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Written Answers

Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 7 May 2003

Treasury

Employment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which five regions had (a) the lowest and (b) the highest employment rates in each year since 1997; and what their respective rates were. [110683]

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

Letter from C. Mowl to Mr. Frank Field, dated 7 May 2003:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question about employment rates. I am replying his absence. (110683)

The attached table gives the information requested for the twelve month periods ending December of each year from 1997 to 2002. These estimates are from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Working age1 employment rates2 by region and country in the UK—Average for January to December each year

Employment rate (Percentage)

Five Government Office Regions with highest employment rates

1997

South East78.4
South West77.1
East76.6
East Midlands75.6
West Midlands73.2

1998

South East79.4
South West77.8
East77.7
East Midlands76.1
West Midlands74.2

1999

South East79.8
South West78.4
East78.1
East Midlands76.4
West Midlands73.7

2000

South East80.3
South West78.9
East78.8
East Midlands76.3
Yorkshire and Humberside73.7

2001

South East80.1
East79.3
South West78.9
East Midlands75.8
West Midlands73.9

2002

South East79.7
South West79.0
East79.0
East Midlands76.4
West Midlands74.2

Working age1 employment rates2 by region and country in the UK—Average for January to December each year

Employment rate (Percentage)

Five Government Office Regions with lowest employment rates

1997

Northern Ireland67.1
North East67.3
Wales68.2
London69.9
North West70.2

1998

North East66.6
Northern Ireland67.0
Wales68.0
North West70.2
London70.5

1999

North East66.6
Northern Ireland67.0
Wales68.8
North West71.4
Scotland71.6

2000

Northern Ireland66.4
North East68.1
Wales69.3
London70.8
North West72.3

2001

Northern Ireland67.3
North East68.4
Wales68.5
London71.0
North West72.2

2002

Northern Ireland67.7
North East68.4
Wales69.8
London70.5
North West72.3

1 Men aged 16–64 and women 16–59.

2 Working age people in employment as a percentage of the Working age population.

Source:

ONS Labour Force Survey

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which 100 local authority words have (a) the lowest and (b) the highest employment rates; and what the rates are in each case. [110684]

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

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Frank Field, dated 7 May 2003:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question about employment rates in local authority wards. (110684)

I regret to inform you that the data you requested are not available form the Labour Force Survey. However, Census data on employment will be available at ward level on 30 June.

Child Tax Credit

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what change has taken place in the number of (a) physical and (b) verbal assaults on Inland Revenue staff the introduction of child tax credit. [111834]

The child tax credit was introduced on 6 April 2003 alongside working tax credit. Physical and verbal assaults on Inland Revenue staff have always been uncommon and remain so.

Civil Service (People With Disabilities)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in meeting targets for the proportion of people with disabilities in senior posts in the Department. [110520]

The proportion of people with disabilities in senior posts in the Treasury is 1.1 per cent. against the corporate Senior Civil Service (SCS) target on disabled staff of 3 per cent. by 2005.We are taking steps to increase the recruitment of people with disabilities across the whole of the department, including staff in senior posts. Particular actions include:

advertising all senior posts and highlighting that we are an equal opportunities employer;
guaranteeing an interview to people with disabilities who meet the minimum requirement for our recruitment programmes;
participating in the Cabinet Office scheme for people with disabilities, offering two placements this summer; and
continuing to support the department's active Disability Advisory Group, sponsored by the Permanent Secretary, to ensure the interests of people with disabilities are taken on board when developing management and personnel policies.

We are planning to conduct a full disability survey later this year to ensure our records of disabled staff are accurate and up to date.

Customs And Excise

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Customs and Excise staff have been deported under immigration law in the last two years. [111722]

Customs and Excise have no record of any staff leaving the service in the last two years by reason of "deportation".

Debt Relief

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will support efforts to find solutions to the collapse in coffee prices at the forthcoming G8 summit; and if he will make a statement. [111569]

Coffee growers have been hit by low prices and deteriorating quality, the result of global over-supply and structural imbalances in the industry. The Government will support efforts to find solutions at the G8 summit and in follow-up work after the summit, notably for poor countries in Africa.There are a number of possibilities. The UK is already contributing to a sustainable coffee market by helping growers to diversify through its development programme; trying to expand the trade opportunities of commodity-dependent countries, cut tariffs and reduce the negative impact of the CAP. We are promoting foreign investment and good regulatory frameworks, increasing the aid budget to 0.40 per cent. of national income by 2005–06 and advocating more debt relief to highly indebted poor countries. A government-industry working group is currently looking at what more can be done to improve the livelihoods of poorer commodity producers in developing countries. The summit will consider what more can be done.

Football Clubs (Administration)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what agreement on unpaid tax the Inland Revenue has reached with each professional football club in administration in the last two years. [111572]

When any business seeks protection from its creditors by appointing an administrator, the Inland Revenue is bound by insolvency law just like any other creditors. Due to taxpayer confidentiality, information about dealings with individual professional football clubs cannot be provided: Exemption 15 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information applies.

Income Drawdown

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints concerning income drawdown have been lodged in each year since 1996. [111445]

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

Iraq

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what work has been undertaken (a) to assess the basic economic indicators in Iraq and (b) to overcome the failure by the Iraqi regime to supply figures to international economic institutions; [111453](2) whether the IMF has issued interim reports on the work of its Iraq task force; [111454](3) whether his Department is working with the World bank to provide it with primary economic information on Iraq. [111452]

Iraq's isolation from the international community, combined with the impact of two wars and 12 years of sanctions, means that reliable data on the Iraqi economy are extremely scarce. The World bank has not maintained active operations in Iraq (the last loan approved was in 1973) and regular reports by the international financial institutions on the economy, such as IMF Annual Article IV reports, have not been compiled for some years.In accordance with its guidelines for working with countries in conflict, the World Bank closely monitors developments in Iraq and maintains contacts with the United Nations and international donors to exchange information and build a knowledge base on the evolving socio-economic and humanitarian conditions on the ground.The UK Government are working with their international partners to ensure the effective engagement of the International Financial Institutions in the rehabilitation of post-conflict Iraq. The collection of accurate data and the preparation of a comprehensive needs assessment are key steps in that process. The UK Government are in regular contact with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on these matters.In a communiqué issued following their spring meetings, both the International Monetary and Finance Committee of the IMF, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Development Committee of the World bank have noted that 'the IMF and World Bank stand ready to play their normal role in Iraq's re-development at the appropriate time'. Staff in both institutions have begun initial preparations for these tasks. Beyond information available on their websites, neither the World Bank nor the IMF has so far published any recent reports on Iraq.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what tariffs exist on the importing of Iraqi goods to (a) the EU and (b) the UK. [111553]

All imports from Iraq remain prohibited without an import licence while United Nations sanctions remain in force. Prior to sanctions being imposed in 1990, imports from Iraq were eligible for reduced rates of customs duty under the Generalised System of Preferences.Customs duty rates of the EU and UK are one and the same. The HM Customs and Excise Tariff lists both full and preferential rates of duty and includes information on the Generalised System of Preferences. A copy is available in the Library of the House.

Landfill Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much revenue was raised by the landfill tax in the UK in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03; and how much revenue he estimates will be raised in 2003–04. [111836]

Landfill tax receipts figures for the financial years 2001–02 to 2003–04 were published in the April 2003 Financial Statement and Budget Report (FSBR). The 2001–02 figure is an outturn figure, while that for 2002–03 is an estimate and that for 2003–04 is a forecast. The published rounded figures are:

£ billion
2001–020.5
2002–030.5
2003–040.7

National Insurance

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to review the national insurance lower earnings limit. [111751]

None. The lower earnings limit is currently £77 per week and it is linked to the weekly rate of the basic state pension.

Road Fuel Gases

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received regarding his decision to consult stakeholders before announcing decisions on fuel duty rates on road fuel gases. [112093]

Treasury Ministers have received no representations on this decision to consult.

Stakeholder Pensions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints concerning the sale of stakeholder pensions have been received in each year since their introduction; and what broad categories these complaints fell into. [111440]

If the Treasury receives complaints about the sale of stakeholder pensions, it refers complainants to the firm concerned. Where it is evident that the complainant has already complained to the firm concerned, and is dissatisfied with the handling of his complaint, the complainant is generally referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service.The Financial Ombudsman Service tells me that, between 1 April 2002 and 31 March 2003, they received 115 complaints about stakeholder pensions.These complaints principally concerned administrative difficulties at the time of the initial purchase, in collecting premiums, in promptly transferring money into plans, and in providing information at the point of sale.

Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many persons previously on disabled persons tax credit are awaiting transfer to regular working tax credit payments. [111669]

Claim forms for working and child tax credits were sent to all individuals and couples who were receiving disabled person's tax credit. Awards are already being paid to all those who made their claims by 31 January 2003, except in a very few cases where further information is needed to make a decision on the claim. In these cases, the Inland Revenue should already have been in touch with claimants to ask for further information.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will post information on the Inland Revenue microsite for tax credits and on any reprints of tax credit application forms, stating that children may also be eligible for free school meals as a result of the credit; [111448](2) if he will ensure that more prominence is given in leaflets sent out with child tax credit awards to making parents aware of the free school meals entitlement for children. [111450]

There are a number of 'passported benefits' that may attach to the new tax credits, and the tax credits award notice and accompanying notes alert people to the fact they may qualify as a result of their award. In addition, a new Inland Revenue leaflet providing information and giving contact points for details on some of the more common benefits was published on the Inland Revenue website on 2 May 2003. It will soon also be available in paper format.

Taxation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people resident in Buckinghamshire pay income tax at the top rate of 40 per cent. [111726]

Around 10,000 Buckinghamshire residents paid income tax at the 40 per cent. rate in the 2000–01 tax year. This estimate is based on the Survey of Personal Incomes. This is the latest year for which estimates are available.

Education And Skills

Education (Wandsworth)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much he has given to the London borough of Wandsworth for education services in the borough in the last three years. [112051]

The following table shows the Department's total Education Standard Spending Assessment, recurrent and capital grant allocated to Wandsworth local education authority for the financial years 2000–01 to 2002–03. Complete figures for 2003–04 are not yet available.

£ million
2000–012001–022002–03
SSA101.9105.2102.9
Recurrent grant8.814.222.2
Capital grant7.47.012.3
Total118.1126.4137.4

Education Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to promote the benefits of (a) adult, (b) further and (c) higher education to school leavers, adults and those not in full-time employment; and if he will make a statement. [111148]

The Learning and Skills Council has specific legal responsibility for widening participation in learning across post-16 education and training in England. This Department supports the agenda to promote the benefits of learning across all sectors of education. This includes the "Aim Higher" campaign which promotes the benefits of higher education.

Examination Results

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of pupils in England achieving A-levels in (a) mathematics and (b) English achieved grade A in (i) the best performing local education authority and (ii) the worst performing local education authority in the last year for which figures are available. [110191]

The information requested is given in the following table.

Percentage of A level passes that were grade A in 2002
LEAPercentage
Maths
HighestReading58.5
LowestLambeth5.6
English
HighestReading30.2
LowestHackney0.8

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of GCSE students in the London Borough of Havering achieved five or more C grades, or higher, last year; and what the proportion was in other London boroughs. [110581]

The percentage of 15-year-olds achieving five or more GCSE grades C and above or the GNVQ equivalent in the London Borough of Havering in 2001/02 was 57.3. The figures for the other London boroughs are as follows.

London BoroughPercentage of 15 year olds with 5 A*-C or better
Barking and Dagenham42.3
Barnet59.1
Bexley52.6
Brent49.6
Bromley59.9
Camden48.4
Croydon48.9
Ealing49.8
Enfield46.2
Greenwich33.3
Hackney31.1
Hammersmith and Fulham50.3
Haringey35.4
Harrow59.1
Hillingdon46.0
Hounslow49.5
Islington32.9
Kensington and Chelsea55.7
Kingston upon Thames60.0
Lambeth40.1
Lewisham38.7
Merton40.9
Newham42.4
Redbridge63.7
Richmond upon Thames51.4
Southwark35.7
Sutton64.8
Tower Hamlets43.6
Waltham Forest44.3
Wandsworth48.6
Westminster, city of41.5

Individual Learning Accounts

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what plans he has to include small-scale learning providers within the ambit of a revised Individual Learning Account scheme. [111283]

For all its failings, ILA was successful in getting non-traditional learners back into learning, and that success was based in part on the role played by the best providers, many of them small scale, who were able to encourage learners to take the first step. This influence will be as important in the successor scheme as it was in the original programme. The scheme will promote high quality relevant learning, whether from small or large scale providers. Details of the scheme will be announced next month as part of the Skills Strategy.

Oxford And Cambridge (Admissions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many, and what percentage, of (a) applicants and (b) successful applicants there were to (i) Oxford and (ii) Cambridge University from (A) fee paying schools, (B) local authority 11–18 comprehensive schools, (C) sixth form colleges, (D)

Percentage of applications from maintained sector Year of entryPercentage of acceptances from maintained sector Year of entry
Cambridge University200020012002200020012002
Christ's555861375154
Churchill756870685866
Clare566566555960
Corpus Christi495657395352
Downing514754414650
Emmanuel615957545354
Fitzwilliam716872666069
Girton616264615851
Gonville and Caius484652483646
Homerton17672
Hughes Hall260100
Jesus575353545656
King's848580777869
Lucy Cavendish289100
Magdalene424248364455
New Hall595865585554
Newnham586462495961
Pembroke555759505051
Peterhouse524553434353
Queen's606057555347
Robinson656469566462
Selwyn585461494858
Sidney Sussex555858455258
St. Catherine's585259525157
St. Edmund's2100
St. John's525550454945
Trinity565254484544
Trinity Hall555352475043
Wolfson28383
All standard colleges595860525355
Mature student colleges (Hugh Hall, Lucy Cavendish, St. Edmunds and Wilfson)86868787
1 Homerton College amalgamated with Cambridge on 1 April 2001
2 Prior to 2002, figures for these colleges were amalgamated.
Percentage of applications from maintained sector Year of entryPercentage of offers to maintained sector Year of entry
Oxford University200120012002200020012002
Balliol5061565351
Brasenose4040444449
Christ Church4349473947
Corpus Christi5760565258
Exeter5152605648
Harris Manchester1001001008692
Hertford6976616771
Jesus6768575861
Keble5863656059
Lady Margaret Hall4651474152
Lincoln5263465764
Magdalene5657465252
Mansfield7181756775
Merton6159615453
New5453484955

state grammar schools and (E) further education colleges, in each of the last three years, broken down by constituent college. [101040]

[holding answer 10 March 2003]: The available information for the constituent colleges of Oxford and Cambridge is shown in the following tables. These figures are compiled by the institutions themselves, who are responsible for its accuracy. The tables cover all applicants, irrespective of their qualifications, and therefore take no account of any differential levels of A-level attainment between students from the maintained and independent school sectors.

Percentage of applications from maintained sector Year of entry

Percentage of offers to maintained sector Year of entry

Oxford University

2001

2001

2002

2000

2001

2002

Oriel4654404549
Pembroke4546455551
Queen's5049535746
Somerville5555606164
St. Anne's5361615755
St. Catherine's5958564944
St. Edmund Hall4046426055
St. Hilda's6261536463
St. Hugh's6362506674
St. John's6780705351
St. Peter's5049516164
Trinity4749445451
University4646484349
Wadham7175666873
Worcester4149474848
Total5559545557

1 Figures not available for applications in 2000.

School Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent representations he has had with regard to the imposition of VAT on new school buildings used partly by the general public; and if he will make a statement. [111369]

My Department has received no representations recently with regard to the imposition of VAT on new school buildings used partly by the general public. Any specific correspondence on this issue would normally have been forwarded to Customs and Excise for their response, as they have policy responsibility for VAT.

School Inspections

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what proportion of lessons inspected by Ofsted use pupil setting for (a) year 10 and (b) year 11; [111673](2) how many independent schools were inspected by Ofsted in 2002; [111674](3) what percentage of secondary state school lessons inspected by Ofsted in 2001–02 were judged satisfactory or better; and what percentage were judged poor; [111675](4) what percentage of state secondary schools inspected by Ofsted in 2001–02 have an obligatory school uniform policy; and what percentage have a school prefect system. [111676]

These are matters for Ofsted and I have asked HM Chief Inspector, David Bell, to write to the hon. member and to place a copy of his letter in the Library.

Skills Shortages

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on skills shortages in the Oxfordshire, Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire Local Learning and Skills area. [108486]

Revised figures from the Employers Skill Survey 2001, funded by the Department, showed that 6 per cent. of employers reported skill shortage vacancies in the Oxfordshire, Milton Keynes and

Buckinghamshire Local Learning and Skills area. This compared with an average of 4 per cent. and a high of 12 per cent. for England., There were eight skill shortage vacancies per thousand employees in this area, which was the average for England.

Teachernet Website

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what has been the cost of developing the new Teachernet emergency planning website; [109416](2) when his Department will set a date for the launch of the Teachernet emergency planning website; [109417](3) how many

(a) teachers and (b) local education authorities have been consulted regarding the content of the Teachernet emergency planning website. [109418]

Development of the Teachenet emergency planning website has cost approximately £60,000. My Department invited all local education authorities (LEAs) in England to identify staff and teachers who would like to test the site. 17 LEAs responded that they would like to take part. We have not yet received responses from all of them so we do not yet know how many individuals have been involved.I will set a date for launch of the website when I am satisfied that all responses have been received and properly considered, and consequent improvements to the site have been made.

Cabinet Office

Civil Service (People With Disabilities)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress has been made in meeting targets for the proportion of people with disabilities in senior posts in the Department. [110524]

As at 29 April 2003 0.5 per cent. of staff at senior civil service level in the Cabinet Office are disabled. The Cabinet Office has a target to increase this proportion to 3 per cent. by 2005 and has put in place a number of initiatives to help achieve this. The Department is a member of the cross-departmental Disability Working Group, which is currently working to identify best practice in surveying staff on disability—a re-survey of Cabinet Office staff is planned once this work is complete.The Cabinet Office also supports its own departmental network for disabled staff (DISCO) and will be working with them to support a number of events throughout the coming year to promote the European Year of Disabled People. This includes hosting information meetings on various disabilities such as diabetes, epilepsy and ME.

Contingency Planning

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what preparations he has made for the distribution of information to the general public in the event of a civil emergency. [111122]

Long-standing protocols exist for distributing information to the public in the event of a civil emergency. These arrangements are maintained by the Government Information and Communication Service within the Cabinet Office.The Emergency Services warn and advise those in the immediate vicinity of an incident, working closely with other bodies as appropriate.Away from the emergency the public will be advised, as appropriate, in line with the Government's 'Go In Stay In Tune In' doctrine. We have made arrangements

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSeptOctNovDec
199936394850
2000515153545656545256576060
2001627192111123125129128138146147145
2002148145143142138141140134139140144145
2003141141138

Entertainment

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when he has entertained Labour honourable Members at public expense in the last 12 months; and at what cost. [106257]

Property Portfolio

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the estimated value is of the property portfolio held by the Cabinet Office. [108367]

The estimated value of the total property portfolio held by the Cabinet Office on 31 March 2002 was £157.1 million.The above figure includes Downing Street and buildings that are owned by the Cabinet Office but are jointly occupied with other departments.

Sickness Absence

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many staff in the Office were on long term sick leave in each of the last five years. [109255]

with the media for them to transmit detailed warning advice and guidance to the public by TV, Radio, Teletext, Ceefax and through websites as appropriate.

These arrangements are appropriate to existing and anticipated threat levels.

Document Classification

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many documents are held by his Office that are subject to security classification, broken down by category of classification. [107354]

The information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. My Department follows the Cabinet Office guidance on document marking and control.

E-Envoy

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) if he will make a statement on the Government's plans to change (a) the level of staffing and (b) the role of the Office of the e-Envoy; [105629](2) how many staff have worked in the Office of the e-Envoy in each month since its establishment; [105628](3) if he will make a statement on the work of the Office of the e-Envoy since its establishment. [105630]

The following table should have been used, pursuant to his answer of 3 April 2003, Official Report, columns 799W–80W:

There is no central definition of long term absence. Cabinet Office uses absence of at least 20 calendar days as a general guide. Numbers of staff with recorded absence above this level have been as follows:

YearNumbers of staff with more than 20 calendar days absenceNumber of staff in post
1999731,560
2000801,750
20011261,840
20021391,950
Records are not available for 1998.The Cabinet Office is committed to managing attendance effectively. We already have in place procedures recommended by the 1998 report "Working Well Together—Managing Attendance in the Public Sector"; and new procedures for proactive monitoring of attendance, where absence levels reach 10 calendar days in 12 months, will be introduced by the summer.Our target for overall levels of absence is no more than 6.1 days per staff year by the end of 2003.

Records of absence published in the latest annual report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service" show that for the Cabinet Office in 2001:

the average absence per staff member was 5.7 days
54.3 per cent. of staff had no recorded absence

Work And Pensions

Age Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to address the issue of age discrimination. [109441]

We have already implemented recommendations from the Performance and Innovation Unit Report, "Winning The Generation Game". The Department has already implemented policies to allow staff to stay on up to age 65, and we have delivered the Green Paper on Pensions. The Department has also taken steps to promote the provisions of the Government's Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment.We are currently developing our policy on age alongside new legislation from the EC Article 13 Employment and Race Directives. The legislation to outlaw unfair discrimination at work on the grounds of age is required to be in place by December 2006.The Department has taken age into consideration in its development and equality proofing of all human resource policies and processes and is committed to tackling any negative attitudes towards older staff. We are currently working with the Employers Forum on Age to progress age diversity policies by using their policy review toolkit 'One Step Ahead'. The toolkit sets out the framework to enable employers to undertake a comprehensive age equality review and to deliver age "neutrality" across the business. The toolkit will shortly be issued across the DWP HR community.The Department plays an active role in promoting age diversity to the wider employment market through the Age Positive Campaign. The campaign material can be

Research involving opinion polls
TitlePurposeCost
Welfare Reforms Omnibus SurveyMonitoring attitudes towards various aspects of the work areas covered by the Department.£9,600
Disability and Carers Benefits Directorate (DCBD) Customer Satisfaction Survey 2001–02The postal survey conducted in February 2001, provided Disability and Carers Service (DCS), which replaced the DCBD in April 2002, with valuable customer feedback and a baseline from which the DCS can measure future improvements in service delivery. The questionnaire asked customers to comment on their experiences when dealing with the DCBD by telephone, written correspondence or when visiting the offices and, additionally, when claiming one of the benefits DCBD administer.£5,015 (postal charges only as survey was conducted in-house).
Jobcentre Plus Customer Satisfaction SurveyA large scale client survey undertaken to determine satisfaction with the level of service received from Jobcentre Plus. The survey involved 3,100 telephone interviews with a range of benefit recipients accessing a variety of Jobcentre Plus services.£88,600
Appeals Service Customer SurveyTo assess performance against Service First Standards which cannot be measured internally and to obtain information direct from customers about the service they have received. The survey also informs the work being undertaken by the Modernising Appeals Programme on the shape of future service including opening hours and tribunal session times.£46,455
Attitudes and Awareness SurveyTo obtain information on the level of awareness of the Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Rights Commission.£20,000
Young Disabled People SurveyTo obtain information on the opinion and attitudes of young disabled people.£94,000
Attitudes to Electronic Service DeliveryTo explore public attitudes to providing DWP services on-line, and examine how to maximise take-up. This research included 20 mini focus groups, as part of a wider project.£41,347

accessed via the website and includes the Government's current code of practice "Age Diversity in Employment" which is also available in the Library. It has examples of good practice and ministerial support.

There are well-advanced plans to establish an Age Champion and a network of staff groups across my Department's businesses to focus on age issues. A Diversity Awareness Programme is being rolled out across my Department and this includes important messages about behaviour and negative attitudes towards age.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what expenditure has been incurred by his (a) Department, (b) agencies and (c) non-departmental bodies in 2002 on (i) opinion polling, (ii) focus groups and (iii) other forms of market research; and if he will list the surveys commissioned and the purpose of each. [106274]

Details of expenditure incurred by this Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies, in 2002 in respect on opinion polls, focus groups and other forms of market research of opinion polls, are given in the following table.The cost information provided in the table is, in the main, that incurred in the financial year 2002–03. Financial information provided for the 2002–03 financial year is provisional and subject to final audit.Some of the projects listed may have been undertaken by a mixture of methodologies, for example, in-depth interviews and surveys, in addition to focus groups and opinion polls. In such instances, it has not always been possible to disaggregate costs for the individual elements.While this Department is keen to hear what people have to say about proposed new policies and ideas, we are committed to obtaining best value for money. Public opinion research, including focus groups and polling, is subject to the usual strict rules that spending must represent good value for the taxpayer and must not be used for party political purposes.

Research involving opinion polls

Title

Purpose

Cost

Easing the Transition to WorkFocus Groups with (former) Benefit Agency, Employment Service and Local Authority staff in London and South Wales to explore their experiences and views of promoting and administering various work incentives measures. This was one element of a wider research project.£15,970
Developing Services for PensionersGiving customers the opportunity to express their views on service development for The Pension Service.£34,400
Evaluation of Action Teams for JobsEvaluation of Action Teams for Jobs during its first year of operation.£2,950
Evaluation of the Remote JobpointsThis comprised a small scale quantitative survey of users and non users of remote£62,345
Experiment in Port Talbot and Luton—surveys results from Stage 1 and Stage 2jobseeking services in two Tesco supermarkets—market research, fed into the development of a larger project termed flexible service delivery.
New Deal 50 Plus Regional Marketing EvaluationPurpose of the survey was to evaluate the regional marketing programme for ND50 +. The research provides an overview of how the marketing campaigns have worked and feedback to inform the development of future marketing activity.£10,580
Diversity in DisabilityTo provide a greater understanding of the life experiences of disabled men and women from different minority ethnic groups.£57,429
Evaluation of Community Sentences Withdrawal of BenefitsTo establish staff views of the implementation of the policy in pilot areas. Group discussions were held with staff from the Benefits Agency, Employment Service and

Probation Service. This was in addition to 31 interviews with staff and 55 interviews with offenders.

£81,395
Evaluation of the Permitted Work Rules for Incapacity Benefit ClaimantsTo obtain information on the use of the new arrangements by staff who apply them or refer to them in their work.£85,500
Awareness of SENDATo obtain information on the level of awareness among educationalists, disabled young people and their parents.£19,000
Publication Focus GroupConsultation of DRC publications.£509
Jobseeker Direct Customer Satisfaction SurveySmall scale national quantitative survey of users of Jobseeker Directive, looking at the views of the service and how it could be improved.£30,350
Jobseeker Traffic SurveyLarge national survey of jobseekers views of Jobcentre Plus services.£67,000
Awareness Day ResearchPre and post research to evaluate the effectiveness of the awareness raising campaign.£11,000

Part-Time Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of the Part-time Workers Directive on staff in his Department. [109264]

The Part-time Workers Directive has not had a significant impact on staff in DWP. Existing policies already provided a range of working patterns for all our staff, both male and female. Full-time staff can work in non-traditional ways (e.g. compressed hours, informal home-working), and part-time staff can work part year, for example during school terms but not during school holidays.We also recognise that some part-time staff do not have children; they have simply made other life choices. Staff may take the opportunity to match their working arrangements with their personal lives and responsibilities as carers, to study, undertake voluntary work, or pursue other interests. More than 25 per cent. (see Table A) of DWP staff work part-time (source: DWP baseline map for year ending 30 September 2002) against a little over 15 per cent. in the Civil Service as a whole (Civil Service statistics October 2002).A recent survey of DWP staff indicated that 67 per cent. (see Table B) of staff were in agreement that "the organisation allowed people to adopt a work pattern to accommodate a work life balance" 22 per cent. did not have an opinion either way and only 11 per cent. felt that their work pattern conflicted with their home life (source: staff survey 2002).DWP ensures that part-time staff are not treated less favourably in their contractual terms and conditions than comparable full time staff; the 'pro rata principle' applies wherever appropriate.

Table A: Staff in post by work pattern and gender (DWP HR baseline map 30 September 2002)
Full timePart-time
Male39,4602,080
Female62,42433,020
Total101,88435,100
Percentage
Male38.75.9
Female61.394.1
Table B: The percentage of staff in DWP who feel that: "The organisation allows me to adopt a working pattern which helps me balance my work and home life" (Staff survey result 2002)
Percentage
Strongly agree14
Agree53
Neither agree nor disagree22
Disagree9
Strongly disagree2

Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect on incentives to contribute to private pension schemes of the fact that student maintenance loans are paid from gross income. [111068]

The Government recognise the value of saving for retirement in providing people with security, comfort in retirement and long-term independence and security. To address the problems that may have discouraged people of all ages from saving in the past the Government are implementing a strategy designed to create the right environment for saving; provide incentives to save through favourable tax treatment; and ensure everyone has access to the financial information they need to make informed savings decisions.It also recognised that there will be times in many people's lives when they cannot afford both to contribute to a pension and meet their current needs, but it is important that people save when they can afford to do so. Student loans are repaid on an income contingent basis, which means that the amount repaid is affordable and does not prevent graduates from making other investments such as contributions to a pension scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if his Department will add projected life expectancy to the information available on government pension statements. [110406]

The pension forecast statements issued by the Department for Work and Pensions are to provide individuals with the information on state pensions to help them plan their incomes in retirement. The statements are personal to the individual and do not contain information on life expectancy of either the individual, or the general population.Customer research conducted on the information contained in these statements has not highlighted the need to provide such information and there are currently no plans to do so.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the promotional material for the pensions credit will make clear that products such as equity release affect any tax credits available. [111067]

A Guide to Pension Credit will be published in September. This publication will provide detailed information about the way income and capital is treated in the calculation and will make it clear that money raised from a loan on property or through equity release counts as capital.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many responses he has received to the Green Paper on Pensions; and if he will place copies of the responses in the Library. [110904]

There have been over 800 responses to the consultation on the Green Paper, Simplicity, Security and Choice: Working and saving for retirement (Cm 5677).We are analysing responses and will respond to the consultation in due course. Copies of the responses will then be placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to increase the payment due under the caring allowance entitlement of the State Second Pension. [110858]

There are no plans to increase the level of State Second Pension for those who qualify through caring responsibilities.

Pensioner Benefits

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland will benefit from (a) the increased state pension and (b) the additional winter fuel payments for over-80s. [111250]

We increased the basic state pension by above inflation in April 2003. Everyone who is entitled to a basic state pension will benefit from the increase.Information relating to the additional payments to the over-80s is not available in the format requested. However. there are around 3,600 people in Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland constituency who are aged 80 or over. If they are entitled to a winter fuel payment, they will also be entitled to an additional payment.

Trade And Industry

Advertising Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures are in place restricting companies from marketing products to children under 16 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the regulations in place for responsible advertising. [111149]

Non-broadcast advertising in the UK is controlled primarily by self-regulation under which the Advertising Standards Authority is responsible for ensuring compliance with the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing. The Code contains specific rules on advertising to children.For advertisements appearing on the television, the Independent Television Commission oversees compliance with its own Code of Advertising Standards and Practice. With regard to advertisements on the radio, the Radio Authority licences and regulates the independent radio industry, including radio advertising, in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Broadcasting Act 1990 and the Broadcasting Act 1996.

Arbre

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received from the new owners of Arbre; and if she will make a statement on the sale of Arbre. [111194]

My officials have had discussions with the company interested in purchasing Arbre. There are a number of issues to be resolved before any announcement can be made. I hope that this matter can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion very soon.

Broadband

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many homes and businesses in Shropshire have a broadband connection. [111661]

Carbon Sequestrian Leadership Forum

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the representation of the Government at the meetings of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum being held on (a) 14 and 15 May in San Francisco and (b) 23 to 25 June in Washington DC. [110456]

The Government are considering their level of representation at these international meetings.

Employers' Liability Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations have been made to her Department by organisations in the voluntary sector which have had problems in obtaining employer liability insurance. [111109]

The DTI have not had representations from the voluntary sector because formal representations on this issue have been directed to the Home Office which is responsible for the voluntary sector, and to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which is leading a Government review of the employers' liability insurance system.The DWP-led review of the employers' liability insurance system aims to assess the case for reform and, if such a case is demonstrated, to identify the objectives and options for such reform. It is due to report in Spring 2003. Further details of the review are available at

http:/www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/dwp/2002/health-safety/eli-review/index.htm

The Active Community Unit in the Home Office has set up the Insurance Cover Working Group (ICWG) to look into insurance difficulties for the voluntary sector and advise on practical solutions. The ICWG has engaged consultants, Alison Millward Associates, to undertake a study into the current position regarding the provision of insurance for the voluntary and community sector, including employers' liability insurance, and to make practical recommendations that will bring relief to the problems. The report is to be delivered to the ICWG on 16 June.

Once the recommendations of these reports have been considered, decisions will be taken to implement agreed practical solutions in partnership with the voluntary and community sector, the insurance industry, local authorities and Government Departments.

Energy Meetings

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what meetings have taken place between the Minister of State for Energy and (a) the World Coal Institute and (b) the IEA Clean Coal Technology Centre in 2001, 2002 and so far in 2003; and what meetings are planned for the rest of 2003. [110457]

No meetings have taken place between the Minister and the World Coal Institute and the IEA Clean Coal Technology Centre in this period, and none are planned for the rest of 2003. However, close contact is maintained between the Department of Trade and Industry and these organisations. DTI Officials attend the twice-yearly Executive Committee meetings of the IEA Clean Coal Technology Centre, the most recent of which was on the 24–25 April, and both the IEA Clean Coal Technology Centre and the World Coal Institute actively participate in the DTI's cleaner coal technology programme.

Fallen Stock Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what additional resources will be required by trading standards departments in Buckinghamshire in respect of new fallen stock regulations. [110333]

I have been asked to reply.Allocation of resources for enforcement of the new rules on disposal of fallen stock is a matter for local authorities.

Financial Assistance For Industry (Representation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received about the Financial Assistance for Industry (Increase of Limit) Order. [111729]

Higgs Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many letters and submissions have been received by the DTI on the Higgs Report; and how many of these were in favour of its conclusions. [110398]

The Higgs review made a number of recommendations relating to the role effectiveness of non-executive directors, many of which are to be taken forward to advance best practice through amendments to the combined code. The FRC is responsible for changes to the code and therefore for consulting on the amendments proposed in the Higgs review. Responses were sought by the FRC by 14 April. It is for the FRC to report on the responses to that consultation, and on amendments to the combined code resulting from the review and consultation.The Department has received a number of letters on the recommendations in the report, many of which enclosed copies of responses to the FRC. It has also received letters in relation to the work of the group, which is being led by Professor Laura Tyson, Dean of the London Business school, which was set up as envisaged in the report to bring to greater prominence candidates from the non-commercial sector.

Industrial Injuries

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the value was of damages paid to sufferers of chronic bronchitis and emphysema and vibration white finger who live in the Easington constituency in (a) 2000, (b) 2001, and (c) 2002. [111203]

The figures are as follows:

£
YearCOPDVWF
20001,575,2269,801,475
20013,300,72410,594,815
20027,020,2457,723,689

Pharmacies

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received concerning the OFT report on Pharmacies from community based pharmacies; and if she will make a statement. [111205]

We have received numerous representations from community pharmacies and other stakeholders regarding the OFT report on the control of entry regulations and retail pharmacy services in the UK.In relation to England, the government has said that we favour change to open up the market and improve quality and access without diminishing the crucial role that pharmacies play, especially in poorer and rural areas. The Government intends to come forward with a balanced package of proposals for consultation before the summer recess.The regulations on pharmacy entry controls are devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the devolved administrations announced their responses to the OFT's recommendations on 26 March.

National Minimum Wage

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people are in receipt of the national minimum wage, broken down by (a) region, (b) county, (c) gender, (d) age group and (e) ethnic origin. [110313]

In Spring 2002 there were around 760,000 jobs in the UK that paid at or just above the level of the National Minimum Wage.The table provides a break down of this figure by region.

Number of jobs paying at or just above the NMW rate1 in Spring 2002; United Kingdom
North East60,000
North West120,000
Yorkshire and Humberside90,000
East Midlands70,000
West Midlands80,000
Eastern50,000
London30,000
South East60,000
South West60,000
Wales40,000
Scotland70,000
Northern Ireland2
UK760,000
1 Defined as paid at £4.10–£4.19 for 22 + and £3.50–3.59 for 18–21 year olds.
2 Sample size too small for reliable estimate.
Source:
ONS central estimates of Low Pay, Labour Force Survey & New Earnings Survey.
In Spring 2002, around 560,000 women were in jobs that paid at or just above the level of the NMW compared to around 200,000 men.Around 50,000 18–21 year olds were in jobs that paid at or just above the NMW compared to around 710,000 adults aged 22 and over.Estimates by country, and ethnicity are not available due to sample sizes being too small to provide reliable estimates.

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Illegal Meat Imports

To a ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions concerning the illegal import of meat have been initiated as a result of the detector dogs experiment at Heathrow. [109853]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]. No prosecutions have been undertaken as a result of seizures made by the detector dogs.A decision to bring a prosecution before the courts would take into account a number of factors, including the weight of evidence to prove intent to break the laws in question and the ability to bring the offender before the British courts. These criteria may not be easy to satisfy in the case of air passengers bringing in meat illegally, especially where small quantities are seized.The six-month detector dog pilot resulted in just under 10 tonnes of illegal products of animal origin being seized.Responsibility for the detector dogs was fully transferred to HM Customs and Excise on 1 May, as part of a wider transfer of anti-smuggling controls for products of animal origin.

Agricultural Incinerators

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her assessment is of the number of incinerators using (a) over and (b) under 50 kg/fuel per hour available to the UK farming industry. [108962]

Prior to the introduction of the EU Animal By-Products Regulation on 1 May 2003, the Department was not responsible for the approval of animal carcase incinerator, with the exception of incinerators which dispose of Specified Risk Material. A central register of operators currently approved to operate SRM incinerators indicates that as at 29 April 2003 there were 306 approved incinerators in Great Britain.However, we believe the number of low capacity animal carcase incinerator—those operating at less than 50kg/hour—to be around 2,500. 20 high-capacity incinerators are currently contracted to the Over-30-Months and Fallen Stock Survey schemes. No assessment has been made of the number of other high-capacity animal carcase incinerators in the country.

Agricultural Market Price Support

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of agricultural market price support on UK income distribution. [108816]

Agricultural market support measures under the CAP are estimated to have increased the cost of food for a notional family of four by about £5 to £6 per week. As food represents a higher proportion of the total expenditure for low income households, the impact will be more severe for these households. There are no estimates of the impact of market price support on the income distribution of UK farmers. However, the OECD's provisional estimates for 2001 show that market price support in the EU accounted for nearly 60 per cent. of total support to agriculture and represented 24 per cent. of the value of production at the farm gate. OECD estimates for individual commodities show that market price support represented 3 per cent. of the value of production of cereals, 37 per cent. for milk, 44 per cent. for sugar and 84 per cent. for beef and veal.

Animal Carcases

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how she recommends horse owners who have opted under the horse passport scheme not to put their horse into the human food chain should dispose of their carcasses; [107916](2) whether it is her policy that the Animal By-Products Regulations will result in a ban on the burial of horses on private land. [107914]

Current legislation permits a number of disposal routes for fallen stock, including horses. These include rendering, incineration, sending the carcases to a knacker or hunt kennel, or, in restricted circumstances only, burial or on-farm burning.The new EU Animal By-Products Regulation will be directly applicable in the UK and will ban the routine burial or open burning of animal carcases when it applies in member states from 1 May 2003. The other disposal routes can still be used.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how long it will take to assess the responses from farmers on her Department's proposed scheme for the removal of carcases from farms after 1 May 2003;[111278](2) when she expects her proposed scheme to remove animal carcases from farms to be operational; and how farmers should deal with carcases until the scheme is operational. [111276]

[holding answer 6 May 2003]: The closing date for responses is 6 May 2003. The time taken to then assess the viability of the scheme will be dependent on the number of responses and the type/size of holdings which have expressed an interest in the scheme. However, we would expect to have completed such an assessment by the end of May 2003.Assuming that the scheme is viable we anticipate that it will take a minimum of three months from the date when the decision is taken on whether to proceed to get the scheme operational.An infrastructure of approved knacker yards, hunt kennels, rendering plants and incinerators already exists to allow farmers to comply with the new rules. However, if farmers do not know who provides these services locally they can ring a help line on 0845 8507070 which has been set up to provide advice on collection and disposal facilities.

Bovine Tb

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many herds under movement restrictions to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis have been subject to such controls for (a) more than two years, (b) between one and two years, (c) between six months and one year and (d) less than six months. [110755]

Information on the number of herds under movement restrictions in categories (a) to (b) is not available. However, preliminary information, in the form of herds in each category as a percentage of unconfirmed and confirmed incidents resolved in Great Britain in 2002, is given in the following table.

Duration of TB movement restrictions as a percentage of all unconfirmed/confirmed TB incidents in GB ending in 2002
Duration of movement restrictions1As percentage of all unconfirmed TB incidents1As percentage of all confirmed TB incidents
(a) more than two yearsData not availableData not available
(b) between one and two years1148
(c) between six months and one year820
(d) less than six months8132
1 Preliminary figures produced by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency from the Vetnet database

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in how many of those herds suffering a breakdown following testing for bovine tuberculosis were (a) lesions found at the post mortem of any animal from the herd and (b) tissue samples taken which proved positive for Mycobacterium bovis in each of the last five years. [110756]

The number of confirmed new TB breakdowns is given in the following table.A confirmed TB incident is one in which (i) visible lesions are found in at least one of the slaughtered animals at postmortem examination, and/or (ii) Mycobacterium bovis is cultured from the tissue samples of at least one reactor animal. Separate data on the two categories can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

TB incidents in Great Britain 1998–2002—herds
YearNumber of confirmed new herd incidents
1997503
1998720
1999875
20001,044
2001511
200211,837–1,962
1 Provisional figures.
Note:
Data will remain provisional until all culture results are available and data validation has been carried out.
Source:
Vetnet

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to publish the results of the present research into the impact of TB in badgers on cattle. [111016]

Defra has a wide-ranging bovine TB research programme, comprised of many individual research projects. Once individual projects are complete final reports are published on the Defra website. Some of the projects currently underway are not scheduled to end until 2006.The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB is reviewing the effect of the Foot and Mouth disease outbreak on the badger culling trial and is expected to provide advice to Ministers on the likely completion date shortly. In addition, an independent audit panel has just been set up to look at the progress of the trial and the likely timescale to which it will produce results.

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of those herds with a breakdown confirmed by a positive laboratory test for Mycrobacterium bovis, how many are vaccinated against bovine viral diarrhoea. [1107541]

Cement Kilns

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total annual dioxin emissions produced by cement kilns were in each year for 1997 to 2002. [110222]

The estimated total annual emissions of dioxins produced by cement kilns were as follows: 1997, 2.829 grams; 1998, 2.883 grams; 1999, 8.511 grams; 2000, 4.715 grams; and 2001, 5.684 grams. Data are not yet available for 2002.

Civil Service (People With Disabilities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in meeting targets for the proportion of people with disabilities in senior posts in her Department. [110517]

In common with other Government Departments, Defra has a target for increasing the number of disabled civil servants to 3 per cent. by 2005. Currently, 1 per cent. of Defra's Senior Civil Servants have declared a disability. At grades below SCS the figure is 6 per cent.Defra is taking steps to address the low number of disabled Senior Civil Servants. In addition to running the 'Two Ticks' guaranteed interview scheme for disabled applicants, the Department participates in central schemes targeted at disabled staff including the civil service bursary scheme and fast stream summer placements for disabled graduates.We encourage members of staff to declare their disability but this is voluntary and there may be a degree of under-reporting. The Department is considering what we can do to improve the response rate. We are also represented on the Cabinet Office's Disability Working Group which is looking at this issue for Government Department's in general.

Dolphins

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will publish the critical findings of the use of dolphin friendly fishing gear; [108190]

(2) if she will publish the results of her Department's surveys on board UK pair trawlers to establish how many dolphins were killed per 100 net hauls; and if she will make a statement. [108170]

Research by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) carried out in 2002 on behalf of the Department into the use of exclusion devices to reduce the by-catch of cetaceans in the offshore bass fishery has been published on my Department's website at: www://defraweb/science/project_data/Document Library/MF0733 A report on further research carried out during the 2003 spring bass fishery will be published later this year and I will ensure the hon. Member receives a copy.Since 2000, SMRU, under contract to Defra, has carried out a number of surveys to estimate the level of by-catch in UK pelagic fisheries. Surveys of the bass fishery in 2001 and 2002 recorded 62 common dolphins caught in 182 hauls observed. This information has been published in the UK by-catch response strategy, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to prevent the death of dolphins caused by bass fishing in the English Channel. [111212]

Action to address the issue of dolphin and porpoise by-catch needs to be taken internationally, as fishing vessels from many countries are involved. We have been pressing for such action within the EU and have commissioned a programme of research and development to reinforce our arguments. Urgent action is needed in the pair trawl fishery for bass off south west England, which involves a substantial number of vessels from other member states. Our research programme identified a by-catch problem in this fishery and is now trialling a possible gear solution. This looks promising, and I am determined to achieve a solution by this or other means. The second urgent need is to deploy EU observers to identify and assess other problem fisheries. I have followed up action in the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers, by writing to Commissioner Fischler and the French Fisheries Minister in support of effective measures. In addition, with the devolved administrations, I have issued a consultation document outlining a UK by-catch response strategy, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what progress is being made by the Secretary of State in discussion with European Commissioners to introduce an EU-wide observer programme to broaden information on by-catch of dolphins in EU fisheries; [108199](2) what progress the Government have made in their discussions with the French Government to carry observers on French trawlers to ascertain the numbers of dolphins being caught in French nets; [108191](3) what proposals she has to ask the European Commission for a seasonal closure of fisheries to protect dolphins; [108189](4) what estimates her Department has made of the numbers of French trawlers involved in pair-trawling for sea bass in the English Channel; and if she will make a statement; [108200]

(5) what the Government's policy is on the banning of pair-trawling to protect dolphins in the English Channel; [108192]

(6) what plans the Government have to introduce legislation on dolphin-friendly fishing nets in time for the 2003–04 winter bass migration. [108194]

We highlighted the need for urgent action on the issue of cetacean by-catch at the January meeting of the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers. I have also pursued this issue with Commissioner Fischler on a number of occasions, both in writing and in personal contacts.I have recently written to the Commission to press for urgent action to widen observer coverage off the south-west coast where a number of other member states' vessels fish. I was pleased that the Commission included a commitment to take action in this area in papers produced as part of the recent reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Commissioner Fischler has sent an encouraging reply sharing the UK's concern and agreeing a need to act at Community level, but I will follow up our recent approaches and continue to press for concrete proposals for positive action.I have also recently written to Hervé Gaymard, the French Fisheries Minister, stressing the need for effective action, and requesting his support for measures to widen observer coverage with a view to the reduction of cetacean by-catch. Action by France is particularly important as French pair trawlers play a substantial part in the offshore bass fishery; estimates are that some 30 to 40 French pairs are involved in this fishery.Defra has committed some £140,000 for trialling the use of exclusion devices developed by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) to reduce the by-catch of cetaceans in the offshore bass fishery. If SMRU's trials do not identify the use of the separator grids as a viable solution, we will look at other measures. I do not rule out any approach at this stage including arguing for restrictions on fishing, the gear that can be used or seasonal closures.In the meantime, I, along with the Devolved Administrations, have issued a consultation document outlining a UK by-catch response strategy. This sets out the extent of our knowledge of by-catch in UK waters and makes proposals for action to address the by-catch problem. The document has been placed in the Library of the House.

Fallen Wildlife

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the bio-security risk of fallen wildlife in the countryside. [108800]

No formal assessment has been made of the bio-security risks of fallen wild animals in the countryside. The carcases, or parts of carcases, of wild animals will be exempt from the scope of the Animal By-Products Regulation unless they are thought to be diseased or are used to produce game trophies. Although the Regulation places them under no legal obligation, owners of property on which there are dead wild animals are advised to contact their local authority for advice on appropriate disposal methods.In some parts of the country, (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire), badgers may be infected with TB. In these areas, those who find dead badgers are advised to contact their local Animal Health Office who may wish to test the carcase for TB.

Farm Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 14 April 2003, Official Report, columns 479–80W, on farm subsidies, what proportion of production-linked subsidy payments have been redirected into rural development measures since 2001. [110876]

The Common Agricultural Policy Horizontal Regulation (Reg.1259/99) enables member states to redirect up to 20 per cent. of CAP direct subsidy payments for the purpose of co-financing new expenditure on the so-called 'accompanying measures'—essentially, in England, the agri-environment schemes and farm woodlands.The Government's policy of modulating production-based subsidy payments into rural development was first introduced in the UK in 2001 at a relatively low, flat rate of 2.5 per cent. following full consultation. The rate, which under existing legislation will rise progressively to 4.5 per cent. by 2005, rose to 3 per cent. in 2002 and again in 2003 to the current rate of 3.5 per cent.

Fast Food Outlets

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it compulsory for fast food outlets and commercial kitchens to install (a) fat traps and (b) grease interceptors in their waste water discharge systems. [110678]

Sewerage undertakers have powers to control and reduce discharges of fat and oil into sewers. If they consider the discharge constitutes trade effluent, their consent is required in accordance with the provisions of the Water Industry Act 1991. The consent may set conditions and require the elimination or diminution of any specified constituent of the trade effluent before it enters the sewer. Such a discharge without the undertaker's agreement is a criminal offence.If the sewerage undertaker does not classify the discharge as trade effluent, it is still an offence under section 111 of the 1991 Act, for a person to empty into a public sewer, or any drain or sewer connecting with a public sewer, any matter which is likely to injure the sewer or drain, to interfere with the free flow of its contents or to affect prejudicially the treatment and disposal of its contents. Any person who is found guilty of an offence is liable to a fine or imprisonment. I consider these statutory controls to be sufficient. We would expect sewerage undertakers to take action where a problem arose and to encourage appropriate preventative measures to stop problems arising from fat and oil entering the sewers.

Fisheries

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many Scottish based trawlers targeting whitefish using trawls with a minimum mesh size of 100mm have been recorded as fishing in the statistical rectangle 39E4 in the past three months. [109692]

Five Scottish based fishing vessels were recorded as targeting whitefish using trawls with a minimum mesh size of 100mm in rectangle 39E4 between 1 December 2002 and 28 February 2003.

Flood Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to increase funding to the Environment Agency for flood defence. [111658]

The outcome of last year's spending review for Government funding of all flood and coastal defence operating authorities (Environment Agency, Local Authorities and Internal Drainage Boards) was:

£ million
YearDefraODPM
2003–041114295
2004–05129332
2005–06154382
1 Since increased to £136 million from within Defra's overall provision
Defra's allocation to the Environment Agency in 2003–04 for capital grants and contributions to national initiatives is £69 million. Based on all authorities' current forecasts, indicative allocations to the Agency in 2004–05 and 2005–06 are £80 million and £110 million respectively. However these indicative allocations will be subject to review in the light of updated forecasts from authorities. The ODPM funding is distributed to local authorities under the local government finance settlement and is used by them inter alia to fund the levies they pay to the Environment Agency. The levies paid to English Regions of the Agency total over £263 million in 2003–04.The Government have announced their intention to convert these levies into a Defra block grant, though the timing for this has yet to be finalised.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department compiles records of flood reduction projects that have received the backing of (a) local authorities and (b) private companies, but have not proceeded because they fail the Environment Agency's cost benefit analysis. [111058]

All flood and coastal defence operating authorities (the Environment Agency, local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards) have a responsibility to ensure that value for money is obtained when investing taxpayers' funding. The rules which govern public sector investment are laid down by HM Treasury, but Defra has published guidance on how these can be met for flood and coastal defences. Data are not maintained on proposed flood alleviation projects which are not economically worthwhile.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations the Environment Agency has received from groups representing local government seeking a change to the system of cost benefit analysis used in flood reduction work. [111071]

Such representations would be directed to Defra, rather than the Environment Agency, as it is this Department which provides guidance on the economic appraisal of flood and coastal defence schemes. A number of representations were received during the consultation on the Flood and Coastal Defence Funding Review and these will be considered for the next review of our guidance. Any proposed changes would be subject to consultation with the industry at large, and with HM Treasury as appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 2 April 2003, Official Report, column 764W, on flood reduction, whether the Environment Agency changes the cost benefit analysis used in assessing flood reduction works when local authorities and private companies have also agreed to provide funding for the project. [111072]

As explained in my previous answer, (2 April 2003, Official Report, column 764W), it is often incorrect to deduct contributions from the cost of a flood defence project in assessing its economic viability. However, the issue needs to be considered on a case by case basis. Relevant guidance on the treatment of contributions is contained in Defra's publication, "Flood and Coastal. Project Appraisal Guidance—Economic Appraisal (FCDPAG3)".

Fly-Tipping

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) the average level of fine imposed on those found guilty of fly-tipping and (b) the maximum fine imposable on those found guilty of fly-tipping are; and how many people were found guilty of fly-tipping in each of the last five years. [111040]

Information is not available in the format requested as data on fly tipping prosecutions are not currently collected centrally. However, the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill currently before Parliament includes a provision which, if successful, will mean that these type of data will be recorded in the future.We do have some information from the Environment Agency on the cases with which it has dealt. The average level of fine imposed for waste handling offences which it has prosecuted has increased from £1,132 in 1996–97 to £3,004 in 2001–02.The maximum fine for those found guilty of fly tipping can be up to £20,000 and two years imprisonment for incidents involving non-hazardous waste and unlimited fines and five years imprisonment for incidents involving hazardous waste.

The Environment Agency has data for the 1999, 2000, and 2001 calendar years, but these relate to the number of offenders prosecuted for the offence of unlawfully depositing waste as described by section 33(1) (a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Similarly, prosecution data for the 1998–99 financial year are available, but relate only to section 33 offences generally.

Data are provided on this basis.

Offences for breach of all of section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

1998–99–367

All offences under s33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

1999–141 (117 individuals; 24 businesses)

2000–206 (170 individuals; 36 businesses)

2001–225 (187 individuals; 38 businesses)

Offences under s33(1)(a)—fly tipping only

2002—70 (59 individuals; 11 businesses)

2003 to date—7 (4 individuals; 3 businesses)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate she has made of the extent of fly-tipping; and if she will make a statement. [111160]

There are currently no national data available on the extent of fly-tipping, as statistics on fly tipped waste are not collected centrally. We are hoping to remedy this situation by means of a clause that has been included in the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill currently before Parliament. If successful, the provision will require the Environment Agency and local authorities to submit annual data returns to the Secretary of State on the categories and quantities of fly tipped waste with which they deal.The Environment Agency has been operating a national incident recording system for the last two years. On the basis of its knowledge, it has estimated that there are approximately 50,000 fly-tipping incidents each year costing approximately £100 million.

Food Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 18 March 2003, Official Report, column 644W, on food safety, whether the test techniques referred to will be the most accurate available for detecting salmonella in foodstuffs. [109372]

The test techniques referred to in the answer given on 18 March 2003, Official Report, column 644W, on food safety, do not relate to the detection of salmonella in foodstuffs. They relate to the detection of meat and bone meal and other mammalian protein in fishmeal intended for the feeding of farmed animals.In relation to testing for detecting salmonella in foodstuffs, the choice of technique will be dependent on many factors, with accuracy, robustness, simplicity, cost and other issues all needing to be taken into account. No one technique will be suitable for all foodstuffs, and it is incumbent on those undertaking the testing to make sure that the method they use is fit for purpose.

Gm Crops

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department has conducted on using transparent polythene coverings to prevent the spread of pollen from GM crop trials; and if she will make a statement. [95902]

[holding answer 6 February 2003]: The Department has not conducted research on the use of transparent polythene coverings to prevent the spread of pollen from GM crop trials.We are not averse to polythene covering being used in GM crop trials, but if control of pollen were required, the applicant would have to demonstrate that the use of such sheeting for this purpose was effective.

Laying Hens

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans her Department has to stop the use of enriched cages to house laying hens; and on what basis this decision was made. [110917]

The Government plan to review the future of enriched cages on an EU basis, when the Agriculture Council next considers the welfare of laying hens directive in 2005. By then it is hoped we will be in a stronger position to address some of the questions on the welfare concerns of enriched cages, as research programmes are completed and for any changes to apply to all EU producers, not just those in the UK, thus avoiding the associated risk of simply displacing production.This decision was taken after a thorough consideration of the responses to a three-month public consultation, and the available economic, scientific and veterinary evidence.

Nuclear Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what savings will be made to the Government by the announcement that the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee is to be abolished; and what the reasons are for its abolition; [110454](2) how the watchdog functions in relation to the management of nuclear waste will be maintained following the abolition of the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee; [110372](3) what safeguards she is putting in place to ensure that the scrutiny undertaken by the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee is not compromised by its abolition. [110373]

Sponsoring Ministers are currently considering the future of the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee (RWMAC) in light of the establishment of the new Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), that is being set up to carry forward the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme, and will announce their decision in due course. RWMAC is currently served by a secretariat of 3.5 staff and has an annual budget of the order £160,000.

Ospar Meeting

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on matters discussed at the OSPAR officials meeting held in April; and if she will place in the Library copies of papers submitted to the meeting that refer to United Kingdom policy. [111245]

During April there were three OSPAR meetings: the Hazardous Substances Committee, the Assessment and Monitoring Committee, and an ad hoc meeting on radioactive substances. These meetings considered a wide range of issues, and in particular undertook preparatory work for the annual meeting of the OSPAR Commission, which this year will be at Ministerial level, to be held in Germany in June.The Commission will be reviewing progress, updating the Strategies which were adopted at the last ministerial meeting in Sintra in 1998, adopting a number of specific recommendations, and adopting a declaration which will guide future work. The Commission will also meet jointly with members of the Helsinki Commission for the Baltic Sea.The papers considered at the April meetings—about 170 in all—were working documents, and do not yet represent the position of the Commission. When the progress reports, revised strategies, and other documents have been finalised and approved by the Commission I will arrange for copies to be placed in the Library of the House. I will also provide a statement about the outcome of the June ministerial meeting.

Part-Time Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the Part-time Workers Directive on staff in her Department. [109280]

Defra is committed to creating an environment which enables all members of staff to achieve a better work life balance. Part-time working is one of several ways in which the Department offers its staff flexibility in their working patterns. Figures for staff in post in the core Department1 show that 11 per cent. of staff have adopted a part-time working pattern. Defra agencies and non-departmental public bodies are encouraged to take a similar approach.In 2002, the Department conducted a staff survey, one element of which was to compare the views of part-time workers with those of full-time staff on various aspects of working for Defra. The results of the survey will be discussed with the part-time staff network with a view to taking action where necessary. There will be follow up activity to enable us to monitor progress and identify any new issues.Defra has produced a race equality scheme under the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. As part of this scheme we will monitor the impact on staff in a number of key employment areas. In addition to ethnicity data, the monitoring plan will allow us to assess the impact of our employment policies and procedures on other groups, such as part-time staff.

The Department will also conduct an Equality Audit, which will examine pay on the basis of contractual hours. This will enable an assessment of pay equality between full and part-time staff.

1 Includes staff in the Pesticides Safety Directorate, Veterinary Laboratories and Veterinary Medicines Directorate as at 1 October 2002.

Pesticides Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received about the Pesticides (Maximum Residue Levels in Crops, Food and Feeding Stuffs) (Amendment) Regulations. [110507]

We have received no representations about the Regulations which came into force on 31 March 2003.

Pillar 2

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has further to redirect Pillar 2, CAP funding to the Rural Development Regulation; and if she will make a statement. [111269]

Government has redirected, and match funded, a proportion of production linked subsidy payments into rural development measures since 2001. In the current negotiations on CAP reform we are pressing for both a shift in support from production-linked subsidies to environmental and rural development measures and a significant increase in the UK's share of current EU funding for rural development programmes. We are committed to increasing expenditure on the England Rural Development Programme. The detailed arrangements for delivering this commitment will depend on the outcome of the ongoing negotiations on the reform of the CAP.

Prions (Diagnostic Tests)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to assess the new diagnostic test for prions. [109652]

Five rapid tests for the post-mortem detection of BSE have been evaluated by the EU Commission and are considered appropriate for use as screening tests for cattle. The most recent of these, one from Switzerland and one from the USA, were published by the Commission at the end of 2002. Defra is aware of these assessments and will be guided by them in BSE control programmes. I presume that the question refers to one of these methods.Scientists at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency are also engaged in trials of modifications of these and other methods to assess their potential to differentiate between BSE and scrapie. This is being done in collaboration with European and American scientists. In addition, the development of a BSE test for use in live animals is a longstanding Defra priority. Scientific staff monitor both national and global developments and are involved in the collaborative evaluation of a range of tests at different stages of development. Thorough evaluation of performance is required before tests can be used for statutory purposes.

Renewable Energy Crops

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has for allowing renewable energy crops to be grown on set-aside land; and if she will make a statement. [111277]

[holding answer 6 May 2003]: The original CAP reform proposals introduced the concept of a decoupled single income payment, designed to bring markets into better balance and take away incentives for over-production. Energy crops would be eligible for a 'carbon credit' aid of £45 per hectare, capped at 1.5 million hectares across the EU. Compulsory set-aside would have been retained, but the existing derogation to allow non-food, including energy crops, to be grown on it would be removed. We consider that the combination of decoupling together with a further cereals price cut removes the need for land to be taken out of production and placed in set-aside.The European Commission have indicated that they may be prepared to make some changes to their original proposal on set-aside, including allowing continued access for non-food crops. Our view is that if set-aside is to continue, it must be applied in a flexible way which maximises its potential benefits.

Sustainable Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals are being put by the United Kingdom to the 11th session of the United Nations Commission on sustainable development in New York; what ministerial level meetings are being held; and if she will place in the Library documents submitted to the 11th session of UNCSD relevant to United Kingdom policy. [111233]

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State attended the High Level Ministerial Segment of the eleventh session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD11) in New York on 28–30 April 2003.She stressed in particular the importance of the Doha Development Round and the contribution that agricultural subsidy reform can make to Sustainable development, and highlighted the UK proposal for an International Finance Facility (IFF) which would double aid to the poorest countries to $100billion a year up to 2015.The UK helped prepare a number of EU statements and papers: copies will be placed in the Library.My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State also held bilaterals in the margins with Mohammed Valli Moosa (Chair of CSD and South African Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism), Louise Frechette (UN Deputy Secretary General), Mark Malloch Brown (UNDP), Paula Dobriansky (US Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs), Ronnie Kasrils (South African Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry), David Kemp (Australian Minister for the Environment), Shri T R Baalu (Indian Minister of the Environment and Forests), Marina Silva (Brazilian Minister of the Environment), Pieter Val Geel (Dutch Minister of Housing, Spatial Policy and Environment and Housing), David Anderson (Canadian Minister of the Environment) and Mohamed El Yazghi (Moroccan Minister of Country Planning, Water Resources and Environment).

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whom she plans to appoint to chair the Trade Union Advisory Committee on Sustainable Development. [111367]

The Trade Union Advisory Committee on Sustainable Development is currently chaired jointly by myself and John Edmonds, General Secretary of the GMB Union. Mr. Edmonds will be stepping down as co-chair at the next meeting of TUSDAC on 2 July. It is our intention that action to appoint a new co-chair should be completed in time for that meeting.

Tb (Badgers)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the incidence of TB in badgers was in (a) England and Wales and (b) the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire in each of the last five years. [111019]

Since 1998, collection of data about the incidence of TB in badgers has been collected only from the randomised badger culling trial (the "Krebs" trial) and from the road traffic accident survey taking place in seven counties (Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Dorset). Data from both will be analysed by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG).It is a fundamental principle of scientific trials that data must not be released prematurely since that could compromise the subsequent integrity of the trials. The ISG expressed concern in its second report that no data should be released from the field trial and related research which could discourage farmers' willingness to participate in the trial, or encourage either illegal killing of badgers or interference with trial operations. For this reason, they recommended that a narrow band of data (including the prevalence of TB in badgers caught in the trial) should not be disclosed. The ISG has asserted and reinforced the need for total confidentiality of these data until such time as they can be safely released with a considered analysis.

Telephone Helplines

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 24 February 2003, Official Report, column 97W, on telephone helplines, how many calls were made to each helpline charged at national rate in the last year for which records are available; and what the average duration was of these calls. [105878]

Detailed information of this kind is only available for some of the telephone helplines covered by my previous answer.

For three of the national rate helplines operated by the Rural Payments Agency, during the year April 2002 to March 2003 some 54,000 calls were received with the majority of calls having durations of between 1 and 2.25 minutes.

The Pets helpline (also charged at national rate) averages some 6,700 national rate calls per month with typical duration estimated as 10–15 minutes.

Corresponding information could be obtained for the other helplines covered in my previous answer only at a disproportionate cost.

Varroa Mites

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of varroa mites her Department has identified, broken down by county. [110866]

Since the establishment of Defra in June 2001, there have been a total of 94 new varroa infested apiaries reported to the Central Science Laboratory's National Bee Unit. The data are broken down by county in the table.

New apiaries found infested with varroa since June 2001
County200120022003
Avon1
Bedfordshire11
Berkshire11
Buckinghamshire22
Cheshire11
Cornwall1
Cumbria241
Derbyshire
Devon122
Durham11
East Sussex11
Gloucestershire1
Greater London23
Hampshire1
Hereford and Worcs61
Hertfordshire1
Lancashire2
Lincolnshire1
Norfolk21
North Yorkshire133
Northumberland118
Nottinghamshire1
Shropshire1
Somerset2
South Yorkshire1
Staffordshire1
Suffolk11
Tyne & Wear1
West Sussex21
Wiltshire11
Wales11
Gwynedd2
Total66127

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department has undertaken to combat varroa mites. [110867]

The Government have funded a number of research projects to combat the varroa mite since it was first discovered in the UK. Currently, Defra is funding a 3-year project that extends an earlier MAFF-funded investigation by Horticulture Research International (HRI) on the use of entomopathogenic fungi as a biological control of varroa. HRI is undertaking this project in collaboration with IACR Rothamsted. It is due to terminate in 2005 and is expected to cost some £323,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what action she has taken to deal with the threat from varroa mites; and if she will make a statement; [110868](2) what action she and her European Union counterparts have taken to deal with varroa mites. [111004]

Varroa has been the most significant threat to UK beekeeping since it was first detected in Devon in 1992. Defra funds a programme of bee health measures to assist the beekeeping sector, the cost of which was around £1.3 million in 2002–03. Under these measures, the National Bee Unit (NBU), part of the Central Science Laboratory, provides a free diagnostic and inspection service to beekeepers in England as well as training and technical advice to help them become more self-reliant through improved bee husbandry. In addition, the NBU has been carrying out routine screening throughout England and Wales for varroa mites that are resistant to authorised treatments, having first detected them in August 2001. To date, resistance remains isolated to certain areas of Devon and Cornwall. However, the NBU's advice to beekeepers is to remain alert to the threat of further spread and to report any suspected cases to them.At EU level, Council Regulation (EC) No. 1221–97 provides for member states to assist the beekeeping sector to improve the production and marketing of honey by alleviating the burden placed on it by varroa. The EU reimburses up to 50 per cent. of Member States' expenditure on certain beekeeping measures. In the past year, the UK has received £324,000 under these measures for approved actions taken to combat varroa. The main thrust of most member states' programmes is, like the UK, to support the control of varroa through technical advice, the provision of diagnostic services and R&D.

Woodpigeons

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what facilities are available for controlling woodpigeons. [111085]

The control of certain birds, including woodpigeons, is permitted under a series of general licences issued by my Department. This system, first introduced in 1992. offers a practical and easily understood method of control of certain bird species and ensures that birds are killed or taken by certain methods only, with the minimum of distress to the birds.Control of birds under the general licences has generally worked well, however a recent High Court judgment has illustrated that there may be areas where review of the general licences would be useful. Officials will consult stakeholders shortly and revise the licences where changes are considered necessary.

Copies of the general licences can be found on the Defra website.

Defence

Civil Service (People With Disabilities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in meeting targets for the proportion of people with disabilities in senior posts in the Department. [110533]

Currently, approximately 1 per cent. of the senior civil service in the Ministry of Defence have declared themselves disabled. Statistics on disability are collected through voluntary self-declaration.As part of our wider personnel strategy, our personnel policies and practices are equality proofed to ensure that there are no barriers for disabled staff who aspire to the senior civil service, and we would encourage them to apply. In addition, the Ministry of Defence provides funding to enable disabled staff who have the potential to reach the senior civil service to participate in the civil service disability bursary scheme. Funding provides for two years of high quality management training together with mentoring opportunities.A number of senior posts are filled through open competition as fixed term appointments. Advertisements for these vacancies would normally carry the caption: "The Ministry of Defence is an equal opportunities employer" and stress the point that applications from people with disabilities are particularly welcome. The advertisements also carry the two-ticks "positive about disability" symbol and the Department is committed to offering all candidates who declare a disability a guaranteed interview where they meet the minimum qualifying criteria. We are currently trialling the use of specialist recruitment consultants to help to publicise open competitions to disabled potential applicants.

Cluster Bombs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest estimate is of the number of (a) RBL 755 cluster bombs dropped on targets within Iraq and (b) L20 cluster shells fired by UK forces around Basra. [110806]

The figures requested have not changed since the responses I gave to the hon. Member on 14 April 2003, Official Report, column 566W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cluster munitions have been used in the war on Iraq. [109681]

As at 29 April 2003, British forces have used in the region of 66 air delivered cluster bombs and in the region of 2,000 extended range bomblet shells in Iraq.

Colin Davenport

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the terms are of the retirement of Mr. Colin Davenport. [111639]

Mr Davenport retired under the usual terms that apply to the Senior Civil Service, having reached the normal retirement age of 60.

Homecoming Parades

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria he uses to decide whether to arrange for official homecoming and victory parades following conflicts involving UK troops. [110547]

There are no set criteria for deciding when a homecoming or victory parade is appropriate. By the nature of the operations which they are designed to commemorate the opportunities are few and far between and each case is therefore considered carefully in the light of the prevailing circumstances.

Hospital Units

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) military establishment and (b) strength is of each Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit. [103977]

The military establishment and strength of each Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit as at 10 April 2003 was as follows:

UnitEstablishmentStrength
Derriford190151
Frimley Park278185
Northallerton167146
Peterborough197162
Portsmouth1797599
1 Royal Hospital Haslar and Queen Alexandra Hospital combined.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of aid to Iraq he estimates will arrive via Umm Qasr in April. [108055]

Umm Qasr is one of several routes by which aid has entered and will continue to enter Iraq (including by land from Jordan and Kuwait). We do not record the amount of aid entering Iraq by non-United Kingdom Government Agencies so we cannot calculate the respective shares of the total. Once Umm Qasr is open to shipping we expect the proportion of aid entering Iraq by sea to rise significantly, since the rail links from the port to the rest of the country make it a particularly efficient way of handling bulk supplies of aid.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Government of Niger concerning the alleged sale of 500 pounds of uranium to Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [110416]

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why British hospital ships were (a) withdrawn from the Gulf area and (b) not made available for injured Iraqi civilians. [111060]

The vast majority of injured Iraqi civilians have been treated at Iraqi hospitals and, in the United Kingdom's area of operations, we have made every effort to restore power, water and medical supplies to those facilities. Where necessary, Iraqis have been treated at UK medical facilities. Where appropriate medical facilities were not available in theatre, Iraqi civilians have been airlifted to UK hospitals for treatment.RFA Argus, with a 100-bed capacity, made an important contribution to the campaign. However, the ship and her crew have completed their task and are thus returning from theatre. The following UK medical assets remain in theatre:

1 Close Support Medical Regiment—(1 (UK) Armoured Division)
5 General Support Medical Regiment—(1 (UK) Armoured Division)
16 Close Support Medical Regiment—(16 Air Assault Brigade)
4 General Support Medical Regiment—(102 Logistics Brigade)
34 Field Hospital—(102 Logistics Brigade)
202 (Volunteer) Field Hospital—(Reserves)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many territorial army troops were sent to the Gulf during the last four months. [111251]

As at 30 April, 3,434 members of the Territorial Army have deployed to the Gulf during the last four months.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what field hospitals remain in the Gulf region. [112022]

The United Kingdom currently has two field hospitals in the Gulf region. These are 34 Field Hospital, based at Shaibah in southern Iraq, and 202 Field Hospital (V) in northern Kuwait.

Royal Irish Regiment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future role of the Royal Irish Regiment. [110906]

The Royal Irish Regiment comprises three Home Service Battalions, the General Service Battalion which has been serving in Iraq, and a TA Battalion.Until there is agreement on security normalisation in Northern Ireland, it would be premature to come to any conclusions on the final composition of the Northern Ireland garrison. Current planning is only addressing the implications of security normalisation for the Home Service battalions. The role of the Home Service element is Military Aid to the Civil Power; as the security environment improves we expect the need for this role will decline.

Secondments

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many individuals have been seconded to his Department from (a) the private sector, (b) NGOs and (c) other, in each case listing (i) from which organisation and (ii) dates of secondments, in each year since 1997–98. [108077]

Information available on personnel seconded to my Department is as follows.

Parent company or organisationStart dateEnd date
Inward secondments financial year 1997–98
VickersApril 1997April 1998
Vosper ThorneycroftApril 1997April 1998
Rolls RoyceDecember 1997December 1999
POSG Support ServicesJanuary 1998January 1999
British AerospaceMarch 1998April 2001
Kent Probation ServiceMarch 1998March 2003
Inward secondments financial year 1998–99
British AerospaceMay 1998December 1999
Devonport Management Ltd.August 1998August 2000
Simmons & SimmonsSeptember 1998August 1999
Wragg & Co.September 1998March 2000
PA Consulting GroupSeptember 1998August 1999
City & Hackney Community Service NHS TrustOctober 1998October 1999
Gardiner & TheobaldsDecember 1998December 1999
TI GroupDecember 1998November 2001
AWE plcDecember 1998March 2002
British AerospaceJanuary 1999January 2001
UK Smart ProcurementFebruary 1999February 2000
BNFLMarch 1999March 2000
West Yorks Probation ServiceJanuary 1999January 2004
Inward secondments financial year 1999–2000
Defence Acquisition GroupApril 1999August 1999
Dibb, Lupton AlsopApril 1999April 2000
British AerospaceAugust 1999July 2001
Price Waterhouse CoopersOctober 1999October 2000
Marconi Electonic Systems (Avionics Group)November 1999November 2001
British AerospaceNovember 1999October 2001
GEC MarconiJanuary 2000March 2001
GKN WestlandsFebruary 2000February 2003
Thomson Marconi Sonar Ltd,March 2000September 2000
BMT Defence ServicesMarch 2000September 2000
NNCMarch 2000September 2000
MayDay NHS TrustDecember 1999June 2003
Inward secondments financial year 2000–01
BAE SystemsApril 2000October 2000
Addleshaw Booth & Co.May 2000April 2001
UK Smart ProcurementJune 2000June 2002
BAE SystemsJune 2000June 2001
AXA Corporate SolutionsAugust 2000January 2001
BAE SystemsAugust 2000March 2001
AXA plcAugust 2000March 2001
BAE SystemsSeptember 2000March 2001
BAE SystemsSeptember 2000September 2002
BAESeptember 2000March 2001
Babtie GroupOctober 2000June 2001
Price WaterhouseOctober 2000October 2001
BAE SystemsNovember 2000November 2003
URS Ltd.November 2000April 2001
BAEDecember 2000December 2003
BAE SystemsFebruary 2001September 2003
Ernst & YoungFebruary 2001February 2002
Rolls-RoyceMarch 2001March 2003
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS TrustMay 2000May 2001
Inward secondments financial year 2001–02
QinetiQJune 2001July 2003
QinetiQJuly 2001March 2003
QinetiQJuly 2001July 2003
Burges SalmonSeptember 2001April 2002
BAEOctober 2001October 2003
Ernst & YoungOctober 2001August 2002
Mass ConsultantsFebruary 2002February 2006
Mass Consultants Ltd.March 2002March 2006
AMS UKMarch 2002March 2004
Hagglunds Vehicle AB, SwedenMarch 2002January 2004
Hertfordshire Probation ServiceJune 2001January 2002
Suffolk Probation ServiceJune 2001November 2001
Manchester Probation ServiceJune 2001December 2001
Inward secondments financial year 2002–03
Wragg & Co.June 2002March 2003
BAEJune 2002June 2004
Rolls-RoyceJuly 2002July 2005
Price WaterhouseAugust 2002August 2003
British Nuclear Fuels Ltd.September 2002September 2005
BAESSeptember 2002September 2005
BAE SystemsOctober 2002October 2004
Parent company or organisationStart dateEnd date
BAESNovember 2002February 2004
BAE SystemsNovember 2002May 2003
BAE SystemsNovember 2002November 2003
BAE SystemsJanuary 2003December 2004
Peterborough Hospitals NHS TrustMay 2002May 2004
Service Children's EducationAugust 2002July 2003
Service Children's EducationAugust 2002July 2003
Admiralty Pilotage & Harbour ServiceOctober 2002October 2004
West Midlands Health AuthorityNovember 2002March 2003

Servicemen's Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to ensure that the procurement process for the replacement schemes for PAX and RPAX do not penalise regulars and reservists deployed within the 30 day 'exclusion period' applied by many insurers at times of conflict. [111651]