Category: Written Answers

Ivory Coast

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the situation in the Ivory Coast.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Government remain deeply concerned about the ongoing political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. We support the strong statements that have been made by the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union (AU). Both have made it clear that Mr Laurent Gbabgo should immediately and peacefully hand over power to President Alassane Ouattara in accordance with the wishes of the Ivorian people.

We note that the AU reaffirmed its position at the recent AU summit and set up a presidential panel of five African heads of state to resolve the crisis. We hope that the panel will find a solution that allows the democratic will of the Ivorian people to prevail.

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the humanitarian situation in the Ivory Coast.

Lord Howell of Guildford: Internally displaced people (IDP) remain concentrated in the western part of the country. It is estimated that there are 19,500 IDP of which more than 9,300 are children.

There are 14 confirmed cholera cases and six deaths according to anecdotal reports from the Red Cross-we are awaiting further details on this. World Health Organisation (WHO) reports a yellow fever outbreak in the north of the country, with 64 suspected cases and 25 deaths. On 22 January 2011 the authorities initiated a vaccination campaign which aims to target 840,000 people over nine months.

Agencies are worried that food security will become a major issue if the current impasse continues. The price of staples, cooking gas and charcoal continues to rise. The cost of food has increased dramatically in refugee hosting communities in Liberia and other neighbouring countries.

There are now more than 33,000 Ivorian refugees in Liberia according to latest reports. The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) reports that 600 refugees enter Liberia each day. Refugees are being hosted in communities in approximately 25 communities in Nimba County. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is working to construct three refugee camps in Liberia. Delivery of assistance to refugees in Liberia is being hampered by recent heavy rains and the poor state of roads.

A joint UNMIL/Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) rapid assessment of Ivorian refugees in Liberia is under way and will report back soon.

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to impose further sanctions on the Ivory Coast.

Lord Howell of Guildford: The latest amendments to the EU targeted measures on Ivory Coast were made in Council Decision 2011/71/CFSP which was adopted on 31 January 2011. This targeted further individuals and entities obstructing the process of peace and national reconciliation, and in particular who are jeopardising the proper outcome of the electoral process. EU targeted measures are under constant review and EU member states continue to consider, where evidence is forthcoming, whether either individuals or entities meet the listing criteria as stated above and put in place the necessary measures as applicable.

 

Ivory Coast

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance they have given to victims of the conflict in the Ivory Coast.

Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development’s (DfID’s) humanitarian partners including UN agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) are responding to the needs of an estimated 20,000 internally placed people in Ivory Coast and 30,000 Ivorian refugees in Liberia. DfID is closely monitoring the situation in Ivory Coast to check that the needs of affected people are being met as effectively and efficiently as possible through these agencies.

Ivory Coast

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the number of claims for asylum from countries which share a border with the Ivory Coast.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The table attached shows the number of asylum applications received in the UK, excluding dependants, for nationals of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Mali between 2005 and Quarter 3, 2010.

Information on asylum applications is published monthly, quarterly and annually in the Control of Immigration bulletins and monthly asylum applications tables available from the Home Office’s Research, Development and Statistics website at: www.homeoffice. gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.

Asylum applications (1) received in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, 2005 to Quarter 3 2010, nationals of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Mali

Country of nationality

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009 (P)

Q1 to Q3 2010 (P)

Burkina Faso

10

*

5

5

*

*

Ghana

230

130

120

140

140

130

Guinea

165

170

120

80

115

70

Liberia

175

50

40

20

15

15

Mali

10

5

5

5

10

5

Total

590

355

290

245

280

220

(1) Figures rounded to the nearest 5 (- = 0. * = 1 or 2) and may not sum to the totals shown because of independent rounding.

(P) Provisional figures.

Security Industry

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to increase membership of the leisure security industry among small and medium-sized enterprises.


The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Security Industry Authority (SIA) was set up under the Private Security Industry Act 2001 to drive out criminality and raise standards in the private security industry, and is responsible for the mandatory licensing of individuals working in it. Before the SIA will grant a licence, it carries out criminal record and other checks to establish that the applicant has the required training and qualifications. One of the sectors where a licence is required under the 2001 Act is door supervision.

Decisions on the employment of door supervisors and other private security industry personnel are a matter for individual businesses, subject to compliance with any legal requirements.

Crime: Fraud

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address the rise in fraudulent insurance claims.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they will put in place to tackle fraudulent insurance claims.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what mechanisms they will put in place to give companies additional support in detecting cases of insurance fraud.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to prevent insurance fraud.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they will take to address the rising cost of undetected fraudulent general insurance claims.

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): Due to improved measurement, prevention/detection capability and consistently raising the profile of insurance fraud both within the industry and in the public domain, the insurance industry has reported an increase in the number of fraudulent insurance claims that are being detected by insurers and through reports from the public who are increasingly playing a role in helping to identify insurance fraud.

The use of specialised software by the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) since 2006 has helped to identify more fraudulent activity in particular areas of the industry, particularly in relation to crash for cash frauds and the involvement of professional enablers, which remains a core focus of attention for the IFB and industry in general.

The insurance industry is an important partner of the National Fraud Authority (NFA) which co-ordinates the implementation of the National Fraud Strategy with partners in Government, law enforcement, the third sector and industry.

As part of this, the NFA works with partners to develop improved information sharing to enable the prevention and disruption of fraudulent activity. The insurance industry is represented by the IFB on a NFA Taskforce to prevent fraud by improving the sharing of information about incidences of fraud across sectors of the economy.

The IFB also shares intelligence and data with, for example, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau-operated by the City of London Police-the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Ministry of Justice. Since its formation, the IFB has helped the police make over 426 arrests in connection with organised insurance fraud, resulting in almost 100 convictions to date.

Working with its membership and with the police in joint investigations, the bureau has successfully disrupted actions of criminal gangs concerning crash for cash frauds.

Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre run by the NFA, refers individuals and businesses with concerns about insurance fraud directly to the insurance industry’s confidential Cheatline, managed by the IFB.

As part of the insurance industry’s continued commitment to reduce fraud, the operational capacity of the Cheatline was increased in September 2010 and the improvements provide a more enhanced facility to deal with the increase in reports being made, which are complemented by online Cheatline reporting.

Forced Marriage

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what additional support they will give to victims of forced marriages.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There is a cross-government approach to tackle the issue of forced marriages. The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) will shortly develop its new action plan for 2011-12 in consultation with other government departments and its voluntary sector partners.

If a person is at risk of forced marriage or has already been forced into marriage they can seek support from the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a joint Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office unit; and by applying for a forced marriage civil protection order under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007.

The FMU also provides funding to local projects, through its annual Domestic Programme Fund.

Health: Cousin Marriage

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to raise awareness of the medical difficulties associated with cousin marriages.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to initiate any dialogue with community leaders about the health risks of cousin marriages.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department continues to support the work of the National Health Service in providing information to all couples at risk of genetic conditions to enable them to make informed choices.

As part of the complementary work to the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, the department has published the Implementation Plan for Reducing Health Inequalities in Infant Mortality: A Good Practice Guide, a copy of which has been placed in the Library. The document provides details on how genetic screening and counselling services play an important part in this area. Specifically, it highlights the work of two projects funded by the department on how to provide appropriate genetic services and support to communities that practise cousin marriage.

The department supports the work of NHS initiatives among communities with a higher prevalence of cousin marriage on a number of important issues. This includes initiatives delivered through regional NHS genetic counselling services that work to raise awareness of the risks associated with cousin marriage.

Most couples in consanguineous relationships will have healthy children. Overall the risk of any given couple having a child with a severe genetic condition is still relatively small, estimated at 4 per cent for cousin marriages compared to 2 per cent for unrelated parents.

Health: Cousin Marriage

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to give extra medical support to children born of parents from the same extended family.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage better relations between the medical profession and those groups within society among whom same-cousin marriages are prevalent.

Earl Howe: As with any situation where children need additional health care, an assessment should be made and based on clinical need commissioned by local National Health Service services.

The department has supported development of local services specifically dealing with consanguineous relationships. This includes initiatives delivered through regional NHS genetic counselling services that work to raise awareness of the risks associated with cousin marriage.

Most couples in consanguineous relationships will have healthy children. Overall the risk of any given couple having a child with a severe genetic condition is still relatively small, estimated at 4 per cent for cousin marriages compared to 2 per cent for unrelated parents.

Olympic Games 2012

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidelines they will provide for event stewards ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.

Baroness Garden of Frognal: The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is responsible for delivering the venue safety and security responsibilities of an event organiser, in accordance with current UK legislation and the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) “Green Guide”-the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds. For events not organised by LOCOG, all local authorities are required to follow guidelines on event stewarding as set out in the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) “Purple Guide” for event safety.

The Home Office, DCMS, HSE and local licensing authorities are working closely to ensure that event organisers are complying with the relevant legislation set for planning and delivering public events related to London 2012.

LOCOG is responsible for the volunteering programme for the Games, including stewarding roles. LOCOG is recruiting up to 70,000 “Games Makers”, each of whom will attend at least three days of training, including learning about the details of their role and seeing their Games-time venue.

LOCOG, the Home Office and education providers have also launched Bridging the Gap, an initiative to provide skilled security personnel for the London 2012 Games by training young people in stewarding, event management and security guarding with a recognised qualification and opportunities to work within the Games.

Alcohol: Young People

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what additional support they will give to the leisure security industry to tackle under-age drinking.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The Government take the issue of under-age drinking extremely seriously which is why we have committed to raising the fine for persistent sales to children to £20,000.

The Government have encouraged the leisure security industry to verify the age of an individual by using the proof of age standard scheme (PASS).

PASS is supported by the Home Office and the organisation has engaged extensively with the leisure security industry to ensure that door staff are aware of the scheme.