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Written Answers

Volume 403: debated on Thursday 10 April 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 10 April 2003

Prime Minister

Iraq

To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to provide medical facilities for civilians, including children, who have lost limbs during the conflict, when Iraq is fully liberated; and if he will make a statement. [108545]

We are supporting the International Committee of the Red Cross in its efforts to keep health systems functioning during the conflict.The provision of a comprehensive health system for the people of Iraq will be a priority for the post-conflict international rehabilitation effort. We will play a significant role in this process working alongside the UN, international financial institutions and nongovernmental organisations.

Education And Skills

Higher Education White Paper

14.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, what representations he has received from Wales regarding the White Paper on higher education. [108255]

My right hon. Friend and I meet from time to time, as do our officials, with the Welsh Assembly Government to discuss the HE White Paper proposals. Paragraph 7.52. of the White Paper 'The Future of Higher Education' identifies the need for further discussions with the devolved Administrations to consider the impact of our proposals for student and institutional funding on flows of students between UK countries.We have had seven comments from Wales on the White Paper.

Children's Centres

When he expects the first Children's Centres to be established. [108256]

We expect the first children's centres to be announced in June 2003. These early designations will be existing settings that already meet the core offer for children's centres now. Local authorities will submit their strategic plans for rolling out children's centres by 15 October and we expect further announcements to follow throughout the Autumn.

School Staffing Costs (Essex)

16.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, what recent representations he has received on staffing costs in Essex schools. [108257]

Smaller Schools

17.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, What research his Department has conducted on the effect of smaller sized schools on (a) standards and (b) behaviour, with particular reference to under-achieving students. [108258]

My Department has not conducted any research on the effects of smaller sized schools on standards or on behaviour.However a statistical bulletin we published in June 2002, on pupil progress by secondary school type, found that pupils in schools with year group cohorts of under 100 pupils made less progress than those in larger cohorts.

Adult Skills

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what new steps he is taking to improve the adult skills base of the UK workforce. [108259]

Last month we published an interim report on the Skills Strategy, setting out progress we have made in developing the strategy.In June we will be publishing the Skills Strategy and Delivery Plan, which will set out how we will address the skill needs of the country, with a particular focus on raising the skills of the workforce, including those adults with low skill levels.

National Grid For Learning

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much funding from the National Grid for Learning has been granted to the Stoke-on-Trent local education authority in each year since 1999–2000. [107979]

Stoke-on-Trent LEA has been allocated the following funding through the National Grid for Learning Standards Fund Grant since 1999–2000:

£
Total Grant
1999–20001,000,000
2000–011,000,000
2001–021,356,063
2002–031,685,167
2003–041,624,151
Since 2000–01 funding has been allocated by formula. All figures include LEA match funding.

Sick Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) how many days on average were lost per teacher due to sickness in (a) 2001 and (b) 2002 in (i) England and (ii) Buckinghamshire; [107099](2) how many teachers working in Buckinghamshire took early retirement under

(a) premature and (b) ill-health retirement arrangements in 2001–02; [107100]

(3) how many teacher vacancies there were in Buckinghamshire in (a) January 2002 and (b) January 2003. [107159]

Table 1 provides the average number of days lost per teacher through sickness absence1 for full-time and part-time teachers in the maintained schools sector.

1Sickness absence on working days, whether paid absence or not, of teachers with permanent contracts or contracts of more than a month, including teachers without QTS. The number of days taken as sick leave includes all periods of sick leave.
200020011
Buckinghamshire54
England56
1This is the most recent data available.
Source:
Annual 618G Survey of Teachers in Service
Table 2 provides numbers of premature and ill-health retirements from the maintained schools sector in Buckinghamshire 2001–02.
Number
Retirements
Premature40
Age20
Ill-Health10
All Retirements80

Notes:

1. Rounded to nearest 10.

2. Data are provisional.

Source:

Pensioner Statistical System (PENSTATS).

PQ 106511: Comparison of rates of improvement for specialist schools by year of entry into the Specialist Schools Programme— percentage 5+A*-C grades at GCSE

1994 (%)

1995 (%)

1996 (%)

1997 (%)

1998 (%)

1999 (%)

2000 (%)

2001 (%)

2002 (%)

Gain versus base year

Class of 1994 (50 schools)4065+25
All other comprehensives and moderns (2,948 schools)est.3648+12
Class of 1995 (41 schools)4459+15
All other comprehensives and moderns (2,907 schools)3748+11
Class of 1996 (62 schools)5059+9
All other comprehensives and moderns (2,845 schools)3848+10
Class of 1997 (72 schools)4957+8
All other comprehensives and moderns (2,773 schools)3948+9
Class of 1998 (82 schools)4553+8
All other comprehensive and moderns (2,691 schools)4247+5
Class of 1999 (76 schools)4752+5
All other comprehensive and moderns (2,615 schools)4447+3
Class of 2000 (127 schools)4752+5
All other comprehensive and moderns (2,488 schools)4447+3
Class of 2001 (146 schools)4649+3
All other comprehensives and moderns (2,342 schools)4547+2
All 656 non-selective schools designated by September 200154
All non-specialist comprehensives and moderns (2,342)47

Notes:

1. Examination figures are taken from DfES national performance data and Ofsted PANDA Annex.

2. The results include those of the 15 City Technology Colleges.

3. The results exclude grammar schools and special schools.

Source:

"Educational outcomes and value added by specialist schools—2002 analysis" Professor David Jesson, April 2003.

Table 3 provides the number of full-time teacher vacancies in maintained schools in Buckinghamshire.

January

Teachers

1

Vacancies

2

Vacancy rate

3

(percentage)

20013,360591.8
200243,380531.6

1 Full-time qualified regular teachers in the maintained schools sector.

2 Advertised vacancies for full-time permanent appointments (or appointments of at least one term's duration) in maintained nursery, primary, secondary and special schools. Includes vacancies being filled on a temporary basis.

3 Vacancies as a percentage of full-time qualified teachers in post.

4 2002 is the most recent data available.

Note:

Teacher numbers are rounded to the nearest 10.

Source:

DfES annual 618G survey

Specialist Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the performance of specialist schools. [107641]

In 2002, specialist schools' 5 + A*-C GCSE/GNVQ performance was on average 6 percentage points higher than the equivalent performance in maintained, mainstream non-specialist schools (54.9 per cent. vs 48.9 per cent.).Research carried out by Professor David Jesson (University of York) shows that the performance of each cohort of specialist schools and City Technology Colleges (from 1994 to 2001) has improved more than schools that were non-specialist at the time, with the exception of the 1996 and 1997 cohorts (see following table). This research excluded grammar schools, which, however, form a very similar percentage of both specialist schools and non-specialist schools.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the examination performance of specialist schools compared with other schools. [108246]

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley.

Staff Numbers

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many staff were employed by his Department in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03. [106979]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office on 4 April 2003, Official Report, column 891–92W.

Sunset Clauses

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the sunset clauses included in legislation from his Department since 1997. [106940]

The only sunset clause included in legislation made since 1997 from the DfES is contained in section 2 of the Education Act 2002. This is a power for the Secretary of State on the application of one or more qualifying bodies by order to make provision conferring on the applicant exemption from any requirement imposed by education legislation, relaxing any such requirement, enabling the applicant to exercise any function conferred by education legislation on any other qualifying body, and making any necessary consequential modifications.Subsection 7 provides that no order may be made after the end of the period of four years beginning with the commencement date (October 1 2002 in England; not yet commenced in Wales).

Truancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to reduce the number of days lost in school through unauthorised absence. [108242]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin), Official Report, column 391.

Solicitor-General

Crown Prosecution Service

18.

To ask the Solicitor General what recent representations she has received on the relationship between the Crown Prosecution Service and the police. [108260]

I receive regular reports on the relationship between the CPS and the police from the CPS at area and national level, the police themselves, and from individuals raising issues about particular cases.

In order that the criminal justice system works as it should, it is essential that the police and the CPS work in close partnership.

British Prisoners (Guantanamo Bay)

22.

To ask the Solicitor General if she will make a statement on the pursuit of costs by the Treasury Solicitors from British citizens who are seeking to compel the Government to act in relation to British citizens held in Guantanamo Bay by the United States. [108265]

The Treasury Solicitor is not pursuing any such costs. In the case of Abbasi the Court of Appeal made no order for costs.Relatives of a number of other detainees held by the United States Government sought unsuccessfully to intervene in the Abbasi Court of Appeal hearing. Cost orders were made against them, but following representations from their solicitors the Treasury Solicitor informed their solicitors by letter on 17 March 2003 that the claim for costs would not be pursued.

Domestic Violence

24.

To ask the Solicitor General what discussions she has had with other Departments on measures to encourage witnesses to give evidence in cases of domestic violence. [108267]

I have had recent discussions with colleagues on the Ministerial Group on Domestic Violence on a range of issues connected with domestic violence. My hon. Friend will be aware that the Government propose to introduce a Domestic Violence Bill in the third session of Parliament. This will be preceded by a consultation to be issued this summer.

Assisted Suicide

To ask the Solicitor-General when a decision will be made on whether to bring charges in relation to the assisted suicide of Mr. Reginald Crew in Switzerland. [108003]

Merseyside police have conducted an investigation into the circumstances of the death of Mr. Crew and have decided that there is insufficient evidence of an offence to seek the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions to a prosecution under section 2(1) Suicide Act 1961.

To ask the Solicitor-General what plans the DPP has to institute proceedings under section 2 of the Suicide Act 1961 against (a) organisations providing information on overseas assisted suicide organisations and (b) publishers or distributors of self-deliverance manuals; and what criteria he applies in the latter cases.[108004]

The decision to prosecute an offence under the Suicide Act, as in all cases, is taken in the light of all the evidence available, following an investigation conducted by the police. The DPP has not been asked for advice on whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute organisations who provide information on assisted suicide or the publishers or distributors of self-deliverance manuals. The criteria the DPP applies in all cases is contained in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. The code can be viewed at www.cps.gov.uk.

Departmental Costs

To ask the Solicitor-General what the cost was to her Department of the case of R (on the application of Pretty) v. DPP 2001. [107504]

Mrs. Diane Pretty challenged the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions not to grant her husband prospective immunity were he to assist her in ending her life.The difficult and complex issues in this tragic case were considered by a number of lawyers in the Crown Prosecution Service and at the Treasury Solicitors Department. Senior Treasury Counsel was instructed to advise, and he appeared on behalf of the Director in the Divisional Court, the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) does not operate a system whereby time spent on individual cases is recorded. It is therefore not possible to calculate CPS staff costs.Treasury Solicitors did not apply for costs and did not therefore prepare a scheduled bill. These will be calculated and forwarded to my hon. Friend in due course.Counsel was paid a total of £20,984.94 for advising and appearing at court on behalf of the Director. This includes accommodation and attendant expenses.

Cabinet Office

Working Hours

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what policy on (a) core hours and (b) flexible working hours is operated by his Department and each agency and non-departmental public body for which his Department is responsible. [107657]

The Cabinet Office has a flexible policy on core hours. Individual management units are able to assess the extent to which core hours are necessary to support the delivery of their business. Where appropriate, core hours are usually 10 am until 12 noon and from 2 pm until 4 pm. Different core hours can be agreed locally.The Cabinet Office supports measures to improve the work/life balance of its staff including flexible working. The Department has a dedicated site on its intranet which promotes a variety of flexible working options open to its staff, including part-time working, job-sharing, working compressed hours or staggered hours, occasional homeworking and term-time working.These policies on core hours and flexible working are mirrored in our agency and the non-departmental public bodies for which the Department is responsible.

Equal Pay

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress has been made with the pay review in the Cabinet Office, agencies and non-departmental public bodies for which the Office is responsible, with particular reference to the gender pay gap; and if he will make a statement. [106730]

The Cabinet Office, Central Office of Information (COI) and the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) have separate delegated pay arrangements and have therefore been carrying out their own equal pay audits. COI and GCDA have completed their audits. The Cabinet Office audit is on target to be completed shortly.

National Insurance

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the cost will be to public funds in 2003–04 of the rise in national insurance contributions on the salary bill of his Department. [107900]

It is estimated that the changes to employers' national insurance contributions announced in the Budget will increase pay costs on average by 0.7 per cent. next year.

Sunset Clauses

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will list the sunset clauses included in legislation from his Department since 1997. [106938]

No legislation introduced by my Department during the period in question has contained sunset clauses. However, as part of their better regulation agenda, the Government are committed to using sunset clauses where appropriate. The revised guidance on regulatory impact assessments (published on 28 January 2003) advises policy officials to consider time limiting or sunsetting regulations, and gives specific examples of where sunsetting might be appropriate.

Culture, Media And Sport

Apsley House

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what assessment she has made of the proposals for the future administration of Apsley House by (a) English Heritage and (b) an independent trust; [107670](2) what the

(a) rules, (b) content and (c) dates were of the competition between agencies for the future management of Apsley House. [107671]

Initial expressions of interest in the future management of Apsley House were invited in "Government Opportunities" on 15 March 2002, for which a closing date of 12 April 2002 was set. English Heritage and the Wellington Museum Trust expressed interest and both were subsequently invited on 11 October 2002 to satisfy a number of pre-qualification criteria by 15 November 2002.A tender evaluation panel with independent external expertise considered the responses from both parties in December 2002. My Department has been in detailed discussions with them since then, and a final decision will be taken soon on the shape of future management arrangements.

Film Diversity

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the Film Council will publish its strategy for ensuring diversity in film employment, following the publication of the British Screen Advisory Council's report, Achieving Diversity in Film in January 2001. [107672]

The Film Council intends to publish its draft diversity and inclusion strategies in July 2003 and will consult with key stakeholders about its proposals over the summer. As well as aiming to increase diversity in film employment, the Film Council wants every UK citizen to have access to film culture.It has appointed a Head of Diversity and is working to ensure that the range of diversity and social inclusion issues is prominent when developing new policies and programmes. Meanwhile, a Cultural Diversity Group of industry practitioners is considering a range of practical measures to ensure that the UK's cultural and ethnic diversity is fully reflected both behind and in front of the screen.

National Lottery

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what is being done to revise the Fair Share scheme of National Lottery funding; and what steps are being taken to ensure that there is a workable mobility strategy in place. [108185]

Fair Share runs until March 2005. Tenders are currently being sought for evaluation, and at present, it is too early to know if the scheme will continue beyond March 2005 and, if so, on what basis.

Regions White Paper

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress the Department has made towards the aim in the White Paper, "Your Region, Your Choice", of assessing the balance of staff between the centre and the regions in terms of effective policy design and implementation; and what examples there have been since the publication of the White Paper of the Department deciding between locating new streams of work (a) in and (b) outside London and the south-east. [108569]

My Department is very aware of the importance of ensuring that the regions have a role in its policy design and implementation. The Department's regional agencies are largely responsible for ensuring the cultural and sporting agenda is delivered, and we already make considerable efforts to ensure that they and the Government Offices in the regions participate in the policy making process. In addition, the Department's staff embedded in the Government Offices for the regions and the eight Regional Cultural Consortiums are responsible for championing the Department's interests in the regions.

We are currently developing the DCMS policies outlined in the White Paper, and as part of this, we will be giving full consideration to the impact the creation of one or more Elected Regional Assembly will have on staffing at the centre and in the regions.

Tourism

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether her Department is planning a review of value added tax on accommodation, as suggested in the report, The Structure and Strategy for Supporting Tourism. [107499]

I have been asked to reply.On 1 April 2003, the Government laid before the House their full response to the recommendations of the report, The Structure and Strategy for Supporting Tourism (Cm 5790), in the form of a command paper. The Chancellor of the Exchequer keeps all aspects of the tax system under review.

Defence

Basra (Water Supplies)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how the US and UK forces are responding to the need for electricity supplies to be restored in Basra in order that sewage treatment and water pumping can resume. [108053]

There is little difference between the electricity supply to Basra before the conflict started and that since, with electricity generally available for around six to nine hours per day. Coalition forces have been helping the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure that at least this level of supply is maintained.British forces also assisted the ICRC in gaining access to the water plant north of Basra International Airport and the water supply has been restored to its pre-conflict levels, operating at 60 per cent. capacity. UK forces are continuing to assist the ICRC in gaining access to water treatment and pumping plants.

Friend/Foe Identification

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been budgeted for Friend/Foe Identification in the Defence budget since 1991; and what proportion of the budget has been spent on this purpose. [107978]

'Combat Identification' is the term we use to describe the capacity to distinguish between friend, foe and neutrals in modern joint and coalition military operations. Effective Combat Identification is delivered through the combination of three elements: Situational Awareness (knowledge of what is happening in the battlespace), Target Identification (the ability to positively identify a target within the battlespace), and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (including such measures as the use of recognition devices on vehicles and the clear definition of areas of operation). Because it is so key to overall operational effectiveness, Combat Identification is a characteristic spread across a wide range of defence equipment, information systems, information technology applications, joint doctrine, training effort and battle procedures: it is not a standalone capability. It would therefore be impossible to give a meaningful dis-aggregated figure for Departmental spending on Combat Identification since 1991.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training in use of Arabic was given to military personnel and medical auxiliaries in the invasion forces in Iraq. [106426]

A small number of military personnel were given training in Arabic language skills prior to their deployment to the Gulf in support of operations against Iraq.That aside, no additional training in Arabic was given to the forces now serving in the Gulf. Personnel deploying to the Gulf are issued with a language card that lists useful vocabulary and its meaning. These cards contain phonetic phrases to aid pronunciation. Training in Arabic is not provided for medical auxiliaries. We do, however, employ interpreters to work alongside medical personnel caring for Arabic-speaking patients.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on how the coalition forces invading Iraq convey to Iraqi citizens how they can surrender. [106427]

The Coalition have dropped approximately 32 million-33 million leaflets aimed at Iraqi citizens, mainly combatants, but also civilians.Those aimed at combatants include instructions on how to surrender, including adopting a non-offensive posture, raising a white flag, stowing weapons, and parking combat vehicles in a square formation.Those aimed at civilians advise on how to avoid being caught up in military action, by staying away from military targets, by staying indoors, and not interfering with coalition operations.In addition, the Coalition have used radio and loudspeaker broadcasts to convey specific surrender instructions to combatants.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Iraqi tanks and of what types have been destroyed by British Forces in Iraq since the start of the Operation TELIC. [107114]

United Kingdom land forces in Iraq have destroyed T54 and T55 tanks. In addition, the Royal Air Force has attacked Republican Guard formations and has destroyed some of their equipment which is likely to have included T72 tanks. It will be some time before any estimate could be made about the numbers of tanks destroyed by UK forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assurances the Government has received from the United States that any irregular Iraqi troops will be treated according to the Geneva Convention. [107832]

Under the Geneva Convention, treatment of prisoners taken during hostilities is a matter for the Detaining Power. We will adhere to our obligations under the Geneva Convention towards all prisoners we capture. We are confident that the United States will do likewise.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to send additional British troops to the Gulf. [107977]

As I told the House on 31 March 2003, Official Report, columns 649–50 and 3 April 2003, Official Report, column 1074, we plan to send out replacements for our forces as and when they prove necessary. At this stage, we do not require a substantial increase in the total number offerees in theatre.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many days (a) food rations and (b) water supplies are loaded on the RFA Sir Galahad; and how many people he estimates will be provided with shelter from the vessels supplies. [106603]

On 28 March 2003, RFA Sir Galahad delivered some 300 tonnes of humanitarian aid at Umm Qasr, Iraq. The load included 100 tonnes of bottled water and 187 tonnes of food. This has been, and will continue to be distributed, as required, across an expanding area of operations. It is not accurate, therefore, to characterise the amount as 'days of supplies'. However, a large number of people in southern Iraq will benefit from the delivery.Also, as part of humanitarian aid emergency packs, the load carried two and a half tonnes of blankets and half a tonne of plastic sheeting (normally intended to shelter the supplies, if required). None of this was specifically to provide shelter nor has this been found to be a particular requirement.

Reserve Notices

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reserve notices have been issued to date. [108203]

As at 8 April 2003, in support of Operation TELIC 8,549 call-out notices had been issued. At the same time 5,051 Reservists had been accepted into service.

Type 23 Frigates

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether all the Fleet's Type 23 frigates will be equipped with sonar 2087. [107116]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 10 February 2003, Official Report, column 516W, to the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis).

Deputy Prime Minister

Abandoned Cars

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what powers are available to (a) local authorities and (b) the police to remove cars abandoned on private land or property. [108023]

I have been asked to reply.Local authorities are already under a duty (section 3(1) of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 to remove a vehicle which is abandoned in their area on any land in the open air or on any other land forming part of a highway.For vehicles abandoned on private land, the local authority enters onto the land using their powers under section 8(1) of the 1978 Act. Using their powers under Regulation 8 of the Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations 1986 they then serve on the landowner or the occupier a 15 day notice requiring them to remove the vehicle. If no representations are received then the local authority can remove the vehicle following the expiry of the 15 day period. Objections to the notice must be made by the landowner or occupier to the Chief Officer at the local authority within the 15 day period and the landowner or occupier must outline their reasons why they consider that the vehicle is not abandoned. If the local authority accepts the representations then the vehicle can remain on the land. If the local authority rejects the representations they will then remove the vehicle.Regulation 4 of the Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations 1986 empowers a police officer to remove vehicles abandoned without lawful authority on any land in the open air.

Council Tax

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the (a) county council, (b) local authority and (c) police council tax contribution, as applicable, for each local authority in England in (i) 2003–04 and (ii) 1996–97; and what the percentage change has been since 1996–97. [107952]

A table setting out the county council, billing authorities' own and police authority contribution to each billing authority's area council tax has been placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will make a statement on the reasons for the divergence among local authorities in the percentage of total revenue expenditure raised through council tax; [108107](2) which local authorities raised 50 per cent. of their total revenue expenditure through council tax in 2001–02. [108106]

One of the main reasons for the divergence among local authorities in the percentage of total expenditure raised through council tax is the varying extent to which authorities are dependent upon central Government grants. The distribution of grant between local authorities takes account of authorities' relative circumstances, in terms of both their need to spend and their ability to raise resources from council tax.It is, however, for local authorities to determine their revenue expenditure and council tax levels. Ultimately, they are answerable to their local electorates for their decisions. They should be seeking the views of their taxpayers about the level of tax that they will bear, and where their money is spent.St. Albans district council budgeted to raise 50 per cent. of its revenue expenditure through council tax in 2001–02. In addition, the following local authorities budgeted to raise more than 50 per cent. of their revenue expenditure through council tax in 2001–02:

  • Aylesbury Vale district council
  • Blaby district council
  • Castle Point borough council
  • Chiltern district council
  • Congleton borough council
  • East Dorset district council
  • East Hampshire district council
  • Elmbridge borough council
  • Harborough district council
  • Harrogate borough council
  • Huntingdonshire district council
  • Macclesfield borough council
  • North Hertfordshire district council
  • Reigate and Banstead borough council
  • Rochford district council
  • South Bedfordshire district council
  • South Northamptonshire district council
  • South Oxfordshire district council
  • Stroud district council
  • Tandridge district council
  • Uttlesford district council
  • Waverley borough council
  • Wealden district council
  • West Wiltshire district council
  • Wychavon district council

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his estimate is of the expenditure of his Department on newspapers, magazines and periodicals in 2002. [106302]

I refer to the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 29 January 2003, Official Report, column 867W.

Electricity

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what changes in unit payments for electricity have resulted from the switch by his Department to purchasing renewable energy which is exempt from the Climate Change Levy. [96490]

In response to Government targets, the Office has switched a number of its sites over to the purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources that are exempt from the Climate Change Levy. Where this has taken place, the actual average price was 3.67p/kWh, the 'standard' electricity price would have been 3.6p/kWh, so the increase due to the purchase of this renewable energy is 0.07p/kWh or 1.9 per cent.

Estates Renewal Challenge Fund

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many projects in (a) the Buckingham constituency and (b) Buckinghamshire have received funding from the Estates Renewal Challenge Fund; and if he will list the beneficiaries. [106019]

No projects in either the Buckingham constituency or in Buckinghamshire received funding from the Estates Renewal Challenge Fund.

External Reports

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list (a) the title and subject, (b) the total cost to his Department and (c) the commissioned author or organisation of each external report commissioned by his Department and its predecessors in each year since 1997. [103711]

A list of the titles published by and for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and its predecessors in each year since 1997 has been placed in the Libraries of the House. Publications of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister can be found at www.publications.odpm.gov.uk.Information on publications does not go beyond this level of detail and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Heating Systems

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what plans he has to use regulations to require the installation of micro CHP heating systems; [106797](2) what research into the relative efficiency of condensing boilers and micro CHP heating systems his Department has assessed in developing its policy regarding building regulations. [106798]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not plan to use building regulations to require the installation of micro CHP heating systems. The regulations are couched in functional terms allowing the person carrying out the work to decide upon the best way to meet the functional requirements. To be prescriptive would risk stifling innovation.There has been no research into the relative efficiency of condensing boilers and micro CHP heating systems. Research into the efficiency of conventional and condensing boilers led to the development of the SEDBUK (Seasonal Efficiency of a Domestic Boiler in the UK) procedure. The SEDBUK procedure can be used to demonstrate that boiler efficiency meets the requirements of Part LI of the Building Regulations. At present the SEDBUK database of boilers (which can be viewed at www.sedbuk.com) does not include micro CHP systems because a means of taking the electrical energy benefit into account in the efficiency rating has yet to be developed. However research is on-going on this.

Local Authority Finance

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will publish the calculation used by his Department to reach the conclusion that the forthcoming change in national insurance contributions would increase local authorities' pay costs on average by 0.7 per cent. [106176]

The changes to employers' national insurance contributions announced in the Budget will raise revenue by £4.0 billion in 2003–04. This puts pay costs up on average by about 0.7 per cent. across the economy, calculated by expressing the increase as a percentage of the total pay bill in the economy and allowing for the element on which NICs are not paid. At the time of the Spending Review, we looked at the actual total local authority pay bill for 2000–01, including pay, national insurance, pension contributions and other costs. This was then uprated by an assumption for pay increases to estimate the first year direct costs. The precise cost will be dependent on a number of factors including the actual pay award and the number of part-time staff employed by local government.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the additional cost to local authorities in a full year of the recently announced extension of TUPE provisions in PFI and PPP contract arrangements. [106993]

Clauses 102 and 103 of the Local Government Bill confer new powers on the Secretary of State, the National Assembly for Wales and Scottish Ministers to require best value authorities, in contracting with other persons for the provision of services or in circumstances where a contracted-out service is brought back in-house, to deal with staff transfer matters (employment and pensions) in accordance with any directions made. This will enable the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to meet its commitment, following the Best Value Review to make statutory within local government the policy set out in the Cabinet Office "Statement of Practice on Staff Transfers in the Public Sector" and the Annex to it, "A Fair Deal for Staff Pensions".The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) published when the Bill was introduced contained estimates of cost based on data from a Local Government Management Board (LGMB) survey carried out in 1998. This survey found that up to 12 per cent. of local authority staff transferred without TUPE applying and up to 35 per cent. transferred without a broadly comparable pension. This figure represents contracts entered into in any one year but is calculated over the full term of the contract.The RIA estimated that for England and Wales the additional cost of protecting employees' terms and conditions could equate to almost £5.5 million. The additional cost of protecting employees' pension provision was estimated to be almost £21 million (the survey indicated that fewer contracts contained pension provision in the past). Therefore the total additional cost of protecting transferees' terms and conditions and pension provision could amount to almost £27 million.

These estimates, however, illustrate a maximum possible cost scenario and because of policy and legislative changes since the survey was carried out, we do not consider that the shortfall is likely to be more than a few per cent. The RIA therefore made an assumption that if only 2 per cent. of employees currently transfer without TUPE and 6 per cent. currently transfer without a broadly comparable pension, then the additional cost of protecting these employees would amount to approximately £4.5 million.

A revised RIA will be published shortly reflecting amendments made to the Bill during Standing Committee to extend the provisions to Scotland.

Millennium Dome

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total cost has been to public funds of the millennium dome project. [107951]

The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) was responsible for building the dome and running the Millennium Experience. NMEC was allocated £628 million of National Lottery funds from the Millennium Commission for the Millennium Experience, which included the associated national programme of events across the United Kingdom as well as the dome at Greenwich. NMEC is currently in solvent liquidation and it is expected that some £25 million of this grant facility will not be required.Up to the end of December 2002, English Partnerships (EP) had incurred a total cost of £22.9 million. This includes, from 1 July 2001—when EP took over the ownership of the dome—£4 million for the management, maintenance and security of the dome; £6.5 million for decommissioning the contents of the dome and its site in preparation for the future long-term use; and £5.7 million in connection with the sale process. It also includes £6.7 million for the previous competition to find a long-term use for the dome. All of these costs incurred by EP in relation to the dome will be recovered from sale proceeds.

Ministerial Transport

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost of (a) ministerial cars and drivers and (b) taxis for his Department was in 2002. [101542]

(a) of this question will be addressed in a letter from Nick Matheson, the Chief Executive of the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) to the hon. Member for Buckingham. As for part (b), the cost of taxis from 1 June to 31 December 2002 was £21,704.

Mobile Home Parks

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to introduce legislation to regulate the running of mobile home parks; and if he will make a statement. [108518]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently considering how best to take forward the agenda for reform following the undertakings given by the Government in their response to the Park Homes Working Party report.

Mobile Phones

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many mobile phones used by (a) himself, his Ministers of State, and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State. (b) his Department's special advisers and (c) his department officials have been listed as lost or stolen in each year since 1997. [98574]

Since the creation of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 29 May 2002, the number of mobile phones used by Ministers, special advisers and departmental officials that have been lost or stolen are set out in the following table.

Number of mobile phones lostNumber of mobile phones stolen
Ministers00
Special advisers01
Departmental officials1Records not held centrally1Records not held centrally
1Records on mobile phones are not held centrally and can only be provided at disproportionate cost—the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently in the process of compiling a comprehensive list following the Machinery of Government changes.

Parish Council Elections

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of the forthcoming parish council elections in (a) the Wychavon district council area, (b) Worcestershire and (c) England are contested. [108143]

The information requested is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Public Sector Pensions

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the (a) funded and (b) unfunded public sector pension schemes for which his Department, its agencies and its non-departmental public bodies are responsible; when the last actuarial valuation was of each scheme; what the value was of the assets at the last actuarial valuation of each scheme; what deficit is disclosed by the last actuarial valuation of each scheme; and if he will make a statement. [104930]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has policy responsibility for the Firefighters' Pension Scheme. There is no pension fund and the scheme is a pay-as-you-go system with costs being paid by the employing authorities out of revenue and receiving contributions from employees. As an unfunded scheme administered by separate fire authorities no formal overall actuarial valuation is carried out.

The last actuarial valuation of the English Partnerships Pension Scheme was carried out as at 31 March 2002. The value of the assets was £76.451 million and no deficit applied as at the last actuarial valuation.

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Departmental Energy Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to increase spending on energy efficiency and renewable energy; and if she will make a statement [103307]

In 2003–4 the total spending available from Defra to support energy efficiency will be £268,042,000.This includes £33,500,000 for The Carbon Trust, £22,487,000 for the Energy Saving Trust and £22,055,000 for the Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme. In spite of heavy pressures on Defra's overall spending, these budgets remain broadly unchanged from last year reflecting the importance we attach to energy efficiency following the Energy White Paper. In addition, over £34,000,000 of capital grants and development support are available under the Community Energy programme. The budget for fuel poverty will be £156,000,000. No decisions have yet been taken about spending levels in future years.The Government have recently increased support for renewable energy by £60,000,000. Over the next four years, the Government plan to provide nearly £350,000,000 in direct support, mainly in the form of capital grants. Future increases in funding have not yet been decided.

Agricultural Shows

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received on behalf of the Monmouthshire Show Society about the impact of the six day rule on the movement of livestock to agricultural shows; and if she will make a statement. [107224]

Letters have been received from the Monmouthshire Show Society expressing concern on this subject and a reply will be sent shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what requirements her Department has placed on agricultural shows to provide licensed areas for livestock; how these requirements have changed since 2002; and whether the requirements differ for (a) cattle, (b) sheep and (c) goats. [107255]

Livestock shows in England and Wales must be licensed by the relevant Department before they can operate to make sure that they can comply with biosecurity standards. There may be an 'animal area' within the licensed premises if the whole of the licensed premises are not used for animals. Licence conditions for shows have been simplified in 2003 to make the biosecurity requirements easier to understand and operate. In particular, the new requirements focus on those dealing with animals at the show rather than visitors.The requirements do not differ for cattle, sheep and goats.

Animal By-Products

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how her Department plans to demonstrate to the European Commission that it is complying with the new Regulation of Animal By-Product disposal; and if she will make a statement. [107693]

Member States must ensure that

"adequate arrangements are in place, and that a sufficient infrastructure exists"
to ensure compliance with the new rules. The collection and disposal industries advise that there is sufficient capacity within the existing infrastructure to deal with the estimated additional quantities of fallen stock arising from the ban on burial which comes into effect from 1 May. In addition, there will be a requirement for record keeping which will ensure that all animals which die on-farm are accounted for and disposed of through permitted routes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funds she has made available to the livestock industry to assist with costs incurred as a result of the implementation of the EU Animal By-Products Registration.[107594]

No funds have been made to the livestock industry to help them meet the costs of complying with the EU Animal By-Products Regulation. However, Government are willing to contribute to the establishment of a national fallen stock collection scheme provided that part of the costs are met by farmers themselves. We plan to write to livestock farmers shortly to invite expressions of interest in a voluntary subscription scheme to meet farmers' contribution to the costs.

Departmental Savings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what savings she anticipates will be available as a result of combining the BSE control and monitoring schemes, the Over 30 Months Scheme casualty collection service and the Fallen Stock TSE Surveillance Scheme. [107207]

These schemes are already administered centrally. The Government have proposed a voluntary subscription scheme for the collection of fallen stock which could also build upon these existing arrangements.

Fallen Stock

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Government's policy towards the disposal of fallen stock. [107039]

The Government expect farmers to comply with the requirements of both European and National legislation and dispose of their fallen stock accordingly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice on biosecurity her Department received before imposing the new regulations on the disposal of fallen stock; and if she will make a statement. [107273]

The Department regulates outlets which deal with animal by-products, such as knackers yards, hunt kennels, rendering and incineration plants. Officials, including Vets from Animal Health and Welfare Directorate, are, therefore, involved in regular discussions with those industries and other interested parties.Animal By-Products legislation already controls the collection, storage and transportation of animal by-products, including animal carcases. It also requires records to be kept of any consignment of animal by-products to assist in the auditing and traceability of this material. General guidance on biosecurity is also available on the Defra website http:// www.defra.qov.uk/animalh/animindx.htm

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people in Somerset will be monitoring the disposal of fallen stock. [107340]

The Department has 19 veterinarians in the Somerset and Dorset region (16 permanent and 3 casual veterinarians) who can provide advice and guidance. However, responsibility for enforcement rests with the relevant local authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what rules there are for the disposal of fallen stock to dogs in rural areas; [107341](2) what help is going to be given to the disposal on farms of fallen stock. [107342]

Currently, the Animal By-Products Order 1999 permits the feeding of fallen stock to recognised packs of hounds, provided the meat is not from animals that are suspected of being diseased.The new EU Animal By-Products Regulation will permit hunt kennels to continue collecting fallen stock. However, they will be required to upgrade to knackers' yard standards, if they wish to do so, to collect fallen stock for the purposes of feeding to hounds.The collection and disposal industries advise that there is sufficient capacity within the existing infrastructure to deal with the estimated additional quantities of fallen stock arising from the ban on burial which comes into effect from 1 May. However, we are aware that the new rules may increase the cost of disposal for some farmers and we have, since April of last year, been discussing setting up a national fallen stock collection and disposal service with farming unions and the disposal industry. Although progress has been made on the operation of a scheme we have not yet been able to reach an agreement on funding. Nevertheless, we are continuing our dialogue with the industry and plan to write shortly to individual farmers about the new rules when we will invite expressions of interest in a scheme partially funded by Government to which farmers can contribute by voluntary subscription.Guidance on the use of on-farm incineration as a means of disposal of fallen stock will be issued with this letter. Further information and copies of the relevant legislation, is available on the Defra website at the following address, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/ by-prods/default.htm., and from local Animal Health Offices.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when her Department will issue and publish technical guidance on the use of on-farm incinerators as a legal alternative method of livestock disposal for fallen stock. [107695](2) what guidance her Department is giving to farmers about the Animal By-Products Regulation and the ban on on-farm burial; and how she will monitor their compliance. [107694]

We plan to write shortly to individual livestock farmers about the new rules. This will include guidance on the use of on-farm incineration as a means of disposal of fallen stock. Information is also available on the Defra website at the following address, http://www.defra.qov.uk/animalh/bv-prods/default.htm.. and from local Animal Health Offices. Compliance with the Regulation will be monitored through inspection and approval for on-farm incinerators, and in the case of fallen stock, by a record keeping requirement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to allow the use of biodigestion as a possible system for disposal of fallen stock; and whether she has promoted this method at EU level. [107697]

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the benefits of bio-digesters to handle fallen stock in specially designed concrete cylinders with a bacteria starter pack in terms of relative (a) environmental and (b) economic effectiveness; and if she will make a statement; [107130](2) what plans she has to permit bio-digestion of fallen stock in specially designed concrete cylinders on farms as an alternative to fallen stock collection after 30th April; and if she will make a statement; [107131](3) what representations she has made at European level to permit the bio-digestion of fallen stock in concrete cylinders on farms using a bacteria starter pack; and if she will make a statement. [107127]

Although no representations have been made at a European level, I have received some correspondence from UK companies on the biodigestion of fallen stock. The biodigestion of animal by-products is not a permitted disposal route. However, the EU Animal By-Products Regulation may allow for novel disposal methods, such as biodigestion, to be permitted after consultation of the appropriate scientific committee.

I understand that the EU Commission is considering for approval a number of alternative processes that have already been submitted by the industry. The Commission requires any submitted data to be structured in accordance with the 5 key components of the Framework prepared by the Commission's Scientific Steering Committee to assist the assessment of the risk from different options for the safe disposal or use of animal products. The key components cover:

the identification and characterisation of the risk materials;
the TSE risk reduction by the particular process;
the degree of risk containment;
the identification of interdependent processes; and
the intended end-use of the product.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to fund the collection of fallen stock from farms from 30 April; and if she will make a statement. [107124]

The collection and disposal industries advise that there is sufficient capacity within the existing infrastructure to deal with the estimated additional quantities of fallen stock arising from the ban on burial which comes into effect from 1 May. However, we are aware that the new rules will increase the cost of disposal for some farmers and we have, since April of last year, been discussing setting up a national fallen stock collection and disposal service with the farming unions and the disposal industry. Although progress has been made on the operation of a scheme we have not yet been able to reach an agreement on funding. Nevertheless, we are continuing our dialogue with the industry and plan to write shortly to individual farmers about the new rules when we will invite expressions of interest in a scheme partially funded by Government to which farmers can contribute by voluntary subscription.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why guidelines have not been issued to farms regarding the proposed changes to the handling of fallen stock from 30 April; and if she will make a statement. [107125]

We plan to write shortly to individual farmers about the new rules, which will include guidance on the use of on-farm incineration as a means of disposal of fallen stock. Information on this matter, and copies of the relevant legislation, is available on the Defra website at the following address, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/by-prods/default.htm, and from local Animal Health Offices. General guidance on bio-security is also available on the Defra website at the following address, http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/ animindx.htmThe EU Animal By-Products Regulation was originally proposed in November 2000 and interested parties have been consulted throughout negotiations on the draft Regulation.We have recently consulted on the draft legislation which will give effect to the controls in England. The consultation period closed on 21 March 2003. We are currently considering the responses, and preparing the final legislation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the extra cost of on-farm collection of fallen stock compared to on-farm burial; and if she will make a statement. [107128]

A regulatory impact assessment has been prepared as part of the consultation procedures for implementation of the Animal By-Products Regulation of which the ban on on-farm burial of fallen stock forms a part. The costs for any individual farmers will depend on the location of the farm and the kind of stock kept.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many confirmed cases there have been of a direct link between fallen stock burial on farm and damage to human or animal health since (a) 1997, (b) 1992; and (c) 1982; and if she will make a statement. [107129]

This information is not available and it would in any case be very hard to prove such a link. However, concerns about water pollution and the lack of scientific information available on how persistent the prions that cause diseases such as BSE and scrapie are in soil justify the EU's precautionary approach towards on-farm burial.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to permit the continued use of on-farm burial of fallen stock after 30 April to allow research into animal or human health risk associated with this method; and if she will make a statement. [107132]

We have no plans to permit the continued use of on-farm burial of fallen stock. The rules in the new EU Animal By-Products Regulation, regarding the disposal of fallen stock, have been influenced by a number of scientific opinions which take into account factors such as the potential for polluting water courses. Although the new rules will allow the continued use of animal carcases for "diagnostic, educational or research purposes", the Department would, as competent authority, require any research proposal and the site on which it was conducted to be approved.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the potential risk which fallen stock collection from farms presents to livestock and human health; and if she will make a statement. [107133]

No formal assessment has been made of the bio-security risks of a national carcase collection service. However, we would expect that only those collectors who follow agreed bio-security procedures would be allowed to participate in such a scheme.Animal By-Products legislation already controls the collection, storage and transportation of animal by-products, including animal carcases, it also requires records to be kept of any consignment of animal by-products to assist in the auditing and traceability of this material. General guidance on bio-security is also available on the Defra website:http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/animindx.htm.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the impact on the (a) farming industry and (b) countryside of the prohibition on on-farm burial of fallen stock. [106407](2) when she will give instructions to farmers on alternative means of disposal of fallen stock; and how these alternative schemes will be funded. [106197](3) what representations she has received on the setting up of the Government of a national collection and disposal scheme for fallen stock; and what financial assistance she will provide to the farming industry in the establishment of a scheme. [106403](4) when the Department will issue guidance to farmers on how to comply with the rules on on-farm burial which will be introduced on 30 April. [106405](5) when her Department will produce guidance.on

(a) the use of on-farm incinerators as a legal alternative method of disposal of fallen stock and (b) the possible use of a proportion of animals dying on-farm as carrion. [106404]

(6) what assessment she has made of the impact of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation on (a) the countryside and (b) farmers. [106226]

(7) what representations she has received on the introduction of biodigestion as an alternative system of disposal of fallen stock; and if she will make a statement. [106406]

A regulatory impact assessment has been prepared as part of the consultation procedures for implementation of the Animal By-products Regulation of which the ban on on-farm burial of fallen stock forms a part.The collection and disposal industries advise that there is sufficient capacity within the existing infrastructure to deal with the estimated additional quantities of fallen stock arising from the ban on burial which comes into effect from 1 May. However, we are aware that the new rules will cause difficulties for some farmers and we have, since April of last year, been discussing with farmers and the disposal industry setting up a National fallen stock collection and disposal service. Although progress has been made on the operation of a scheme we have not yet been able to reach an agreement on funding. Nevertheless, we are continuing our dialogue with the industry and plan to write shortly to individual farmers about the new rules. The provision of further government funding is dependent upon some contribution being made by farmers themselves.We are currently drafting guidance on the use of on-farm incineration as a means of disposal of fallen stock and will issue this shortly.We have no current derogations from the EU Animal By-products Regulation to permit the feeding of fallen stock to necrophagous birds and this is not relevant to the UK situation.I have received some representations on the biodigestion of fallen stock which we are considering. This is not currently an approved disposal method and this will not change when the Animal By-product Regulation comes into effect from 1 May. Approval of any new disposal method would have to be made by the Commission.

Landfill Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria she has drawn up to evaluate the performance of any revised scheme that replaces the landfill tax credit scheme. [105758]

Performance indicators—relating to recycling rates for example—will be put in place for any schemes that replace the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme. The indicators have not yet been fully developed, but will be made public as soon as they are. Progress against these indicators will be assessed regularly and made publicly available.

Ministerial Speeches

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place copies of the speeches she has made to outside organisations since 1 January in the Library. [102442]

I have made numerous speeches since 1 January. Copies of my keynote speeches, and also those of my ministerial team, are available on the Defra website (as are some other, more minor speeches). Where possible, any other speeches are available on request, although generally not in an 'as delivered' format.

Over-30-Months Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to have signed contracts for the current tender exercise for the incineration of tallow arising from carcases culled under the over thirty month scheme; and for what reason the signing of contracts has been delayed. [107815]

The Rural Payments Agency have been in negotiation with a large disposal outlet identified under the tender exercise for the incineration of tallow arising from carcases culled under the Over Thirty Month (slaughter) Scheme and are hopeful of signing a contract with this outlet within the next 2 to 4 weeks. Discussions with the smaller disposal outlets identified under the tender exercise will be progressed once the requirements for this large outlet have been finalised.The delay in reaching agreement has arisen from the number of licencing, environmental and logistical issues which have to be clarified or resolved prior to signing the contract.

Public Services (Co-Payments)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to introduce co-payments for the public services for which she is responsible. [102202]

The Department seeks to deliver services to the public using effective, efficient and economical approaches consistent with Government policies on Sustainability.

These approaches include a range of partnership formats where the financial arrangements may be shared with the private sector, including: the establishment of ISIS by British Waterways.

PFI/PPP projects such as the new office buildling in Cambridge, and Flood Defence schemes at Broadlands and Pevensey;
"joined—up" working with other Departments and the private sector on centrally—funded projects under the Invest to Save Budget and Capital Modernisation Fund;
joint ventures between Executive Agencies and private sector businesses under the Wider Markets Initiative;
support for LINK projects.

Defra will continue to use these approaches where appropriate.

Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of household batteries sold were recycled after use in 2002; and what plans she has to take measures to improve this record. [107402]

No assessment has been undertaken to measure percentage of household batteries recycled in 2002. However, the current recycling rate is estimated to be less than 2 per cent, for the UK.An EC Batteries Directive is currently being negotiated that will set targets for the collection and recycling of automotive, industrial and consumer (or household) batteries. In anticipation of these targets, the Government have set up a major pilot project to study the collection and recycling of consumer batteries in Bristol. The results of the pilot will be made available to all local authorities. Other pilot collection schemes involving industry, local authorities and/or waste management companies include those in Lancashire, Cheshire, Dorset, Barnet and Ealing.We expect the new batteries Directive will set collection and recycling targets for consumer batteries so it is likely that more battery collection and recycling schemes will need be set up throughout the UK.

Six-Day Rule

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she last met representatives of the National Farmers' Union to discuss the effect of the six day rule; and if she will make a statement. [107229]

Defra Ministers and officials regularly meet and correspond with farming union representatives on a number of animal health matters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she last met representatives of the (a) National Farmers' Union of Wales and (b) Farmers' Union of Wales to discuss the effect of the 6 day rule; and if she will make a statement. [107271]

Defra Ministers and officials regularly meet and correspond with farming union representatives, including those representing farmers in Wales, on a range of animal health matters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she will amend the 6 day rule to allow agricultural shows to operate; and if she will make a statement.[107272]

When the 20 day standstill was reduced to 6 days most of the exemptions to the standstill, including the exemption for shows, were removed as a counter-balance to the increased risk created by the reduction in the standstill period. We are aware of the concern that the removal of the show exemption has caused and are looking at alternative suggestions put to us.

Foreign And Commonwealth Office

Antarctic (Amendment) Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received about the Antarctic (Amendment) Regulations. [107788]

The Principle Antarctic Regulations of 1995 have been amended on 5 occasions by means of the Antarctic (Amendment) Regulations of 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received no representations in relation to any of these Regulations.

Burma

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the promotion by travel companies of holidays for tourists from the UK to visit Burma. [107508]

HMG's policy is not to encourage tourism to Burma. We have drawn to the attention of travel organisations our policy and the views of the Burmese Democratic opposition that tourism to Burma is inappropriate at present due to the political and human rights situation there. As part of this policy, senior Burmese tourism officials are included in the European Union visa ban and asset freeze.

Congo

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action his Department is taking to restore peace in the Congo; whether it is his policy to bring about regime change in the Congo; and if he will make a statement. [108202]

The UK is actively engaged with our African, EU and UN partners in promoting a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Government have supported the implementation of both the Lusaka Peace Agreement and the Pretoria Agreement of July 2002 as providing the most viable way forward.We warmly welcome the agreement signed in Sun City on 3 April as part of the Lusaka process, on the establishment of a transitional government with a view to democratic elections in two years time. We will continue to monitor progress carefully and help the DRC Government deliver free and fair elections which reflect the will of the Congolese people.

We were shocked to hear of the appalling massacre of civilians by militia in the DRC's Ituri Province last week. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families of all killed and those who have been injured.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Government of the Congo following the reported massacre there; and if he will make a statement. [108519]

We were shocked to learn of the appalling massacre of civilians by militia in the DRC's Ituri Province last week. My noble Friend the Baroness Amos issued a statement on 7 April strongly condemning this tragedy. I have placed a copy in the Library of the House. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families of all killed and those who have been injured.These killings, as with earlier militia attacks, underline the need to stop this senseless cycle of violence in the region. We call on all parties to stop fighting and join the political process, particularly now that a transitional government has just been agreed for the DRC covering the whole country.

Equal Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made with the pay review in his Department, agencies and non-departmental public bodies for which he is responsible, with particular reference to the gender pay gap; and if he will make a statement. [106745]

As part of The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's commitment to the Equal Opportunities Commission Task Force "Just Pay" report, our pay review is under way and we plan to submit our action plan to the Cabinet Office by the end of April 2003. Our non-departmental government bodies were not included in our review as the members of the boards are paid expenses only.

Elizabeth Wilmhurst

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the resignation of Elizabeth Wilmhurst as one of his legal advisers. [108316]

It is not our practice to comment on such cases, which are a matter for the individual concerned.

George Atkinson (Dubai)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assurance he has sought from the Dubai authorities that George Atkinson will be released from detention upon completion of the additional six months sentence imposed on him by the Dubai Ruler's Court due to end on 31 August. [107663]

Our consul general in Dubai raised Mr. Atkinson's case when he called on the Dubai Ruler's Court on 19 January. The Court reiterated Dubai's previously stated position that Mr. Atkinson can expect to be released at midday on 1 September 2003.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many member states spoke (a) in favour and (b) against the United Kingdom-United States-Australian invasion of Iraq in the United Nations security council general debate on 26 March to 27 March; and what assessment has been made of the speeches opposing United Kingdom military action against Iraq. [107582]

The verbatim record of the interventions made at the Security Council Open Debate on 26–27 March is available on the UN website (www.un.org). Many of the interventions express views which are difficult to characterise either as in favour of, or opposed to, the military action being taken to enforce Security Council resolutions.The coalition action has active support from over 40 countries.

Moldova

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to (a) the European Commission and (b) European partners on improving economic conditions in Moldova; and if he will make a statement. [108121]

The UK is at the forefront of discussions within the EU on building a closer relationship with Moldova, including on improving economic conditions. The UK, via the Wider Europe initiative launched by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary last year, has been considering a package of incentives for Moldova including work towards greater economic interdependence. The Department for International Development (DFID) is helping to improve economic conditions in Moldova primarily through the Poverty Reduction Strategy Process (PRSP) and directly through support to the Medium Term Expenditure Framework in partnership with the Ministry of Finance. Under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, Moldovan exports receive Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment. Also as a developing country, Moldova benefits from the EC's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). Further market oriented reforms must take place in Moldova for economic conditions to improve.

Nigeria

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring the UK is undertaking of the Nigerian elections, with particular reference to communal violence. [107889]

The UK is part of the EU election observer team which has already arrived in Nigeria. With 96 observers in total it is the largest international team to be monitoring the elections. The UK has partially funded the Commonwealth observer mission, over a third of whom are African. The British High Commission in Abuja will provide 35 separate observers.All the observer teams are aware of the need for peaceful, free and fair elections. HMG have allocated £3 million for supporting the elections. This includes help for the Nigerian Electoral Commission, training of journalists and work on a police code for the elections. In addition, DfID, in collaboration with other donors, has funded the Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South Africa (IDASA), an experienced NGO, to monitor communal electoral violence throughout Nigeria and to produce a weekly summary of incidents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many cases of inter-communal violence the Department has investigated in Nigeria in the last six months. [107890]

The High Commission in Nigeria reports on cases of inter-communal violence when they occur, basing its information on first hand reports from local contacts and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the region. It is for the Federal Government of Nigeria and the local Nigerian authorities, not HMG, to investigate the incidents. We are, however, active in seeking to prevent these clashes, for example through support for the work of Coventry Cathedral's Centre for reconciliation.

Rwanda, Congo And Great Lakes

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his assessment is of the situation in Rwanda, the Congo and the Great Lakes region. [107713]

Our aim is lasting peace and stability in the Great Lakes region. Recent developments have been encouraging, although we remain concerned about the humanitarian situation, continued outbreaks of fighting and human rights abuses, particularly in eastern Congo.In the Democratic Republic of Congo we warmly welcome the recent agreement on the establishment of a transitional government with a view to democratic elections in two years time. We hope that the Congolese people can take this opportunity to end almost five years of civil war. We were shocked to learn of the appalling civilian massacre by militia in and around the town of Drodro in DRC's Ituri Province on 3 April. The UK strongly condemns such acts.In Rwanda, preparations are in hand for a full national referendum on the Constitution, to be held on 26 May. We look forward to free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.In Burundi we welcome President Buyoya's commitment to hand over power on 1 May. This will be a further important step in the implementation of the Arusha peace process.

Staff Numbers

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff are employed by his Department. [106290]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office employs 9,060 staff, as of 1 January 2003. This figure includes 3,189 locally engaged staff.

Staff Union Duties

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in his Department, agencies and non-departmental public bodies receive paid leave to undertake union duties; how many days they are allocated; and what has been the cost to public funds in 2002. [106774]

All Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff are entitled to undertake union duties. The FCO allocates the equivalent of a total of seven full days for this. The cost to public funds in 2002 was £154,811. About 50 members of staff are members of union or branch committees.

Turks And Caicos Islands

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures his Department has taken to ensure the education of the children of Haitians who have received citizenship from the Turks and Caicos. [107283]

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has a policy of free compulsory education for all children aged 5 to 16 who legally reside in the Territory. As the criteria for school registration requires information on immigration status, some children were unable to register before the current school year. The Governor has asked for a re-examination of cases where children may have been precluded from attending school.

Working Hours

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what policy on (a) core hours and (b) flexible working hours is operated by his Department and each agency and non-departmental public body for which his Department is responsible. [107653]

It is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's policy to support flexible working both in the United Kingdom and where possible at our posts overseas. Jobs are open to flexible working unless the nature of the work prevents this.We have a number of flexible working patterns in use at present including staggered hours, flexi-time, compressed hours, home working, school working hours, term time working and time off in lieu. Within the flexi-time scheme the core hours are 10.00 to 12.00 and 14.30 to 16.00 in London and 09.30 to 12.00 and 14.00 to 16.00 at Hanslope Park. We currently have 142 part time staff—an increase of 35 per cent. since last year.

World Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has made to the French Government concerning their stance on agricultural subsidies, with reference to the Doha round of world trade negotiations; [108122]

(2) what representations he has made to the European Commission concerning the French Government's stance on agricultural subsidies, with reference to the Doha round of world trade negotiations; [108123]

(3) what the Government's stance is on agricultural subsidies, with reference to the Doha round of world trade negotiations; and if he will make a statement. [108124]

The Government remain committed to the declaration on agriculture made at the WTO Ministerial Conference meeting in Doha in November 2001. We want comprehensive negotiations aimed at substantial improvements in market access; reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies; and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support. The Government were disappointed that the WTO's 31 March deadline to establish modalities for a new agreement on agriculture was not met. Agricultural trade reform remains critical for developing countries and is central to the Doha Development Agenda as a whole. WTO members must now redouble their efforts to reach consensus on agriculture by the 5th meeting of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun this September. We are working with all our EU partners, including the European Commission and France, to ensure that the EU plays its full part in bringing this about.

Health

Community Health Councils

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many community health council staff he expects will transfer to patient forums; and who will pay their salaries between the closure of Community Health Councils and the establishment of the patient forums. [107750]

Community Health Councils (CHCs) will be abolished from 1 September 2003. There will be no transfer of CHC staff to patients' forums. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) on 19 March 2003, Official Report, column 850W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the total redundancy bill for closing down Community Health Councils. [107754]

It is too early to estimate the cost of redundancy as a result of the Community Health Councils (CHCs) abolition. To help avoid redundancies, a human resources framework for CHC staff has been agreed with trade unions and employing authorities. This framework provides for the establishment of clearing houses to pool local employment opportunities, training and other support to enable this group of staff actively to seek and obtain suitable alternative employment in the national health service.

Congestion Charge

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has made to the Mayor of London regarding exemption from the congestion charge for patients required to attend London hospitals for treatment but who are unable to use public transport because of their illness. [105123]

The National Health Service London regional office, in consultation with and on behalf of the NHS in London, was involved in negotiations with Transport for London to identify ways to minimise potentially negative impacts of congestion charging on NHS patients.For patients, reimbursement of the congestion charge can be claimed for a vehicle used to transport an eligible NHS patient to attend NHS appointments in the congestion charging zone.Eligible patients are those where:

the relevant NHS body has provided assistance to enable the patient to attend appointments using private transport whether by reimbursement of travel costs or parking charges, or by the provision of free parking;
the patient has a compromised immune system, requires regular therapy or assessment, or requires recurrent surgical intervention;
the patient has been clinically assessed as too ill, weak or disabled to travel to an appointment by public transport.

The NHS and the Directorate of Health and Social Care—London will be closely monitoring the scheme to see what potential impact it may have.

Contingent Liabilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which contingent liabilities for which his Department has responsibility have matured in each of the last five financial years; and if he will make a statement. [105178]

The following sums have been paid against contingent liabilities in the five years to 31 March 2002.

Contingent liabilityYear in which paidAmount paid
An indemnity to water undertakings in respect of costs, damages and expenses not otherwise covered by insurance claims arising from claims and/or proceedings on the grounds of alleged harm to health arising solely from fluoridation1997–98£4,000
The Government originally paid £42 million to a trust from which payments are made to haemophiliacs infected with HIV virus, following treatment by the NHS with infected blood products. The Department has agreed to pay to the trust any sums required to make payments if the funds already provided prove insufficient.1997–98£3,000

Contingent liability

Year in which paid

Amount paid

1999–2000£1.99 million
2000–01£2.52 million
The Department was found negligent in failing to stop treating patients with Human Growth Hormone by 1 July 1977–at a time when possible consequences should have been apparent. Compensation will need to be paid to patients treated after this date who subsequently die from CJD.1998–99£1.678 million
1999–2000£3.278 million
2000–01£68,000

Departmental Fees

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which fees his Department, its agencies and associated bodies collect; how much (a) has been raised and (b) will be raised from each of these fees in each year from 1989–90 to 2004–05; and which of these fees count as negative expenditure. [105187]

The Department, its agencies and associated bodies collect fees or charges on a statutory basis and make charges where legislation allows on commercial services. Information where a fee or charge can be separately identified in accounts or departmental returns has been placed in the Library. Where fees or charges are not separately identified, income has been attributed to the receiving body.

Foundation Hospitals

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement regarding the powers that would be available to a board of governors of a foundation hospital. [106810]

[holding answer 8 April]: The powers available to a Board of Governors of a National Health Service foundation trust are set out in Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the Board of Governors will be responsible for appointing and removing the chair and non-executive directors, and deciding their terms and conditions, approving appointment and removal of the chief executive and executive directors, appointing the auditor, advising the Board of Directors on development of forward plans and for approving the annual report and accounts.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what procedures are planned enable local people to elect the hospital governors of foundation hospitals. [106811]

[holding answer 8 April 2003]: Procedures are set out in Schedule 1 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill. Subject to parliamentary approval, local people, patients and staff who become members of a National Health Service foundation trust will elect representatives onto a Board of Governors.

Hillcroft Site (Lymington)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to his answer of 1 March 2003, Official Report, column 663W, on the Hillcroft site in Lymington, who negotiated on behalf of New Forest Primary Care Trust; whether the site was offered by tender; and whether the property was disposed of to the party which offered the highest sum. [107887]

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Health Authority have advised that the District Valuer and an independent valuer advised the primary care trust and carried out negotiations on its behalf.NHS Estates, the Directorate of Health and Social Care, the strategic health authority and New Forest PCT all considered this professional advice and concluded that the offer provided best value.NHS Estates Property and the Directorate of Health and Social Care approved a negotiated sale to a single bidder who was in a position to pay the best price for the property.

Market Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what expenditure has been incurred by his (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 he will list the surveys commissioned and the purpose of each. [106270]

Copies of research reports are not routinely placed in the Library, although a list giving details of market and opinion research undertaken by the Department is made available. A list of research projects carried out by the Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies for the financial year 2001–02 is available in the Library, and 2002–03 is being compiled and will be placed in the Library. These lists may not include all research projects, as some information is not centrally available.A list of expenditure incurred on opinion polling, focus groups and other forms of market research could be provided only at disproportionate costs.We are committed to consulting and involving the public to help inform both policy formulation and the delivery of better quality public service. Responsive public services are an important part of Modernising Government initiative.We only conduct or commission market or opinion research when it is justified by the needs of the policy programme and is the most economical, efficient and effective way to achieve the purpose.

Health Awareness Courses

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the awareness courses run by the NHS since May 1997; and how much each course has cost. [102087]

Public health awareness campaign initiatives run by the Department of Health's communications directorate since April 1997, are shown in the table. Public

Name of campaign1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–022002–03
Antibiotics****
Blood donation***
CALM******
Flu******
Immunisation**
Keep Warm Keep Well******
Mind Out**
NHS Direct*****
Organ donation******
RU Thinking (teenage pregnancy)******
Sexual health**
Smoking****
TB awareness*
* Depicts year of campaign

Overseas Health Treatment

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average cost is (a) in a UK hospital and (b) in a German hospital which carries out procedures in agreement with the NHS, (i) including and (ii) excluding the cost of travel to and from the UK and (c) a French hospital (i) including and (ii) excluding the cost of travel to and from the UK of (A) a hip joint replacement, (B) a knee joint replacement and (C) a coronary artery by-pass graft. [105861]

National health service national reference costs are provided on the Department of Health website. The average cost of a primary hip replacement is £4,356, the average cost of a primary knee replacement is £4,818, and the average cost of a coronary bypass is £6,275.A procurement process identifying spare capacity abroad is currently active, so the costs of specific procedures abroad are commercially sensitive. However, prices are comparable to spot purchasing in the UK private sector.

Pharmacists

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many pharmacists have received grant aid to install consultation areas in their premises. [107755]

In general, the provision of consultation areas in pharmacies is primarily a commercial decision for the contractor concerned. Local national health service bodies may have made grants available, but no details are held centrally.As part of a research project where community pharmacists provide a structured service reviewing medication for patients with coronary heart disease, the Department has provided funding of between £900 and £1,500 towards the costs of providing or improving such areas to five out of 60 participating pharmacies.We are examining with the pharmaceutical services negotiating committee and the NHS Confederation how premises standards generally and the provision of

health awareness courses are not run from the Department. Details of any such courses which might be run within the national health service are not held centrally.

consultation areas can best be reflected within the new national contractual framework for community pharmacy.

Specialist Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when the steady state funding arrangements for specialist services will cease; and what plans he has to monitor the impact of this change; [105564](2) if he will issue guidance to primary care trusts to ensure consistency in the arrangements for commissioning specialist services and continuity of service for patients. [105565]

Steady state funding lasted from April 2002 to March 2003. Strategic health authorities will monitor the effectiveness of primary care trusts' collaborative commissioning arrangements for specialised services.The responses to the consultation on commissioning arrangements for specialised services were published on 6 March 2003. Guidance was published on 31 March 2003 on commissioning arrangements for 2003–04.

St Mary's Hospital, London

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nursing staff at St. Mary's Hospital, London have worked on extended 14-hour shifts in the last six months; and how many have worked on extended 14-hour shifts more than three times in a row. [107966]

Home Department

Charities

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has collated on how many charities have converted to company limited by guarantee status (a) in order to avoid trustee indemnity insurance and (b) for other purposes in (i) each of the last three years and (ii) 2003 to date. [107136]

This is a matter for the Charity Commission as the Government Department responsible for the regulation of charities in England and Wales. The Commission's Director of Policy will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Library.

Trustee Indemnity Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many recent representations he has received from charities in relation to trustee indemnity insurance. [107134]

Five representations about trustee indemnity insurance have been received from charities responding to the Strategy Unit Report, "Private Action, Public Benefit: A Review of Charities and the Wider Not-for-Profit Sector" although the issue of indemnity insurance was not raised in the report.This is also a matter for the Charity Commission as the Government Department responsible for the regulation of charities in England and Wales. The Commission's Director of Policy will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of her reply will be placed in the Library.

Asylum Seekers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children of asylum seekers under the age of 18 years are being held in the former prison at Dungavel in Scotland; and for what reason. [106114]