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Written Answers

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 8 May 2003

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Agricultural Sludge

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the consultation paper Proposals to Amend the Statutory Controls for the use of Agricultural Sludge, when the consultees listed in Annexe C of the paper received the paper; and what percentage of the consultees responded. [109992]

The consultation paper on the proposals to amend the statutory controls for the agricultural use of sludge was dispatched on 21 October 2002 to all those individuals and organisations listed at Annexe C of the paper, a total of 220. 32(15 per cent.) of these consultees responded. A further 185 copies were requested from the Defra distribution centre and the paper was also available on the Defra website. The total number of responses received was 63.

Eu Enlargement

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the EU Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development. [111272]

The EU Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD) is available to the 10 EU new member states and candidate countries from central and eastern Europe1. Its objectives are similar to those of the rural development programmes in the 15 existing member states.The programme has provided a valuable opportunity to the candidates in the practical application of rural development policies and EU financial systems. The accreditation process for the newly established Paying Agencies in particular has enabled them to experience and satisfy EU audit procedures.Defra Ministers and officials have taken every opportunity to urge the applicants to make full use of the funds available. Defra is a strong supporter of rural development programmes as a mechanism for supporting rural and farming areas and very much welcomes this chance for the candidates to benefit from these systems in advance of their membership. Although we have not commissioned any specific assessment of the progress of SAPARD expenditure, my officials attend meetings of the European Commission Regulatory Committee, which reviews and approves the programmes of the countries concerned.

1New member states due to join May 2004: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia. Candidates due to join in 2007: Bulgaria and Romania.

Animal By-Products

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many furnaces fuelled from animal carcases and animal byproducts are operational in (a) the North West of England and (b) England. [111161]

We are not aware of any furnaces fuelled from animal carcases and unprocessed animal byproducts.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 incinerators, with the exception of incinerators which dispose of Specified Risk Material. However, a central register of operators currently approved to operate specified risk material incinerators indicates that as at 1 May 2003 there were 306 approved incinerators in Great Britain. Strictly speaking these are not fuelled by animal carcases or unprocessed animal by-products. They use gas/oil as fuel to provide the heat to burn the carcases.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the EU Animal By-products Regulation will apply to the burial of (a) domestic cattle, (b) domestic pigs, (c) domestic sheep, (d) domestic poultry, (e) goats, (f) llamas, (g) ostriches, (h) members of the equine family, (i) dogs, (j) cats, (k) hamsters, (1) gerbils, (m) rabbits, (n) guinea pigs, (o) rodents, (p) farmed fish, (q) domestic fish and (r) wild animals killed on the road; and what advice the Department has given to owners of these animals. [111352]

The carcases, or parts of carcases, of wild animals are exempt from the scope of the Regulation unless they are thought to be diseased or are used to produce game trophies.The Regulation allows member states to apply for various derogations regarding the disposal of animal by-products, and, among others, we have applied for the derogation to permit the burial of dead pet animals.The definition of a pet animal given within the Regulation is: any animal belonging to species normally nourished and kept, but not consumed, by humans for purposes other than farming. Therefore, species such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and poultry etc would fall out-with this definition and would require disposal by an approved route other than burial.The situation with regard to equines is complicated. Although it can be argued that humans within the UK do not consume members of the equine family, the UK does export horses/ponies which may be used for human consumption. Under a strict interpretation the EU Regulation would, therefore, ban the burial of pet equines but we would expect local authorities, who enforce the legislation, to deal with such cases on an individual basis.Although no specific advice has been provided to pet owners, information on the disposal of animal carcases is available on the Defra website, at http:// www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/by-prods/default.htm., and from local Defra Animal Health Offices.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what advice she has given to Wiltshire county council about the disposal of TB infected badger carcases; [111396](2) what advice she has given to local authorities in parts of the country where badgers may be infected with TB on the testing, collection and disposal of badger carcases. [111394]

The EU Animal By-Products Regulation, which applied in member states from 1 May, requires, among other things, that wild animals suspected of being infected with diseases communicable to humans and animals, such as bovine TB, are disposed of at an approved plant using one of the following methods:

  • incineration;
  • rendering followed by incineration; or
  • pressure rendering followed by landfill
  • Trading Standards, who enforce the Regulation, have received guidance notes and training on the new rules. In addition, information on the disposal of animal carcases is available on the Defra website, at http://www.defra.gov. uk/animalh/by-prods/default.htm., and from local Defra Animal Health Offices.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the materials by type that will be included through her Department's national subscription collection and disposal scheme for fallen livestock under the Animal By-Products Regulation. [111116]

    Assuming that the scheme is viable, we would envisage that it would apply to the collection and disposal of carcases of all types of farmed livestock on agricultural holdings.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to ensure that schemes to collect animal carcases from farms will not result in the spread of disease. [111185]

    Animal By-Products legislation already controls the collection, storage and transportation of animal by-products, including animal carcases, it also requires records to be kept of any consignment of animal by-products to assist in the auditing and traceability of this material.However, we would expect that only those collectors who follow biosecurity procedures yet to be agreed would be allowed to participate in a national carcase collection service.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 10 April 2003, Official Report, column 364W, on fallen stock, if she will list the alternative processes that the Commission is considering for approval; and what the timetable is for the consultation process. [111408]

    On the basis of information submitted, the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) adopted an "Opinion on six alternative methods for safe disposal of animal by-products" on 10 to 11 April 2003. According to this Opinion, five methods are regarded as safe for the disposal or use of Category 2 and 3 animal by-products. These five methods are:

    • high pressure high temperature hydrolysis;
    • high pressure hydrolysis biogas process;
    • biodiesel Production;
    • Brookes gasification system; and
    • combustion of Tallow in a thermal boiler.
    The Commission will now analyse the SSC opinion and present a proposal approving the five methods listed above to the next Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.On the basis of the SSC opinion, member states can allow the use of the methods listed for the disposal or use of Category 2 and 3 animal by-products, pending their approval by the Commission, provided that:

  • the alternative methods are approved by the competent authority following adequate validation procedures; and
  • the premises, facilities and operational standards meet the recommendations of the SSC opinion.
  • The SSC opinion can be found at: http://euro pa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/ssc/ out352_en.pdf

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of emissions from furnaces fuelled from animal carcases and animal by-products. [111590]

    No assessment has been made of emissions from furnaces fuelled from animal carcases and animal by-products. However, Defra commissioned an independent report to measure and review atmospheric emissions from small carcase incinerators, which was published in August 2002. This is available on the Defra website at: http://www2.defra.gov. uk/research/project_data/Default.asp under Project Code WA0806.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice her Department has given to those who undertake pest control on disposing of (a) foxes, (b) rodents and (c) mustelids. [111349]

    The Animal By-Product Regulation, which applied in member states from 1 May, does not apply to foxes, rodents, mustelids or other wildlife. With regard to rodents, for those killed by rodenticides the Statutory Conditions of Use for each product will stipulate the method of carcass disposal. These conditions are set by either the Health and Safety Executive or the Pesticides Safety Directorate. Typically, the conditions require that rodent carcases are either burnt or buried. These conditions must be strictly adhered to. Defra has not given specific disposal. advice for foxes and mustelids, but recommends that normal good practice is followed. Anyone requiring advice on appropriate disposal methods should contact their local authority.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations will apply to the burial of pets from 30 April; and what information on burial she has provided for pet owners. [111351]

    The Animal By-Products Regulation allows member states to apply for various derogations regarding the disposal of animal by-products, and, among others, we have applied for the derogation to permit the burial of dead pet animals.Although no specific information has been provided to pet owners, information is available on the Defra website at the following address: http://www.defra.gov.uk!animalh/by-prods/default.htm.

    Biological Resources Centres

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what response she has made to the OECD Initiative on Biological Resources Centres; and what resources have been committed to the achievement in the UK of the objectives of the initiative. [107922]

    [holding answer 9 April 2003]: The Government supports the broad objective of the OECD initiative on Biological Resource Centres, which is to seek to ensure the conservation of biological resources and associated information in an efficient and effective way through the creation of a global network of biological resource centres like seed banks or culture collections, and, through such a network, to provide improved access to biological resources of an appropriate quality to bona fide users in the fields of life sciences and biotechnology. Proposals on how this might be achieved are still under discussion in the OECD. Officials from my Department are actively involved in those talks.

    Bovine Claim Payments

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what is owed to Mr. and Mrs. T. McCoy of Dartmouth in relation to their 2001 bovine claim; and what the reasons are for the delay in payment, with reference to her Department's letter to the hon. Member for Totnes of 15 March 2003. ref 179375/JW. [111859]

    As stated in the letter of 15 March 2003, all Mr. And Mrs. McCoy's bovine claims for 2001 have been paid, and there are not outstanding payments.

    Countryside And Rights Of Way Act

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects the new rights of access under Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to commence in the Central Southern Region. [111247]

    I announced in November last year that the new right for the public to walk on mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land will be rolled out on a region by region basis. This will give walkers the right to walk in open countryside and on registered common land as early as possible, rather than having to wait for the mapping process to be completed for the whole country. I intend to open the first two regions to public access during the summer of 2004. These are the south east and central southern England.

    This is a demanding timetable as we will need to have in place not only the conclusive maps for those regions but also all necessary restrictions and exclusion on access. Guidance and codes of practice will also need to be available to walkers and landowners. These mechanisms are necessary under the CROW Act and it is important for them to be in force in each region before access land is made available to the public so that the interests of both land managers and walkers are safeguarded. We expect to meet the target of having all access land open by the end of 2005.

    Criminal Offences

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list, broken down by Act, the criminal offences created in legislation sponsored by her Department and its predecessors since 1997. [110988]

    A number of criminal offences have been created in primary legislation, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its predecessor Departments, since 1997. The following list contains only legislation concerning policy areas now administered by Defra. The Plant Varieties Act 1997 (c. 66) created two new criminal offences. The Food Standards Act 1999 (c. 28) created eight new criminal offences. The Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000 (c. 33) created four new criminal offences. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (c. 37) created 22 new criminal offences. The Animal Health 2002 Act (c. 42) created 14 new criminal offences.No comprehensive records are kept by the Department of offences created in secondary legislation, and the cost of searching the many instruments in force for which the Department has responsibility would be disproportionate.

    Exhibitions

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list events at which her Department and each agency and non-departmental public body for which her Department is responsible have exhibited in each of the last three years, stating for each (a) the purpose of exhibiting, (b) the cost of exhibiting and (c) the number of staff attending for the exhibition. [107626]

    The following is a list of the events at which attendance or an exhibit were commissioned centrally by Defra as part of the Department's publicity programme. This covers the period since the Department's inception in June 2001. The events were commissioned at a cost of £0.5 million in 2001–02 and £1.2 million in 2002–03 to Defra's central publicity budget.The number of staff attending each event is not available and the information for each agency and non-departmental body for which Defra is responsible could be collated only at a disproportionate cost.

    Shows 2001–02

    • Agrivision (National Event) NAG Stoneleigh
    • Permanent Defra Exhibition Event (continually updated) Brockhole Visitor Centre, Lake District ESA, Cumbria.
    • Beef 2001 Royal Agricultural College
    • Agrivision South of England Agricultural Society, Ardingley, West Sussex
    • Crufts Dogs Show NEC Birmingham
    • Agrivision Show Cornwall Wadebridge, Cornwall
    • The Supreme Cat Show, NEC, Birmingham
    • National Cat Club, Olympia, London
    • Royal Cornwall Show, Wadebridge, Cornwall
    • Devon County Show, Westpoint, Clyst St. Mary, Exeter
    • Town & Country Festival NAC, Stoneleigh, Warks
    • Tatton Park Show, Tatton Park, Cheshire
    • CLA Game Fair, Shuttleworth College, Bedfordshire
    • Fruit Focus Show, Hadlow College, Kent
    • Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Hampton Court, Surrey
    • BBC Gardeners World Live, NEC, Birmingham
    • Bath & West Dairy Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
    • Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, Earl's Court, London
    • FMD Information—Mobile Unit visited Houghton, Oakhampton, Barnstaple, Northallerton and Ripon
    • Careers Fair—Exhibition—Building Design Centre, Islington

    Conferences/seminars 2001–02

    • Study Group Meeting Conference
    • TSE Research Workshop—Durham University
    • Public Appointments Seminar—Nottingham
    • Careers Seminars, Bromsgrove School
    • English Rural Development Programme Seminar, Bewl Water, Ardingley, Devon and Reading
    • Planning and Diversification Seminar—Reading and Oxford
    • Public Appointments Seminar—Norwich, Abingdon, Nottingham
    • Anti-Microbial Resistance Seminar—Woolfson Theatre, NAG, Stoneleigh
    • Golden Rules Seminar—Kendal, Cumbria
    • Waste Seminar—QEII
    • Food and Farming Conference—Oxford
    • Map 'Launch' with Countryside Agency, Portcullis House, Westminster
    • SEAC Open Meeting Conference QE2 Centre, London
    • Developing DEFRA Conference, Aston Villa, F.C. Birmingham
    • National Energy Crop—TDI Victoria Street
    • 18 x FMD Recovery Seminars (Nationwide)

    Exhibitions/shows 2002–03

    • Agrivision (Midlands) Stafford
    • Permanent Exhibition–Brockhole Visitor Centre, Lake District ESA, Cumbria
    • Sprays and Sprayers 2002, NAG, Stoneleigh
    • Lincolnshire Show, Grange-De-Lincs, Lincoln
    • Tatton Park Flower Show 2002, Tatton Park, Cheshire
    • Fruit Focus 2002, East Mailing, Kent
    • Pig and Poultry Fair, NAC, Stoneleigh
    • Devon Country, Westpoint, Clyst St. Mary, Exeter
    • Grassland (and MUCK), NAC Stoneleigh
    • Beef 2002 Woolner, Northumberland
    • Royal Bath and West, Shepton Mallet, Somerset
    • Royal Cornwall, Wadebridge, Cornwall
    • South of England, Ardingley, W. Sussex
    • Cereals 2002, Sleaford, Lincs
    • Three Countries Show, Malvern, Worcs
    • East of England, Peterborough
    • BBC Gardener's World Live, NEC Birmingham
    • Royal Norfolk, New Costessey, Norwich
    • Hampton Court Flower Show, Hampton Court
    • Great Yorkshire, Harrogate, N. Yorks
    • CLA Game Fair, Broadlands, Romsey, Hampshire
    • New Forest and Hampshire, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
    • Royal Lancashire, Astley Park, Chorley, Lancs
    • Northumberland Show, Corbridge, Northumberland
    • National Scrapie Plan Stand (Various Locations)
    • Royal Show, NAG, Stoneleigh
    • Great Yorkshire Show-Harrogate
    • Royal Welsh Show, Builth Wells
    • Sheep 2002, Malvern
    • The Royal Smithfield Show–Earls Court London
    • Skills City Careers Exhibition, Salford, Manchester
    • International Food and Drink Exhibition Excel, Dockland
    • European Dairy Event, NAC, Stoneleigh
    • Discover Dogs, Earls Court, London
    • Town & Country Show 2002, NAC, Stoneleigh
    • The Supreme Cat Show 2002, NEC Birmingham
    • The National Cat Club Show, Olympia 2, London
    • The Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, Earls Court

    Conferences/seminars/launches 2002–03

    • 8 Regional Events On Sustainable Food and Farming—Government Office Regional Conferences
    • Career Fair and Welcome Events
    • Annual Report of Sustainable Development, Canal Museum, Camden
    • Abbots Hall Farm, (Agri-Environment Schemes)—ESA's Reintroduction of Grazing on the Coastline, Great and Little Wagborough, Kent
    • Wildlife Crimes Unit
    • Marine Stewardship Event, National Maritime Museum
    • Launch of New Atlas of British and Irish Flora, Kew Gardens
    • Community Renewable Initiative Workshop
    • Defra Hearings on Hunting with Dogs
    • OECD Launch, Room 808, Nobel House
    • Public Appointments Seminars, Scunthorpe, Leeds. Greenwich, Tyneside and University of Kent
    • Scientific Advisers Presentations, Horseguards Hotel and Nobel House
    • British Equine Event 2002, NAC, Stoneleigh
    • Sustainability In Public Service
    • Sustainable Development Events QEII Centre, London
    • Bio Energy Conference
    • Flood and Coastal Management Conference, Keele University
    • Countryside Stewardship Campaign, 10th Anniversary Conference—Kew Gardens
    • Noise Forum Conference, Chartered Institute Environmental Health, Waterloo
    • Creating the Future 2002, Central Hall, Westminster

    Timber

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government procurement policy on timber includes timber used on and in the construction of Government building projects; and if she will make a statement. [111033]

    The Government procurement policy on timber applies to all wood and products made from wood used in performing Government contracts. Thai includes the wood used temporarily during construction works as well as wood fixed as part of a finished structure. The Office of Government Commerce reminded Government Departments of this policy in November 2002,and particular attention was drawn to construction projects as follows:

    "Under the Achieving Excellence agenda, Departments are encouraged to improve the design quality, sustainability, health and safety and client management of their supply chains for their construction projects".
    "Managers must, in addition, make themselves aware of the commitment made by the UK Government in July 2000 that all Departments and their agencies should actively seek to procure their timber and timber products from legal and sustainably managed sources".

    Market Research

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what expenditure has been incurred by her (a) Department, (b) agencies and (c) non-departmental bodies in 2002 on (i) opinion polling, (ii) focus groups and (iii) other forms of market research; and if she will list the surveys commissioned and the purpose of each. [106259]

    The expenditure on external market research which has been recorded centrally by Defra in 2002/03 was £354,000.The list of the surveys is:

    • Corporate Identity research
    • Illegal Meat Imports
    • General Public tracking—omnibus
    • GM Crops desk research
    • GM Debate Foundation discussion workshops
    • GM debate—stimulus content creation
    • Defra Customer Vision
    • Defra's sponsorship activities

    The information not held centrally within Defra and for each agency and non-departmental body for which Defra is responsible could only be collated at a disproportionate cost.

    Private Finance Initiative

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the expected saving to public funds from the private finance initiative schemes due to become operational in 2003. [105716]

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Boateng) on 10 April 2003, Official Report, column 400W.

    Common Agricultural Policy

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of CAP Pillar Two funding. [111273]

    The effectiveness of CAP Pillar Two funding in England is being assessed in several ways. The Mid-term Evaluation of the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP) is currently in progress and aims to assess the implementation and impact of the Programme since its inception in 2000 to present. The evaluation will be completed in December 2003 and its findings will be reported to the European Commission. Similar evaluations are being produced on rural development programmes in other parts of the UK and in the other member states.There are also a number of recently completed or ongoing studies on individual ERDP schemes and other reviews that will touch on the effectiveness of the Programme as a whole. The studies on individual ERDP schemes include a major review of agri-environment schemes, a Hill Farming Allowance review and reviews of the Farm Woodland Premium and Woodland Grant Schemes. With regard to project based schemes, an economic evaluation of the Processing and Marketing Grant scheme is in progress and various aspects of the impact the Rural Enterprise Scheme are being examined.Outside of these internal reviews and studies, Defra officials assess the effectiveness of CAP Pillar Two funding by analysing reports from other organisations and by using internal management information.

    Regional Policy

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress the Department has made towards the aim in the White Paper, "Your Region, Your Choice", of assessing the balance of staff between the centre and the regions in terms of effective policy design and implementation; and what examples there have been since the publication of the White Paper of the Department deciding between locating new streams of work (a) in and (b) outside London and the south-east. [108570]

    Defra is making considerable progress towards the aims set out in the White Paper, "Your Region, Your Choice", and Ministers have repeatedly stressed the importance of regional delivery and regional partnerships. For example:

    Defra Teams in Government Offices

    The Department's predecessor, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), planned to move around 90 staff into the Government Office network in April 2001. The demands of the foot and mouth outbreak delayed some of these moves, but since summer 2001, the Rural Director's team in each region has been fully integrated into the Government office. They also work closely with the Regional Development Agency, the Regional Assembly and a range of regional and local partners. A 'sounding board' for rural communities in each region is provided by The Regional Rural Affairs Forum, which has direct representation on the Rural Affairs Forum for England which I chair. The network of Regional Forums is encouragement of Ministers and senior officials. The formation of Defra in June 2001 also meant that the pre-existing environment teams in the Government Offices contribute to the delivery of Defra's environmental and sustainable development objectives.

    Since then, the Department has provided an extra £2.3 million to administer its policies in 2003–04—an increase of one hird from 2002–03. This will enable the Government Offices to increase their involvement in the delivery of the Department's sustainable food and farming strategy and the rural agenda.

    The Better Quality Service Review of the Defra Estate

    We are undertaking a Better Quality Services Review of our estate, including its London headquarters operations, and the review's findings are expected to be made available shortly. One of the issues it has been considering is the extent to which staff should continue to be located in central London accommodation.

    Lord Haskins Review

    Lord Haskins has been asked to make recommendations on how the Government's rural policies can be delivered more effectively and efficiently. He will be considering the future role of regional and local bodies in the context of delivery.

    Vollatile Organic Compounds

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the pollutants regarded as volatile organic compounds; and if she will make a statement on the health risks associated with the pollutants regarded as volatile organic compounds. [111139]

    Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include a very wide range of individual substances, such as hydrocarbons (for example benzene and toluene), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), halocarbons and oxygenates. Hydrocarbon VOCs are usually grouped into methane and other non-methane VOCs. Non-methane VOCs are emitted to air as combustion products, as vapour arising from handling or use of petroleum distillates, solvents or chemicals, and from numerous other sources. The emissions of the 50 most significant non-methane VOCs in the UK (in terms of mass emissions), together with time trends and a spatially disaggregated map of all sources are published annually in the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, available at www.naei.org.uk.Some VOCs are harmful to human health, including benzene, PAHs and 1,3-butadiene. Benzene can cause leukaemia, if exposure is maintained over a long period of time. There are several hundred different forms of PAH, and sources can be both natural and man-made. Several of these PAHs can cause lung cancer. Sources of 1,3-butadiene include the manufacturing of synthetic rubbers, petrol driven vehicles and cigarette smoke. 1,3-butadiene exposure probably causes lymphomas or leukaemias. Other volatile organic compounds may, at high concentrations, affect the central nervous system (e.g. chloroform), cause liver damage (e.g. carbon tetrachloride) or show irritant effects (e.g. aldehydes). These effects will not necessarily be relevant at environmental levels of exposure.VOCs also contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone that can impair lung function and cause irritation to the respiratory tract. Ozone has also been associated with increases in respiratory hospital admissions and deaths in those already ill with respiratory disease.Total emissions of methane and non-methane VOCs have reduced significantly in England since the late 1980s, particularly those from traffic and industrial processes, and are expected to continue to do so. The UK met the requirements of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution's 1991 Geneva Protocol, which required a 30 per cent. reduction in VOC emissions by 1999 using 1988 as a basis. The EU National Emission Ceilings Directive has set a further target of a reduction to 1200kT VOC annual emissions by 2010. Latest projections suggest the UK will meet this target. The Air Quality Strategy includes objectives for ambient levels of benzene, PAHs and 1,3-butadiene to protect human health. Latest monitoring indicates that we have already met the Air Quality Strategy objectives for some of these pollutants at most sites in the UK and that levels are generally declining for all these pollutants.

    Partners For Water And Sanitation

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the work being carried out with the support of her Department on Partners for Water and Sanitation. [111857]

    Since its inception in 2001, Partners for Water and Sanitation (PAWS) has brought together a forum of partners from Government, civil society and the private sector. The aim has been to contribute to the Millennium Development Goal for Water and the equivalent target for sanitation agreed at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002.PAWS currently focuses on three countries—South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria. The current position in each of the partner countries is as follows.

    South Africa

    Preparatory meetings in February and May 2002 set the scene for the development of the partnership in South Africa. A further meeting took place the following August to set out the ways in which the partnership could contribute to meeting the needs of municipalities in South Africa. This meeting examined these needs, and agreement was reached on guiding criteria to decide which municipalities will enter into partnership with the UK. The meeting also considered an outline programme of work to include study visits to municipalities by partnership working groups. Partners attended an inception workshop with four nominated municipalities in November at which presentations were made by the partnership to explain the basis for the initiative and by municipalities to explain their assessment of needs and priorities. Scoping study visits were made to Hungulu, Matjhabeng, Nkomazi and Zululand between January and April 2003, from which a number of conclusions and specific recommendations for action were generated. A bi-national meeting is planned to take place in South Africa in early June 2003 to consider the outcome of the scoping studies and to develop a plan of action for each municipality.

    Nigeria

    Following a series of preparatory meetings in April 2002, PAWS agreed to partnership engagement with the State of Enugu. A further visit was made by a small partnership working party in late September 2002 to participate in meetings at State Government level and to consider a detailed assessment of needs and how these might be met from partnership resources. The group reported to the Partnership Steering Group late in 2002 setting out areas which had been identified for possible partnership involvement. The group are currently finalising a plan for action over the next year, which includes the appointment of an in-country co-ordinator.

    Uganda

    The concept of Partners for Water and Sanitation was introduced to Uganda in May 2002. An exploratory visit took place the following June, which identified potential stakeholders and furthered the development of the initiative in Uganda. The partnership was represented at the annual sector review at the end of September 2002. Discussions are continuing on the scope for partnership involvement in and the Secretariat are examining the options for exchange programmes to allow Ugandan Government technical staff the opportunity to visit the UK.

    Water Industry

    To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is her policy that the Water Service regulator, in determining the charges that water companies can make to their customers, should take account of the need for these companies to rectify flooding problems which do not necessarily involve direct ingress of water or sewage into people's homes. [112099]

    In setting price limits for sewerage undertakers, the Director General of Water Services takes account of companies' sewer flooding programmes. In the initial Guidance issued to the Director General in January 2003, the Secretary of State, made clear that there would need to be an increase in the rate at which companies rectify sewer flooding problems if companies are to get on top of the situation.The Secretary of State also welcomed the findings of the consultation carried out by Ofwat in the paper, "Flooding from Sewers", particularly the proposal that the worst cases of external sewer flooding should be included in sewerage undertakers' programmes. This should help to ensure that many more customers than at present benefit from sewer flooding prevention schemes.

    Treasury

    Global Health Fund

    12.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has to finance the Global Health Fund. [111893]

    The Department for International Development has committed $200 million to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over five years.In addition, the Treasury is seeking international support to establish the International Finance Facility, which will raise $50 billion annually to fund the Millennium Development Goals. This money would be disbursed in the form of concessional loans and grants, including debt relief.

    Industrial And Provident Societies

    16.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what further measures he is taking to reform industrial and provident society law. [111897]

    The Government recognise the important contribution industrial and provident societies can make to the economy and are currently progressing a range of initiatives to support the sector.

    Overseas Development Assistance

    17.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress the UK is making towards the target of contributing 0.7 per cent. of national income to aid for the developing world. [111899]

    The Government remain fully committed to reaching the UN target for official development assistance (oda) of 0.7 per cent. of Gross National Income. In the 2002 Spending Review the Government set out their spending plans for the next three years up to 2005–06 and have made substantial increases to the aid budget. The UK's level of official development assistance reached 0.32 per cent. in 2001 and will reach 0.40 per cent. by 2005–06, up from 0.26 per cent. in 1997.Aid effectiveness is also important as well as aid volumes. The Government are committed to redirecting their development assistance budget to the poorest countries, particularly those with effective governments pursuing high growth and pro-poor economic and social policies. By 2005–06, 90 per cent. of DfID's bilateral budget will be spent in low-income countries, where research tells us it is most effective. In addition, the Government have untied all their aid as from 1 April 2001.

    Tax Credit Claims

    18.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of applications for (a) working tax credit and (b) working families tax credit were submitted either incomplete or with errors preventing correct assessment. [111900]

    Claims for Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are made together, on one form, leading to a single calculation if claimants qualify for both. By 28 April, over 4 million claims to the new tax credits had been received and around 3.2 million awards were already being paid or had been set up for payment. The Inland Revenue was working through the remaining claims as quickly as possible. Where necessary, the Revenue contacts claimants to ask for any outstanding information or to follow up any queries about the claim.The number of claims for Working Families Tax Credit that were initially incomplete is not available. The priority is to identify and correct errors where possible and get claims into payment.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the reasons are for the recent unavailability of the working tax credit helpline; and if he will make a statement. [105263]

    In recent weeks the number of callers has exceeded the capacity of the helpline and some have not been able to get through on their first call. One of the facts that the helpline has consistently had to confirm is that the earliest date for the (monthly) payment is 28 April. To meet the demand, we have, over the last six weeks, increased the resource allocated to handling telephone calls to maximise the number of calls the helpline can answer.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what action he is taking to ensure that take-up of tax credits is not adversely affected by the initial administrative problems; [110856](2) what action he is taking to relieve the impact of the problems encountered when administering tax credits in the Redcar constituency. [110855]

    I refer my hon. Friend to the statement I made in the House on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 53W.Over 4 million claims have already been made for the Child and Working Tax Credit. The publicity campaign to encourage claims from families who may be entitled to tax credits will continue.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much has been spent on publicising the emergency payments system for tax credits; and if he will list the media being used to publicise the emergency payments system; [111384](2) how many households have received money under the emergency payment system for tax credits; and what the total value of such payments is. [111385]

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many interim payments of child tax credit have been paid by each Inland Revenue office. [111835]

    The Inland Revenue already had standing procedures to enable interim payments of tax credits to be paid, in cases where such payments are necessary. As I said to the House on 28 April 2003, by the end of last week 3.2 million families had their tax credits in payment in the normal way and remaining cases were being processed as quickly as possible. In the vast majority of cases, therefore, special arrangements for payment are not necessary.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Inland Revenue will publish a code of practice on overpayment of tax credits. [111386]

    The Inland Revenue will publish a code of practice on recovery of overpaid tax credits later this year.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many applications for (a) child tax credit and (b) working tax credit are waiting to be processed. [111390]

    Claims for Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are made together, on one form, leading to a single calculation if claimants qualify for both. By 28 April, over 4 million claims to the new tax credits had been received and around 3.2 million awards were already being paid or had been set up for payment. The Inland Revenue was working through the remaining claims as quickly as possible, where necessary contacting claimants for outstanding information.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many households who submitted application forms before 31 January are yet to receive payments of (a) child tax credit and (b) working tax credit; how many payments of (i) child tax credit and (ii) working tax credit are overdue; and what the total value is of overdue payments of (A) child tax credit and (B) working tax credit; [111393](2) how many households who have applied for

    (a) child tax credit and (b) working tax credit and who opted to receive four-weekly payments applied (i) before and (ii) after 31 January. [111389]

    About 2.7 million claims for child tax credit and working tax credit were received by the end of January 2003.Awards are already being paid except in the small proportion of 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 that further information.About a third of all claims processed so far have opted for weekly payment.

    Home Safety Products (Vat)

    19.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the progress of discussions with the EU to reduce VAT on home safety products. [111901]

    Discussions on the EU provisions for reduced rates of VAT will follow publication of proposals for such a review by the European Commission. We will consider the position of home safety products and other goods and services for which we have received similar representations as part of that review.

    Manufacturing Industry

    20.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the impact of the sterling exchange rate on demand for British manufactures. [111902]

    A full assessment of the prospects for manufacturing can be found in Chapter B of this year's Financial Statement and Budget Report (HC 500), a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

    Small Business

    21.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, What discussions he had in advance of the Budget with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry regarding new taxes and regulations imposed on small businesses. [111903]

    The Chancellor meets regularly with my right hon. Friend, at which time he discusses a full range of relevant issues, including the Government's success at reducing the corporate tax burden on companies and introducing such reforms as a R&D tax credit and improvements to the capital gains tax regime.

    23.

    To ask the Chancellor of Exchequer, what representations he received from the Federation of Small Businesses in advance of the Budget regarding his policies on corporate tax and regulation. [111905]

    In advance of the Budget the Government received representations from a number of organisations, including the Federation of Small Business.

    International Finance Facility

    22.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent steps he has taken to promote the International Finance Facility. [111904]

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury continue to promote the IFF through all relevant national and international fora.In addition to positive discussions at recent G7 Finance Ministers' meetings and the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, the Chancellor and his officials continue to discuss the proposal with nongovernmental organisations, faith and community groups and the business community—both nationally and internationally.I also raised this with fellow Ministers from Members States of the OECD at a meeting in Paris last week.

    Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative

    24.

    To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the impact of reduction in commodity prices on the HIPC initiative. [111906]

    The UK believes that where countries have had to contend with external shocks—such as sharp falls in the price of key export commodities—we should be generous in providing additional debt relief to promote a lasting exit from unsustainable debt.Moreover, the UK is seeking agreement that this additional debt relief or topping-up that HIPCs can receive when completing the HIPC initiative should exclude additional bilateral voluntary debt relief, to ensure fairer burden sharing between creditors and provide truly additional relief to HIPCs. This important change in the rules could provide a further US $1 billion in debt relief.The Government also believes we must be much more cautious about the forecasts we use to calculate debt sustainability. Optimistic assumptions about future growth and exports often do not reflect the reality many countries face—and unnecessarily restrict the amount of debt relief we can provide.

    Capita

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 15 January 2003, Official Report, columns 661–62W, on Capita, if he will give the (a) start and finish date, (b) value, (c) evaluation mechanism for successful delivery and (d) penalty charges for failure to deliver for each contract; whether penalty charges have been incurred; what the service level agreements were; what the contract numbers were; and if he will make a statement. [97334]

    It has been drawn to my attention that there were errors in my earlier answers about Capita of 13 March 2002, Official Report, column 1113W, and 15 January 2003, Official Report, column 662W. I apologise for this earlier inaccuracy, which I very much regret.The following information is given separately in respect of each of the Chancellor's Departments.

    HM Treasury

    In my earlier answers I stated that the Treasury had placed work with Capita under a single framework agreement for external recruitment with no defined value. At that time, no such framework agreement was in place: service orders were therefore being placed individually at a total cost of £170,847 (excluding VAT) in 2001–02. Spending during 2002–03 was £279,697 (excluding VAT). Details of the seventeen orders during this period are given in the following table. For reasons of commercial confidentiality it is not possible to list individual contract values. Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information applies, ( (a) and (b)).

    Delivery is assessed through internal mechanisms for review of the staff recruited. No penalty clauses or service level agreements were put in place: service requirements were specified for each piece of work, ( (c) and (d)).

    Title of post

    Start date

    Completion date

    HR consultant27 May 200227 June 2002
    Customer Relations Manager6 March 200212 April 2002
    Customer Relations Advisor11 July 20022 August 2002
    Accounting Policies Manager and Accountancy Advisor7 May 20027 June 2002
    Head of information services25 July 20029 September 2002
    HR Team Leader and HR Diversity Officer26 November 200210 January 2003
    Quality Manager17 June 200219 July 2002
    Head of Learning, Skills and Development9 January 20033 February 2003
    Development Consultant16 January 200328 February 2003
    Gold System Manager22 January 200313 February 2003
    Website Editor22 January 200314 February 2003
    Project and Programme Managers and Knowledge Manager29 January 200328 February 2003
    PA to Managing Director3 February 200328 February 2003
    Senior Programmer/Analyst24 February 200321 March 2003
    Policy Analysts26 February 20034 April 2003
    Senior Policy Analyst28 March 200325 April 2003
    Second Permanent Secretary— Managing Director, Budget and Public Finances and Head of Government Economies Services16 April 200320 May 2003

    Inland Revenue (IR)

    IR has two competitively procured management consultancy framework arrangements with Capita. One starts on the 1 April 2002 and runs until 30 September 2003. The other runs from 1 September 2002 until 29 February 2004. Neither contract has yet been used by IR. Accordingly, no IR contract values are associated with these arrangements, ( (a) and (b)).

    Evaluation criteria will be drawn up for each requirement under the framework, (c).

    Neither penalty clauses or Service Level Agreements are associated with these frameworks. The requirement will be stated in the order/contract for each piece of work and the supplier will be judged on their ability to meet that requirement, (d).

    H.M. Customs and Excise HMCE

    Within the following broad headings, during 2002–03, HMCE have awarded the following work to Capita under one of IR's management consultancy framework agreements. The start and finish dates for the individual contracts could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    • Maximum return on Investment Training
    • Membership Subscription
    • Promoting Flexible Working Practices
    • Managing Change Training
    • e-Learning Training
    • Leadership Training
    • GORS Selection Interview Training
    • Training Administration Introduction
    • NLP Training
    • IT Tests
    • Talent Spotting
    • Professional Skills for SEC
    • Business Writing
    • Taking Responsibility Training
    • Civil Service Reform Training
    • AA/A0 Assessment Tests
    • Training Evaluation
    • Legal Trainees
    • Fast Stream Recruitment
    • Advanced Assertiveness for Managers Training
    • Complaints Training
    • Leadership Training
    • Positive Image Training
    • Assistant Print Buyer
    • Access to Personal Information Training
    • Time Management Training
    • Data Protection Training
    • Belfast Building Work
    • Diagnostic Internal Communications Manager
    • Feedback
    • RAS Helpline
    • Thinking on your feet
    • GLS Lawyers Recruitment
    • Human Resources Manager
    • Communication Training
    • Internal Communications Manager
    • Effective Middle Management
    • Human Resources
    • Customer Contact Centre Advisor
    • Instant Recruitment—EO
    • In House Training (Feedback Skills)
    • Selection Test
    • Interviewing: The Selection Techniques
    • In house training (Coaching)
    • Diversity in the Civil Service

    For reasons of commercial confidentiality, it is not possible to list individual contract values. Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information applies. In total, the value for the services listed is £238,097 (excluding VAT), ( (a) and (b)).

    Evaluation criteria were drawn up for each requirement under the Framework. The information required under detailed analyses (c) could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    Office of Government Commerce OGC

    To clarify my earlier answers, Capita Property Consultancy and two other consultancy companies were appointed to provide property related advice and services under the terms of a competitively tendered framework agreement from 16 August 2001 to 15 August 2004, with the option to extend for a further two years. At time of posting the tender notice in the

    Official Journal of the European Community, the estimated total cost of the agreement was £200,000 per annum. However, no spend has yet been made through the framework, ( (a) and (b)).

    The evaluation mechanism for successful delivery is covered by OGC buying. solutions customer care programme that comprises customer feedback on overall quality of service provider (understanding of requirement, speed of response, quality of administration and timescales met), (c).

    Penalty clauses do not form part of the terms and conditions of the framework agreement, (d.)

    In addition, during 2001–02, the OGC placed individual service orders with Capita to the value of £159,170 (excluding VAT). And during 2002–03, OGC used one Capita consultant under a contract. The contract with Capita was concluded in May 2002 when the consultant was subsequently employed by OGC on a fixed term contract. The total sum paid to Capita over the 2002–03 period was £46, 519 (excluding VAT), ( (a) and (b)).

    Neither penalty clauses or a Service Level Agreement were appropriate for this contract, (c.)

    Nevertheless, the evaluation of the value for money for the payment was on the basis of the successful achievement of the objectives set for the programme of work to which the individual contributed, (d).

    Child Care

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the terms of reference and timescale are for the review of the effectiveness of the national child care strategy in ensuring an adequate supply of affordable child care, as indicated in the Budget Statement. [111761]

    We will announce details in due course. The review will involve dialogue with family and parent groups and voluntary organisations.

    Criminal Offences

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list, broken down by Act, the criminal offences created in legislation sponsored by his Department since 1997. [112111]

    Under section 38 of the Bank of England Act 1998, it is a criminal offence to fail to provide information, or to provide false or misleading information, to the Bank of England. Improper disclosure of information received in the exercise of functions conferred by the Bank of England Act 1998 is a criminal offence under Schedule 7 to that Act.The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 created the following criminal offences:

  • Carrying on a regulated activity in the United Kingdom without being authorised or exempt under that Act (section 23)
  • The making of a false claim to be, or falsely holding oneself out as, an authorised or exempt person (section 24)
  • The communication of an invitation or inducement to engage in a financial services activity, except where that communication is made by, or approved by, a person who is authorised under that Act (section 25)
  • Where the Financial Services Authority ("FSA") has required an authorised person to transfer assets to a trustee, any release of or dealing in those assets by the trustee otherwise than with the consent of the FSA (section 48)
  • Breach of an FSA. order prohibiting an individual from performing functions in relation to regulated activities (section 56)
  • Failure to deliver a copy of listing particulars to the registrar of companies (section 83)
  • The offer of securities to the public in the United Kingdom before a prospectus is published (where publication is required by listing rules) (section 85)
  • The issue in the United Kingdom of an advertisement in connection with a listing application without the approval or authorisation of the competent authority (section 98)
  • Failure to comply with a requirement to provide information or a document imposed by the FSA, failure to comply with a requirement imposed by an investigator appointed by the FSA, provision of false or misleading information or the obstruction of an investigation or the exercise of rights conferred by a warrant issued under the Act (section 177)
  • Failure to notify the FSA of a change of control over an authorised person or proceeding with a change of control without FSA, authorisation (section 191)
  • Breach of a prohibition or restriction imposed by the Office of Fair Trading on carrying on business relating to consumer credit in the United Kingdom (sections 203 and 204)
  • The making of a false claim to be, or falsely holding oneself out as, a person who may carry on regulated activities without being authorised by the FSA by virtue of membership of a designated professional body (section 333)
  • Provision by an authorised person of false or misleading information to an auditor or actuary who is appointed under or as a result of the Act (section 346)
  • Improper disclosure or use of information received in the exercise of functions conferred by the Act (sections 351 and 352)
  • Failure by a director of an insurer to notify the FSA of a general meeting at which a resolution for the voluntary winding up of the insurer will be proposed (section 366)
  • Misleading statements or practices which relate to certain financial services (section 397)
  • Provision of false or misleading information to the FSA (section 398)
  • Misleading the Office of Fair Trading (section 399)
  • Failure by an unauthorised UK firm to comply with the procedural provisions of the Act relating to the carrying on of regulated activities outside the UK (Schedule 3)
  • Failure by a firm established in an EEA State (other than the UK) to notify the FSA of an intention to carry on regulated activities in the UK (Schedule 4)
  • Failure to attend or give evidence before the Financial Services and Markets Tribunal (Schedule 13)
  • The Finance Act 2000 created the following criminal offences:

  • The possession and sale etc. of unmarked tobacco or the use of premises for sale of unmarked tobacco (sections 8G and 8H of the Tobacco Products Duty Act 1979, as amended by section 14)
  • Being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of income tax (section 144)
  • Intentionally to falsify, conceal, destroy or otherwise dispose of a document which is the subject of a production order (section 2OBB of the Taxes Management Act 1970, as amended by section 149)
  • Being knowingly concerned in the evasion of the climate change levy (paragraph 62 of Schedule 6)
  • Misstatement by false document for the purpose of the climate change levy, conduct involving evasions or misstatements relating to the climate change levy and preparations for the evasion of the climate change levy (paragraphs 93 to 95 of Schedule 6)
  • The Finance Act 2001 made being knowingly concerned in, or taking steps with a view to, the fraudulent evasion of the aggregates levy, using a false document for purposes connected with the aggregates levy, conduct involving misstatements or evasions of the aggregates levy and preparations for evasion of the aggregates levy criminal offences (paragraphs 1 to 4 of Schedule 6). Under section 18 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, it is a criminal offence to contravene a direction given by the Secretary of State which prohibits disclosure of information for the purposes of specified overseas criminal proceedings. Section 35 of the Tax Credits Act 2002 creates the criminal offence of being knowingly concerned in any fraudulent activity undertaken with a view to obtaining payments of a tax credit.

    Debt Restructuring Mechanism

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on progress at the Spring Meeting of the IMF on the introduction of the legal framework of the sovereign debt restructuring mechanism. [110038]

    At the Spring Meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) on 12 April, ministers discussed the report of the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund on a Statutory Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism. The conclusion of that discussion is set out in the IMFC communique released on 12 April as:

    "The Committee welcomes the work of the IMF in developing a concrete proposal for a statutory sovereign debt restructuring mechanism (SDRM) and expresses its appreciation for the IMF management and staffs efforts. The extensive analysis and consultation undertaken in developing the proposal have served to promote better understanding of the issues to be addressed in bringing about orderly resolution of crises. The Managing Director's report sets out the current position. The Committee, while recognizing that it is not feasible now to move forward to establish the SDRM, agrees that work should continue on issues raised in its development that are of general relevance to the orderly resolution of financial crises. These issues include inter-creditor equity considerations, enhancing transparency and disclosure, and aggregation issues. The IMF will report on progress at the Committee's next meeting."

    Employment

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the population of working age was in work in each of the last 30 years. [110689]

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

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

    The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question about employment rates. I am replying in his absence. (110689)

    The attached table gives the information requested for the three month periods ending May of each year from 1984 to 2002. The latest available estimates, for the three month period ending February 2003 are also given. These estimates are from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and are seasonally adjusted. This information is not available on a consistent basis for prior to 1984.

    Employment rates1 for people of working2 age—United Kingdom, spring and winter quarters

    Seasonally adjusted

    Percentage

    Employment rates1 for people of working2 age—United Kingdom, spring and winter quarters

    Seasonally adjusted

    Percentage

    Spring

    198468.8
    198569.6
    198669.7
    198770.4
    198872.7
    198974.5
    199074.9
    199173.2
    199271.2
    199370.3
    199470.7
    199571.2
    199671.8
    199772.7
    199873.3
    199973.7
    200074.4
    200174.6
    200274.4

    Winter

    2002–0374.6

    1Working age people in employment as a percentage of the working age population.

    2Men aged 16–64 and women aged 16–59.

    Note:

    These Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates have been interim-adjusted to take account of the recent Census 2001 results.

    Source:

    ONS Labour Force Survey

    Funding

    To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the schemes which have been allocated funding from the £25 million earmarked following the 2002 Spending Review over three years starting in 2003–04 for services delivered in partnership with the voluntary sector to help parents improve their parenting skills. [111861]

    A consultation document discussing the Government's proposed approach to the £25 million Parenting Fund will be published shortly.

    Insurance Premium Tax

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to alter the rate of insurance premium tax. [112418]

    The Government's taxation plans are announced in my right hon. Friend's annual Budget.

    Iraq (Debt)

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what economic terms he plans to set out regarding the repayment of Iraq's debt to the UK; and if he will make a statement; [111811]

    (2) what terms of (a) relief, (b) restructuring and (c) rescheduling of Iraq's debt he plans to propose in the Paris Club: and if he will make a statement. [111819]

    The UK supports a full assessment by the IMF and the World Bank of Iraq's economic potential, needs and obligations. In the light of that assessment the UK will seek a fair and sustainable solution to Iraq's debt, including to the UK, at the Paris Club of official creditors.

    Particle Physics And Astronomy Research Council

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will review the rules which reduce the amount of UK grants and funds awarded to the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council when it gains additional EU funding. [111376]

    [holding answer 7 May 2003]: Government policy is that UK public spending financed from the EC Budget is subject to normal public sector budgeting rules. This reflects the fact that UK taxpayers have an interest in spending on programmes funded from the EC Budget being spent in a way which is consistent with national priorities.Departments have therefore in general needed budgetary cover for spending funded from the EC Budget, including spending on research and development. To improve incentives, however, a recent review has resulted in changes to the public sector budgeting rules, so that from 2003–04 departments which receive income from the EC Budget for commercially- or competitively-let research contracts will be able to offset half of their income from qualifying programmes against spending within their departmental expenditure limit.

    Savings

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what evaluations he has made on the benefit to low income families of measures to promote savings. [112094]

    The Government recognise the importance of saving and assets in providing security in times of adversity; independence and opportunity throughout life; and comfort in retirement. The Government's saving strategy is focused on:

    improving the environment for saving, with macroeconomic stability and an efficient and well-regulated market in financial services;
    creating the right incentives for saving by ensuring that the tax and benefit system does not unfairly penalise savers and by assisting those on low incomes;
    empowering individuals with financial information, improved access to advice, and simpler and easier to understand savings products; and
    developing saving products suitable for each stage in a person's life cycle. As the scale of saving increases, proceeds from one product may be rolled into the next, helping people to progress up the savings ladder.
    A number of Government policies are promoting saving among lower income groups. For example, ISAs have helped to make saving simple for ordinary investors to understand. One in five ISA holders are from lower income groups compared with one in seven who had either a TESSA or PEP. The Saving Gateway is aimed at low-income individuals and offers a transparent incentive to save through a government-funded match. The Saving Gateway is currently being piloted and independent evaluation will assess its effect on saving behaviour. The Government are also committed to strengthening the saving habit of future generations. The Child Trust Fund will ensure all children born from September 2002 have an account set up for them into which an initial Government endowment of £250 will be paid. Children from the poorest families will receive an endowment of £500.

    Stamp Duty

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the further consultations he is to have with business concerning stamp duty on lease contracts, as referred to in paragraph 5.90 of the 2003 Budget (HC 500). [110238]

    The lease duty consultation after Budget 2002 was very helpful in informing the proposed new lease duty structure, which incorporates many consultees' views. The Chancellor announced in Budget 2003 that he is happy for further consultation to take place on the proposed new structure. In order to facilitate this, a time-limited regulatory power has been incorporated in Finance Bill 2003 to allow a suitable alternative proposal to be put in place for the implementation of Stamp Duty Land Tax in December 2003. However, any alternative will only replace the current proposals if it can be shown to be a better way of achieving the same objectives. The Inland Revenue will convene further discussions shortly with representative organisations and with businesses who have expressed a particular interest in the proposals.

    Trade And Industry

    Age Discrimination

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department is taking to address the issue of age discrimination. [109454]

    The DTI is strongly and actively committed to diversity in its workforce. Age restrictions do not apply to DTI job advertisements or to selection criteria. We have adopted, or had already met, the recommendations in the Cabinet Office's Winning the Generation Game report and will continue to embed age diversity in all policies and processes as part of diversity mainstreaming. This includes from August 2002 giving all staff in the DTI below the Senior Civil Service the option of continuing to work to age 65.

    North Sea Anti-Dumping Convention

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what actions have been taken to amend the London Anti-Dumping Convention for the North Sea Region to enable carbon sequestration to take place in the geological formation following the extraction of gas and oil. [110455]

    DTI, Defra, and FCO are jointly examining the London Dumping Convention 1972, the 1996 Protocol to that Convention, and the 1992 OSPAR Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic to assess their compatibility with the storage of carbon dioxide in subsea geological formations. The outcome will be summarised in the DTI Report of the Feasibility of CO2 Capture and Storage in the UK, expected early summer 2003. The Government intends to raise the issue of such storage before the appropriate forums under these Conventions.

    Broadband

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to ensure broadband is made available to all those living in Shropshire. [111660]

    UK imports of goods from sub-Saharan Africa1 (£ million)
    SITC DivisionCommodity group22000Year to February 2003ChangePerecentage change
    02Dairy products and birds' eggs1.35.34.0318.8
    03Fish, (not marine mammals), crustaceans, molluscs, and aquatic invertebrates and preparations thereof93.9130.937.039.4
    04Cereals and cereal preparations0.30.70.4114.7
    05Vegetables and fruit301.6375.974.324.7
    06Sugar, sugar preparations and honey167.3219.251.831.0
    07Coffee, tea, cocoa, spices and manufactures thereof241.7304.262.525.9
    08Feeding stuff for animals not including unmilled cereals2.02.60.524.9
    09Miscellaneous edible products and preparations2.73.70.934.2
    11Beverages81.7123.241.650.9
    12Tobacco and tobacco manufacturers50.861.310.520.7
    21Hides, skins and furskins, raw7.99.91.924.6
    22Oil seeds and oleaginous fruit5.27.62.446.3
    27Crude fertilisers other than those of division 56 and crude minerals (excluding coal, petroleum and precious stones)41.848.87.016.7
    29Crude animal and vegetable materials28.340.011.741.4

    We expect to spend 1 billion over three years to 2006 to help bring broadband to primary and secondary schools, GPs, primary care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities. We are also developing strategies to aggregate public sector demand to reinforce the case for wider community access to broadband.I was pleased to see reports that Shropshire has provided broadband connection to all its 22 Libraries in February this year with support from the People Network Initiative, supported by the New Opportunities Fund.Through the £30 million Broadband Fund, my Department also supports satellite trials through the Remote Area Broadband Inclusion Trial (RABBIT). Shropshire receives support through this Trial, directed at giving rural SMEs experience of broadband.

    Correspondence

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when she intends to reply to the letter to him dated 31 March from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Ms K. Grant. [111592]

    I apologise for the delay in replying to my right hon. Friend's letter. It was not readily evident that my right hon. Friend's constituent raised issues that are within my Department's responsibility.However, I have now decided that they are for my Department and I will reply as soon as possible.

    Imports (Sub-Saharan Africa)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in what products imports from sub-Saharan Africa have grown since the implementation of the Everything but Arms agreement; by what margin; and if she will make a statement. [110768]

    According to information published by HM Customs and Excise, the value of UK imports from sub-Saharan Africa increased, from 2000 to the year ending February 2003, in 36 out of 64 commodity groups. The value of UK imports and the percentage change, for those commodities that showed an increase, are given in the following table:

    UK import of goods from sub-sharan Africa1 (£ million)

    SITC Division

    Commodity

    2000

    Year to February 2003

    32Coal, coke and briquettes133.1264.9131.798.9
    33Petroleum, petroleum products and related materials43.151.78.619.9
    42Fixed vegetable fats and oils; crude, refined or fractionated3.64.40.821.0
    43Animal and vegetable oils and fats, processed, and waxes of animal or vegetable origin0.20.50.3175.3
    51Organic chemicals3.67.13.598.8
    53Dyeing, tanning and colouring materials1.01.20.220.3
    54Medicinal and pharmaceutical products3.58.65.1146.1
    55Essential oils and resinoids and perfume materials; toilet, polishing and cleansing preparations15.420.75.334.3
    56Fertilizers, (other than those of group 272)0.10.30.2154.0
    57Plastics in primary forms1.62.30.743.7
    58Plastics in non-primary forms1.21.50.32.7
    63Cork and wood manufactures (excluding furniture)36.542.96.417.5
    64Paper, paperboard and articles of paper pulp; etc.12.025.013.0108.3
    66Non-metallic mineral manufacturers1,362.42,022.1659.748.4
    72Specialised industrial machinery16.521.44.930.0
    74General industrial machinery and equipment, NES and machine parts NES75.495.920.527.2
    78Road vehicles105.9315.8209.9198.3
    79Other transport equipment56.091.635.763.7
    82Furniture and parts thereof; bedding, mattresses, supports, cushions and similar stuffed furnishings61.665.53.96.4
    85Footwear2.43.71.356.1
    87Professional, scientific and control instruments (and apparatus NES)43.152.59.421.9
    89Miscellaneous manufactured article NES35.342.37.019.8
    Total4,201.35.343.71,142.327.2
    imports

    1Sub-Saharan Africa comprises the following countries: Mauritania, Bali, Burkina, Niger, Chad, Cape Verde, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, St. Helena, Angola, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Seychelles, British Indian Ocean Territory, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros, Mayotte, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho.

    2Commodities are grouped according to Divisions of the Standard International Trade Classification, revision 3.

    Note:

    NES: Not elsewhere specified.

    Health And Safety At Work

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to introduce a bill that will remove Crown Immunity from liability under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. [111196]

    I have been asked to reply.The Government will seek a legislative opportunity, when parliamentary time allows, to remove Crown immunity from statutory health and safety enforcement.In the meantime the Health and Safety Executive continues to enforce health and safety requirements in Crown bodies and applies the Crown censure procedure, where but for Crown immunity, prosecution would have been justified.

    Iraq

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many contracts have been awarded related to the reconstruction of Iraq; of those, how many have been awarded to (a) US and (b) UK companies; what the total value is of contracts awarded: and what percentage have gone to (i) US and (ii) UK companies. [111130]

    [holding answer 6 May 2003]: The US Government has let a number of contracts to US firms, mainly through US AID and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Information on these contracts is available on the Trade Partners UK website, with full details on US Government websites, including US AID. The main US AID reconstruction contract was awarded to Bechtel on 17 April. We are supporting efforts by UK companies to win sub-contracts but companies are not obliged to inform us if and when they win contracts.

    Research Councils

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to undertake a review of the work of the Medical Research Council following the report of the Science and Technology Committee published on 24 March, HC132. [111246]

    The MRC is highly renowned around the world for its track record in promoting excellent medical research. We currently have no plans to carry out a review of the MRC following the Select Committee report. We are however reviewing the Select Committee's report and we will make a detailed response during May.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will review the arrangement whereby the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council has its income from UK grants and funds reduced when it gains additional EU funding. [111375]

    [holding answer 7 May 2003]: UK public spending financed from the EU's Budget is subject to normal public sector budgeting rules. This reflects the fact that UK taxpayers have an interest in spending on programmes funded from the EU's Budget being spent in a way which is consistent with national priorities.Departments and their sponsored bodies, including PPARC, have therefore in general needed budgetary cover for spending funded from the EU's Budget, including spending on research and development. To improve incentives, however, a recent review has resulted in changes to the public sector budgeting rules, so that from 2003–04 departments and their sponsored bodies including PPARC which receive income from the EU's Budget for commercially- or competitively-let research contracts will be able to offset half of their income from qualifying programmes against spending within their departmental expenditure limit.

    Radiocommunications Agency/Oftel

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff were employed by (a) the Radiocommunications Agency and (b) Oftel in each of the last five years; and what the annual budget was in each of those years in each case. [108937]

    Radiocommunications Agency
    Year ended 31 MarchStaff employed (average)Staff costs £000
    199850915,653
    199949216,380
    200050216,256
    200153517,786
    200257320,101

    Note:

    'Staff costs' is actual expenditure on staff including salaries, social security costs, and early retirement costs, as shown in the Agency's published Annual Report and Accounts.

    Office of Telecommunications

    Year ended 31 March

    Staff employed (actual)

    Staff costs £000

    19981766,097
    19991816,783
    20001957,671
    20012089,401
    200223610,741

    Source:

    Annual report and accounts

    Sars

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will take steps to support businesses operated or owned by people of Chinese origin which deal directly with the public, with specified reference to (a) restaurants and (b) shops, to combat the effect of public concern over the issue of SARS; and if she will make a statement. [111785]

    [holding answer 7 May 2003]: The Government are striving to combat the effects of SARS, taking the steps described to the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health on 28 April 2003, Official Report, colums 38–41.

    Minister For Women

    Iraq

    To ask the Minister for Women what steps she is taking to ensure that Iraqi women play a full part in the leadership of Iraq. [110339]

    The UK Government is a strong supporter of UN Security Council Resolution 1,325 which emphasises the importance of the inclusion of women into all aspects of post conflict reconstruction and peace operations, and strongly supports its effective implementation in post conflict Iraq. As Minister for Women I am extremely concerned that Iraqi women play a full role in the reconstruction and leadership of their country. Together with colleagues across Government I am taking several initiatives to fulfil this aim, these include:

    An ongoing dialogue with Iraqi women exiles,
    Awareness raising within the Office for Reconstruction and Development (ORHA) on the importance of promoting the involvement of women in all aspects of the reconstruction of Iraq,
    Nomination of female participants at meetings to discuss the Interim Iraqi Administration (IIA),
    Active encouragement of UK NGOs in this process,
    Use of Freedom TV to encourage Iraqi women to participate in reconstruction, Plans for a women's conference to feed into the creation of the IIA,
    Secondment of a UK government gender equality expert to work in ORHA.

    Work And Pensions

    Correspondence

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many acknowledgement letters and cards were dispatched by his Department in each year since 1997 for which figures are available; and what the estimated average cost was per letter and card. [111869]

    Criminal Offences

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list, broken down by Act, the criminal offences created in legislation sponsored by his Department and its predecessors since 1997. [111787]

    The Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997 created six new offences—involving failure to report material changes of circumstances and making false statements. These offences were re-enacted in modified form in the Social Security (Fraud) Act 2001. S.5 of the 1997 Act created a further offence of failure to comply with a requirement to produce documents and information required under the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

    The Social Security Act 1998 modified a previously existing offence of breach of regulations and created a new offence of fraudulent evasion of contributions (sections 60 and 61).

    The Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 created offences in three areas. False statements in applications to register stakeholder pension schemes (s.2); fraudulent evasion of employers payments to personal pension schemes (s.9(12)) and a substituted offence for s.49(8) of the Pensions Act 1995 of fraudulent evasion of the deductions from employees' earnings for contributions to pensions (s.10).

    The Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000 created three offences of making or causing false statements to be made and failing to comply with a request for information required by regulations.

    The Social Security (Fraud) Act 2001 added an offence to s.111 of the Social Security Administration Act in respect of failure to comply with requirements to allow authorised officers to have electronic access to records.

    Disability Living Allowance

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what studies he is conducting into whether potential loss of disability living allowance inhibits potential returners to work. [110735]

    Disability Living Allowance (DLA) provides a contribution towards the extra costs that severely disabled people face as a result of their disabilities, and entitlement is based solely on a person's need for personal care and/or their walking difficulties. DLA is payable to people both in and out of work, and therefore does not disincentivise recipients wishing to take up work.We recognise that, for many disabled people, work is made possible through receiving additional support and we make no assumptions that the severity of a person's disability has changed simply because they are undertaking work. Decision makers receive specific guidance that awards of DLA should only be altered where a person's care or mobility needs have changed.

    Employment Action Teams

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) where peripatetic employment action team advisers are present in Newcastle upon Tyne; how regularly they use these locations; and if he will estimate the number of users at each location; [103427](2) what internal estimates of working age employment rates in each ward of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne informed the selection of wards for employment action team status. [103428]

    Information on the outreach locations used by the Newcastle Action Team for Jobs, how regularly they are used, and their average number of customers is in the table.

    Ward/Outreach locationNumber of days per week action team advisers attend the locationAverage number of customers attending per week
    Walker
    B & Q car park116
    Walker Library210
    East2Work Shop, Shields Rd216
    Byker
    East End Library14
    East2Work shop, Byker219
    Brinkburn Centre15
    Morrisons1110
    Monkchester
    Roman Avenue117
    Walker Library16
    East2Work320
    West City
    Ron Eager Centre0.55
    ESOL, Nelson Street0.52
    Angela Centre16
    City Jobcentre Plus210
    Cruddas Park Library18
    Anchor Programme Centre, Market St0.53
    City Library29
    CSV Training0.55
    Elswick
    Workfinder Office, Benwell13
    Computer Gym15
    Civic Centre4
    Elswick Pool13
    Westgate College13
    Action4Employment14
    Benwell
    Workfinder Office, Benwell1.512
    Cornerstones17
    St Josephs Refugee Group15
    John Martey Centre14
    Newcastle College116
    Benwell Library18
    West Road Jobcentre Plus115
    Scotswood
    Workfinder Office, Benwell16
    Community cafe0.54
    West Road Jobcentre Plus0.55
    Valley View Nursery0.53
    Scotswood Support Centre0.59
    Woolsington
    Newbiggin Hall Library110
    Gala Fields211
    Roycroft Centre0.510
    Detached Youth Project0.58
    Newbiggin Hall Shops115
    Ward/Outreach locationNumber of days per week action team advisers attend the locationAverage number of customers attending per week
    Fawdon
    Park View Sports Centre15
    Fawdon Community Centre212
    Peacock Pub Car Park113
    Fawdon Library15
    Kenton
    Cowgate Leisure Centre18
    St Cuthbert's Church0.53
    Montague Library16
    Kenton Library16
    1Mobile unit

    Source:

    Jobcentre Plus

    In 2001, Newcastle upon Tyne was chosen as an Action Team for Jobs area because the local authority was one of the 30 with the lowest labour market participation in Britain.

    The selection of wards within the area to be covered by the Newcastle Action Team was based on the proportion of the working age population not in employment. The wards targeted had a working age employment rate of 58.5 per cent. or below at the time of selection (April 2001).

    The Office for National Statistics does not produce employment rates down to individual wards from the Labour Force Survey. For this specific purpose a one off exercise was carried out to calculate data at ward level in action team areas. At ward level there is a larger margin of error and so a combination of data—including benefit recipient data—was used to rank wards in Action Team LADs. The table shows the employment rates for wards in the City of Newcastle local authority area derived from this exercise.

    City of Newcastle local authority area

    Percentage

    Ward

    Employment rate

    Monkchester30.7
    West City30.8
    Walker31.5
    Byker34.8
    Elswick39.5
    Benwell40.5
    Scotswood43.0
    Woolsington47.6
    Fawdon53.8
    Kenton56.8
    Blakelaw59.2
    Newburn59.2
    Denton59.9
    Walkergate59.9
    Fenham62.9
    Wingrove64.1
    Moorside66.1
    Lemington67.8
    Sandyford71.8
    Grange73.3
    Heaton77.9
    Westerhope77.9
    Castle80.9
    Dene82.2
    Jesmond87.3
    South Gosforth88.2

    Eu Committees

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list (a) the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU advisory committee on social security for migrant workers, (b) the number of times, and the dates, on which it has met since January 2002, (c) the agenda items it has considered since January 2002, (d) the decisions it has made since January 2002 and (e) the means used to communicate the decisions to the House. [110289]

    Detailed information concerning the membership of the Committee is published in the Official Journal of the EU.The Advisory Committee on Social Security for Migrant Workers has met on only one occasion since January 2002, that being on 2 October 2002.On the agenda for that meeting were the Chairman's report on changes to Community legislation, a report on the work of the Administrative Commission by its Chairman, a report on the decisions of the European Court of Justice since the previous meeting, a report on the implementation of the EU/Swiss Agreement on Free Movement of Persons, a proposed amendment of a Recommendation of the Administrative Commission of 12 December 1984, a report on developments in the Technical Commission and a report on the state of play in the process of enlargement of the EU.The Committee has no power to make formal decisions.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU advisory committee on equal opportunities for women and men, the number of times and the dates on which it has met since January 2002, the agenda items it has considered since January 2002, the decisions it has made since January 2002 and the means used to communicate these decisions to the House. [110504]

    I have been asked to reply.An official from the Women and Equality Unit at the DTI attends the EU Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for women and men. An official from the Equal Opportunities Commission also attends, as does an official from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.The EU advisory committee has met three times since January 2002. It convened on 20 February; 19 June; and 9–10 October.

    The 20 February meeting discussed the following items:

    The European Employment strategy—draft opinion on the European Employment Strategy.

    A new Directive on gender discrimination, working group meeting on 9 January 2002—draft opinion on a new Directive.

    The Gender mainstreaming, working group meeting on 3 December 2001.

    Draft opinion on gender mainstreaming in Community policies.

    Follow-up of the opinions of the Advisory Committee 2001.

    The work programme of the Advisory Committee 2002.

    The 19 June meeting discussed the following items:

    The working group on the Convention and the future of Europe-draft opinion on the Convention-for adoption.

    The working group on Gender Budgeting-a report from the meeting on 18 June.

    Follow-up opinions of the Advisory Committee.

    Contribution from the Advisory Committee to the "European Round Table on Poverty and Social Exclusion", Aarhus. Denmark on 17–18 October 2002.

    "Women and decision-making": Input from members/observers on the priority theme of the framework strategy for gender equality for 2003 "women and decision-making"

    The feasibility study on a European Gender Institute.

    A meeting on gender issues with candidate countries: A draft programme for a meeting with candidate countries, planned to be held on 10 October 2002.

    The 9–10 October meeting discussed the following items:

    The working group on the Convention and the future of Europe-draft opinion on the Convention.

    Follow up of the social inclusion process-draft opinion on the next round on the National Action Plan on social inclusion.

    Follow up on opinions of the Advisory Committee.

    Meeting with candidate countries: Exchange of views regarding achievements and problems in relation to legislation, national machinery awareness raising initiatives, current developments on gender mainstreaming.

    The EU advisory committee on equal opportunities for women and men is not a decision-making body. The Committee's remit is to help the Commission formulate and implement Community measures aimed at promoting equal opportunities for women and men and to encourage the continuous exchange opportunities for women and men and to encourage the continuous exchange of information on experience gained and policies and measures undertaken in the fields in question between the member states and the various actors involved. It produces Opinions and Inputs, whose purpose is advisory only. Member states are not politically or legally committed to these documents.

    I will place the minutes to the EU Advisory Committee Meeting in the Library as they become available.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list (a) the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU technical committee for the implementation of regulations concerning the free movement and employment of workers, (b) the number of times, and the dates, on which it has met since January 2002, (c) the agenda items it has considered since January 2002, (d) the decisions it has made since January 2002 and (e) the means used to communicate the decisions to the House. [110535]

    The officials who attend Technical Commission are the Senior Executive Officer Manager and an Executive Officer from the International Pension Centre, together with a specialist from the Department's IT provider.Since January 2002, meetings have been held on 5–6 March 2002; 4 June 2002; 24–25 September 2002; 3 December 2002 and 5–6 March 2003.Agenda Items considered were:

    Clearance times for pension claims
    Development of COWEBS portal (improved web access for migrant workers)
    Progress on electronic data exchanges (registration/identity data, pension claims and reimbursement of health claims)
    Updating and modernising the use of standard electronic message types for the transfer of data
    EU Health Card
    Preparation of Annual Report for Administrative Commission
    Technical Amendments to Administrative Decision 118 (early exchange of insurance records in pension claims)
    Enlargement of EU—effect on Technical Commission work
    A number of other technical matters relating to the maintenance of existing electronic exchanges between institutions

    The Technical Commission has no power to make formal decisions.

    Investments

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of whether in the (a) short, (b) medium and (c) long term the recent falls in equity performance will lead to consumers buying cash investments instead of equity investments. [111443]

    I have been asked to reply.Recent declines in equity prices have seen a fall in retail purchases of equity investments. The declines in equity prices should be viewed in the context of the historically higher return on equities over the longer term compared to other mainstream investments. Over time, stock market performance is likely to reflect the underlying performance of the economy. The fundamental drivers of a successful economy—high employment, low inflation and low interest rates—are in place.

    New Deal

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many young people in (a) Coventry and (b) the West Midlands have found permanent employment through the New Deal each year since 1998. [111136]

    [holding answer 7 May 2003]: The information is in the table.

    Number of people who moved into sustained employment1 through the New Deal for Young People
    CoventryWest Midlands
    19982803,940
    19996007,740
    20004107,560
    20012906,810
    20023306,150
    Total1,92032,200
    1Sustained employment refers to jobs that last for at least thirteen weeks.

    Note:

    Figures are rounded to the nearest ten and may not sum due to rounding.

    Source:

    New Deal evaluation database.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what monitoring takes place to ensure that employers involved in the New Deal provide jobs of quality for the employees whom they accept. [111137]

    [holding answer 7 May 2003]: Jobcentre Plus requires all employers interested in recruiting a New Deal employee under the New Deal Employment Option to sign an Employer Agreement, which outlines the quality criteria and terms and conditions relating to the recruitment of employees under New Deal.In addition, monitoring visits are undertaken by Jobcentre Plus staff and partner organisations at frequent intervals during the Option. These help to ensure that the work placement is running smoothly and that no discrepancies exist from that of the original notified vacancy including changes to duties, working hours, wage and expected duration and that the employee is receiving adequate supervision and mentoring.

    Pensions

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what policies his Department has for targeting Government information on pensions to groups in the workforce that traditionally have a low take-up rate of private pension provision. [111435]

    The proposals outlined in our Green Paper "Simplicity, security and choice: working and saving for retirement", (Cm 5677), published on 17 December 2002, aim to ensure that people are provided with the information they need to make informed choices about their retirement provision.The proposals include:

    Issuing automatic state pension forecasts to people who are not members of private pension schemes, starting in May 2003 with the self employed;
    Targeting pensions information at key life events when people might be most likely to think seriously about planning for their future;
    Making it easier for employers to promote the benefits of their pension scheme to prospective members by producing an FSA approved pension information pack;
    Requiring employers, who do not provide a pension, to provide employees with access to certain information or advice to help them plan for their retirement.

    We have also announced our intention to set up an employer task force with a remit to promote employer led solutions to extend occupational and private pension provision.

    We are now concluding a wide-ranging consultation exercise in which we have sought views on these proposals. We have received more than 800 written responses and we will be setting out our plans in more detail in due course.

    In addition, the Department's current pensions awareness campaign, supported by a series of information guides, has been running since January 2001 and over two million guides have been issued so far. This has included direct marketing activity targeting groups with traditionally low take-up of private pension provision, including women, the self-employed, young people, and working-age people with no private pension.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if his Department will work with the Inland Revenue to send out information to workers entering new permanent positions about the benefits of taking out private pension provision. [111437]

    We are committed to encouraging people to consider their pension saving options. Everyone needs to be equipped to understand their Financial choices and have access to the information they need to prepare for their retirement.The Green Paper "Simplicity, security and choice: working and saving for retirement", (Cm 5677), recognised the vital part that the workplace plays in pension provision and set out the Government's proposals for working with employers to encourage and facilitate the provision of better pensions information to employees and prospective employees. This was a joint publication between the Department of Work and Pensions, HM Treasury and the Inland Revenue, demonstrating the close working relationship necessary between Government Departments to take forward the Government's agenda on pensions.Our proposals for new employees include:

    Targeting pensions information at this key life event when people might be most likely to think seriously about planning for their future.
    Making it easier for employers to promote the benefits of their pension scheme to prospective members by producing an FSA-approved pension information pack.

    We are now concluding a wide-ranging consultation exercise in which we have sought views on these proposals. We have received more than 800 written responses and we will be setting out our plans in more detail in due course.

    We will consider carefully any opportunities for the Department for Work and Pensions and the Inland Revenue to continue to work closely together in this area.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if his Department will make an assessment of (a) whether and (b) to what extent price caps and regulation have an effect on the ability of pension companies to offer products to lower income groups, with particular reference to stakeholder products. [111444]

    Following the Sandler Review, the Government published a consultation document "Proposed product specifications for Sandler `stakeholder' products" in February 2003 that made proposals to provide people with more opportunities to save. As part of this work the Government have commissioned independent research into the impact of a charge cap on retail investment products. We will be responding to the results of the consultation in due course.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of working-age (a) adults, (b) men and (c) women in the north west of England are members of a stakeholder pension plan. [111588]

    Specific data on the number of individuals contributing to stakeholder pensions, including a break down by region, will not be available until later this year. However, latest figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) covering the United Kingdom, indicate that 1.25 million stakeholder pensions had been sold up to the end of December 2002. of which an estimated 97 per cent. had been bought for individuals of working age (comprising 56 per cent. men and 44 per cent. women). ABI figures show the number of stakeholder pension policies sold, not the number of individuals who have taken out a stakeholder pension. People are allowed to hold more than one stakeholder pension.

    Return To Work Credit Scheme

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) when he will extend the return to work credit scheme to the whole of the UK; [1107361(2) whether he plans to exclude the pilot return to work credit from calculations for

    (a) housing and (b) council tax benefit; [110737]

    (3) how many specialist disability advisers will be recruited to assist the employment of disabled people; and what core skills they will be expected to possess; [110739]

    (4) how many pilot schemes under the Green Paper Pathway to Work will involve medical services delivered other than by the national health service. [110741]

    Our consultation document 'Pathways to Work, Helping People into Employment' Cm 5690, sets out a strategy for enabling people with health problems and disabilities to move into work, and so become and remain independent.We are currently analysing the responses to the `Pathways to Work' consultation. We will publish our response in due course.

    Hospital Stays

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his estimate is of the number of (a) pensioners and (b) people on income support who will be helped by the Budget proposals regarding stays in hospital. [111898]

    Over 20,000 pensioners and around 3,000 income support recipients aged under 60 are affected at any one time by reductions in their benefits as a result of a stay in hospital of between six and 52 weeks. All of these people will therefore benefit from the recent announcement which will change the rules so that hospital deductions in respect of certain benefits are made after a stay of 52 weeks in hospital.

    Notes:

    1. For pensioners, the estimate is based on September 2002 retirement pension administrative data. For people aged under 60, the estimate is based on the latest available income support data (November 2002).

    2. The above estimates represent the number of people who will benefit at any given time from changes on hospital deductions. It is not possible to estimate reliably the total number of people who will benefit from the recent rule changes over the course of a year.

    Winter Fuel Payments

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the number of people aged 80 and over in (a) Cleethorpes constituency and (b) Grimsby constituency who will receive the increased winter allowance of £300. [111473]

    The information is not available in the format requested. However, there are around 4,100 people in Cleethorpes constituency and 3,800 in Grimsby constituency who are aged 80 or over. If these people are entitled to a winter fuel payment, they will also be entitled to an additional payment.

    Health And Safety At Work

    To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many work-related deaths have occurred in each year since 1997; and who is responsible for investigating work-related incidents. [110828]

    The information on the number of work-related deaths which have occurred in each year since 1997, reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, is in the table:

    EmployeeSelf- employedMember of the publicTotal
    1996–9720780367654
    1997–9821262393667
    1998–9918865369622
    1999–200016258436656
    2000–0121379444736
    2001–02120445384633
    2002–031,212635325486
    1 Provisional
    2 First nine months.

    Notes:

    1. Figures refer to Great Britain, and planning years from 1 April to 31 March.

    Figures for members of the public include acts of suicide and trespass on railway systems. In 2001–02 such incidents accounted for 275 of the total fatal injuries to members of the public.

    HSE and local authorities are responsible for investigating work-related health and safety incidents which are reportable to them, according to the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998.

    House Of Commons Commission

    Parliamentary Website

    To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission which company is contracted to manage the parliamentary website search engine; how many years this company has held the contract; how much has been paid to this company in each year for which figures are available; when the contract is up for renewal; and if he will make a statement. [111871]

    The parliamentary website has two search facilities. The first is a search function supplied as part of the service provided by The Stationery Office Ltd., for the electronic publication of House of Commons publications. The company has provided the service since it was first launched in 1996 and most recently was awarded a five-year contract, with the possibility of extension for up to a further two years, from 1 April 2000. This service was modified in July last year, as part of the redesign of the Parliamentary website, by the provision of a new front end search menu and the inclusion of the ability to search across the remainder of material on the parliamentary website.The second relates to the more specialised searches that can be undertaken within the POLIS system. This system is due to be replaced by the end of 2004 and, as part of the tendering exercise that is already well under way, options for the replacement of the search facility will be evaluated. In both cases the search functions are part of a larger service and so it is not possible to identify the specific costs incurred in providing them. In any case, as a matter of policy, the House does not disclose the cost of individual contracts, which are commercially confidential.

    International Development

    Malaria

    Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contributions she has made to the control of malaria in Africa since the Abuja meeting on tropical disease in 2000. [110623]

    DFID is committed to the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goal to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria by 2015, as well as to supporting the principles and targets set out at the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria held in Abuja in April 2000.At the 1998 G8 summit in Birmingham the UK Government pledged 60 million in support of malaria activities, and financial commitments since then have far exceeded this figure. Nearly 48 million has already been disbursed to the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) initiative, and my Department has since reaffirmed our commitment to combating malaria by pledging $200 million over five years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM). DFID also supports malaria control activities at country-level through our bi-lateral country programmes, as well as globally through a number of means such as support to the Medical Research Council (MRC) and to the Malaria Consortium Resource Centre, developing knowledge to improve evidence—based interventions. Further investments have been made in the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and other initiatives to help find new low-cost malaria treatments, and to ensure these are made accessible to the poor.If drugs and commodities for malaria and other diseases are to be accessible to the poor, then it is also vital that health systems are strengthened to deliver these services safely and sustainably. Accordingly DFID focuses much of its health work on building and strengthening health systems and has committed over 1.5 billion since 1997 to this end.

    Counselling Services

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what arrangements are made in her Department to allow staff to access counselling services. [111932]

    DFID has in-house staff counsellors in both its HQ offices in London and East Kilbride, who provide a service to all UK based staff at home and overseas. Staff appointed in country in our regional offices overseas can also access the service by e-mail or telephone if they wish.We are currently in the process of organising an enhanced counselling service in the form of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for all our staff in regional offices.The Department is committed to helping all its employees deal with their concerns both inside and outside the workplace.

    Entertainment Costs

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when she has entertained Labour hon. Members at public expense in the last 12 months; and at what cost. [106399]

    I have not entertained Labour Members at public expense in the last 12 months.

    Heavily Indebted Poor Countries

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress the International Financial Institutions Department within her Department has made on publication of a list of shame of creditors not complying with the HIPC process; and if she will make a statement. [111562]

    My Department, together with HM Treasury, has pressed the World Bank and the IMF to take concrete action to secure the full participation of non-Paris Club creditors in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Several of these, including, both official bilateral creditors and commercial creditors have yet to deliver debt relief. In response to pressure from us the Bank and Fund now include in their HIPC progress reports details of those creditors who have yet to agree to deliver any HIPC relief. For most HIPC countries, the amounts of relief owed to them by non-Paris Club creditors are small, but the potential costs are much higher, in the form of penalty interest and legal fees. The World Bank and IMF staffs have intensified their discussion with non-participating creditors, and Libya, one of the largest such creditors, has now agreed to participate in the Initiative. Discussions continue with the other creditors.

    Iraq

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what studies have been conducted to assess the (a) short-term and (b) medium-term economic requirements of Iraqi households. [111455]

    With slowly improving security, UN agencies and NGOs are beginning to assess immediate humanitarian needs on the ground in Iraq.Most agency assessments are available from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) website at: www.agoodplacetostart.orgAs soon as practicable the World Bank in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund, UN and others plan to conduct a detailed needs assessment to collect baseline information relating to human development, infrastructure, economic policy needs, institutional capacity and resources.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment has been made of the likely tax-base in Iraq. [111456]

    No assessment has yet been made of the likely tax-base in Iraq. As soon as practicable the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund plan to conduct a detailed needs assessment to collect baseline information relating to the Iraqi economy.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the (a) vulnerability and (b) prospects for retention of agents for food distribution programmes in Iraq. [111457]

    It is important to get a food distribution programme re-established as soon as possible. 16 million Iraqis depended on the Oil for Food Programme before the conflict and are therefore vulnerable to disruptions in food supply.Early indications from WFP and the Iraqi Ministry of Trade suggest that the food distribution network has, in those provinces that have been assessed, survived the conflict. In Basra province WFP has been able to retrieve the records of all 1.8 million beneficiaries of food rations. Assessments are underway in other governorates. It has been reported that many food agents want to resume work and have been reporting to distribution centres.

    Primary Education/Gender Parity

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if the Government will make meeting the millennium development goals on universal primary education and gender parity in access to primary education a priority at the G8 summit; and if she will make a statement. [111561]

    We continue to work with the G8 and other governments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for universal primary education by 2015 and gender parity by 2005. We are working to increase the effectiveness of bilateral resources by improving international co-ordination in support of high quality country-owned strategies, as set out for low-income countries in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and linked to national budget processes.The Fast Track Initiative, which includes all members of the G8 (except Russia), offers the potential to increase dialogue and improve donor harmonisation in the education sector. My Department will continue to work to make the initiative more effective.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with G8 governments regarding meeting the Millenium Development Goals on universal primary education and gender parity in access to primary and secondary education; and if she will make a statement. [111579]

    We continue to work with the G8 and other governments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for universal primary education by 2015 and gender parity by 2005. We are working to increase the effectiveness of bilateral resources by improving international co-ordination in support of high quality country-owned strategies, as set out for low-income countries in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and linked to national budget processes.

    Venezuela

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with (a) the USA, (b) the EU and (c) Spain regarding the restoration of full democracy and stability in Venezuela; and if she will make a statement. [111641]

    My colleagues in the Foreign Office are in regular and extensive contact with EU partners and members of the Group of Friends of Venezuela supporting the Organisation of American States (OAS) facilitation efforts, in which they have stressed the importance of respect for the constitution and for democratic principles.

    To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with non-governmental organisations regarding working with Venezuelan authorities and NGOs to restore stability in Venezuela; and if she will make a statement. [111642]

    The British Embassy is in regular contact with local NGOs in Venezuela and provide support for a number of those NGOs.

    Home Department

    Asylum Seekers

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research his Department has commissioned into the impact of detention on children in asylum seeking families. [111263]

    We have not commissioned any research into the impact of detention on children in asylum seeking families.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what powers he detains children who are seeking asylum. [111264]

    Families with children who are seeking asylum may be detained under the detention powers contained in paragraph 16 of Schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971. Detention in such cases would normally be used in the following circumstances: initially, while identity and basis of claim are being established; where there is a risk of failure to comply with the terms of temporary admission or release; or to effect removal from the United Kingdom. In addition, detention may be appropriate if it appears that the asylum claim is straightforward and capable of being decided quickly using fast-track procedures.Unaccompanied asylum seeking children are only ever detained in the most exceptional circumstances and then normally only overnight, with appropriate care, while alternative arrangements for their care and safety are made.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures are being taken to encourage asylum seekers from Iraq living in the United Kingdom to return to their home country. [111298]

    We are working now to ensure that Iraqis can be assisted to return to their homeland as soon as practicable. Many Iraqis in the UK have skills which will be of value to the reconstruction of Iraq. The government are committed to helping clear the way for them to do so. We will work closely with the Iraqi communities in the UK and sector experts on voluntary return.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Asylum and Immigration cases were actioned by hon. Members in the last 12 months. [111769]

    The Home Office received a total of 33,895 written inquiries and representations from hon. Members on asylum and immigration cases during the period 1 April 2002—31 March 2003.

    Badgers

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the legal protection for badgers. [110326]

    I have been asked to reply.Badgers are protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which makes it illegal to kill, injure or take badgers or to interfere with a badger sett. Interference with a sett includes blocking tunnels or damaging the sett in any way. Badgers are further protected from certain cruel acts by the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996.A detailed assessment of the status of the badger population was carried out by scientists at Bristol university and was published in 1997. This compared national surveys of badgers carried out before and after the introduction of the Protection of Badgers Act in 1992. The research showed a 77 per cent. increase in the badger population between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. The survey also reported a halving of the incidence of illegal digging of badger setts over the same period, and concluded that reduced persecution had allowed the badger population to recover.In view of this evidence, we believe that current legislation is making an effective contribution to the protection of badgers.

    Road Traffic Offences

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to submit his proposals for new categories of offences for causing death by driving to public consultation; which proposals will be submitted for public consultation; and if he will make a statement; [109717](2) what plans he has to introduce new categories of offences for causing death by driving; if he will list each new offence he is planning to introduce; and if he will make a statement; [109715](3) what discussions he has had with other Departments about introducing new categories of offences for causing death by driving; and if he will make a statement. [109716]

    [holding answer 28 April 2003]: The Home Office has been in discussion with the Department for Transport about existing road traffic offences, including those of causing death. We are currently considering the possibility of carrying out a review.

    Correspondence

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will reply substantively to the letter from the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight dated 30 January, concerning Lawrence Gimblett. [110967]

    [holding answer I May 2003]: A reply was sent to the hon. Member on 7 May 2003.

    Forensic Science Service

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his answer of 24 February 2003, Official Report, column 315W, when the findings of the review into the Forensic Science Service will be published. [110920]

    As announced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham) on 23 July 2002, Official Report, column 1078W, the principal provider of forensic science services to the police, the Forensic Science Service, is currently subject to an independent review, which is looking at the delivery, performance and responsiveness of the Service and the ways in which we can maximise its contribution to the work of the police and through them to the wider criminal justice system.The findings of the results of the review will be made public after Home Office Ministers have given consideration to its recommendations and decided the best way forward for the organisation.

    Prison Education

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his Answer of 25 March 2003, Official Report, column 151W, what his estimate is of the total number of education hours lost throughout the Prison Service over the last 12 months due to staff shortages; and if he will estimate the financial cost of these lost hours. [110889]

    Records of hours ordered and delivered are kept by individual prison establishments, but have not been centrally collected, collated or aggregated for the period in question. The costs of doing so would be disproportionate.

    Red Squirrel

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much his Department has spent on programmes run (a) by his Department and (b) by environmental organisations related to the preservation of red squirrel populations in each of the last five years. [110337]

    I have been asked to reply.The Department through English Nature have spent £125,602 over the past five years. The main projects have been:

    Thetford Forest—grey squirrel management and red squirrel reintroductions. Joint project with the Forestry Commission.
    Feasibility study for the development of a vaccine against squirrel parapoxvirus.
    Preparation of management plans for priority woodlands in northern England. Joint project with the Forestry Commission.
    Isle of Wight project. Partnership with Wight Wildlife, Forestry Commission and others to link fragmented woodland on the Isle of Wight to benefit squirrels.

    The Forestry Commission, who are the lead partners for the Red Squirrel Species Action Plan have spent the following amounts in activities related to enhancing the status of this species.

    £000

    FC England

    FR (GB)1

    1998–9938.2116.0
    1999–200048.395.5
    2000–0146.678.5
    2001–0252.832.6
    2002–0373.212.0
    Total259.1334.6

    1FR is a FB Agency of the FC

    Note:

    In addition the FC has grant aided the establishment of new woodlands to link fragmented woodland on the Isle of Wight. The expenditure was £81.6k in 2001–02 and £56.7k in 2002–03.

    Rape Victims

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what budgetary provision the Home Office has made to provide rape counselling and support services to match the change in the number of rape complainants resulting from the passage of the Sexual Offences Bill. [110720]

    The Department has made no specific budgetary provisions regarding support services to rape victims as a result of the passage of the Sexual Offences Bill through Parliament. We are, however, currently considering whether there are ways in which further support could be provided generally to victims of sexual offences.

    Special Advisers

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the salary bill was for special advisers in his Department in 2002–03; and what it is expected to be in 2003–04. [108510]

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer provided by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Alexander) on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 45W.

    Young Offenders

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the reconviction rate of (a) youth offenders and (b) first time youth offenders was in (i) the UK, (ii) Tyne and Wear, (iii) South Tyneside and (iv) the Jarrow constituency in each year since 1997. [111672]

    Reconviction rates for juvenile offenders since 1997 were most recently published in February 2003 in Home Office Online Report 18/03. The unadjusted reconviction rate for the first half of 1997 was 33.7 per cent. The rates for July 1999, July 2000 and first quarter 2001 are 38.2 per cent., 26.4 per cent. and 26.4 per cent. respectively. These rates exclude juveniles given custodial sentences.When comparing reconviction rates over time it is necessary to take account of the changing mix in the characteristic of offenders and the speeding up of justice. Unadjusted reconviction rates do not do this.For first time juvenile offenders the unadjusted reconviction rates for the first half of 1997, July 2000 and the first quarter of 2001 are 21.2 per cent., 19.1 per cent. and 12.4 per cent. respectively. July 1999 figures are not available.The reconviction rates relate to England and Wales only and do not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland. Information on regional and local rates are not available.

    Transport

    Criminal Offences

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list, broken down by Act, the criminal offences created in legislation sponsored by his Department and its predecessors since 1997. [110991]

    The following are the provisions of Acts of Parliament which have been sponsored since 1997 by the Department for Transport or by its predecessors (in relation to transport) and which have either created criminal offences directly or provided for their creation by subordinate legislation:

    Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997

    • Section 1 (unlawful entry into a temporary exclusion zone).
    • Section 5 (provision for offences in respect of waste reception facilities at harbours).
    • Section 10 (contravention of requirements related to moving of ships).
    • Section 11 (offence relating to ships receiving trans-shipped fish).
    • Section 16 (provision for an offence relating to compulsory insurance).
    • Section 24 (provision for creation of an offence relating to the protection of wrecks outside UK waters).
    • Schedule 1, paragraph 5 (offence relating to detention of ships).

    Finance Act 1997

    Schedule 3, paragraph 4 (using or keeping certain exempt vehicles on a public road).

    Greater London Authority Act 1999

    • Section 180 (providing London local bus service without permit).
    • Section 187(6) (contravention of condition of a London bus service permit).
    • Section 234 (3) (intentionally altering etc. document to be produced to PPP Arbiter).
    • Schedule 17, paragraph 7(2) (failure to provide name and address for the purpose of a penalty fare) and paragraph 9(2) (power to apply provisions regarding penalty charges to qualifying train services).
    • Schedule 23, paragraph 25 (committing acts with intent to avoid payment under by a road user charging scheme), paragraph 26 (intentional obstruction of a person authorised to enter a motor vehicle by a charging authority) and paragraph 27 (unauthorised removal or interference with an immobilisation notice or intentional obstruction of authorised persons).
    • Schedule 24, paragraph 16 (intentionally providing false or misleading information in connection with application for workplace parking levy licence) and paragraph 31 (workplace parking levy: intentionally obstructing person exercising rights of entry to premises).

    Transport Act 2000

    • Section 3 (provision of air traffic services without a licence).
    • Section 18 (application of Fair Trading Act 1973 provisions including false and misleading information).
    • Section 25 (failure to provide information or destroying information etc).
    • Section 38 (failure to comply with directions in interests of national security and wrongful disclosure).
    • Section 46 (failure to provide information or destroying information etc).
    • Section 56 (application of Competition Act 1985 provisions to shadow directors including prohibition on dealing in share options).
    • Section 71 (failure to provide information or destroying information etc).
    • Section 82 (non compliance with regulations relating to assessment and collection of air navigation charges).
    • Section 93 (failure to comply with directions providing for control of aviation assets in time of hostilities etc).
    • Section 94 (provision for offences arising out of orders for possession of aerodromes etc in times of hostilities etc).
    • Section 101 (false statements).
    • Section 143(6) (prohibited disclosure of information to local transport authorities).
    • Section 144(11) and (12) (provision for offences relating to penalty charges for bus lane contraventions).
    • Section 148 (failure to provide half-price travel to persons holding travel concession permits).
    • Section 173(5) and (8) (committing acts to avoid payment under road user charging scheme).
    • Section 173(6) and (8) (making or using false documents with the intent to avoid payment under road user charging scheme).
    • Section 173(7) and (9)(removal of penalty charge notice from vehicle).
    • Section 174(3) and (4) (obstruction of exercise of powers relating to examination of vehicles etc.).
    • Section 175(2) and (5) (interfering with immobilisation devices).
    • Section 175(3) and (6) (removing an immobilisation device).
    • Section 175(4) and (6) (obstructing exercise of charging scheme powers).
    • Section 188(4) and (5) (providing false or misleading information in connection with application for workplace parking licence).
    • Section 190(4) and (5) (intentionally obstructing exercise of power to enter premises in connection with workplace parking levy licensing scheme).
    • Section 247(1) and (6) (provision for offences relating to railway standards).
    • Section 255(11) (provision for offence for failure to give notice of street works).
    • Section 256(7) (provision for offences for failure to give notice in relation to prolonged street works).
    • Section 266 (driving etc. a vehicle, in contravention of a direction relating to drivers' hours).
    • Section 273 (extension of corporate offences to directors etc).
    • Schedule 2, paragraph 10 (failure to provide information relating to air traffic administration orders).
    • Schedule 3, paragraph 12 (failure by air traffic administrator to send copies of discharge of air traffic administration order).
    • Schedule 9, paragraph 6 of (wrongful disclosure of information).
    • Schedule 20, paragraph 2 (contravention of railway byelaws).
    • Schedule 21, paragraph 14(4) (alteration etc of document required in connection with railway transfer scheme).

    Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001

    • Section 85 (provision for offences relating to the provision of aviation security services).
    • Section 86 (non-compliance with directions relating to detention of air