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Written Answers

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 6 May 2003

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Abandoned Cars

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what conclusions she has reached on the consultation on reducing the statutory notice periods for cars abandoned on private land. [110663]

Cap Reform

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the European Commission's proposals for CAP reform on growers of unsupported crops. [109849]

Our published economic analysis of the Commission's proposals for reform of the CAP indicates an overall economic benefit to the UK of about £500 million. We are in discussion with industry representatives about the impact of the proposed new system on producers of unsupported crops.

Farming

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the financial impact of the European Commission's decoupling proposals on those farm businesses that have acquired IACS registered land since the end of the reference period now proposed by the Commission. [109837]

It is difficult to predict precisely what the financial impact on such farm businesses will be. However, we are in discussion with the European Commission about possible ways of protecting the interests of such businesses, such as by ensuring that entitlements to the decoupled payment flow to those farming the land on the introduction of the new system. Some producers who have purchased land since the publication of the Commission's proposals will have benefited from lower land prices.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has made to the European Commission about the impact of the Commission's decoupling proposals on people who have entered farming after the proposed reference years. [109838]

The European Commission's proposals include provision for a national reserve of decoupled payment entitlements. The Commission has confirmed that member states can use this reserve to allocate full or enhanced entitlements to producers who have entered farming since the start of the proposed reference period.

Grass Keep

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the position, under the European Commission's mid-term review proposals, of land rented for grass keep; what her policy is on this matter; and if she will make a statement. [109844]

It is difficult to predict the likely impact on individual businesses, but our initial analysis suggests that, at an aggregate level, the proposals will not have a significant impact on the rental value of land for grass keep.

Information Technology

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the compatibility of the information technology systems operated by the (a) State Veterinary Service, (b) British Cattle Movement Service and (c) Rural Payments Agency. [109843]

The main IT system used by the State Veterinary Service (SVS) to administer their work has been in service for a number of years. When the British Cattle Movement service came into existence, the Cattle Tracing System was set up with links and interfaces to the SVS's system.A major investment in IT improvements is being made at the BCMS. The system will be moved onto a more secure platform and a facility is being developed to provide for the issue of 'statements' to producers showing details of the animals recorded on their holdings.The new computer system being developed for bovine schemes under the RPA Change Programme will provide interfaces to the systems used by the BCMS.Defra is moving forward in a co-ordinated way, using the RPA to lead in the development of Customer and Land registers which will form the basis of Defra-wide information. Care will be taken to ensure interoperability between existing and planned systems.

Long Leys

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact on long leys systems of farming of the European Commission's mid-term review proposals. [109845]

We have been pressing the European Commission to introduce sufficient flexibility within the rules of the proposed decoupled system to allow such systems of farming to continue.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to press in the Council of Ministers for an exception to be made from the European Commission's definition of permanent pasture to benefit farmers who operate a system of long leys. [109846]

We have been pressing the European Commission to allow a greater degree of flexibility in their definition of permanent pasture to ensure that such farmers are not disadvantaged. The Commission appear sympathetic to the issue and we are working with them on a solution.

Milk Quota

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the impact of the proposed milk quota replacement compensation scheme on producers of high butterfat milk; [110169](2) if she will make a statement on the method of calculation that she proposes to adopt for the purposes of the milk quota replacement compensation scheme. [110168]

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the dairy premium, which it is proposed should be paid in compensation for dairy support price cuts. Under Agenda 2000, these cuts are due to take place from 2005, and under the CAP reform proposals published on 22 January, from 2004. Under the Agenda 2000 agreement, eligibility for the dairy premium was to be based on the net litreage of quota held at the end of the quota year in each year of payment, and set by EC Council Regulation—it was not within national discretion to determine the eligibility criteria. This remains the case under the Commission's current CAP reform proposals, with (decoupled) payments still currently to be based on the net litreage of quota held, but fixed as at 31 March 2004 (that is, they would not vary from year to year).We have no evidence to suggest that producers of high butterfat milk would suffer any particularly adverse consequences as a result of these proposals, as compared to other dairy producers. Indeed, the reverse might prove the case, as high butterfat milk producers tend to supply the high-value, as opposed to bulk commodity, markets, and could continue to command some premium under the new support arrangements envisaged.

Nuclear Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is her policy to allow indefinite disposal of low-level radioactive waste at landfill sites. [109625]

Current policy for controlled burial of low level radioactive wastes at landfill sites is set out in the 1995 White Paper "Review of Radioactive Waste Management Policy: Final Conclusions" (Cm2919). The White Paper concluded that controlled burial to landfill should continue to be available as a disposal route, particularly for "small users" of radioactivity— such as hospitals, universities, research laboratories and non-nuclear industries—subject to agreement of the site operators and the necessary regulatory requirements being met. In addition, I accept that the agreement of local residents is also important. Despite acknowledging that there might be sound economic and radiological grounds for encouraging greater use of controlled burial to landfill, Cm2919 concluded that its greater use by the nuclear industry should not be encouraged due to genuine anxieties that the proposal aroused among local residents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the (a) public health and (b) environmental risks posed by the disposal of low-level nuclear waste in landfill sites. [109626]

An assessment of the radiological impact of disposals of radioactive waste from nuclear sites to Clifton Marsh was carried out in 2002 as part of the Environment Agency's review of radioactive waste disposal authorisations from the BNFL Springfields site. This showed that the operational and post-closure risks were acceptable and in line with regulatory guidance.An assessment of the impact of disposals to Hilts Quarry will be carried out in 2003 as part of the Environment Agency's review of the radioactive waste disposal authorisations for the Rolls-Royce Derby site.The Environment Agency has an established programme of environmental monitoring at current and disused landfill sites, focusing on levels of radioactivity in leachate which might arise at landfill sites. The results of this programme are included in the Agency's annual Radioactivity in the Environment report, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. In most cases results show that radioactivity concentrations are not elevated above levels expected to be found naturally.

Pollution

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to incorporate annual emissions of pollutants from (a) local authority integrated pollution prevention and control sites (Part A(2) sites) and (b) local air pollution prevention and control (Part B sites) into the Environment Agency's pollution inventory; [110380](2) if she will make a statement on plans for incorporating annual emissions of pollutants from

(a) local authority integrated pollution prevention and control sites (Part A(2) sites) and (b) local air pollution prevention and control sites (Part B sites) into the Environment Agency's pollution inventory. [111104]

The pollution inventory contains information about emissions to air, land and water from various industrial installations, including all processes subject to integrated pollution control (IPC). Operators have to report annually from a list of 150 substances where they exceed the reporting thresholds.As part of the development of the pollution inventory, the Environment Agency has been preparing for the implementation (in June 2003) of the integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) European pollutant emission register (EPER). This requires European Union member countries to report on 50 pollutants released to air and water from all IPPC sites every three years, whether or not they are yet permitted under IPPC.

Under EPER, local authorities are required to collect emission data from the Part A(2) sites that they regulate under IPPC and this data are being incorporated into the UK report to the European Commission.

The Department commissioned consultants in 1999 to investigate the feasibility of establishing a pollution inventory for processes under the then local air pollution control (LAPC) regime. The report was issued for comment to some 200 organisations on 18 January 2001 and received seven responses. The report reviewed a range of options and recommended that inventory data for air emissions should be collected only for those substances covered by the national air quality strategy together with a list of 15 additional substances.

Those LAPC processes with the greater potential for pollution are now being transferred to Part A(2) and are subject to the EPER. Of the remainder, local authorities already need to collect Part B emissions data for the purposes of local air quality management review and assessment, and the national atmospheric emissions inventory includes data about all significant sources of man-made emissions, including those emitted from Part B installations. In view of this, and the likelihood that relatively few Part B installations not transferred to A(2) will emit substances above the reporting threshold levels set in the Environment Agency's pollution inventory, the Department has not considered it a priority to extend the inventory to Part Bs. However, this is being kept under review, in consultation with the Environment Agency.

Public Service Agreement

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (a) how many and (b) what grades of officials are responsible for the monitoring of progress towards the public service agreement targets of the Department. [109462]

Monitoring progress towards the Department's PSA targets is undertaken by a wide variety of staff at all levels of the organisation.

Regional Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress her Department has made towards the goal set out in the White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, of (a) ensuring that regional awareness and devolution feature strongly in Civil Service training and development, (b) increasing the mobility of civil servants between headquarters offices, regional offices and the Government Offices and (c) encouraging interchange between the Civil Service and organisations in the regions. [108577]

Defra's induction programmes seeks to make staff aware of the vision, aims and objectives and scope of the work of the Department. This includes the regional and devolution dimensions. Staff attend more specific learning and development events offered internally or by the Civil Service College when appropriate.

In the period 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003, 16 Defra staff have undertaken interchange activity in regional organisations. This compares with seven in the previous year.

Mobility between HQ policy and regionally based delivery units is a strategic priority. Defra's Interchange Strategy places strong emphasis on interchange with partner organisations that are involved in the delivery of the Public Service Agreement Delivery Plans. The scope of these Plans ensures that interchange between headquarters regional offices and the Government Offices and organisations in the Regions are involved. We are liaising with the Devolved Administrations, local authorities and the voluntary sector to seek further opportunities.

Special Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the salary bill was for special advisers in her Department in 2002–03; and what it is expected to be in 2003–04. [108493]

I refer the hon. member to the reply given to him on 24 April by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office.

Sulphur Emmissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of sulphur emissions in the UK. [111589]

The latest estimate of UK atmospheric sulphur emissions is 1,125 kilotonnes in 2001. This is a 70 per cent. reduction on the 1990 emission (of 3,719 kilotonnes), and ahead of the UK's 2005 target of 1,470 kilotonnes in the 1994 UN/ECE protocol on the further reduction of sulphur emissions. The reductions are mainly attributed to lower emissions from power stations, homes and industry from the use of cleaner fuels and the fitting of emission abatement equipment, and from transport following the introduction of low sulphur fuels. Time series of UK emissions of pollutants are published annually in the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI), which can be viewed on the Internet atwww.naei.org.uk.

Waste Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received about the Environmental Protection (Waste Recycling Payments) (Amendment) (England) Regulations. [111734]

Wind Turbines

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received from the Countryside Agency about the impact of onshore wind turbines on the rural economy and environment. [109847]

I have received no representations from the Countryside Agency on this topic.

Work And Pensions

Basic Pension

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to introduce a reduced basic pension for people who have paid the reduced liability rate of national insurance; and if he will make a statement. [110771]

Those married women who choose to pay the reduced liability of national insurance contributions were made aware of the consequences of their decision. We therefore have no plans to introduce a reduced basic pension for those women. However, they will get a basic pension of around 60 per cent. of their husband's entitlement when both have reached state pension age and made claims.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the national insurance contribution requirements are for a basic pension; and whether those currently paying the reduced rate of national insurance will qualify for a basic pension. [110772]

In order to become entitled to the basic state pension, a person has to satisfy two conditions. The basic state pension is available to both the employed and self-employed. In addition, anyone may make voluntary national insurance contributions, subject to a time limit, if this is necessary to build up entitlement.The first basic state pension entitlement condition is that a person has either: one qualifying year since 6 April 1975 which is derived from the payment of class 1, 2 or 3 national insurance contributions or from class 1 contributions treated as paid; or paid 50 flat rate contributions at any time before 6 April 1975.The second basic state pension entitlement condition relates to the number of qualifying years a person has. Currently to get a full basic state pension a man needs 44, and a woman 39, qualifying years. The number of qualifying years can be reduced if a person is entitled to Home Responsibilities Protection. The basic state pension cannot be paid if a person has less than 25 per cent. of the qualifying years needed for a full state pension.In certain circumstances a person may be credited with earnings to help them get a state pension if they do not have enough earnings in a tax year to reach the level needed to make it a qualifying year.The payment of the reduced rate contribution does not give entitlement to the basic state pension but married women will get a basic state pension of around 60 per cent. of their husband's entitlement when both have reached state pension age and made claims.

British Sign Language

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 3 April 2003, Official Report, column 838W, on British Sign Language, what the financial value was of the contracts allocated (a) to improve the training infrastructure and (b) to address the shortage of British Sign Language interpreters since 1997; and if he will make a statement on the effects on BSL interpreter numbers in Britain. [109367]

The contract with the Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACDP) to improve the training infrastructure for British Sign Language was worth a total of £198,750. Separately, a contract exists with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) to recruit and train interpreters, to which DfEE/DWP and the RNID will each contribute £245,400 over its lifetime.These initiatives have made a contribution towards an increase in the number of registered interpreters in Britain, and there are currently 298 interpreters registered by the Independent Registration Panel with the CACDP. However, the system for registration and the basis of registration changed in April 2002, therefore it is not possible to directly compare these figures with those pre-April 2002.

Benefit Leaflets

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what arrangements are in place to ensure the leaflets available (a) in Jobcentre Plus offices and (b) from the Pensions Service are up-to-date; and what plans he has to re-introduce the former Benefits Agency guidance to ensure that the quarterly checks carried out by customer service managers include the accuracy of leaflets. [107414]

We are absolutely determined to ensure that we give accurate and up to date information to our customers. That is why we have introduced an electronic ordering system which makes it impossible for staff or outside organisations to order out of date stock, and why we are undertaking a Mystery Shopping Pilot at four Pension Centres. This will give a measure of performance against set quality standards—such as the content of a telephone greeting or the availability of leaflets, while offering an objective view of customer service.Detailed procedures exist to ensure that the Department's main suite of benefits information leaflets for the public are up to date. These include a six-monthly review of all such leaflets to check that they are factually accurate and remain up to date. In addition, information for staff and external bodies about current editions of leaflets is available electronically and kept up to date continuously.The Pensions Service has recently introduced an information management system which ensures that all products for the public are the responsibility of a named senior civil servant. A major overhaul of leaflets for people of working age this year will address procedures in Jobcentre Plus, including the role local managers in carrying out checks to ensure that leaflets provided over the counter for the public are up to date.

Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what benefits are available to women who have paid reduced rate contributions of national insurance. [110773]

Married women paying reduced rate contributions may be entitled to statutory sick pay and statutory maternity pay in addition to the full range of industrial injuries benefits. They will get a basic state pension of around 60 per cent of their husband's entitlement when both have reached state pension age and made a claim. They can also get widows' benefits based on their husband's insurance.Like full rate contributors, they enjoy free access to the National Health Service and may be entitled to non-contributory benefits such as the minimum income guarantee, child benefit, carer's allowance, housing benefit, disability living allowance, attendance allowance and council tax benefit on a similar basis. We are committed to ensuring that the Government's pension reforms improve women's pension rights. The introduction of stakeholder pensions, state second pension, winter fuel payments, improvements to the minimum income guarantee and, from October 2003, pension credit together with the £100 a year payment to people aged 80 and over announced in the Budget are, or will be, of particular help to women.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in (a) the Selly Oak constituency and (b) Birmingham draw their benefits at (i) post offices and (ii) banks or building societies; and what change there has been in the last six months. [110486]

The information is not available in the format requested. Information available prior to 28 December 2002 has not been geographically referenced. Information provided in the requested format has been compiled from the data available on 28 December 2002 and 22 March 2003 respectively, and are shown in the following tables:

1. Pensioners in the Selly Oak constituency
From data available on:Total number of pensioners receiving benefit (s)Drawing at least one benefit at a post officeDrawing at least one benefit at a bank or building society
28 December 200214,9748,5827,157
22 March 200314,8778,4137,202
2. Pensioners in Birmingham Local Authority
From data available on:Total number of pensioners receiving benefit(s)Drawing at least one benefit at a post officeDrawing at least one benefit at a bank or building society
28 December 2002160,619102,95865,324
22 March 2003160,021101,53366,218

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his Answer of 3 April, Official Report, column 837W, on benefit uprating, for what reasons the minimum income guarantee is not uprated by the Rossi index. [109371]

We have made a commitment to uprate the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) in line with average earnings for the rest of this Parliament. Since April 2003, a single pensioner receiving the MIG is at least £930 a year better off in real terms than in 1997. A pensioner couple is at least £1,400 a week better off.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will issue guidance to ensure that callers to the benefits payment helpline wishing to open a post office account are given every assistance in opening such an account, rather than a bank account. [111088]

The Government's information campaign, to support the move to Direct Payment, provides customers with factual information on the banking options available to them, including information on the Post Office card account. We will write directly to all customers affected by the change to provide them with the information they need to decide which option is best for them. The information is presented in a way that enables customers to decide which option is best for their individual circumstances. All of the information material, including the scripts used by our call centre staff, sets out the key features of the various types of accounts and mentions Post Office access and the Post Office card account.Card-based accounts may not be the most suitable option for many people. They may prefer to use an account with a cheque book or pass book. Customers will be supplied with information which clearly sets out their account options and which will enable them to decide which account is right for them.A copy of the script used by the Customer Conversion Centre staff to assist them in helping people who wish to open a Post Office card account is available in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants have chosen to receive benefits by (a) basic bank account, (b) ordinary bank and building society account and (c) post office card account. [111221]

As at 18 April, 1,071,072 customers have responded and opted for payment into a bank or building society account.We cannot distinguish between existing or basic bank accounts. Many of these people will choose to access their bank account at a Post Office branch.The total number of customers requesting post office card accounts is 203,404.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has for an exceptions service to assist people with disabilities to receive their benefits following the introduction of direct ACT payments; what the timetable is for introduction of such a service; and if he will make a statement. [111222]

I refer the hon. Member to the Written Answer I gave the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow) on 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 606W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to allow casual agents to collect benefits on behalf of elderly and disabled claimants following the introduction of direct ACT payment of benefits. [111223]

The current system which allows "casual agents" to collect money on behalf of the customer is one of the reasons order books and girocheques are so prone to fraud.

There are arrangements in place to allow regular carers/helpers to access money paid to customers. There are no corresponding arrangements in place for those customers with no regular carer/helper and we are looking to find the best way to meet the needs of these people.

Where people need help to collect their money they will, for the meantime, be allowed to keep their order book. We will monitor how the new arrangements work in practice to see how many people are affected and what their precise circumstances are.

For many people payment into a bank account, where a cheque book facility is available, could offer a more effective way of obtaining their entitlements: for example the customer could simply write the "casual agent" a cheque rather than require them to attend a post office on their behalf.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the consequences are to a claimant of failure to respond to correspondence concerning direct payment of benefits by ACT; how many claimants have failed to respond; what consequences have followed such failures; and if he will make a statement. [111224]

The Department is contacting 13.5 million customers over a two-year period, providing them with information (including letters and leaflets) which clearly sets out the account options as part of the move to Direct Payment. 87 per cent. of our customers currently have access to an account suitable for Direct Payment.Responses as at 18 April are very good but we recognise that we may need to contact some people more than once. 37.8 per cent. (782,543 customers) of invited customers have not yet responded, but we expect the overwhelming majority will do so following further contact.Direct Payment is now the normal method of paying benefits and pensions. Over the next two years order books will be phased out. From 2005 they will no longer be an option so customers will normally have to be paid by Direct Payment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps have to be taken by (a) a claimant, (b) the Post Office and (c) his Department in order for a claimant to receive benefits through a Post Office card account. [111225]

The process for opening the Post Office card account is relatively straightforward and no more complicated than opening any new bank account.Customers do not need to take any action to change to Direct Payment until the Department contacts them. Once they receive a letter from us and they want information about the Post Office card account they are asked to contact the Department. This will ensure they have considered all their options and have the information they need to choose the account that best suits their needs. If the customer chooses to opt for a Post Office card account, the next stage is to issue them with a letter inviting them to apply for a card account, this is known as the Personal Invitation Document (PID).

Customers take the PID to their local Post Office branch where they will fill in a Post Office card account application form. The application form sets out the documentation that customers will need to open a Post Office card account.

Child Support

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total cumulative amount is of unpaid child support owed to parents with care. [107560]

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

Letter from Doug Smith to Mr. Selous, dated 6 May 2003:

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in replying to your recent parliamentary question about the Child Support Agency promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You ask what the total cumulative amount is of unpaid child support owed to parents with care.

The Agency accounts to 31 March 2002 show a total cumulative debt of £1.447 billion arising on full maintenance assessments which the Agency has made (Page 74 para 6.1 of the Child Support Agency Annual Report and Accounts 2001/02). I am unable to indicate what part of this may be due to the parent with care and what part to the Secretary of State.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place a copy of the Child Support Agency's Enforcement Guide in the Library. [104241]

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

Letter from Doug Smith to Liz Blackman, dated 6 May 2003:

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in replying to your recent parliamentary question about the Child Support Agency promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.

You ask if we will place a copy of the Child Support Agency's Enforcement Guide in the Library.

I am happy to confirm that a copy of the Agency's Enforcement Guide, which is currently being produced and is expected to be published late summer, will be placed in the Library.

Crabbe Yard, Wadborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will ask the Health and Safety Executive to examine the operation of Crabbe Yard, Wadborough, Worcestershire. [109858]

The HSE has procedures to investigate specific concerns about work related health and safety matters in proportion to the seriousness of the issue.The HSE visited the site at Crabbe Yard, Wadborough, on two occasions during 2000. Following the visits an improvement notice was issued and subsequently complied with.HSE has not visited the site since 3 August 2000.

If the hon. Member has new concerns about Crabbe Yard he should raise them, in the first instance, with the HSE, an independent government agency.

Disability Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received about the Disability Discrimination (Blind and Partially Sighted Persons) Regulations. [109956]

Copies of the draft Regulations were circulated to a number of organisations for comment prior to being laid. Responses were received from the Disability Rights Commission, the Royal National

Energy consumption (Gwh/y)Energy expenditure (£M/y)Energy/m2 (Kwh/m2/y)Savings over 1997–8 (Per cent.)Energy efficiency spend (£k/y)
1997–98739 407.94314.94
1998–99667 567.39300.4410
1999–2000705 417.18310.965
2000–01665 866.29277.5310
2001–02694.316.82289.146

Notes:

Energy Consumption: this is weather-corrected in the usual manner, using annual degree days relative to the 20 year average for 1990–91.

The figures are those reported on for the Central Government Estate campaign, and generally include each department's main estate plus all agencies, but not NDPBs.

Energy Expenditure: this is actual spend, and from April 2001, includes the Climate Change Levy.

Energy/m2: this variable allows for changes in both weather and estate size on energy consumption. So annual changes will generally reflect efficiency changes.

Savings over 1997–98: These have been expressed as percentage savings relative to the first year quoted here, and are based on the figures in the preceding column.

Energy efficiency spend: Investment in energy efficiency measures is made by the Departments Estates Partners; as such we are unable to include details of expenditure for commercial reasons. A number of investment scheme projects were initiated during 2002, which are currently being rolled out across the whole estate.

The Energy White Paper, Our Energy Future-Creating a Low Carbon Economy made clear the importance the Government attach to improving energy efficiency in their own estate. This is reflected in several targets. There is currently an interim target of a 1 per cent. pa ongoing reduction in weather-corrected carbon emissions, pending the development of new indicators and targets based on benchmaking the performance of each Department's largest buildings. These new targets are planned to be in place later this year. New targets for Government Departments' use of CHP generated electricity will also be established during 2003.

In addition, the review of Government procurement has identified areas where procurement could reinforce the achievement of these targets, and arrangements are being made centrally for Departments to purchase goods with high energy efficiency standards and which provide good value for money.

On the purchase of renewable electricity, ministers agreed the following target in May 2001:

"All departments will ensure that by 31 March 2003, at least 5 per cent. of their electricity comes from renewable sources that are exempt from the Climate Change Levy or from self generation, provided this does not entail excessive cost. This will rise to at least 10 per cent. supply from such sources by 31 March 2008, but will be reviewed after 31 March 2003 to take account of market conditions following the introduction of the renewables obligation. The review of 2003 will include consideration of increasing or bringing forward the target".

Institute for the Blind, and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, all of whom welcomed the Regulations.

Energy Efficiency

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement, in relation to his Department and each agency and non-departmental public body for which his Department is responsible, on (a) the amount of energy consumed, (b) spending on (i) energy and (ii) energy efficiency measures (c) the amount saved through energy efficiency measures and (d) energy policy in each of the last five years. [108860]

The information requested is in the table.DWP currently has 17.5 per cent. of its total electricity supplied from renewable resources.

Hazardous Installations Directorate

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many Health and Safety inspectors are being transferred from the Field Operations Directorate to the Hazardous Installations Directorate. [110618]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: Three Health and Safety Inspectors transferred on 1 April 2003 with a further 13 to transfer in the near future.

Health And Safety Executive

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many businesses recorded contacts carried out by the Health and Safety Executive since 1997 were made (a) on site and (b) through telephone calls. [110619]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: The total number of regulatory contacts since 1997–98 is shown in the table. HSE does not record separately the numbers of contacts made (a) on site and (b) through telephone calls.

Regulatory contacts
1997–98186,000
1998–99183,000
1999–2000185,496
2000–01192,693
2001–02195,695

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many contacts the Health and Safety Executive has had with businesses each year since 1997; what proportion of visits were made by fully qualified warrant-carrying health and safety inspectors; and how many were carried out by workplace contact officers. [110620]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: The total number of regulatory contacts since 1997–98 is shown in the table. It is not possible without disproportionate effort to distinguish between contacts made by fully qualified warrant-carrying health and safety inspectors and those made by workplace contact officers.

Regulatory contacts
1997–98186,000
1998–99183,000
1999–2000185,496
2000–01192,693
2001–02195,695

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many workplace contact officers were employed by the Health and Safety Executive in each year since 1997. [110621]

Carer's Allowance (CA)1: numbers of claims received and decided in Great Britain, and their outcome, in each quarter2 from April 2001
Claims Received3Claims Decided
Quarter to end ofSuccessful3Unsuccessful4
June 2001537,76532,20511,775
Over State Pension ageUnder State Pension ageOver State Pension ageUnder State Pension age
September 20013,16031,8201,59528,56011,965
December 20012,52529,5101,40526,11011,415
March 20022,93032,6151,65528,91012,120
June 20023,09032,6401,53526,7256
September 20025,48533,5105,26029,68512,530
December 2002715,69531,505713,99029,49012,515
Notes:
1 Invalid care allowance (ICA) was renamed carer's allowance (CA) on 1 April 2003.
2 Figures are not available on a monthly basis. The figures given in the table are for the end of each quarter and are rounded to the nearest 5.
3 Figures for 'claims received' refer to numbers of people making claims, as input to CACS in that quarter. Figures for 'successful' claims refer to numbers of awards of entitlement, including cases where payment is not made because of the operation of the overlapping benefits regulations (although people in these circumstances may qualify for the carer premium in the income-related benefits). The date of input of a successful claim may fall in a later quarter than that in which the claim was received or from which entitlement to the allowance started.
4 A person may make more than one claim and have more than one award, and these may be input on the CACS in different quarters. Therefore, the difference between the figures for the numbers of people from whom a claim is received and the figures for the numbers of awards in successful claims will not equate to the figures for the numbers of unsuccessful claims.
5 Separate figures for people over and under pension age are not available for the quarter to the end of June 2001.
6 Reliable data is not available for 'unsuccessful' claims for the quarter to the end of June 2002
7 State Pension age is age 60 for women and age 65 for men. The upper age limit, which precluded claims to CA by people aged 65 and over, was removed on 28 October 2002.
Source:
100 per cent data from the CA Computer System (CACS) supplied by Information
Analysis Division.

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: In each of the years 1998–99, 1999–2000 and 2000–01 the Health and Safety Executive's Field Operations Directorate (FOD) deployed approximately 24 staff-years/year to workplace contact officer (WCO) work. In 2001–02 and 2002–03 respectively an additional six and eight Railway Inspectorate Contact Officers (RICOs) were deployed in HM Railway Inspectorate (HMRI), making a total for HSE in those years of around 30 and 32 staff-years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will instruct the Health and Safety Executive to take early steps to ensure that contractors and sub-contractors have employer's liability insurance. [110799]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: Yes. Employers (with some exceptions such as public organisations and family businesses) are required by law to insure against injury or disease to their employees arising out of their employment.The Health and Safety Executive has enforcement responsibility for employer's liability insurance and will carry out their duties in line with current procedures.

Invalid Care Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claims for invalid care allowance he has received in each of the last 24 months; and how many of these have been (a) successful and (b) unsuccessful, broken down by applicants (i) over and (ii) under state pension age; and if he will make a statement. [110179]

The information is not available in the form requested. Such information as is available is in the table.

Job Vacancies

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what work has been completed since 1997 on redefining the ratio between the number of job centre vacancies and the total number of vacancies in the economy, and the extent to which this ratio varies in different areas across the country. [110685]

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

Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Frank Field, dated 6 May 2003:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question on what work has been completed since 1997 on redefining the ratio between the number of Jobcentre vacancies and the total number of vacancies in the economy and the extent to which this ratio varies in different areas across the country. I am replying in his absence. (110685)

Direct comparisons between Jobcentre vacancies and estimated totals of vacancies in the economy are not presently possible, as the numbers of unfilled vacancies at Jobcentres have not been published since April 2001. This is because of distortions to the data which occurred as a result of the introduction of the 'Employer Direct' initiative by Jobcentre Plus which altered the method of dealing with notified vacancies. Nevertheless, the ratio between the Jobcentre vacancies and the number of vacancies in the economy has been investigated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as part of an assessment last year of estimates of the total number of vacancies from a new survey of job vacancies now being published monthly on an experimental basis. The assessment included a review of information available from previous occasional surveys conducted on behalf of Jobcentre Plus.

Details of the ONS survey and the assessment were published in an article 'A new survey of job vacancies' in the October 2002 issue of Labour Market Trends (pages 535 to 548). On the basis of the pilot of a question on notified vacancies included in the survey, this concluded that the proportion of all vacancies notified to Jobcentres, as reported by employers, was likely to be in the range of around a third to around a half. There is no information currently available on the extent to which the proportion varies in different parts of the country.

Jobcentre Plus

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what account is taken, when decisions are made to close or reduce services at JobCentre Plus offices, of views of (a) customers of the office concerned and (b) the wider community; how those views are ascertained; what account is taken of public transport availability to the proposed alternative; what is considered to be a reasonable (i) travel time and (ii) travel cost to be met by the customer referred to a different office of JobCentre Plus; and if he will make a statement. [108235]

[holding answer 9 April 2003]: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Acting Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, Clare Dodgson. She will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Clare Dodgson to Andrew Dismore, dated April 2003:

As Jobcentre Plus is an Executive Agency, I have been asked to reply to your question concerning how we take the views of our customers into account when decisions are made to change our services, and what consideration we give to accessibility by public transport. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of the Agency.

In creating a network of about 1000 sites we are increasing the access and availability of our services to people who use only ex-Benefits Agency sites, and reducing the need for other customers to visit both a Jobcentre and a social security office. Our current arrangements for undertaking home visits and permitting certain individuals to sign by post still apply.

The introduction of advanced telephony and modern IT. equipment is enabling us to provide new ways of accessing our services. To make a claim for a Jobcentre Plus benefit the customer contacts us on a local rate phone number. Personal details are taken, forms are posted out and an appointment with a Personal Adviser is arranged. Providing access to job vacancies by telephone and the Internet also enables customers to access our services at a time and from a location of their choice.

Jobcentre Plus District Managers have many criteria to consider when they are planning the location of sites and the delivery of services in their areas. In particular they consider the availability of public transport, travel time and cost. The availability and cost of public transport varies widely across the country, so it is not possible to be prescriptive. Planning for the implementation of Jobcentre Plus is a local process designed to meet the needs of local communities, with decisions best being made by local managers. This means that many different and specific factors can be considered at that level.

With regard to travel time, we have asked District Managers to ensure that, as far as possible, customers will not have to travel for an unreasonable amount of time as a result of closing an existing office. Careful account is taken of population size and spread, where people are located, and many other factors, to ensure that we agree the best location for our new offices.

In our early planning for each Job Centre Plus district we are sharing our proposals for service delivery with a wide variety of people and organisations. While these are determined by local management they will include, for example, local MP's, Local Authorities, service delivery partners, employers' representatives, Citizens Advice Bureaux, welfare rights organisations, other Government Agencies, Health Authorities, Housing Associations, our staff and trade union representatives. After views and comments have been taken on board District Managers then share the finally agreed plans with the people and groups described above.

We do survey our customers to find out their opinions of the service that we provide. This information is used to improve that service. It is not however practical or possible to consult all our customers and potential customers about major changes to our service, including possible office closures.

For districts introducing the new service in 2002/03 the main communications exercises took place between June and September, and we were pleased to receivecomments and views on many aspects of our plans. We have taken account of those views, changed our plans where appropriate and responded to those who contacted us.

I hope this is helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will make a statement on the recent dismissal of 600 employees from local jobcentres and social security offices in London; [105479](2) what the basis is upon which the headcount target of staff working in jobcentres and social security offices in London has been calculated. [105480]

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting Chief Executive of the Jobcentre Plus, Clare Dodgson. She will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Clare Dodgson to Mr. John McDonnell, dated April 2003:

As Jobcentre Plus is an Executive Agency, I have been asked to reply to your question concerning the reduction of staff numbers in Jobcentre Plus, London Region. This falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of the Agency.

The national roll-out of Jobcentre Plus is bringing together the old separate Jobcentres and Benefit Offices to form our new integrated offices, which will provide both services in one place. Staff movement between different roles is an ongoing feature of the development of this new service.

Jobcentre Plus is contributing to the wider DWP modernisation and efficiency agenda and the workforce planning levels agreed for Jobcentre Plus in London form part of this. The allocation of resource budgets within Jobcentre Plus is linked to expected workloads and performance targets. Each Region, including London, has a share of the total Jobcentre Plus performance target. The headcount target for London region, like all regions, is based on this.

Between April 2002 and February 2003, Jobcentre Plus London region reduced its permanent staffing by 668 in line with workforce efficiency plans. This was achieved through a combination of staff moving to The Pension Service, other parts of the Department for Work and Pensions, other Government Departments or through natural wastage. In reaching the reduction in staffing figures, no permanent members of staff were dismissed or made redundant.

A number of meetings, at both Regional and District level, have taken place with union representatives since last summer about this matter. These meetings have also been supplemented by ongoing correspondence. Headcount target figures were shared with PCS Regional colleagues in September and a discussion on measures required to manage towards those workforce numbers took place at a meeting on 25 September 2002. More recently, a meeting took place in January 2003 and was followed up by detailed letters, with a further meeting taking place in February 2003.

In managing our target headcount level in London 350 temporary staff were released prior to the end of the 2002/03 operational year. Where operational needs were identified, 250 temporary staff were retained in London Region Jobcentres and Social Security Offices after 31 March 2003.

The radical modernisation of our services as part of the Jobcentre Plus rollout will inevitably lead to some disruption. However, we are managing these changes to minimise any negative impact on the delivery of our services to customers.

I hope this is helpful.

Jobseeker's Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance there are, broken down by the principal occupation code of those seeking work. [108386]

The latest information available has been placed in the Library.

Lone Parents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many lone parents in Hendon (a) have agreed to participate in New Deal for Lone Parents, (b) have declined to participate in New Deal for Lone Parents and (c) have gained employment through New Deal for Lone Parents; and if he will make a statement. [109025]

The New Deal for Lone Parents is a voluntary programme open to any lone parent who is working for less than 16 hours a week, to help them overcome the problems they face when trying to find work.In Hendon since the start of the New Deal for Lone Parents, of the 650 lone parents who have attended an initial interview, 560 have agreed to participate in the programme, and 240 of these participants have already gained employment.

Post Office Cards

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what timetable has been established to implement changes to the Post Office card account PIN pad to improve accessibility for disabled people. [108947]

I have been asked to reply.The Post Office is working to ensure their services are as accessible to as many customers as possible. In the short term the Post Office intends to improve current PIN pads by fitting a guard over the buttons to help guide customers. I understand that this will be done as soon as possible. In the longer term they intend to look at technological options to provide a secure alternative to PIN pads for people with disabilities.This is a matter which falls within the day-to-day responsibility of Post Office Ltd. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Regional Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress his 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. [108571]

The Department for Work and Pensions currently has no single geographical work force strategy addressing staff and work move shifts from London and the South East to the regions. However, local labour market conditions mean that there is less pressure on recruitment and retention away from London.Jobcentre Plus already processes London benefit related work at sites at Ashton-in-Makerfield, in north-west Glasgow and Belfast. In moving to centralised processing operations, The Pension Service has decided to locate all 26 Pension Centres outside London and the South East although there will continue to be a Pension Local Service presence in these regions. Some businesses have used centralised processing and contract centres for some time e.g. Child Support Agency Centres and Disability Benefit Centres.

By the nature of its business (more face to face contact) and customer base, the department, particularly Jobcentre Plus, will continue to have a presence in all large urban areas including London. There are also plans to encourage customers to make greater use of the telephone for their initial contact.

Around 90 per cent. of DWP staff work in delivery businesses while 10 per cent. are in headquarters working on a range of policy and support functions. The highest concentration of headquarters staff, 30 per cent., is in the Yorkshire and Humber region followed by the North West region (26 per cent.), London (16 per cent.) and the North West (14 per cent.).

Information on the distribution of DWP staff between Government Office Regions and function is in the following table:

Government office region

Delivery staff

Headquarters staff

Total staff

East Midlands6,4902636,753
East Midlands6,6391296,768
London12,4042,21914,623
North East13,4241,94615,370
North West23,3953,53226,927
Scotland14,68346415,147
South East9,4231339,556
South West8,5111868,697
Wales7,2303407,570
West Midlands11,61342012,033
Yorkshire and The Humber10,3944,07114,465
Total124,20613,703137,909

Note:

Numbers are point in time as at 31 January 2003.

Numbers are expressed as staff in post (headcount) and are consistent with Cabinet Office definitions other than the inclusion of staff on paid maternity leave.

Staff Union Duties

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 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. [106770]

The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available for the financial year 2002–03, is in the table:

Department for Work and Pensions
Agency/BodyFull-time post allocation1Approximate costs2(£)
Corporate Centre15.94331.000
Jobcentre Plus240.764,998,800
The Pension Service8166,100
Child Support Agency28.5591,700
Other21.25441,200
Total314,456528,800
1 This is not necessarily equivalent to the number of union officials because some officials are part time and some union posts are not filled.
2 The figures rounded to the nearest one hundred pounds, have been calculated using average, not actual, salaries.

Travel-To-Work Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how travel to work areas are defined; and what changes have been made in this definition since 1979. [110686]

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

Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Frank Field, dated 6 May 2003:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question on the definition of Travel to Work Areas (TTWAs) and the changes in this definition since 1979. I am replying in his absence. (110686)

The current criteria for defining TTWAs are that at least 75 per cent. of the area's resident workforce must work in the area and at least 75 per cent. of the people who work in the area must also live in the area. The area must also have a working population of at least 3,500. For areas with a working population in excess of 20,000, the self-containment rate is reduced to 70 per cent. TTWA boundaries must be non-overlapping and contiguous, covering the entire United Kingdom. TTWAs do not cross national boundaries.

TTWAs are produced by analysing commuting flows from the decennial Census of Population. The current geography, based on the 1991 Census, was published in May 1998. A report of this exercise, entitled "1991-based Travel-to-Work Areas", is held in the House of Commons Library. Prior to May 1998, the TTWAs were based on the 1981 Census and were published in September 1984; they were created using the current methods.

The TTWA geography in existence in 1979, based on the 1971 Census, was published in July 1978. While this map was also based on a self-containment rate of 75 per cent. there were several methodological changes introduced for the 1984 map. These improvements to the precision and robustness of the map were made possible by the introduction of computers and postcoded data. More details are available in an article in an Occasional Supplement to the Employment Gazette 92 (9), which is also available from the House of Commons Library.

The 1979 TTWA map was defined in terms of Employment Office (Jobcentre) areas. Since the TTWA map based on the 1981 Census, the definition has been by aggregations of wards.

ONS are currently investigating the usage and potential demand for an update to the TTWA geography based on data from the 2001 Census.

There have been significant changes to the availability of local area data since the last update. Professor Coombes of Newcastle University was commissioned to write a report on this and some of the data issues that affect the 2001 Census.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) unemployed claimants and (b) unfilled vacancies there are in each travel to work area; and if he will express these data as an employment to vacancy ratio. [110762]

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

Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Frank Field, dated 6 May 2003:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question regarding the number of unemployed claimants and unfilled vacancies for each travel-to-work-area. I am replying in his absence. (110762)

I am placing in the House of Commons Library tables showing the claimant count, that is the numbers claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, and data on unfilled vacancies at Jobcentres as requested. Because of distortions to the Jobcentre vacancy data which occurred as a result of the introduction of the 'Employer Direct' initiative by Jobcentre Plus, data on unfilled vacancies have not been published since April 2001. Therefore, I have provided claimant count data for March 2003, the most recent available, as well as data for April 2001 for comparison with the unfilled vacancies. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

Please note that the Jobcentre data represent only a proportion of vacancies in the economy. The experimental survey of job vacancies, which asks employers for the number of vacancies they have, is not available below national level.

Working Patterns

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures he intends to take to enable people to work longer if they choose. [108680]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Central Fife (Mr. MacDougall), on 17 March 2003, Official Report, volume 401, column 599–600W.

Prime Minister

Energy Policy

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement, in relation to his Department and each agency and non-departmental public body for which his Department is responsible, on (a) the amount of energy consumed, (b) spending on (i) energy and (ii) energy efficiency measures, (c) the amount saved through energy efficiency measures and (d) energy policy in each of the last five years. [108854]

Information on Downing Street is not available in this format as it forms part of the Cabinet Office estate. I have therefore asked the Minister for the Cabinet Office to reply and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Iraq

To ask the Prime Minister what contingency preparations he authorised civil servants to make for his resignation before the parliamentary vote on war with Iraq. [111216]

To ask the Prime Minister what representations he received, from whom and when, between 1 January and 20 April, regarding the threat of looting of antiquities in Iraq; what his response was; and if he will make a statement. [110615]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: We continue to receive a large number of representations on a wide range of issues concerning Iraq. Some of these have been about looting. The Coalition consulted widely before the commencement of the military campaign on the risks to ancient historical and archaeological sites. We have stressed our commitment to protecting such sites. We want to protect resources for all Iraqis and will take what measures are necessary to do this.

Experts from the MacDonald Institute of Archaeology, the British Museum and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be going to Iraq shortly to assist their Iraqi colleagues.

Komos

To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his reply to the letter from KOMOS of 15 April. [110622]

As far as I am aware, my office has not yet received a letter from KOMOS.

Meetings

To ask the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet (a) President George W. Bush, (b) US Secretary of State Colin Powell and (c) Prime Minister John Howard. [110695]

I have no current plans to meet President Bush or Secretary of State Colin Powell before their visit to Europe in late May. I hope to meet Prime Minister Howard tomorrow.

Ministerial Responsibility

To ask the Prime Minister who the Government Minister responsible for co-ordination against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack is. [110800]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary gave him in the House on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 10.

Official Visits

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the occasions since 1 March 2003 on which public expenditure has been incurred on official visits by Mrs. Blair. [111131]

Since 1 March 2003, Mrs. Blair has accompanied me on a visit to Aldershot Garrison and RAF Lyneham on 3 April 2003. No additional expense was incurred on this visit.

Pensions Minister

To ask the Prime Minister when he plans to appoint a Minister of State for Pensions. [110413]

Security (Northern Ireland)

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with Sinn Fein on the future use of the home battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment in security duties in Northern Ireland. [110788]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals. As with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings under exemptions 2 and 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Special Advisers

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz), 31 March 2003, Official Report, column 526W, on special advisers, for what reason Lord Birt is not listed. [111153]

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Zimbabwe

10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Zimbabwe. [111603]

We are concerned at the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe and ZANU(PF)'s failure to address the situation. The economy is rapidly deteriorating. Over 7 million people remain dependent on food aid. 159 people were tortured by the security authorities in March alone. We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to end violence and begin a dialogue with the opposition and civil society, as a first step towards restoring good governance, democratic accountability and economic prosperity for the people of Zimbabwe.

Middle East

15.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's attempts to secure a middle east peace settlement. [111608]

We continue to support Quartet efforts to bring about the resumption of a meaningful peace process. The Quartet road map represents the best chance for peace in Israel and Palestine, and we expect all parties to respond positively and start implementing it without delay. The UK will continue to do all it can to help.

16.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the role of the UN in building international recognition for political developments in the middle east. [111609]

As a member of the Quartet, the UN has a central role in encouraging and supporting developments in the Middle East Peace Process. On 30 April, the Quartet presented to Prime Ministers Sharon and Abbas its road map to a two-state solution. The UN, along with other Quartet members, will verify the parties' implementation of the roadmap. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242,338 and 1397 remain the internationally agreed basis for a settlement.

19.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the US Administration on progress towards a two state solution for the Israeli and Palestinian people. [111612]

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, FCO officials and I are in constant touch with US colleagues on Israel/ Palestine. The UK Government believe that a secure and stable two-state solution, as called for in President Bush's speech of 24 June 2002 and reached through early implementation of the Quartet road map, is the only credible way to deliver to both Israelis and Palestinians the peaceful future they both need.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 14 April 2003, Official Report, column 529W, on the Middle East, whether the Government regard the B'Tselem list as authoritative. [110410]

No such list can be completely authoritative. It is difficult to get accurate details of an incident, and the Israeli Government does not always confirm its involvement in targeted killings. However, B'Tselem is a reputable human rights organisation and we believe the list under question is useful if only as a guide.

Iraq

17.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of the United States of America on safeguarding Iraq's archaeological heritage in the course of war. [111610]

This is one of the many issues on Iraq that I have discussed with the US Government.Coalition commanders took great pains in the planning and conduct of the campaign in Iraq to protect Iraq's archaeological and cultural and religious heritage.

18.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage reform of the Iraqi criminal justice system in line with international human rights standards. [111611]

20.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage reform of the Iraqi criminal justice system in line with international human rights standards. [111618]

Security and stability in Iraq continue to be the priority, to provide the platform to deliver humanitarian relief. An ORHA team is currently in Iraq to review options for a new judicial system. The aim must be to help raise the standards of justice in Iraq to meet international standards of human rights. It will of course be for a properly constituted Iraqi authority to undertake substantive reform of the Iraqi justice system.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the involvement of Mr. Ahmed Chalabi in the post-war government in Iraq. [108273]

Chalabi is a prominent opposition figure. It is therefore only appropriate that the group he represents should be able to play a role in Iraq's future. But that role is for the people of Iraq to determine.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what timetable he proposes for the establishment of a new government in Iraq; and when he expects elections will take place for a new government. [110872]

The role of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) is helping to facilitate the creation of a democratic process in Iraq. A series of meetings (which began in Nasiriyah and Baghdad) will draw together Iraqi consensus from a broad range of opinion. The aim is to help establish an Iraqi Interim Authority in four weeks time. It is too early to predict when elections can be held and Iraqi self-governance attained.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what oil revenues are being held by the United Nations in a trust for the people of Iraq. [110873]

There is currently no UN trust fund holding oil revenues for the people of Iraq. However, under the Oil For Food programme all revenues from Iraqi oil exports are held in UN escrow accounts. 72 per cent. of these revenues fund humanitarian supplies to Iraq, 25 per cent. go into a fund to pay compensation to victims of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and 3 per cent. pay for operating costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place about debt-restructuring in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [110979]

I have been asked to reply.Finance Ministers at the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) meeting asked the Paris Club of official creditors to engage on Iraq's debt. This engagement has commenced with Paris Club creditors carrying out a data call to provide a comprehensive assessment of Iraq's indebtedness to them.The UK Government have made it clear that they are seeking a fair and sustainable solution to Iraq's debt problems.

North Korea

21.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what plans he has to visit North Korea to discuss its nuclear weapon programme. [111613]

India/Pakistan

22.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with representatives of the Governments of Pakistan and India on monitoring by the United Nations of alleged border incursions and terrorism. [111615]

The specific issue of UN monitoring has not arisen in my right hon. Friend's recent contacts with Indian and Pakistani representatives. We believe that outstanding differences between those two countries, including Kashmir, will be found through a sustained political process between India and Pakistan. Our role, like that of those who wish them well, is that we stand ready, where we can, to help India and Pakistan start and pursue such a process. In this respect we welcome the encouraging news of a resumption of direct: political contact between India and Pakistan, with the telephone call on 28 April between Pakistani Prime Minister Jamali and Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee. We are encouraging both sides to build on the important change in atmospherics which this represents.

United Nations

23.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held on reform of UN processes for dealing with states where major human rights abuses occur. [111616]

When I attended the UN Commission on Human Rights on 19 March, I discussed the need to enhance the effectiveness of the UN human rights mechanisms with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and representatives of a number of countries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking alongside the United States, Germany and France to strengthen the United Nations, following the war with Iraq. [110870]

We continue to work in the Security Council with the United States, France, Germany and other partners on a wide range of issues concerning international peace and security. We are discussing with them the UN's role in Iraq following the Coalition's military action.We remain committed to enlarging the membership of the Security Council so that it better represents the modern world. We are also working on the wider UN reform agenda to ensure that the organisation can more effectively fulfil the tasks entrusted to it by the international community.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government has; held with other members of the United Nations regarding the (a) future constitution and (b) structure of government for Iraq. [110871]

Questions regarding the future constitution and structure of government for Iraq is for the Iraqi people to decide. The Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance is helping the democratic process, through facilitating Iraqi consensus towards the creation of an Iraqi Interim Authority and eventual constitutional self-governance. Iraq's democratic future belongs to the Iraqis. We continue to be in contact with many countries including members of the UN Security Council about various aspects of our policy on Iraq.

Iran

24.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the government of Iran concerning the middle east peace process. [111617]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the Middle East Peace Process in a telephone conversation with the Iranian Foreign Minister Mr. Kharrazi on 30 March. I also raised the issue with the Foreign Minister and Mohsen Mirdamadi, Chairman of the Majles Security and Foreign Policy Committee, when I visited Iran on 13 April. We urge the Iranians to cease support for rejectionist groups, in particular those responsible for suicide bombings in Israel, and to use their influence in support of a two-state solution. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the Middle East Peace Process in a telephone conversation with the Iranian Foreign Minister Mr Kharrazi on 30 March. I also raised the issue with the Foreign Minister and Mohsen Mirdamadi, Chairman of the Majles Security and Foreign Policy Committee, when I visited Iran on 13 April. We urge the Iranians to cease support for rejectionist groups, in particular those responsible for suicide bombings in Israel, and to use their influence in support of a two-state solution.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on UK-Iran relations. [110408]

Through critical engagement, the UK seeks to apply a twin-track approach in respect of Iran. We support reform in Iran while maintaining a robust dialogue on matters of concern such as human rights and weapons of mass destruction.

Age Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to address the issue of age discrimination. [109447]

The issue of age discrimination is included in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Equal Opportunity polices and is taken into account when we monitor appraisals recruitment and promotions. We have given staff in bands A to D more flexibility over the age at which they retire, as recommended by the Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit report, Winning the Generation Game (2000).We are also examining our age profile, as part of our Human Resources Planning, to ensure it reflects the working population.

Anglo/Us Discussions

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the US Administration regarding the future development of NATO. [110712]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has regular discussions on the future development of NATO with the US and with other NATO Allies.At the Prague Summit in November 2002, NATO Heads of State and Government took decisions to transform the Alliance to meet the new threats and security challenges of the 21st Century. To do this, NATO must develop new military capabilities to meet these new threats, streamline NATO command structures and have flexible Allied forces able to move quickly to wherever they are needed.NATO decided on 16 April 2003 to offer increased support to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. NATO already plays a significant planning role in support of the existing ISAF force. This substantially enhanced support is a logical continuation of this process and evidence of NATO's continued adaptation to the evolving security agenda.Foreign Ministers will be meeting in Madrid on 3–4 June for the NATO Spring Ministerials. This will be an important opportunity to review progress since Prague.

China, Israel And Pakistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans the Government has for dealing with weapons of mass destruction, abuses of human rights and breach of United Nations resolutions in (a) China, (b) Israel and (c) Pakistan; and if he will make a statement. [110365]

The Government are regularly engaged in discussion with the Governments of China, Israel and Pakistan on a range of issues including WMD, Human Rights and obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions.We continue to press all states to sign and ratify the various non-proliferation treaties, to accede to the core human rights conventions and to meet all obligations placed upon them by Resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Cuba

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on (a) the recent imprisonment of pro-democracy campaigners in Cuba, (b) the state of negotiations regarding Cuban membership on the Cotonou pact and (c) the recent comments of the European Commission Chargé d'affaires in Havana, that his office has responsibility for political relations with Cuba. [109886]

We strongly condemn the unjust arrests, summary trials and harsh sentencing of citizens peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression in Cuba, and urge the Government of Cuba to release them. EU partners will discuss Cuba's application to join Cotonou once the Commission's technical analysis is complete; recent events will undoubtedly have an impact on these discussions. We hope the newly appointed EU Commission Representative in Havana will play a full part in the EU's relationship with all sectors of Cuban society. Under the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, primary responsibility for the EU's political dialogue with third countries lies with member states.

Democratisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's budget is for assistance in building democracy in post-conflict situations. [110341]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: Democracy building is not accounted for as a distinct FCO budget line. The FCO funds democracy building activity in a variety of ways. In 2003–04 the Global Conflict Prevention Pool (£74 million—managed jointly with MOD and DFID). Human Rights Project Fund (£7 million), and various bilateral programmes all contain elements of democracy building. In addition the FCO will fund the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (£4.1 million) which promotes democracy world-wide and the British Council which will spend £12.1 million on governance, which includes democracy building. Furthermore, the FCO works in partnership with DfID and MOD as part of the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool (£50 million) which seeks to address the peace and security challenges in Africa—a prerequisite for democracy. Some of the new Global Opportunities Fund will also be used for some democracy building work. Identifying the post conflict democracy building activities within these programmes could be undertaken only at disproportionate cost.

Eu Committees

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EEC-Russia Co-operation Committee, the number of times and the dates on which it has met since January 2002, the agenda items it has considered since January 2002, the decisions it has made since January 2002 and the means used to communicate these decisions to the House. [110497]

The EU Russia Co-operation Committee meets at senior official level in Troika format (ie the EU is represented by the Presidency, Commission and Council Secretariat). The remaining 14 European Union member states contribute to the detailed preparation of the Committee and are able to observe the formal session. Since 17 April 2003, delegates from the 10 EU accession states are also entitled to attend most EU committees, including the EU-Russia Co-operation Committee, as observers. The EU-Russia Co-operation Committee normally meets once a year to discuss areas of policy which come under the framework of the EU's Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) with Russia. It last met in October 2002.Decisions made by the committee of direct significance for the UK are submitted to Parliament under established scrutiny procedures and are considered and reported on by the House of Lords European Union Committee, the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee, and the devolved Administrations in Wales and Scotland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list (a) the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU committee on implementation of the programme of assistance to promote the transition to a market economy and to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in the partner states of eastern Europe and Central Asia (TACIS), (b) the number of times and the dates on which it has met since January 2002, (c) the agenda items it has considered since January 2002, (d) the decisions it has made since January 2002 and (e) the means used to communicate the decisions to the House. [110537]

The EU TACIS Management Committee meets at senior official level, is chaired by the commission, and attended by the 15 member states. Since 17 April 2003, delegates from the 10 EU accession states are also entitled to attend most EU committees, including the EU TACIS Management Committee, as observers. The UK is represented on the Committee by officials from the Department for International Development, and by members of staff of the United Kingdom Representation in Brussels.The TACIS Management Committee meets as often as is necessary to exercise oversight of the EC programme of technical assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS). It has met eight times since January 2002, with the most recent meeting taking place on 23 April 2003.Decisions made by the committee of direct significance for the UK are submitted to Parliament under established scrutiny procedures and are considered and reported on by the House of Lords European Union Committee, the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee, and the devolved Administrations in Wales and Scotland.

European Constitution

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the policy of the Government towards the proposal laid down in the proposed European Constitution that Europe should be governed on a federal basis. [110700]

The Government consider the proposal made by the Praesidium of the Convention on the Future of Europe that

"the Union … shall administer certain common competences on a federal basis"
to be misleading. It has therefore proposed that the words on a federal basis" be replaced by
"shall co-ordinate certain policies at a European level to achieve goals that they cannot achieve on their own".
EU member states will discuss the convention's outcome in an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) before taking final decisions on it by unanimity.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the policy of the Government towards the proposal laid down in the proposed European Constitution stating that the European Union should have a legal personality. [110701]

The explicit grant of legal personality to the European Union would have the advantage of clarity and simplicity. But the Government would only accept it on the basis that the distinct arrangements for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and aspects of Justice and Home Affairs were fully safeguarded, along with the existing arrangements for representation in international bodies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the policy of the Government towards the proposal laid down in the proposed European Constitution stating that the member states may accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. [110702]

All European Union member states are already party to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the policy of the Government towards the proposal laid down in the proposed European Constitution with regard to the creation of citizenship of the Union. [110703]

EU citizenship was established by the Treaty on European Union. The provisions governing Union citizenship are contained in Part Two of the Treaty establishing the European Community. It is expressly stated that the EU citizenship conferred upon persons holding the nationality of a member state shall

"complement and not replace national citizenship".
The draft Constitutional Treaty being debated by the Convention on the Future of Europe sets out similar provisions. The Government support this policy.

India (Tamil Nadu Ordinance)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has made on the impact of religious freedom of the Tamil Nadu ordinance on movement within the state; and if he will make a statement; [110110](2) what reports he has received on the impact on the Dalit people in India of the ordinance relating to movement in the state passed by the Tamil Nadu State Government; and if he will make a statement. [110111]

Since the Tamil Nadu Ordinance on Religious Conversions was passed into law on 2 December 2002, some observers in the state have noted a general fall in the number of public conversions there, but we have not been able to corroborate this. The law's effects on Tamil Nadu's Dalit population are also as yet unclear. We are not aware of any cases that have yet been brought to court under the law's provisions.Although the impact of this law is not yet clear, we are concerned that this legislation might in practice discourage Tamil Nadu's citizens from adopting the religion of their choice. Such an effect might limit religious freedoms as outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India has ratified. We have had no discussions with the Government of India about this legislation. But our Missions in India will continue to monitor closely the implementation of the law, and we will discuss with EU Partners whether any EU action is necessary.

Kuwait

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 645W, on Kuwait, which four categories have not been resolved and what were the respective amounts for each category; which two categories have not been resolved; why these have not been resolved; and what amounts are involved. [110422]

Of the six categories of claims being dealt with by the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) four relate to claims by individuals and the other two to claims by corporations, Governments and international organisations. The Governing Council of the UNCC took a decision to prioritise claims made by individuals. Other claims continue to be processed. Full details of all claims, both resolved and outstanding, can be found on the UNCC website: www.unog.ch/uncc.

National Minimum Wage

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the estimated cost is in 2003–04 to his Department, agencies and the non-departmental public bodies for which he is responsible of the increase in the national minimum wage from £4.20 per hour to £4.50 per hour. [110442]

The increase in the national minimum wage from £4.20 per hour to £4.50 per hour will have no cost impact on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2003–04, nor on any of the agencies or non-departmental public bodies for which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible. There are no staff on the minimum wage in the FCO.

Sudan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to include Dafur within human rights monitoring as part of the Sudan peace process. [111371]

Human rights provisions of the eventual peace agreement will apply throughout Sudan. The talks have not yet progressed to the stage of agreement on monitoring arrangements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the inter-tribal conflict in Dafur, Sudan. [111372]

The situation in Dafur is extremely complex with unresolved inter-Arab disputes and Arab-African ethnic clashes. Previous efforts at mediation have not succeeded. In the near future further conflict may prevent the delivery of humanitarian relief. International staff of international non-Governmental organisations (INGOs) and the UN have been withdrawn and access to Dafur remains difficult.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the demonstrations that have taken place in Dafur, Sudan, on the security situation in the region. [111373]

We have received reports that a demonstration took place in Geneina on the Chadian border in Dariur on 26 April. Following clashes in the area demonstrators protested at the killings and the failure to arrest those responsible. There were also protests on 26 April against the Sudan Liberation Movement following its attack against the airport in El-Fashir. International staff of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) and the UN have been withdrawn and access to Dafur remains difficult. Further conflict may prevent the delivery of humanitarian relief.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of the Sudan on the situation in Dafur, Sudan. [111378]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development raised the situation in Dafur with the Sudanese First Vice-President on 29 April, during his visit to London. The British Embassy in Khartoum will continue to monitor the situation in Dafur. They are in contact with a wide range of Government and National Congress party officials in addition to Dafur MPs and other local representatives.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the decision of the UN Commission on Human Rights to vote against the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Sudan; and what discussions he has had with the Russian Government on this matter. [111379]

We were disappointed that the EU sponsored resolution on Sudan was not carried at the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on 16 April. The result of the vote (24 in favour, 26 against and three abstentions) was the first defeat for this resolution in 10 years and means the termination of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, Gerhard Baum.At CHR, we and EU partners had extensive discussions on EU initiatives with all CHR members, including Russia.

Syria

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on UK-Syria relations. [110409]

The UK remains committed to a policy of constructive and, where necessary, critical engagement with Syria. This allows us to support reform while maintaining a robust dialogue on issues of concern including her attitude to Iraq, support for certain Palestinian rejectionist groups, WMD and human rights.

Western Sahara

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects a referendum to be held on the future of the Western Sahara under UN auspices; and if he will make a statement. [110265]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 133W. The United Kingdom supports fully the efforts of the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) and his Personal Envoy, James Baker, to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara dispute that provides for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. In March this year the Security Council asked the UNSG to provide a report on the situation by 19 May, to allow Mr. Baker time to consider the responses of the parties to his proposals. I do not wish to pre-judge the outcome of this process.

Defence

Depleted Uranium

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action he has taken to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Society on the clean-up and monitoring of depleted uranium used on battlefield sites. [110488]

I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Fur

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what animal fur, broken down by species and value, has been purchased by his Department in each of the last 10 years; and what use was made of the fur. [111124]

The Ministry of Defence has not purchased any animal fur for use as a raw material in the last 10 years. The MOD does, however, purchase various clothing items which incorporate animal fur as part of their specification. A wide range of clothing products, such as socks and pullovers, incorporate animal fur or wool to an agreed quality standard. There are, however, a limited number of items for which a specific type of fur or wool is included within the specification. These are as follows:

Product/SpeciesNumber of products (per annum)
Busby
Scandinavian Blue Fox2 (maximum)
Coney (Rabbit)42
Sheep (Astrakhan)1 (maximum)
Bearskin
Black Bear60
Flounce
Black/Black Faced Brown Bear1
Sheep (Astrakhan)(5 in 20 years)
Saddle Cover
Black Bear5
Sheep40
It is not possible to readily identify the value of these animal products as the cost incurred by the MOD is for the finished and complete item, not just the animal component.

Homecoming Parades

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will organise a parade to welcome UK servicemen home from the Persian Gulf. [110546]

An event for armed forces personnel returning from duty in the Gulf is being considered by the Government. No decision has yet been taken.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what British-made arms and military equipment have been discovered in Iraq since the war began; to which countries these were originally supplied; and what actions he intends to take against countries who have diverted or re-exported arms to Iraq. [109003]

To date, no British-made military equipment or arms have been reported as having been discovered in Iraq that were supplied since sanctions have been in force. If any United Kingdom equipment were to be found which is proven to have been diverted or re-exported to Iraq in contravention of the UN sanctions regime, appropriate procedures would be followed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken to protect the integrity of Iraq's infrastructure against looting; and if he will make a statement. [109004]

Coalition forces take law and order seriously and have been conducting joint patrols with local police. In Basra, several hundred police have now returned to duty and are participating in joint patrols with United Kingdom forces, These measures, supported by local leaders and community effort, have been effective in minimising looting.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what preparations were made to ensure the (a) safety and (b) property of the hospitals from looters in Iraq; and when further action will be taken. [110387]

Immediately following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime some looting of equipment and supplies from hospitals in Iraq did take place in some areas before the Coalition forces established a presence and began to secure the facilities. In Basra, the presence of joint patrols between Coalition forces and local police, and the engagement with local leaders and the community has significantly reduced the incidence of looting. Medical supplies and facilities are returning to pre-conflict levels.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the basis on which decisions are taken to return British troops from Iraq. [110994]

Decisions on the withdrawal or roulement of British units are taken on the basis of a range of considerations, including the requirements of the mission, the capabilities of different units, the length of time for which units have already been deployed and the availability of other units to replace them where necessary.

Joint Rapid Reaction Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Government has to undergo a Joint Rapid Reaction Force exercise where participants do not have prior notice; and if he will make a statement. [110554]

The Joint Rapid Reaction Forces are exercised on a regular basis but we currently have no plans for an exercise in which the participants would have no prior notice. We do, however, arrange at least one Command Post Exercise each year for the Commander Joint Force Operations and his staff, in which they participate without any prior notice. The purpose of these is to exercise the Commander and staff in the planning and execution of a short notice deployment.

Joint Services Group

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many covert human intelligence sources are handled by the Joint Services Group. [110864]

I am withholding information on covert human intelligence sources under section 1a of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who the head is of the Joint Services Group; and who provides its secretariat. [111640]

I am withholding the requested information under Exemption 1a (national security) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Occar

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much money Britain contributes to each of the OCCAR projects; what proportion this represents of the total costs of each of the projects; and what proportion this represents of the total OCCAR budget. [109085]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: The Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) currently manages seven collaborative defence equipment programmes. Of these, the UK participates in the COBRA (Counter Battery Radar) and BOXER (Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle) programmes. The UK does not participate in, nor contribute towards, the other OCCAR programmes, which include the TIGER helicopter, and FSAF, ROLAND and HOT/MILAN missile systems programmes.OCCAR's budgeting and accounting is in cash terms. On this basis, the UK's expected monetary contribution to OCCAR for the current phases of the BOXER and COBRA programmes, and our share of these costs is:

ProgrammeUK contributionUK share (percentage)
BOXER4032
COBRA9923
These figures relate only to contracts that are currently in place, and cover the UK's expected contribution towards both acquisition costs and OCCAR running costs for the relevant contract phase. OCCAR budgets for subsequent contract phases have still to be established.OCCAR programme equipment budgets are calculated individually involving only OCCAR and the national participants concerned. The UK does not therefore have, nor do we need, visibility of all OCCAR's budgets. However, it is intended that OCCAR will produce annual total cost figures that will quantify the overall scale of its operations each year.

Raf Standardisation Exercise

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the result was of the RAF NAR team Standardisation Exercise in Suffolk; and what recommendations have been put forward as a result of this exercise. [110888]