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Written Answers

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 20 May 2003

Privy Council

Modernisation

32.

To ask the President of the Council what plans he has to ask the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons to review the recent reform of the system of application for adjournment debates in Westminster Hall. [114250]

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has no such plans. His impression is that the new rota, by which Departments are available for debates on every alternate week, is working well.

Working Hours

To ask the President of the Council what recent representations he has had on the working hours of the House of Commons. [114243]

In the last month, I have received three letters on the working hours of the House of Commons, one of them from my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). The issue has also been raised in many informal conversations both in the House and elsewhere.

Transport

Alconbury Airfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 13 May, Official Report, column 136W, on Alconbury Airfield, where the public exhibition was held recently and when; and where and when a further public exhibition is being planned for later this month. [114943]

The public exhibition on the Gatwick options was held on 2–3 May at the Gatwick Hilton Hotel. A further public exhibition will held on 31 May at the Arora Hotel, Crawley.

Central Railway Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 11December 2002, Official Report, column 351W, on the Central Railway Scheme, what conclusion he has reached on making the Strategic Rail Authority's report to him on the Central Railway Scheme publicly available. [111475]

[holding answer 7 May 2003]: We have asked for further information from Central Railway on several matters before any decision can be taken on whether the Department should support its project.

In particular, we need to be assured that all outstanding operational and financial issues have been resolved.

Crossrail

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has held with ministerial colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport regarding Crossrail; what his Department estimates to be the duration of the Crossrail project; and when the Department expects the project to be completed. [114944]

I regularly discuss Crossrail matters with ministerial colleagues, including those in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and will continue to do so while the current proposals are evaluated. No timetable for the project has been decided.

Cycling Projects Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much of the Cycling Projects Fund has been allocated; and to which projects. [114775]

In the first round of the Cycling Projects Fund, 138 local projects aiming to increase cycling were awarded a total of £2.18 million. Seven of those projects have subsequently had to withdraw, leaving the total funding at just over £2 million. I have placed details of all the remaining projects in the Libraries of the House.In January this year, we invited bids for the second round of the Fund, for which we have made £1 million available. My Department is currently considering 466 applications and I expect to announce the successful bidders during June.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will undertake an inquiry into the incidence, extent and cause of deep vein thrombosis among British air travellers, with specific reference to the case of Sara Newman. [114968]

The Government are already helping research into the incidence, extent and cause of deep vein thrombosis among air travellers being carried out under the auspices of the World Health Organisation.

Rails

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans Network Rail has for reducing the quantity of rails ordered for (a) 2004 and (b) subsequent years. [114634]

The issue of procurement is a commercial one for Network Rail. The company advises that its demand for rails continues to increase in line with its extensive renewal programme.

Lord Chancellor's Department

Courts' System

22.

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what measures the Lord Chancellor is taking to increase public confidence in the courts' system. [114236]

The Lord Chancellor's Department is working with the Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service to deliver a substantial programme of reform to improve confidence in the criminal justice system, including the courts.

Election Turnouts

23.

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps the Government are taking to encourage greater turnout in elections. [114238]

The Government have introduced a series of pilots in the voting system to make it easier for people to vote and support increasing turnout. We are currently reviewing the success of the recent round of voting pilots to inform future measures.

Probate

24.

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to review probate procedures. [114240]

A wide-ranging review of probate services and procedures took place in 2001 as part of the Modernising the Civil Courts programme (now the Courts and Tribunals Modernisation Programme). This was supported by PA Consulting Group, an independent management systems and technology consulting firm, who reported their findings and recommendations to the Court Service in August 2001. Consultation took place between 25 November 2002 and 28 February 2003, and we are now analysing the responses. There are no plans for any further reviews.

Witness Attendance

25.

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps the Lord Chancellor is taking to reduce delays in cases caused by lawyers unreasonably requiring witnesses repeatedly to attend court. [114241]

Witnesses are usually only required to attend court on the day the case is listed for trial. However, occasionally the needs of justice may require adjournment of a case to allow for re-examination of a witness. An adjournment would only be made on the request of the parties and it would be entirely a matter for the judge hearing the case to decide whether or not such a request was reasonable. Judges are mindful of the distress and inconvenience that can be caused by delay and wherever possible will work to avoid unnecessary adjournments.

Ineffective Trials

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what actions the Department is taking to reduce the number of ineffective trials. [114239]

The proportion of ineffective trials has reduced since 1997. The Lord Chancellor's Department is working with the Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service to reduce the number of ineffective trials further, including through the Case Preparation Project.

Magistrates Courts

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent representations the Lord Chancellor has received on restructuring the magistrates' courts system. [114237]

The Lord Chancellor and I have received representations about the plan to bring together the administration of the courts into a single organisation. These have come from the full range of stakeholders of the court system. We are particularly grateful to the Judiciary, Association of Justices' Chief Executives, the Justices' Clerks Society, Magistrates' Association, the Association of Magisterial Officers, the PCS and the Central Council of Magistrates Courts Committees for their active participation in developing these proposals. The Lord Chancellor and I have received a number of letters from Chairmen of magistrates courts benches.

Advocate-General

Human Rights

18.

To ask the Advocate-General what human rights issues she has dealt with since 8 April. [113342]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, Official Report, 20 May 2003; Vol. 405, c. 832.

Devolution

To ask the Advocate-General what devolution issues she has considered since 8 April. [113339]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, Official Report, 20 May 2003; Vol. 405, c. 832.

Scotland

Post Office Universal Bank

5.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations she has made to the leading Scottish clearing banks about their participation in the Post Office Universal Bank. [113329]

Universal Banking services have been available at Post Offices since 1 April. As a result of discussion between Government and the major banks, the banks are participating in the Universal Banking project by giving access to their basic bank accounts at Post Offices.

Pension Credit

6.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps she is taking to publicise the new Pensions Credit in Scotland. [113330]

13.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans her Department has to ensure that pensioners in Scotland take up the Pension Credit. [113343]

The Pension Service is writing to all pensioner households to explain Pension Credit and invite applications. This will be supported by extensive advertising.

10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many pensioners in Scotland she expects will take up the Pension Credit. [113334]

Around 400,000 pensioner households in Scotland will be eligible for Pension Credit when it is introduced in October 2003.

Marine Issues

7.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what environmental responsibilities she has in relation to marine issues. [113331]

As Secretary of State for Scotland I represent Scottish interests in reserved matters within the Government. Lead policy responsibility for reserved aspects of marine environment policy lies with DEFRA. Matters reserved to the Government are set out in Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998.

Euro

8.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will make a statement on the implications of membership of the euro for the Scottish economy. [113332]

The determining factor underpinning any Government decision on membership of the single currency is the national economic interest. Any Government decision on the euro will be based on a thorough and rigorous assessment of the five economic tests and the implications of membership for the entire UK economy. The economic case must be clear and unambiguous before the Government will recommend membership.

Postal Services

9.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions she has had with Ministerial colleagues concerning postal services and post offices in Scotland. [113333]

I am in regular contact with ministerial colleagues in the DTI about a variety of issues relating to postal services and post offices in Scotland, including the programme of support for the maintenance of the rural post office network.

New Aircraft Carriers

11.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will visit the shipyards on the Clyde and at Rosyth to discuss the awarding of the contract for the two new aircraft carriers. [113335]

I was pleased to visit the Clyde and Rosyth shipyards earlier this year, and also to participate with my hon. Friend the Minister for the armed forces in announcing the selection of the Prime Contractor for the Future Aircraft Carrier programme. I fully recognise the benefits the carrier programme will bring to the Scottish shipbuilding industry. I expect to make further visits to keep in touch with progress and to consider other opportunities for the industry.

Animal Carcase Disposal

12.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when she will discuss with members of the Scottish Executive the disposal of animal carcases on offshore islands. [113336]

I hope to have an early meeting with the relevant Scottish Executive Minister to discuss a range of agricultural issues.

Airport Planning Applications

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland who will take the final decision on a planning application for a Scottish airport. [113328]

Call Centres

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will make a statement on prospects for employment in Scottish call centres. [113531]

The Government are already working with the industry to ensure the continuing development of this important business sector in Scotland. A number of initiatives are now in place to help companies improve their work force skills and assist the move into higher value-added services and to maintain and improve its competitiveness. I will be meeting the Chief Executive of the Call Centre Association shortly, to hear at first hand the industry's own assessment of its business growth potential in Scotland.

Constituency Boundaries

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions she has held with the Boundary Commission for Scotland regarding the review of Scottish constituency boundaries; if she will make a statement on progress of the review; and when she expects the recommendations of the review to be implemented. [113484]

The Commission is wholly independent and I have had no discussions on its review of the Scottish constituencies.The Commission must report to me by December 2006, and it is entirely a matter for the Commission when, within that timescale, it does so.

Scottish Parliament

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans she has to propose amendments to the number of Members of the Scottish Parliament. [113327]

As announced in my statement to Parliament on 18 December 2002, I intend to amend the Scotland Act 1998 to maintain the current number of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

House Of Commons Commission

Broadcasting Rules (Parliamentary Estate)

To ask the honourable Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission what assessment the Commission has made of the effects of changes to the rules on broadcasting within the parliamentary estate. [114245]

I refer the hon. Lady to my answer today to the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Pond), Official Report, 20 May 2003; Vol. 405, c. 841.

Cabinet Office

Ministerial Transport

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the cost of (a) ministerial cars and drivers and (b) taxis for his Department was in 2002. [101541]

The responsibility for the provision of ministerial cars and drivers has been delegated under the terms of the Framework Document to the Government Car Despatch Agency. I have asked its Chief Executive Mr. Nick Matheson to write to the hon. member. Copies of his letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.The amount spent on taxis by the Cabinet Office in the calendar year 2002, was £181,910.15.

Regulatory Impact Assessments

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when he plans to publish a command paper listing the regulatory impact assessments published during the latest six-month period. [115022]

The Government are committed to ensuring that regulations are necessary, give effective protection, balance cost and risk, are fair and command public confidence. In accordance with this, we require Departments to produce and publish Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs) for all regulatory proposals likely to have an impact on business, charities and the voluntary sector.

My right hon. and noble friend Lord Macdonald of Tradeston has today presented to Parliament a Command Paper listing RIAs published between 1 July and 31 December 2002. Copies of those listed have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. This is the eighteenth such Command Paper.

Treasury

Insurance Companies

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to amend the rules relating to the minimum solvency level of insurance companies; and if he will make a statement. [114385]

Implementing rule changes affecting the solvency requirements for insurance companies is the responsibility of the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The FSA is currently consulting on the necessary rule changes to implement Directive 2002/12/EC and Directive 2002/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards solvency margin requirements for life and non-life insurers respectively. Later this year, the FSA will be consulting on their intention to implement new 'enhanced' capital requirements and to take forward the framework set out in CP136 (Individual Capital Adequacy Standards) to implement a Basel type 'three pillar' approach for insurers.

Working Hours

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of the total work force worked more than 40 hours a week, on average, in (a) 1990, (b) 1995, (c) 2000 and (d) 2002. [113890]

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

Cancer Statistics

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the latest five year survival rates for (a) breast, (b) lung, (c) cervical, (d) colon, (e) stomach, (f) prostate, (g) bladder and (h) lymphatic cancer are in (i) England, (ii) Teesside and (iii) the constituency of Middlesbrough, South and East, Cleveland. [114309]

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

Letter from Colin Mowl to Dr. Kumar, dated 20 May 2003:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question concerning what the five year survival rates for (a) breast, (b) lung, (c) cervical, (d) colon, (e) stomach, (f) prostate and (g) bladder and (h) lymphatic cancer are in (i) England, (ii) Teesside and (iii) the constituency of Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East. I am replying in his absence.(114309)
Cancer survival rates at HA level are routinely estimated for eight cancers: the first seven listed in the question and cancer of the oesophagus, but not "lymphatic" cancer.
The latest available information for England, Northern & Yorkshire Regional Office area and Tees Health Authority area are given in the table below. Survival rates are not available for other types of area, such as parliamentary constituencies. At the national level, figures are routinely presented for men and women separately, while those at regional and local levels are given for persons only.

Five-year relative survival (%), persons diagnosed in 1993–95 and followed up to 31 December 2000: selected cancers, England, Northern & Yorkshire Regional Office area and Tees Health Authority area

Percentage

England

Northern & Yorkshire

Tees HA

Cancer Site

Men

Women

Persons1

Persons1

Breast75.974.069
Lung5.55.54.42.8
Cervix66.065.557
Colon43.543.339.026
Stomach11.111.810.66.1
Prostate59.853.445
Bladder67.157.652.545

1Figures for breast cancer exclude the very small numbers of cases in men.

Source:

Report: Cancer survival in the health authorities of England, 1993–2000.

Health Statistics Quarterly 13 (2002), 95–103. This is available on our website at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_health/HSO1 3_v4.pdf

'Cancer survival: five year relative survival rates in England by Health Authority up to 2000' at: http://www. statistics gov.uk/StatBase/Expodata/Spreadsheets/D5389.xls for breast (female), lung, colon and prostate cancer.

Survival rates for cervical, stomach, and bladder cancer are on the website at: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Expodata/Spreadsheets/D5392.xls

Classified Documents

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many documents are held by his Department that are subject to security classification, broken down by category of classification. [107351]

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

Earnings

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what analysis has been made of the assessment of earnings levels for (a) each Government office region and (b) each constituency covered by Government Office for the North East, in the New Earnings Survey. [114304]

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

Letter from Colin Mowl to Dr. Ashok Kumar, dated 20 May 2003:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question about the average earnings of people in the Government Office Regions and the constituencies within the North East. I am replying in his absence.
The attached table shows average weekly earnings for the areas requested. The data are from the New Earnings Survey (NES) and apply to people on adult rates working full-time whose pay was not affected by absence.

The NES can provide earnings data for small geographical areas. The release of NES data is restricted to figures that are derived from a sufficiently large sample of employees, and have an acceptable level of accuracy. I have provided the available data for the GO Regions and parliamentary constituencies in GO North East only for those areas where the samples are large enough. These are based on the 2002 NES, the latest survey for which data are available.

Average gross weekly earnings1 (£) by location of workplace

New earnings survey, April 2002

North East399.3
Middlesborough366.1
Stockton North424.2
Stockton South403.0
Bishop Auckland388.0
City of Durham425.4
Darlington365.8
Easington354.1
North Durham338.7
Sedgefield395.3
Wansbeck399.0
Blaydon359.1
Houghton and Washington East414.8
Jarrow384.9
Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend340.7
North Tyneside406.6
South Shields366.3
Sunderland North373.9
Tyne Bridge422.4
North West426.8
Yorkshire and The Humber409.9
East Midlands413.0
West Midlands427.3
South West421.7
East459.6
London624.1
South East496.7
Wales399.7
Scotland427.0

1 Full-time employees on adult rates, whose pay was not affected by absence.

Ecofin Council

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held on 13th May; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [113978]

I attended the ECOFIN meeting on 13 May, which was the first ECOFIN attended by the accession countries as active observers.The Commission presented the 2004 Preliminary Draft Budget, which will be the first budget for an EU of 25 member states, and also the first to use activity-based budgeting, matching resources to outputs. I tabled a UK paper on the reform of external actions expenditure, emphasising the need for greater poverty focus, effectiveness and efficiency.ECOFIN had an orientation discussion on the 2003–05 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPGs). I, along with some other member states, stressed the importance of the EU delivering on its economic reform agenda to boost growth and jobs. It was agreed that Finance Ministers would submit a covering letter to the BEPGs highlighting the key priorities for growth, in particular labour market reform, the implications of ageing populations and the sustainability of public finances. The BEPGs will be agreed at ECOFIN on 3 June for submission to the Thessaloniki European Council.ECOFIN adopted an Opinion on the Austrian Stability programme, and also agreed a mandate for the Economic Policy Committee to produce a progress report on the overall impact of ageing populations on public finances for the November ECOFIN.ECOFIN adopted the Occupational Pensions Directive, as amended by the European Parliament, with Belgium making an oral statement and Estonia a written statement. The adoption of this directive, an important cornerstone of the Financial Services Action Plan and the first step towards a single market for occupational retirement provision, represents an excellent outcome for the UK.I presented the UK's proposal for an International Finance Facility (IFF). This is an important initiative designed to raise substantial extra resources and make a stable, long-term commitment to development countries to help them meet the UN Millennium Development Goals. After discussion, the Presidency concluded that the IFF was an interesting initiative, which should be discussed again by ECOFIN in the near future, following an examination of the financial aspects in the Economic and Financial Committee.ECOFIN discussed a Presidency paper on the right to deduct value added taxation (VAT). Following discussion, it was agreed that further consideration of this issue by ECOFIN should await the Commission Communication on a VAT Strategy and their proposal on the place of supply of services.Over lunch, Ministers discussed the tax package and the Italian request for a Council decision under Article 88(2) on the repayment of Italian milk quota fines. Ministers agreed: that the tax package is not to be reopened and that all reservations on it should be lifted; that Ambassadors in COREPER should examine the Italian proposal on milk quotas with a view to allowing the Council to take a decision on this in June; and that the Council should take the final decisions on both the tax package and on the Italian request regarding milk quotas in June.A vote was held on the Occupational Pensions Directive, with Belgium abstaining.

Finance Bill

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on the level of price for a barrel of oil at which he would not introduce on 1 October the annual valorisation of petrol prices set out in Clause 4 of the Finance Bill. [114771]

In his Budget Speech of 9 April 2003, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor stated that he was deferring the annual revalorisation of fuel duties until 1 October 2003

"owing to the recent high and volatile level of oil prices as a result of military conflict in Iraq".
He also said
"if the current international uncertainties and volatility remain, I will not proceed with the change at all".
[Official Report, 9 April 2003, col. 278,]

Inland Revenue Consultants

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have taken retirement from the Inland Revenue since 1997 and subsequently been engaged to carry on (a) consultancy and (b) other work for the Revenue. [114377]

The Inland Revenue does not hold centrally any information on the previous employment history of those engaged as consultants by its business areas. Figures from 1997 to 2002 would only be available at disproportionate cost.

Interest Rates

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the annual savings to the Exchequer which would result from lower debt interest costs if United Kingdom interest rates were (a) 0.5 per cent. (b) 0.75 per cent., (c) 1 per cent., (d) 2 per cent. and (e) 3 per cent. lower across the yield curve for 2003–04. [114652]

Reductions in yields across the yield curve will not affect the cost of servicing debt that has been issued at fixed rates, but will affect interest payments made on new debt that is issued and on variable interest rate debt. The following table sets out the estimated debt interest savings that would arise from changes to interest rates:

Fall in interest rates across the yield curve in 2003–04Estimated savings in debt interest in 2003–04 (£billion)
0.5 per cent.0.4
0.75 per cent.0.6
1 per cent.0.8
2 per cent.1.6
3 per cent.2.4

Kpmg

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many contracts his Department has awarded to KPMG since 1997. [113691]

From the start of 1997 to date the Treasury has let eight contracts to KPMG.

Liability Insurance

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the findings of the Office of Fair Trading fact-finding study into the UK liability insurance market will be published. [111031]

I have been asked to reply.The Office of Fair Trading intends to publish its fact-finding study shortly.

Net Immigration

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) medium and (b) long-term assumptions about net immigration into the UK have been made in each of the population projections produced by the Office for National Statistics since 1990; and what has been the outcome in each year over that period. [113716]

National population projections are produced by the Government Actuary's Department at the request of the Registrars General of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. New projections are normally prepared every second year. The 2000-based, and earlier, projections were prepared before 2001 Census results became available. The interim 2001-based projections take preliminary account of the results of the 2001 Census. A 2002-based set of projections, taking account of the further Census related data which have and will become available during 2003, is provisionally scheduled for publication in the autumn.The previously published medium and long-term assumptions of annual net migration to the United Kingdom made in national population projections since 1990 are given in Table A as follows.

Table A: Assumed medium and long-term annual net migration to the United Kingdom in national population projections
Number
1991-based and 1992-based projections50,000 each year from 1997–98 to 2006–07 reducing to zero each year from 2015–16
1994-based projections50,000 each year from 1999–2000 to 2008–09 reducing to zero each year from 2018–19
1996-based projections65,000 each year from 1998–99
1998-based projections95,000 each year from 2001–02
2000-based projections135,000 each year from 2002–03
Interim 2001-based projections100,000 each year from 2002–03

Source:

Government Actuary's Department

The Office for National Statistics have published an interim revised series of net international migration for 1992 to 2001 that takes preliminary account of the 2001 Census results. The previously published figures are given in Table B as follows. Further revisions to the international migration series will be published in the coming weeks. These revisions will take account of further research.

Table B: Interim revised international migration estimates— 1992–2001

Net migration to the United Kingdom

1992-41,600
1993-41,600
199431,600
199530,700
199613,800
199710,800
199896,300
1999100,500
200099,600
2001125,700

Source:

Office for National Statistics

Public Assets

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate his Department has made of the income received from the sale of publicly owned assets since May 1997. [114853]

Since April 1997, central and local government have realised some £26.2 billion from the sale of fixed assets.

Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints have been received concerning the operations of the public helpline for tax credits since its introduction. [114010]

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 161W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 7 May, Official Report, column 689W, on tax credits, if he will hold discussions with the Child Poverty Action Group on passported benefits available with the child tax credit. [114529]

The Government discuss passported benefits attached to the new tax credits with a wide range of organisations.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many standard letters the Inland Revenue has issued (a) in total and (b) in the last month to tax credit applicants, asking them to confirm their name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number. [114569]

[holding answer 19 May 2003]: Standard letters seeking to confirm name, address, date of birth, national insurance numbers—and other details—relevant to tax credit claims are issued as part of normal day to day claims processing and compliance activity.Figures on the number of standard letters issued are not readily available and could only be compiled at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 7 May 2003, Official Report, column 689W, on tax credits, if he will put details about the passported benefits available with tax credits on the application forms; and whether the leaflet described in his response will be sent to all those in receipt of tax credits. [113347]

The notes that accompany the tax credit claim form already refer to other help—such as free prescriptions—that maybe available.The new leaflet (WTC6) is now available on the Inland Revenue website and will soon also be available on request from Inland Revenue Enquiry Centres.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to provide a freephone number for people (a) making enquiries about and (b) following up claims for the (i) child tax credit and (b) working tax credit. [113731]

The Tax Credits Helpline, along with other helplines operated by the Inland Revenue, are charged at local call rates. The telephone response line—0800 500222—featured in the advertising campaigns since September 2002 providing general information on eligibility and claim packs is a freephone number.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average time taken by the Inland Revenue children's and working tax credits helpline to deal with calls has been since August 2002; how many calls were lost or terminated before being answered by a helpline operator; and how these figures compare with the targets set for the helpline. [107555]

For the Great Britain helpline, over the period August 2002 to March 2003 inclusive, an average time of about 4 minutes and 40 seconds elapsed between an adviser answering a call and their ending any immediate post-call action on that case.In the same period, out of a total of 5,701,108 calls received, 4,594,743 were answered by a helpline operator, with 1,106,365 calls where the caller was put in a queue to speak to an adviser, following the selection of an option from the call steering menu, but the call was lost or terminated before the caller spoke to the adviser.There were no service delivery targets for either figure for this period.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many persons in London, broken down by borough, have applied for working tax credit; and if he will make a statement; [114961](2) what the average time has been for dealing with applications in London for working tax credit, broken down by borough; and if he will make a statement; [114962](3) what the average period of time has been since the introduction of working tax credits from application to first payment in London, broken down by borough; and if he will make a statement. [114960]

Figures for applications received for Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit are not available below the national level. Statistics on awards of these tax credits will be published in August.For the time taken to process applications, I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) on 28 April 2003,

Official Report, column 161W.

Tax Returns

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what target the Inland Revenue has set for the number of individual taxpayers filing self assessment tax returns on the Internet: by 2005; and if he will make a statement. [114706]

The Inland Revenue Public Service Agreement 2003–2006 posted on the Inland Revenue Internet site on 14 February 2003 sets out the targets for electronic filing.The Inland Revenue has set a target of 25 per cent. of SA returns filed electronically by 2005–06. This includes SA returns filed electronically, including but not differentiating those filed by agents. Electronically means Filing by Internet Service (FBI) or Electronic Lodgement Service (ELS).

Unemployment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the latest unemployment claimant count was in (a) Scotland and (b) Fife. [114609]

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

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. MacDougall dated 20 May 2003:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question on the latest unemployment claimant count for Scotland and Fife.
In April 2003, there were 103,385 claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance benefit in Scotland, and 8,591 claimants in the Fife Local Authority District.

Education And Skills

Education Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the specific and targeted grant funding allocated by his Department, other than general grant related funding, to local authorities and schools (a) in each region of England and (b) in total in (i) 2001–02, (ii) 2002–03 and (iii) 2003–04 (estimated). [113209]

Examination Results

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of pupils gained (a) A*-A grades in five or more subjects and (b) A*-B grades in five or more subjects (i) in areas which are wholly selective and (ii) in areas which are wholly comprehensive in their provision of secondary education in the last year for which figures are available. [110190]

The information is as follows:(i) Within the LEAs deemed wholly selective the following percentages of pupils achieved grades A*-A and A*-B in five or more GCSEs in 2002:

Wholly Selective

A*-A grades in five or more GCSEs: 15.1 per cent.
A*-B grades in five or more GCSEs: 32.1per cent.

(ii) Within the LEAs deemed wholly comprehensive the following percentages of pupils achieved grades A*-A and A*-B in five or more GCSEs in 2002:

Wholly Comprehensive

A*-A grades in five or more GCSEs: 8.6per cent.
A*-B grades in five or more GCSEs: 23.1 per cent.

(iii) The following percentages of pupils in all maintained schools in England achieved grades A*-A and A*-B in five or more GCSEs in 2002:

A*-A grades in five or more GCSEs: 9.7 per cent.
A*-B grades in five or more GCSEs: 24.6 per cent.

The comparisons above take no account of the value added by the LEAs concerned. They are not adjusted for differences in pupils' prior attainment, nor to reflect the fact that selective LEAs, in aggregate, have lower levels of socio-economic disadvantage. 11 per cent. of pupils in wholly selective authorities are known to be eligible for free school meals, compared to 17 per cent. in wholly comprehensive authorities.

Defence

Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the French Government are to be allowed privileged access to commercially sensitive information in connection with the CVF project; and if he will make a statement. [113903]

A Letter of Intent setting out the responsibilities of both countries in respect to the exchange of CVF information was signed by the then Chief of Defence Procurement and his French counterpart in April 2003. This makes clear that the provision of technical data between the United Kingdom and France is subject to security and commercial constraints, including those that might touch upon the interests of third parties.

Boer War

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at how many sites in South Africa are British service personnel who died during the Boer War thought to be buried; what estimate his Department has made of the cost of maintaining these burial sites; how much the British Government contributes towards the maintenance of these burial sites; and if he will make a statement. [113502]

There are over 350 separate sites containing the graves of British service personnel in South Africa, including isolated graves dug where soldiers fell. These sites contain approximately 20,000 individual graves.The Government currently contributes £15,000 per annum to the South African Heritage Resources Agency for the maintenance of British war graves.

Canberra

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of options to replace the Canberra PR9; and if he will make a statement. [113958]

The Canberra PR9 reconnaissance aircraft is an important component of our overall Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance capability. We are currently assessing the ways in which the aircraft's particular capabilities could be provided, and enhanced, in the future.

Chartered Transport Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on chartering transport aircraft in the past six months. [113952]

During the six-month period, November 2002 to April 2003, the Ministry of Defence has spent some £50.3 million on the chartering of commercial transport aircraft. This figure is provisional and subject to final audit. The majority of this ad hoc chartering was in support of operations in Iraq, including the strategic leg of the casualty evacuation process. Charter aircraft have also been required to support other operations, including the transfer of Service personnel from Germany and Northern Ireland to cover the fire dispute, the deployment of the Spearhead Lead Element to Sierra Leone, plus routine trooping.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of regional variations in staff turnover in his Department. [112745]

There has been no recent assessment specifically of regional variations in civilian staff turnover in the Ministry of Defence. Total civilian staff turnover is regularly assessed at corporate level, along with turnover for corporately-managed groups of staff (including senior managers and corporate development schemes). Responsibility for management of most civilian staff has been delegated to Top Level Budget Holders and Agency Chief Executives, who make their own assessments of local turnover levels as they judge necessary.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States administration in respect of low-cost production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. [114891]

We do not expect to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States on the production of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for the United Kingdom before 2006.

Gulf War Widows

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he will take to support widows and partners of service personnel who died in the Gulf conflict. [114811]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 1 May 2003, Official Report, columns 452-53W, to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Redcar (Ms Baird).

Honours

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many officials in his Department have received honours; and how many honours are held by his officials, broken down by category of honour. [111485]

The Ministry of Defence does not maintain comprehensive data about honours held by its civilian officials. However, the awards received by MOD civil servants in the period from the New Year Honours List 1998 to the New Year Honours List 2003 inclusive comprise: K-4; CB-11; CBE-16; CMG-3; OBE-64 and MBE-149.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many children, up to the age of 14, have been injured in the military conflict in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [111189]

We have no means of verifying the number of children under 15 years of age injured during the conflict in Iraq. In carrying out attacks against Iraqi military objectives, all feasible precautions were taken to avoid, and in any event to minimise, incidental loss of civilian life or injury to civilians.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Defence Logistics Organisation was first notified to begin contingency plans for deployment in Operation Telic; and when it first began deploying equipment to the Gulf as part of Operation Telic. [112024]

Existing Ministry of Defence planning assumptions take account of a range of possible operational contingencies. On 24 September 2002 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear, in relation to events in Iraq, that alongside diplomacy there must be genuine preparedness and planning to take action if diplomacy fails. Staffs of the Defence Logistics Organisation were involved in contingency planning for potential operations in Iraq.The main deployment of equipment to the Gulf began on 15 January 2003, although some equipment and ammunition was pre-positioned in Cyprus slightly before this.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Iraqi, (b) US, (c) British and (d) other (i) combatants and (ii) civilians have been killed as a result of military action in Iraq. [112346]

Thirty-five British servicemen have lost their lives to date in the course of operations in Iraq. In addition, we are aware only that two United Kingdom journalists lost their lives while reporting inside Iraq.The number of United States casualties is a matter for the US Government.We have no means of ascertaining the numbers of Iraqi military or civilian lives lost during the course of operations in Iraq, although we made every effort to keep any impact upon the Iraqi civilian population to an absolute minimum.

Medical Staff (Gulf Deployment)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many junior doctors in the reserve forces have been mobilised to provide medical support to operations in the Gulf and Iraq; of these, how many are in band three posts in the NHS and receiving compensation for the loss of income, including NHS band three payments; and if he will make a statement. [109323]

As at 14 April 2003,12 reservist junior doctors had been mobilisecl in support of military action against Iraq. Of these, 11 are receiving financial assistance for loss of civilian earnings in accordance with the provisions of the Reserve Forces Act 1996, and one is known to be employed in a NHS band three post.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many senior NHS consultants have been deployed to serve with TA medical services in field hospitals in the Gulf. [113897]

As at 15 May 2003, the number of NHS consultants deployed to the Gulf to serve with the TA medical services in field hospitals stands at 43.

Military Trucks

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the military truck contract; for what reason the announcement on the military truck contract has been delayed; and whether (a) the present bidders will remain the same and (b) new companies will be invited to tender. [114159]

All existing bidders for the Support Vehicle contract have been invited to address shortfalls in their current bids. New bidders will not be invited to participate in the competition.

Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the reports of Sir John Stevens. [112276]

Sir John Stevens submitted his interim report to the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland on the 17 April 2003. All enquiries should therefore be directed to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Nuclear Sites

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for nuclear sites run by his Department, other than those operated by contractors, to be regulated under the (a) Nuclear Installations Act 1965 and (b) Radioactive Substances Act 1993; and if he will set out international (i) safety and (ii) environmental conventions that apply to defence nuclear sites. [114076]

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

Nuclear Submarines

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent progress has been made on the disposal of the Royal Navy's redundant nuclear submarines; and whether he plans to move these submarines from their present location. [112023]

Industry are in the process of submitting outline proposals for undertaking the work to store intermediate level waste from our decommissioned nuclear powered submarines. An exercise will then determine the most effective procurement strategy, and detailed evaluation, which will inform a further period of public consultation, will lead to the selection of potential bidders who will be invited to undertake more detailed negotiations. This is expected to take around three years to complete and after further public consultation will result in the selection of a preferred bidder, solution and site. Currently we have no plans to move our decommissioned nuclear powered submarines from their present locations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to introduce a PFI scheme for the management of defence nuclear waste from nuclear submarine decommissioning. [114073]

We are undertaking a project to determine the interim land storage arrangements for Intermediate Level Waste from decommissioned nuclear powered submarines, and industry are in the process of submitting outline proposals for undertaking the work. Private Finance Initiative, partnering and prime contracting are the procurement options currently being considered, with PFI being the preferred option in accordance with Treasury Guidelines. PFI will only be pursued, however, if it can be demonstrated that it offers the most effective procurement strategy.

Phoenix

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the UK defence industry retains the capability to remanufacture Phoenix Air Vehicles. [113956]

The United Kingdom's defence industry retains the capability to resume manufacture of Phoenix Air Vehicles, although there are, at present, no plans to request it to do so.

Sponsorship

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which of his Department's projects have received sponsorship in the last financial year; who the sponsor was in each case; what the nature of each project was; what time period was covered by each project; what the total cost of each project was; how much money was involved in each sponsorship deal; and if he will make a statement. [112402]

Details of individual amounts of sponsorship valued at more than £5,000 are published in a supplementary document to the Department's Annual Perform Copies are available in the libraries of the House. The 2003 Report will be published in the autumn.

Systems Amd Equipment Exhibition

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will list the countries from which buyers (a) have been and (b) will be invited to the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition; [114541](2) on which days the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition will be open to

(a) overseas customers, (b) the press and (c) the public; [114542]

(3) what the estimated cost is of the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition to the UK Government; [114543]

(4) how many visitors are expected at the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition. [114544]

The exhibition is an international trade event organised by a commercial company. It will be open by invitation to overseas visitors and accredited members of the media from 9 to 12 September 2003 inclusive. The event will not be open to the public.The organisers hope to attract some 25,000 visitors.

The full list of countries from which Official Defence Delegations will be invited to attend is not yet complete. I will write to my hon. Friend when final details are available and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

The direct cost to the Ministry of Defence identified centrally is estimated at some £400,000. In addition, representatives of Her Majesty's Government may carry out activities associated with the exhibition, as part of their normal duties, which could be identified only at disproportionate cost.

Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for Urgent Operational Requirements for tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. [113957]

There are currently no plans to acquire tactical UAVs through the Urgent Operational Requirements' (UOR) process. In line with normal practice, operational requirements are kept under review and the UOR procedure will be used if such a need is identified to enhance our surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

Trafalgar Day

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what financial support his Department is proposing for the Sea Cadets to assist in Trafalgar Day celebrations; and if he will make a statement. [114958]

The Ministry of Defence provides annual funding of nearly £8 million to the Sea Cadet Association under a Memorandum of Understanding and lends other forms of practical support. The SCA will be drawing on this to fund Sea Cadets' participation in the Trafalgar Day celebrations.

Typhoon

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on measures taken to ensure that the Typhoon can be used on the future large aircraft carrier. [114511]

We have no plans, nor any requirement, for Typhoon to operate from our future aircraft carriers.

Northern Ireland

Bylaws

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to his answer of 27 April 2003, Official Report, column 332W, on bylaws, if he will make a statement on the content of applications received by the Department of Environment from Ards borough council requesting permission to invoke new bylaws in the past 10 years; when they were received by the Department of Environment; what action has been taken towards granting permission on each separate application; how many of these applications are within the power of the Department to confirm; and when local government authorities are notified that an application has not been successful. [113458]

In total four applications are currently with the Department of Environment for confirmation of bylaws. Each application contains a large number of provisions, which fall within one of the eight model sets of Home Office bylaws. The main provisions proposed under each set of bylaws are as follows:

1. Under "Pleasure Grounds, Public Walks and Open Spaces" bylaws for the regulation and management of playgrounds; the control of certain sports; the protection of flora and fauna; the erection and removal of structures and restrictions on vehicles.
2. Under "Seashores, Esplanades and Promenades" bylaws for the control of public meetings; restrictions on the use of noisy instruments; the control of animals; restrictions on vehicles; entry to public conveniences and interference with life-saving equipment.
3. Under "Good Rule and Government" bylaws for restrictions on noisy music and the use of noisy instruments; the control of reckless/wilful behaviour; the control of games near streets and nuisance from roller skating in public places.
4. Under "Good Rule and Government" bylaws relating to the control of district council car parks.
All four applications were received on 16 March 1994 and action has been taken on each of them. Each application has been the subject of extensive correspondence and discussion involving district councils and legal advisers for local and central Government. Each application does not adhere strictly to the relevant set of model bylaws and is currently at a different stage of consideration.All four applications are within the power of the Department to confirm and in one case joint confirmation with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is required. The Department of Environment has not notified any district council during the period that its application has not been successful.

Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland since early October 2002, how many people have been informed that their details were held by the Provisional IRA; and how many of them are (a) prison officers, (b) police officers and (c) political representatives. [111801]

The information sought by the hon. Lady will take some time to collate. I will write as soon as possible.

Evacuated Dwellings Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the total costs of the special purchase of evacuated dwellings scheme were in the last financial year. [113444]

The total costs of the Special Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (SPED) Scheme for 2002–03 were £32,950,000. (This includes administrative costs of the scheme.)

Fishing (Decommissioning)

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications have been submitted in relation to the decommissioning of fishing vessels as part of the most recently announced decommissioning scheme; how many are for boats (a) over 10 metres in length and (b) under 10 metres in length; with what type of fishing these vessels were involved; and how many applications have been (i) accepted and (ii) refused for vessels fishing out of (A) Portavogie, (B) Ardglass and (C) Kilkeel. [113486]

The recently announced decommissioning scheme has yet to be opened for receipt of applications. It is the intention that the scheme will be opened in the near future.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the closing date for receipt of applications to the most recent fishing vessels decommissioning scheme was. [113487]

The information is as follows:1. The Fishing Vessel Decommissioning Scheme (Northern Ireland) 2001 was closed for receipt of application forms on the 15 November 2001 at 3.00pm.2. I have recently announced a new decommissioning scheme, which will open for receipt of applications as soon as possible.

Inward Investment (East Londonderry)

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many visits have been made under the auspices of (a) Invest Northern Ireland and (b) the IDB by potential inward investors to the East Londonderry constituency; and how many jobs have been created in the past five years in the constituency. [113779]

Between 1997–98 and 2001–02, IDE arranged for a total of 22 visits to be made to the East Londonderry constituency by potential investors. In Invest NI's first year of operation (2002–03), it introduced eight potential investors to the constituency.The following table provides information on jobs created in IDE client companies in East Londonderry during the five years 1997–98 to 2001–02. Figures are not yet available for 2002–03.

Jobs created in East Londonderry
1997–981,103
1998–99309
1999–2000360
2000–01343
2001–02253
Total2,368
Invest NI's overseas sales and marketing activities present the business opportunity for Northern Ireland as a whole. However, in seeking to encourage the development of regional propositions, Invest NI's Local Office in Coleraine has been working closely with local stakeholders to ensure that the proposition for the East Londonderry area is maximised fully to attract visits by potential investors and result in the securing of new investment for the area.

Post Mortems

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland where (a) organs, (b) blocks and (c) slides are stored for post mortems carried out at (i) Foster Green hospital and (ii) Belfast City hospital. [113367]

Organs, blocks and slides retained by the State Pathologist's Department following coroner's post mortem examinations carried out at Belfast City Mortuary (Forster Green) are stored in the State Pathologist's Department building on the Royal Victoria Hospital site in Belfast. There are no stored organs in the Belfast City Hospital Trust. Tissue blocks and slides are stored within the designated area in the histopathology laboratory.

Sports Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether an individual hockey player in Northern Ireland is eligible for funding to compete for a British team at the Olympics. [113862]

If a hockey player in Northern Ireland meets the eligibility criteria to be selected to compete for a British Team in the Olympics he/she would be eligible to apply for funding.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the Northern Ireland Sports Council recognises the British Cycling Federation. [114157]

The Sports Council for Northern Ireland (SCNI) is aware that the British Cycling Federation is the recognised body for cycling in GB. The SCNI does not recognise the British Cycling Federation but rather recognises Cycling Ulster as the governing body for cycling within Northern Ireland.

Water/Sewage Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what measures are in place to ensure Northern Ireland meets the health and safety requirements for water and sewage services in respect of (a) trihalomethane and (b) cryptosporidium levels; [112076](2) what steps are being taken to improve Northern Ireland's water sewerage services; and what funding has been made available for these measures. [112075]

The Chief Executive of Water Service has written to the hon. Member in response to his questions. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.

Terrorist Activity

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many (a) shootings and (b) bombings there were; and how many devices were defused in Northern Ireland in the five years (i) prior to and (ii) following April 1998. [112612]

Security Situation Statistics

Number of shooting incidents

Total incidents

1993–94426
1994–95272
1995–9665
1996–97140
1997–98245
1 April 1998 to 9 April 19987
Total (prior to Belfast Agreement)1,155
10 April 1998 to 31 March 1999180
1999–2000131
2000–01331
2001–02358
2002–03348
Total (following Belfast Agreement)1,348

Note:

The following types of incidents are included:

Shots fired by terrorists; Shots fired by the security forces; Paramilitary-style attacks involving shootings; Shots heard (and later confirmed); Other violent incidents where shots are fired (e.g. armed robbery)

Number of bombing incidents

Bombing incidents

Devices defused

1993–94278106
1994–9513267
1995–96
1996–975039
1997–987345
1 April 1998 to 9 April 199811
TOTAL (prior to Belfast Agreement)534258
10 April 1998 to 31 March 1999122121
1999–20006662
2000–01177115
2001–02318182
2002–0317881
TOTAL (following Belfast Agreement)861561

Notes:

Bombing incidents: An individual bombing incident may involve one or more explosive devices. Incidents involving hoax devices, petrol bombings or incendiaries are excluded. During 2001–02 there was an increase in the use of pipe bombs by loyalists.

2002–03 Statistics are provisional and may be subject to minor amendment.

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Catering Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of food sourced and served by the catering sections of each Department was (a) produced in Britain, (b) organic and (c) Fair Trade in each year since 1997; and what steps she is taking to increase those levels. [111157]

This information is not held centrally.I understand that caterers contracted to Defra source a high percentage of produce from the UK in summer but in the winter most comes from abroad. Our largest contractor sources 60 per cent. to 70 per cent. of the food from the UK during the summer: For meat all year round the figures are: chick bacon—mostly Dutch; pork—88 per cent. UK; lamb—20 per cent. UK; and beef—70 per cent. UK.Our published guidance for public sector bodies 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.qov.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 their commitment under the EC rules to ensure that public procurement is fair, transparent and non-discriminatory.

Air Quality

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will instruct the Environment Agency to take immediate steps to tackle the odour problems affecting Castle Point residents; what steps the Environment Agency is proposing to take; and how long she estimates it will take for her measures to be effective. [113791]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: The odour problems affecting Castle Point residents have been recognised and discussed with the Environment Agency which is already taking steps to tackle the problem. Further action is being discussed with the site operator.Work to prevent the escape of landfill gas from one of the two sources of odour has already begun. A final layer of waste is being put over the affected area, which will be followed by a clay 'cap' to seal it. The Environment Agency has required that this odour source be abated within three months and it is expected that this will be completed within this time.

The second and most predominant source of odour has been treated with oxidising agents which eliminate the odour rapidly, but there has been difficulty in maintaining this and further efforts are being made to stabilise the source in an aerobic state. A number of additional measures are also being implemented.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been conducted by the Environment Agency into the sources of the odour problems that have affected Castle Point residents in recent months. [113792]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: Odours have been traced by the Environment Agency to two sources within the site. The first source is from an area of the landfill site from which landfill gas was escaping. The second is from a lagoon within the site. Research into the health effects of the landfill gas is currently being undertaken by the Environment Agency at the site. The research will look into any health impacts that may have been caused by the odours.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many complaints and inquiries the Environment Agency has received about had odours in South East Essex in the last three months. [113793]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: The Environment Agency has recorded 562 complaints up to the end of 13 May. 396 of these have been since 20 April.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what long term measures she will take to remove the recurrent problem of bad odours for Castle Point residents; and if she will visit Castle Point to discuss the problem. [113794]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: The Environment Agency has acted to ensure that more robust procedures are put in place to monitor for odours more actively at Pitsea landfill site. This will enable such odours to be detected and dealt with promptly. Planned activities which may potentially generate odours will be risk assessed to ensure that all measures are in place beforehand to minimise odour release.As the site nears the end of its operational life, more of it will be progressively capped and sealed, enabling landfill gas to be efficiently extracted and burned and for rainfall to be shed from the surface of the site without becoming contaminated.I am happy to discuss with the hon. Member or the Agency any further issues of concern if the local community remain anxious about the operation of the Pitsea landfill site.

Animal By-Products

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the Animal By-Products Regulation with regard to placenta and afterbirth materials on farm holdings; and what measures she is taking to reduce their incidence. [111114]

No specific assessment has been made with regard to placenta and afterbirth materials. However, we would expect this material to be disposed of according to the Regulation.

Animal Disease

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's budget for tackling animal disease. [113532]

The 2003–04 overall budget allocation for tackling disease control is £668 million. The details are available in DEFRA's Departmental Report 2003 (Chapter 5 Core Table 2). A copy of the report can be found at www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/deprep/default.htm

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the forthcoming publication, by the European Commission, of a new Directive on the transport of live animals; what efforts are being made to persuade European colleagues (a) to replace the transport of live animals by a trade in meat and (b) to adopt a maximum limit of eight hours per journey to slaughter; and if she will make a statement. [114000]

The Government would prefer a trade in meat rather than the long distance transport of animals for slaughter. We have consistently pressed for improvements in the current controls on the welfare of animals during transport and more recently for the introduction of a general eight hour maximum for journeys within the EU. We look forward to publication of the European Commission's long overdue proposals to update and improve the current directive.

Ash Residue

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations she plans to implement on the treatment of ash residue from (a) incineration of animal by-products and (b) human incineration at crematoria. [114358]

[holding answer 19 May 2003]: The EU Animal By-Products Regulation requires that ash from low-capacity incinerators which burn whole ruminant carcases or other specified risk material(SRM) must be disposed of as waste to a licensed landfill site.Ash from incinerators which burn non-SRM material may be spread to land if it is derived from agricultural waste. However, the requirement for a waste management licence effectively prevents the application of non-agricultural waste e.g. from pet crematoria to land.Ash from the cremation of human corpses does not fall within the scope of waste legislation.

Bovine Tb

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many herd breakdowns there have been in each of the last five years owing to a positive reaction to the test for bovine tuberculosis in each region of England; and how many of those herds were closed herds, with no stock brought onto the farms in question in the period since any previous tests. [110757]

The number of new herd incidents by county 1998–2002 is given in the following table:

19981999200020012002
England—Total1,2241,3321,4165122,582
Avon4250531898
Bedfordshire111
Berkshire1211
Buckinghamshire54513
Cambridgeshire2
Cheshire115427
Cleveland1
Cornwall21322122881451
Cumbria894233
Derbyshire1848231665
Devon191244282103524
Dorset3440321991
Durham23
East Sussex387313
Essex32
Gloucestershire20718622748285
Greater London—East1
Greater London—South East
Greater Manchester612
Hampshire31426
Hereford and Worcester18620422287328
Hertford3112
Humberside11523
Isle of Wight11
Isles of Scilly
Kent11
Lancashire19457
Leicestershire23318
Lincolnshire11234
Merseyside
Norfolk11
North Yorkshire12118
Northamptonshire21518
Northumberland788326
Nottinghamshire4514
Oxfordshire95313
Shropshire2317391167
Somerset778210229165
South Yorkshire12
Staffordshire69634851172
Suffolk11
Surrey11
Tyne and Wear1
Warwickshire264115
West Midlands112
West Sussex113
West Yorkshire2
Wiltshire65978628147

Note:

1. In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. Since testing resumed in 2002, resources have been concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests which would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also the proportion of high risk herds being tested post-FMD is greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, the number of new herd incidents in 2002 is not comparable to that of previous years.

2. No data are available on the number of closed herds.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cattle were slaughtered in the last five years in (a) England and Wales and (b) Herefordshire and Worcestershire as part of the campaign against tuberculosis. [111017]

The information requested is given in the following table.

Number of cattle slaughtered under bovine tuberculosis control measures 1998–2002
Number of cattle slaughtered1
(a) England and Wales(b) Herefordshire and Worcestershire
19985,788786
19996,708843
20008,2951,038
20015,888706
200222,6822,729
1TB reactors plus direct contacts.

Note:

In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. Since testing resumed in 2002, resources have been concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests. The herds (and individual animals within the herds) would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also the proportion of high risk herds being tested post-FMD is greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, the numbers of reactors identified and slaughtered in 2002 is not comparable to those identified and slaughtered in previous years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the incidence of TB in cattle for (a) England and Wales and (b) the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire in the last five years was. [111018]

The figures requested are given in the following table.

TB herd incidence 1998–20021
(a) TB herd incidence England and Wales(b) TB herd incidence Herefordshire and Worcestershire
19982.306.07
19992.556.40
20003.147.65
20014.199.17
20024.5211.70
1Confirmed new herd incidents as a percentage of tests on unrestricted herds.
Note:
In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. Since testing resumed in 2002, resources have been concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests which would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also the proportion of high risk herds being tested post-FMD is greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, herd incidence in 2002 is not comparable to that of previous years.

Broadband

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the availability of broadband in rural areas. [113694]

Recent developments and technical developments are increasing the potential for Broadband connections in many rural areas. DEFRA is working closely with the DTI to enable communities across the UK, to have the best possible opportunity to gain access to affordable broadband. The opportunity of public sector investment to bring broadband to wider rural communities is one we must not miss. Broadband has huge potential to overcome issues of distance and lead to increased productivity for our rural businesses, new ways of tackling learning and skills issues and better ways for rural communities to access government services. Much is going on in the RDAs, in local authorities and in communities throughout rural areas. The new DTI rural team, with DEFRA involvement, will provide valuable resources to assist and co-ordinate this work, making sure that all can learn from the experience of the best.

Carbon Trust

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding has been made available to the Carbon Trust in each financial year since its inception; and how much of its budget it has spent. [113453]

The Carbon Trust was created in April 2001, taking over management of the non-domestic part of the Energy Efficiency Best Practice programme (EEBPp) in July 2002 (which it re-launched as Action Energy) and administration of the Enhanced Capital Allowances programme in August 2002. In this time the Carbon Trust has also formulated its programmes, market research and financial and procurement procedures. In line with their remit the Carbon Trust have constructed and launched new and innovative programmes such as the Low Carbon Innovation Programme (LCIP) in May 2002.The Carbon Trust was allocated £26.5 million in 2001–02 by my Department, and a total of £49.6 million for 2002–03 (including £17.1 million from the EEBPp). Carbon Trust spend for 2001–02 was £5.5 million (composed of £3.1 million spend and £2.4 million to enhance the EEBPp). Audited spend figures for 2002–03 are not yet available from the Carbon Trust.

Cetaceans

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the use of separator grids in pair trawls in respect of (a) the incidence of unintended cetacean by-catch, (b) the unintended by-catch of other non-target species, (c) the satisfactory technical efficiency of the equipment in catching target fish and (d) the satisfaction of the fishermen who use this equipment. [114630]

Further sea trials of the exclusion grid designed to reduce common dolphin by-catch in the offshore fishery-for bass which-takes place in-the Channel were recently completed.The scientists responsible at the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at St. Andrews University will require some weeks to produce their full report. However, I should like to give here a preliminary indication of the outcome, in recognition of the widespread interest in this matter.The trial was undertaken by SMRU on our behalf at a cost of £100,000 and involved the chartering of a pair trawler for twelve days in March for the deployment of the grid in normal commercial fishing conditions in the SW bass fishery. It formed the second stage of testing this device at sea, the first stage having taken place in 2002. The primary aim was to develop the system further towards the point where it will fish reliably with minimal loss of fish and that any dolphins encountered will be able to escape safely through the grid and out of the net.The twelve day charter was completed successfully, using a new camera system enabling day and night real time monitoring of the grid system in use. It was clear that the grid performance improved this year with virtually no loss of fish related to the grid system. This, encouragingly, indicates that the grid system ought to be acceptable not only to UK fishermen but to others countries involved in the pair trawl fishery.Contrary to expectation, and in contrast to other boats fishing nearby, no dolphins were seen to approach the grid during the period of the charter. The reasons for this are presently unclear and are being considered by SMRU but it is possible that some aspect of the grid system is acting in some way as a deterrent to dolphins. However, the overall result was a zero mortality rate during the twelve day charter.As no dolphins had been encountered during the charter period, the skippers of the vessels—and we are extremely grateful for the co-operation of the skippers and the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association with all aspects of the trial—volunteered to continue using the grid accompanied for most of the time by a SMRU observer. During this extension of the trial two dead dolphins were recovered from the tunnel of the trawl after one particular haul. It is probable that one of these had become trapped in the small mesh cover net over the escape panel. This is disappointing, but the researchers are confident that recurrence of this problem can be prevented by adjustments to the escape panel, as part of the ongoing development of the system. The very significantly reduced mortality rate overall in this trial (2 animals, both caught in the same haul, over seven weeks, and these from causes that are expected to be eliminated) is encouraging when compared with previous years. Two animals died in 82 hauls over a seven week period beginning in March, a significant reduction in what is normally observed to be the case. In observations elsewhere in the fishery without the grid employed, 28 dolphin casualties were recorded in 49 hauls. All this is grounds for optimism that a viable means of minimising dolphin by-catch in this fishery can be attained very soon. A fuller analysis of the data from the trial is now being undertaken which once complete, will form a fuller report of the trial to be published as soon as possible. This will be made available on the Defra website and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.I am determined on the basis of these results to move forward next year from trialling these measures to actually deploying them in the fishery. I will be discussing how this can be achieved with the industry and whether other adaptations to the fishing gear, such as changes to fishing methods, could also contribute to by-catch reduction. At the same time, however, the general level of by-catch in the south west cannot continue unchecked each year and I do not rule out other options such as closure if effective by-catch reductions cannot be achieved in the short term.

We will also continue to draw attention to this work among other Member States and continue to press at the EU level for concrete proposals to widen observer coverage of fisheries implicated in by-catch and for effective measures to address this by-catch.

Civil Contingencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what additional expenditure above that identified prior to 1 April 2002 was spent in 2002–03 on national and regional resilience work for essential services; what additional expenditure above that identified prior to 1 April 2002 will be spent in 2003–04 on national and regional resilience work for essential services; whether arrangements exist to release expenditure during the current financial year for resilience projects under consideration for essential services; and if she will make a statement. [113789]

The essential services which emergency and business continuity plans support within my Department have all been met from within allocated budgets. If a re-allocation of budget is required to meet changed needs in these areas then budgets can be reprioritised accordingly.

Countryside And Rights Of Way Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost of mapping open countryside and registered common land under the provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 has been; what the estimated cost of completing the mapping process is; and if she will make a statement. [113847]

By the end of March the Countryside Agency had spent £13.5 million on implementing part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, mostly on mapping open countryside and registered common land. The figure includes payments to the contractors, Black and Veatch; consultation and dissemination of information on the mapping process; and the Agency's staff and running costs. A further £1.5 million has been spent by the Planning Inspectorate to deal with appeals against the inclusion of land on the provisional maps of open country and registered common land.The scale, and therefore the cost, of the remainder of the mapping project will depend on the volume of comments made to the Agency on the three further draft maps and on the number of appeals on the six provisional maps still to be issued.The Agency has developed a predictive model to help it plan and manage the mapping work, and it will review the assumptions in this model regularly, in the light of experience in successive mapping areas. The Government and the Agency will work closely together to ensure the completion of the mapping project to timetable.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of regional variations in staff turnover in her Department. [112758]

Data on DEFRA's staff turnover (including regional turnover) are regularly collated and reviewed. This and other relevant information is being used to help formulate the Department's pay and work force strategies, including our approach to regional pay and relocation.DEFRA has offices at over 150 locations in England, Scotland and Wales, of which 43 are in London and the south east. The latest provisional figures covering the period 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003, show that turnover for permanent and casual staff in the Department was 7.2 per cent. Turnover rates were highest at locations in the east of England, north west and west midlands.

Dogs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the theft and illegal export of dogs from the United Kingdom to (a) Ireland and (b) other European countries. [112646]

[holding answer 12 May 2003]: The Home Office advise that the theft of property, including dogs, is a crime under the Theft Act 1968 and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.On the issue of exportation of dogs, there are currently no harmonised arrangements governing the movement of dogs between Member States of the European Union. Most European countries including Ireland require a health certificate issued by our Local Animal Health Divisional Offices. The certification will vary depending on the specific requirements of the individual Member State receiving the dog.Dogs travelling from the UK without the required certification will be accepted back into the UK provided they are accompanied by an official declaration from the intended country of destination stating that the dogs have remained constantly under official supervision and have not come into contact with other animals.

Gm Crops

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the need for (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation to implement any EU directive regarding the commercialisation of GM crops. [113771]

[holding answer 19 May 2003]: Primary and secondary legislation fully implementing the UK's European Community obligations on GM products, including crops, is already in place.The commercial use of GM crops is subject to Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms. Directive 2001/18 entered fully into force on 17 October 2002, replacing and improving upon the framework established by its predecessor, Directive 90/220/EEC.In England, Scotland and Wales, the main primary legislation implementing Directive 2001/18 is Part VI of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. In Northern Ireland, the Genetically Modified Organisms (Northern

Ireland) Order 1991 provides similar powers. The relevant secondary legislation transposing the Directive is:

in England, the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 no.2443)
in Scotland, The Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) (Scotland) Regulations 2002 (SSI 2002 no.541)
in Wales, The Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) (Wales) Regulations 2002 (WSI 2002 no.3188)
in Northern Ireland, the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (no.167)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what methods and measurements will be used to evaluate the outcome of the GM public debate. [114029]

The independent Steering Board, set up to manage the GM public debate at arms' length from Government, is responsible for the methods and measurements used to evaluate the outcome of the debate. The Steering Board will be submitting its report on the outcome of the debate to Government in September.

European Working Groups

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list measures under discussion in European Working Groups at which her Department provides the representative from Her Majesty's Government; and if she will make a statement. [112501]

The range of measures under discussion in European Council Working Groups at which Defra provides the lead UK representative are summarised as follows:Issues relating to greenhouse gas emissions (including mechanism for monitoring emissions); co-generation (combined heat and power); quality of bathing water; regulation of detergents; animal health (controls of foot and mouth); residue levels of pesticides in products of plant and animal origin; issues related to drinking water; a range of issues related to the CFP; review of environmental reporting; infrastructure for spatial information in Europe; waste statistics; FAOs international treaty on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; conservation, characterisation, collection and utilisation of genetic resources in agriculture; Cartagena Protocol on biosafety to the convention on biological diversity; community comparative tests and trials for seeds and propagating material; waste electrical and electronic equipment directive; restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment directive; end of life vehicles directive and the packaging directive; bovine semen; staging points (animal health aspects); trade in live sheep; monitoring of zoonoses and zoonotic agents; Control of salmonella and other specified food-borne zoonotic agents; organic production of agricultural products; work on surveying a sample of ground points and use of remote sensing/weather information to forecast crop harvests; proposal to modify milk statistics provided by Member States.

In addition to these the Commission's proposal for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy has been discussed in a series of working groups this year at which the Department has provided the lead representative.

Fallen Stock

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects that the payment structure for the national collection scheme for the burying of fallen farm stock will be resolved; where the Government intend to dispose of such animals; and what powers there are to take action against farmers who leave fallen stock outside slaughterhouses in contravention of the regulations. [113256]

On 17 April we wrote to livestock farmers inviting them to express an interest in participating in a voluntary scheme based on subscription. This would be subsidised by Government digressively over a three year period.The initial closing date for responses was 6 May but has been extended to 28 May to give time for more response. We will be looking closely at the number of responses and the type/size of holdings which have expressed an interest in the scheme in order to assess whether it is likely to be viable and how, if deemed viable, the payment structure would be laid down.Assuming that the scheme is viable we anticipate that it will take a minimum of three months from the date when the decision is taken on whether to proceed to get the scheme operational.Where a carcase is dumped on private land, wherever possible the owner of the animal will be identified and held responsible. However, if ownership cannot be proven, responsibility for disposal rests with the landowner. The local authority, usually Trading Standards, has powers under the statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to deal with

"accumulations or deposits which are prejudicial to health or a nuisance".

Appropriate action can subsequently be taken against the owner of the carcase.

Where a carcase is dumped elsewhere, including on public land or highways, and ownership of the carcase cannot be ascertained, responsibility for disposal rests with the local authority.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the removal of fallen stock from farms (a) following European legislation and (b) in the event that hunting should be banned. [111646]

[holding answer 7 May 2003]: New EU legislation, the Animal By-Products Regulation, applied in Member States from 1 May. Amongst other things the Regulation banned the routine on-farm burial and burning of animal carcases.Currently the permitted disposal routes for fallen stock include rendering, incineration, or sending the carcases to an approved knackers yards, hunt kennels or maggot farm.

The Regulation permits hunt kennels to continue collecting fallen stock. However, they will be required to upgrade to knackers yard standards if they wish to continue collecting fallen stock for the purposes of feeding to hounds.

We are aware that the ban on burial will increase the cost of disposing of fallen stock and have, since April 2002, been holding discussions with livestock and disposal industry stakeholders with the aim of developing operational arrangements and funding options for a national fallen stock disposal scheme.

A letter was sent out on 17 April to livestock farmers. This invites them to register an interest in participating in a subscription based scheme for the collection and disposal of fallen stock. This has the full backing of the Farming Unions.

The closing date for responses was 6 May. The future viability of the scheme will be dependent on the number of responses and the type/size of holdings which have expressed an interest in the scheme.

Assuming that the scheme is viable we anticipate that it will take a minimum of three months from the date when the decision is taken on whether to proceed to get the scheme operational.

A ban on hunting with hounds could have implications for the disposal and humane slaughter of fallen stock in some areas but by no means all. Those farmers who currently use the fallen stock service provided by hunts could be faced with additional costs if they use knackers yards or other off-farm disposal routes. However, there is a demand for this service. Most hunts already make a charge and there is no reason why such a service should not continue as a business opportunity should hunts be banned.

Mr. Luff