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Written Answers

Volume 405: debated on Monday 12 May 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 12 May 2003

Cabinet Office

Consultation Documents

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will list Government written consultation documents published since 1 January 2000 which had consultation periods of (a) less than three weeks, (b) between three and six weeks, (c) between 12 weeks and (d) 12 weeks or more. [111724]

The Cabinet Office does not hold information for the time period specified. However, in a survey of Government written consultations carried out in 2001, 80 per cent. lasted at least 12 weeks.

Counselling Services

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what arrangements are made in his Department to allow staff to access counselling services. [111942]

The Cabinet Office is committed to supporting its staff and provides an in-house staff counselling and support service which offers short-term counselling, information and advice on work and non-work related issues for all employees.A contract has also been put in place to provide access to external counselling in individual cases where in house provision would not be possible or appropriate.

Criminal Offences

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will list, broken down by Act, the criminal offences created in legislation sponsored by his office since 1997. [112112]

Market Testing

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the estimated level of saving to the Department is from the use of market testing in 2002–03. [107767]

My Department undertook no market testing exercises during 2002–03. However, in the performance of its business activities, the Cabinet Office seeks to ensure that value for money is always obtained, whether the work is carried out by in-house or external providers.

Next Steps Agencies

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether there are centralised records kept of (a) all Government Next Steps agencies and (b) their current chief executives. [110766]

The Cabinet Office keeps a record of executive agencies and their chief executives. It is published on its website at http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/agencies-public bodies/This information also appears as hard copy in the Civil Service Yearbook, published by HMSO.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will list the Government Next Steps agencies, with their respective chief executives. [110767]

The Cabinet Office list of executive agencies and their chief executives is published on its website at http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/agencies-publicbodies/This information also appears as hard copy in the Civil Service Yearbook, published by HMSO.

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Accountancy Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost to her Department was for accountancy services in 2002–03. [109483]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 634W.

Angling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many angling development officer posts the Environment Agency are funding over the next three years; and if she will make a statement. [111927]

There are currently six fisheries development officers in England and Wales who are tasked with developing and supporting projects to develop fisheries, including angling. Another post is being considered for 2004–05, but no further posts are anticipated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money was allocated by the Environment Agency to encourage participation in angling in each of the last five years; how much the Agency has allocated for each of the next three years; and if she will make a statement. [111928]

The Agency does not specifically allocate funds for the promotion of angling, although the Agencys work to improve fisheries will encourage further participation. The Agencys fisheries expenditure from 1998–99 to 2005–06 is as follows:

Expenditure (£ million)
1998–9921.0
1999–200022.2
2000–0122.4
2001–0221.4
2002–0326.5
2003–04127.2
2004–05127.8
2005–06128.4
1 Estimated expenditure.

Animal By-Products

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the number of abattoirs that will be unable to comply with the blood tank requirements of the Animal By-Products Regulation. [110893]

The Department has issued guidance on simple, low-cost ways in which abattoirs can adapt to the new requirements, and believe that most abattoirs should be able to comply with the Regulation. However, we recognise there will be some cases where there may be genuine difficulties with compliance in the required timescale. We have asked the Meat Hygiene Service, who are the enforcement authority, to look at each such case on its merits provided there is a clear plan of work in place for complying with the new requirements.

Plastic Bottles

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has held with her ministerial colleagues on promoting the use of plastic alcohol bottles in bars and clubs; and if she will make a statement. [108014]

Officials of Government Departments are working closely with the Prime Ministers Strategy Unit on their study to produce a national strategy for reducing the harm associated with alcohol misuse. The study is paying particular attention to the issue of alcohol-related violence, and views have been sought and obtained from a wide variety of organisations and individuals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received to encourage increased use of plastic bottles in bars and clubs from (a) the police, (b) environmental agencies and (c) other interested parties; and if she will make a statement. [108015]

This Department has not received any representations regarding the use of plastic bottles in bars and clubs from environmental agencies or other interested parties.With regard to the public order aspect of the question, Home Office Officials have not held any recent discussions with representatives of the British Beer and Pub Association or other organisations on what can be done to promote the use of plastic bottles. Representations have been received from one individual, advocating a switch from glass to plastic bottles in the UK licensed trade to minimise the risk of glass-related injuries taking place.As indicated in the reply given on 29 March 2003,

Official Report, column 457W, we remain concerned about the high level of injuries that occur when glasses and bottles are used as weapons in drink-related situations in and outside licensed premises and other drinking establishments, and we intend to see that this problem is effectively tackled. The Licensing Bill Guidance that has been published in draft by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will include a range of conditions that a licensing authority could impose on a premises to address violence of this form.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) glass alcohol bottles and (b) plastic alcohol bottles were recycled in the latest 12 months for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. [108016]

We have no specific information on the proportion of the glass and plastic that is recycled from alcohol bottles.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what evidence she has collated on the practicality of recycling (a) plastic and (b) glass alcohol bottles; and if she will make a statement. [108017]

The recycled amount of glass packaging going into the waste stream has increased since 1998. The figures are as follows:

  • 1998–23 per cent.
  • 1999–27 per cent.
  • 2000–33 per cent.
  • 2001–33 per cent.
The recycle-more-glass scheme collects mixed glass for recycling free of charge from pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars. After 18 months it has signed up over 16,000 premises nationwide. The scheme collects 60,000 tonnes of glass a year, the equivalent to nearly 200 million bottles and jars.We are not aware of similar schemes for collection and recycling of plastic bottles from pubs and clubs.

Canoeing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many development officer posts the Environment Agency is funding to encourage canoeing over the next three years; and if she will make a statement. [111929]

There are 20 staff employed in England and Wales with responsibility for developing waterways and associated recreational activities, including canoeing. This is not expected to change over the next three years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money was allocated by the Environment Agency to encourage participation in canoeing in each of the last five years; how much the Agency has allocated for each of the next three years; and if she will make a statement. [111930]

The Environment Agency does not specifically allocate funds for the promotion of canoeing. Around £6 million grant-in-aid is spent per annum in the development of the Agencys waterways projects and includes the promotion of canoeing.

Common Agricultural Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place in the Library copies of responses made to her Departments consultation on the Mid-Term Review of the Common Agricultural Policy. [110896]

In line with standard practice, responses to the consultation exercise are available to the public through the main Defra library and copies of the list of respondents has been placed in the Library of the House.

Counselling Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what arrangements are made in her Department to allow staff to access counselling services. [111936]

This Department has its own in-house Staff Welfare Service, which provides a service to staff and managers in the core Department and to all of its agencies. The 9 Welfare Officers, who are based in various locations throughout the country, have all received training in counselling and are available to staff on a 24 hour basis, 365 days a year.The Welfare Officers are able to deal with any problem brought to them by staff, whether they originate from inside or outside the workplace and by doing so they help them to resolve or come to terms with those problems, thus helping to keep staff effective at work.

Document Classification

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many documents are held by her Department that are subject to security classification, broken down by category of classification. [107356]

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Mr. Alexander) on 7 May 2003, Official Report, column 696W.

Farmers Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the schemes making grants to farmers that have met the targets in the Citizens Charter for (a) notification and (b) payment. [111860]

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is responsible for administering CAP payments to farmers in England.Citizens Charter targets do not apply to the RPA, as its targets are set annually by its Ownership Board and are approved by Ministers.Performance against target for the RPA in respect of subsidy payments to farmers and replies to correspondence for the financial year 2002–03 is as shown in the table. These figures are provisional pending validation by Audit.

TargetPerformance
To process and pay at least 96.14 per cent. of valid IACS claims by value within the EU deadline.96.42%
To ensure that 92 per cent. of correspondence is answered within 15 working days92.29%

Gm Field Trials

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what weight she will attach to public opinion expressed through the intended consultation exercise in formulating her response to the results of the GM field trials. [110376]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already made clear that the public debate will help to inform the Governments policy-making on GM, including its policy on the cultivation of GM crops, and that we will indicate what we have learned from the debate when making future policy announcements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to allow a minimum of three months public consultation on GM crops following the publication of the results of the GM field trials before deciding her response to these trials. [110377]

The Government do not intend to issue a formal response to the results of the GM field trials. The public will have an opportunity to debate the issues surrounding GM crops during the forthcoming public debate. Once the scientific papers reporting the results of the GM field trials are published and in the public domain, there will be further opportunity to comment on the implications.

Household Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she has carried out a cost-benefit analysis on changes in the collection of bulky items of waste from individual households; how much she has spent on addressing fly tipping in local authorities that have introduced charges for the collection of household waste; and what the likely administrative costs are estimated to be of introducing a charge for the collection of waste items from individual households. [111041]

We have not carried out a cost-benefit analysis on changes in the collection of bulky items of waste from individual households.Local authorities receive funding through the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services block and it is not therefore possible to estimate how much local authorities have spent on tackling fly tipping.Information on the administrative costs of local authorities introducing charges for the collection of bulky items of waste from individual households is not held centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the environmental benefits of a free service for the collection of bulky items of waste from individual households; and what guidance she gives to local authorities on the advisability of introducing charges for the collection of bulky items of waste. [111057]

No assessment has been made of the environmental benefits of a free service for the collection of bulky items of waste from individual householders. The Government intends to conduct research into fly tipping that will look at schemes that have been instigated by local authorities to combat fly tipping. One of the areas to be covered is the free collection of bulky items.Guidance to local authorities on the advisability of introducing charges for the collection of bulky items of waste was published in the joint Circular from the Department of the Environment (Circular 13/88) and the Welsh Office (Circular 19/88) and this advice was reinforced in the joint Circular from the Department of the Environment (Circular 14/92), the Welsh Office (Circular 30/92) and the Scottish Office Environment Department (Circular 24/92).

Illegal Timber Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action is being taken at EU level to tackle the trade in illegal timber imports; whether the UK will support new EU legislation to ban the trade in illegally acquired timber and timber products; and if she will make a statement. [111034]

Under EU law, import controls on illegally logged timber can only be imposed at EU level. We are therefore working actively within the EU, where this is now being considered. The Government are strongly encouraging the European Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process. The European Commission will shortly publish a proposed FLEGT action plan. The plan will include consideration of new EU legislative regulations to address imports of illegally logged timber in a way that is consistent with EU obligations to the World Trade Organisation.

Land Use Policy Group

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Land Use Policy Group. [111271]

Ministers and officials meet regularly with the England bodies that make up the Land Use Policy Group which are the Environment Agency, the Countryside Agency and English Nature, all of which are sponsored by the Department. Recently, officials have taken part in meetings of the group and presentations on their recent report Europes Rural Futures. We look forward to a continuing close relationship with the LUPG, and to a continuing valuable contribution by the Group to policy development.

Landfill

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many landfill sites are no longer allowed to accept waste for disposal as a result of their failure to submit a conditioning plan; and what estimate she has made of the volume of waste that has thereby been diverted to (a) other landfill sites and (b) other means of disposal. [111794]

Under the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002, operators of landfills that wished to continue to accept waste after 16 July 2002 had to submit a conditioning plan to the Environment Agency. Those that did not wish to continue to accept waste had no need to submit a plan, so it is not possible to know exactly how many fell into this latter category. However, the Agency had expected around 1,100 plans to be submitted, and in the event just under 1,000 actually were. What this constitutes in terms of diversion of waste is impossible to say, but all waste generated has to be either re-used, recycled, recovered or disposed of regardless of the number of landfill sites available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent under the landfill tax credit scheme in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03 (i) on Object C and CC projects, (ii) on community environmental projects and (iii) in total on all eligible schemes. [111550]

Figures provided by Entrust, which regulates the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme on behalf of HM Customs and Excise, are set out in the table (figures are collected on a calendar year basis):

£million
Project spend (UK)
YearObject C/CCCommunity Environment Projects (object D/E)1Total project spend
200134.2856.7382.05
200235.1456.7382.05
200326.237.1613.51
1 Some projects are counted in both object columns but the spend is only included once in the total
2To date

National Minimum Wage

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated cost is in 2003–04 to her Department, agencies and the non-departmental public bodies for which she is responsible of the increase in the national minimum wage from £4.20 per hour to £4.50 per hour. [110430]

None. The minimum salary from 1 April 2003 is already above the rate quoted in respect of Defra employees as well as in respect of Defra agencies, Food for Britain and non-departmental public bodies for which Defra Ministers have responsibility.

Organic Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish her Departments life cycle environmental analysis of the production and consumption of organic foodstuffs by type. [111570]

[holding answer 7 May 2003]: No such analysis has been carried out. However the Department is preparing a fully referenced study analysing the environmental impacts of organic farming. And we have commissioned studies on particular aspects of the impacts of organic farming, for example the impact on the rural economy, on biodiversitty and on energy use.

Power Stations

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the objective of the review by the Environment Agency of regulations governing emissions from power stations is to ensure that the most efficient power stations and those fitted with flue gas desulphurisation plant are used to the maximum. [107983]

The Environment Agency has carried out a review of Integrated Pollution Control authorisations for power stations not fitted with flue gas desulphurisation plant. If such installations were unable to present a good Best Available Techniques Not Entailing Excessive Cost justification for not using the abatement plant then they were authorised to operate at no more than a 40 per cent. load factor in 2001 and 2002. The next principal review of these authorisations is likely to be carried out in 2003–04. The objective of this review will be to secure a further reduction in the emissions of sulphur dioxide from coal fired power stations in 2004–05. One way to achieve this is to ensure the fullest use of Flue Gas Desulphurisation-equipped power stations. In addition, the review will consider how to avoid commercially disadvantaging power stations that are fitted with flue gas desulphurisation plant, and benefiting those without.

Statistics for UK Coal Fired Generation Plant 1998 to 2000 for Installations Operating with and without Flue Gas Desulphurisation Equipment (FGD)
Year
MeasureUnit1998119992000
Total amount of coal burnt with FGD000s of tonnes12,83811,39611,540
Total amount of coal burnt without FGD000s of tonnes33,78928,18738,565
Total amount of SO2 emitted with FGD000s of tonnes1355445
Total amount of SO2 emitted without FGD000s of tonnes922704756
Average amount of SO2 emitted per gigawatt generated with FGD000s of tonnes per GWh4.091.791.48
Average amount of SO2 emitted per gigawatt generated without FGD000s of tonnes per GWh10.779.798.74
Average amount of SO2 per tonne of coal without FGD0.0110.0050.004
Average amount of SO2 Per tonne of coal without FGD0.0270.0250.020
1 The FGD plant at AES Drax was out of commission for much of the year

Right To Roam

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the appeals procedure is for a landowner whose property has been entered in error as common land on the draft Right to Roam map. [111089]

It is necessary to separate out two issues in responding to this question. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (the CROW Act) sets out how maps of open country and registered common land are to be prepared for the purposes of the statutory right of access. This work is being carried out in England by the Countryside Agency. The law dealing with the registration and other aspects of common land predates the CROW Act and is generally very complex.As far as the CROW Act is concerned, there is a statutory right of appeal against the showing of common land on the Countryside Agencys maps of open country and registered common land on the ground that the land is not registered common land.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the amount by which sulphur dioxide emissions could be reduced if coal fired power stations fitted with flue gas desulphurisation plant were used to the maximum load factor with consequential lower load factors at unabated plant. [107984]

As part of the Governments plans to implement the revised Large Combustion Plant Directive, assessments are being carried out of a range of pollution control measures (including flue gas desulphurisation plant) and their impacts upon the environment and will be consulted upon in the near future.The actual emissions of sulphur dioxide are varied between power stations because of the different sulphur contents in the fuels burnt and the different load factors at which individual power stations operate. No estimate has therefore been made of the amount by which sulphur dioxide emissions could be reduced if coal fired power stations fitted with flue gas desulphurisation plant were used to the maximum load factor with consequential lower load factors at unabated plant. The following table compares recent figures for the amount of sulphur dioxide that is discharged from power stations in the UK, with and without flue gas desulphurisation equipment.However, there is no appeal against the showing of such land on the ground that it has been wrongly registered as common land.As far as the law on common land more generally is concerned, I announced proposals for future legislation on common land last July that would include provision for wrongly registered land to be removed from local authority registers. Although we hope to bring forward measures as soon as parliamentary time permits, I can give no guarantee at this stage, either about the timing of legislation, or its scope.

Rural Diversification

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the constraints on rural diversification imposed by planning requirements; and what recent discussions she has had with the Deputy Prime Minister on a more permissive planning environment for farmers seeking to diversify. [11270]

An assesment of the approach taken by the local planning authorities in England to diversification of farm businesses was published by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in October 2001 [1]. The report found that overall 83 per cent. of the planning applications considered had been approved; nonetheless, all planning authorities in rural areas are being encouraged to follow best practice and reach the standard of the best.The Governments proposals [2] for reform of the planning system reflect the need for the system to be faster, simpler and more predictable, and to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. As part of a review of all existing planning policy guidance signalled in the proposals, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently reviewing Planning Policy Guidance note 7 [3] which sets out policies specifically for rural areas. Within the Governments objectives for sustainable development, the overall aim is to make the planning system more responsive to the needs of all rural businesses, taking account of all relevant economic, social and environmental issues. The Government has provided a significant injection of extra resources into local authority planning services to help with delivering the step change represented by the overall package of reforms.The Department continues to work closely with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on ensuring that the effectiveness and relevance of Government planning policies and other planning issues is kept under review.

[1] The Implementation of National Planning Policy Guidance (PPG7) in Relation to the Diversification of Farm Businesses, October 2001, ODPM
[2] Sustainable Communities—Delivering Through Planning, July 2002, ODPM
[3] The Countryside— Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development (PPG7), February 1997, part updated March 2001, ODPM

Solvents Emissions Directive

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what date she has set for the full implementation of the EU Solvents Emissions Directive; and if she will make a statement. [112391]

We expect to consult this summer on draft regulations to complete transposition of the Solvent Emissions Directive (1999/13/EC). In the light of the responses to the consultation, we expect the regulations to enter into force probably by the end of the year subject to parliamentary procedures. Implementation will follow; the Directive does not require existing installations to comply with the emission limit values in the Directive until 31 October 2007.

Trade And Industry

Barmouth Road Post Office

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effects on (a) pensioners, (b) the disabled and (c) the local community of the closure of the Barmouth Road PostOffice, Wandsworth, SW 18. [112054]

Assessment of the effects on customers of proposals for closure of each specific post office under their urban reinvention programme, including comments received during the public consultation period, is an operational matter for Post Office Limited and I have asked the Chief Executive to reply direct to my hon. Friend.

Biofuels

:To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions have been held between her Department and its counterparts in the US Administration regarding (a) the future development of biofuels and (b) a reduction in the use of petrol. [110869]

[holding answer 6 May 2003]: Officials in this Department hold regular discussions with their US counterparts on a wide range of energy issues. In the course of this dialogue, there has been no specific discussion of either the development of biofuels or reduction in the use of petrol. However, the US sees potential for hydrogen as a transport fuel that would displace petrol and thereby reduce consumption. The hydrogen economy and fuel cells are the subject of ongoing discussions between both sides. There have also been detailed bilateral discussions on biomass technologies, including a joint workshop on advanced conversion technologies for biomass which was held in London in 2002.

Builders (Doorstep Inquiries)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she is taking to alert householders to the risks of dealing with doorstep callers from the building industry seeking work; and if she will introduce a requirement that all such callers should carry a valid insurance certificate for Employers Liability and Public Liability, giving the (a) name, (b) company name and (c) registered address of the insurers. [111908]

The Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating the doorstep selling sector as a super complaint within the terms of the Enterprise Act 2002. Its report is expected later this year. Any recommendations will be carefully considered.

Counselling Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what arrangements are made in her Department to allow staff to access counselling services. [111949]

All DTI staff have access to in house counsellors. They can also be referred on by the in house team to external counselling if needed. DTI aims to be a first rate employer. It recognises that by helping staff and managers tackle personal and work problems, counselling makes a valuable contribution to its peoples morale and effectiveness.

Employment Tribunals

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who the chief executive officer of Employment Tribunals is. [112708]

Responsibility for the operation of the Employment Tribunals rests with the President of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales, His Honour Judge Meeran and the President of the Employment Tribunals in Scotland, Mr. Colin Milne.The Chief Executive of the Employment Tribunals Service which provides administrative support for the Employment Tribunals is Dr. Roger Heathcote.

Eu Committees

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list (a) the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU Technical Adaptation Committee on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work, (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. [10303]

I have been asked to reply.European Council Directive 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work, makes provisions for committees to work on

Allications (£s Million)
RegionObjective19981999200020012002
GO North West1108117113116118
2100103838077
GO South West1424344
289182317
5b12829
GO Yorkshire and Humberside1100102104
28587494848
GO East Midlands22324363535
5b199
GO West Midlands2102106848280
5b155
GO East of England2151515
5b188
GO North East28285646565
GO London22324232323
GO South East244444
Northern Uplands5b11414
Highlands and Islands14144
1(Trans)544638
Eastern Scotland23132292725
Western Scotland27173524947
South Scotland2677
Borders of Scotland5b144
Dumfries and Galloway5b166
Central Scotland/Tayside5b133
Grampian5b155
Northern Ireland1163176
1(Trans)156132108
West Wales and the Valleys1157161164
East Wales2141312
Industrial South Wales24951
Rural Wales5b12424
Gibraltar211111
GB3315517See belowSee belowSee below

the purely technical adjustments to the individual Directives provided for in Article 16 (1) to take account of: the adoption of Directives in the field of technical harmonization and standardization; and/or technical progress, changes in international regulations or specifications, and new findings …

The UK representatives at such meetings would be drawn from staff with relevant technical and policy responsibilities within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Since January 2002 HSE have received no invitations to such technical meetings; nor are HSE aware of any currently scheduled.

Eu Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much funding has been allocated to the UK through (a) Objective One and (b) Objective Two programmes in each of the last five years, broken down by (i) region and (ii) scheme. [111804]

Structural funds comprise the European regional development Fund (ERDF), the European social fund (ESF), and two smaller funds for agriculture (EAGGF) and fisheries (FIFO).The programmes are all multi-annual and some are multi-fund. The table sets out allocations by region and objective for the last two years of the 1994–99 programming period and the first three years of the 2000–06 period.There are many thousands of individual projects supported by the funds, and details of expenditure on individual schemes could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Allocations (£s Million)
RegionObjective19981999200020012002
4228137
England and Gibraltar3349357364
Scotland3434344
Wales3101111
1 Objective 5b was subsumed into Objective 2 for the 2000–06 programme period.
2 Objective 4 was subsumed into Objective 3.
Allocations of structural funds by region and objective in UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been distributed by (a) Government offices and (b) regional development agencies in EU Structural Funds to UK organisations in each of the last five years, broken down by region. [111805]

The Structural Funds are multi-annual and often multi-regional programmes. In England, the Regional Government Offices are responsible for the implementation of the funds. They provide the secretariats, which distribute the funds to all final beneficiaries, which include the Regional Development Agencies.Responsibility for the Structural Funds lies with the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) in Wales, the Scottish Executive in Scotland and the Department for Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland.The relevant Structural Funds programmes cover the periods 1994–99 and 2000–06. The annual allocations were provided in my answer to the hon. Members question no. 111804, which I have answered today.The distribution of funds allocated in the 1994–99 period continued in 2000 and 2001. The distribution of funds allocated for the 2000–06 period is still at an early stage. For these current programmes there is a requirement that each annual allocation is spent by the end of the second year following the year of allocation (the N + 2 rule). This rule was tested for the first time for Objective 1 regions at the end of 2002, when all but a very small part of the 2000 allocations was fully spent. For the Objective 2 regions, 2003 will be the first year in which the rule applies and it is too early to say what levels of expenditure will be achieved.More detailed information about the distribution of funds in individual years could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many times a case has (a) been progressed and (b) approved under the ECGDs sensitive cases mechanism. [111418]

(a) Of the high potential impact cases considered so far, six have been, or are being, progressed under the sensitive case mechanism

(b) Two of these cases have so far been approved.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in how many high potential impact cases the Export Credits Guarantee Department has required (a) an environmental impact assessment, (b) a social impact assessment, (c) a resettlement action plan and (d) independent external advice or report. [111419]

(a) Environmental Impact Assessments have been required and received for nine high potential impact projects.

(b) Social Impact Assessments have been required and received for three high potential impact projects.

(c) Resettlement Action Plans have been required and received for three high potential impact projects.

(d) Independent external advice has been engaged for four high potential impact projects.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in how many cases covenants and other conditions relating to post issue implementation have been included in an ECGD contract, project or investment; how many times relevant monitoring reports have indicated that remedial action is required; and if she will make a statement. [111420]

Covenants and conditions are regularly included in ECGD loan agreements and usually relate to financial or legal undertakings. Since the introduction of ECGD business principles in December 2000 covenants and conditions related to environmental or social impacts have been included in three issued guarantees. These guarantees have only been recently issued and no monitoring reports are due yet.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many applications identified as having high potential impact have been (a) submitted to the ECGDs Underwriting Committee and (b) approved by the ECGD. [111421]

Since the introduction of ECGDs Business Principles in December 2000, Underwriting Committee has considered nine high potential impact cases. For most of these cases either ECGDs assessment is still on-going or the case did not proceed (e.g. because the UK company did not win the contract).Two high potential impact cases have received final approval from the Underwriting Committee.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the renewable energy initiative of the ECGD has been allocated to projects and if she will make a statement. [111422]

None of the support available under the renewable energy initiative has so far been allocated but three applications are currently outstanding.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 27 February 2003, Official Report, column 654W, on the renewable energy initiative of the ECGD, if she will make a statement on the initiatives minimum risk standards. [111556]

ECGDs minimum financial risk standards for renewable energy cases are the same as for the rest of the energy sector.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 27 February 2003, Official Report, column 654W, on the renewable energy initiative of the ECGD, which of the listed renewable energy technologies had applications which were considered to have (a) low potential impact, (b) medium potential impact and (c) high potential impact; and which applications were successful. [111557]

All of the cases referred to in the answer of 27 February have been classified as medium potential impact and all three are still outstanding.In addition to the technology being proposed, the potential impact classification depends on the projects location, scale and social and other impacts.

Export Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what licences were granted for equipment on the military and dual lists to (a) Congo, (b) Benin, (c) Burkina Faso, (d) Burundi, (e) Cameroon, (f) Chad, (g) Comoros, (h) Central African Republic, (i) Cote dIvoire, (j) Ethiopia, (k) Gambia, (l) Ghana, (m) Guinea, (n) Kenya, (o) Madagascar, (p) Malawi, (q) Mali, (r) Mauritania, (s) Mozambique, (t) Niger, (u) Rwanda, (v) Senegal, (w) Tanzania, (x) Uganda, (y) Zambia, (z) Bolivia, (aa) Honduras, (bb) Nicaragua, (cc) Yemen, (dd) Laos, (ee) Myanmar and (ff) Vietnam, in each month since January 2002; what the military and dual use ratings were; and if she will make a statement. [112296]

The details of all export licences granted are published by destination in the Governments Annual Reports on Strategic Export Controls, copies of which are available from the Libraries of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what mechanisms are in place for independent assessment of the Governments exemptions to its export control policy. [112326]

I refer the right hon. and learned Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch) on 1 May 2003, Official Report, column 455W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her evidence before the Quadripartite Committee on 3 April, what assessment she has made of the problems with the end-use monitoring of arms licences in the United States of America, other than with enforcement; and if she will make a statement on the reasons underlying her assessment that the end-use monitoring of arms licences in the US is less effective than that proposed for the UK. [112380]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry gave no assessment of the effectiveness of end-use monitoring of arms licences in the US in her evidence before the Quadripartite Committee on 3 April 2003.

Funeral Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will refer the funeral director industry to the Office of Fair Trading to investigate charging policy. [109737]

Under UK competition law, it is the responsibility of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to investigate allegations of anti-competitive behaviour or possible abuses of a dominant position. The OFT published its latest report on the funeral industry on 27 July 2001 and recommended that consumers be given better information about prices and choices. The OFT has also named the industry as one of its priority sectors under its Consumer Codes Approval Scheme. The OFT is currently holding discussions regarding this scheme with a number of industry bodies. Under the Competition Act 1998, the OFT can act if pricing levels appear to be the result of anti-competitive practices. Anyone with evidence of such behaviour should forward that information to the OFT.The funeral services industry has a system of self regulation. The National Association of Funeral Directors, the Funeral Standards Council and the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors all have codes of practice that require funeral directors to provide a professional service and not to exploit consumers. The codes require members to make a basic funeral available with its price clearly indicated. Funeral directors have a duty to treat consumers fairly at what is a time of considerable emotional stress. Adherence to the Code is monitored by each of the respective trade associations.

Iraq (Reconstruction Contracts)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to ensure that British companies have an equal opportunity to bid for contracts in the reconstruction of post-war Iraq. [110331]

We expect UK companies to make a significant contribution to the redevelopment of Iraqs essential infrastructure. At my request British Trade International have set up a working group of companies representing the main industrial sectors, chaired by a senior businessman, to advise on this. It is clearly important that there is a level playing field for all companies who are interested in contracts in Iraq. I have discussed this with the US authorities and have received positive feedback. When conditions allow, the working group will hope to visit Iraq.

Live Music Industry (Work Permits)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what response she gave to the consultation on the proposal to charge for work permits, with particular reference to the impact on the live music industry in the UK. [106457]

The DTI, along with other Government Departments was sent details of the charging proposals as part of the formal consultation Work Permits United Kingdom (WPUK) conducted last year.The Department was in general supportive of the proposals. As far as I am aware no comments were made on the impacts these proposals might have on the live music industry.

National Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will estimate the cost in the (a) next 12 months and (b) last 12 months of employers national insurance contributions to (i) her Department, (ii) Agencies of her Department, (iii) local government carrying out work within the remit of her Department, (iv) industry, (v) small business and (vi) self-employed people. [111659]

The estimated cost of employers national insurance contributions in the next 12 months is £10,342,057 in my Department and £9,693,811 in my Agencies. For the last 12 months, the cost was £9,683,570 for my Department and £7,969,476 for my Agencies.My Department does not record employers national insurance data in respect of local government, industry, small business and self-employed people.

National Minimum Wage

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the estimated total cost will be to businesses in the United Kingdom in 2003–04 of the increase in the national minimum wage. [110449]

The increase in the national minimum wage in October 2003 is estimated to cost businesses in the United Kingdom a total of between £180 and £400 million in 2003–04, assuming that the wages of the low paid would have increased in line with RPI inflation or earnings growth in the absence of an increase in the minimum wage.

North Sea Oil And Gas

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 29 April, Official Report, column 340W, on North Sea Oil and Gas, what constitutes the significant level of work which the Government has invested in reaching the targets listed; and what progress has been made towards each target. [112376]

PILOT—the joint industry/Government forum which seeks to increase the competitiveness of the UKCS, is due to publish its 2002 annual report at the end of May. This will describe PILOTs work in detail and will outline progress towards the 2010 targets for production, expenditure and employment. A copy will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Pharmacies

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to what extent the findings of her Departments review of the OFT Report recommendations on pharmacies will apply in Scotland. [112783]

The regulations determining control of entry restrictions are devolved in Scotland and a matter for their Ministers. The Scottish Executive announced their response on 26 March to the OFT report regarding the current control arrangements for NHS pharmacy contracts.In relation to England, the Government will come forward with a balanced package of proposals for consultation before the summer recess.

Post Office Pin Pads

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what efforts are being made to ensure the Post Office pin pads to access benefit entitlement are user friendly for blind and partially sighted people; and if she will make a statement. [111714]

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

Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 29 April, Official Report, column 314W, on renewable energy, when the Transmission Issues Working Group report on the cost of connecting new renewable energy in Scotland will be published. [112197]

Staff Numbers

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff are employed by her Department. [106278]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 24 April 2003, Official Report, column 110W.

Statutory Performance Benchmarks

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the impact of statutory performance benchmarks on the relative pay of women. [111655]

The gender pay gap is derived from mean hourly earnings (excluding overtime) for men and women. Womens hourly pay expressed as a percentage of mens hourly pay is what is generally referred to as the pay gap. ONS publish earnings figures from the New Earnings Survey (NES) annually which are the basis of governments gender pay gap figures.

The following table gives figures for the mean full-time and part-time pay gap, and the median full-time pay gap for April 2002.

Mens hourly earnings (£)

Womens hourly earnings (£)

Womens earnings as a percentage of mens full-time earnings

Full-time earnings (mean)12.5910.2281.1
Part-time (mean)(11.98)7.4258.9
Full-time (median)10.088.6085.3

When median earnings are used to construct the gender pay gap, instead of the mean, it shows that in fact the full-time pay gap has narrowed over the last year, from 15.4 per cent. in April 2001 to 14.7 per cent. in April 2002—a fall of 0.7 percentage points.

More information can be found in the WEU publication The Gender Pay Gap published in December 2001.

University Students

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many university students her Department and associated agencies have supported or sponsored with a work placement in the last year; what her policy is on work placements; what plans she has to develop such schemes; and what her policy is on paying their university fees. [98534]

My Department, excluding the agencies who are replying separately, has sponsored or supported 19 university students in the last year. A limited number of work placements are provided where suitable work and the necessary support by management are available. Local arrangements for placements are encouraged and the need for a centrally administered scheme is under review. At present, we do not pay university fees.

Letter from Alison Brimelow to Mr. Allen, dated 12 May 2003:

The Patent Office has a bursary scheme that supports female students who want to make the transition from arts to science studies: it awarded four such bursaries to university students last year. Each bursary is worth £500 a year for the duration of the university course. A limited number of work placements are provided where suitable work and necessary support by management are available. The Patent Office currently has one university student on an unpaid work placement. At present, we do not pay any student university fees.

Letter from lain MacGregor to Mr. Allen, dated 12 May 2003:

The Secretary for Trade and Industry has asked me to reply on behalf of the National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) to your question on how many university students her Department and associated agencies have supported or sponsored with a work placement in the last year; what her policy is on work placements; what plans she has to develop such schemes; and what her policy is on paying their university fees.
In the past year, NWML has had two (2) work experience placements for students. We normally offer two per year. One person during summer vacation, which is a regular arrangement and for which we often advertise if we have not had any expressions of interest. The summer vacation placement receives a small salary. Plus another one at some other time of the year—this year it was January 2003—for a short 2-week unpaid (except for expenses) placement. These may not necessarily be university students as we sometimes take school students or those about to start university or college.
This is currently the only sponsorship we offer at present, as we are a small Agency of only 57 staff and we do not have the capacity to support many work placements. For the same reasons, we do not currently offer to pay any university fees.

Letter from Ms. R. J. R. Anderson to Mr. Allen, dated 12 May 2003,

On 13 February 2003 you asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, how many university students her Department and associated agencies have supported or sponsored with a work placement in the last year; what her policy is on work placements; what plans she has to develop such schemes; and what her policy is on paying their university fees.
In the academic year August 2001 to July 2002 the Radiocommunications Agency provided 7 university students with 50-week contracts to work in the Agency as part of their degree course. This is through an Agency managed scheme. The Radiocommunications Agency did not sponsor any students in the last year:- the Agency does not pay university fees.

Letter from Roger Heathcote to Mr. Allen, dated 12 May 2003:

You tabled a question on 13 February to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry asking her how many university students her Department and associated agencies have supported or sponsored with a work placement in the last year; what her policy is on work placements; what plans she has to develop such schemes; and what her policy is on paying their university fees. I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Employment Tribunals Service, which is an agency of the DTI. I apologise for the delay in replying.
The Employment Tribunals Service does have a policy to support its staff in undertaking further or higher education and is prepared to contribute to university fees where such study would both benefit the individual and the agency. In the last year one member of staff has been supported in undertaking a part-time university course. As far as work placements for university students are concerned, the agency has no specific policy.

Letter from Claire Clancy to Mr. Allen, dated 12 May 2003:

I am responding to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on behalf of Companies House, which is an Executive Agency of the DTI.
Companies House has not had any work placements of students within the last twelve months. We have however provided advice and information to students during the course of their studies, typically when completing dissertations or course work. These are not centrally administered, but the need to do so is under review. At present we do not pay university fees.

Letter from Desmond Flynn to Mr. Allen, dated 12 May 1003:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply in relation to The Insolvency Service Executive Agency to your question (2002/1344) on university students who were supported or sponsored with a work placement during the year to 31 March.
The Insolvency Service sponsored or supported no university students last year nor did it provide work placements. However for the current year The Insolvency Service is currently undertaking a recruitment campaign to fill three placements via the Civil Service Sandwich Placements scheme.

Treasury

Family Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many family tax credit claims were outstanding in each of the last 12 months. [110557]

For the cumulative number of claims for the child and working tax credits received in each month from August 2002 until February 2003, I refer the hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) on 14 April 2003, Official Report, columns 546–47W. 3.9 million claims were received by 9 April and over 4 million have been received to date.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy to pay interest on late payments of child tax credit in cases where the delay was the responsibility of his Department. [109854]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]: Where the Inland Revenue were unable to deliver to tax credits claimants the level of service which might have been expected, I will consider what, if any, further action may be appropriate.

Debt Relief

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to pursue reform of the heavily indebted poor countries—HIPC—initiative; with particular reference to the use of the debt to export ratio as a measure of debt sustainability; and if he will make a statement. [111567]

Within the enhanced HIPC initiative it is essential to have clear and transparent rules for the provision of debt relief, and the debt to export ratio is a useful indicator of debt sustainability. However, looking forward, after the provision of debt relief, such a broad measure may not always be appropriate in assessing country plans to finance their Poverty Reduction Strategies, and the associated level of borrowing. In particular the UK is concerned that enforcing the debt to export ratio could constrain the ability of some developing countries to access their allocation of concessional finance. The UK is working closely with the IMF and the World Bank to develop a more integrated approach to debt sustainability for financing poverty reduction. The Government acknowledges that debt relief is not a panacea for broader economic development challenges problems; even the provision of 100 per cent. debt relief to all low-income countries would still fall short of the resources needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals. That is why the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Development have proposed an International Finance Facility (IFF) that would seek to double the amount of development aid from just over $50 billion a year today to $100 billion per year in the years to 2015.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the UK Government will support measures to tackle the shortfall in the HIPC Trust Fund at the forthcoming G8 summit; and if he will make a statement. [111574]

At the 2002 summit in Kananaskis the UK helped secure agreement from the G7 to fund the shortfall in the enhanced HIPC initiative, recognising that it could be up to US $1 billion. Ahead of the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank in September 2002, the UK pledged its share of the $1 billion shortfall, $120million, to encourage other donors to make firm pledges. Donors have now made pledges totalling some $850m, and the 2003 Spring Meetings urged donors to translate these into concrete contributions in the coming months.At the forthcoming G8 summit the UK will push for a change in the rules of the enhanced HIPC initiative to exclude additional voluntary bilateral debt relief from the calculation of any additional debt relief or topping up at Completion Point. This measure could provide an estimated $1 billion extra debt relief to HIPCs.The Government acknowledges that debt relief is not a panacea for broader economic development challenges problems; even the provision of 100 per cent. debt relief to all low-income countries would still fall short of the resources needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals. That is why the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Development have proposed an International Finance Facility (IFF) that would seek to double the amount of development aid from just over $50 billion a year today to $100 billion per year in the years to 2015.

Euro

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of the likely cost (a) for public funds and (b) to the public sector of changeover from the pound to the euro. [112288]

Should the UK decide to join the euro, the cost to the public sector of conversion to the euro would depend on the detailed approach that the UK took to the changeover and the extent to which organisations are able to build in euro compatibility where IT systems are being upgraded or purchased for other reasons. The outline National Changeover Plans provide a planning framework. All stakeholders acknowledge that costs can be minimised through careful and early planning.

Income Tax (Overpayment)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average time taken by the Inland Revenue for repayment of income tax to taxpayers who have overpaid was in the last year for which figures are available. [112928]

The Inland Revenue do not keep this information in respect of all cases where an overpayment might arise.In the year to April 2002, the Inland Revenue offices which specifically deal with claims for repayment of income tax made by individuals (that is, not claims contained within self-assessment tax returns or arising from overpayments of income tax under the PAYE scheme) dealt with 98.8 per cent. of claims within 20 working days. In the same year, other Inland Revenue tax offices also dealt with 82.98 per cent. of all post (which would have included repayment claims) within 15 working days.

Self-Assessment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the unit costs of (a) self-assessed taxpayers and (b) non self-assessed taxpayers were in the latest year for which data is available on a comparable basis to table 2 of Inland Revenue: The Governments expenditure plans 2000–01–2001–02, Cm 4617. [110814]

Inland Revenue

The data requested cannot be supplied on a comparable basis to table 2 referred to without incurring a disproportionate cost to the Department. That table reflected the direct costs associated with delivering SA and Non-SA work. There has subsequently been a change to a more comprehensive basis of costing this work—to include all associated costs of delivery. This gives a more accurate unit costing but one that cannot be compared on a like with like basis with the unit costs in table 2. Additionally, there have been changes to the Departments IT systems and the office structure within which this work is administered.

Set out as follows are the unit costs of SA and Non SA work for 1999–2000 to 2001–02 on the all up cost basis that is now used.

1999–2000

2000–01

2001–02

Non SA taxpayers (thousand)26,67526,01026,600
Costs (£ million)485.6694.3741.6
Cost per taxpayer (£)18.2026.6927.88
SA taxpayers (thousand)9,3469,3249,246
Costs (£ million)1,011.3747.4756.3
Cost per taxpayer (£)108.2180.1681.80

Tax Credit Helpline

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was spent on (a) setting up and (b) running the working tax credit and child tax credit helpline in each month since April 2002. [111382]

The full costs incurred on the provision of helplines for new tax credits in the year up to 31 March 2003 are estimated at £53 million. Of that figure, £29 million relates to setting up costs and £24 million to running costs, including salaries.

Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many advertisements the Inland Revenue have placed on (a) advertising poster sites in Worcestershire and (b) advertising poster sites on buses operating in Worcestershire to promote the take up of child tax credit and working tax credit. [110156]

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many advertisements the Inland Revenue have placed on (a) advertising poster sites in Buckinghamshire and (b) advertising poster sites on buses operating in Buckinghamshire to promote the take-up of (i) child tax credit and (ii) working tax credit. [110473]

The Inland Revenues national campaign to encourage take-up of child tax credit and working tax credit has used a variety of media, including television, radio, national press, magazines and the internet.The campaign has involved very limited advertising on outdoor poster sites and no advertising on buses, but posters have been displayed inside post offices and at other indoor locations.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many successful child tax credit applications were received (a) before and (b) after 31 January; and how many of those who opted for (i) weekly payment and (ii) monthly payment are receiving their entitlement. [112340]

There is a single claim form for child tax credit and working tax credit. About 2.7 million claims were received by the end of January 2003, and over 4 million by 28 April.Around 3.2 million awards were in payment, or were set up for payment, by 28 April. About a third of all child tax credit claims processed so far have opted for weekly payment.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps his Department is taking (a) to inform families of the introduction of the working families tax credit and how this benefit can be claimed and (b) to ensure that families entitled to claim the benefit do so; and what assessment he has made of the ease of completion of the application form. [111191]

The working tax credit and child tax credit were introduced on 6 April 2003. They replaced the working families tax credit (WFTC), disabled persons tax credit and the childrens tax credit.Over four million claims have already been received—half a million of them over the internet without the need for a paper claim. Around 3.2 million awards are already in payment or are set up for payment.To ensure awareness, the Inland Revenue has undertaken a high profile advertising campaign—which is continuing. The campaign has made clear that people can choose to claim either over the internet or on paper. For those claimants who do not claim on line, the single claim form for both credits is, at 12 pages, half the length of the WFTC form that it replaced.

Taxation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research he has commissioned into the relationship between taxation and (a) business competitiveness and (b) business productivity; and if he will publish the results. [108460]

The Government is committed to developing the evidence base to help evaluate the effect of measures and inform future policies. Policy advice and development on tax measures are informed by in-house research and analysis, and in some cases, research commissioned externally. In addition to this, international comparisons allow the Government to identify areas where UK businesses lag behind their main competitors. This has prompted the development of targeted policies, often based on economic and statistical analysis of reforms in other countries.The most recent research published is into the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trusts, which was published on 9 April 2003 on the Inland Revenue website. This research is wide ranging, looking at all aspects of the schemes, including their effects on the productivity and competitiveness of the relevant businesses.

Culture, Media And Sport

Commemorative Plaques

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the average cost was of erecting a blue commemorative plaque in the last 12 months. [111631]

The average cost to English Heritage of erecting a commemorative plaque in England under its Blue Plaque Scheme in the last 12 months was £1,107 (excluding the cost of research and administration by English Heritage staff).

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many blue commemorative plaques were erected in each of the last five years; and, for each year, what the cost was to public funds. [111632]

The number and cost of the commemorative plaques erected in England by English Heritage under its Blue Plaque Scheme in the last five years is as follows:

YearNumber of plaquesCost (£)
1998–91761,000
1999–20001874,000
2000–12784,000
2001–21886,000
2002–32292,000

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who (a) sets the criteria of selection and (b) is responsible for the erection of blue commemorative plaques. [111633]

English Heritage sets the selection criteria and is responsible for the erection of blue commemorative plaques in England under its National Blue Plaque Scheme, which so far has operated in Greater London, Merseyside, Birmingham, Portsmouth and Southampton, and is to be extended further. A number of local authorities and civic societies around the country operate separate schemes of their own.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the policy and criteria are for the erection of blue plaques to commemorate distinguished citizens in their native localities. [111637]

English Heritage inherited the Blue Plaque Scheme in Greater London from the former Greater London Council in 1986, and made it a National Blue Plaque Scheme for England in 1998. English Heritage has so far worked in partnership with local authorities in Merseyside, Birmingham, Portsmouth and Southampton, where it complements existing local initiatives. The selection criteria are published on English Heritages website www.english-heritage.org.uk and I am arranging for copies to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Counselling Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what arrangements are made in her Department to allow staff to access counselling services. [111941]

All staff in DCMS have direct access to counselling services provided by the ODPM Counselling and Support Service. It is an occupational service paid for by the Department. The counsellors are civil servants who are professionally trained in counselling skills and who have a knowledge and understanding of procedures and practice in DCMS. DCMS is committed to helping employees deal with concerns both inside and outside the workplace.

Criminal Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list, broken down by Act, the criminal offences created in legislation sponsored by her Department since 1997. [111788]

[holding answer 8 May 2003]: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has enacted two measures since 1997 which create new criminal offences. These are the Royal Parks (Trading) Act 2000 which created one offence and the Television Licences (Disclosure of Information) Act 2000 which created one offence.

Eu Committees

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list (a) the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU committee on general authorisations and individual licences in the field of telecommunications services, (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. [110292]

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU committee on the implementation of the multiannual community programme to stimulate the development and use of European digital content on the global networks and to promote linguistic diversity in the information society, 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. [110492]

No officials from my Department sit on the eContent programme committee.

Hague Convention For The Protection Of Cultural Property

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on her policy with regard to UK participation in the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. [111459]

We remain fully committed to the protection of cultural property in time of armed conflict in accordance with international law and, with other interested departments, are giving active consideration to the ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention.For information, I am arranging to place a statement in the Libraries of both Houses outlining what we are doing to protect Iraqs cultural heritage.

Honours

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many officials in her Department have received honours; and how many honours are held by her officials, broken down by category of honour. [111495]

According to our records twelve members of staff currently working within DCMS and its agencies have received honours: one at CB, one at CBE, four at OBE, three at MBE, and three at MVO.We do not keep records of awards that are unrelated to official duties, nor those already held by staff before joining the Department, including those transferred under machinery of government moves. Consequently, data are not available on the number of awards held by individuals.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received from the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeological Group on the protection of archaeological artefacts in Iraq; and what steps she has taken to establish protection measures for Iraqs historical artefacts. [111358]

The All-Party Parliamentary Archaeological Group have made representations to the Prime Minister and to Baroness Symons in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Government is working with UNESCO, the US Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs, the British Museum and other organisations and we have issued a statement on the steps that are being taken to establish protection measures for Iraqs cultural heritage. I am arranging for copies of this document to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Libraries

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many loans have been made from libraries in each year from 1996; and if she will make a statement. [111816]

The numbers of issues per year (in thousands) for the period 1995–96 to 2000–01 by UK libraries are contained in Table 4, Stocks and Issues, within the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancys (CI PFAs) Public Library Statistics 2000–01 Actuals volume.The number of issues by English library authorities solely may be deduced by looking at the Annual Issues tables in the CIPFA editions for those years.The House of Commons Library has copies of all of the volumes in question.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many visits have been made to libraries in each year since 1996; and if she will make a statement. [111817]

The number of visits to library premises for 1995–96 and 1996–97 are contained in the Miscellaneous Tables within the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancys (CIPFAs) Public Library Statistics Actuals volume for those years and, subsequently, in that publications Library Users tables for the period 1997–98 to 2000–01.The House of Commons Library has copies of all the editions in question.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many qualified librarians have been employed in libraries in each year since 1996; and if she will make a statement. [111818]

The numbers of full time equivalent professional staff employed by UK library authorities for the period 1995–96 to 2000–01 may be found in Table 2, Staff Establishment, within the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancys (CIPFAs) Public Library Statistics 2000–01 Actuals volume.The number of professional posts within English library authorities solely may be deduced by looking at the Staff in Post and Establishment tables in the CIPFA editions for those years.The House of Commons Library has copies of all of the volumes in question.

Mental Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many of her staff retired on medical grounds due to mental health problems in the last year. [111969]

No staff in DCMS retired on medical grounds due to mental health problems in the last year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many sick days were lost over the last year by her Department through staff mental health problems; [112004](2) how many of her staff have taken sick leave due to mental health problems in the last year. [111990]

Cabinet Office publishes an annual report Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service. The statistics show reasons for absence including mental disorders. The most recently published figures for the calendar year 2001 were announced by Ministerial Statement on 19 December 2002, and copies placed in the Libraries of the House. The sickness absence figures for 2002 will be announced in due course.DCMS is committed to managing sickness absence effectively, and in meeting the 2003 target for reduced sickness absence as set out in the Service Delivery Agreements (SDA).

Millennium Commission

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how much the Millennium Commission has spent on consultancy fees, broken down by areas of expertise that consultants provided; [112122](2) if she will list the Millennium Landmark projects which have received revenue support from the Millennium Commission, showing the cost and time commitment involved; [112115](3) if she will list the variations in the Millennium Landmark projects from their original agreements with the Millennium Commission; [112116](4) if she will list the Millennium Landmark projects indicating the estimate of the

(a) costs of completion and (b) initial forecasted costs; [112117]

(5) if she will make a statement on the cost of the administration of the Millennium Commission since its establishment; and which budgets have provided the money; [112128]

(6) if she will list the Millennium Landmark projects indicating the expected completion dates and the initial forecasted completion dates; [112118]

(7) if she will list the Millennium Landmark projects which have received public money other than from the Millennium Commission, broken clown by (a) amount and (b) funding organisation. [112119]

I will write to the hon. Member in my capacity as Chair of the Millennium Commission, and place copies of my reply in the Libraries of both Houses.

Running

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what guidance is given to communities to encourage children to take up running competitively. [111921]

One of this Departments key objectives is to increase participation in all sports, including running, and through Sport England and UK Sport, the national governing bodies of sport are funded directly to help achieve this objective. UK Athletics in conjunction with its home country partners has developed a number of grass roots initiatives that support and encourage individuals to become involved in athletics. The schemes take place within schools, communities, and athletics club environments. Such schemes include the Norwich Union star:track, sports:hall, and shine:awards, which are designed for young people aged three upwards. UK Athletics also supports athletics clubs through its clubs:future programme.

In addition Lottery funding worth over £1.39 billion has been provided since 1995 for community sports projects across England, many of which have facilities for athletics.

Sports Participation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people her Department estimates participate in (a) angling and (b) canoeing on average each year. [111926]

Sport England estimate that three million people participate in angling, and that two million people participate in canoeing in the United Kingdom on average each year.

Defence

Defence Equipment

18.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what conclusions he has drawn from the Gulf conflict in respect of equipment supply. [112232]

The deployment of 45,000 personnel and their equipment over such a long distance and in such a short time represents a remarkable achievement and one of which all those in the logistic chain can be proud.As with all exercises and operations, we are in the process of identifying lessons from operations in Iraq. This work will be published in due course, subject to the usual constraints on force protection and security. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to draw any conclusions at this stage in the process.

Service Personnel (Gulf)

20.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of logistic support to sustain British forces in the Gulf region. [112234]

The logistic support to our forces in the Gulf has been a remarkable achievement. An assessment of the effectiveness of support to Operation TELIC will be made as part of the normal process of identifying lessons from our deployments. We do, of course, keep the sustainment of on-going operations under constant review and I am confident that this will ensure that forces still in the Gulf will continue to receive an appropriate level of support.

22.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to investigate complaints about the quality of clothing and other equipment supplied to members of HM armed forces serving in the Gulf. [112236]

As recent operations in Iraq have demonstrated our armed forces are among the best equipped in the world. I can tell the House the reports from theatre indicate that equipment performance overall has been generally impressive. However, we do take any reported defects very seriously. An assessment of the performance of equipment deployed on operations in the Gulf, including clothing and personal equipment, will be undertaken as part of the usual process of identifying lessons from our deployments.

24.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he is taking in support of widows and partners of Service personnel who died in the Gulf conflict. [112238]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Members for Newark (Patrick Mercer) and for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker).

Iraq

21.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to replace assets used or lost in the Iraq conflict. [112235]

We are gathering evidence and assessing the lessons emerging from the Iraq conflict so that realistic decisions can be made on whether the equipment and logistical stocks lost or used will, or will not, be replaced.

25.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. [112239]

I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Wiggin) and the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell).

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the contract journalists embedded with British forces involved in the invasion of Iraq were required to sign in advance of their placements. [111363]

Journalists embedded with British forces serving in Iraq were not required to sign a contract as such. They were, however, required to sign a copy of Annexes B to E of the Green Book—Working Arrangements with the Media during times of Emergency, Tension, Conflict or War. A copy of this book, with the relevant Annexes, is accessible on the MOD website, at www.mod.uk/news/green_book/ foreword.htm

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what services are available for the support of members of the armed forces as they return home from Iraq. [111778]

All personnel returning from Operation TELIC, whether Regulars or Reservists, will be provided with appropriate support measures acknowledging that each individuals experience of the conflict will be different. The procedures will vary slightly between each Service according to need, but are essentially similar and delivered in three stages: recovery, normalisation and after care. Each stage has support services ranging from medical screening and debriefings to post-operational tour leave. For example, building on lessons from earlier conflicts, personnel from 3 Commando Brigade will have a period of two weeks in their barracks, with night leave, to allow additional time to decompress and normalise while fulfilling equipment maintenance tasks. At all stages of the process, personnel have access to Sendee welfare specialists when required including medical officers, chaplains and also representatives from external bodies such as SSAFA-Forces Help.Procedures are in place to ensure that personnel do not miss end-of-deployment medical briefings given in theatre enabling data to be extracted for clinical audit and post-deployment health surveillance purposes. Measures are also in place to raise awareness of PTSD and other stress-related disorders which may occur among Service personnel.Commanders have been made aware of such vital issues as combat stress indicators, the difficulties surrounding the return of personnel and re-union with their loved ones, and the effect that the deployment may have had on their children. Two Leaflets—Coming Home and Dealing with Traumatic Experiences—are handed to all personnel leaving the operational area. In addition, leaflets are sent to families to alert them to the possible after-effects of the operational deployment including special booklets and advice for children.Each person will have the opportunity to be properly de-briefed by personnel within the command chain. This commitment to after care is enduring, recognising that the needs of individuals change in the longer term.I also refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement on 7 May 2003,

Official Report, column 34WS on the decision to conduct research into the physical and psychological health of those involved in the conflict.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the planned work of the War Graves Commission in Iraq. [112081]

Subject to the continuing improvement in the overall security environment, Commonwealth War Graves Commission staff are scheduled to arrive in Iraq on 23 June 2003, when they will begin their work to restore the cemeteries and memorials to the 54,000 Commonwealth Servicemen who are buried in the 13 cemeteries throughout Iraq.

Afghanistan

23.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the military situation in Afghanistan. [112237]

The military situation in Afghanistan continues to evolve. The effectiveness of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul is well established and there are encouraging signs of greater stability in many of the Afghan regions. The three Provincial Reconstruction Teams already in place are building on that stability, as will the Team the United Kingdom will lead in Mazar-e Sharif. Even so, terrorist remnants still pose a danger in some areas. Afghan and coalition forces are cooperating to end that threat.

Accommodation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) of the total available stock of MOD accommodation units in each of the six districts of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, (a) how many and what proportion are within a restricted military base, and how many of those are empty, and (b) how many are situated within the civilian community and how many of those are empty; [111431](2) how many

(a) MOD-owned and (b) long-term leased accommodation units there are in each of the six districts of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly; [111432]

(3) how many and what proportion of his Departments accommodation units situated within civilian areas in Kerrier district have been empty in each of the last five years for which records are available; and of these, how many were in the St. Ives constituency. [111424]

All Service family housing in Cornwall is owned by Annington Homes Ltd. and managed and maintained, under a lease-back agreement, by the Ministry of Defences Defence Housing Executive (DHE) Agency.The number of Service family housing units in Cornwall and the number empty, by constituency, is shown in the table. Only seven properties in Cornwall are located within a military base (RAF St. Mawgan), and they are all occupied.

ConstituencyLocationsTotal propertiesVacant properties
St. IvesHelston (Culdrose)29341
Falmouth and CambourneFalmouth/Redruth522
Truro and St. Austell0
Cornwall NorthNewquay/St. Mawgan/36846
St. Eval
Cornwall South EastSaltash10214
Scilly Isles0
Totals in Cornwall8151103
1 Of the vacant properties:
some 50 are either under offer or allocated and awaiting incoming families;
29 are identified for disposal during this financial year; and 20 are held against known future deployments.
The remainder are available for occupation.
There are 333 properties within the Kerrier district council boundaries, of which 293 are located in the St. Ives constituency. 43 properties are currently vacant, of which 41 are in the St. Ives constituency, including those held against future deployment. Historic data for district council areas is not held, but our available records for Cornwall as a whole over the last three years show that the number of vacancies has not changed substantially.

Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest estimate is for the in-service dates for each of the proposed new aircraft carriers. [111334]

Our target in-service dates for the two new aircraft carriers are 2012 and 2015. Estimates for their delivery are being developed progressively this year during the remainder of the assessment phase by the CVF Alliance of BAE Systems, Thales UK and the Ministry of Defence, taking account of the maturing carrier design. The expected in service dates will be confirmed next spring when we place the contract for the demonstration and manufacture of the carriers.

Army Exercises

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what mechanisms are in place to monitor the process of applying lessons learned from past army exercises to future activities; and who is responsible for ensuring such processes take place; [110553](2) who is responsible within his Department for the planning and execution of army exercises; and what procedures are in place to assess their performance and that of their subordinates. [110552]

There is a robust system in place to ensure that appropriate training is undertaken by the Army, and that relevant lessons are learned from exercises. Ultimately the responsibility for the planning and execution of Army exercises lies with Headquarters Land Command. The exercise programme is disseminated through the Land Command Collective Training Programme, which is designed to ensure that the right number of troops achieve the right level of readiness, in line with the Formation Readiness Cycle.Individual exercises are planned against the Mission Essential Tasks List (METL) that each unit is asked to undertake. The specific manner in which these METLs are met is a decision for the Chain of Command to take, at the appropriate level dependent on the size of the exercise. Headquarters Land Command undertakes the formulation of the METL, through a consultation process with the relevant Chain of Command. The procedure for assessing the individual performances of the personnel involved in the planning and execution of exercises, and that of their subordinates, is through the annual appraisal system, which is informed by an After Action Review conducted immediately at the end of each exercise.Following soon after the completion of each exercise a Post Exercise Report is produced examining the success of the exercise against its aims. This not only enables the Chain of Command to assess the Collective Performance of the units/formations involved, but also provides an avenue for feedback, which allows the Army to learn appropriate lessons. The Land Warfare Centres Mission Support Group, which is part of Land Command, is responsible for the effective collation and dissemination of lessons learned from past Army exercises.Throughout the year, all collective training establishments systematically analyse the performance of all unit, battlegroup and brigade level exercises. These observations are then used to inform Land Commands lines of development, such as concepts and doctrine, sustainability, structures, training development, equipment and technology and people.In addition, the Mission Support Group issues Observations from Training (OFT), a collation of the lessons learnt from the exercises undertaken in the preceding year. The OFT seek to identify trends and general observations from training. It is the responsibility of the Chain of Command to ensure that the OFT receives widespread distribution, and that the lessons learned inform future training and operations.

Challenger Tank

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the performance of Challenger 2 tanks in the desert conditions of southern Iraq in 2003. [110759]

Post operational reporting will provide analysis and an assessment of the performance of equipment deployed on operations in Iraq. It would, therefore, be premature for me to provide a detailed assessment. Early indications are, however, that the Challenger 2 tanks performed very well.

Chinook Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the position regarding the possible sale to the US of the Chinook HC3 helicopters originally ordered for the RAF. [108846]

An approach was received from the United States last year about the possible purchase of the Chinook Mk3, with the United Kingdom in turn purchasing the MH47G. While informal discussions took place with the DoD, no formal approach has been received.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the Chinook HC3 helicopters ordered for the RAF (a) were delivered to the UK and (b) are flying in the UK. [108847]

Of the eight Chinook Mk3 aircraft ordered for the RAF, seven were delivered to the United Kingdom during the period of July 2001 to May 2002. The remaining aircraft has been retained at Boeing Helicopters in Philadelphia, USA in support of a UK Chinook capability enhancement programme.Two of the Chinook Mk3s are flying in the UK as part of the Military Aircraft Release (MAR) Trials, another is currently being utilised at RAF Odiham for ground training.The remaining four in-country aircraft are awaiting the issue of MAR recommendations and a Release to Service.

Depleted Uranium

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what response his Department will be making to the recent recommendations by the United Nations Environment Programme that guidelines be distributed immediately to military and civilian personnel, and to the general public, on how to minimize the risk of accidental exposure to depleted uranium. [111451]

The Ministry of Defence welcomes the Desk Study on Iraq from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In support of the UNEP work, MOD agrees that information should be released on how much depleted uranium (DU) has been used in the Iraq conflict and where. NATO provided information following use of DU in the Balkans conflict and the United Kingdom will do so for DU it has fired in its area of operations in Iraq.

The MOD has already issued appropriate safety instructions to those UK troops who have been deployed to the Gulf. These safety instructions make clear that the risks from DU are far lower than those from other hazards arising from military operations and that combat and life-saving activities should never be delayed on account of concern over DU. The emphasis is on avoiding situations where DU dust may be encountered and on wearing appropriate respiratory protective equipment and protective clothing when it is necessary to enter potentially contaminated areas.

DU particulate remains highly localised to the points of impact where DU munitions have struck hard targets: only in these small areas would DU levels be significant enough to necessitate precautions to prevent or reduce possible intakes. Increasing amounts of independent research by eminent scientists within groups such as the Royal Society DU Working Group and the United Nations Environment Programme support this view. As many defeated tanks as possible within the British area of operations are being cordoned off and kept undisturbed, until it is possible to send scientists to examine them.

Firefighters Dispute

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many naval personnel man-hours have been expended as a result of the firefighters dispute; and what the estimated cost has been to the Royal Navy. [111308]

A complete answer will not be available until the military commitment to the firefighters dispute has ceased. To date, we estimate that more than 6.4 million hours have been spent in directly providing and training for life-saving cover, with estimated materiel costs approaching £5 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Royal Navy vessels are unavailable for deployment as a result of the firefighters dispute; and what plans there are to relieve their crews. [111309]

The following vessels have the majority of their crews currently allocated to provide cover in the event of a firefighter; strike. This will prevent the vessels from deploying to previously programmed tasks until their crews are relieved or their employment on emergency fire cover is no longer required.

  • HMS Cambeltown
  • HMS Norfolk
  • HMS St. Albans
  • HMS Lancaster
  • HMS Portland
  • HMS Monmouth
  • HMS Newcastle
  • HMS Exeter (in dry dock for maintenance)
  • HMS Glasgow
  • HMS Middleton
  • HMS Bridport
  • HMS Dulverton
We are exploring options to relieve some crews in the event that the firefighters dispute continues.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the impact of the firefighters dispute upon (a) the operational capability and (b) the morale of the Royal Navy. [111335]