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Written Answers

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 13 May 2003

Cabinet Office

Crown Copyright

26.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on the role of the Advisory Panel on Crown Copyright. [112593]

As I announced on 14 April to the House through a written ministerial statement the role of the Advisory Panel on Crown Copyright is:

To advise Ministers on how to create opportunities in the information industry for greater reuse of Government information;
To advise Her Majesty's Stationery Office about changes in the information industry, so that the licensing of Crown copyright information is aligned with emerging developments; and
To advise on the impact of complaints under the Information Fair Trader Scheme.
I look forward to meeting its Chairman, Professor Richard Susskind, shortly.

Public Appointments

27.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress is being made to increase the number of members of ethnic minorities who take up public appointments. [112594]

Good progress is being made. "Public Bodies 2002" published on 31 January 2003, showed that members of ethnic minorities held 6.2 per cent. of public appointments, up from 4.8 per cent. in the previous year.

Government Services (Disabled People)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what steps have been taken towards making Government services accessible to the disabled. [112592]

2003 is the European Year for Disabled People and the Government are committed to ensuring the delivery of accessible electronic information and electronic services to disabled users.The Government first issued "Guidelines for UK government websites", requiring all new or re-designed web-based services to be made accessible to the disabled, in December 1999. It is now a condition of registering a.gov.uk domain name that websites comply with these guidelines.

Transport

Rail Freight

11.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to increase the volume of freight carried on the rail network, with particular reference to changes in funding arrangements. [112577]

The Strategic Rail Authority published its "Freight Progress Report" on 8 May. A copy is in the Library.£54 million of Freight Facilities Grants have been awarded by the Strategic Rail Authority, matched by £31 million of private sector investment, which together keep over 4 million lorry journeys off the roads.The Strategic Rail Authority plans to reopen the Freight Facility and Track Access Grant schemes in the autumn for spend from April 2004, subject to available funding.

A556

12.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what improvements he plans to make to the A556 link between the M6 and the M56. [112578]

In his announcement on 1 April 2003, the Secretary of State for Transport was not convinced that the proposal for a new motorway in open countryside between M6 Junction 19 and M56 was acceptable. Instead, he has asked the Highways Agency to work with local stakeholders to identify smaller-scale measures to address congestion and safety on the A556. Consultation will take place this summer, with the full involvement of local stakeholders. The Highways Agency has a scheme at Bucklow Hill, which is expected to start in the next 12 months.

Village Bypasses

14.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on the provision of village bypasses. [112580]

Proposals for village bypasses are appraised against the Government's objectives for the environment, safety, economy, integration and accessibility, and decisions on particular bypasses are made on a case-by-case basis.

Rail Services (Gloucestershire)

15.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on rail services to and from Gloucestershire. [112581]

In order to improve reliability and performance on the Virgin Crosscountry network, the Strategic Rail Authority has decided that most Virgin Crosscountry trains should no longer serve Gloucester station from the beginning of the summer 2003 timetable on 18 May. Instead, new services operated by Central trains and Wessex trains will provide a more reliable service to a range of destinations including Cardiff, Cheltenham, Worcester and Birmingham, from where onward connections can be made.

Detrunking (Lancashire)

16.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the detrunking of roads in Lancashire. [112582]

The Highways Agency is planning to detrunk the A59, A565, A65, A646 and A679 in Lancashire on 1 July. They are working with the local highway authority and any objectors to resolve any outstanding issues.

Ticketing

17.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to facilitate joint ticketing between public transport companies. [112583]

Operators may agree ticketing schemes falling within the block exemption from the Competition Act 1998. Local authorities have statutory powers to make ticketing schemes for buses, with or without tram or rail connections.My Department has encouraged the Journey Solutions organisation to deliver a simple add-on bus option to rail tickets called PlusBus.

Gourock Station

18.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the Chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority regarding the actions of Network Rail in relation to the redevelopment of Gourock station. [112584]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has recently spoken to the Chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority, met representatives from both Network Rail and Inverclyde council, and has written to the Chairman of Network Rail about the company's participation in the Gourock Interchange Project.

Totnes Castle

19.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Network Rail about the proposed construction of a telecommunications mast in front of Totnes Castle. [112585]

None. I am advised that Network Rail has an on-going dialogue with South Hams local district council regarding the location of the GSM-R mast in Totnes.

Airports (Transport Links)

20.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to improve public ground transport links to airports. [112586]

We have looked closely at possible improvements to public transport links, as part of our studies of airports and air services across the UK, on which we are presently consulting. We will set out our conclusions in the air transport White Paper. Airports are also working with the relevant parties to improve public transport links, in accordance with the policies set out in the 1998 "New Deal for Transport" White Paper.

Alconbury Airfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for a further public display of proposals for the construction of an airfield at Alconbury, held at a venue close to the airport site. [112640]

There are no plans for further public exhibitions on the options presented in "The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East" (second edition).Public exhibitions providing information about the published consultation options were held last year, This included an exhibition on 3 October at the Huntingdon Marriott Hotel concerning the option for the small-scale airport development at Alconbury airfield.On 27 February 2003 the Government published a revised South East consultation document, including runway options for Gatwick airport, A public exhibition about these new options was held recently with a further day planned for later this month,

Cycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to (a) develop and (b) promote cycling as an element of multi-modal transport planning (i) in England, (ii) regionally and (iii) in Teesside. [112716]

Our National Cycling Strategy (NCS) aims to quadruple the number of journeys made by bike (based on 1996 figures) by 2012. We have established the NCS Board for England to take this forward. The Board combines expertise on transport engineering, marketing, local government and research. It has established a team of regional champions—the English Regions Cycling Development Team—to work with local authorities to promote and monitor cycling and deliver an improvement in conditions for cyclists.At local level, provision and improvement of facilities for cyclists are largely funded through Local Transport Plan funds, All authorities have developed a local cycling strategy as part of these plans. This must identify gaps in the local infrastructure and potential improvements to the cycling network. In the 2003–04, Tees Valley authorities plan to spend over £1 million on cycling schemes.

Entertainment Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he has entertained Labour hon. Members at public expense in the last 12 months; and at what cost. [106391]

Information Technology

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his Department's (a) total managed expenditure, (b) total spending on Information Technology and (c) spending on Information Technology as a proportion of its total managed expenditure was in each financial year since 1997–98. [107177]

The contribution by the Department for Transport to Total Managed Expenditure can be measured by the total of spending under resource and capital budgets, less non-cash items in Annually Managed Expenditure, Data for 1998–99 to 2001–02 were published in the 2002 Departmental Report (Cm 5405), New estimates will be published in the same table in the 2003 Departmental Report, in May 2003.Estimates of spending on Information Technology (IT) are not held centrally, and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Rail Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents have occurred on the Stratford to Birmingham railway line between Earlswood and Tyseley since 1980. [112167]

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise that, since their records began in December 1990, there have been a total of 108 incidents on the railway (including stations) between Earlswood and Tyseley that are reportable to the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, 1995. The incidents recorded range from slip and trip injuries to employees to more serious route crime incidents such as missile strikes to train cabs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents on the Stratford to Birmingham railway line between Earlswood and Tyseley since 1980 were caused by leaves on the line. [112168]

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise that, since their records began in December 1990, there have been no accidents caused by `leaves on the line' incidents reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995. However, there were two incidents on 24 August 1996 and 3 January 1998 where trains have struck trees that have fallen on to the line near Earlswood station,

Railway Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many complaints were received from members of the public regarding each rail operating company in each of the last five years. [112185]

Data on the number of complaints received by each train operator is published in the Strategic Rail Authority's On Track publication, copies of which are placed in the Library of the House. The information first appeared in the issue published on 29 June 2001 which provided data back to 1999–2000.

Rosyth

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 19 March, Official Report, column 759W, on Rosyth, what estimate he has made of the likely change in long distance lorry movements through Tyneside which will result from the new RO-RO facilities at Rosyth. [113056]

My Department's grant award to Forth Ports Pic, Rosyth was predicated on the substantial environmental benefits which will arise through the savings of over 400,000 long distance lorry journeys between Scotland and the ports of Dover, Hull and Teesport over the next 10 years, No specific estimate was made of the number of lorries that would pass through the Port of Tyne,Of the 400,000 lorry journeys, 100,000 would have originated in Aberdeenshire, Angus, Fife, or Borders and thus passed through Tyneside on the way south.

Strategic Rail Authority

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has set the chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority a target for response times to letters from (a) hon. Members and (b) the general public; and if he will make a statement. [112973]

The Secretary of State has not set such targets for the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). However, the SRA aims to answer all correspondence from hon. Members within 15 working days of receipt, and to answer correspondence from members of the public within 20 days of receipt.

Toll Roads

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the impact of the introduction of toll roads on poorer communities and social exclusion; and if he will make a statement. [112715]

The M6 Toll is the only planned toll road. Midland Expressway Ltd. (MEC) was given a concession for the road in 1992. No assessment was carried out of the impact on poorer communities and social exclusion of tolls being levied on this road, as there is a free alternative to this road.

Traffic Calming

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent changes he has made to regulations affecting the height of road humps and other traffic calming measures; and if he will make a statement. [113264]

The most recent regulations containing details on road humps and other traffic calming measures are "The Highways (Road Humps) Regulations 1999" and "The Highways (Traffic Calming) Regulations 1999". Copies of these regulations are available from The Stationery Office. We have no current plans to alter these regulations.

Prime Minister

Chagos Islands

To ask the Prime Minister what reply he has sent to the petitioners from the Chagos Islands who delivered a petition to 10 Downing street on Friday 2 May; and if he will publish his reply. [113238]

I have asked my right hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O'Brien) to reply on my behalf.

Civil Servants

To ask the Prime Minister what guidance is given to civil servants in his office on the sharing of opinions with politicians not in the Government formed in the course of their professional activities about hon. Members. [112895]

Contacts between civil servants and politicians not in the Government are conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Code, the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers and the Directory of Civil Service Guidance.

Iraq

To ask the Prime Minister whether British interrogators have obtained independent access to captured senior officials of the Saddam Hussein regime in the search for weapons of mass destruction. [113012]

UK and US personnel are conducting a co-ordinated series of interviews with senior officials of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Ministers' Partners (Government Employment)

To ask the Prime Minister, how many (a) husbands, (b) wives and (c) partners of Government Ministers are in paid Government employment as (i) civil servants and (ii) advisers; and if he will list them. [112561]

All appointments are made, as appropriate, in accordance with the requirements of the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code, the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers and t he Code of Practice on Public Appointments. Detailed information in the form requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Northern Ireland

To ask the Prime Minister how many meetings he has had with representatives of the Irish Republic's Government about the situation in Northern Ireland this year. [112902]

This year I have met the Taoiseach on the following occasions:

DateLocation
23 JanuaryNo. 10
12 FebruaryHillsborough
27 FebruaryNo. 10
3–4 MarchHillsborough
8 AprilHillsborough
10 AprilNo. 10
16 AprilEU Council, Brussels
6 MayDublin

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Animal By-Products

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the impact of the Animal By-Products Regulation on (a) small abattoirs and slaughterhouses and (b) planning applications for small and medium-sized abattoirs and slaughterhouses since October 2002. [111117]

A partial Regulatory Impact Assessment on the Animal By-Products Regulation is in the Library of the House, as part of the consultation on the enforcing regulations dated 27 January 2003. The Department has issued guidance to abattoirs, suggesting simple, low-cost ways of complying with the new requirements for disposal of blood. Planning applications may not be required in all cases. We have no information on the impact that the Regulation has had on the number of planning applications from small and medium sized abattoirs since October 2002.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the provisions relating to the separation of buildings in the Animal By-Products Regulation in relation to small abattoirs and slaughterhouses. [111118]

The UK has secured a modification to Annex V of the Regulation to allow fat-rendering plants to be linked to abattoirs, providing they are operated separately and only process animal by-products originating on the premises.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations will be in force regarding the burial of horses on racecourses and studs following the introduction of the EU Animal By-products Regulation; and what information has been given to horse owners and trainers. [111350]

New EU legislation, the Animal By-Products Regulation, applied in Member States from I May. Amongst other things the Regulation banned the routine on-farm burial and open burning of animal carcases.Horses from racecourses and stud farms will have to be disposed of in accordance with the Regulation. Burial or open burning is not permitted. Currently the permitted disposal routes for fallen stock include rendering, incineration, or sending the carcases to approved knackers yards, hunt kennels or maggot farms.No specific advice has been provided to horse owners and trainers, but information on the disposal of animal carcases is available on the Defra website, at http:// www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/bv-prods/default.htm., and from local Defra Animal Health Offices.

Catering Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she is taking to encourage catering sections of each Department to source and serve food which is (a) produced in Britain, (b) organic and (c) Fair Trade. [111156]

Defra has published guidance for public sector bodies that covers issues such as removing obstacles to tendering by local and UK producers and the purchase of organic and fair trade produce. It can be seen on our web site at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/ sustain/procurement/index.htm. We are also taking a number of other steps to integrate sustainable development into the public procurement of food and catering services. These include seminars to raise awareness, bilateral meeting at Ministerial and senior management level (including with representatives of local government) and the production of case studies. The guidance takes account of the Government's policy of achieving value for money and its commitment under the EC rules to ensure that public procurement is fair, transparent and non-discriminatory.

Conservation Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects (a) Wedholme Flow, (b) Bolton Fell Moss and (c) Solway Moss to be designated as special areas of conservation in accordance with the recommendations of English Nature. [112032]

Following English Nature's recommendations in June 2002, issues concerning boundary alignment and compensation payments have arisen. English Nature is working with stakeholders to resolve these questions. Until these matters have been resolved it is not possible to say when the sites will be designated as Special Areas of Conservation.

Countryside And Rights Of Way Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects

RegulationSectionConsultation commenced (not later than)Date regulations in force (not later than)
Regulations regarding mapping of access land and consultation on draft mapsSection 11March 2001 [ended June 2001]1 November 2001
Regulations regarding issue of provisional maps, appeals, and issue of conclusive mapsSection 11November 2001 [ended 8 Feb 2002]29 July 2002
Regulations regarding the establishment of LAFs and the appointment of membersSection 94 (Part V)July 2001 [ended October 2001]7 August 2002
Regulations on correcting minor errors and omissions in provisional and conclusive mapsSection 11(2)(1)October 2002 [ended 7 November 2002]June 2003
Regulations regarding dedication of land for accessSection 16January 2002 [ended 15 April 2002]June 2003
Regulations relating to exclusion or restriction of access under Chapter II, including appeals (but not emergencies)Section 32December 2001 [ended 22 March 2002]June 2003
Regulations on removal or relaxation of restrictions on access land and to exclude access in emergencies (including appeals)Paragraph 7, Schedule 2; Section 31June 2003December 2003
Regulations on appeals relating to noticesSection 38June 2003December 2003
Regulations on references to public places in existing enactmentsSection 42June 2003December 2003
Regulations regarding review of conclusive mapsSection 11February 2004August 2004

Eu Tobacco

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the recipients of exported EU tobacco by (a) country and (b) grade; what quantities are involved; what the new rights of access under Part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to commence in the upper north west region. [112530]

I announced in November last year that the new right for the public to walk on mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land will be rolled out on a region by region basis. This will give walkers the right to walk in open countryside and on registered common land as early as possible, rather than having to wait for the mapping process to be completed for the whole country. I intend to open the upper and lower north west regions in the autumn of 2004.This is a demanding timetable as we will need to have in place not only the conclusive maps for those regions but also all necessary restrictions and exclusions. Guidance and codes of practice will also need to be available to walkers and landowners. These mechanisms are necessary under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (The CROW Act) and it is important for them to be in force in each region before access land is made available to the public so that the interests of both land managers and walkers are safeguarded. We expect to meet the target of having all access land open by the end of 2005.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 16 January, Official Report, column 735W, if she will set out the timetable for the implementation of regulations under Part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. [112801]

The table below records the progress we have already mace towards bringing regulations into force and our timetable for completing the process. As I explained in my answer of 16 January, the precise timing may vary but we are firmly committed to ensuring the necessary regulations are made to allow the new right of public access under the Act to be rolled out as planned.quantity of each grade is destroyed by the Communities; what the cost in 2003 is of (i) subsidy and (ii) destruction, broken down by grade; which countries are recipients of production subsidy; and if she will make a statement. [111076]

Exports of tobacco in 2001, the latest full year available, were as shown in the table.There is no provision under the EU regime for tobacco to be destroyed.The cost of production subsidies in 2002 was 970 million euros (£610 million at 2002 exchange rates

1 ). The budget provision for 2003 is £956 million euros (£623 million2 ).

EU exports to world of tobacco, 2001 (latest full year)

Units=tons

Unmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuse— CN Code 2401

Tobacco, not stemmed/ stripped— CN Code 240110

Tobacco, partly of wholly stemmed/stripped— CN Code 240120

Tobacco refuse— CN Code 240130

World388,238124,21978,67456,577

of which:

France21,6942,0501,51015,778
Netherlands40,01611,95710,4533,338
Germany41,5577,66610,9095,311
Italy11,2906,4261,444407
United Kingdom17,3762,0558,2342,598
Ireland7,8568334,1681,578
Denmark7823681001
Greece9,8761,4466071,706
Portugal2,958403658599
Spain3,911208631553
Belgium19,2794,7194,2872,959
Luxembourg8,4047,8212645
Norway957152100253
Sweden252181140
Finland1026708
Austria7,0841,1323,6031,237
Switzerland7,1781,913934183
Andorra138090
Gibraltar1100
Malta2002
Turkey4,26614744904
Latvia1,329180159329
Lithuania4161972190
Poland5,1131,840816187
Czech Rep.903273253146
Slovakia664162106182
Hungary2,5566671,39283
Romania6,29010959551,093
Bulagaria1,2511280747
Albania12112100
Ukraine7,3321,4431,001556
Belarus1,054670159149
Moldova7733921190
Russia36,63013,9236,4856,589
Georgia339185790
Armenia22718700
Azerbaijan4,5098062,18113
Kasakhstan1,14968170300
Uzbekistan27918087
Kyrghistan13200131
Slovenia1,5443991257
Croatia149000
Bosnia-Herz.19901520
Serb. Monten.3,1435591,365723
For. JRep. Mac.1,393428572316
Morocco64864800
Algeria7,6105,1601,0000
Tunisia4,9242,50120239
Libyan Arab Jamahir36302130
Egypt17,91810,0501,107335
Mauritania63662907
Mali383800
Burkina Faso3490180
Senegal78891013
Guinea19000
Ivory Coast3,6175137118

The countries in which tobacco subsidies are paid are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

This Government are opposed to the payment of production subsidies for tobacco and seeks their elimination as part of the continuing reform of the common agricultural policy.

1 Based on the average for 2002: 0.628685 euro to the GB pound.

2 Based on 2 January 2003 exchange rate of 0.652000 euro to the GB pound.

EU exports to world of tobacco, 2001 (latest full year)

Units=tons

Unmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuse— CN Code 2401

Tobacco, not stemmed/ stripped— CN Code 240110

Tobacco, partly of wholly stemmed/stripped— CN Code 240120

Tobacco refuse— CN Code 240130

Ghana210210
Gabon202000
Rwanda13701370
Ethiopia10001000
Kenya220184
Tanzania130130
Madagascar2372600
Zimbabwe171610
South Africa1,322741,0473
USA20,77510,7882,1842,926
Canada3461851590
Mexico1,3546730384
Honduras484800
Cuba212100
Haiti40000
Dominican R.4271761390
Jamaica79000
Trinidad, Tob.49215700
Colombia2,1299540356
Venezuela2,0093001,979
Ecuador151500
Brazil951868083
Chile175127320
Bolivia30000
Paraguay53928100
Uruguay3,4953,41300
Argentina36134200
Cyprus101000
Lebanon45502570
Iran59000
Israel9783743000
Jordan14714700
Saudi Arabia308220
U.A. Emirates250025
Pakistan1000
India7149184
Bangladesh842352370120
Sri Lanka166131323
Vietnam149160
Cambodia27102710
Indonesia3,9113,4124943
Malaysia61129821895
Singapore2,994232,056156
Philippines5666700
North Korea20820800
South Korea4,4194,41900
Japan7,8774,0812,29635
Taiwan36636400
Hong Kong1,980565366538
Macao161600
Australia444367770
New Zealand101000

Source:

Comest, Eurostat—disk no. 12/2002. Extracted: 30 April 2003.

Fallen Stock

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she intends to respond to proposals from farmers' representatives regarding the use of animal carcases in relation to carrion; and if she will make a statement. [107126]

A derogation to permit the feeding of fallen stock to necrophagous birds is available to Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and France as part of approved conservation measures for vultures. This derogation is not available in the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement about the use of fallen stock in upland and moorland areas being used as food for carrion. [107696]

A derogation to permit the feeding of fallen stock to necrophagous birds is available to Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and France as part of approved conservation measures for vultures. This derogation is not available in the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the implementation or the EU fallen stock regulations in Buckinghamshire. [110320]

The EU animal by- products regulation which includes a ban on burial of fallen stock applies throughout the EU from 1 May 2003. Defra has sent a letter to all livestock farmers in England asking for expressions of interest in joining a national fallen stock collection and disposal scheme although it is not an essential requirement. We very much hope that farmers in Buckinghamshire will respond positively to this letter.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects the independent study into the environment and health implications of the foot and mouth disease burial site at Throckmorton to be published; and what arrangements will be made to ensure that elected representatives for the area receive a copy of the report at the time of its publication. [112666]

The report by consultants DNV has been published this morning and is available at the Defra website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/footandmouth/regions/wmidlands/wmidlands.htm. I have placed copies of the report in the Library. I understand that DNV has written to local elected representatives to inform them of the outcome.

Fishmeal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what weight of wild fish is required to provide fishmeal for the production of one kilogram of farmed fish; and what assessment she has made of the long-term implications for wild fish stocks. [112417]

We do not hold information on the weight of wild fish used in fishmeal for feeding to farmed fish in the UK. The quantity involved will vary depending on the proportion of the fishmeal used in the different grades of dry fish feed produced for the species of farmed fish concerned and their stages of growth. However carnivorous aquaculture species are unlikely to consume more natural marine resources through feed than their wild counterparts would consume in the natural environment.The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) makes annual assessments of the main commercial fish stocks around Britain, including those used to produce fish meal such as sandeels, Norway pout and blue whiting, and provides advice on their management. The total abundance of sandeel or Norway pout in the North Sea varies considerably for natural reasons, but the ICES assessments show that they are currently stable. ICES does not consider that the sandeel and pout fisheries are affecting the availability of food for other wild fish at the stock level, but studies are in progress to investigate whether problems are likely to occur more locally. As regards blue whiting, ICES has stated that these stocks are outside safe biological limits and that catches should be limited to 600,000 tonnes in 2003. Although there is no internationally agreed Total Allowable Catch (TAC), the EU has set a TAC of 345,000 tonnes for Community waters in order to help manage the fishery.

Food And Drinks Industries

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what support her Department is giving to the British food and drinks industries to help them to promote British brands. [110747]

Defra promotes the export of British brands of food through sponsorship of and grant in aid to Food from Britain, which also assists with the marketing of regional speciality foods. As part of the Strategy on Sustainable Farming and Food, we have introduced a new structure and an additional £3 million over three years for regional food initiatives both in this country and overseas.

Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what security guidelines her Department has issued in the last year to food (a) producers, (b) processors and (c) providers regarding potential terrorist action. [105073]

The Food Chain Emergency Liaison Group, which we have set up with the industry and which meets regularly, provides a forum for sharing of advice on security issues. We are also in regular contact with representatives of all parts of the food chain and pass on security information of relevance to them.

Illegal Meat Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to advise people entering Britain of the illegality of importing meat; and if she will make a statement. [111279]

[holding answer 6 May 2003]: Information is displayed at ports of entry to the UK as well as at some foreign airports, and disseminated through many of our diplomatic posts abroad. In addition we have produced two videos and a radio filler. The videos are being broadcast on television and we continue to work with airlines to get our message across in-flight. An increasing number of airlines are now making in-flight announcements on the personal import rules. Our message on meat imports is currently advertised on seven million ticket wallets for long-haul destinations.Defra has recently produced a new leaflet setting out in detail the up-to-date rules on personal imports. This leaflet is being distributed via HM Customs, who have taken over responsibility for enforcement at the border, and for publicity at our ports and airports, at overseas destinations and in transit to the UK. Defra will retain responsibility for raising awareness within Britain of the fact that there are rules on the import of animal and plant products, the reasons for them and the penalties for breaking them, for example by attending appropriate shows and events.

Lpg

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the environmental effects of liquid petroleum gas fuel in comparison with other fuels. [112719]

An assessment of the environmental performance of various alternative fuels was carried out by the Cleaner Vehicles Task Force in 2000. A copy of their report is available via the DfT website, at www.dft.gov.uk. Copies are also available through the House of Commons Library. The research showed that road fuel gases can have environmental benefits over conventional fuels, particularly for air quality and noise, although progress with conventional engine and fuel technologies is reducing this advantage.As announced in Budget 2003, the Government plans to consult key stakeholders on how best to ensure that future support for LPG and other road fuel gases continues to reflect environmental and other policy objectives.

Rural Transport Development FundRural Transport Partnership1Parish Transport GrantRural Bus Challenge2
YearNumberFunding (£m)NumberFunding (£m)NumberFundingNumberFunding (£m)
1998–99N/A1.6N/A4.24611.2
1999–2000N/A1.6N/A4.25816.8
2000–01N/A1.6N/A4.25121.2
2001–022788.0402.05820.5
2002–0335012.01165.04620.2
2003–043350312.0320038.044
2004–053350312.0330037.044
1Prior to 2001–02 this was called the Rural Transport Partnership Scheme
2The Rural Bus Challenge is an annual competition and the level of funding refers to the total award granted to successful bids.
3Budget and project targets in the Countryside Agency Business Plan.
4DfT will administer a further round of the Challenge fund later this year.
DfT has also funded improved transport services in rural areas through the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant, and the 2003 Budget Statement announced the continuation of this grant to 2005–06. Local transport authorities can also use their own revenue resources and Local Transport Plan capital allocations for rural transport projects. Data on projects supported through these mechanisms is not centrally held.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the sources of funding available for rural transport schemes. [112823]

Funding for rural transport schemes is available through the Department for Transport's Local Transport Plan process, Rural Bus Subsidy Grant and Rural Bus Challenge scheme, as well as the Countryside Agency's Rural Transport Partnership and Parish Transport Grant schemes. Local transport authorities can also use their own revenue resources for rural transport projects.

Water Companies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to encourage (a) greater competition between water supply companies, (b) customer choice between water supply companies and (c) a choice of tariffs for customers; and if she will make a statement. [113123]

Rural Transport Schemes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many rural transport schemes have been funded by the Government in each of the last five years, with the amounts given; and how many have been earmarked funding for the next two financial years, with the amounts given. [112822]

Since 1998–99 the Countryside Agency has administered four rural transport schemes. In 2001–02 the Parish Transport Grant was launched and the Rural Transport Development Fund was amalgamated with the Rural Transport Partnership Scheme to form the Rural Transport Partnership. It would involve disproportionate cost to provide the number of projects funded under the Rural Transport Development Fund and the Rural Transport Partnership Scheme from 1998–99 to 2001–02. Since 2001, the Countryside Agency has been part of DEFRA's responsibilities while the Department for Transport funds rural bus projects through the Rural Bus Challenge and figures for this are also shown in the following table.

The Government consulted in July 2002 on its proposals to extend opportunities for competition in the water industry in England and Wales. In the light of comments received, proposals were included in the Water Bill, now before Parliament.

Church Commissioners

Bullying

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners if he will make a statement on measures to combat bullying in the Church. [112597]

A number of Church of England dioceses have produced their own guidelines for clergy on bullying and harassment and the Convocations of Canterbury and York will publish guidelines on professional conduct later this year.In addition, the National Church Institutions are committed to an equal opportunities policy containing a formal investigations and complaints procedure. The institutions require every member of their staff to attend an equal opportunities course, and harassment advisers are available to provide independent support and advocacy to anyone making a complaint.

Defence

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the terms of reference are of the Committee appointed by Major General Robin Brims to run Basra; how many people have been appointed; how many of these are women; and if he will list their names. [109214]

[holding answer 14 April 2003]: United Kingdom Forces under the command of the General Officer Commanding 1st (UK) Armoured Division, are establishing interim consultative groups across the provinces of Basra and Maysan. These groups have no formal terms of reference. Their purpose is to help restore public administration and services. The number of appointees is increasing as the groups are established. Membership of the groups is open, to date there are no women representatives but we are actively seeking their participation. Because the status of the groups has yet to be formalised, I do not intend to list the names of their members, who may in any event not wish their involvement to be publicised.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what latest estimate he has had of the death toll from current hostilities in Iraq amongst (a) UK forces (b) US forces (c) Iraqi forces (d) Iraqi civilians and (e) other civilian non-combatants. [110267]

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest estimate is of the number of non-combatants killed in Iraq since 19 March. [111460]

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilians are estimated to have been killed in Iraq by British armed forces in the recent conflict. [112007]

[holding answer 7 May 2003]: As of 6 May 2003, 34 United Kingdom Service personnel had died during coalition military operations against Iraq.The number of fatalities suffered by US forces is a matter for the US authorities.We make every effort to minimise any impact on the Iraqi civilian population. We have no means of ascertaining the numbers of Iraqi military personnel or civilians, or other civilians who were killed or injured during the coalition's military action.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the book value is of ordnance, ammunition and missiles used up in the course of the conduct of operations in Iraq; how such book cost is calculated; what categories of munitions were used; and to what extent supplies will need to be replenished. [112087]

The cost for 2002–03 is being calculated. Once it has been audited and approved by the National Audit Office I will write to the hon Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House. I will also cover 2003–04 estimates.

Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many escort vessels (a) he expects will be needed to accompany each new aircraft carrier when it enters service and (b) are needed to accompany each existing aircraft carrier on deployment. [111313]

The size and shape of any escort group supporting an aircraft carrier on deployment is dependent on the circumstances existing at the time. Various factors have to be considered, such as the nature and scale of a potential threat, the operating environment and whether the Task Group is deployed as part of a national or coalition force. We are introducing the modern and more capable Type 45 from 2007, fitted with the highly capable Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS), which will support the existing and future aircraft carriers.

Anti-Nuclear Protests

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was to his Department of additional security at the Faslane base caused by anti-nuclear protests in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03. [112258]

Additional security costs incurred by the Ministry of Defence as a result of anti-nuclear demonstrations at Faslane, which includes Her Majesty's Naval Base at Clyde and the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport are:2001–02: £311,0002002–03: £169,000The costs include the provision of additional MOD Police resources, overtime incurred by the existing MOD Guard Service and repairs to damaged MOD property.

Armed Forces Accommodation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what his Department's disposal targets are for married quarters estate stock in each of the next five years; [112886](2) what his Department's targets are for reducing the void rate levels in the married quarters estate; and if he will make a statement; [112888](3) how many of his Department's married quarters were empty at 31 March 2003. [112890]

8,161 Service family properties in Great Britain were empty at 31 March 2003. The relevant targets set for the Defence Housing Executive (DHE) are expressed not in terms of numbers of houses for disposal but as the progressive reduction of void rates in order to achieve, by 2005, a management margin of 10 per cent. (The management margin is the proportion of working stock vacant).Some 12,000 properties have been passed by DHE for disposal since January 2000. Further disposals will be set in hand this year, but the Services have requested DHE hold back from disposal about another 2,000 vacant properties which may or may not be needed in future, depending on the resolution of Service deployment uncertainties.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many new build units in the married quarters estate are planned by his Department in each of the next three years; and how many houses this will replace from the existing married quarters estate. [112887]

The numbers of new build service family houses planned in Great Britain for the next three years, through both capital projects and Private Finance Initiative are as follows:

Year
2003–04415
2004–05476
2005–06315
Total1,206
It is difficult to specify how many existing family houses these new builds will replace. New build is often at locations where the requirements for service housing are new or increasing, and therefore the new houses are not intended as replacements, but they may indirectly replace housing at other locations where requirements are declining.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department's upgrade programme for the married quarters estate will be completed by 2005; how many units are part of this upgrade programme; how many units have been upgraded so far; and if he will make a statement. [112889]

Good progress has been made with the upgrade programme for Service family housing in mainland United Kingdom. Since the establishment of the Defence Housing Executive (DHE) in 1995, the number of properties at Standard 1 For Condition has increased from only about 1,000 to about 21,000. About half the families housed by DHE are now in Standard 1 properties and some 90 per cent. in Standards 1 or 2. The upgrade programme will not be completed by 2005, but it will continue to progress towards the services' long-term requirement for family housing, currently estimated at around 41,000 properties. Demanding targets will be set for DHE each year depending on funds available.

Defence Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to publish the foreign policy base line for his Department's defence review. [112562]

There is no defence review. I presume that the hon. Member is referring to the Defence White Paper issued each Parliament. I intend to publish this in the autumn. It is likely to include a description of the strategic environment in which our Armed Forces operate.

Eurofighter

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated total procurement cost for Eurofighter is; what the estimated (a) cost and (b) saving would be of cancellation of the third tranche of orders; and if he will make a statement. [111837]

The estimated total procurement cost to the United Kingdom for Eurofighter Typhoon is £18.633 billion.Under the collaborative procurement arrangements for the project, the attribution of costs and savings from any cancellation of the third tranche of orders would need to be discussed and formally agreed between the four nations. No such discussions have taken place.

European Rapid Reaction Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role he envisages for (a) the Royal Navy and (b) the Royal Marines in an EU rapid reaction force. [112263]

There is no standing European Rapid Reaction Force. Under the Helsinki Headline Goal, EU member states have identified relevant forces and capabilities that might be contributed to EU-led crisis-management operations.As regards Naval and Royal Marines forces, the United Kingdom offer includes 18 warships, as well as amphibious infantry. Committing forces to EU-led operations is a matter for national governments to decide in the light of the circumstances of each operation.

Future Carrier Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether BAe and Thales have structured the (a) terms and (b) work share of their partnership in the CVF programme. [112016]

Both BAE Systems and Thales UK have agreed to take the programme forward on the basis of the allocation of roles and responsibilities outlined in the announcement made by the Secretary of State for Defence on 30 January 2003. Specifically, they have agreed to the contract for Demonstration and Manufacture being managed and executed by a single, integrated team staffed from both organisations and the Ministry of Defence. BAE Systems will lead as preferred Prime-contractor with Thales UK as Key Supplier participating in key management posts within the integrated team. The precise terms of the contract remain the subject of on-going negotiations which are due to complete by the end of this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make an assessment of the benefits of moving the CVF contract to a Target Cost Incentive Fee. [112017]

No final decision has been taken on the CVF pricing strategy. The most appropriate pricing mechanism for incentivising contractors' performance is generally a choice between firm or fixed prices, or a target cost incentive fee. CVF is a complex programme and the balance of advantage between these options is being carefully weighed in order to secure the optimum arrangement. The way forward will be finalised as part of the main investment decision early in 2004.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects Assessment Phase Stage 3 of the CVF programme to be completed; and whether he plans to extend the time scale of this phase. [112018]

It is planned that the CVF Assessment Phase Stage 3 contract will ran up to the end of November 2003. It will also contain contract options to enable the continuation of work through to the planned award of the Demonstration and Manufacture contract in the spring of 2004. This is consistent with our plan at the commencement of the CVF Assessment Phase, which called for the award of a build contract in spring 2004.

Gibraltar

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next intends to visit the British military base on Gibraltar. [110704]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence visited British Forces Gibraltar in July 2001 and hopes to visit them again later this year. I visited at the end of last year, similarly other defence Ministers will visit regularly.

Gulf War Illnesses

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's policy towards the former service personnel suffering from Gulf War illnesses, with particular reference to the War Pensions Tribunal adjudication in the case of Lance Corporal Alex Izett, RE. [112248]

[holding answer 12 May 2003]: The Ministry of Defence takes the ill health veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict extremely seriously. It is addressing their concerns by providing medical help through the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme and financial assistance through pensions and fundig scientific research. Gulf veterans who are concerned about their health should contact the MOD's Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit on Freephone: 0800 169 4495.We have asked the independent Medical Research Council to carry out a formal review of research to date and recommend what further work we should sponsor. This is expected to the published later this month.The Pensions Appeal Tribunal (PAT) decided in December 2002 that Mr Izett was ill as a result of the immunisations he was given. It was only necessary for him under the provisions of the war pensions scheme to raise a reasonable doubt of a causal link between ill-health and Service. The PAT accepted such a doubt had been raised and therefore allowed the appeal. Whilst we disagree with the PAT's decision, such decisions can only be challenged on a point of law. There is no point on which MOD can mount an appeal.

Ministry Land

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what conditions he stipulates about the areas of MoD-owned land over which particular hunts may hunt. [112247]

[holding answer 12 May 2003]: Specific conditions on access to Ministry of Defence land may be stipulated to an individual hunt as part of their licence for hunting. These conditions are laid out in the Schedules to the Hunting licence. MOD may at its discretion deny access to any scheduled land; advance notice will be given to the Hunt of seven days under normal circumstances or 48 hours in case of emergency. All hunting applications must be made in writing by the Hunt to the Defence Estates office within the relevant area and a 'Permission to Hunt' form must be completed by each recognised hunt before any fixture takes place. As part of this form there are schedules which may contain conditions applicable to each individual hunt.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many acres of land were used on a permanent basis by his Department in England (a) in 1980, (b) in 1990, (c) in 2000 and (d) on the latest date for which figures are available. [112358]

The defence estate is kept under continuous review to ensure that it is no larger than is required. Since 2000 the Estate has consisted of some 240,000 hectares (approximately 593,000 acres).The information for previous years is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Naval Deployment (Gulf)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what Royal Naval and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels remain on deployment in the Gulf; and what the scheduled dates are for the return of each; [111337](2) if he will list the Royal Naval and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels which have completed their deployments as part of the second Gulf war task force, together with the dates of deployment for each vessel. [111336]

On the 6 May 2003 the following ships remain deployed on Operations in the Gulf region: Frigates HMS Chatham and HMS Richmond supported by the RFA tanker Brambleleaf on routine peacetime level deployments; Mine counter measures vessels HMS Grimsby, HMS Ledbury, HMS Ramsey and HMS Shoreham remain in theatre to conduct Mine Clearance Operations, Defence diplomacy and to exercise with Gulf Co-operation Council nations.By 6 May 2003, only the submarine HMS Turbulent will have completed its deployment in the recent Gulf action, as marked by its return to the United Kingdom on 16 Apr 2003.All other units which took part in the conflict, are currently on passage to the UK or are continuing with their previously scheduled deployments elsewhere.I am withholding information on specific operational programming dates for RN and RFA units under Exemption la (National security) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Officer Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the senior officers who have completed the Higher Command and Staff course since it was established. [112564]

Those United Kingdom officers who have completed the Higher Command and Staff Course since it was established are listed in a table which has been placed in the Library.

Public Access (Military Training Areas)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) legislation he has introduced and (b) regulations he has issued in the last 12 months which has resulted in new restrictions on (i) the general public and (ii) controlled public access to military training areas. [112314]

Raf Deaths

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the (a) Army, (b) Navy and (c) RAF have been killed while in service (i) in action, (ii) in action through friendly fire, (iii) by accident on operations, (iv) by accident on exercise and (v) by other means between (A) 11 September 1999 and 11 September 2001 and (B) 11 September 2001 to date; and if he will make a statement. [111827]

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

Royal Navy (Co-Operation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent co-operation there has been between units of the Royal Navy and of the French Navy. [112254]

Royal Navy and French Navy ships are occasionally attached to our respective Task Group deployments on a purely bilateral basis. The most recent attachments were those of FS Primauguet to the Naval Task Group (NTG) 2003 between 17 to 29 January 2003 and the French Minehunter, FS Cassiopee, to a Royal Navy Mine Countermeasure Group between 21 January to 7 March 2003. This followed the attachment of FS Aconit during the NTG 2000 deployment which built on the successful integration of HMS Somerset, followed by HMS Grafton, in the French Task Group during operations in the Adriatic in 1999. Such integration between our naval forces is considered routine business.

Royal Marines

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the flame-retardant properties of Royal Marines' uniforms. [112260]

The standard issue uniform for the Royal Marines is the tri-service Combat Soldier 95 (CS95) or, if deployed in desert climates, its desert pattern equivalent. Neither has flame-retardant properties as Operational Analysis shows that the soldier on the battlefield faces a minimal risk from burn injuries.

Submarine Fleet

:ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to change the (a) size and (b) composition of the submarine fleet. [112264]

The Department regularly reviews the Defence programme in order to deliver the optimum operational capability within available resources. There are no current plans to alter the United Kingdom's strategic nuclear deterrent submarine fleet (SSBN), however, in line with the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, the Royal Navy's Swiftsure and Trafalgar class attack submarine (SSN) force level will reduce to 10 vessels by 2006. It is intended that the Swiftsure and Trafalgar class capability will be progressively superseded by new Astute class vessels through a phased replacement programme.

Tomahawk

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK submarines have been fitted with the Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles and are ready for service; and what other improvements and refits have been carried out upon submarines. [110025]

Five RN submarines are Tomahawk capable. Three are currently fully operational, with the fourth, HMS Spartan, undergoing sea trials before returning to the fleet in mid 2003, and the fifth, HMS Trafalgar, undergoing a fleet time maintenance period planned to complete in the first quarter of 2004.In common with all RN vessels, submarines are subject to improvements and modifications throughout their operational lives. Details of all improvements and refits conducted could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, in addition to the fitting of Tomahawk, recently completed major upgrades have included major sonar improvements, a Submarine Command System upgrade, addition of the Spearfish Torpedo Weapons systems and various communications equipment upgrades. Re-fuelling of the submarines' nuclear reactors has also been undertaken during Long Overhaul Periods.Additionally, I refer my hon. Friend to my recent answer on 24 February 2003,

Official Report, column 311W, to the hon. Member for New Forest (Dr. Lewis) detailing the last upkeep periods that included a major upgrade for the current Swiftsure and Trafalgar Class submarines. Also HMS Vanguard is currently undergoing the first Long Overhaul period and re-fuelling of the Vanguard Class submarines.

Type 23 Frigate

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the annual financial savings from a decision to dispose of a Type 23 frigate. [111320]

There are currently no plans to dispose of any Royal Navy Type 23 frigates earlier than scheduled. The annual financial savings arising from a decision to dispose of a Type 23 frigate prematurely would vary according to the circumstances. An Investment Appraisal would be conducted, including an examination of the resource accounting implications (eg depreciation, cost of capital charges etc.). Any decision, however, would be dependent on the Royal Navy's ability to maintain the required level of capability to meet its current and contingent operational requirements.

Type 45 Destroyers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to equip Type 45 destroyers with Tomahawk land attack missiles. [111333]

As I made clear in my answer of 24 February Official Report, column 303W, the principal role of the Type 45 Destroyers will be Anti-Air Warfare. However, these ships are being designed and built with significant space and weight margins to enable incremental acquisition should an emerging requirement necessitate a different equipment fit. Our requirements are being kept under review, and the design could be modified, to incorporate improved land attack capabilities, including a cruise missile system such as Tomahawk.

War Pensions Claims

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what percentage of reviews of applications for (a) war disability pension and (b) war widows pension were (i) successful and (ii) successful when the claimant was represented by the Royal British Legion at independent tribunal in each of the last three years. [112553](2) what percentage of reviews of applications for

(a) war disability pension and (b) war widows pension were successful in each of the last three years. [112554]

The percentages of successful entitlement appeals in respect of war disability pensions and war widow(er)s pensions heard by Pensions Appeal Tribunals for each of the last three years are shown in the following table:

YearWar disability pension (percentages)War widow(er)s pension (percentages)
20024126
20014532
20003920
The percentages of successful appeals in terms of an increased assessment in respect of war disability pensions heard by the Pensions Appeal Tribunals are shown in the table.

YearWar Disability Pension percentage
200236
200134
200031
We are unable to provide figures for the number of successful appeals where the claimant was represented by the Royal British Legion.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many claims for (a) war disability pension and (b) war widows pension are awaiting review. [112556]

At present there are some 1,200 appeals where the case papers have been prepared and are awaiting a tribunal hearing. It is not possible to provide separate figures in respect of war disablement pensions or war widow(er)s pensions.

Warships

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to dispose of Royal Navy frigates and destroyers which are not scheduled for fitting with Sonar 2087. [111312]

Sonar 2087, a Low Frequency Active Sonar system, is planned to be fitted in 12 of the 16 Royal Navy Type 23 Frigates but not to any Destroyers. Since it is designed for Anti-Submarine Warfare, there are at present no plans to fit the system in other types of Royal Navy vessels, nor for those Frigates not currently scheduled to be fitted with Sonar 2087 to be disposed of earlier than planned previously.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to sell (a) Type 22 and (b) Type 23 frigates to Chile within the next 12 months. [111316]

There are no Royal Navy Type 22 or Type 23 frigates planned to become available for sale within the next 12 months. However we have recently concluded a Government to Government Sales Agreement with Chile for HMS Sheffield, a Batch 2 Type 22 frigate.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Indonesia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guarantees have been given to the UK Government on the use by the Indonesian armed forces of military equipment exported by the UK; and if he will make a statement. [113235]

Senior members of the Indonesian Government and armed forces have repeatedly assured us that UK-supplied military equipment will not be used to suppress human rights in Indonesia. Despite allegations there have been no confirmed reports of offensive use of UK-built military equipment.

Slovakia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he intends to discontinue the visa requirements for Slovak nationals who wish to visit the UK. [111198]

All visa regimes, including that in respect of Slovak nationals, are kept under constant review and are lifted when it is judged that the circumstances which gave rise to the imposition of the requirement have been addressed. The visa regime on Slovak nationals will be lifted as soon as possible and at the latest by May 2004, when the Slovak Republic becomes a full member state of the European Union.

Amina Lawal

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Nigerian Government on the death sentence on Amina Lawal since the recent decision of the Nigerian Supreme Court; and if he will make a statement. [113051]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for South Swindon (Julia Drown) during questions to the Foreign Secretary on 6 May 2003, Official Report, col. 528.

Export Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what correspondence was exchanged between Foreign Office Ministers and Mr. David Mills; and what representations were made to the British Embassy in Washington on his behalf concerning the sale of (a) aircraft and (b) aircraft parts to Iran. [112550]

Mr. David Mills wrote to my noble Friend Baroness Symons on 9 July 2002, and she replied on 16 July 2002. The British Embassy in Washington was consulted for advice on the drafting of the Minister's response, but no representations were made on Mr. Mills' behalf concerning the sale of aircraft, or aircraft parts, to Iran.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when Ministers from his Department contacted the UK Embassy in Washington to make representations to the US Government on selling jets to Iranian airlines; which Ministers sought the advice; what advice was sought; from which United States agencies it was sought; what reply was received; and to whom advice was passed outside his Department. [112551]

No FCO Minister has contacted the British Embassy in Washington to make representations to the US Government on selling jets to Iranian airlines.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written Ministerial Statement on Export Licences (Iran), Official Report, 26 March, column 6WS, from which (a) agencies, (b) bodies and (c) individuals advice was sought on the decision that the Iran Working Group should no longer convene to consider export licence applications to that country. [112552]

All appropriate experts and advisers within the Ministry of Defence, Department of Trade and Industry and Foreign and Commonwealth Office were consulted on this procedural change. The final decision was agreed jointly by the Ministers concerned.

Gender Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will publish the gender strategy for his Department. [111008]

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's gender strategy is encapsulated in our strategic framework document on Diversity, "Investing for Tomorrow". I will place a copy in the Library of the House. In order to advance gender diversity in the Department, the FCO has a Gender Advisory Group, chaired by a member of the FCO Board.

Gibraltar

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that Gibraltar meets its obligations under the Directive on a General Framework for Equal Treatment in Employment (2000/78/EC) in time for the stated implementation deadline of 2 December 2003. [112859]

Gibraltar Government officials are aware that this Directive must be transposed by 2 December 2003. We understand that they intend to complete this process within the required timescale. We will provide technical assistance if required.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that Gibraltar meets its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, as expressed in the judgment of 9 January 2003 of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of L and V v. Austria, to equalise the homosexual and heterosexual ages of consent [112860]

We have informed the Gibraltar Government that we believe the age of consent should be equalised for homosexual and heterosexual couples to avoid a breach of Articles 8 and 14 of the ECHR. The Gibraltar Government are now considering how to do so.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of the delegates who elected a mayor and council in Mosul on 5 May 2003 were women; and how many of those elected to office were women. [112938]

We do not know the procedure by which the town council was chose, nor do we know its composition. I have asked the British official working with the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Northern Iraq to find out. When she replies, I will write to my hon. Friend.

Liberia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support his Department has given to the Liberian peace talks and the Bamako Talks. [110745]

Through the International Contact Group on Liberia, the UN and the EU, we are working to facilitate the peace process in Liberia and to encourage all sides to enter into ceasefire negotiations. We welcome the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Inter-religious Council of Liberia to promote reconciliation in Liberia.Initial peace talks between the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Liberian Government took place in Freetown under the auspices of ECOWAS in early February. These were not followed up in Bamako as had been planned.

Sars

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice is being given to British nationals who reside in (a) China, (b) Thailand, (c) Japan, (d) Canada, (e) New Zealand and (f) Australia regarding the SARS virus. [111302]

British nationals residing abroad are able to receive up-to-date information about the SARS virus via the Travel Advice pages of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (www.fco.gov.uk) and by remaining in contact with their nearest embassy, high commission or consulate. In addition, our missions in Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangzou, where the SARS outbreak has been most serious, produce information notices on SARS for the British community which are updated regularly. British nationals resident in Australia, New Zealand and Canada also have access to the advice on SARS provided by the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian Governments.The travel advice on the FCO website contains links to the websites of the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation where more general information on the SARS virus, its symptoms and precautionary measures against it, can be found. Travel advice is also available by telephone around the clock, on 0870 606 0290.

Zimbabwe

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the British Council has had with the Movement for Democratic Change in Harare on public sector training (a) inside and (b) outside Zimbabwe. [112932]

The British Council is a non-political organisation. It has not discussed these issues with the MDC.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to President Mugabe on the arrest and treatment of MDC Members of Parliament; and if he will publish his dossier on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. [112934]

We have repeatedly condemned the Mugabe regime for its violent attacks on the MDC. Most recently, the UK was at the forefront of preparing a resolution on Zimbabwe at the UN Commission on Human Rights. This condemned the Government of Zimbabwe for its attacks on the opposition and civil society and called upon it to comply with its international human rights obligations.We receive detailed information on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe from numerous non-governmental and civil society organisations. We do not intend to publish a dossier of their findings, as this would only duplicate their reporting.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will discuss human rights abuses in Zimbabwe with President Mbeki during his visit to South Africa. [112935]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will discuss Zimbabwe with the South African Government. He will explain that our objective is to see an end to the politically motivated violence and human rights abuses and the beginning of multi-party dialogue in Zimbabwe, as a first step towards restoring good governance and economic prosperity.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Movement for Democratic Change in Harare with respect to the reform programme for Zimbabwe once President Mugabe stands down. [112936]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed this. Any future reform programme for Zimbabwe will be a matter for a future Zimbabwean Government. We would monitor such a programme closely and engage with it where appropriate, but we are not trying to pre-judge such a process.

International Development

Zimbabwe

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with the Movement for Democratic Change in Harare on plans to fund public service programmes (a) inside and (b) outside Zimbabwe. [112933]

My Department receives requests to fund development projects from many organisations. This has included contacts from MDC MPs and MDC run local government bodies. As with similar requests from ZANU-PF MPs and bodies, our response is that we are currently giving priority to humanitarian assistance and HIV/AIDS programmes. DFID is not funding public service programmes outside of these issues at present.

Trade And Industry

Employers' Liability Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate she has made of the number of small firms that have closed citing the cost of employers liability insurance in each year since 1997–98; and what steps she is taking to ensure that the cost of employers liability insurance does not force small firms to close. [111280]

It is not possible to attribute the closure of businesses to a single factor such as the cost of employers liability insurance, and meaningful estimates are therefore unavailable. 1.7 million businesses have started since 1997. The Government's review of the Employers' Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) system, which is due to report shortly, aims to assess the scale and nature of the current difficulties being experienced in relation to ELCI, in particular the extent to which these difficulties are likely to be short-term only, repeated in the future or permanent. The Government continue to encourage insurers, brokers and business to work together to mitigate these current difficulties.

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 advisory committee for implementation of the Community market-access strategy, (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. [110310]

The advisory committee for the implementation of the Community market access strategy is established under Council Decision (98/552/ EC) for consultation among member states and the Commission to assist in its activities set out in Article 1 of the Decision. As an advisory committee it does not take decisions, which remain the prerogative of the Commission.Details of the market access strategy—including access to the market access database, a key component—are available on-line at: http://europa.eu.int/comm./trade/mk_access/index_en.htm and http://mkaccdb.eu.int/ The committee has met twice since January 2002, on 6 June and 4 December 2002; one DTI official represented the UK on each occasion.A principal issue at these meetings was how the market access database could be developed into a more effective and more user friendly tool for traders. To this end, the Commission has now added new sections on market studies and on statistics and existing sections have been expanded. The committee also discussed the setting up of a new help desk, or one stop shop, to assist developing countries extend their export capability to the EU.In accordance with Council Decision 1999/268/EC on simplifying the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission, the Commission publishes an annual report on the working of committees. The latest report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 13 January 2003 (Commission Document 5060/2003).The UK Government have encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, their agendas and recent actions to be accessible through the Commission's website.

Export Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which Government Department is responsible for the enforcement and monitoring of arms licences (a) outside and (b) within the UK; and which civil servants are tasked with enforcement. [112365]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in overseas posts are asked to monitor goods exported under licence where appropriate. HM Customs and Excise are responsible for enforcement of UK export controls. Officials from the Export Control Organisation in the DTI monitor compliance with the terms of open export licences.

Fairtrade

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to continue to support the DfID in its efforts to get wider recognition and acceptance of Fairtrade goods; and if she will make a statement. [109006]

I strongly support the aims of the Fairtrade movement and welcome the fact that fairly traded products are a growing part of the UK market. I am increasingly concerned by the low prices received by commodity farmers and have set up an Industry/Government Working Party to look at ways of securing improved livelihoods for commodity producers in developing countries. I believe that Fairtrade is a small but important part of the answer to the problems experienced by these commodity workers.The Government, through the Department for International Development have provided £0.5 million over the last two years to the Fairtrade Foundation to help with its marketing campaigns.I have also ensured that Fairtrade tea and coffee is available throughout the DTI and I have encouraged other cabinet colleagues to do the same. My hon. Friend the Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness, held a meeting with business leaders in November to look at further ways of mainstreaming Fairtrade as part of an ongoing dialogue on this important issue.

Fur Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department has taken to (a) control and (b) prohibit the import of furs of domestic cats and dogs. [112249]

The Government are investigating possibilities for labelling any products that may contain domestic cat and dog fur. Equally we are working to ensure a reliable scientific test is in place to validate the accuracy of any such labels. This will give consumers the information they want about what exactly they are buying.It has not proved possible to determine either through trade statistics or through scientific testing, what level of imports of these products, if any, is entering the UK. Therefore the Government do not consider any prohibition on imports to be proportionate to the scale of the problem at this time.

International Coffee Organisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions her Department has had with her US counterpart regarding the possibility of the USA joining the International Coffee Organisation. [111581]

I have been asked to reply.The Secretary of State has had no direct discussion with her US counterpart on this issue. However, the UK supported International Coffee Organisation Council Resolution 413, approved on 27 September 2002, inviting the USA to join.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the Answer of 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 106W, on Iraq (Reconstruction), what discussions the Government have had with EU partners on equality of treatment in bidding for contracts to aid the reconstruction of Iraq; and if she will make a statement. [112124]

As I have made clear in this House and to the US authorities, we expect UK companies to play a significant role in the redevelopment of Iraq. We will continue to discuss with companies the best way of ensuring that their expertise is put to full use. In this context, we have established an Industry Working Group, which will act as a channel of communication to industry in our work to help companies access opportunities. We are also planning to hold a joint seminar with the US authorities in London in late May, which will present an excellent opportunity for UK companies to meet key US departments and contractors.It is clearly important that there is a level playing field for companies who are interested in participating in the redevelopment of Iraq. We have made this clear to the US authorities. The Government have had no discussions with EU Partners on this issue.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 20 April 2003, Official Report, column 106W, on Iraq (Reconstruction), which British companies have been invited to tender for contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq; what the process is for bidding for contracts; who decides the criteria for inclusion in the tender list; how many contracts have been let; what each contract is for; what the value of each contract is; what the overall budget for the reconstruction of Iraq is; who has contributed to the budget; and if she will make a statement. [112125]

We expect UK companies to play a significant role in the redevelopment of Iraq. In the shot-term US funding is likely to be the main source of opportunities for UK companies. Full details of the US contracts are available on US Government websites. There is no overall agreed budget for the reconstruction of Iraq. We are in close contact with the US authorities and others about financing the reconstruction.Andrew Natsios of USAID has confirmed to me that UK companies will be allowed and indeed encouraged to hid for US funded sub-contracts. We have agreed with the US authorities to hold a joint seminar in London in late May. This demonstrates US interest in ensuring that UK companies are involved. While we expect UK companies to bid for and win contracts, companies are not obliged to inform us if and when they have done so.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 20 April 2003, Official Report, column 106W, on Iraq (Reconstruction), what the process for decisions on awarding contracts to companies for the reconstruction of Iraq is; who makes the final decision; and if she will make a statement. [112126]

In the short-term US funded contracts are likely to be the main source of opportunities for UK companies looking to get involved in the redevelopment process in Iraq. Under US law, only US companies can be awarded primary contracts. However, the law has been relaxed to allow UK companies to bid for sub-contracts. It will be for the prime contractors to decide on the awarding of sub-contracts. We will continue to work with companies to ensure that they are as best placed as possible to participate in the redevelopment process.

Military Technologies

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she has taken in the last three years to advise exporters of military sensitive technologies of their responsibilities in such exports. [112654]

The Department of Trade and Industry's Export Control Organisation (ECO) has taken a number of steps to advise exporters of their responsibilities under UK strategic export controls. These include seminars, workshops, rating advisory service, electronic notification of changes to procedures and controls, and a telephone helpline. Further details of the help and advice available to exporters is available from the ECO's website www.dti.gov.uk/export.control.

Multi-National Enterprises (Complaints)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many formal complaints have been received by the National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multi-national Enterprises; and what action has been taken. [112971]

Since the most recent revision of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multi-national Enterprises which took place in June 2000, the United Kingdom National Contact Point (NCP) has been in receipt of two formal complaints. The first was received on 27 February 2002, in respect of an alleged breach by a UK based company of the guidelines arising from its activities in Africa. The NCP replied to this submission on 1 March 2002. Further details with regard to action taken are governed by the confidentiality provisions of the Guidelines.The second complaint was only received on 29 April 2003 and concerned an alleged breach of the guidelines by an international consortium led by a UK plc. operating in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. So far, the complaint has been acknowledged and copied to the company concerned.

Regional Development Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the sustainable development remit of the regional development agencies. [113221]

Section 4 of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 gives the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) a statutory purpose to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in the United Kingdom where it is relevant to its area to do so.

Regions White Paper

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress the Department has made towards the goal set out in the White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, of (a) ensuring that regional awareness and devolution feature strongly in civil service training and development, (b) increasing the mobility of civil servants between headquarters offices, regional offices, and the Government Offices and (c) encouraging interchange between the civil service and organisations in the regions. [108581]

My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office set out the overall civil service perspective on the goal set out in the White Paper in his reply of 14 April 2003, Official Report, columns 602–03W. My Department has a key role in our regional agenda and has members of staff in every regional Government Office. We are committed to regional awareness and development and are progressing towards the goal. Regional awareness and devolution issues are always incorporated into internal DTI training where relevant. Vacancies arising in HQ offices, regional offices and the Government Offices are advertised to all DTI staff through our vacancy advertising scheme. We encourage people in the Department to consider posts in these offices as part of their career development.Our central records show that in 2002–03, 80 external secondees took up a secondment in my Department, of whom 63 per cent. were seconded from organisations based outside London. This represents an increase of 20 per cent. over the previous year.During the same period, 22 members of DTI staff took up secondments in external organisations, of whom 41 per cent. were seconded to organisations based outside London. This represents an increase of 1 per cent. over the previous year.

Trade Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what publications promoting British trade are funded or part-funded, by her Department; and how much was spent on such funding in 2002–03 [112861]

[holding answer 12 May 2003]: During 2002–03, a number of publications were produced that were aimed at developing British overseas trade. These were funded and part funded centrally by British Trade International at a cost of £389,500. The publications are:

  • Flagship brochure "Business Success Overseas"
  • "Business Success Overseas2 Welsh version
  • Guide to services provided by COI for exporters
  • 8 Sector publications
  • Overseas Trade Magazine—10 issues
  • 2002–03 Annual Review
The DTI also funds the New Products from Britain service, which promotes British products and services to potential overseas buyers. This includes leaflets, catalogues and brochures which cost a total of £272,326 in 2002–03.

Deputy Prime Minister

Council Tax

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average percentage council tax change was for council tax payers in England in 2003. [112974]

In 2003–04 the average Band D council tax in England has increased by 12.9 per cent.

Eu Committees

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list (a) the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU advisory committee on the development and reconversion of regions, (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. [110285]

I have been asked to reply.The Committee is chaired by DG REGIO—the Directorate General for the regions. All of its activities are a matter of record with all the information sought in

(a) to (d) available on the Commission's website.

As the CDCR is an advisory committee there is no requirement to communicate any decisions directly to the House.

The Committee has met nine times since the answer I gave to the House on 4 July 2002. Its structure and remit are unchanged.

Housing

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many publicly owned residential units there are within each of the six districts of Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly, broken down by (a)