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Written Answers

Volume 402: debated on Friday 4 April 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday 4 April 2003

Privy Council

Exhibitions

To ask the President of the Council if he will list events at which his Department has exhibited in each of the last three years, stating for each (a) the purpose of exhibiting, (b) the cost of exhibiting and (c) the number of staff attending for the exhibition. [107614]

The Privy Council Office has not exhibited at any event in the last three years.

Market Testing

To ask the President of the Council what the estimated level of saving to the Department is from the use of market testing in 2002–03. [107774]

Members' Pension Scheme

To ask the President of the Council if he will make a statement on the basis on which the additional subventions from public funds are being made to the hon. Members' pension scheme; what discussions he has had with hon. Members who are members of the Pension Fund on the subject of additional public funding; and what alternatives to additional public funds were discussed on how to meet the shortfall in hon. Members' pension scheme. [107373]

My statement to the House on 24 March 2003, Official Report, column 2WS, explained that the Parliamentary and Other Pensions Act 1987

BASE Estimate 60yBASE Estimate 60yLevy @ airport (IRR)Levy@ all airports (IRR)RPI + x% @ airport (IRR)RPI + x% @ all airport (IRR)
PackageAirportRunwayNPVIRR£2£4£1£21%2%0.5%1%
5BLHR1st11113.315.818.415.417.615.818.215.116.8
6LGW1st-3926.19.111.825.132.19.211.522.425.2
7STN1st-8735.87.59.014.116.87.89.513.715.7

Co2 Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the annual CO2 emissions from the transport sector were in each year since 1990; and what plans he has in place to reduce these. [107234]

Annual carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions from the transport sector are published each year in the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, which is available at www.naei.org.uk, and in Transport Statistics Great Britain, which is available via my Department's website at www.dft.gov.uk. Ratified data requires the Government Actuary to value the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund at three-yearly intervals and to make recommendations as to the amount of the Exchequer contribution. The Act further requires the Government to implement the Government Actuary's recommendations with effect from the following financial year.The Senior Salaries Review Body will no doubt consider the balance of funding of the pension scheme, as between Exchequer and members, in its next review of parliamentary remuneration.

Working Hours

To ask the President of the Council what policy on (a) core hours and (b) flexible working hours is operated by his Department. [107654]

Where operationally appropriate, staff in the Privy Council Office may take advantage of flexible working hours. The flexible working day is between 7.30 and 18.30, for which core times are from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 16.00. A half-hour break should be taken between 12.00 and 14.00. Staff may build up excess hours of up to a day and half and work with a deficit of up to one day within any four-week 'flexi-time' accounting period. Flexi-leave to use up excess hours requires line management approval and is agreed where operationally possible.

Transport

Airport Development (South-East)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish revised projections for the Internal Rate of Return for the Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted options presented in Table 14.11 of SERAS Stage Two Appraisal Findings report, taking account of the new maximum airport landing charges recommended by the CAA. [106216]

[holding answer 1 April 2003]: The calculations, taking account of the new maximum airport charges for the period 2003–04 to 2007–08, are as follows:is available up to the year 2000. CO

2 emissions from the transport sector since 1990 are set out in the following table (all figures are given as megatonnes of carbon equivalents).

Road transport

Other transport

Total

199029.74.934.6
199129.54.834.3
199229.94.734.6
199330.34.735.0
199430.44.534.9
199530.14.434.5

Road transport

Other transport

Total

199631.34.535.8
199731.74.336.0
199831.54.135.6
199931.73.935.6
200031.53.835.3

Note:

Figures given in this table are emissions "by source" and do not include emissions from the production of transport fuels and electricity. "Other transport" includes railways, domestic aviation and military aircraft, shipping, naval vessels and off-road sources. For further details, please see the explanatory notes in the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory and in Transport Statistics Great Britain.

The Government have taken a number of steps in recent years to reduce total carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector. Precise measures in place to reduce these emissions vary between different modes of transport. But in each case they essentially comprise some or all the following:

adopting more stringent technical standards to limit the emissions at source
supporting research and development to develop cleaner technology
applying economic instruments to encourage the cleanest use of existing technology and/or the purchase and use of new, cleaner technology.

On the road transport side, the Powering Future Vehicles Strategy, published in July 2002, sets out our plans for supporting the shift to low carbon vehicles and fuels, and sets ambitious targets for future sales of low-carbon vehicles. The Energy White Paper, published in February 2003, complements this Strategy and explains the further steps the Government are taking to improve the carbon efficiency of transport. Key measures include:

the graduated vehicle excise duty and company car tax systems, introduced in 2001 and 2002 respectively, which reward those who choose the most carbon-efficient vehicles;
fiscal incentives and other grants for low-carbon vehicles and fuels (including biofuels, which can deliver significant lifecycle carbon savings);
the setting up of a Low Carbon Vehicles Partnership bringing together key stakeholders from the automotive, energy and other sectors to help bring about a shift to low carbon vehicles and fuels;
working with the European Commission to develop further voluntary agreements with automotive manufacturers to deliver further reductions in new car CO2 emissions.

London Underground

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects London Underground to be transferred to Transport for London. [107265]

I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 610W, to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake).

Trains

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his forecast date is for replacement of the last operational slam door train on British Railways. [93606]

The Strategic Rail Authority is leading an industry wide Mark 1 replacement Programme to ensure that all Mark 1 rolling stock is removed from the Network by 31 December 2004 as required in the 1999 Rail Safety Regulation. Because of the failure of Railtrack to ensure an adequate power supply for the South London Network, it has become clear that it may be necessary to provide for around 300–350 vehicles to operate on the network after December 2004. The SRA hopes these vehicles will be removed from the network in spring 2005.

Defence

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of state for Defence what the (a) mandate, (b) range of duties and (c) composition is of the existing Joint Regional Teams in Afghanistan. [106679]

[holding answer 2 April 2003]: Provincial Reconstruction Teams (as Joint Regional Teams are now called) are deployed with the agreement of the Afghan Transitional Administration. Their role is to assist in extending the Transitional Administration's authority, help to develop a stable and secure environment in the Afghan regions and facilitate security sector reform and reconstruction. The teams deployed so far are led by the US and include both military and civilian personnel.

Container Incident

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was in the Levins containers found in the former First World War training area near Saltdene; what happened to this material; and what representations were received from the Health and Safety Executive about the disposal of this material. [106785]

Four Levins containers were recovered to Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) Porton Down from the Brighton area in October 1993. It is believed that these are the items to which my hon. Friend is referring.The containers were opened at Porton Down in 1994 in accordance with normal procedures and were found to contain sand and water.No representations were received by DSTL Porton Down from the Health and Safety Executive concerning the disposal of these containers.

Departmental Invoices

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the occasions on which (a) his Department, (b) agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies sponsored by his Department failed to pay valid invoices within 30 days or after the agreed credit period in the financial year 2001–02. [104318]

The Defence Bills Agency is a shared service centre for the Ministry of Defence accounts payable and debt management function, paying the bulk (4.5 million per annum) of the Department's bills.

In financial year 2001–02, the agency had a Key Target to pay 99.5 per cent. of correctly presented bills within 11 calendar days, as a response to the overall Government target of 30 days. Actual performance against the target was 99.9 per cent.

Information on the occasions where we failed to pay valid invoices within 30 days or after the agreed credit period could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Depleted Uranium

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans he has to review the use by British forces of depleted uranium ammunition in the light of its environmental impact in Bosnia-Herzegovina; [107139](2) if he will make a statement on the findings of the UN Environment Programme's report on depleted uranium in Bosnia and Herzegovina. [107138]

I have no current plans to review the use of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition by British Forces.United Nations Environment Programme environmental assessment of Bosnia-Herzogovina concluded that the recorded contamination levels are very low and do not present immediate radioactive or toxic risks for the environment or human health. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 2 April 2003,

Official Report, columns 735–36W, to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Ms Munn).

Gulf War (Compensation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether (a) civilian support staff and (b) military personnel are required to prove that injuries or illnesses are Gulf war related before they are entitled to compensation from the Government. [105954]

Claims for common law compensation made against the Ministry of Defence by anyone are considered on the basis of whether or not the Ministry of Defence has a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is a legal liability to pay compensation we do so.No-fault compensation for Service personnel disabled as a result of their Service is provided in the form of the War Pensions Scheme. A war disablement pension can be paid for any disablement provided a causal link to Service is accepted.As at 31 December 2002, 2,364 Gulf veterans were in receipt of a war disablement pension (this figure includes awards for both Gulf and non-Gulf related illness).

Hms Sheffield

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1), what guarantee there is in the sale document that HMS Sheffield will never be owned by the Argentinian Government; [105434](2) what discussions he has had with

(a) the Argentinian Government and (b) the Chilean Government about the sale of HMS Sheffield; [105433]

(3) what plans he has to sell HMS Sheffield. [105432]

[holding answer 28 March 2003]: In common with all Government-to-Government sales of surplus United Kingdom defence equipment, the sales documentation for HMS Sheffield contains an undertaking by the buying Government that they will obtain prior formal consent of the Ministry of Defence to the transfer of possession of the ship or its equipments to any third party. Additionally the Government that buys HMS Sheffield from the United Kingdom will be required to apply for an Export Licence from the Department of Trade and Industry, which will involve submission of an end user certificate.The subject of the sale of HMS Sheffield has been discussed during contacts between United Kingdom and Chilean Defence Ministers on issues of mutual interest since the declaration of the ship for disposal. The subject has not been raised in similar bilateral meetings with the Argentinean Government.Negotiations over the sale of HMS Sheffield for future use to an acceptable overseas government are in their final stages.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether UK forces will seek to deliver humanitarian relief in disputed territory in Iraq. [106844]

Until the security situation in Iraq stabilises enough for civilian aid agencies to deploy fully, United Kingdom forces will continue to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq where it is needed and where they are able to do so. However, we cannot deliver that assistance if doing so poses unacceptable risks to British soldiers. By disguising his militia as civilians, Saddam Hussein is disrupting the provision of aid. This is entirely consistent with the disregard he has always shown towards his own people.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what responsibilities under the Geneva Convention coalition forces have to deliver humanitarian relief in disputed territory in Iraq. [106846]

The United Kingdom is a party to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and will comply fully with its obligations under that Convention. The application of the provisions of that Convention depends on the progress of the conflict and may differ across the country. The provision of humanitarian assistance by United Kingdom forces has already begun in towns in southern Iraq where the situation has stabilised enough to make this possible. That effort will continue until civilian aid agencies can deploy fully.In other areas where United Kingdom troops are present, we are monitoring the humanitarian situation and stand ready to provide whatever assistance is required once local elements of the regime collapse and a secure environment is established.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to parachute aid into urban areas meeting fierce resistance in the Iraqi conflict. [107123]

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions have been given to the Royal Mail regarding parcels and mail to the armed forces involved in action in Iraq. [107142]

Advice given to Royal Mail Group on the subject of mail to personnel deployed in the Gulf is as follows:

A surface parcels service is not available, and parcels should not be accepted.
Airmail letters and packets up to two kilograms in weight should be charged at the BFPO European rate, which equates to first class inland postal charges.
Forces Free Air Letters ("blueys") are available free of charge.
The BFPO numbers applicable to deployed forces and HM Ships have been specified.
I refer my hon. Friend also to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 2 April 2003,

Official Report, column 912, to my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, North (Mrs. Adams).

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his oral answers to the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) and the right hon. Member for Bracknell (Mr. Mackay) on 31 March 2003, Official Report, columns 651 and 660, if he will make a further statement on his Department's policy on postal services to Her Majesty's forces in the Gulf.[107380]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 2 April 2003, Official Report, column 912, to my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, North (Mrs. Adams).

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the potential environmental impact of the use of depleted uranium ammunition in the current operations against Iraq. [107140]

It is not possible to carry out environmental impact studies in Iraq at the present time. However, we accept the Royal Society's assessment of the potential effects of depleted uranium (DU) on the environment, as detailed in the two reports on "The Health Hazards of Depleted Uranium Munitions" (2001, 2002).DU particulate remains highly localised to the points of impact where DU munitions have struck hard targets: only in these small areas would DU levels be significant enough to necessitate precautions to prevent or reduce possible intakes. This view is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme as well as the Royal Society's DU Working Group.The Royal Society's report on "The Health Hazards of Depleted Uranium Munitions" Part II states that

"Modelling of the amounts of DU re-suspended from soil in the years following a conflict indicates that the estimated inhalation intakes will not lead to any increase in the incidence of lung cancer or any other cancers among children or adults. Nor are they likely to lead to any significant effects on kidney function."

Land Sales

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list his Department's sites in the South

East of England that (a) have been sold to developers in the last six years and (b) are available for sale to developers. [105748]

The following lists provide details of those properties that have been sold to developers in the last six years in the South East of England and properties that are or will be available to developers.

Properties sold by the ministry of defence in the last six years to developers

Kent

  • RAF Manston
  • Territorial Army Volunteers Reserves Association HQ, Maidstone
  • Old Park Barracks, Dover
  • Deal Barracks
  • Army Careers Information Office, Roper Road, Canterbury
  • Army Careers Information Office, Dover
  • Land at Richmond Close, Upnor
  • Barrier House, Chatcham

Sussex

  • TAC, Denne Road, Horsham
  • 81, Bexhill Road, St. Leonards-on-sea
  • Territorial Army Centre Preston Barracks, Brighton

Greater London

  • Part of Woolwich Arsenal West
  • Land to North of Aerodrome Road, Hendon
  • RAF Hendon
  • RAF Hendon East Camp
  • Kenley aerodrome
  • Stanmore Park
  • Royal Army Medical College, Millbank
  • Master Gunner Place, Woolwich
  • I Artillery Place, Woolwich
  • Rushgrove Street, Woolwich
  • Territorial Army Centre Harrow
  • TAC Heston
  • TAC Finchley
  • TAC East Ham
  • TAC Cobham
  • TAC Slough

Surrey

  • Former army firestation, Deepcut.
  • Land at Broadoaks Crescent, Byfleet
  • Land at Broadoaks, Byfleet
  • Land at Woodbridge, Guildford
  • Land at Gordon Road, Camberley
  • QE Barracks, Guildford
  • TA Centre, Sandfield Terrace, Guildford
  • Land at Tolworth
  • Land at TAC Batts Hill, Redhill

Hampshire

  • Royal Pavillion, Aldershot
  • Ordnance Stores Centre Weyhill, Andover
  • The Bungalow, Fleet Road, Aldershot
  • Land at Coopers Lane, Bramley
  • Land at Gun Hill Road and Middle Hill, Aldershot
  • Land at Lasham Airfield
  • Land at Martin Lines, Beacon Hill Road, Church Crookham
  • Pumphouse triangle, Bordon
  • Area K, Bordon
  • Anglesey House, Aldershot
  • Guillemont Square, Minley
  • TAC Redan Road, Aldershot
  • TAC Carlton Road, Southampton
  • Ordnance Stores Unit Liphook
  • Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Church Crookham
  • Land at St. Christopher's Road, Cove
  • Farnborough Aerodrome
  • Cambridge House Gosport
  • Land at Defence Munitions Gosport
  • SCU Leyden Petersfield
  • Eastney Furniture Store
  • St. Georges Barracks South
  • Stubbington WT Station
  • Gunwharf Portsmouth
  • Series House Winchester
  • Fintington South
  • Fintington North—QinetiQ
  • Portsdown WOTS—QinetiQ
  • Alverstoke—QinetiQ
  • Part of Fraser Range—QinetiQ
  • Part of Hilsea Sportsfield
  • Land at USSG—Portsea
  • Land at Ferry Road Eastney
  • Property at HM Naval Base—U Thorneycroft
  • Land at Felicia Park Gosport
  • Sub Station Site at Eastney
  • House at 2 Redan
  • House at 12 Redan
  • Land at Stamshaw
  • Land at Matapan Road
  • Land at Tipton Lane Gosport
  • Land at Northway Road, Hilsea
  • House at 18 Jellicoe Avenue, Gosport
  • House at 4 Redan Gosport
  • House at 1 Admiralty Cottages Gosport
  • Part of Fraser Range East
  • Plots at Jarvrin
  • Prater Industrial Land Gosport
  • Portsdown OFP Land
  • Peewit Island Gosport
  • Land at Marchwood
  • RMA Eastney
  • Dean House
  • Plot at Dean House
  • RNUD Botley
  • Brunei House Portsmouth
  • Rowner Filling Station Gosport
  • Oil Fuel Depot Rowfant
  • Gas Governor Site—Chichester
  • Land at Manor Way—Leigh-on-Solent
  • 29 Fort Road—Alverstoke
  • Priddys Hard Gosport
  • MQs Rowner Gosport

Berkshire

  • Land at Sidestrand Road, Newbury.
  • Greenham Common
  • Land at Ditton Park, Datchet
  • Land at Poperinghe Barracks, Arborfield
  • Land at Boundary Hall, Aldermaston
  • Storage Depot, Station Road, Thatcham

Buckinghamshire

  • Land at Medmenham
  • Land at RAF Medmenham
  • TAC Wooburn
  • TAC High Wycombe

Oxfordshire

  • Leafield Comms centre
  • Land to North of RAF Benson
  • Beckett Cottage, Shrivenham
  • Defence Clothing and Textile Agency, Didcot

Properties to be sold by MOD to developers

Kent

  • Land at Whitewall Creek, Frindsbury
  • Land at TAC Faversham

Sussex

  • Drill Hall, TAC Bexhill Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea
  • TAC Hawkhurst

Greater London

  • Canteen Site, DGIA, Feltham
  • Officers' Mess, DGIA, Feltham
  • Land at RAF West Drayton
  • Land at TAC Dulwich

Surrey

  • Building 76/77, Deepcut Bridge Road, Deepcut
  • Longcross Barracks, Chertsey

Hampshire

  • Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot
  • Land falling out of Project Connaught (details unknown until preferred bidder announced)
  • Queensgate site, Farnborough
  • Civil Enclave, Farnborough
  • RE Lines and St. Lucia Lodge, Bordon
  • Land at Vine Close, Aldershot
  • Fort Southwick Gosport
  • Rowner Footbridge Gosport
  • Land at Marchwood
  • Tipnor FPU

Berkshire

  • Staff College, Bracknell

Buckinghamshire

  • Land at ACF/ATC Marlow
  • Halton Hospital
  • Land at TAC Aylesbury

Oxfordshire

  • Families Club, Ambrosden
  • Vauxhall Barracks, Didcot
  • RAF Bicester

Medical Records

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will write to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South regarding his answer of 7 November 2002, Official Report, column 454W, concerning service personnel medical records. [84151]

Operation Resonate North

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the status is of Operation Resonate North; and if he will make a statement. [107121]

In view of the ongoing air operations against Iraq, patrols in the No Fly Zones are now redundant. This does not mean that we have in any way reduced our humanitarian concerns for the Iraqi people. Our servicemen and women have daily risked their lives enhancing the security of the civilian population for over a decade, and we will continue to demonstrate that commitment.

Raf Menwith Hill

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who paid for the services of (a) his Department's police and (b) Home Office police at the demonstration at RAF Menwith Hill on 22 March; how many from each were deployed; and if he will make a statement. [107232]

136 additional Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) officers were deployed at RAF Menwith Hill over the 24 hour period, 22 March 2003. The cost of routine MDP services at RAF Menwith Hill is borne by the United States Government. Additional MDP costs occasioned by demonstrator activity is borne by the Ministry of Defence. The funding arrangement and numbers of Home Department Police deployed at RAF Menwith Hill on 22 March 2003, is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Service Personnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements have been made to enable servicemen and women from the Gulf to (a) telephone and (b) e-mail home; and what the costs are to the service personnel. [105643]

Personnel are allowed 20 minutes telephone time per week and open access to e-mail. Both are free of charge. These arrangements have been in place for some time for personnel deployed in support of Operations Resinate and Oracle. For those deployed in support of Operation Telic, we continue to build up all aspects of the Operational Welfare Package as quickly as possible. For the duration of the combat phase, operational security considerations will govern the availability of both telephones and e-mail facilities to troops in a combat role. Any troops unable to use their allowance for operational security reasons will be able to accumulate their allowance for use at a later stage in the operation.

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Animal By-Products

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will issue technical guidance on the use of on-farm incinerators for the purposes of complying with the EU Animal by-products regulation. [107215]

Interim guidance is already available on the DEFRA website. Full guidance will be sent with a letter to all livestock farmers about disposal of fallen stock under the EU Animal by-products regulation shortly.

Farm Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the level of change in farm incomes between 2001 and 2002. [106383]

Total income from farming in the UK in 2002 is estimated to be £2.36 billion which is 15 per cent. (14 per cent. in real terms) higher than its 2001 level. Total income from farming is income generated by production within the agriculture industry, including subsidies, and represents business profits plus remuneration for work done by owners and other unpaid workers. Total income from farming per full time person equivalent rose by 19 per cent. (18 per cent. in real terms) to £11,107.Although having risen in each of the last two years, total income from farming is still 62 per cent. below its peak in 1995 (after more than doubling between 1990 and 1995). The long term trend in income has been downwards although it rose and fell dramatically in the nineties due to changes in exchange rates, world commodity prices and the impact of BSE.More detailed information on farm incomes can be found in a Statistics News Release titled Provisional estimates of farm incomes in the United Kingdom' published on 30 January 2003 (amended 31 January 2003), which can be found onthe Defra website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/esq/work_htm/Notices/account.pdf, and in the publications Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2002 and Farm Incomes in the United Kingdom, which may be found on the Defra website at http://www.defra.qov.Uk/esq/m publications.htm.

Food Chain (Terrorist Threat)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department has taken in the last five years to develop a network of laboratories for the (a) detection, (b) identification, (c) diagnosis and (d) research into (i) biological agents and (ii) technology to counter terrorist action to British (a) farms and (b) food supplies. [105072]

Terrorism is a scenario we do consider seriously. DEFRA has for many years had in place emergency planning and contingency planning for dealing with threats to food supplies and agriculture. Such threats come not only from terrorism or a deliberate action; they can be part of nature.

As part of normal business the department does carry out research against potential contamination of public water supplies and research in areas such as exotic animal disease detection, diagnosis and control.

Illegal Meat Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) training and (b) technical advice has been provided by her Department to officers of Customs and Excise who are due to take over responsibility for anti-smuggling controls on illegal imports of meat from 11 April. [106107]

[holding answer 31 March 2003]: Defra is working with Port Health Authorities and HM Customs and Excise to ensure Customs have the resources and knowledge to fulfil their new role. Detailed tables of products, countries and allowances have been prepared by Defra for use by Customs officers working in passenger terminals, postal depots and with cargo. Defra has provided guidance to Local and Port Health Authorities on Customs' new role and is contributing to HM Customs guidance to their officers. Defra has, since last autumn, paid for additional staff to carry out checks on illegal meat and plant imports at major ports and airports. These staff will be retained for an interim period from 11 to 30 April to give technical support to Customs officers on their new responsibilities.

Light Pollution

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures the Government are taking to combat light pollution in urban areas. [106610]

I have been asked to reply.The Government have issued "Lighting in the Countryside: Towards Good Practice", and guidance on good street lighting practice to encourage the use of lighting types which prevent or minimise unwanted upward illumination.

Food Supplies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of food purchased by the (a) MOD, (b) NHS and (c) DFES was locally sourced in the last three years; and if she will make a statement. [103348]

[holding answer 18 March 2003]: Defra is leading an initiative designed to encourage key public sector bodies to procure their food and catering services in a manner that promotes sustainable development and does not discriminate against local and UK suppliers. However, we do not hold information on the proportion of food purchased by the MOD, NHS and DfES from local sources. This is a question that should be addressed to them, although they may only be able to supply figures for food purchased from UK sources, as they are unlikely to collect such detailed information. DfES does not purchase food for schools or other educational institutions, as this is the responsibility of individual schools etc or, where budgets have not been delegated, that of the local education authority.

Treasury

Eu Funding

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total EU funding to (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) England was in each of the last three years. [107314]

A breakdown of all EC receipts paid in Scotland, Wales and England is not held centrally. However, details of total UK public sector receipts, broken down by Fund, from the EC Budget for the period 1996–97 to 2001–02 can be found in Table 3.2 (page 12) of the Government's White Paper: European Community Finances (Cm 5547) published in July 2002.

International Finance Facility

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether additional capital raised through the International Finance Facility will count against the target of gross national product that the United Kingdom has pledged to spend on aid to developing countries; and how it will be accounted for. [105676]

The International Finance Facility will seek to provide the additional resources necessary to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.The UK is committed to reaching the 0.7 per cent. of GNI target in the longer term; the IFF provides a realistic and feasible way to rapidly increase aid flows and make faster progress towards this target in the years up to 2015. The accounting treatment of the disbursement of funds raised through the IFF is subject to further technical discussions.

Marriage Fees

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the costs of waiving the fee charged to couples seeking to marry in less than the 15 day waiting period where one partner has been called up for military service overseas; and if he will make a statement. [106998]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr John Denham, dated 4 April 2003:

As National Statistician and Registrar General, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning the waiving of fees charged to couples seeking to marry in less than the 15 day waiting period. (106998)
The fee payable to me as Registrar General is 28 for each application to reduce the 15 day waiting period. It was set when the power was introduced on 1 January 2001 and is a prescribed fee that represents the costs to the Registrar General of providing this service and I have has no power to reduce or waive it.

Wine And Spirits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how the total revenue from duty on (a) wines and (b) spirits is calculated in any one year; [105515]

(2) what the total value of wine brought across borders to the UK in 2002 is; [105499]

(3) how much wine and spirits were smuggled into the UK last year. [105494]

The total revenue from the duty on wines and spirits for any one year is calculated from the net duty receipts recorded by HM Customs and Excise Central Accounting Operations. Details of the amount of revenue received on wines and spirits are published in Customs' annual report, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.The declared value of wine imports in 2002 was £2.01 billion, excluding duty and VAT.Figures for the total volume of wine and spirits smuggled in 2002 are not available. Estimates of the value of alcohol products smuggled by cross-Channel passengers in 2002 and estimates of the total of fraud affecting alcohol products in 2000–01 were published in "Measuring Indirect Tax Losses" in November 2002, a copy of which is also available in the Library of the House.

Cabinet Office

Civil Defence

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office to what use the national network of civil defence bunkers established during the Cold War is being put. [103429]

Following a review of emergency planning arrangements in 1992, all the civil defence regional headquarters in England and Wales were offered up for sale on the open market and are now under private ownership.

Senior Civil Service

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on ethnic minority representation in the Senior Civil Service. [106668]

The Civil Service is making progress on increasing the representation of minority ethnic staff at Senior Civil Service level.As at October 2002, 2.8 per cent. of staff at this level were from a minority ethnic background. This is up from 1.6 per cent. in April 1998, and represents good progress towards our target of 3.2 per cent. by 2004–05.There is a range of action in place to ensure sustained action to improve representation at senior levels.

Staff Numbers

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many staff were employed by his Department in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03. [106982]

The information is not available in the format requested. Staffing figures for Civil Service Departments and agencies are published twice yearly by press notice, copies of which are laid in the Libraries of both Houses. Information relating to 1 April 2002 was published on 31 October 2002, and information for October 2002 was published on 27 February this year. Information relating to 1 April 2003 is not yet available. The figures are also made available via the worldwide web at: http://www.civil-service.gov.uk/statistics/documents/pdf/staffing_03.pdf

Trade And Industry

Conservatory Construction Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps are being taken to protect industry standards and law-abiding companies from rogue traders in the household conservatory construction industry. [106250]

DTI is already rolling out the Quality Mark Scheme for builders and tradesmen in the domestic repair and maintenance sector. A detailed business plan is currently under development to underpin the next stage of the Scheme. It is expected this will be put to Ministers for their approval shortly. The Quality Mark Scheme aims to raise standards in this sector, bring peace of mind to consumers and provide reputable companies with a competitive edge. It covers all the main trades in this sector, including conservatories, and requires tradesmen to be independently assessed against a range of standards including workmanship, skills and qualifications, customer care and financial probity.

Contracts (Russia)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what UK requirements and guidelines she sets British companies signing contracts in Russia in respect of their policies towards their Russian employees. [104746]

Any UK company wishing to enter into a business arrangement with a Russian partner would be advised to satisfy itself as to all aspects of the contractual arrangements which it was being asked to enter into. In line with our aim of actively promoting corporate social responsibility, we would also encourage companies to work with their partners and suppliers to address the economic, social and environmental impacts of their policies and activities. In the light of this, one good way of achieving these goals would be to act in accordance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and to perform at least the standards they suggest.

Departmental Running Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the running costs in 2002 were of (a) her Ministers' private offices, separately identifying expenditure on staff, and (b) her Department. [106004]

The Consolidated Resource Accounts published by the Department of Trade and Industry for the financial year 2001–02, show total administration costs for the department and its agencies of £520 million.

Of these administration costs the amount spent on Ministers' private offices were £4.08 million of which staff costs were £1.70 million.

Complete data are not yet available for 2002–03.

Huntingdon Life Sciences Group

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the current status of her Department's provision of insurance services to Huntingdon Life Sciences Group. [105626]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Haris) on 17 December 2002, Official Report, columns 733–34W, and the replies given to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 27 January 2003, Official Report, column 592W, and 6 February 2003, Official Report, column 394W, which set out the current status of my Department's facilitation of insurance for Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc.

Post Offices

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much funding has been granted by the Sub-Post Office Start-up Capital Scheme to assist with one-off capital costs associated with the refurbishment or relocation of rural post offices. [107101]

I understand from Post Office Ltd., who administer the scheme, that, as at the end of February 2003, 156 grants to a total value of £1,130,409 had been approved, of which £883,773 had been paid out.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions her Department held with Post Office Ltd. over the imposition of payment rate on postmasters for conducting Post Office card account transactions; what payment rate has been agreed; and if she will make a statement. [107372]

Ministers and officials have regular contact with Post Office Ltd. to discuss a range of issues. Remuneration for postmasters is a commercial matter between Post Office Ltd. and the postmasters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what role her Department is playing in the (a) employment and (b) remuneration of network development managers for the Urban Network Reinvention Programme for the Post Office. [107378]

Telephone Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to (a) review and (b) amend regulation of (i) the pricing and (ii) the advertising of the pricing of premium rate telephone services. [106957]

The basis of the regulation of premium rate telephone services is being changed by the Communications Bill, when the whole telecommunications regulatory regime will be modified to implement the EC Electronic Communications Directives. The arrangements for regulating premium rate services will, however, as far as possible, follow the present model based on compliance with a code of practice established and enforced by the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS) with back-up powers exercised, if necessary, by the sector regulator (currently OFTEL, but in future OFCOM).The code of practice embraces issues of pricing, provision, content, promotion and marketing of premium rate services, and provides for ICSTIS to investigate complaints and adjudicate on them. All this is expected to continue under the new arrangements. The Communications Bill gives OFCOM power to set conditions for the purpose of regulating the provision, content, promotion and marketing of premium rate services. It also gives OFCOM power to approve a code for regulating premium rate services (such as the ICSTIS code) and explicitly provides that such a code may, in particular, contain provision about the pricing of premium rate services and provision for enforcement of the code. Premium rate service providers will also continue to be subject to the rules governing non-broadcast advertisements and promotions set out in codes administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA).

Utility Companies

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received about delays caused to (a) construction and (b) other development projects due to obstruction by utility companies. [106765]

The Department receives representations from time to time about connection and other issues where development projects interact with utility services.These are generally a matter for the parties concerned. In the case of certain connection issues, the electricity regulator Ofgem may be able to provide a determination.

Health

Public Benefit Corporations

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether the members of a public benefit corporation will have any role other than to (a) appoint and (b) elect the board of governors; [105120](2) whether the members of a public benefit corporation will have a role other than to appoint or elect the board of governors. [105591]

Subject to parliamentary approval, national health service foundation trusts will be set up as public benefit corporations. The minimum requirements for the constitution of public benefit corporations, including the role and function of the membership, are set out in Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill. Subject to approval by the Independent Regulator, individual NHS foundation trusts may add to these minimum requirements under their constitution.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals he has for the legal status of bodies corporate formed using investment by NHS Foundation Trusts. [105119]

Subject to parliamentary approval, subsections (4) and (5) of clause 17 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill will give national health service foundation trusts financial and investment powers, including powers to invest money, form subsidiaries and enter into joint ventures, subject to any terms set in their authorisation by the Independent Regulator. Unlike for NHS trusts, for NHS foundation trusts the power to enter into joint ventures or subsidiaries will not be subject to the approval of the Secretary of State.

Asthma

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of general practices (a) have a nurse with an asthma diploma and (b) have a nurse-led asthma service where the nurse does not have an asthma diploma; and if he will make a statement. [106616]

The information requested is not collected centrally. The Government is investing significantly in training provision in the National Health Service, which includes diploma programmes in the nursing management of asthma. Over the next three years, 2003–04 to 2005–06, an extra £96 million will be made available to ensure that all health professionals, including those working in primary care, have the right knowledge and skills to meet the changing and specific healthcare needs of all patients. The Department will be working with workforce development confederations to ensure that optimum use is gained from this investment and good practice is disseminated.

Co-Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Health in what way a co-payment for health or social services will differ from a charge. [102151]

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce co-payments for the public services for which he is responsible. [102200]

[holding answer 10 March 2003]: As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister made clear on 2 April 2003, Official Report, columns. 914–15, we have no intention of introducing co-payments or extending charges whereby patients or users pay for a proportion of their treatment or care, beyond those services such as prescriptions and dentistry to which they already apply and which have been in place for some time.

Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many consultants there are on average in an accident and emergency department in (a) England and (b) each strategic health authority. [106206]

Information relating to the average number of accident and emergency consultants, within trusts that have an accident and emergency department, in England and in each strategic health authority, is shown in the table.

Average number of hospital medical consultants with an Accident and Emergency specialty within trusts that have an Accident and Emergency department by Strategic Health Authority

Health authority

Averages

1

England2.8
Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire2.5
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire3.8
Birmingham and The Black Country2.9
Cheshire and Merseyside3.2
County Durham and Tees Valley3.0
Coventry, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire3.6
Cumbria and Lancashire2.7
Dorset and Somerset1.4
Essex1.8
Greater Manchester2.8
Hampshire and Isle of Wight2.2
Kent and Medway3.5
Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland2.7
Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire2.0
North and East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire2.4
North Central London3.2
North East London3.4
North West London2.9
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear3.4
Shropshire and Staffordshire1.4
South East London2.8
South West London3.0
South West Peninsula2.8
South Yorkshire3.2
Surrey and Sussex2.2
Thames Valley2.8
Trent3.4
West Yorkshire5.3

1 Averages were calculated using the number (headcount) of A&E consultants within trusts that have A&E departments.

Sources:

Department of Health 2001 medical and dental workforce census Department of Health form KH12, 2001–02

Diabetes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the terms of reference are of the new diabetes tsar. [106629]

The terms of reference for the national clinical director for diabetes are set out in the 'National Service Framework for Diabetes: Delivery Strategy' which was published in January 2003.The national clinical director for diabetes, Dr Sue Roberts, will oversee the implementation of the national service framework for diabetes by:

Supporting National Health Service clinicians and managers in reaching the standards and delivering the targets
Ensuring clinical commitment through professional leadership at national level
Advising Ministers and officials in the Department on priorities and progress
Working with the NHS Modernisation Agency, the National Institute for Clinical
Excellence, the Commission for Health Improvement and the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection when it is established in 2004, and other bodies to support delivery

A copy of the 'National Service Framework for Diabetes: Delivery Strategy' is available in the Library.

Drugs Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether it is his Department's policy to include organisations which support the legalisation of cannabis in the list of organisations it recommends to schools for providing advice to young people on drugs. [107210]

Poster 31166 was not produced for schools, although teachers could register to receive it. The Department is not aware of any material produced by organisations listed on poster 31166 that explicitly promotes the legalisation of cannabis.Policy on recommending to schools who should provide advice to young people on drugs is the responsibility of the Department for Education and Skills (DIES). DfES do not recommend or endorse specific organisations for providing advice to young people on drugs, although they do fund training for schools. This is to ensure that schools have the knowledge and skills to make such decisions based on the needs of their pupils and the policy of their school governors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much it cost to produce the poster for schools 31166—Where to find resources; how widely it was distributed; and what representations he has received about it. [107211]

The poster was not produced for schools, although teachers could register to receive it. The total production and distribution cost for poster 31166 was (fully inclusive of all mailing costs) £7,200, at a unit cost of 16p.45,000 copies were produced.The poster was distributed to people who had registered to receive general health promotion information and to health promotion units. Two thirds of the original print run have been distributed. The poster is available on the Department's website. While there are no plans to print further copies at this stage, updates and corrections will be made to the document displayed on the Department's website. I am not aware of any further representations about this poster.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria the Department used to decide which organisations to include as resources on drugs on the Department's poster for schools 31166—Where to find resources. [107213]

The poster was not produced for schools, although teachers could register to receive it. The list of contacts included covered larger national organisations that produce information for the public on a range of health issues, including drugs. As poster 31166 clearly states, this list is not exhaustive and inclusion does not signify endorsement by the Department.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the criticisms of Lifeline Drug Information and Advice contained in paragraph 207 of the Third Report from the Home Affairs Committee, Session 2001–02. [107214]

Following the Home Affairs Committee's report, the Government gave a commitment to review its rules on the use of public money to fund drugs communications with young people. The review was undertaken by officials from the Home Office, the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills, as well as voluntary sector partners, academic and communications experts. The new rules have now been approved by Ministers and will be made public shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions his Department had with the Home Office before producing poster 31166—Where to find resources; when the last meeting took place between his Department and the Home Office to discuss drug education in schools and how frequently such meetings take place. [107212]

Officials from the Department of Health and the Home Department are in regular contact over matters of drug policy, and meet frequently. The Departments work closely together to co-ordinate delivery of the national drug strategy although this would not include detailed discussions on each piece of work.

Foundation Trusts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he plans to take to ensure that staff working in non-foundation trusts are not recruited by foundation trusts; and if he will make a statement on the creation of competition between hospitals. [105951]

National health service foundation trusts will play an important part in promoting career development within the NHS and staff will continue to move between employers as part of normal career development. There will be a number of safeguards to prevent development of inappropriate competition between NHS employers in a particular area:

All NHS foundation trusts will, presuming it is agreed, implement the new "Agenda for Change" national pay system for the NHS;
Other local NHS organisations will be able to exercise influence over the running of a NHS foundation trust through its membership and governance arrangements;
NHS foundation trusts will be subject to a statutory duty of partnership just like other NHS trusts;
NHS foundation trusts will provide services at the national tariff rate and will be subject to a system of financial flows that operates on the principle of payment by results. They will not be able to increase charges for clinical services to reflect higher wage costs;
Under the national tariff, any cost increases relating to enhanced terms and conditions for staff would have to be absorbed by NHS foundation trusts themselves and it will not be in their interest to take action leading to local wage inflation.

Health Bodies (Information Requests)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice he has provided to strategic health authorities and primary care trusts regarding their requirement to reply to hon. Members who seek information from them; and what guidance he has given as to a reasonable amount of time before such replies are received. [105595]

Strategic heath authorities and primary care trusts are required to adhere to the standard national health service response time as outlined in section 6 (Response to Requests for Information) of the "Code of Practice on Openness in the NHS". A copy has been placed in the Library. An acknowledgement must be sent within four working days and, where possible, the information should follow within 20 days.

Hospital Beds

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the relative hospital bed occupancy rate was of (a) married and (b) unmarried (i) males and (ii) females in the last year for which figures are available. [106096]

Information on hospital bed occupancy rates by gender and marital status is not available.

Nurses

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nurse returners (a) have been recruited to return to practice schemes, (b) have successfully completed these schemes and (c) have subsequently been employed by the NHS in England, for recruits entering schemes (i) from 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000, (ii) from 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001, (iii) from 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 and (iv) from 1 April 2002, including the latest statistics available, in (A) England and (B) each NHS region. [106209]

The information available is shown in the table.

Number of Nurses and Midwives who have returned to work in the NHS1
1999–20002000–012001–022002–032
Northern and Yorks295733545
North West622331288
Trent368744412
West Midlands334384344
Eastern352453403
London258561738
South East622807660
South West183466373
Total3,0344,4793,763
South3459
Midlands and Eastern3586
North3319
London3500
Total1,864
Overall total13,140
1 Figures for those attending and completing return to practice courses are not available.
2 For April to September 2002 only.
3 From 2002 the NHS regions have changed from eight to four.

Source:

Quarterly returns from Workforce Development Confederations

Between February 1999 and September 2002 13,140 former nurses and midwives had returned to work in the National Health Service. Return to practice courses for nurses, midwives and health visitors who wish to return to the NHS are free and from 1 April 2001 healthcare professionals returning to the NHS receive a minimum of £;1,000 income to support them whilst they are retraining (£1,500 for midwives). They are also entitled to assistance with childcare costs and the cost of travel and books. In both 2001–02 and 2002–03 the Department allocated funding to workforce development confederations for 4,500 former nurses and midwives to attend return to practice training

An Evaluation Study commissioned by the Department of Health, show that 86 per cent. of people that had completed a Return to Practice course in the last three years had returned and remained in practice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the vacancy rate was for nurses working in coronary care in (a) England, (b) each NHS region and (c) each NHS trust in each of the last six years; [106598](2) how many nurses were working in coronary care in the NHS. [106597]

Nurses employed in coronary care are included in the number of nurses employed in acute, elderly and general care.As at September 2001, the number of nurses employed in the acute, elderly and general care was 177,900.The national health service vacancy survey, first collected in March 1999, collects information on the number of posts which trusts are actively trying to fill which have been vacant for three months or more. Between March 1999 and 2002 the three-month vacancy rate for acute, elderly and general nurses has fallen from 3.6 per cent. to 3.2 per cent.; this demonstrates that our recruitment and retention initiatives are making an impact.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of student nurses, who successfully completed a three year nursing diploma course to become a registered general nurse, failed to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council within one year of completion of their course in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [106175]

Since 1 April 2002, of the 18,766 nurses completing diploma and degree studies, 17,782 (95 per cent.) are now registered, 930 (5 per cent.) are pending awaiting fee payment and 54 (0.3 per cent.) have, to date, made no attempt to register. Separate figures for those completing diploma and degree studies are not held.Registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council during 2001–02 was disrupted when the computerised registration system was closed down for 12 days in March 2002.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of student nurses undertaking three year nursing diploma programmes to become registered general nurses failed to complete the course in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [106208]

Data on nurses failing to complete their studies were last collected nationally in 2000–01. The following table shows the number of leavers (nurses who failed to complete the course) by 2000–01 for the last four cohorts where there were substantial numbers of active students undertaking three year nursing diploma programmes.

Started

Leavers

Percentage

1997–9816,0283,28720.5
1998–9915,9972,93818.4
1999–200017,5042,33813.4
2000–0116,8991,0356.1

Note:

This data are based on a snapshot in time of a particular cohort(s) and therefore each year there will still be students who have yet to complete their course.

Net Present Costs of PFI v. PSC Option

Trust

PFI £000

Public £000

Savings in net present value terms £000

Percentage difference

Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust1,166,3261,179,43113,1051.11
West Middlesex University Hospitals NHS Trust1,082,9001,088,0005,1000.47
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust240,600241,6131,0130.42
St. George's Hospitals NHS Trust565,565565,7682030.04
West Berkshire Priority Care NHS Trust273,245282,2288,9833.18
Total projected savings28,404

Details of expected savings on PFI schemes are not held centrally for schemes with a capital value below £20 million.

United Kingdom Accreditation Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will recognise the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) as the sole national body for the accreditation of laboratories and transfer the functions of Clinical Pathology Accreditation (UK) Ltd. to UKAS. [105488]

United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the sole body recognised by the Government for accreditation of various tests and calibrations undertaken by laboratories and those organisations providing certification and inspection services. Pathology laboratory accreditation is for the most part overseen by Clinical Pathology Accreditation (UK) Ltd. (CPA), which has long-standing expertise in accrediting pathology laboratories. UKAS and CPA have established a Council Partnership and agreed a Memorandum of Understanding. In brief, this agreed the two organisations would work together for the benefit of laboratories interested in both UKAS and both CPA accreditation. This is a sensible approach and the Department of Health does not wish to change it.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what support his Department has given to the Accreditation Awareness Campaign run by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. [105490]

The Department of Health has been consistent in its full support for the accreditation awareness campaign run by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). The Department uses UKAS accreditation services whenever it is appropriate to do so.

Private Finance Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the expected saving to public funds from the private finance initiative schemes due to become operational in 2003. [105724]

Listed are the private finance initiative (PFI) schemes with a capital value of £20 million or above scheduled to become operational in 2003 showing details of the expected savings to public funds.

Culture, Media And Sport

Access Radio

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many FM access radio licences, as foreseen in the Communications Bill, could be issued to (a) the City of Manchester and (b) the UK; and how many of these will be found (i) in existing national sub bands held by the BBC and (ii) within frequency allocations currently suggested by the Radio Authority to carry future commercial radio stations. [106674]

The evaluation of the 15 pilot stations, published by the Radio Authority on 19 March suggested that there may be as many as five frequencies available in Manchester, although the exact extent would need to be reviewed in the context of precisely-defined demand.The precise numbers of frequencies available for access radio stations across the UK has not been established. However, there would be little point in legislating for a new tier of radio if there was not available spectrum. The Radio Authority's report on future FM frequency availability published on 4 March found that there was likely to be a significant, although still finite, resource for services of very small coverage.Further research will be required into overall FM capacity for access radio. It is expected that this will be taken forward by OFCOM.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the Government expect to publish their draft Order facilitating access radio. [106675]

We first need to consider the recommendations of Professor Everitt's evaluation of the 15 pilot stations. It is too early to say when a draft Order may be published.

Advertising Campaigns

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her Department's total spending was on advertising and promotional campaigns between April 2002 and March 2003; and what the cost of each campaign was, broken down by costs relating to (a) television, (b) radio and (c) print media. [106441]

The Department has had a nil spend on advertising and promotional campaigns relating to television, radio and print media between April 2002 and March 2003.

Free Television Licences (Buckingham)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her most recent estimate is of the number of pensioners over-75 in the Buckingham constituency who are receiving a free television licence. [107155]

TV Licensing, who administer the concession as agents for the BBC, are not able to provide geographical breakdowns of the number of free licences issued. However, estimates based on the 1991 Census indicate that there were approximately 4,300 people aged 75 or over living in the Buckingham constituency.

Market Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what expenditure has been incurred by her (a) Department, (b) agencies and (c) non-departmental bodies in 2002 on (i) opinion polling, (ii) focus groups and (iii) other forms of market research; and if she will list the surveys commissioned and the purpose of each. [106273]

The Department's expenditure on opinion polling, focus groups and other forms of market research for 2001–02 is shown in the following table.

Activity2001–02
Opinion polling17,595
Focus groups229,820
Market research310,800
1(a) Research undertaken that would assess consumers' perceptions of digital television and (b) questions on culture and the internet for Culture Online included in an omnibus survey.
2(a) Eight focus groups with teachers, children and adults for Culture Online and (b) consultation with a group of young people when developing a national arts award, regarding the structure of the award.
3 An online survey of the use of culture web-sites of existing users of six cultural web-sites for Culture Online.
The opinion polling figure is revised from £36,382 presented last year as the difference is proper to 2002–03.The Department's agency, the Royal Parks Agency, did not incur expenditure on opinion polling or focus groups in 2001–02. Its expenditure on market research relating to annual visitors survey, Stakeholder Audit and monitoring the Kensington Gardens cycle trial was £59,840.Information on expenditure by the Department's non-departmental public bodies is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Tourism (Northern Ireland)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the reasons for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board not being included in VisitBritain. [106898]

[holding answer 3 April 2003]: VisitBritain is the name which the British Tourist Authority will use in future. The British Tourist Authority was set up by the Development of Tourism Act 1969, and it is this Act which is clear that duty to promote Britain abroad covers Scotland, Wales and England, but not Northern Ireland. I am happy to say, however, that the excellent formal and informal co-operation between VisitBritain and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board will continue in future, and a revised and strengthened memorandum of understanding between the two is in the final stages of preparation. Although the 1969 Act does not provide for the Chair of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board to be a member of the VisitBritain Board, the Chairman has accepted an invitation to have observer status on the Board.

Lord Chancellor's Department

Staff Numbers

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many staff are employed by her Department. [106286]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by the Minister of State, Cabinet Office on 3 April 2003, Official Report, column 780W.

Travel Costs

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the cost was of travel by train by staff in her Department in 2002. [106343]

This information is not readily available without incurring disproportionate cost.My Department ensures that staff use the most efficient and economic means of travel commensurate with meeting departmental operational needs.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Al-Qaeda

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the involvement of al-Qaeda in terrorism in the Middle East. [105976]

Al-Qaeda and related groups remain a real and sophisticated threat. They form an international network, not only confined to the Middle East. The UK, together with the US and international partners, remains committed to dismantling their international terrorist network.

Chad (Islamist Mercenaries)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received concerning incursions made by Islamist mercenaries from Chad into (a) Sudan and (b) Nigeria; and what representations he will be making to the Government of Chad concerning these incursions. [106421]

There are persistent reports of fighting in Darfur, Western Sudan, involving tribes and groups from Chad and Libya. Recent unconfirmed reports allege that Chadian mercenaries were involved in the attack against Al-Tinah on the Sudan/Chad border. Chad has closed the border with Sudan and deployed troops there to uphold the security agreement signed between Sudan and Chad.The Nigerian police regularly report on the presence of substantial numbers of Chadians among those arrested in violent conflicts in Northern Nigeria.It is for the Governments of Sudan and Nigeria, rather than the British Government, to make representations to the Government of Chad on these matters.

Commercial Confidentiality

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidance his Department issues to civil servants on how to deal with claims from organisations that the information they provide to the Department is commercially confidential. [105556]

Guidance to staff in British Trade International, including staff in overseas posts, emphasises the need to ensure that all information is handled carefully, and that information received from or about a British business should not be disclosed, without the latter's permission, to other firms or organisations.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he intends to reply to the letter to him dated 25 February from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Ms E. Vaswani. [106181]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary replied on 31 March to my right hon. Friend's letter on behalf of his constituent.

Ethiopia/Eritrea

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) the Ethiopian Government, (b) the Eritrean Government and (c) the United Nations on the demarcation of the boundary between Ethiopia and Eritrea. [105428]

The UK maintains regular dialogue with the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as the UN regarding the demarcation of the boundary between Ethiopia and Eritrea. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed this with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi when he visited the UK in February. My noble Friend Baroness Amos discussed it with the Eritrean Ambassador and Head of the Political Department of the ruling party in March. Our ambassadors in Addis Ababa and Asmara have frequent contact with the governments of both countries and with Legwaila Joseph Legwaila the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General. We have made clear to both Ethiopia and Eritrea that they must respect the decisions of the Boundary Commission, in line with their commitments under the Algiers Peace Agreement.

Gibraltar

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of Spain regarding commemoration of 300 years of British sovereignty in Gibraltar in 2004. [106027]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no such discussions.

Great Lakes Region

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the leaders of the states in the Great Lakes Region on (a) violent crime and (b) small arms proliferation. [105423]

Small arms proliferation remains a significant problem in the region. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no recent discussions with the leaders of the states in the Great Lakes Region on violent crime and small arms proliferation. But the UK works extensively in Africa with Governments, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and NGOs on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) issues. We have committed significant resources from our Global Conflict Prevention Pool for SALW to assist the Secretariat that supports the 2000 Nairobi Declaration.

Iran

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received on human rights abuses in Iran. [106130]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary regularly receives a wide range of representations about the human rights situation in Iran. My right hon. Friend and I regularly raise human rights with the Iranian authorities, including with the Iranian Foreign Minister when we met on 6 February.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met Iranian officials. [106129]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I met the Iranian Foreign Minister in London on 6 February.

Kashmir

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when Ministers in his Department next plan to meet their (a) Indian and (b) Pakistani opposite numbers to discuss Kashmir. [106538]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, regularly raises our concerns in relation to Kashmir with the Governments of India and Pakistan, including during frequent telephone calls. Pakistani Foreign Minister Kasuri has accepted an invitation from the Foreign Secretary to visit London in the near future. The Foreign Secretary also hopes to meet the Indian Foreign Minister in the UK during May. Dates for these visits have yet to be confirmed.

Sudan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring he is undertaking of the situation in Darfur, Sudan, with particular reference to (a) the number of death sentences recently carried out, (b) women's rights and (c) reform of its judiciary. [105665]

We are monitoring developments in Darfur and are following the cases of those sentenced to death. In relation to women's rights and judicial reform our focus has not been on Darfur specifically, but we have been in contact with the Government of Sudan about the role and function of the special courts.Our ambassador to Khartoum has requested permission to travel to Darfur and will do so as soon as possible.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Arab-African conflict in Darfur, Sudan. [105666]

Historically there have been clashes between tribal groups in Darfur over access to land and water. There are also long-standing claims of insufficient development in the region. Recently the frequency of clashes has increased and Government forces have also become involved.The British embassy in Khartoum continues to discuss the situation in Darfur with a wide range of Government and National Congress party officials, in addition to Darfur MPs and other local representatives. Our ambassador has requested permission to visit Darfur and will do so as soon as possible.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the aerial bombardment in Rier, Sudan; and what monitoring he is undertaking of use of Antatov bombers, by the Government of Sudan. [105667]

UN Security and the US-led Civilian Protection Monitoring Team are unaware of any recent incidents of aerial bombardment in Sudan.On 4 February, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army agreed an addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cessation of hostilities. The addendum aimed to strengthen the MoU which was signed at Machakos on 15 October 2002 and extended on 18 November 2002. It contains many new and welcome initiatives to build confidence between the parties and to make less likely the sorts of outbreaks of fighting which we saw in Western Upper Nile in January. We also welcomed the establishment of the new Verification and Monitoring Team (VMT) and have committed US․ 500,000 to support its important work.

Zimbabwe

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received on human rights abuses of British citizens residing in Zimbabwe. [106133]

The British High Commission in Harare has this year received a small number of representations from British citizens in Zimbabwe about ill treatment. Where appropriate, the British High Commission has taken the matter up with the Zimbabwean authorities. We remain ready to do so as and when necessary.

Education And Skills

Educational Maintenance Allowances

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when children in each London local authority will be eligible for educational maintenance allowances. [105969]

The national Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) scheme will be available from September 2004 across the whole of England.EMA is being piloted in a number of areas, 16 of which are in London. In areas such as Regent's Park and Kensington North which are not part of the pilot scheme, the first tranche of eligible students will be those who reach the compulsory school leaving age in the 2003/2004 academic year.

Ict

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent on ICT (a) in total and (b) per pupil in (i) primary and (ii) secondary schools in England in 2001/02. [106193]

The total spend on ICT in schools in 2001/02 was £563 million. The average expenditure per pupil was £58 for primary schools and £88 for secondary schools.The latest information on ICT in schools was published in Statistical Bulletin 07/02 'Survey of Information and Communications Technology in Schools 2002', which is available from the Library. An enhanced version of this with total expenditure data is on the Department's web-site www.dfes.gov.uk/statistics.

Student Fees

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of higher education students' fees are wholly remitted on account of income; and what proportion of students have home postcodes which attract additional university funding from HEFCE. [104947]

In England and Wales students on full-time undergraduate courses and their families are expected to make a contribution towards the cost of their tuition only if they can afford to do so. The percentage of students in England and Wales in academic year 2000/01 (latest year for which data are available) who have been assessed to make a nil contribution towards the cost of their tuition is 42 per cent. This figure includes those students eligible for student support studying in further education colleges, and also English and Welsh domiciled students studying at UK institutions.According to latest available data, around 30 per cent. of English-domiciled students registered at English higher education institutions and 48 per cent. of English-domiciled students registered at English further education attracted additional funding from HEFCE. This funding was allocated on the basis of postcodes to support recruitment and retention of students from low participation neighbourhoods.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether student musicians will be exempted from increased tuition fees. [104508]

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action he plans to recover post-course tuition fees from students who have been (a) resident in the UK but go abroad after graduation and (b) resident abroad before commencing their studies.[105399]

There are mechanisms in place to recover loan repayments for maintenance from UK students who live abroad after graduation, and who are outside the UK tax system, through direct payments to the Student Loans Company. The arrangements for collecting varied fees from EU graduates and UK graduates that go abroad will be based on these mechanisms.

Vocational Qualifications

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people aged 14 to 19 are studying for a vocational qualification in (a) further education colleges, (b) schools and (c> on-the-job training in each of the learning and skills council areas.[105137]

The numbers of 16 to 19-year-olds studying vocational qualifications in schools and further education colleges (including sixth form colleges) at end 2000 by each local Learning and Skills Council area are given in the following table. The year 2000 is the latest for which comparable figures are available. The figures include people studying NVQs, VCE A-levels, GNVQs and equivalents.Also included are the numbers of 16 to 18-year-olds in Government Supported Training (GST). Local level information for other forms of work-based training is not available.Numbers of 14 and 15-year-olds in schools are not available by type of course being studied.

Participation in vocational qualifications1 in England by local LSC area, end 2000

16 to 19-year-olds

2

16 to 18-year-olds

2

All Schools

3

Sixth form and other FE colleges

4

Government supported training

5

North East

County Durham6006,0003,000
Northumberland1,0002,7001,400
Tees Valley20010,1003,900
Tyne and Wear2,20012,4005,900

North West

Cheshire and Warrington1,3008,6003,200
Cumbria9004,7002,600
Greater Manchester90031,50011,300
Greater Merseyside3,00016,7008,300
Lancashire60019,0006,500

Yorkshire and the Humber

Humberside60011,4004,700
North Yorkshire1,5007,1003,400
South Yorkshire1,30014,3006,100
West Yorkshire4,80024,3008,100

East Midlands

Derbyshire1,1009,7004,100
Leicestershire1,6009,7002,500
Lincolnshire and Rutland9006,1002,500
Northamptonshire1,3005,9002,300
Nottinghamshire1,10011,0004,100

West Midlands

Birmingham and Solihull2,30014,5003,000
Coventry and Warwickshire1,0009,4003,200
Herefordshire and Worcestershire9007,9002,300
Shropshire2005,1001,900
Staffordshire1,30012,3004,500
The Black Country2,00013,1005,100

East of England

Bedfordshire and Luton1,0006,6001,600
Cambridgeshire1,3006,3001,900
Essex2,10014,5004,100
Hertfordshire2,0008,5002,000
Norfolk8007,1002,100
Suffolk1,1006,1002,300

London

London Central3,00011,0001,900
London East3,60020,8004,200
London North2,00010,7001,600
London South2,4009,5002,100
London West3,60013,4002,100

South East

Berkshire1,5006,4002,700
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight70019,1005,200
Kent and Medway4,40013,0003,700
Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire2,60010,9003,900
Surrey1,5007,8001,300
Sussex2,20013,3003,000

South West

Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole1,2006,1002,700
Devon and Cornwall3,00016,2005,400
Gloucestershire8005,3001,800
Somerset4006,0002,000
West of England1,4008,9002,700
Wiltshire and Swindon7006,7001,600

1 Highest qualification aim of student. There will be some whose highest aim is an academic qualification, but who combine this with a lower level vocational qualification.

2 Age as at 31August.

3 From January 2001 Annual Schools Census. Includes all 16 to 19-year-olds in maintained and independent schools and City Technology Colleges. Excludes special schools, as qualification breakdowns are not available.

4 From the LSC's Individualised Student Record—final data for snapshot at 1 November 2000. Includes all 16 to 19-year-olds in sixth form colleges, general FE colleges, tertiary colleges and specialist colleges.

5 From the Training and Enterprise Council's Management information Service combined with the trainee databases, as at end 2000.

Work And Pensions

Employer Liability Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to ensure that main contractors working for government authorities ensure that their specialist and sub-contractors have in place employers liability compulsory insurance; and if he will make a statement. [100856]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mrs. Roe) on 27 March 2003, Official Report, columns 369–70W.

Mpdi Network

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what effect HSE's October 2002 warning of the need for replacement of all non-Transco owned MPDI networks within 30 metres of buildings has had on the development of (a) a complete picture of all such networks, irrespective of ownership and (b) a programme of work for their replacement that is agreed with their owners. [102242]

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued an alert to occupiers of sites and local authorities with their own gas mains that medium pressure ductile iron (MPDI) pipes need to be replaced. This followed enforcement action requiring Transco to carry out an agreed accelerated programme of replacement of all MPDI gas mains located within 30 metres of buildings by the end of 2002.The effect of this was that a small number of additional sites with MPDI gas pipes have been identified as a result and HSE will ensure a programme of remedial measures is implemented.

Benefit Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners collect benefits from post offices in Derbyshire. [98895]

The number of pensioners in Derbyshire receiving DWP benefits (including War Pensions) collectable from post offices is 88,274 as at the 28 December 2002. This figure includes benefits paid by giro cheque, which can also be paid into a bank or building society account.Some customers who are paid direct into an account can also collect their benefit in cash at post offices through network banking arrangements at the Post Office. There are no data available on the number of benefit claims collected in this way.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) number and (b) proportion f those who have their pension paid into a bank or building society account are paid (i) weekly and (ii) monthly in arrears in (A) the Scottish Borders, (B) Scotland and (C) the UK.[106646]

The available information is in the table.The number and proportion of retirement pensioners receiving payment directly into a bank or building society account as at 25 January 2003 is as follows:

AreaNumberProportion (percentage)
The Scottish Borders11,08253.1
Scotland368,34845.9
Great Britain4,547,87449.6

Note:

Figures for the Scottish Borders are for the area of the local authority.

Child Support Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many lone parents were permitted by the Child Support Agency not to name the father of their child because of fear of violence in each year for which the concession has been available. [100048]

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Doug Smith to Mr. Steve Webb, dated 2 April 2003:

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in replying to your recent parliamentary question about the Child Support Agency promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You ask how many lone parents were permitted by the Child Support Agency not to name the father of their child because of fear of violence in each year for which the concession has been available.
I do not have the information to answer this fully. I do however have some relevant information in relation to sole parents who are in receipt of "prescribed benefits". They are obliged to provide information to the Agency. Some parents may not wish to provide this because they have a genuine fear of violence or intimidation from the other parent, or where there are child welfare issues, which would mean that it would not be prudent to contact the other parent. We do not press the parent with care to provide information about the alleged other parent if there are reasonable grounds to believe that to do so may harm or distress the parent with care or any child living with him or her—this is known as "good cause".
I do not have figures relating to periods before April 1997. Since then approximately 120,000 applications were on the grounds of a genuine fear of violence or intimidation. My best estimate is that around 100,000 of those cases were lone parents.

Fraud Prevention Board

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions who is on the Fraud Prevention Board. [99066]

The Department and the Post Office work closely together through a number of forums to improve instruments of payment security and combat fraud. One such forum is the Fraud Prevention Board which is jointly chaired by the Deputy Divisional Head of the Department's Fraud Strategy Unit and the Head of Security, Post Office Corporate Clients.Fraud Prevention Board members are drawn from areas of the Department and Post Office responsible for fraud and security; contracts; service delivery and operational analysis.

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people received Housing Benefit in the last year for which figures are available; and what percentage of British households claimed Housing Benefit. [103935]

The available information is in the table.

British households receiving Housing Benefit in 2002
Number of Housing Benefit recipients3,806,000
Housing Benefit recipients as a proportion of all British households (percentage)51.8

Notes:

1. The data refer to households claiming Housing Benefit which may be a single person, a couple or a family. More than one benefit household can live in one property, for example two or more adults in a flat or house share arrangement.

2. Figures includes estimates for local authorities that have not responded. This estimate is based on historical and regional data. These types of estimates are standard practice in reporting totals where there have been non-respondents.

3. The figures exclude any Extended Payment cases.

4. Caseload figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand, and percentages rounded to one decimal place.

5. Information on the number or proportion of British households who claimed Housing Benefit during 2002 is not available.

Sources:

1. Average of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload counts taken in February, May, August and November 2002.

2. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister household estimates mid 2001.

Independent Schools (Health And Safety)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many inspections have been made of independent schools by the Health and Safety Executive in each of the last ten years; and of those inspections, how many of the schools (a) have subsequently had an asbestos survey carried out by an expert and (b) have followed HSE guidance on asbestos. [94381]

Asbestos is one of a number of risks considered when a school is inspected. The number of independent schools which have been inspected, had asbestos surveys or followed HSE guidance on asbestos is not separately identified. However, the information that is available is as follows:

Number of inspections
LA controlled SchoolsOther Schools1
1995–96197116
1996–97538340
1997–98542271

Number of inspections

LA controlled Schools

Other Schools

1

1998–99306269
1999–2000319198
2000–2001368147
2001–2002283156
2002–20032133130

1 Other schools Volutary Aided. Foundation and Independent Schools

2 Provisional

Jobcentre Plus

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the development and roll out of Jobcentre Plus. [105496]

Jobcentre Plus was launched in April 2002 with the merging of the Employment Service and those parts of the Benefits Agency providing services to working age people. Through our expanding network of modern, welcoming offices and the introduction of modern technology we are providing a better service to customers, employers and the local community.The roll-out of the new integrated offices is progressing well and we currently have more than 160 offices delivering the new service. On 10 December 2002 we announced the order of roll-out for the rest of the country to take place over the next three years.We are also investing in modern technology to improve access to our services. The introduction of new contact centres, touch-screen Jobpoints and improved internet services are enabling our customers to enquire about benefits and job vacancies at a time and place convenient to them.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the procedures are for consultation with (a) staff, (b) local communities and (c) local hon. Members over a proposal to reduce the services of or to close a local jobcentre. [105478]

From its introduction in April 2002, Jobcentre Plus inherited two large networks of offices from the former Employment Service and those parts of the Benefits Agency that provided services to people of working age. This estate has around 1,100 Jobcentres and 400 social security offices.This formation of Jobcentre Plus allows us to bring our services together into integrated offices providing help with both claiming benefits and moving into work. In locations where we currently, for example, have both a Jobcentre and a Social Security office providing separate services it may make sense to replace them with just one integrated Jobcentre Plus office to provijde all of our services.We are making sure that our plans for the rollout of Jobcentre Plus services are communicated widely. In June 2002 a letter was sent to MPs whose constituencies may have been affected by the rollout in 2002–03. District Managers also wrote to their local MPs, staff, trade unions and other local stakeholders to share their early" plans for the provision of services within the district and to invite comments. District Managers responded to the comments they received and wrote again in September 2002 with details of the agreed plans.On 10 December 2002 I gave a written statement,

Official Report, columns 8–9 WS giving details of the rollout of Jobcentre Plus for 2003–2006 and, in January 2003, a letter was sent to those MPs whose constituencies would be affected. District Managers will be contacting MPs and local stakeholders as planning begins in each new district.

Medical Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to amend the grading system used in audits of medical assessments of claimants to allow for a specific grade for those reports which are not fit for purpose. [103103]

Medical Services and doctors in the Department's Corporate Medical Group regularly review the effectiveness of medical quality audit systems. Medical Services' aim is to maintain the highest standards of medical quality. The Department's decision makers judge whether a report is fit for purpose. Reports that are not fit for purpose are identified and returned to Medical services to be reworked.

New Deal

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many participants in the New Deal for (a) Young People, (b) 50 Plus, (c) Lone Parents and (d) Long-term Unemployed have accepted permanent employment with the Department for Work and Pensions, broken down by year. [95227]

The information is not available for all of the Department and its agencies.The following table provides information on the number of people who, having been taken on under the subsidised employment option of the New Deal in the former Employment Service (ES) and Jobcentre Plus, have gained permanent employment in Jobcentre Plus. Information broken down by each New Deal is not available.

Number of people who have gained permanent employment with ES/Jobcentre Plus1
1998–9918
1999–200088
2000–01123
2001–0263
2002–03221
1 Jobcentre Plus was launched in April 2002. The Employment Service and Benefits Agency ceased to exist at the same time.
2 Up to end December 2002.

Source:

Jobcentre Plus

In addition, up to July 2002 a further 3,556 people have been taken on across the Department from the New Deal for Young People and New Deal 25 plus. These people have come through the Department's normal recruitment processes. Information on how many of these have secured permanent jobs is not available.

Pensions Payment

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners had their pensions collected on their behalf from a post office in the most recent week for which figures are available. [105546]

The information is not available in the format requested. Information is available of pensions customers who have an appointee recorded on their benefit account. As at 25 January 2003, of the 10.2 million pensions customers, 0.77 per cent. are recorded as having an appointee to collect their pension at a Post Office. Pensioners can also arrange to have their payment collected on their behalf by an agent. There are no reliable figures available for pensioners who choose this option.

Schlumbergersema

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the levels of performance against the key performance targets in respect of SchlumbergerSema (a) for each of the last 12 months and (b) since the re-awarding of its contract; on how many occasions a financial remedy has been applied to SchlumbergerSema since it was first awarded the Benefits Medical Assessment Contract; how much the financial remedy was on each of the occasions until the re-awarding of the contract; how much the financial remedy was on each of the occasions since the re-awarding of the contract; and if he will make a statement. [105365]

Service credits for failure to meet contractual service level targets are commercial in confidence and not disclosed under part 2, paragraph 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.A copy of the information relating to the key performance targets has been placed in the Library.

Tax Credits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether people who stop being entitled to income support or jobseeker's allowance in favour of the new tax credits will retain access to grants and loans from the Social Fund. [106118]

With the introduction of the new tax credits from April 2003, we estimate that more than 75 per cent. of families floating off income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance will gain by at least £20 a week—some by much bigger amounts. Anyone who receives the child tax credit at the maximum rate or any other rate greater than the family element, or the working tax credit where a disability or severe disability element is in payment, will qualify for Sure Start maternity grants and funeral payments from the regulated Social Fund, provided that all of the other eligibility criteria are met.Budgeting loans and community care grants from the discretionary Social Fund target the available help on the neediest people in our society who qualify for income-related benefits. We have taken the view that access to these elements of the Fund should not be extended to a wider range of people with higher incomes as such help would be poorly targeted and potentially very costly.Crisis loans will continue to be available to anyone in an emergency or as a consequence of a disaster where there is no other means of preventing serious damage or serious risk to their health or safety or that of their family. There is no requirement for a crisis loan applicant to be receiving an income-related benefit or a tax credit, but any income or capital they have will be taken into account.

Winter Fuel Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the entitlement is to the Winter Fuel Payment; how many have received it in each year since its introduction; how much it has cost in public expenditure in each year; what percentage of this represents the cost of administration of the payment; and what his estimate is of the cost of the payment if it were to be restricted to those entitled to the pension credit. [106448]

Most people aged 60 and over who normally live in Great Britain are entitled to a Winter Fuel payment. From winter 2000–01, the payment has been either £200 or £100 depending on the composition and circumstances of the household.Information on the numbers of payments and total expenditure for each year from 1997–98 is set out in the following table.

Number in receipt (million)Great Britain Expenditure (£ million cash)
1997–989.759191
1998–999.953194
1999–200010.084759
2000–0111.1231,749
2001–0211.2021,692
2002–0311.3221,710

source:

Departmental published estimates.

Information on administrative costs is not currently available in the format requested. In accordance with the requirements of Resource Accounting and Budgeting the Department now accounts for its administration and benefit expenditure by Strategic Objective, as set out in its Public Service Agreements (PSA), and by individual Requests for Resources (RfRs), as set out in the Departmental Estimates and Accounts.

Persons sentenced to community service and the proportion of all persons found guilty, England and Wales, 1992 to 2001

Persons sentenced to combination orders1 service orders2

Persons sentenced to combination orders1

Persons sentenced to community orders service orders and combination orders

Number

Percentage of all convicted

Number

Percentage of all convicted

Number

Percentage of all convicted

199244,1072.92,1660.146,2733.1
199347,9613.48,9400.656,9014.0
199449,4693.512,3990.961,8684.4

If Winter Fuel Payments were restricted to entitled recipients of Pension Credit, we estimate the cost to be £750 million per year.

Workstep Programme