and providers may choose to adopt next year.

Morocco

Question

Asked by Lord Black of Brentwood

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent representations they have made to the government of Morocco about its treatment of homosexual men and women.[HL2326]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): We regularly discuss human rights issues with the Moroccan authorities. Our ambassador in Morocco most recently raised lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights with the Moroccan Foreign Minister in early October 2014.

North Korea

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by Mr Marzuki Darusman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, that the United Kingdom should consider implementation of all recommendations made by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry in its report, including steps to increase the flow of free and impartial information into North Korea.[HL2178]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): The UK welcomes the spotlight shone by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on horrific and systemic violations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). We have urged the DPRK authorities to respond in detail to the contents of the report and to address the violations that it documents.

Although not all recommendations in the COI report apply directly to the UK, where possible we have taken steps to support implementation. For example, on the findings related to trafficking and forced repatriation, we have made clear to the Chinese government that we believe that people who have escaped from the DPRK are entitled to protection and should be allowed safe passage to resettlement in third countries.

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Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure that the recommendations accepted by North Korea in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review have been implemented; and whether they will offer support to North Korea in its implementation of accepted recommendations from its second periodic review.[HL2179]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: Following the adoption of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report on 19 September 2014, the UK issued a statement via our Mission in Geneva welcoming the DPRK’s engagement. We urged the DPRK to fulfil the commitment made to respond to the 185 recommendations which it agreed to examine, and to take concrete steps to implement all the UPR recommendations. We also noted with regret that 83 UPR recommendations did not enjoy the support of the DPRK, particularly those related to the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry, co-operation with the Special Rapporteur, the treatment of political prisoners and closure of political prison camps.

We have made clear to the DPRK that the UK would be happy to provide technical assistance or advice to the DPRK on any aspect of its human rights performance, including for example information on the UK approach to our own UPR.

North Sea Oil

Question

Asked by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the total revenue they have received from the extraction and exploration of North Sea oil.[HL2133]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): Government revenues from UK oil and gas production for all years to 2013-14 are published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as National Statistics on the GOV.UK website[1]. Total revenues can be found in Table 11.11 from the Statistics of Government revenues from UK oil and gas production publication[2].

The values in Table 11.11 are detailed in current prices, so for previous years they do not reflect the value of total revenue today. The total revenue received from the extraction and exploration of North Sea oil is £187.8 billion in current prices.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/petroleum- revenue-tax-prt-and-government-revenues-from-uk-oil-and-gas-production

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/306225/140424_Table_11_11.pdf

Orthopaedics

Question

Asked by Lord Harrison

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in how many Clinical Commissioning Groups rates of (1) major, and (2) minor, amputations are more than 33 per cent

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above the national average; and how the national average compares with other European Union member states.[HL2328]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe) (Con): It is not possible to distinguish in Hospital Episode Statistics between “major” and “minor” amputations.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has calculated the England average rate of amputation per 100,000 population and highlighted the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) of residence having rates more than 33% higher than the national average. There are 25 such CCGs.

This is not a count of people as the same person may have had more than one episode of care within the same time period.

We do not have information on a comparison of rates of amputation with other European Union member states.

Clinical Commissioning Group of residenceCount of finished consultant episodesPopulationRate per 100,000 population

NHS SCARBOROUGH AND RYEDALE CCG

68

110,488

61.5

NHS EAST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE CCG

169

314,504

53.7

NHS DONCASTER CCG

159

302,739

52.5

NHS MANSFIELD AND ASHFIELD CCG

101

192,539

52.5

NHS BLACKPOOL CCG

72

141,976

50.7

NHS KNOWSLEY CCG

74

145,936

50.7

NHS DURHAM DALES, EASINGTON AND SEDGEFIELD CCG

138

273,043

50.5

NHS KERNOW CCG

272

540,178

50.4

NHS FAREHAM AND GOSPORT CCG

98

196,078

50.0

NHS LANCASHIRE NORTH CCG

78

158,528

49.2

NHS NORTHERN, EASTERN AND WESTERN DEVON CCG

421

869,408

48.4

NHS STOKE ON TRENT CCG

124

258,114

48.0

NHS TELFORD AND WREKIN CCG

80

167,682

47.7

NHS HEREFORDSHIRE CCG

88

184,932

47.6

NHS HULL CCG

122

257,204

47.4

NHS NORTH KIRKLEES CCG

88

186,706

47.1

NHS BOLTON CCG

131

278,984

47.0

NHS EAST STAFFORDSHIRE CCG

58

123,945

46.8

NHS COASTAL WEST SUSSEX CCG

222

476,677

46.6

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NHS LINCOLNSHIRE EAST CCG

106

228,111

46.5

NHS HALTON CCG

58

125,692

46.1

NHS NEWARK & SHERWOOD CCG

53

115,897

45.7

NHS THANET CCG

62

135,661

45.7

NHS SOMERSET CCG

243

534,950

45.4

NHS BRADFORD CITY CCG

37

82,319

44.9

Pakistan

Question

Asked by Baroness Berridge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the assassination of the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, and in particular, the recent assassination of Latif Aalam Butt.[HL2217]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): We remain concerned about the violence faced by the Ahmadiyya and other communities in Pakistan and continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to protect and guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens as laid down in the Constitution and in accordance with international standards. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office closely monitors the situation in Pakistan as documented in the annual Human Rights report and quarterly updates. The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron) and the former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), raised human rights concerns with Prime Minister Sharif during his visit in May 2014.

Pensions: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether and how the new Freedom and Choice for Pensioners arrangements will apply to Northern Ireland; and whether they have discussed the matter of a legislative consent motion with the Northern Ireland Executive.[HL2100]

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The tax changes necessary to deliver the Freedom and Choice in Pensions agenda are contained in the Taxation of Pensions Bill. The provisions in this Bill will apply across the UK as the relevant tax legislation is not, in the main, a matter over which powers have been devolved.[1] The Pension Schemes Bill is being used to introduce further changes relevant to the Freedom and Choice agenda. Where these do relate to devolved matters in Northern Ireland, the

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Government is in the process of obtaining the necessary legislative consent motion and approval from the Northern Ireland Assembly.

[1]

Explanatory notes for the Taxation of Pensions Bill were published on the Parliament Website. Territorial extent is detailed in paragraph 52 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2014-2015/0097/en/15097en.htm

Prisoners’ Transfers: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Browne of Belmont

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many prison transfer applications from Great Britain to Northern Ireland have been (1) sent, (2) approved, and (3) rejected, in the past 12 months.[HL2109]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): From 1 October 2013 to the 30 September 2014 the National Offender Management Service referred a total of eight applications to the Northern Ireland Prison Service from prisoners seeking to transfer from a prison in England and Wales to one in Northern Ireland to continue serving a sentence of imprisonment or to facilitate a period of temporary visits with close family.

Of the 8 applications, two were approved and the prisoners were transferred, one application was refused, one prisoner withdrew their application and four applications remain under consideration.

Public Sector: Pensions

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of how many individuals in defined contribution funded public sector pension schemes will withdraw their entire accrued entitlements under the new Freedom and Choice for Pensioner arrangements in the first year from April 2015, and at what cost.[HL2096]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they consider that delaying transfer payments and reducing transfer values are sufficient safeguards to stabilise public sector funded pension schemes threatened by large-scale withdrawals under the new Freedom and Choice for Pensioners arrangements.[HL2097]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, under their proposed entire pension withdrawal arrangements, they will include in the legislation a power to suspend the concession for such schemes in the event of serious destabilisation of funded public service pension schemes or extreme cost to the Exchequer.[HL2098]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the key difference between trust-based and contract-based public sector defined contribution schemes in relation to the proposed pension withdrawal arrangements; and what was the result of their consultation with the Local Government Pension Scheme on extra safeguards for such trust-based schemes.[HL2099]

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The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): The government believes that people should be free to make their own choice about how to use their savings—individuals who have worked hard and saved responsibly throughout their adult life should have a choice about their pension savings and the reforms announced at Budget 2014 will deliver this.

The new tax framework, which will allow, from April 2015, individuals with a defined contribution pension to access their entire pension flexibly will apply equally across trust and contract based money purchase pension schemes. In the public sector, members of defined contribution schemes will also have access to these flexibilities, including members with savings in Additional Voluntary Contribution (AVC) arrangements.

The Government’s assessment of the impact of the policy is set out in detail in the Budget costing note and the Tax Information and Impact Note, published alongside the Taxation of Pensions Bill.

The Government wants to extend the principles of freedom and choice to as many pension savers as possible which is why, following an extensive public consultation, it was decided to permit transfers out of private sector and funded public sector defined benefit schemes to continue. Giving scheme members the choice to transfer their accrued benefits into a defined contribution scheme, in order to access their pension pot flexibly if they wish to.

To ensure due consideration is given to the interests of scheme members, scheme funds and the taxpayer in the continuation of these transfers for the public service schemes, government set out in the response to the consultation, Freedom and Choice in Pensions, that it would look to implement, where appropriate, safeguards akin to those which already exist in the private sector. We are continuing to discuss these options and others, including with the Department for Local Government as the department responsible for the Local Government Pension Scheme, the largest of the funded public service pension schemes, and will set out further detail on this issue in due course.

Public Statues: Greater London

Questions

Asked by The Earl of Clancarty

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the area of London for which the Secretary of State is currently responsible under the Public Statues (Metropolis) Act 1854 for giving consent for the erection of public statues; and which local authorities are included in that area.[HL2258]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): Under section 5 of the Public Statues (Metropolis) Act 1854 the consent of the commissioners of works needs to be obtained before a public statue can be erected in a public place in the Metropolitan Police District of London. The functions of the commissioners of works are now vested in the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. By virtue of the London Government Act 1963 (as amended by the Greater London Authority Act 1999), the Metropolitan Police District of London is now the

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area of Greater London (excluding the City of London, and the Inner and Middle Temples). Details of the local authorities in this region can be found at http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk.

Asked by The Earl of Clancarty

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Department for Culture, Media and Sport holds an archive and register (including plans, drawings etc.) relating to consent given by the Secretary of State for the erection of statues under the Public Statues (Metropolis) Act 1854; if so, whether they make that archive publicly accessible; and what plans they have for any such archive.[HL2259]

Lord Gardiner of Kimble: The Department does not hold an archive or register relating to consent given by the Secretary of State for the erection of statues under section 5 of the Public Statues (Metropolis) Act 1854.

Regional Schools Commissioners: Greater London

Questions

Asked by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what was their reason for dividing responsibility for London between three regional school commissioners. [HL2396]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Regional Schools Commissioners structure has been designed to share London’s expertise and track record in school improvement with wider geographic areas.

Asked by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to the recommendation of the London Assembly Education Panel, in its report London learners, London lives published on 16 September, that London should be covered by a single London-wide, London-only regional school commissioner.[HL2397]

Lord Nash: The Department for Education determined the structure for Regional Schools Commissioners in December 2013 and they began their role in September 2014. The Government has not seen evidence that restructuring the regions is necessary and currently has no plans to make changes to the regional boundaries.

Syria

Questions

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Coventry

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to work with Syria’s religious communities, including the smallest minority communities and their political and civic representatives, to help them reach agreement on what measures are needed to ensure religious freedom and security for all communities in that country.[HL2204]

29 Oct 2014 : Column WA167

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): We are supporting non-governmental efforts to promote dialogue between different ethnic and sectarian groups in Syria, with a view to a future political settlement. We are also funding training for Syrian activists to document abuses to a criminal law standard with the aim that this documentation could be used in a future process of accountability.

In the long run the only way to secure the position of Syria’s minority communities is to find an inclusive political solution to the crisis. The UK is determined to support the moderate opposition, who are working for an inclusive political settlement, and are committed to protect all of Syria’s communities and resist, extremists and authoritarian regimes.

Asked by The Lord Bishop of Coventry

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to ensure that any assistance provided to opposition groups in Syria does not either directly or indirectly support any militia, non-state actor or other organisation credibly charged with involvement in sectarian or religiously motivated violence. [HL2205]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The assistance we provide, including to the armed opposition groups, has undergone intense scrutiny to ensure that we are providing the best possible support and that we meet all our national and international obligations. The equipment has been scrutinised to ensure its provision is consistent with export controls under the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and EU restrictions on the provision of goods to Syria (as agreed by Member States on 27 May 2013). The UK does not supply weapons to anybody in Syria.

Welfare Assistance Schemes

Question

Asked by Baroness King of Bow

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their decision not to contest the judicial review of the decision to cease funding for Local Welfare Assistance, whether they will reinstate that funding for 2015–16.[HL2304]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): From April 2015 it was intended funding for local welfare provision would be funded from the general grant to Local Government. The general grant took this into account.

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The Government has agreed to look again at how funding is provided for in 2015-16. Any decisions will be taken after we have reviewed how the current funds have been used and the ongoing consultation and equality analysis on 2015-16 funding being co-ordinated by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Work Experience

Question

Asked by Baroness Berridge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the recent proposal by the Child Poverty and Social Justice Commission that unpaid internships should be illegal.[HL2219]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): This Government is absolutely clear: exploitation of interns is unacceptable and we do not hesitate to act where we find that employment law has been broken and someone who is entitled to the minimum wage has not been paid it.

Complaints from interns about non-payment of the minimum wage are prioritised by HMRC for investigation and HMRC will investigate every complaint made to the Pay and Work Rights Helpline.

Research shows that internships and work experience programmes can be valuable opportunities for young people taking their first steps in the labour market. Our work on interns and the National Minimum Wage aims to achieve the right balance between ensuring that opportunities for young people are not cut off and minimising the risk of exploitation.

Our concern, if we were to prohibit unpaid internships, is that this may lead to employers recruiting interns through informal and privileged networks with adverse effects on social mobility or have adverse consequences on the number of available opportunities.

There is no definition of an internship in minimum wage legislation and interns are considered in the same way as everyone else with regards to whether the minimum wage is due. The key issue is whether or not they are workers as defined by minimum wage legislation. If they are, then they are eligible for the minimum wage unless a specific exemption applies. Volunteers are not workers and are not eligible for the minimum wage.