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Written Answers

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 11 June 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 11 June 2003

Transport

Cliffe Airport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from and discussions he has had with financiers and industry on the plans for a new airport at Cliffe. [118106]

Ministers have not held any discussions with financiers or industry about the financing of the Cliffe airport option. Chapter 15 of The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom (South East) consultation document discusses how any major new airport capacity, including Cliffe, could be funded and invites views.Since publication of the consultation document in July last year, many thousands of responses to the consultation have been received from a wide range of interested parties, and we expect many more before the consultation ends on 30 June.All responses will be considered and analysed carefully before final decisions are taken. These will be set out in an air transport White Paper, which we plan to publish towards the end of the year.

Airline Security (Kenya)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice he gave to British Airways in May 2003 about the safety of flying to Kenya; when he expects the company to be able to resume its flights to Kenya; and if he will make a statement. [118288]

On 15 May 2003, the Department advised all UK airlines that the threat level to UK civil aviation interests in Kenya was such that all UK airline operations to and from the country must be suspended. The position is being kept under active review and there is close liaison with the Kenyan authorities. It is not yet possible to say when conditions will allow flights to resume.

Pensioners (Free Travel)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure that all pensioners have equal access to free travel across the UK. [117860]

My answer of 23 January 2003, Official Report, columns 508–09W, states that we have no plans to ensure that pensioners have equal access to free travel across the UK. In England it is for local authorities to decide whether to offer free travel in their area and a number have done that.

Railway Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his plans for spending on rail improvements, including the Rail Passenger Partnership, in 2003–04 and beyond by the Strategic Rail Authority. [118105]

The Strategic Rail Authority's (SRA) revised Strategic Plan, published on 30 January 2003, contains a full analysis of the budgetary position, investment priorities for the short and medium-terms, as well as the SRA's long-term objectives for the rail network.The SRA's Rail Passenger Partnership (RPP) programme has been temporarily suspended because of current budgetary constraints. The Authority does not intend to terminate the RPP scheme, but for the present the focus will be on seeing through existing commitments and approvals. For the duration of the 2003–04 financial year, they will continue to allocate funds (£20 million) already set aside for RPP grants.Copies of the Strategic Plan are available from the House Library.

Transport Investment

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the level of Government investment on transport each year since 1997, and his proposals for future years under the 10-Year-Plan; what was planned to spend each year; and how much was spent in each year. [118103]

Capital spending by the Department for Transport (and its predecessors' spending on transport) for each year since 1998–99 is set out in Table A3 of the Department's Annual Report for 2003 (Cm 5907). Comparable figures for earlier years are not available owing to the introduction of resource accounting and budgeting.Table A3 also sets out capital spending plans for 2003–04 to 2005–06. Spending plans for later years under the 10-Year-Plan are set out in Table A1.1 of "Delivering Better Transport: Progress Report", published by the Department in December 2002.

Unlicensed Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many unlicensed vehicles there have been on roads in Britain in 2002. [117851]

The most recent survey of Vehicle Excise Duty evasion, covering 2002 and published in March 2003, estimated that some 1.75 million vehicles were unlicensed in Great Britain, against approximately 30 million licensed vehicles.

Treasury

Basic Bank Accounts

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effectiveness with which banks are marketing their commercial basic bank accounts. [118329]

None. The marketing of basic bank accounts is a commercial matter for the banks concerned.

Juvenile Mortality

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the most common causes of death of young people in the UK were in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [118182]

Percentage of total deaths by age and sex for main causes of death1, United Kingdom, 20012
MalesFemales
15–1920–2425 and over15–1920–2425 and over
External causes of death6162440412
of which
Accidents4034226212
Suicide162318160
Neoplasms9829141424
of which
Leukaemia221331
Nervous system9421293
Mental disorders4102654
Circulatory system44416740
Respiratory system22125413
Infectious diseases121431
Digestive system124135
Other causes87513158
Total deaths (thousands)1.11.5281.20.40.6312.2
1 The causes of death were selected using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes. The codes used were as follows:
External causes of death—V01-Y89;
Accidents- V01-X59;
Suicides—X60-X84 & Y10-Y34 (excluding Y33.9 where the Coroner's verdict was pending for England and Wales);
Neoplasms—C00-D48;
Leukaemia—C91-C95;
Nervous system—G00-G99;
Mental disorders—F00-F99;
Circulatory system -100–199;
Respiratory system—J00-J99;
Infectious diseases -A00-B99;
Digestive system—K00-K93.
2 Figures are for the number of deaths occurring in each calendar year in England and Wales and the number of deaths registrated in each calendar year for Scotland and Northern Ireland.3 Office for National Statistics (2000). Social Focus on Young People. Table 2.2, pg 22. London: TSO.

Advocacy Services

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures the Treasury has taken to fund advocacy services for those in deprived situations. [118296]

The results of the Spending Review announced in July 2002 provided funds to departments as set out in "Opportunity and Security for All: Investing in an Enterprising, Fairer Britain" (Cm 5570). It is a matter for relevant departments how they allocate these funds to advocacy services for those in deprived areas.

Capital Modernisation Fund

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his Answer of 22 May 2003, Official Report, column 882W, on the Capital Modernisation Fund, what payments were made to the

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

Letter from Len Cook to Dr. Kumar, dated 11 June 2003:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question concerning the most common causes of death in young people in the UK in the last 12 months.(118182)
The most recent available mortality data are for the calendar year 2001. The attached table shows the percentage of total deaths by cause and age group and updates a table that appeared in Social Focus on Young People.3

contractor; and what outputs were received from the contractor in the period before the contract was terminated. [118270]

The contractor made a presentation of their findings in February 2002 when it was agreed that the project was not viable at that time. £5,000 + VAT was paid being the agreed proportion of the expenses the contractor had incurred.

Vat (Car Parking Facilities)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when facilities leased or let for parking a vehicle became subject to differential VAT treatment according to whether they are leased or let alongside other property; what the justification for the differential was; what plans he has to review this differential; what discussions he has had with EU counterparts to review this differential; and when he next intends to discuss with EU counterparts an extension of the scope of VAT exemption to remove this differential. [118242]

EC VAT legislation dictates that the leasing and letting of residential property by private landlords is exempt from VAT. However, the letting of parking facilities is specifically excluded from this exemption and is consequently taxed at the standard rate of VAT. In 1989, the European Court of Justice examined the VAT treatment of parking facilities supplied together with residential property by the same landlord to the same tenant. They ruled that this was a single supply of services, and that the whole supply should be exempt from VAT. All member states were therefore required to comply with this ruling and exempt the supply of parking facilities in these specific circumstances. Under the long-standing formal agreements which govern the EC VAT regime, no member state is permitted unilaterally to extend this exemption to the separate supply of parking facilities.

Financial Services (Cat Standard)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what steps the Government is taking to raise awareness amongst the public of the CAT standard for financial services products; [118174](2) how he plans to encourage the take-up of the CAT standard in the mortgage industry. [118175]

CAT standards are designed to identify a range of straightforward savings and mortgage products that are simple, clear and fair so that savers and borrowers should feel confident about choosing them. But the promotion of products is ordinarily a matter for individual firms.Nevertheless, the Government and the FSA make appropriate references to CAT standards whenever they can. For example, the FSA explain CAT standards in their ISA and mortgage literature, and show whether an ISA or mortgage meets the standard in the relevant comparative tables to be found on its website.

Ecofin

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the outcome was of the ECOFIN Council held on 3 June; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including its voting record; and if he will make a statement. [118069]

At the ECOFIN on 3 June, the UK was represented by our Permanent Representative to the EU and by the Treasury's Managing Director of Macroeconomic Policy and International Finance.ECOFIN formally adopted all elements of the tax package—the directive on the taxation of savings, the Code of Conduct on harmful business taxation and the directive on interest and royalties—on the basis of the 19 March ECOFIN Conclusions. The adoption of the tax package is a major success for the UK. The directive on the taxation of savings will tackle the problem of tax evasion on savings income by exchange of information rather than through an EU-wide withholding tax that would have damaged the interests of the City of London. And the Code of Conduct sets an important principle because it demonstrates what member states can achieve, working together to achieve unanimous political agreement, and rejects tax harmonisation in favour of fair tax competition.The Italian request for a Council decision under Article 88(2) on the repayment of Italian milk quota fines was approved, as was the Belgian Article 88(2) request on co-ordination centres. ECOFIN noted a Commission presentation on the progress of the anti-fraud negotiations with Switzerland.The Council adopted a Decision on the existence of a French excessive deficit. It also agreed, by qualified majority with Denmark and the Netherlands voting against, a Recommendation calling on France to bring back its deficit below 3 per cent. by 2004 at the latest. ECOFIN agreed, by qualified majority with Denmark and the Netherlands voting against, a report on the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPGs) for 2003–05 for submission to the European Council at Thessaloniki. Finance ministers also agreed a covering note to the European Council highlighting the key priorities to boost growth, in particular more flexible labour markets. The note, which has been published on the Council Website, states that:

"It is essential to achieve higher and sustainable growth in our economies through appropriate macroeconomic policies and structural reforms. We have made progress with the Lisbon economic reform agenda, but much remains to be done. We must step up the pace of reform and achieve more flexible economies that show a stronger resilience in the face of uncertainty and shocks".

ECOFIN discussed a Commission report on Follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development (Monterrey—2002), which was also discussed at the last General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC). The UK welcomed the report and called on member states to deliver on their Monterrey commitments.

Ministers took note of Commission reports on the Financial Services Action Plan and on ED financial integration. They also agreed, together with the accession countries, a Council Statement calling on the US to exempt EU audit firms from the compulsory registration requirement with the new US Oversight Board, under the Sarbanes- Oxley Act.

The Presidency outlined progress on the Investment Services Directive. The UK expressed support for the objectives of the directive, but raised concerns about the proposals on mandatory quote disclosure rules and the treatment of execution only business.

A vote was taken on the Recommendation to France on their excessive deficit and on the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. The UK was part of the qualified majority.

Eu Savings Tax Directive

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what agreements the EU has made with Switzerland in relation to the adoption of the EU Savings Tax Directive. [118515]

The European Commission, in close conjunction with the Presidency, is conducting negotiations with Switzerland and other key non-EU countries (Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra, and San Marino) to ensure the adoption in those countries of measures equivalent to those in the Savings Directive.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is his Department's policy that Bermuda should be excluded from the EU Savings Tax Directive. [118516]

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him on 12 December 2002, Official Report, column 471W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans his Department has to undertake an assessment of the impact of the EU Savings Tax Directive on overseas territories. [118521]

I refer the hon. Gentleman to my reply to the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell) on 3 June 2003, Official Report, columns 192–93W.

Euro

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact introduction of the euro would have on (a) the economy of and (b) tourism in the North-West of England. [117881]

I refer the hon. Member to the Treasury's assessment of the five economic tests that was published on 9 June following the Chancellor's statement to the House of Commons (Cm 5776).

Foreign Direct Investment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total foreign direct investment (FDI) was in the UK in (a) 2001, (b) 2002 and (c) 2003; what proportion these figures represent of the total FDI of the EU; and if he will make a statement. [117907]

The most recent official statistics for direct investment into the UK can be found in the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) UK balance of payments release, available on the ONS website: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/bop0303.pdf An international comparison of direct investment flows for 2001, the latest year for which full statistics are available, can be obtained from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 'World Investment Report' publication.

Inheritance Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to further increase the threshold for payment of inheritance tax; and what assessment he has made of the effects the tax has on people of lower incomes living in larger properties. [118276]

The Chancellor considers all taxes as part of his annual Budget judgment.

Insurance Industry (Genetic Information)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures are planned to ensure that people identified with hereditary or latent genetic predispositions toward certain conditions are not unfairly discriminated against by insurance companies and other financial service providers. [118165]

The Government is committed to working with the industry, patient groups and other stakeholders to formulate and agree a long term policy on the use of genetic information by insurance companies. The Association of British Insurers' Genetic Testing Code of Practice provides that insurance applicants must not be asked to undergo a genetic test in order to obtain insurance. Under a five year moratorium introduced in October 2001, a person can apply for a total of up to £500,000 of life insurance and £300,000 of certain types of health insurance without having to tell the insurer the results of any predictive tests already taken. If insurance above these amounts is required, insurers may only take into account the results of genetic tests which the Government's Genetics and Insurance Committee has decided are reliable and relevant for that type of insurance. The Committee provides independent scrutiny of compliance with the ABI Code of Practice and the moratorium and can consider unresolved complaints from insurance applicants about the way an insurance company has dealt with their application under the moratorium.

Merchant Shipping

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what domestic taxation is placed upon UK merchant shipping; what discussions he has had with industry representatives on the tax burden on UK shipping; and what proposals he has to reduce the burden. [118274]

In common with other sectors of the economy, the UK shipping industry is subject to a range of taxes and duties and benefits from a range of allowances and reliefs, consistent with the Government's desire to maintain a fair and broad-based tax system raising sufficient revenue for investment in our public services while maintaining the international competitiveness of UK businesses. The shipping industry also benefits from special tax reliefs and regimes, which reflect the particular needs and circumstances of the industry.The Government takes into account the overall tax burden on different sectors when setting tax rates and reviewing tax policies, and holds regular discussions where appropriate with representatives from such sectors, including the shipping industry, to take their views into account when considering policy changes.

Professional Sports Clubs

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many representations he has received on his policy towards professional sports clubs who fail to make full payments to the Inland Revenue or Customs and Excise. [117827]

The Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise do not apply specific policies to professional sports clubs. They treat clubs in exactly the same way as they treat all other businesses which are in financial difficulties.

Over the last 12 months or so they have received fewer than a dozen specific representations about the application of those policies to professional sports clubs.

Public Sector Employees

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many public sector employees there were in 1997; and how many there were at the latest date for which figures are available. [118249]

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

Letter from Len Cook to Mr Gray, dated 11 June 2003:

As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question about how many public sector employees there were in 1997, and how many there were at the latest date for which figures are available. (118249)
The information requested is given in the table below.

Thousands

June 1997

June 2001

Total public sector4,9545,163

Source:

Economic Trends, June 2002 issue, ONS

Full information on public sector employment is currently published once a year. Data for 2002 are expected to be published in the summer of 2003.

Split Capital Investment Trusts

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Financial Services Authority regarding (a) the collapse of split capital investment trusts and (b) compensation for investors; and when the FSA will produce the results of its inquiry. [117844]

The Treasury discusses a wide range of issues with the FSA on an ongoing basis.

Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many telephone calls have been received on the hotline for hon. Members to resolve constituents' tax credit queries in each week since 1 January. [115803]

The number of calls answered by the MPs' tax credit hotlines in each week to the end of April is shown in the following table:

Week starting:Calls answered by the GB and NI tax credit hotlines for MPs
30 December 20021
06 January 200310
13 January 20039
20 January 20035
27 January 20038
03 February 20031
10 February 200314
17 February 20037
24 February 200313
03 March 200311
10 March 200315
17 March 200313
24 March 200325
Week starting:Calls answered by the GB and NI tax credit hotlines for MPs
31 March 200354
07 April 2003218
14 April 2003412
21 April 2003470
28 April 2003827
1 indicates less than 5.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of delays in settling outstanding tax credit queries arising from the changes to the tax credit system on 6 April. [115806]

I refer the hon. Member to my statement to the House on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 53, and to the comments I made during the debate in Westminster Hall on 4 June 2003, Official Report, column 99–122WH.

Church Commissioners

York Minster Library

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners if he will make a statement on the proposed closure of the library at York Minster. [118482]

I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave on 4 June 2003 to the hon. Member for the City of York (Hugh Bayley), from which she will note that the library does not belong to the Church Commissioners.The sale, loan or other disposal of any item of architectural, archaeological, artistic interest would require approval under the Care of Cathedrals Measure. This is a statutory process and I would not wish to prejudge whatever decision might be made either by the Fabric Advisory Committee or by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission on any such application.

International Development

Iraq

6.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development, if he will make a statement on humanitarian aid to Iraq. [118382]

DFID has so far committed £115 million towards humanitarian assistance in Iraq. This is being channelled though the organisations best placed to deliver practical help on the ground: the United Nations agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and NGOs. We have set aside a further £95 million for additional needs as they emerge, but money. Funds from existing DFID programmes will not be diverted to fund our assistance to Iraq.While significant challenges remain, particularly in maintaining law and order, and restoring power, water and sanitation facilities, a major humanitarian crisis in Iraq has been averted.

10.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what steps the Department is taking to ensure that (a) medical and (b) food aid is reaching those most urgently in need in Iraq. [118386]

Of the £115 million DFID has committed towards humanitarian assistance in the current crisis, £8.5 million has been allocated specifically to medical support through a number of organisations, and £33 million to food aid through the World Food Programme. £35 million of aid not earmarked to specific sectors has been has allocated to the Red Cross and other organisations providing medical and other support.We provide our support through the organisations best placed to deliver effective assistance. DFID teams in Baghdad and Basra monitor the situation on the ground and liaise with the humanitarian agencies.

14.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development, if he will make a statement on his Department's role in the distribution of food aid in Iraq. [118391]

DFID has committed £115 million to humanitarian assistance in the current crisis, of which £33 million has been allocated to the provision of food aid through the World Food Programme (WFP). WFP has pipeline stocks of the main commodities for June, and expects to be able to maintain supplies thereafter. Part of the requirement will be met by purchases from Iraqi farmers. Distribution of food within Iraq, by the Iraqi Ministry of Trade, recommenced on 1 June. DFID teams in Baghdad and Basra monitor the situation on the ground and liaise with the humanitarian agencies. There is not expected to be any food crisis in Iraq.

Zimbabwe

7.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development, if he will make a statement on British aid policy in respect of Zimbabwe. [118383]

British aid policy is focused on providing help to the people of Zimbabwe. We are working with the United Nations agencies, other donors, and non-government organisations to provide food aid, HIV/AIDS prevention and other health sector programmes. However, we recognise that the plight of the people in Zimbabwe will only be resolved by political change.

12.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development, when the Secretary of State last met non-governmental organisations to discuss aid to Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement. [118389]

Since taking up her new appointment the Secretary of State has not met with non-government organisations to discuss aid to Zimbabwe.We continue to work closely with British and other non-government organisations to share analysis on the terrible situation faced by most Zimbabweans. The majority of our food aid programme in Zimbabwe is implemented by non-government organisations, contracted directly by the Department for International Development, or through the World Food Programme, which also receives significant UK funding. Non-government organisations will remain key partners in the process of supporting the people of Zimbabwe through the effective supply of food aid, as well as tackling the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Ethiopia

8.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development, what assessment the Department has made of the preparedness of Ethiopian Government departments to handle direct aid payments for humanitarian relief in famine areas. [118384]

The Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission (DPPC) is the lead Government of Ethiopia body responsible for co-ordination of humanitarian responses. Humanitarian relief is delivered by a combination of the DPPC, UN agencies (especially World Food Programme) NGOs and the International Committee of the Red Cross.Overall, the DPPC system is able to adequately deliver humanitarian assistance across most of the country. However, in some districts with weak administrations or problems of unexpected severity, it has been necessary to deliver humanitarian relief directly through UN agencies or Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what assessment he has made of the availability of (a) cereal seeds and (b) pulses in Ethiopia; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure adequate planting of seeds and pulses in Ethiopia before the end of the planting season. [118254]

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ethiopian Government's Ministry of Agriculture reported on both the variety and quantity needs for cereal and pulse seed on 4 June 2003. Estimated needs total $10 million.We have already contributed to meeting requirements through our £2 million donation to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in February 2003. We are working closely with the Government and other donors to further clarify and meet non-food needs such as seed.

St Helena

9.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development, if the Secretary of State will visit St. Helena to discuss progress towards the construction of an airfield. [118385]

There are no such plans for a visit. On 7 April, the St. Helena Government issued an invitation for private sector participation in developing air access. Six parties have since expressed their intent to submit outline proposals by the deadline for bids of 25 July. A period of evaluation and negotiation is expected to follow.

Burma

11.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what aid the Department gives to refugees (a) in Burma and (b) near the Burmese-Thai border. [118388]

We are not currently supporting programmes focused exclusively on meeting the needs of displaced people inside Burma.DFID assistance for refugees in camps on the Thai-Burma border has focused mainly on meeting food needs and on UNHCR's protection role. Financial assistance last year amounted to just under £2 million. Further support is planned in the current year.DFID is also providing support to refugees through the European Commission. In 2002, the European Commission allocated 3.5million Euros (£2.5 million) for these purposes, 20 per cent. of which is attributable to the UK Government.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development when the Department will conduct a full survey of child malnutrition (a) in Burma and (b) in the refugee camps on the Burma-Thai border. [117992]

The Department has access to survey findings and reports on child malnutrition written by a number of non-governmental organisations and by UNICEF. Officials in the Department will draw on these in the formulation of DFID's humanitarian assistance plans for Burma.

Amazon Peoples

13.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what action the Department is taking to support the indigenous Indian communities of the Amazon. [118390]

The Department is providing direct support to strengthen the indigenous movement in the Amazon through its £2.1 million Indigenous Peoples Demonstration Project. This includes help to increase the capacity of organisations such as the Coordination of Indigenous Organisations of the Brazilian Amazonia to defend and promote their interests and rights.As part of its contribution to the G7 Pilot Programme to Conserve the Brazilian Rainforest, the Department is also supporting the demarcation of indigenous lands in the Amazon. The aim is to have demarcated and registered all indigenous lands, accounting for 45 million hectares, by 2004. To date 34 million hectares have been demarcated, with over 27 million registered.

Arms Export Controls

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what proposals on strengthening arms export controls the Government intends to make at the UN Biennial Meeting of states in July. [117753]

I have been asked to reply.The UK Government is committed to building on the useful discussions that took place at the Lancaster House Conference on strengthening Export Controls on Small Arms and Light Weapons held at Lancaster House on 14–15 January 2003. The format of the Biennial Meeting (New York, 7–11 July) which will focus on small arms, does not allow for states to make substantive proposals. The aim of the meeting is to gather support for a regionally based process to share understanding on national implementation of export controls of small arms, with the aim of reporting back findings at the 2005 Biennial Meeting. But it will be a useful opportunity to take this work forward with partners within the framework of the UN. The UK is planning a side meeting on 8 July 2003 to discuss working in partnership and ways of exchanging information. Our objective is to strengthen consensus on the need for regulation of small arms transfers. Continuing this work within the framework of the UN is particularly important, and the UK is committed to the process.

Democratic Republic Of The Congo

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development if he will make a statement on events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [118019]

Progress towards a sustainable peace and poverty reduction has been made with the successful conclusion in April of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and the entering into force of the Global and Inclusive Agreement that sets out the framework for the establishment of a Transitional National Government (TNG). The establishment of the TNG will be a major step forward in the resolution of the wider Great Lakes conflict, creating the basis for reconstruction, economic development and poverty reduction in the DRC. The Congolese parties must now implement fully the commitments they have undertaken and establish without further delay the transitional institutions. The UK is an active member of the international committee supporting this process and we plan to increase our development assistance to the DRC once the TNG is in place.On the situation in Ituri in the north-east, the fighting must stop and support to armed groups must be discontinued. The French government has agreed to the request from the UN Secretary General to lead an Interim Emergency Multinational Force (IEMF) to stabilise the situation. Given the importance of contributing to this force and of supporting the UN and the DRC peace process, the UK will be participating in the IEMF. This force will come under the direction of the European Union under the European Security and Defence Pact.In 2002–03 DFID provided nearly £11 million in humanitarian assistance to the DRC. Out of this £1 million went through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for emergency humanitarian interventions in the DRC including Ituri. We are in regular contact with a number of international NGOs working in Ituri, and we stand ready to respond to their requests for further assistance to address urgent humanitarian needs in the region. A DFID humanitarian adviser has just visited Ituri to assess these urgent needs and we will be making a response to these requests shortly.

G8 Africa Action Plan

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what decisions were made at the G8 summit at Evian about the G8 Africa Action Plan; whether Africa will remain on the G8 agenda in the forthcoming year; and if he will make a statement. [117756]

At the G8 summit in Evian the Africa Personal Representatives produced an Implementation Report on the G8 Africa Action Plan. The G8 and African heads of government accepted the report during a two-hour discussion on Africa at the Evian Summit. The European Union and all G8 countries (with the exception of Russia) also produced individual progress reports on their contribution towards implementation of the G8 Africa Action Plan. The G8 will report on progress in achieving the G8 Africa Action Plan again in June 2005, under the UK Presidency.It was agreed at Evian that the Africa Personal Representatives group would be expanded into an African Partners Forum, including non-G8 OECD donors. Further criteria for participation have yet to be agreed. The African Partners Forum is likely to meet every six months, with the first meeting in November 2003. The purpose of the meetings will be to ensure that momentum for the Africa Action Plan is maintained, and to continue high-level political engagement with African governments.The UK will continue to press for a G8 focus on Africa.

Overseas Territories

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development which reports commissioned by the Department on the overseas territories from Social Development Direct are in the public domain, broken down by territory. [118613]

The work by Social Development Direct, looking at human rights issues affecting the Overseas Territories, was commissioned and funded jointly by DFID and the FCO. Reports on the following territories are in the public domain and have been copied to the House of Commons Library.

  • Anguilla
  • Bermuda
  • Montserrat
  • St Helena
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
Reports on a number of others should be published shortly.

Equal Opportunities

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what progress has been made on completing a pay audit in his Department and its non-departmental public bodies to measure any disadvantage in terms of remuneration for (a) women, (b) ethnic minorities and (c) people with disabilities; and if he will publish the results of such an audit. [117435]

DFID has just substantially completed its equal pay audit of staff below the senior civil service, in line with the Government's commitment to review pay systems by April 2003 in response to the Equal Opportunities Commission Task Force "Just Pay" report. So far no significant pay disadvantages have been found but some further analysis is required. Once this further analysis is complete—we hope by August 2003—a copy of the audit will be placed in the Library. No pay audits have been undertaken for DFID's three NDPBs as they have no employees and their members only receive expenses.

Southern Africa

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what plans the Department has for making affordable fertiliser available to smallholders in Southern Africa in the (a) short term and (b) long term. [117847]

For the longer term, DFID is working with partners in the region to promote improved access by smallholder farmers to agricultural inputs and credit from the private sector. In the short term, we are in several countries supporting the Food and Agriculture Organisation, governments and non-government organisations in providing fertilisers and other critical inputs to poor farmers. We are for example continuing support to the National Targeted Inputs programme in Malawi, which aims to provide free fertiliser and seed to the poorest farmers.

World Summit On Sustainable Development

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development which United Kingdom commitments arising from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (a) have been incorporated into the Department's existing delivery plan for Service Delivery Agreements and (b) will be incorporated in its delivery plan for Service Delivery Agreements in advance of the 2004 Spending Review. [113874]

DFID's current delivery plans relate to the 2003–06 PSA and SDA targets that were agreed upon as part of the 2002 Spending Review. These targets predate the WSSD, so not all of the WSSD commitments are covered. Our delivery plans will evolve and they will incorporate WSSD commitments when they are appropriate to delivery of our PSA and SDA targets. Our PSA and SDA targets will be reconsidered during the next Spending Review.The WSSD reaffirmed commitment to the Millennium Development Goals—the achievement of which lies at the heart of our PSA and SDA targets—and many of our WSSD commitments are covered in existing plans: for example, climate change, finance for development, support to PRSPs (Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers), and trade are all covered.

Prime Minister

Iraq

To ask the Prime Minister when he will make a statement on what chemical or biological weapons have been found in Iraq. [116054]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave to the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) at Prime Minister's Questions on 4 June 2003, Official Report, columns 147–50.

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on progress in implementation of the paper, A Vision for Iraq and the Iraqi People, arising from the Azores Atlantic Summit in March. [117624]

In the 10 weeks since we set out our "Vision for Iraq and the Iraqi people" the Coalition, and more recently the wider international community, has made significant progress towards implementing it. Saddam Hussein, his regime and the threat they posed with weapons of mass destruction have been removed by the Coalition. The Iraqi people are now able to live in peace, build the foundations for democracy and good governance and pave the way for real prosperity. As each day passes the CPA are helping the Iraqis to restore essential services, especially health and education.UN Security Council Resolution 1483 aims to help restore security and stability to enable Iraqis to form their own political future through a representative government based on the rule of law that affords equal rights and justice to all citizens.Resolution 1483 has also lifted sanctions and called on UN member states to assist Iraq with humanitarian aid, ensure Iraqis will benefit from their oil revenue, and stresses the need to address Iraq's debt.

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee since the end of active hostilities in Iraq in respect of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. [117628]

I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals. As with previous Administrations, it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such meetings under exemptions 2 and 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library copies of the pre-publication drafts of his dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. [117630]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave to the hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) at Prime Minister's Questions on 4 June, Official Report, columns 147–50.

To ask the Prime Minister what the source was of his statement in the preface to the dossier, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, dated 24 September 2002, that the Iraqi regime's military planning allows for some of the weapons of mass destruction to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them; and on what evidence he based his assessment of the truth of this claim. [117631]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave to the hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) at Prime Minister's Questions on 4 June, Official Report, columns 147–50.

To ask the Prime Minister when he first agreed in principle with the US Administration that British forces would take part in a war against Iraq; and what (a) conditions and (b) circumstances he required to be satisfied for their use in military operations. [117963]

The decision to resort to military action to ensure that Iraq fulfilled its obligations imposed by successive UN Security Council Resolutions was taken only after other routes to disarm Iraq had failed. I decided to commit United Kingdom forces after securing the approval of the House in the vote on 18 March.

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the benefits obtained by the United Kingdom from the participation of British forces in the Iraq war. [118474]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave to the hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith), Official Report, column 150 and to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd), Official Report, column 156, at Prime Minister's Questions on 4 June.

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to publish in full the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee into Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. [117981]

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave to the hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) at Prime Minister's Questions on 4 June, Official Report, columns 147–50.

To ask the Prime Minister (1) when the Joint Intelligence Committee first told him of the possibility of Iraqi forces being able to launch a biological or chemical attack within 45 minutes; and whether the information was provided (a) verbally and (b) in writing; [117982](2) which of his

(a) cabinet and (b) special advisers were told of the briefing from the Joint Intelligence Committee about the possibility of Iraqi forces being able to launch a biological or chemical attack within 45 minutes prior to the publication of the information. [117983]

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave to the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) at Prime Minister's Questions on 4 June 2003, Official Report, columns 147—50.

Joint Intelligence Committee

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the membership, with each member's qualifications, of the Joint Intelligence Committee. [117629]

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) is chaired by a senior Cabinet Office official and brings together the producers of intelligence and their main customer departments. Members comprise the Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator, senior officials from the Foreign Office, Cabinet Office, Ministry of Defence, Home Office, Department of Trade and Industry and the Treasury, the Heads of the three intelligence and security agencies and the Chief of Assessments Staff.

Mental Health

To ask the Prime Minister (1) how many of his staff have taken sick leave due to mental health problems in the last year. [111979](2) how many sick days were lost over the last year by his Office through staff mental health problems. [111993]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Mr. Alexander) gave him today, at column 890W.

Ministerial Responsibilities

To ask the Prime Minister which Minister is responsible for children; and what their specific responsibilities are. [117932]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr. Allen) on 20 November 2002, Official Report, columns 139–40W.The responsibilities referred to in respect of the then Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham) are currently held by my hon. Friend for Stretford and Urmston (Ms Hughes).

Suez Medal

To ask the Prime Minister whether a decision has been reached on the award of a medal to those who served in the Suez Canal Zone between 1951 and 1954. [119054]

Following a recommendation from the sub-committee chaired by Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, we are pleased to announce that Suez veterans who served in the Canal Zone between 1951 and 1954 are to be awarded the General Service Medal.In examining this case so long after the events, the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals recognised that it had special features. Although it had been established that the Commander in Chief at the time made a request for a medal, there was no conclusive evidence that the case was ever fully considered and a formal decision reached. Nor had the deployment been recognised by the award of any other campaign medal.The detailed qualification criteria for the medal will be submitted to Her Majesty The Queen for approval in due course. Copies of the sub-committee's report are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.

Us Foreign Policy

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the occasions since January 2001 when he has expressed public disagreement with the foreign policy of the US Administration. [118475]

I disagree publicly with the US Administration on foreign policy whenever it is in the interest of the United Kingdom to do so.

Zimbabwe

To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the British Government's policy on Zimbabwe. [118441]

Our policy has been effective in maintaining broad international pressure on ZANU (PF). The EU has used targeted sanctions to isolate the regime and the Commonwealth has suspended Zimbabwe from its Councils. Both of these measures have been rolled over this year. We also continue to provide humanitarian aid; to feed the hungry; and to support the fundamental right of the Zimbabwean people to press for change. We keep our policy under constant review.

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Energy Efficiency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when her Department is planning to start the consultation on an expansion of the Energy Efficiency Commitment to run from 2005 to at least 2008, as stated in the Energy White Paper of February 2003; and which organisations her Department is intending to consult. [116171]

We have already begun informal discussions on the next Energy Efficiency Commitment, to start in April 2005, so that we can take account of the views of stakeholders in drawing up proposals for a statutory consultation in spring 2004. We have set up a High Level Advisory Committee to provide strategic advice to Government, and also welcome input on more detailed and technical issues. We will consult a wide range of bodies with an interest in energy efficiency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department plans to take to combine household energy efficiency with (a) micro CHP, (b) small-scale renewable heat and (c) renewable power. [116292]

Micro-CHP is potentially a useful technology for delivering domestic energy efficiency and carbon savings. However, the technology is not yet commercially available in the UK. The Government are working closely with the industry to overcome a number of regulatory and technical barriers to bringing the technology to market. An important step towards this will be a major independent and technology-impartial field trial sponsored by the Carbon Trust, through its Low Carbon Innovation Programme (LCIP) in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust. This will commence later this year. I understand the trial is expected to feature a range of technologies and end use applications across the residential and commercial sectors, in order to provide an objective assessment of the benefits that micro CHP can offer.DTI's Clear Skies Scheme and the PV demonstration programme both encourage applicants to think seriously about energy efficiency when installing new renewable energy and heat systems. The Energy Saving Trust, who manage the Major PV Demonstration programme, endeavour to offer energy efficiency advice in parallel with giving information on the PV grants. The 52 Energy Advice Centres and six pilot Renewable Energy Advice Centres combine this function.Similarly, applicants to the £10 million Clear Skies programme for household and community schemes, are encouraged to contact their local energy efficiency advice centre in order to check their existing household systems. This is testament to the fact that, particularly when allied to energy efficiency measures, renewable energy is one of the most effective methods of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Airports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the environmental impact of proposals to expand airport capacity in the south-east. [116322]

A range of possible airport development options were assessed in accordance with a detailed environmental appraisal framework, published in November 2000. The full results of those appraisals have been published as part of the consultation exercise currently being undertaken by the Department for Transport. The Government will consider the responses to the consultation exercise, including representations about environmental impact, when deciding whether any additional airport capacity should be provided. That decision will be set out in an Air Transport White Paper later this year.

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to press the European Commission to publish its proposals for a new directive on the protection of animals during transport; and if she will make a statement. [118243]

We have regularly pressed the European Commission to publish their proposals. At the Agriculture Council on 26 May 2003, Commissioner Byrne announced that he hoped to bring forward final proposals no later than July 2003.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to give further support to animal sanctuaries in the United Kingdom; [117863](2) what steps she is taking to encourage the development of animal sanctuaries in the United Kingdom. [118058]

I applaud the good work carried out by conscientious and responsible people who devote their time to looking after sick, injured or unwanted animals.The Department is currently working on a proposed Animal Welfare Bill, which will encourage more responsible animal ownership and thereby help to reduce the number of unwanted animals, a considerable number of which currently end up in animal sanctuaries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has had from animal welfare groups regarding animal sanctuaries. [117864]

A number of animal welfare groups have provided their views on animal sanctuaries during the consultation on an Animal Welfare Bill. My officials are continuing to talk to representatives of animal welfare groups, animal sanctuaries and other organisations responsible for the well being of animals as work on the Animal Welfare Bill progresses.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will include provisions in the forthcoming draft Animal Welfare Bill to stop the practice of keeping primates as pets. [118063]

Whilst there are no specific plans to impose a ban on primates as pets, the content of the proposed Animal Welfare Bill is still to be decided. However powers are already available under Article 8.2 of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 to restrict the holding of species subject to control under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (which includes all primates) and a paper setting out the Government's proposals for using these powers will be circulated for public consultation later in the year.It is anticipated that a draft Animal Welfare Bill will be published for consultation next year.

Asbestos

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were fined by the Environment Agency or its predecessor regulatory authority for dumping bonded asbestos illegally in each year since 1990. [116208]

The Environment Agency's National Enforcement Database does not record specific types of pollutants and so it is not possible to provide details of prosecutions for the illegal dumping of asbestos. However figures are available for the total number of prosecutions per year for the illegal depositing of waste contrary to Section 33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, of which asbestos dumping would be a subset. No information is available pre-1999.The details are as follows:

Prosecutions per year for the illegal depositing of waste
Number
1999 (from 1 April)143
2000222
2001242
2002273
2003 (to date)85

Cetaceans

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether recent trials of separator grids to reduce cetacean deaths will be replicated next year during the peak of the bass fishing season. [117195]

The preliminary results of the recent trial of separator grids to reduce cetacean bycatch in the offshore bass fishery demonstrated that a viable means of minimising dolphin bycatch in this fishery can be attained very soon. A fuller analysis of the data from the trial is now being undertaken which will be made available on the Defra website and placed in the House of Commons library. On the basis of these results I am determined to move forward from trialling the separator grid to deploying the gear in the fishery. I will be discussing how this can be achieved with the industry and our researchers, the Sea Mammal Research Unit, and whether other adaptations to the fishing gear, such as changes to fishing methods, could also contribute to bycatch reduction.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the British Government has taken to persuade the US to stop military sonar testing which may harm or kill dolphins and whales. [115346]

The Government takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. Research on this issue has, therefore, been set in hand and is continuing. Military sonar testing by the US is a matter for them. However, we do exchange information with other countries (the US in particular) so that we have the best possible understanding of the effects of noise on marine mammals, and how we might employ sonar so as to minimise the risk of harm.

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimates the Government has received for the level of duty on biofuels that would be necessary to make the cultivation of these non-fuel crops profitable for British farmers; and if she will make a statement. [117138]

I have been asked to reply.Although biofuels may offer new market opportunities to farmers producing non-food crops, assisting farmers is not the primary consideration in determining the appropriate level of duty for such fuels. Duty rates for less environmentally-damaging fuels are set relative to the main road fuels. The differentials we have set for bioethanol and biodiesel are intended mainly to reflect the relative environmental impacts of the fuels in question.

Common Agricultural Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the CAP Mid-Term Review. [113961]

Commission proposals for reform of the CAP are under active discussion, most recently at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 26 to 27 May 2003, and subsequent meetings at official level. We expect these discussions to reach a critical stage at the Agriculture Council beginning on 11 June 2003.We are working hard for a positive outcome from that meeting which will benefit farmers, consumers, taxpayers, the rural economy, the environment and developing countries, and put the EU in a strong position to negotiate a successful outcome at the next round of WTO talks in September 2003.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to remove the 10 per cent. set-aside obligation on farmers. [115213]

The 10 per cent. set-aside obligation on farmers is a condition of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) support arrangements for the arable sector.In discussion of the European Commission's current CAP reform proposals we have made clear that we do not see a case for a continuing compulsory set-aside requirement if the full decoupling of support from production is agreed. But if set-aside is to be retained, we would want it to be operated flexibly in order to maximise the possible wider benefits.

Countryside And Rights Of Way Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 mapping exercise was up until 31 May; and what the budgeted cost was. [118170]

By the end of May 2003, the Countryside Agency had spent £15.7 million on implementing Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, mostly on mapping open countryside and registered common land. This figure covers all costs of the project, including staff, appeals and publicity costs (as required by the Act) and include accruals for mapping work completed but not yet invoiced. In addition, the Planning Inspectorate had spent £1.65 million to the end of May on dealing with appeals against the inclusion of land on provisional maps.By the end of March 2003 the Countryside Agency had spent £13.5 million on implementing Part 1 of the Act against a budget of £12.7 million up until the end of March 2003. The budget for the project is kept under review and revised regularly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated total cost of mapping the countryside under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 was in (a) 2000, (b) 2001, (c) 2002 and (d) to date; and if she will make a statement. [118349]

By the end of May 2003, the Countryside Agency had spent a total of £15.7 million on implementing Part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, mostly on mapping open countryside and registered common land. This figure includes expenditure of £2.5 million in 2000–01; £3.4 million in 2001–02; £7.6 million in 2002–03 and £2.2 million in 2003–04 and covers all costs of the project, including staff, appeals and publicity costs (as required by the Act) and include accruals for mapping work completed but not yet invoiced. In addition, the Planning Inspectorate had spent £1.65 million to the end of May 2003 on dealing with appeals against the inclusion of land on provisional maps.

Wildlife Culls

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the species of which Ministers authorised culls on the basis of conservation during 2002. [117665]

The Department issued licences for killing or taking, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, for the conservation of wild birds or flora and fauna during 2002, for the following species:

  • Canada Geese
  • Greylag Geese
  • Barnacle Geese
  • Egyptian Geese
  • Mallard
  • Moorhen
  • Coot
  • Ruddy duck (as part of an ongoing control trial that began in 1999)
English Nature also issued licences under the 1981 Act to allow killing or taking for the conservation of wild birds or flora and fauna during 2002, for the following species:

  • Canada Geese
  • Greylag Geese
  • Egyptian Geese
  • Black-headed gull
  • Moorhen

Farmed Fish

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which species of wild fish are farmed in the UK and used in the production of fishmeal in the UK, for use in the UK; how much of each species of wild fish was taken from UK waters and used in the production of fishmeal in the UK, for use in the UK in the last 12 months; how much fishmeal is produced in the UK, for use in the UK; what species of industrially farmed fish are produced in the UK; and how much of each species of industrially farmed fish was produced in the UK, in each of the past five years. [116965]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave her on 27 March 2003, Official Report, column 374W. Fish species farmed in the UK are primarily for human consumption or for restocking, but some waste from farmed fish may be used in fishmeal production. Data on fish species caught in UK waters for use in fishmeal production are not available. According to data available from the Fishmeal Information Network, 50,000 tonnes of fishmeal was produced in the UK in 2002 for use in the UK.

Farming Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the total amount of subsidy received by the British farming industry was in each of the last three years; from which budgets this money comes; what steps she is taking to monitor these costs; and if she will make a statement. [116916](2) how much subsidy the British farming industry has received over the last three years for which figures are available; from which budgets this money came; what steps she is taking to monitor this spending; and if she will make a statement. [118114]

In each of the last three years, the UK farming industry received the following amounts:

(£ million)
1999–20002000–20012001–2002
3,1613,0424,664

Source:

Agriculture in the UK

The figures include direct payments and market support measures under the Common Agricultural Policy, payments for rural development, compensation for animal disease, and other national grants and subsidies. Payments for market support and certain payments for rural development will not all have been received directly by the farming industry.

In 2001–2002 cash based accounting was replaced by accrual accounting. This change means that it is not possible to compare directly the 2001–2002 figures with those for previous years. However, the substantial increase in 2001–2002 can mainly be attributed to the impact of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001.

The money comes either from the EC budget or directly from the UK Exchequer. The Government monitors EC costs in the Council, primarily through the annual budget process, during which the Commission's expenditure forecasts for the next year are thoroughly scrutinised. Our policy is to subject all areas of EC spending to rigorous analysis. This enables us to make better use of existing resources, and ensure that the Financial Perspective ceilings are respected. The UK and European parliaments are also involved in this process.

The Department monitors UK Exchequer costs in accordance with the procedures of resource accounting and budgeting. Expenditure on agriculture in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the devolved authorities.

Illegal Fishing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) sightings, (b) arrests and (c) prosecutions for illegal fishing by vessels from non-EU countries within British territorial limits as defined by the Fishery Limits Act 1976 have taken place since the Act came into force. [118057]

Information is only readily available from the Fisheries Departments in the United Kingdom on the number of non-EU fishing vessels, including klondykers, prosecuted since 1982 and on sightings in British Fishery Limits since 1991. The sightings would include vessels transiting as well as fishing legally within British Fishery Limits. The total number of prosecutions between 1981 and 2002 was 73 and the sightings between 1991 and 2002 were 19,297. Some of the prosecutions and sightings involve vessels from nations that have since joined the European Union.

Genetically Modified Crops

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to the Government of the GM trials taking place in England and Wales is. [113353]

Four companies and two research institutes currently have consent to undertake GM trials in England. The costs of these trials are borne by the organisations involved. The costs to Government of consideration of the applications, granting and enforcing the consents are recovered through statutory fees and charges. GM trials in Wales and Scotland are the responsibilities of their devolved administrations.Over the course of the farm scale evaluations of GM herbicide tolerant crops the Government has funded the ecological studies themselves, with all other costs borne by the companies involved. The cost to Government this year, for the last stage of the studies on winter oilseed rape is 258,896, out of a total cost to Government of £5.9 million over four years for all the four crops evaluated.

Hotel Accommodation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the amount spent by (a) her Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies on hotel accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) others; and if he will list the average cost per hotel room, in each year since 1997. [117567]

For the Department's civil servants, the detailed information requested is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the total currently budgeted by the Department for this year for travel and subsistence is £16.7 million.All travel by civil servants is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Management Code.For Ministers, the Government publish an annual report of Ministerial travel overseas. The total cost of ministerial travel provided in the annual report includes the cost of accommodation. The information sought in respect of accommodation within the UK is not held centrally. All travel is conducted in line with the requirements of the Ministerial Code.

Ingram Works, Leeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Environment Agency's agreed amount of tonnage per year is for waste processed under the site management licence at the waste disposal and landfill site operated by Harry Sanders Ltd. at Ingram Works in Leeds. [116327]

There are three operations at this site. The waste transfer station on this site is currently permitted to receive up to 5,000 tonnes of waste in a year. However, an application for the modification of the licence is currently under consideration. The effect of this licence modification would be to increase the maximum annual input of waste to 100,000 tonnes.The landfill on this site is Waste Management Licence 113, as issued to Mr. P. H. Sanders, and the maximum annual quantity of waste that may be accepted at the site is 10,000 tonnes. There is also a registered exempt site where there is no maximum annual input imposed under waste management regulations.

Invasive Weeds

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to use (a) promotion and (b) education to heighten awareness of the non-native invasive weeds identified by the Non-native Species Review Group: and if she will make a statement. [117805]

The working group of the Review of Non-native Species Policy recommended that Government should develop a targeted education and awareness strategy involving all relevant sectors. My Department is developing, in liaison with the Devolved Administrations, the Government response to the report and it is intended to undertake a public consultation later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what environmental assessment has been undertaken to measure the impact of non-native invasive weeds on the countryside; and if she will make a statement. [117806]

An overall assessment of the impact of non-native species was undertaken in the Review of Non-Native Species Policy, which included case studies on Japanese knotweed and New Zealand pigmyweed (also known as Australian swamp stonecrop).More detailed, site-specific environmental assessments have also been undertaken by English Nature and the Environment Agency. English Nature commission work on a fairly regular basis, that includes assessments of invasive non-natives species, often as part of a wider programme of investigations. For example, as part of its Lakes Restoration Project, English Nature has undertaken an environmental appraisal of the impact of New Zealand pigmyweed at a site in Shropshire, which threatens a native plant, floating water plantain. The presence of invasive non-native aquatic plants is one of the causes for unfavourable condition of a number of freshwater Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This appraisal included an assessment of control options and a programme of control is planned for later this year at three SSSI lakes. A monitoring programme to determine the efficacy of different control techniques and the recovery of native plant species will accompany the control.The Environment Agency has assessed river habitats using a standard assessment that includes the recording of three non-native species: Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan Balsam.

Laying Hens

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 22 May 2003, Official Report, column 893W, on laying hens, whether all Defra-funded research into enriched cages conforms to the EU minimum height of 45cm. [117664]

One of the objectives of this research is to evaluate the effect of cage height on bird behaviour, welfare and performance in commercially available furnished cages. The research looks at the effects of cage height on birds kept in furnished cages—with heights set at 38cm and 45cm. This research will help in informing our position on the welfare benefits of furnished or enriched cages.

Management Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the contracts her Department has with management consultants, and the value of each contract in 2002—03. [117339]

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

Underground Storage Tanks

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received and proposals she has to provide funding for (a) enforcing and overseeing corrective action at leaking underground storage tank sites and (b) clean-ups (i) where the owner or operator is unknown, or is unwilling or unable to respond and (ii) which require emergency action. [117483]

I am not aware of representations as such, although this issue was raised by the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) in an adjournment debate on underground storage tanks on 7 January 2003, Official Report, columns 54–61WH.In England and Wales there is a duty under Section 73 of the Public Health Act 1973 for site occupiers to prevent danger, as far as is reasonably necessary, from tanks which have been used to store petroleum spirit. This legislation is enforced by the local Petroleum Licensing Authority (PLA). Where the site occupier cannot be contacted or is unknown, and there is a serious concern for public safety, the PLA can use powers under Section 290(6) of the Public Health Act 1936 to execute the works at the local authority's expense. The local authority can then seek to recover these costs either through the civil courts or by registering a charge under the Land Registration Act 1988.

Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act can be used by local authorities to deal with significant harm or water pollution arising from land contamination, and capital support is available for eligible projects. The Environment Agency also has a range of environmental protection responsibilities and powers, and provision is made in its funding for emergency situations at USTs, and where owners and occupiers are unknown, although it would not be possible to disaggregate these functions.

Poultry Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received about the planned threshold of 350 birds for the new regulations concerning poultry; and if she will make a statement. [117143]

Commission Directive 2002/4/EC requires all establishments with flocks of 350 or more hens producing eggs for human consumption to be registered. Interested parties were consulted during the negotiations and a further consultation exercise will be held on the draft Regulations.

Press Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance she has issued on media lines to be taken by press officers on stories in the event of a story breaking; and if she will place the current list in the Library. [117836]

Statements and answers for the news media are prepared in line with central guidance including the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code and the Guidance on the Work of the Government Information Service.

Puma Attack

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent reports she has received of an attack by a puma on a horse in north Lincolnshire. [118040]

This Department was asked by the Police investigating injuries to a horse in North Lincolnshire for advice on the possibility that these were caused by an attack by a puma. The Department has not made its own investigation.Puma are not native to the UK and are not naturally found in the wild in this country. The Department is not aware of any confirmed instances of a puma or other big cats of unknown origin being found out of captivity in England in the last 20 years. Injuries to domestic animals are more likely to be due to other causes. Dogs are sometimes involved.The release of puma into the wild is prohibited under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and possession of this species is regulated under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

Salmon Tagging

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 22 May, Official Report, column 895W, how many salmon have been tagged with radio transmitting or other tags in the Hampshire Avon since 1990; whether the project is now concluded; if she will place in the Library the results and advice given to Government and other organisations; and if she will list the organisations which may receive the advice. [117330]

Since 1990 there have been a number of projects resulting in the tagging of 24,291 salmon. The current research project by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) studying thermal habitats in freshwater started recently and will be reported when concluded. The report will be available to conservation and environmental organisations and other interested parties. Copies will also be placed in the library of the House.

Statutory Instruments

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many statutory instruments her Department has made in each year since 1997. [117338]

Site type200020012002
A01-Co-disposal landfill site27(16)32(20)13(12)
A02-Other landfill site taking special waste4(1)12(106(50)
A03-Borehole1(1)
A04-Household, commercial and industrial waste landfill25(22)15(9)10(11)
A05-Landfill taking non-biodegradeable wastes27(22)14(14)4(3)
A06-Landfill taking other wastes24(24)7(7)7(3)
A07-Industrial waste landfill (factory curtilage)5(3)1(3)3(1)
A08-Lagoon3(1)1(1)1(1)
A09-Special waste transfer station27(16)20(16)12(16)
A10-In-house storage facility12(3)
A11-Household, commercial and industrial waste transfer station99(63)76(51)69(54)
A12-Clinical waste transfer station2(2)8(3)3(6)
A13-Household waste amenity site2(2)6(6)4(3)
A14-Transfer station taking non-biodegradable wastes3(2)3(4)
A15-Material recycling treatment facility7(1)3(5)3(1)
A16-Physical treatment facility10(5)6(7)4(4)
A17-Physico-chemical treatment facility2(2)5(4)3(1)
A18-Incinerator12(2)1
A19-Metal recycling site (vehicle dismantler)7(7)3(2)3(1)
A20-Metal recycling site (mixed MRSs)8(1)11(4)15(14)
A21-Chemical treatment Facility3(3)3(3)
A22-Composting Facility2(1)3(3)4(2)
A23-Biological Treatment Facility3(1)8(6)3(3)
A24-Mobile Plant12(11)5(6)

Nitrates

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received concerning progress made on designating nitrate-sensitive areas required under the urban waste water treatment directive since 1997. [117486]

No representations have been received on the eight Sensitive Areas (Nitrate) identified under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive in England since 1997.Water companies providing sewage treatment services is the industrial sector affected by identifications of Sensitive Areas (Nitrate). Such identifications require

Defra was created on 8 June 2001. Information on the Department's Statutory instruments since that time is as follows:

Number
8 June to 31 December 2001219
1 January to 31 December 2002127
1 January to 10 June 200361
All Statutory Instruments are available on the HMSO website at: http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/stat htm

Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what modifications to waste management licences have been (a) applied for and (b) authorised by the Environment Agency or its predecessor regulatory body in each year since 1990, broken down by waste site. [116331]

The table below shows the number of modifications issued by the Environment Agency.Modifications are not necessarily issued in the same year that the application is received.water companies to provide specific treatment to reduce nitrates present in sewage at sewage treatment works which monitoring by the Environment Agency reveals as having an impact on associated water supply sources. These measures complement those taken under the Nitrates Directive to reduce the diffuse pollution of waters by nitrates arising from agricultural practices.Funding of such sewage treatment is obtained through the five yearly Periodic Review of water company price limits.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many nitrate-sensitive areas were designated in each year since 1997; and if she will make a statement. [117531]

There are 32 nitrate sensitive areas in England where voluntary, compensated agricultural measures were introduced, under the Nitrate Sensitive Areas Scheme, to reduce nitrate concentrations in sources of public drinking water. These were designated in 1994 and 1995. No new areas have been designated since then and the Scheme will close on 30 September 2003.The EU Nitrates Directive requires all known areas of land draining into nitrate-polluted waters to be designated as nitrate vulnerable zones. In 1996, the Government designated 66 nitrate vulnerable zones covering eight per cent. of England's land area, and in October 2002, designated nitrate vulnerable zones covering an additional 47 per cent. of England's land area. This brings total coverage of England to around 55 per cent. Further details on the location of the nitrate vulnerable zones can be obtained from the Defra NVZ web pages (www.defra.gov.uk/environment/water/quality/nitrate).

Water Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the average change in water bills since 1997, broken down by water company area, attributable to debts arising from non-payment of water bills. [117341]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made no estimate.The Office of Water Services (Ofwat) collects information on the level of debt and associated recovery costs on a yearly basis. Price limits set by Ofwat in 1999 for the period 2000–01 to 2004–05 made no assumptions about any increases in costs due to non-payment of water bills. However, interim determinations for three companies—Dee Valley Water, Severn Trent Water and Yorkshire Water—have subsequently resulted in price increases, partly owing to the effects of increasing bad debt and debt recovery costs but this element is not separately quantified. Any increases in costs for other companies will be considered when price limits are next reviewed in 2004.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what further guidance she has given the Director General of Water Services in connection with his periodic review of water company price limits. [117539]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State issued initial guidance to the Director General of Water Services on the periodic review of water price limits in January 2003. A copy has been placed in the House Library. Further guidance will be issued in 2004.

Education And Skills

Criminal Records Bureau

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many Criminal Records Bureau checks for school staff took place last year; and how many he estimates will take place this year. [118127]

Education Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the overall percentage change in per pupil funding for 2003–04 for the 10 lowest funded education authorities in England. [117382]

The following table shows the 2003–04 Education Formula Spending Share per pupil and the increase over the adjusted 2002–03 Standard Spending Assessment for the 10 authorities who receive the lowest average EFSS per pupil.

Education Formula Spending Share per 3–15 pupilPercentage increase over adjusted 2002–2003 SSA per 3–15 pupil
Leicestershire2,9393.2
South2,9535.6
Gloucestershire
York2,9584.7
Worcestershire2,9794.1
Warrington2,9806.2
Staffordshire2,9865.1
Solihull2,9876.9
Poole2,9904.2
Stockport3,0026.1
Dudley3,0207.0
The 2002–03 SSA figures have been adjusted to include the 2002–03 nursery education and infant class size allocations as these grants have been transferred into Education Formula Spending, and an estimate of the £586 million 2003–04 pension transfer, deflated by 2.5 per cent. for 2002–03. This was the baseline used to calculate the Education Formula Spending floors and ceilings.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what representations he has received concerning the failure of schools in East Sussex to meet standstill budget pressures for (a) the current academic year, (b) 2003–04 and (c) 2004–05. [117636]

The Department for Education and Skills has received large amounts of correspondence concerning education budgets for the current financial year from both schools and East Sussex local education authority, as it does each year. It is not possible to collate this information without disproportionate cost.

Secondary School Pupil Attainment

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what evidence he has collated on the impact of (a) increased funding, (b) school management reviews and (c) the creation of a subject specialism on levels of pupil attainment in secondary schools. [117179]

The Department's own figures show that there has been an increase of £10.5 billion in school funding since 1997. This equates to an increase in funding per pupil of £920 in cash terms over the period, and has enabled schools to increase the number of teachers that they employ by 20,000 and the number of support staff by 80,000. Coupled with improvements to school buildings and the rolling out of initiatives such as specialist schools these additional resources have been correlated with a substantial improvement in pupil achievement. In particular, since 1997 there has been a 5 percentage point increase in the proportion of secondary pupils achieving five or more A*-C GCSEs. Primary school pupils have also benefited with 10 and 14 percentage point improvements in the proportion achieving the expected level in English and Maths at KS2.Reviews of school management are primarily the responsibility of local education authorities, although an independent view of the competence of management and leadership in each school is an integral part of every Ofsted inspection. The annual report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector (February 2003) indicates that leadership and management of secondary head teachers and key staff continue to improve, and are now good or better in over eight out 10 schools. We continue to press hard to identify areas where improvement is still needed, using targeted policies and funding to do so.Building on the new Ofsted framework for inspection, groups of schools in receipt of Leadership Incentive Grant funding have, for example, been required to undertake rigorous self and peer review to identify strengths and weaknesses in key areas contributing to leadership and attainment. These Leadership Collaborates have used this knowledge to agree shared priorities for action in their Collaborative Plans. Where there are weaknesses, funding through the Grant can be used to restructure leadership teams and provide additional support for actions designed to raise attainment and strengthen teaching and learning across the Collaborative. We will be monitoring the impact on pupil attainment over the lifetime of the Grant.

(c) In 2002, mainstream non-selective specialist schools averaged 54.1 per cent. 5 + A* to C grades at GCSE compared to 46.7 per cent. for all other mainstream non-selective secondary schools. On average there was a 4.5 percentage points difference between the value added outcomes of these specialist schools in terms of KS2 to GCSE 5 + A* to C when compared with non-specialist schools. Ofsted's 2001 report on specialist schools ("An evaluation of progress") said that specialist status had been

"a catalyst for innovation and helped to sustain or accelerate the momentum of school improvement".

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will assess the impact of heterogenous pupil grouping on levels of discipline in the classroom. [117180]

It is for schools to develop and determine for themselves the best form of pupil grouping to meet the needs of all their pupils. From September, all secondary schools in England will benefit from a package of training and audit materials, which will help schools to improve their effectiveness in promoting positive behaviour and attendance.

School Exclusions

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much has been spent on educating excluded children in each year since 1995. [116631]

[holding answer 3 June 2003]: The information requested is not collected centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Independent Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children have been in receipt of assisted places at independent schools since 1997. [118392]

The Assisted Places Scheme is being phased out. The number of children holding assisted places in each school year since 1997/98 is given in the following table:

Academic yearNumber of assisted pupils
1997/9836,458
1998/9929,795
1999/200023,255
2000/0117,927
2001/0212,550
2002/037,690

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of (a) the number of children in receipt of scholarships, bursaries or other such assistance attending independent schools and (b) the total value of such assistance. [118397]

Information about the number of children attending independent schools who receive scholarships, bursaries or other financial support is not collected centrally. The Independent Schools Council estimate, in respect of their member schools, that over 160,000 pupils receive such help, nearly 114,000 of whom receive fee assistance directly from their schools.There are 7,690 children holding Government assisted places at independent schools at a total estimated cost of £32.7 million in the current school year 2002/03. 792 exceptionally talented children receive help under the Music and Dance Scheme at a total cost of £12.5 million. In addition, £132,000 is available to support 85 Choristers through the Choir Schools Scholarship Scheme.

Individual Learning Account

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when individual learning accounts are expected to be re-introduced. [117677]

We will make an announcement about the National Skills Strategy in July 2003, which will include our proposals for taking forward the principles of individual learning accounts.

Ofsted

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will make it the policy of the Government that the South West Regional Centre of Ofsted should publish its telephone number; [118219]

(2) how many After School Clubs have been registered by Ofsted; how many applications are outstanding; and what the average time has been between the making of an application and its determination; [118222]

(3) what the average time has been between the date of an application for registration of an After School Club and the carrying out of an inspection visit; [1l8223]

(4) if he will make it the policy of the Government that each application for registration of an After School Club should be the responsibility of a named individual who can report to the applicant on the progress of the application; and if he will make a statement. [118224]

These are matters for the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). HM Chief Inspector of Schools, David Bell, will write to the hon. Member and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library.

School Budgets

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list by local education authority (a) the number of schools requesting a budget deficit and (b) the value of budget deficits requested in each year since 1997. [118122]

Data on schools reaching agreements with their local education authority for a licensed deficit are not collected centrally.

School Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will place in the Library copies of correspondence between his Department and schools relating to school funding in 2003. [118125]

Fulfilling this request would incur disproportionate expense to the Department.

Sector Skills Councils

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made in the creation of a sector skills council for the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sectors. [117068]

The hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism (HLTT) Board submitted a full business proposal for SSC Licence on 31 March 2003. They have been fully supported by the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) during the development stage.Following a series of feedback and progress review meetings between SSDA and HLTT, a substantially revised proposal for SSC Licence is expected on 6 June 2003, in time for it to be considered by the SSDA Board meeting in August 2003. The aim is for HLTT to be licensed by September 2003.It is recognised by the SSDA and HLTT that this is a challenging, but achievable target.

Teachers Pay And Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the breakdown of funding for pay and pensions out of the total amount provided for education in the recent local government settlement. [114941]

[holding answer 21 May 2002]: The overall increase of £2.7 billion in the local government finance settlement does not provide funding specifically for pay, pensions or any other pressure. It is for local education authorities and schools to decide how to manage their budgets within the total available. However, we estimate that the cost of the increase in employer's contributions to teachers' pensions amounts to some £640 million and that the costs of teaching and non-teaching education staff represent an increase of some £820 million. Overall, the increase in total funding is about £250 million more than all the pressures including the pensions pay pressures described schools and authorities face in 2003–04.

Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on his Department's review of work-based training and the effects that the benefits system has on participation. [117374]

The review of financial support for 16 to 19-year-olds has been jointly run by the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions, with the close involvement of other relevant Departments and partners. This review has looked at making more effective the measures to support young people to participate in education or vocational training. In the Budget 2003 Red Book the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a more comprehensive review of financial support for 16 to 19-year-olds, including the financial incentives for young people, their parents and carers, and the interaction between this support and the case for any new minimum wage for 16 and 17-year-olds. The work of the current review group, including that relating to work based training, will inform the wider review announced by the Chancellor, which is due to report in spring 2004.

Uk & Universities Worldwide

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what level of government resources have been expended on supporting the UKEU project; [114133](2) what level of government resources have been earmarked in future years to support the UKEU project; [114134](3) whether the business plan for UKEU contains proposals to repay government resources over time. [114139]

The Government have provided £62 million to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) over the period 2001–04 to launch the eUniversities project, now being taken forward by UK eUniversities Worldwide (UKeU). HEFCE has agreed to provide up to £55 million to UKeU. The remainder has been used by HEFCE for projects to set up and advance the general aims of the project, notably the eChina Programme and to further research into e-learning provision. HEFCE will review the venture this autumn and no decisions have yet been made on future funding. The purpose of the HEFCE grant is to secure services to support the UK higher education sector by providing a technological and marketing infrastructure, and advice and guidance in providing online courses of study. Funds are invested through a Holding Company (the eLearning Holding Company Ltd.) which is owned by the higher education institutions of the UK. HEFCE currently requires that the Holding Company maintains at least a 50 per cent. stake in UKeU so that it may oversee the value for money represented in the services provided, and to oversee quality and standards of a venture which carries a brand backed by UK higher education. Profits, proportionate to the public funding element, from the venture will be returned to the sector through the Holding Company.

Voluntary Organisations

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what funding programmes are operated by his Department to support voluntary organisations working with young people; and what the level of support has been over the last three years. [116495]

[holding answer 3 June 2003]: The Department funds 90 National Voluntary Youth Organisations (NVYOs) through the National Voluntary Youth Organisations Grant scheme. The grant scheme is a three year cycle of funding with a current budget of £18 million for April 2002-March 2005 a 50 per cent. increase in the previous three year cycle which was £12 million. The scheme is based on two ministerial objectives, tackling social exclusion through addressing priority groups and raising standards and quality of youth work.The Department has also allocated £1 million from the Transforming Youth Work Development Fund to the NVYOs within the grant scheme for 2003–04. This allocation is specifically aimed to support the following activities:

Effective engagement with Connexions Service National Unit and local Connexions Partnerships
Development of young people as Active Citizens, and
Promotion of Community Cohesion.

The previous and first year (2002–03) of the Transforming Youth Work Development Fund the NVYOs were allocated £2 million.

The NVYO grant scheme is the only source of direct Government support for the voluntary youth sector; however the Department does fund the Millennium Volunteers (MV) programme. The programme has been designed to encourage 16–24 year olds to make a sustained commitment to volunteering that benefits others and their communities. Currently there are around 140 projects across England and the majority of these are existing voluntary and community organisations, offering a wide range of volunteering opportunities to young people. This year's budget is forecasted for £17.653 million while previous years' budgets have been £18.745 million for 2001–02 and £13.593 million for 2000–01.

In addition to the Department's direct funding to the voluntary sector it does provide funds through the following:

Education Standard Spending (ESS) Fund. For 2002–03 ESS allocated the LEA other block a potential resource of £397 million. £316 million of this total was allocated to the statutory youth services. It is estimated that around 16 per cent. (£50 million) of this allocation was spent on the voluntary sector.

The Community Champions Fund (CCF) which has been set up by the Department to help support and develop the work of local people who are involved in, or who want to be involved in changing their communities for the better. In 2003, £289,000 of the £3 million is being used specifically to support the development of the fund with just over £2.7 million being devolved to the nine Government Offices, who administer the fund on DfES behalf. The fund will receive £2 million per year from April 2004 March 2006. The Fund is currently in its third year and has helped to turn visions into reality for well over 3,500 individuals and community champions in 2003/04.

And the Neighbourhood Support Fund (NSF) which supports local Voluntary and Community Organisations to provide innovative projects for the hardest to reach 13–19 year olds. NSF is delivered via three managing agents:

The Community Development Foundation—a Home Office non-departmental public body and received the bulk of the funds to oversee around 500 projects.
National Youth Agency (NYA)—Supports approximately 100 projects
The Learning Alliance—delivers some 36 projects across England

£60 million has been allocated to the fund over three years until September 2003. The Minister recently announced that NSF will receive funding of £l0 million a year from 2003–04 to 2005–06.

NSF has supported just over 44,000 participants since it started up with 61 per cent. of leavers achieving positive outcomes.

Cabinet Office

Mental Health

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many of his staff have taken sick leave due to mental health problems in the last year. [111991]

Cabinet Office records indicate that approximately 41 staff had absences caused by mental ill health in the year 2002.The Cabinet Office is committed to managing attendance effectively, and to meeting its obligation to provide a safe working environment for its staff. We have in place arrangements recommended by the 1998 report, "Working Well Together—Managing Attendance in the Public Sector", and are on schedule to achieving our target for reduced sickness absence of 30 per cent. compared with 1998 levels.