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Written Answers

Volume 447: debated on Monday 5 June 2006

Written Answers to Questions

The following answers were received between Friday 26 May and Thursday 1 June 2006.

Work and Pensions

Action Team for Jobs

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what results were achieved by the action team for jobs based in Leytonstone; what the cost was of the action team’s work; and if he will make a statement. (72616)

Since its inception in October 2000, the Waltham Forest action team, which is based in Leytonstone, has engaged with 12,592 disadvantaged customers and has helped 3,424 people into work. The total cost, for the period April 2002 to March 2006, was £2,034,306.

Many of the practices and ideas developed by action teams have been integrated into Jobcentre Plus mainstream programmes and services. Examples include outreach work in local communities and the greater discretionary funding that is available to advisers.

Our future strategy will build on the success of action teams, and other community-based initiatives; including the introduction of a Deprived Areas Fund (DAF) from October 2006 and the Cities strategy proposed in our recent Green Paper.

Benefit Simplification Unit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on the work of the Benefit Simplification Unit, with particular reference to (a) cost, (b) staffing and (c) performance to date. (72252)

When fully staffed, the Benefit Simplification Unit will have five full-time staff with additional input from senior officials. Gross costs during 2006-07 are estimated to be around £290,000. A secondee from Citizens Advice will also be joining the unit in June 2006 for six months, looking in particular at the customer interface.

Simplifying the benefits system requires action on many fronts, particularly among those developing and maintaining benefit policy and procedures. The Benefit Simplification Unit's role will be to act as a catalyst in driving forward simplification, challenging existing complexity and ensuring that the need to bear down on complexity is at the heart of future benefit design and delivery.

The unit published “Simplification: Guide to Best Practice” on 4 May 2006. A copy has been placed in the Library. The unit is now working to raise awareness of the simplification agenda across DWP and to embed best practice. Progress will be reported on annually in the departmental report.

Council Tax Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether he plans to raise the applicable amount of single person's income that is deemed eligible for council tax benefit. (68312)

We have already increased the applicable amount for all pensioners, whether single or couples.

This took place when pension credit was introduced in October 2003. From then we committed almost £0.5 billion a year to increasing the amounts on which council tax benefit (and housing benefit) are based. This meant that around 2 million pensioner households either became entitled to council tax benefit for the first time or qualified for more help.

We will continue to keep applicable amounts under review. They are subject to annual uprating.

Council Tenants

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many council tenants there were in each year since 1997; how many of those tenants were on housing benefit; what the cost of council tenants’ housing benefit was in each year; and from what source the cost of such housing benefits has been met since it ceased to be a charge on housing revenue accounts. (61725)

The information is in the following tables. Since 2004-05, when responsibility for payment of rent rebate subsidy passed from the then ODPM to DWP, the cost of rent rebates has been a charge to local authorities; general funds. DWP pays subsidy to local authorities for expenditure incurred on rent rebates.

Number of households in local authority rented accommodation

Thousand

Number

1997

3,263

1998

3,209

1999

3,093

2000

2,904

2001

2,879

2002

2,735

2003

2,542

2004

2,469

2005

2,250

Notes: 1. Figures come from the Survey of English Housing, and are for England only. They can be accessed at www.odpm.gov.uk. 2. They relate to the number of households in local authority rented accommodation, not the number of people in local authority rented accommodation.

Percentage of households in local authority rented properties that are receiving housing benefit

Thousand

Percentage

1996-97

66

1997-98

65

1998-99

63

1999-2000

62

2000-01

62

2001-02

61

2002-03

64

2003-04

64

Notes: 1. This information is taken from the Survey of English Housing, and is for England only. It is available at www.odpm.gov.uk. 2. As with table 1, figures relate to households, not people in local authority rented accommodation. The figures refer to financial years, rather than calendar years as in table 1.

Level of housing benefit paid to local authority tenants

£ million

Amount

1996-97

5,569

1997-98

5,495

1998-99

5,405

1999-2000

5,345

2000-01

5,259

2001-02

5,283

2002-03

5,405

2003-04

5,033

2004-05

5,208

Notes: 1. The figures presented are in £ million and reflect nominal costs for the whole of Great Britain. Figures relate to financial years. 2. They are total amounts paid to beneficiaries, irrespective of the source of funding, and include benefit spending reimbursed by DWP, spending on rent rebates financed within local authorities’ housing revenue accounts, and benefit spending financed from local authorities’ general funds. 3. They reflect the latest benefit-by-benefit estimate of out-turn, and not the amounts voted by Parliament. 4. Figures for 1999-2000 onwards are on a resource accounting land budgeting basis. There may be differences between figures quoted in these tables and those quoted in Department for Work and Pensions accounts. 5. Some figures for past years may have changed since previous publications owing to the incorporation of more up-to-date information. Also please note that from April 2003 responsibility for child benefit, guardians allowance and child’s special allowance has been transferred to Inland Revenue. 6. Figures exclude asylum seekers from April 1999, since when the National Asylum Support Service has reimbursed DWP for benefits paid to asylum seekers. 7. This information is taken from the latest published housing benefit forecasts, available at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd4/Table8.xls

Customer Management System Call Centres

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Government make a profit from the operation of customer management system call centres. (68457)

The Government do not make any profit from the operation of customer management system call centres.

Employment and Support Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether young people under the age of 25 will receive a lower basic rate of the proposed employment and support allowance than those over the age of 25; and if he will make a statement. (73351)

[holding answer 25 May 2006]: The formal consultation exercise for the Green Paper “A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work” finished on 21 April. We are currently considering the responses and will publish a report in the early summer.

Error Task Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress has been made in reducing levels of official error in the benefit system, with particular reference to the work of the Error Task Force. (72248)

The latest available estimates for the value of official error in the benefits system as a whole cover the year to March 2005 and total £0.9 billion. These were published in the Departmental Resource Account in January 2006.

A task force was established in January 2006 to address the top value official errors in the main income-related benefits. The task force has identified a number of improvement measures which are now in the process of being implemented. The first set of official error figures covering the period of the task force are due to be published in summer 2007.

Gershon Efficiency Targets

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress his Department is making towards achieving compliance with Gershon efficiency targets; and if he will list the (a) reallocations of savings targets between different sections of the Department and its agencies, (b) arrangements for securing and monitoring service quality and (c) external audit of compliance with the targets which have taken place in pursuit of those targets. (69278)

The Department is on track to meet its Gershon review efficiency targets. Progress against the targets has been reported in the Department’s Departmental Report 2006 which was laid before Parliament on 11 May 2006.

Indicative year-end headcount milestones by DWP business are set out as follows. DWP SR2004 financial settlement was funded net of required financial efficiency savings. The Department for Work and Pensions spending plans for the SR2004 period are set out in the Department’s Departmental Report 2006.

The Department’s Efficiency Technical Note sets out how the Department will measure achievement of the efficiency targets from the Spending Review 2004 and departmental performance, including assurance arrangements for those measures. The Efficiency Technical Note is published on the Department’s website.

FTE

Headcount Milestones (ONS)

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Business

Actual Headcount 1 March 2004

Actual Headcount 31 March 2006

Headcount Milestone 31 March 2006

Headcount Milestone 31 March 2007

Headcount Milestone 31 March 2008

Jobcentre Plus

82,067

71,222

71,100

68,550

66,700

Child Support Agency

10,928

11,034

11,350

10,650

9,600

Disability Carers Service

7,263

6,398

6,500

6,050

5,600

The Rent Service

0

674

750

650

200

The Pension Service

19,890

13,846

14,650

13,800

9,600

Appeals Service

850

759

800

0

0

Corporate Human Resources

1,681

1,563

1,450

1,300

1,100

Group Finance

5,814

5,745

6,000

5,500

5,000

PSD

1,207

446

500

450

450

Other Corporate and Shared Services

1,279

1,402

1,500

1,400

1,300

WWEG

1,204

1,180

1,150

1,050

1,000

Pensions Client Directorate

360

498

550

550

550

Contingency

n/a

n/a

0

0

1,450

DWP totals

132,543

114,767

116,300

109,950

102,550

Notes: 1. These profiles are indicative and subject to review. 2. Profiles rounded to nearest 50 FTEs. 3. Other Corporate and Shared Services include—ID, CCSAD, LGSPG, Private Office, Communications and the ISBs. 4. The milestone figures do not include additional headcount (approx. 850) for new work (relating to Incapacity Benefits Reform, New Deal Plus Pilots, Administration of the Growth and 50/50/50 Funds and the Affordable Credit Deduction Scheme) that is outside of the Department’s efficiency challenge. Glossary: FTE—full time equivalent WWEG—Work, Welfare and Equality Group PSD—Programme and System Delivery ID—Information Directorate ISBs—Independent Statutory Bodies CCSAD—Cross Cutting Strategy Analysis Directorate LSPG—Law, Governance and Special Policy Group Version:7 rev

Housing Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of housing benefit claimants who are (a) private tenants, (b) housing association tenants and (c) local authority tenants receive housing benefit payments which equate to less than 100 per cent. of their rent. (73460)

The most recent available information is in the table.

Percentage of housing benefit claimants whose benefit entitlement is less than their eligible rent, by tenure: Great Britain, May 2004

Percentage

Private tenants

23.3

Registered social landlord tenants

21.2

Local authority tenants

21.6

Notes: 1. Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. 2. Figures exclude any housing benefit extended-payment cases. 3. The data refers to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple. 4. Registered social landlords include housing associations (Housing Act 1996, section 2(1)). 5. A claimant’s eligible rent may be less than their contractual rent. Source: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System, annual 1 per cent. sample, taken in May 2004.

Income Support

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what information he collates on the accuracy of income support calculations. (69276)

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Lesley Strathie:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what information he collates on the accuracy of Income Support calculations. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.

Jobcentre Plus carries out accuracy checks on Income Support calculations at national and at local site level.

Data is collected nationally to measure progress towards our benefit delivery target. This target supports Jobcentre Plus in delivering our key business processes efficiently, accurately and to agreed standards. Performance is measured in five key Jobcentre Plus processes, including the accurate processing of Income Support claims. We currently have a target of 90 per cent accuracy. The latest performance figure for Income Support accuracy to the end of March 2006 is 89.39 per cent. Full claims checks of a sample of cases are made by a specialist external team 3 times a year.

Data is also collected internally at a local level. The data collected includes random accuracy checks of staff work, with 100 per cent accuracy checks of the work of new staff after they have been trained. An accuracy database has been designed for the simple and accurate recording of the checks detailing any errors found.

I hope this is helpful.

Job Vacancies

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average number of job vacancies recorded at job centres in each ward in Doncaster North was in (a) 1984, (b) 1994, (c) 2004 and (d) the most recent period for which figures are available. (68295)

Information on Jobcentre Plus vacancy data at ward level is only available from April 2004 and is set out in the following table.

Doncaster North Parliamentary Constituency

Average number of 'live' unfilled vacancies on the register on any given day

Ward

2004

2006

Adwick

130

30

Askern

50

20

Bentley Central

100

60

Bentley North Road

70

60

Stainforth

170

60

Thorne

240

70

Source: Jobcentre Plus Labour Market System.

Labour Statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many job vacancies were on the register on average at job centres in Tamworth constituency in each year between 2001 and 2005; and if he will make a statement. (71229)

Jobcentre Plus vacancy data by parliamentary constituency is only available from April 2004 and is set out in the table.

Tamworth Parliamentary Constituency

Average number of 'live' unfilled vacancies on the register on any given day

2004

1,740

2005

1,130

Source: Jobcentre Plus Labour Market System

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action his Department is taking to increase the numbers of people in work aged 50 years and over in Hartlepool constituency. (72614)

Like all other customers, people aged 50 and over can benefit from the range of services provided by Jobcentre Plus, including access to jobs and help and support to find work.

Additional help is provided to older people who do not find work quickly. New Deal 50 plus is a voluntary programme that provides people with advice and guidance from personal advisers, and access to in-work financial help through the 50 plus element of the working tax credit. Since April 2000, the programme has been successful in helping more than 150,000 older workers into employment, including 320 people in Hartlepool. Once in work, New Deal 50 plus customers can claim a training grant of up to £1,500 for training of which up to £300 can be used for life-long learning.

People aged 50 and over, including those in Hartlepool, are also eligible for help from New Deal 25 plus. People who have been claiming jobseeker's allowance (JSA) for 18 months and who have not previously participated in New Deal 25 plus are already required to attend the Gateway stage of the New Deal 25 plus programme. This is a period of up to four months of intensive job search and specialist help and support to improve job prospects. This is followed by the intensive activity period (IAP) which is currently voluntary for people aged 50 and over. The IAP provides further support and pre-work training to help people return to work.

Since April 2004, we have been piloting mandatory participation in the New Deal 25 plus IAP for people aged 50 to 59 who have been claiming JSA for 18 months. The pilot has offered people in this age group more extensive help back to work. Hartlepool was not part of the pilot. However, interim pilot data has yielded positive results and, as announced in our Welfare Reform Green Paper, we will be commencing a phased national rollout.

New Deal 50 plus is a voluntary programme for those who have been claiming benefits, including those claiming the pension credit, for six months. However, our Green Paper also announced our intention to pilot mandatory participation in New Deal 50 plus activities for people aged 50 to 59 who have been claiming JSA for six months. This will involve attendance at work-focused interviews and the development of action plans to help participants move into employment. Pilot locations have not yet been confirmed.

In spring 2005 there were 3 million people claiming incapacity benefits in Great Britain, of whom 1.3 million were aged 50 or over. As nearly half of all benefit claimants aged 50 or over are on IB, they will be able to benefit from the rollout of the successful Pathways to Work service across the whole country which will be completed by 2008. Pathways offers new IB customers early support from skilled personal advisers and direct access to a “Choices Package” of employment programmes and clear financial incentives to make work pay. Any IB customer will be able to access the support and help available on a voluntary basis. Pathways has already begun helping people in the Hartlepool area, having rolled out there last year.

Our Age Positive campaign works with employers and others to promote the business benefits of an age diverse workforce and best practice on age in recruitment, training and promotion. In May 2005 we launched the 'Be Ready' national information campaign to raise employer awareness of, and ability to adopt, flexible employment and retirement opportunities to support the recruitment and retention of older workers in advance of age legislation due in October 2006.

Pension Credit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people have received back payments of pension credit of (a) £1,000 to £1,999 and (b) £2,000 or more in each year since 2001. (70767)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the pension credit caseload handled by the Pensions Service was during (a) January, (b) February, (c) March and (d) April 2006. (71723)

The information requested is not available; caseload figures are published on a quarterly basis each year.

The most recent early caseload estimates available are for February 2006. As at February 2006, there were 2,706,200 pension credit claimants in Great Britain.

Notes:

1. These figures are early estimates. Caseload figures are taken from the CMS scan at 17 February 2006, rated up to give end-month estimates. These are adjusted using the historical relationship between Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) and GMS data to give an estimate of the final WPLS figure.

2. Caseload figures are a count of the number of pension credit claims in payment at a given time.

3. Caseloads are rounded to the nearest hundred.

Source:

DWP Information Directorate: 100 per cent. data from the Generalised Matching Service (QMS).

Women Pensioners

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many women who are eligible to claim state retirement pension at 60 have not done so. (71846)

The information is not available in the format requested. However, it is estimated that approximately 15,000 women each year are eligible to but do not claim their state pension at age 60, but do so subsequently.

Note:

Estimates pre-date the introduction of more general deferral arrangement from April 2005 which may encourage more women to defer claiming their state pension.

Source:

GAD estimates based on DWP five per cent. administrative data.

Work (Over-50s)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action his Department is taking to increase the number of people in work aged 50 years and over in Denton and Reddish constituency. (73132)

Like all other customers, people aged 50 and over can benefit from the range of services provided by Jobcentre Plus, including access to jobs and help and support to find work.

Additional help is provided to older people who do not find work quickly. New Deal 50 plus is a voluntary programme that provides people with advice and guidance from personal advisers, and access to in-work financial help through the 50 plus element of the working tax credit. Since April 2000, the programme has been successful in helping more than 150,000 older workers into employment, including 240 people in Denton and Reddish. Once in work, New Deal 50 plus customers can claim a training grant of up to £1,500 for training of which up to £300 can be used for life-long learning.

People aged 50 and over, including those in Denton and Reddish, are also eligible for help from New Deal 25 plus. People who have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for 18 months and who have not previously participated on New Deal 25 plus are already required to attend the Gateway stage of the New Deal 25 plus programme. This is a period of up to four months of intensive job search and specialist help and support to improve job prospects. This is followed by the intensive activity period (IAP) which is currently voluntary for people aged 50 and over. The IAP provides further support and pre-work training to help people return to work.

Since April 2004, we have been piloting mandatory participation in the New Deal 25 plus IAP for people aged 50-59 who have been claiming JSA for 18 months. The pilot has offered people in this age group more extensive help back to work. Denton and Reddish was not part of the pilot; however, interim pilot data has yielded positive results and, as announced in our Welfare Reform Green Paper, we will be commencing a phased national rollout.

New Deal 50 plus is a voluntary programme for those who have been claiming benefits, including those claiming the pension credit, for six months. However, our Green Paper also announced our intention to pilot mandatory participation in New Deal 50 plus activities for people aged 50-59 who have been claiming JSA for six months. This will involve attendance at work-focused interviews and the development of action plans to help participants move into employment. Pilot locations have not yet been confirmed.

In spring 2005 there were 3 million people claiming incapacity benefits in Great Britain, of whom 1.3 million were aged 50 or over. As nearly half of all benefit claimants aged 50 or over are on IB, they will be able to benefit from the rollout of the successful Pathways to Work service across the whole country which will be completed by 2008. Pathways offers new IB customers early support from skilled personal advisers and direct access to a ‘Choices Package’ of employment programmes and clear financial incentives to make work pay. Any IB customer will be able to access the support and help available on a voluntary basis. Pathways is due to roll out in the Denton and Reddish area in the future.

Our Age Positive Campaign works with employers and others to promote the business benefits of an age diverse workforce and best practice on age in recruitment, training and promotion. In May 2005 we launched the ‘Be Ready’ national information campaign to raise employer awareness of, and ability to adopt, flexible employment and retirement opportunities to support the recruitment and retention of older workers in advance of age legislation due in October 2006.

Work Incentives

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to review the structure of (a) housing benefit and (b) council tax benefit in order to improve work incentives; and if he will make a statement. (64015)

We continue to keep work incentives in both benefits under review. For example, since April 2004 a move into work has no longer required a fresh claim for either housing benefit or council tax benefit for the vast majority of people. Also, from April 2004 the extended payment scheme in housing benefit and council tax benefit has been widened to include people moving off incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance because they are starting work.

As outlined in the Green Paper “A New Deal for Welfare: Empowering People to Work” published in February, we propose to roll out the new local housing allowance to tenants in the private rented sector. The local housing allowance would be a major simplification of the housing benefit system which would make it easier for people to understand what in-work support they could receive. Our proposal to pay the local housing allowance directly to tenants, rather than to landlords, is also designed to promote financial inclusion and, where appropriate, help tenants develop financial and budgeting skills as they move towards work.

Treasury

Birds

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many birds were imported into the (a) UK and (b) EU in each year between 2000 and 2005; and how many were of (i) wild-caught, (ii) captive-bred, (iii) ranched and (iv) farmed origin in each year. (67041)

I have been asked to reply.

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

Health

Abortions

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research her Department has (a) undertaken and (b) evaluated on the number of women who died following complications from a legal abortion; when her Department last undertook an evidence review of the number of women who died following complications from a legal abortion that drew on (i) UK and (ii) international research; and if she will make a statement. (70407)

The confidential inquiry into maternal and child health (CEMACH) investigates all maternal deaths, including those following a legal abortion, and publishes an evidence-based report, for the United Kingdom (UK), every three years. The latest report, “Why Mothers Die 2000-02”, is available on its website at:

www.cemach.org.uk

The next report for 2003-05 will be published in late summer 2007. CEMACH continues to draw on all relevant UK and international research and the report's findings inform clinical guidelines on abortion care.

Acute Hospitals

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research she has commissioned into single-bed room provision in acute hospitals with particular reference to (a) additional capital costs, (b) patient stays and (c) patient safety. (72847)

The Department has commissioned research into single bedroom provision in acute hospitals, which includes references to additional capital costs, patient stays and patient safety.

Details of this research commissioned by the Department are shown in the table.

Project

Status

“Architectural Environment and Patient Health Outcomes Database”—a comprehensive literature review which includes specific references to single bedroom provision.

Available on the Department’s knowledge and information portal (KIP) at www.dh.gov.uk

“Independent validation of isolation room design, commissioning and operation”—research to examine the performance of a new isolation room design in relation to patient safety specifically addressing the control of airflow and accordingly airborne infections.

Due for completion September 2006

“What is the size and nature of the current need for single room isolation in hospital and how does success or failure to isolate patients affect the control of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?”—assessment of a national health service facility.

Subject to peer review

“Providing single rooms for patients—a Study of the benefits to patients & staff within NHS in England”—specifically addresses flexibility, infection control and patient focus in three NHS facilities.

Available on the Department’s KIP at www.dh.gov.uk

“One patient one room—Theory and Practice. An evaluation of Leeds Nuffield Hospital” —discusses the case for single bedroom accommodation including costs, occupancy, staffing and reduction of infections.

Available on the Department’s KIP at www.dh.gov.uk

“Ward layouts with single rooms and space for flexibility”—an examination of the benefits of single rooms in acute hospital accommodation, establishing the minimum space requirements around the hospital bed.

Available on the Department’s KIP at www.dh.gov.uk

“The Cost Effectiveness of Hospital Design: Options to improve patient safety and well-being”—includes an evaluation of single rooms.

Commenced 1 April 2006—due for completion 31 March 2008

Alcohol Treatment Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the scheme to establish alcohol health workers in accident and emergency departments, general practitioner surgeries and some criminal justice settings announced in November 2005 will begin. (72356)

This scheme is an aspect of a series of trailblazer pilot sites to be implemented in 24 dedicated sites. We are in discussion with strategic health authorities as to how they can be delivered and when they will begin.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the recent Alcohol Needs Assessment Research Project report, what steps she is taking (a) to address the gap identified between the provision of alcohol treatment and demand and (b) to increase access to and capacity of specialist alcohol treatment services. (70164)

Responsibility to improve services and fund service improvements rests with local primary care trusts.

In order to assist local commissioners the Department published the Alcohol Needs Assessment Research Project (ANARP) in November 2005. This is the first comprehensive study of the need for and provision of alcohol services in England.

The Department has launched “Alcohol Misuse Interventions: Guidance on developing a local programme of improvement”, for commissioners developing a local programme of improvement for local alcohol treatment services. We have also sponsored a series of regional conferences to highlight the need for improved focus on alcohol interventions.

A comprehensive review of the evidence base for the effectiveness of alcohol treatment interventions will be published shortly, alongside guidance on “Models of Care for Alcohol Misusers”, which will lay out how best to combine treatment approaches into an effective local alcohol treatment system.

Ambulance Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average response time for ambulances in (a) England, (b) each region and (c) the Tees Valley was in each year since 1997. (71081)

The Department collects ambulance response time data by ambulance trust rather than by geographical area, and in relation to response time requirements rather than by average response time. Therefore, the information requested is not centrally collected in the required format.

The data that the Department does collect on ambulance response times has been published on an annual basis in the statistical bulletin, “Ambulance services, England”. These documents are all available in the Library and from 1998-99. The latest data is available on the Department's website at www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/ll/36/79/04113679.pdf.

These publications include ambulance response time data for the Tees, East and North Yorkshire Ambulance Trust, which covers Tees Valley, and for the whole of England.

Bone Marrow Donors

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken to increase the (a) number and (b) diversity of bone marrow donors. (72936)

Childhood Immunisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government are taking to improve childhood vaccination take up for families living in the most disadvantaged primary care trust areas. (72768)

Since November 2004, the Department has taken forward a wide-ranging assessment to investigate how best to support the improvement of child and adult immunisation services through commissioning including:

an examination of the systems and commissioning routes needed to improve access and increase low uptake; and

a review of the way services could deliver more effectively for the people currently missing out.

Primary care trusts' (PCTs) experience of the new commissioning routes for immunisation is still growing and there is an opportunity to share good practice on planning and service delivery using these mechanisms. In support of this, the Department has:

prepared guidance for the wave two national purchasing pilots of alternative providers for immunisation services (referred to as the alternative personal medical services (ARMS) wave two pilots);

developed a series of targets for local use as part of the Better Metrics project in conjunction with the London Health Observatory to allow service managers to monitor the performance of services targeted at deprived or disadvantaged groups;

held two national events with national health service primary care contracting to share good practice and facilitate learning networks; and

in the recent White Paper, announced measures to free up the target payment funds and allow them to be carried across into other contract forms. It also highlighted a recent example of a nurse-led personal medical services that successfully increase immunisation uptake rates among poor and deprived groups who were planning to apply for ARMS status.

The Department is working in partnership across policy teams, NHS employers, other Government Departments (including the Department for Education and Skills, Social Exclusion Unit and Neighbourhood Renewal Unit) and a range of NHS implementing agencies in order to improve childhood immunisation take up for families. Specifically:

continue collaboration with our stakeholder to examine the systems and commissioning routes that have worked to improve access and increase low uptake;

requiring the Health Protection Agency to promote the benefit of opportunistic immunisation, in order to reach disadvantaged groups more effectively;

continue to deliver a series of reports and seminars and generate concrete recommendations for PCTs and commissioners; and

issued joint guidance with neighbourhood renewal unit on local partnerships that led to a number of PCTs and councils to submit and secure a local area agreement for immunisation among disadvantaged groups.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the childhood immunisation take-up rate is in primary care trusts where GPs have opted out of providing this service. (72770)

The information in the form requested is not available.

There is currently no nationally available analysis of the impact of those general practitioners opting out on immunisation uptake rates.

Recent analysis of the proportion of general medical services partnerships in England opting out of childhood immunisation schemes as at 30 September 2004 showed that though the majority of partnerships (93.7 per cent.) had not opted out, some had. The practices opting out are disproportionately likely to be in deprived areas.

Children's Hospices

To ask the Secretary of State for Health on how many occasions (a) she and (b) Ministers in her Department have visited children's hospices on official business in each of the last five years; and which hospices were visited on each occasion. (62753)

This information is not available in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Since May 2005, no Departmental Minister has yet visited a children's hospice on official business. In a series of meetings with doctors and other representatives from hospices, the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Byrne), met with doctors and representatives of Butterwick Hospice on 14 February and Little Havens Children's Hospice on 9 May.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent commitment the Government have made to support the work of specialist services for (a) myalgic encephalomyelitis and encephalopathy and (b) chronic fatigue syndrome; and if she will make a statement. (74158)

In 2003, the Department announced £8.5 million central funding to stimulate improvements in care and access to treatment and to ensure the long-term continuing provision of services for people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/encephalopathy and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) across England. This resulted in the development of 13 clinical network co-ordinating centres and 36 local multi-disciplinary teams, as well as 11 specialist children and young people teams to support the development of multi-disciplinary CFS/ME services in their designated area.

Funding of these services from 2006-07 is included within the resource allocations to primary care trusts (PCTs), to facilitate the continuation of services following the end of the ring-fenced period of funding. CFS/ME services are therefore considered as part of the future local planning of services and PCTs can take steps to ensure the establishment of further CFS/ME services, where there is local need.

National health service organisations are expected to demonstrate that they are making progress towards achieving the level of service quality described in the national service framework (NSF) for long-term conditions. The NSF sets out a clear vision of how health and social care organisations can improve the quality of care, consistency and responsiveness of their services and help improve the lives of people with neurological conditions, including CFS/ME. The Healthcare Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection can undertake performance reviews to assess progress on local implementation of the NSF.

Community Nursing

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS trusts are operating a freeze on community nursing vacancies. (72266)

Consultations

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many public consultations her Department undertook in 2005; and what the cost was (a) in total and (b) of each consultation. (72856)

During the year 2005 the Department launched 47 formal public consultations in order to inform the Department's policy development.

Information on the cost of each consultation and the total cost of all consultations could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research her Department (a) has undertaken and (b) plans to undertake into the reasons for the slippage of targets (i) 3 and (ii) 4 set out on page 13 of the Departmental Report 2006; and if she will make a statement. (71976)

The “Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation” White Paper (1999) set out targets to reduce rates of death and serious injury from accidents by 2010. Analysis of the data suggests that the 65 and over age group accounts for the main part of the increase in the death rate from accidents, and in hospital admissions for serious accidental injury. Falls account for the main part of the increase in death rates in this group, and are the major contributor to the increase in admissions for serious accidental injury in this group. The Department is keeping the targets under review to ensure that areas of slippage are dealt with as appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health who is responsible for progress on each of the targets set out on pages 13 and 14 of the Departmental Report 2006; to whom each person reports; what recent discussions she has had about implementation of each target; and if she will make a statement. (71977)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health has overall responsibility for delivering the targets set out in the Department’s public service agreement. She is supported in delivering her functions through the Department. The Secretary of State has regular meetings with the Permanent Secretary, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Executive, to apprise her of progress against targets and other matters.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many copies of the Departmental Report 2006 were printed; at what cost; how many were purchased for (a) internal departmental use, (b) NHS primary care trusts and (c) interested bodies and organisations; and if she will make a statement. (71979)

1,200 copies of the 2006 Departmental Report were printed, at a total cost of £23,551. Half were for internal departmental use and the remainder were for The Stationery Office. None were sent to national health service bodies.

Drug Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Government have spent on the Drug Strategy in each year since it was introduced; and how much of that sum was spent on (a) purchasing programmes of treatment and (b) staff systems and other costs relating to overseeing its expenditure in each year. (71993)

Annual direct expenditure for tackling drugs for the last five years for which figures are available is shown in the second column of table 1. We are unable to provide information regarding monies spent on purchasing programmes of treatment and staff systems in the format requested. However, the pooled drug treatment budget (PTB) since 2001, including yearly local mainstream spend, is shown in total in table 1. This money is spent directly on delivery treatment, as well as improving access to treatment, for example for offenders via drug intervention programmes, and supporting drug misusers after they come out of treatment.

Table 1

£ million

PTB and local funding

Annual direct expenditure for tackling drugs

2001-02

287

932

2002-03

322

1,026

2003-04

436

1,244

2004-05

457

1,344

2005-06

508

1,483

Emergency Treatment

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what working definitions are used for (a) accident and emergency departments, (b) walk-in centres and (c) minor injuries units for the purposes of determining which procedures are carried out in each. (68791)

Accident and emergency (A&E) departments are officially classified into three types. The types include major departments (type one), single-specialty departments (type two) and non consultant-led services (type three). Type three services are mainly minor injury and illness and include minor injury units (MIUs) and walk-in centres (WiCs).

The services which it is clinically appropriate for any individual A&E department, MIU or WiC to provide are a matter for local clinical judgement according to local skills and competencies.

Enzyme Replacement Therapy

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 9 May 2006, Official Report, column 217W, on enzyme replacement therapy, when she expects a decision to be made on whether the funding of enzyme replacement therapies for lysosomal storage diseases will continue under the present National Specialist Commissioning Advisory Group arrangements after 31 May 2007. (72351)

It has not yet been decided when a decision will be made on whether the funding of enzyme replacement therapies for lysosomal storage disorders will continue under the present national specialist commissioning advisory group arrangements after 31 May 2007.

Fairer Charging Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will make a statement on the implementation of the Fairer Charging Policy for care payments; (73765)

(2) what mechanisms exist to ensure that social care charges to individuals do not exceed the income they receive.

It is for councils to decide how to set charges for non-residential social services. The legal basis is that charges generally should be 'reasonable' and that no one should be asked to pay more than they reasonably can. The position contrasts with that on charges for residential care, where regulations prescribe a national means test, which councils must follow.

The Department of Health issued statutory guidance, “Fairer Charging Policies for Home Care and other Non-residential Social Services—Guidance for Councils with Social Services Responsibilities”, which is available in the Library, to all local councils in November 2001. It was amended in September 2003 to reflect the introduction of pension credits. It does not seek to change councils' power to charge, or not, for these services.

The guidance aims to ensure in particular that service users on low incomes are protected from charging and that any charges levied on disability benefits are subject to an assessment of disability costs, to ensure their reasonableness. Councils are required to ensure that charges do not put any users' incomes below basic income support levels or the guarantee credit of pension credit, plus a buffer of 25 per cent. This can lead to real improvements in the position of many users, who will cease to pay charges or pay a smaller charge.

Folic Acid

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effects of high levels of folic acid on the incidence of twins following in vitro fertilisation; and if she will make a statement. (71975)

The effects of folic acid on multiple births, including effects following in vitro fertilisation, is currently being considered by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition as part of its report on “Folate and Disease Prevention”. The report is expected to be published later this year.

Food Supplements Directive

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether officials in her Department have held discussions with the Better Regulation Task Force on a regulatory impact assessment in relation to setting maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals under the food supplements directive; and if she will make a statement; (70011)

(2) when she last met the EU Commissioner responsible for implementation of the food supplements directive to discuss its potential impact on the choice of products available to British consumers; and what progress was made at the meeting;

(3) what progress is being made by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in meeting counterparts from competent authorities in each other member state of the EU to discuss the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals under the food supplements directive; and what further action the FSA is planning to promote her objectives;

(4) when she expects member states to receive from the European Commission the consultation document on setting the maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals under the food supplements directive;

(5) with which other EU member states she has held recent meetings to discuss setting the maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals under the food supplements directive; and with which other member states she plans to hold discussions.

The issue of obtaining data for a regulatory impact assessment in relation to setting maximum levels for vitamin and minerals under the food supplements directive has been discussed with the Better Regulation Task Force (BRTF). The BRTF has agreed in principle to this and officials will discuss this further with the BRTF.

I spoke with the European Union Commissioner responsible for implementation of the food supplements directive to discuss its potential impact on the choice of products available to British consumers on 7 and 12 July 2005.

To date, Food Standards Agency (FSA) officials have met counterparts from other competent authorities in the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Finland, France and Italy. These meetings have provided an opportunity for an exchange of views on the setting of maximum safe levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements. The FSA will seek further opportunities for meetings with officials from other member states and interested parties.

The European Commission has indicated that it will present discussion documents in autumn 2006 to gain views from member states about the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements.

The Public Health Minister has written to her counterparts in other member states and members of the European Parliament informing them of the United Kingdom's position on setting maximum permitted levels, and that FSA officials will be visiting certain member states to discuss this issue and vitamins and vitamins and minerals in food supplements.

General Practitioners

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many general practitioners per 100,000 population there were in (a) the Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust area and (b) England in each year since 2003. (71390)

The requested information is shown in the table.

General Medical Practitioners (excluding retainers and registrars)1 per 100,000 head of population, for England and Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust, at 30 September 2003-2005

England

numbers (headcount)

2003

2004

2005

All Practitioners (excluding retainers and registrars)1

30,358

31,523

32,738

All Practitioners (excluding retainers and registrars)1 per 100,000 head of population

60.9

62.9

64.9

of which:

5M7 Sutton and Merton PCT

All Practitioners (excluding retainers and registrars)1

212

234

241

All Practitioners (excluding retainers and registrars)1 per 100,000 head of pop

57.3

63.3

65.2

1 General medical practitioners (excluding retainers and registrars) includes contracted GPs , CMS others and PMS others. Prior to September 2004 this group included GMS unrestricted principals, PMS contracted GPs, PMS salaried GPs, restricted principals, assistants, salaried doctors (Para 52 SFA), PMS other, flexible career scheme GPs and GP returners. Note: 2004 population figures from the 2001 ONS resident estimates have been used for 2005 organisation calculations, as population figures for 2005 at organisation level are not yet available, this figure is therefore subject to change. Source: The Information Centre for health and social care general and personal medical services statistics 2001 ONS Population Census

Health Services (Cornwall)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) nursing and (b) residential care beds there are in Cornwall; and how many there were in (i) 1996, (ii) 2001 and (iii) 2005. (72799)

Table 1 shows the number of residential and nursing care home places in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, as at 31 March in 1996 and 2001.

Table 1: Numbers of residential and nursing care home places in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Rounded data

At 31 March:

1996

2001

Residential places1

5,400

4,800

Nursing places2, 3

2,600

3,200

Total places4

8,000

8,000

1 Residential data are for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly unitary authorities. 2 Nursing data are for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly health authority. 3 Nursing data include places in general nursing homes, mental nursing homes and private hospitals and clinics. 4 Totals may not equal the sum of parts due to rounding.

I understand from the Chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), which took over the responsibility for the regulation and inspection of care homes in England on 1 April 2004, that the number of nursing and residential care homes and beds in Cornwall Local Authority, as at 31 March 2005, was as shown in Table 2. There are some definitional differences between these data and those for years up to 2001.

Table 2: Numbers of care homes and places for Cornwall Local Authority at 31 March 2005

Care home type

Homes

Places

Nursing

51

1,945

Residential

216

3,683

Total

267

5,628

Source: CSCI registration and inspection database.

Hospital Alerts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will define (a) red, (b) black and (c) all other hospital alerts. (68042)

The Department is aware that some national health service trusts and ambulance trusts operate local bed capacity management systems which incorporate coloured alerts. However, these are local arrangements and there is no national definition of particular colour alerts.

Hospital Cleanliness

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made in improving hospital cleanliness. (73565)

Hospital cleanliness is measured annually as part of the patient environment action team (PEAT) assessment. The first inspections in 2000 found around one-third of trusts to have poor or unacceptable standards. Since then there has been a steady improvement and in 2004-05, fewer than 5 per cent. were classified as poor or unacceptable. The latest PEAT inspections have recently been completed, and the results will be published in due course.

The Department has a comprehensive and multi-faceted programme of work on cleaner hospitals covering a wide range of issues, including:

setting standards that are monitored by the Healthcare Commission;

increased investment;

involving ward sisters and charge nurses;

inspecting hospitals;

issuing guidance;

raising awareness; and

research into alternative cleaning and monitoring technologies.

Hospital Transportation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to her answer of 13 March 2006, Official Report, column 2029W, if she will collect data in respect of the frequency of transportation between hospitals of infants requiring treatment in special care baby units; and if she will make a statement. (73209)

No. In line with the principles of shifting the balance of power to local national health service organisations, we wish to minimise the burden of all central information requirements on the health service.

It is for local neonatal networks and hospital trusts to determine the appropriate number of special care baby cots to ensure there is provision for babies requiring such care. Strategic health authority areas will increase or decrease cots to reflect demand.

Hospitals

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) NHS trusts and (b) foundation hospitals in England recorded unsafe staffing levels in 2005. (72257)

All national health service organisations are required to ensure that they have sufficient appropriately trained staff to deliver high quality care in safe environments. Their performance in terms of safety and care environments is reviewed by the Healthcare Commission. The Department does not collect the information requested.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hospitals were failing to meet Government targets in (a) England and (b) the boroughs of the Tees Valley sub-region in the latest month for which figures are available. (32766)

In line with the principles of devolution, the Department monitors progress against local delivery plans that strategic health authorities agree with primary care trusts. These plans are based on current Government priorities set out in “National Standards, Local Action: Health and Social Care Standards and Planning Framework 2005/06-2007/08” at SHA level.

Individual national health service trust performance against national priorities is assessed by the independent regulator, the Healthcare Commission, through its annual performance ratings process. The latest performance ratings are available on the Healthcare Commission's website at ratings2005.healthcarecommission.org.uk/.

Human Embryos

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when her Department last undertook a review of the scientific evidence of when human life begins that drew on (a) UK and (b) international research; and if she will make a statement. (70406)

Under English law, a foetus is not recognised as being a separate person from its mother. It has no rights independent of its mother until it is born alive and has an independent existence.

Imported Blood Products

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when her Department became aware of the higher risk of hepatitis C contamination from imported blood products; and if she will make a statement. (64128)

The issues around the risk of haemophilia patients acquiring infection with hepatitis C through contaminated blood products are complex. We understand that there has been concern that plasma imported from the United States may have carried a higher risk of transmitting hepatitis C. However, knowledge of the viral risks associated with both domestically produced and imported blood products evolved over time.

Blood products contain plasma pooled from many thousands of donors, and only one donation needs to carry the virus to infect the whole batch. Regardless of the source, or of the manufacturer of the plasma used, all products were potentially contaminated with the hepatitis C virus as a result of the need for pooling and the prevalence of the virus in blood donor populations around the world.

Methadone

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what alternatives to methadone are used by the NHS. (69409)

Methadone remains the main treatment of the national health service for the management of opiate dependence. The main alternative drug for management of opiate dependence is buprenorphine1, used increasingly in the NHS since the Department amended regulations in April 2001 to enable practitioners to prescribe the drug for opiate dependence safely through instalment dispensing.

Patients may also be prescribed pharmaceutical diamorphine, and in a small number of cases alternative opiates such as clonidine and lofexidine to substitute for illicit opiate use, with decisions based on clinical judgement for each particular case.

As part of the Government's ongoing commitment to ensuring drug treatment is delivered in a way that maximises the potential for a successful outcome, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence is currently conducting a review of the effectiveness of methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone in the treatment of drug misusers, due for publication in March 2007.

Although outcomes generally are better for those who remain on opiate substitution treatment, there has been an increase in focus on commissioning effective support for patients who are ready to benefit from abstinence-based approaches to optimise such treatment pathways. Rehabilitation services or aftercare support are available for those opiate-dependent drug users who can successfully become drug-free and who no longer require treatments such as methadone.

1 Marketing Authorisation, Subutex

Milk Tokens

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the level of take up of milk tokens by pregnant women. (72884)

Data are not collected on the number of pregnant women who may be eligible for free milk under the welfare food scheme. There are approximately 25,500 pregnant women currently in receipt of milk tokens. Promotion of the new Healthy Start scheme planned for late autumn this year is expected at least to maintain the current claim volumes.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the total cost was of overnight accommodation for Ministers of State in her Department on foreign visits in each of the last three years; (69209)

(2) on how many occasions Ministers of State in her Department stayed overnight in (a) five star, (b) four star and (c) three star hotels on foreign visits in each of the last three years.

This information cannot be supplied without disproportionate costs.

Under the terms of the “Ministerial Code” and “Travel by Ministers”, when travelling on official business Ministers are expected to make efficient and cost-effective travel arrangements.

Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. This information includes accommodation costs. Copies are available in the Library.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Department is taking to ensure effective medical education in the diagnosis and treatment of myalgic (a) encephalomyelitis and (b) encephalopathy. (71469)

Medical schools develop their own undergraduate medical curriculum in the light of recommendations from the General Medical Council’s Education Committee, which has statutory responsibility to determine the extent of knowledge and skill required for the granting of primary medical qualifications in the United Kingdom (UK). The Department does not provide direction on the content of medical school courses. Medical schools are autonomous bodies and Ministers are precluded by legislation from intervening in their internal affairs, including curriculum content.

The content and standard of postgraduate medical training is the responsibility of the postgraduate medical education and training board, which is the competent authority for postgraduate medical training in the UK.

NHS Commissioning

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when her Department's taskforce will publish its review of NHS commissioning of specialised services. (71916)

The report of the review of commissioning arrangements for specialised services was published on the Department's website and is available at www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/13/52/16/04135216.pdf.

Copies are being placed in the Library.

NHS Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to ensure consistent standards of patient care in hospital trusts seeking to recover from financial deficit. (72725)

All areas of the country have received record increases in their level of funding for the national health service. Funding of the NHS has increased from £34.7 billion in 1997-98 to £69.7 billion in 2004-05. By 2007-08, spending on the NHS will have increased to over £92 billion. This level of investment should enable NHS organisations to deliver key national and financial targets.

Priorities for the NHS are set out in “National Standards, Local Action: Health and Social Care Standards and Planning Framework 2005/06-2007/08”, which is available on the Department's website at:

www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/08/60/58/04086058.pdf

These include details of health care standards, existing commitments and new national targets. All NHS organisations are expected to meet these priorities and achieve financial balance. The independent regulator, the Healthcare Commission, assesses health care organisations’ performance against these priorities, including financial balance.

NHS Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the turnover rate for NHS trust (a) chief executives, (b) chairmen and (c) senior managers was in each year for which records are available. (70156)

NHS Trusts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the NHS trusts that have funded visits abroad for staff in the last 12 months; and in each case what was the (a) purpose and (b) cost of each trip. (71402)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many chief executives were recruited to NHS trusts in 2005; (71411)

(2) how many of the chief executives recruited to NHS trusts in 2005 (a) were head hunted and (b) applied for advertised vacancies;

(3) how many of the chief executives recruited to NHS trusts in 2005 came from a background predominantly in the private sector.

Pharmaceutical Wholesalers

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will take steps to amend the Medicines Act 1969 to require the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to inspect the warehouses and operations of companies which self-distribute medicines and drugs; (73160)

(2) if she will require the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to extend its inspection role to cover companies which self-distribute medicines and drugs and which are not covered by the requirement of the Medicines Act 1968.

The Medicines Act 1968, as amended, and orders and regulations under that Act, regulate the distribution of medicinal products in the United Kingdom. These provisions transpose into the United Kingdom's law the relevant requirements of Directive 2001/83/EC relating to medicinal products for human use.

Companies wishing to wholesale distribute medicines for human use are required, under the Act and related regulations, to be licensed and inspected by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) unless an exemption applies.

The term self-distribute, in relation to medicines for human use, is not a term used or defined in Directive 2001/83/EC or the United Kingdom medicines legislation, or in official guidance published by the MHRA.

The supply of medicines from a company's central distribution warehouse to its own retail outlets is not considered to be wholesale distribution as the supply is within the same legal entity.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain is therefore responsible for the inspection of retail pharmacy businesses in England and Wales at which medicinal products are sold by retail or supplied in circumstances corresponding to retail.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many and what percentage of pharmaceutical wholesaler dealer licence holders have been inspected by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency within the target period of three years; (73164)

(2) how many inspectors the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has available to inspect pharmaceutical wholesaler licence holders; and how many inspections each inspector has carried out in each of the last three years.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Government body responsible for the safety and licensing of medicines in the United Kingdom, employs six full-time good distribution practice inspectors. These inspectors inspect the facilities of licensed wholesale dealers of medicines to confirm compliance with the European Commission’s guideline on good distribution practice and UK medicines regulations.

The current level of resource enables a regular and repeated inspection programme (at specified frequencies) of all (100 per cent.) of the facilities from where licensed wholesale distributors of medicinal products conduct their wholesale business to be maintained.

Details for the last three years of the numbers of inspections performed by good distribution practice inspectors is shown in the table:

Number of inspections

Inspector

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

1

36

82

73

2

63

85

80

3

65

85

82

4

61

83

87

5

61

79

81

6

1

1

2

Total

302

414

403

1 Not in post 2 Training

For the year 2003-04 an additional GDP inspector was employed. This inspector performed 16 site inspections which are included in the totals for that year.

Prescription Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will estimate the annual increase in revenue if prescription charges had been increased in line with the rise in the retail price index since the present level of charges was established. (71973)

The information available in respect of England is shown in the table.

Estimated change in revenue from prescription charges and pre-payment certificate fees if these had been increase in line with inflation.

Change in revenue (£ million)

1971

-6.0

1972

1.5

1973

2.1

1974

3.8

1975

5.7

1976

3.1

1977

3.4

1978

1.8

1979

-15.8

1980

-17.9

1981

-16.7

1982

-15.4

1983

-2.3

1984

-8.7

1985

-17.5

1986

-8.0

1987

-6.1

1988

-3.4

1989

-0.1

1990

3.1

1991

-12.4

1992

-12.3

1993

-22.4

1994

-20.1

1995

-15.0

1996

-6.2

1997

2.7

1998

1.8

1999

-2.2

2000

6.1

2001

0.1

2002

0.2

Primary Care Trusts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many public responses there were to proposals for primary care trust reorganisation in (a) Trent, (b) South Yorkshire and (c) England; (69751)

(2) how many members of the general public attended each primary care trust reorganisation meeting in (a) Trent and (b) South Yorkshire.

The information regarding responses to local consultations on primary care trust reconfiguration and attendance at public meetings is as follows.

PCTs

Trent

South Yorkshire

England

Stakeholder meetings

29

42

830

Public attendance

860

69

11,785

Responses

5,479

200

17,104

Consultation documents

17,000

2,529

121,819

Consultation document download

0

839

22,533

Leaflet drops

0

0

152,300

Petition

7,351

11,271

29,556

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether any financial surplus of the Bedford Primary Care Trust will be used to subsidise the financial deficit of the Bedfordshire Heartlands Primary Care Trust following the implementation of the new configuration of primary care trusts in Bedfordshire; and if she will make a statement. (72956)

It will be for strategic health authorities and the newly formed primary care trusts to manage, and continue to use, the funding available to them in the best possible way to deliver government targets and make service improvements.

The reconfiguration exercise should not be used locally to move resources from high performing areas to under-performing areas and vice versa. Local managers should be ensuring that the quality of financial management in all organisations is raised to the level of the best.

Private Finance Initiative Projects

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list reviews the Department is undertaking of private finance initiative projects; and whether she expects the review to affect the timescale for the project in each case. (64592)

Departmental officials will be reviewing all private finance initiative schemes yet to reach financial close and with an expected capital value of more than £75 million. The current list of such schemes is as follows:

University Hospital North Staffordshire National Health Service Trust

Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust

Peterborough and Stamford Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust

Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust

Tameside and Glossop NHS Trust

Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust

Tees and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust

Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust

The Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust

North West London Hospitals NHS Trust

North Bristol NHS Trust

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Mersey Care NHS Trust

Royal Wolverhampton Hospital NHS Trust

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust

United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust

Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust

Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Southend Hospital NHS Trust

Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital NHS Trust

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Trusts

Epsom and St. Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital NHS Trust

Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust

Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust

Northampton General NHS Trust

Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Trust

The purpose of the review process is to deliver schemes that are financially viable and sustainable over the long term. It may be that in pursuit of achieving these objectives certain schemes experience limited delays.

Promotion Boards

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what promotion boards have been held in her Department in each of the last five years. (72857)

None. The Department assesses the suitability of employees for promotion on a job specific basis.

Small Change Big Difference

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department and its agencies have taken following the launch of the Government's Small Change Big Difference campaign. (72012)

We have followed up with “small change, big difference” event guests to explore tailored options for the initiative's roll-out. A series of further seminars is being planned. They will include the development of the logo and brand, investigating possible joint campaign work, the integration of the initiative into the wider public health framework and the work of all our key stakeholders.

A partnership programme will begin aligning key commercial and public sector partners with existing and new programme delivery, the aim being to create a number of dedicated, dynamic partnership programmes between government, commercial partners and non-governmental organisations in direct support of “Choosing Health” objectives. These partnerships will define routes to communicate with people through, for example, their place of work, as well as their local shops and during their leisure activities about making healthier choices in their lives.

Strategic Health Authorities

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many strategic health authority (a) chief executives, (b) chairmen and (c) senior managers have (i) medical, (ii) dental, (iii) nursing and (iv) other qualifications and previous experience of working in the (A) private sector and (B) NHS. (71465)

Information in respect of chief executives and senior managers is not collected centrally. The NHS Appointments Commission is responsible for appointing the chairmen of NHS organisations, a number of whom are retired clinicians. I have asked the NHS Appointments Commission to write to the right hon. Gentleman direct with the information he seeks.

Telephone Advice Lines

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many telephone advice lines her Department and its non-departmental public bodies support; how many telephone advisers each employs; and how much funding is provided to each by (a) her Department and its non-departmental public bodies, (b) other Government Departments, (c) the private sector and (d) the voluntary sector. (66586)

The Department's call centre provides information of a general nature to members of the public about the work of the Department. It responds to about 120,000 telephone calls a year and most of the emails sent through the Department's website. The annual cost is £505,715.

There would be a disproportionate cost in identifying advice lines and funding by the Department in external bodies, since this is not ringfenced in funding given to those organisations.

Tuberculosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the 20 local authority areas with the highest incidence of tuberculosis; and if she will make a statement. (67434)

The 20 local authorities with the highest rates of notified cases of tuberculosis in England in the last year for which data is available are shown in the following table:

Local authority

2004

Hackney

95.1

Newham

92.0

Slough Unitary Authority (UA)

68.0

Brent

60.9

Tower Hamlets

57.8

Harrow

57.1

Leicester UA

56.5

Luton UA

47.3

Hillingdon

47.0

Islington

46.7

Greenwich

45.6

Blackburn with Darwen UA

42.1

Wolverhampton

41.0

Birmingham

40.1

Ealing

38.9

Manchester

38.9

Waltham Forest

38.3

Southwark

38.1

City of Westminster

37.4

Enfield

35.7

Note: Data as at 3 May 2006. Source: Statutory notifications of infectious diseases, Health Protection Agency. Rates shown are per 100,000 population.

United Health Europe

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many times (a) she, (b) her predecessor as Secretary of State and (c) another Health Minister met representatives of United Health Europe in 2005; and what the dates were of these meetings. (53685)

Neither the current nor the former Secretary of State for Health met representatives of United Health Europe in 2005.

The President of United Health Europe attended a meeting where Lord Warner made a speech at the Adam Smith Institute on 4 October 2005.

Liam Byrne met the President of United Health Europe on 27 July 2005.

Work Permit Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether her Department conducted a race equality impact assessment concerning changes to the work permit regulations as they affect medical staff. (65676)

A partial race equality impact assessment was carried out on the proposed points- based system, which had the effect of ending permit-free training. A full one will be undertaken when the system is fully implemented.

On advice, an REIA has not been carried out on the recent changes to the immigration rules for postgraduate doctors and dentists which brought the immigration provisions for non-European Economic Area (EEA) junior doctors and dentists into line with the immigration provisions for non-EEA nationals wanting to work in any other sector of the United Kingdom labour market.

Wound Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the NHS spent on training and endorsements for wound care nurses in 2005; and what assessment her Department has undertaken of the value for money obtained from the expenditure. (71584)

The information requested is not collected centrally. It is for national health service trusts to decide on the skills and knowledge needed by their nursing work force in order to meet the needs of patients.

Defence

Air Miles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many free air miles have been accrued by senior civil servants in his Department on official business in each of the last three years; and how they were used. (70621)

The Ministry of Defence has no central record of air miles accrued by senior civil servants and is therefore unable to provide details of how they were used. Guidance for officials requires that air miles accrued on official business are not used for private purposes.

Armed Forces (Foreign Citizens)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of members of each of the armed forces are not British citizens, broken down by nationality. (72550)

The number and percentage of service personnel who are not British citizens in each of HM armed forces are shown by country in the following table:

UK Regular Forces1 with Nationality other than British at 1 April 2006

Country

Naval service

Percentage of total strength

Army

Percentage of total strength

Royal Air Force2

Percentage of total strength

Total non-British service personnel

465

1.2

6,670

6.2

210

0.4

Antigua

3

3

4

4

3

3

Australia

10

3

75

0.1

10

3

Bangladesh

4

4

5

3

3

3

Barbados

4

4

10

3

4

3

Belize

3

3

4

4

3

3

Botswana

3

3

5

3

3

3

Cameroon

3

3

20

3

3

3

Canada

15

3

60

0.1

20

3

Cyprus

4

4

4

4

3

Dominican Republic

4

4

10

3

3

3

Egypt

3

3

3

3

3

3

Eire

50

0.1

215

0.2

60

0.1

Falkland Islands

3

3

4

4

3

3

Fiji

75

0.2

1,995

1.8

5

3

France

3

3

4

4

3

3

Gambia

4

4

80

0.1

4

3

Germany5

4

4

4

4

3

3

Ghana

4

4

660

0.6

4

3

Gibraltar

4

4

3

3

Grenada

4

4

50

3

3

3

Guyana

3

3

15

3

3

3

India

5

3

45

3

4

3

Jamaica

25

0.1

975

0.9

25

0.1

Kenya

5

3

105

0.1

5

3

Malawi

4

4

95

0.1

4

3

Malaysia

4

4

5

3

4

3

Malta

4

4

5

3

4

3

Mauritius

4

4

25

3

4

3

Montserrat

3

3

4

4

3

3

Namibia

3

3

4

4

3

3

Nepal

3

3

30

3

3

3

New Zealand

5

3

65

0.1

5

3

Nigeria

4

4

65

0.1

3

3

Other West Indies

4

4

4

4

3

3

Pakistan

4

4

10

3

4

3

Papua New Guinea

3

3

4

4

3

3

Seychelles

3

3

10

3

3

3

Sierra Leone

3

3

45

3

3

3

Singapore

3

3

4

4

3

3

South Africa

45

0.1

720

0.7

10

3

Sri Lanka

3

3

15

3

3

3

St. Helena

4

4

20

3

5

3

St. Kitts and Nevis

3

3

4

4

4

3

St. Lucia

5

3

225

0.2

4

3

St. Vincent

130

0.3

280

0.3

4

3

Swaziland

3

3

10

3

3

3

Switzerland

3

3

4

4

3

3

Tanzania

3

3

4

4

3

3

Tonga

3

3

5

3

3

3

Trinidad

20

70

0.1

10

3

Uganda

40

3

3

3

Ukraine

4

4

3

3

3

3

United Arab Emirates

10

3

3

3

3

3

USA

4

4

4

4

4

3

Zambia

4

4

20

3

3

3

Zimbabwe6

15

565

0.5

5

3

Other West Indies

4

4

4

4

3

3

Other Non-British7

3

3

20

3

10

3

Not known/stateless

505

1.3

25

3

875

0.2

1 Data are for UK regular forces (trained and untrained), including nursing services and excluding full time reserve service personnel, Gurkhas, the home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists.

2 Royal Air Force data are for personnel serving at 6 March 2006. They include personnel who at that date had attested but have not begun basic training.

3 Denotes zero or rounded to zero.

4 Denotes fewer than five or percentage based on a figure fewer than five. Data are rounded to five to prevent disclosure of sensitive information.

5 Includes personnel with nationality recorded as West German.

6 Includes personnel with nationality recorded as Rhodesian 7 Includes personnel with nationality recorded as British Commonwealth/Foreign, Foreign/Foreign, Other African Country and Other Asiatic country.

8 Includes 75 personnel recorded as Commonwealth by birth, but with no nationality recorded.

Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether officials at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston are involved in designing a new warhead for the use in Trident missiles; and if he will make a statement. (73237)

I have nothing to add to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (John Reid) to the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) on 21 March 2006, Official Report, column 364W.

Bills

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the occasions when an amendment has been moved by (a) a Labour back bencher, (b) an Opposition back bencher and (c) an Opposition Front Bench spokesman to a Bill sponsored by his Department which has been accepted by his Department during the 2005-06 Session; and if he will make a statement. (72480)

The Ministry of Defence has sponsored the Armed Forces Bill during this session. Information on amendments moved and accepted during the Select Committee and Committee of the Whole House stages of the Bill is published in the Official Report.

Combat Stress

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much funding was allocated by his Department to the ex-services mental welfare society Combat Stress in each of the past five years. (58183)

[holding answer 13 March 2006]: The information requested is set out in the following table:

Income received by Combat Stress to defray individual treatment expenses

£ million

2000-01

1.5

2001-02

2.1

2002-03

2.4

2003-04

2.6

2004-05

2.8

Source: Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society ("Combat Stress").

Article 21 of the Naval, Military and Air Forces Etc. (Disablement and Death) Service Pensions Order 2006 provides that the Secretary of State for Defence may defray necessary expenses in respect of the medical, surgical or rehabilitative treatment of a former member of the armed forces which arise from a disablement due to service, provided they are not provided for under other UK legislation. Under this discretionary power, MOD defrays the individual costs of war pensioners undergoing "remedial treatment" at the Combat Stress homes for conditions related to their individual pensioned disablement and of related expenses, such as travel costs. The table shows the funding received by Combat Stress under this provision.

Conscientious Objectors

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many soldiers have been discharged on the grounds of conscientious objection over the last five years; (71509)

(2) how many applications to leave the Army on the grounds of conscientious objection have been considered by his Department over the last five years.

The Ministry of Defence has no record of any applications to leave the Regular Army on the grounds of conscientious objection in the last five years.

However, the Army cannot identify from its records those applications that may start as requests to leave the Army on the grounds of conscientious objection but result in an individual leaving for different reasons.

Departmental Plans

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the delivery of his Department's revised policy of providing industry with a better and longer-term understanding of the Department's future plans. (71478)

We have started a series of briefings to various sectors of industry to set out more details of our forward plans—which have been welcomed by industry. We have also been reinforcing existing partnering agreements by providing industry with a clear view of our planning assumptions, recognising that these are subject to final investment decisions by Ministers and the Department.

Departmental Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress his Department has made in its discussion with industry on alternatives to competition as a means of delivering value for money; when he expects to complete his Department's action plan on this; and if he will make a statement. (71481)

We have begun discussions on alternative approaches to competition in a joint MOD/industry working group established under the auspices of the National Defence Industries Council. By the end of 2006 we intend to have in place top level policy, working level guidance and revised training packages which ensure the selection of an appropriate commercial approach which continues to deliver demonstrable value for money for the Department.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the creation of a joint plan between his Department and industry for embedding defence acquisition values throughout the acquisition community. (71490)

We are continuing to work with the National Defence Industries Council to ensure the defence acquisition values are the foundation upon which working relations within the MOD, and between the Department and industry are based. Within the Department's acquisition community, the values will be reflected in individuals' personal objectives and reward arrangements. Individual companies are already using the defence acquisition values to inform their in-house corporate values and behaviours.

The Defence Academy will be working to bring in joint training courses with industry to embed the values, and we are also ensuring that partnering agreements with industry reflect the values explicitly.

We shall be making a joint announcement with industry later this year to set out the totality of the work, and our achievements.

Departmental Legislation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those (a) Acts and (b) parts of Acts which received Royal Assent between 1976 and 2006 for which his Department has policy responsibility and which remain in force. (70394)

With respect to part (a) of the question, the Ministry of Defence has policy responsibility for the following Acts which remain in force:

The Armed Forces Acts 1976; 1981; 1986; 1991; 1996 and 2001

The Armed Forces Discipline Act 2000

The Armed Forces (Pension and Compensation) Act 2004

The Army Act 1992

The Atomic Weapons Establishment Act 1991

The Crown Proceedings Act 1987

The Greenwich Hospital Act 1990

The Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987

The Reserve Forces Acts 1980 and 1996

The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

No Acts have been identified in respect of part (b) of the question.

Eid-Ul-Adha

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff from his Department attended the Civil Service Islamic Society Eid-Ul-Adha event in London in 2005; and what the total cost to his Department was of their attendance. (73090)

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will write to the hon. Member with details of the Civil Service Islamic Society Eid-Ul-Adha event. Copies of her letter will be placed in the Library.

Eurofighter

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timetable is for delivery of future tranches of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, with particular reference to those (a) with and (b) without full air-to-ground strike capability. (73554)

The United Kingdom has, to date, contracted for two tranches of Eurofighter-Typhoon, providing 144 aircraft for use by the Royal Air Force. A decision by the Eurofighter Typhoon Partner Nations on the third production buy of the aircraft, and thus on the delivery timetable for this future tranche, has still to be taken. Integration of air-to-ground capabilities is being considered for Eurofighter Typhoon as part of a programme of future enhancements.

Gurkhas

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what estimate he has made of the number of widows of Gurkha servicemen who would receive pension payments if Gurkha servicemen were eligible for the British soldier's preserved pension at the age of 60 after more than two years of service; (72134)

(2) how many Gurkha ex-servicemen there are who retired prior to 1 July 1997;

(3) what estimate he has made of the cost of up-rating the pensions of Gurkha ex-servicemen who retired prior to 1 July 1997 to the amount received by their British soldier equivalents.

On 11 January 2005, the then Secretary of State announced to the House that he had commissioned a comprehensive review of the Terms and Conditions of Service under which Gurkhas serve in the British Army.

As part of this review, the Department is looking at the pension position of Gurkhas back to 1 July 1997. Prior to 1 July 1997 Gurkhas were members of an overseas-based force and had no comparable British soldier equivalents. Gurkha soldiers are members of the Gurkha pension scheme which does not provide for preserved pensions; there are therefore no Gurkha widows who would be eligible. The Department does not hold records of individuals (or of their widows) who do not have an entitlement to a pension, so cannot make reliable estimates of either the numbers involved or the cost of hypothetical pension entitlements.

However there are currently 26,699 Gurkha service pensioners (of which 1,900 have retired since 1 July 1997) and the Gurkha Welfare Trust has reported that last year it paid 10,246 welfare pensions. Of the 26,699, there are about 5,000 Gurkha widows' or family dependants' pensions in payment.

Helicopter Searches

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) on how many occasions a helicopter from RAF Benson was used to assist a police search for a missing person in each of the last five years; (74199)

(2) if he will identify the helicopter from RAF Benson used to search for Dr. David Kelly on 18 July 2003; whether the helicopter in question was equipped with (a) an infra-red camera and (b) heat-seeking equipment; how long the helicopter was in the air; what areas it covered in its search; and if he will make a statement;

(3) how many (a) military, (b) civilian and (c) other personnel from (i) the United Kingdom, (ii) the United States and (iii) other nations were based at RAF Benson on 17 July 2003.

No RAF helicopters from RAF Benson have been used to assist police searches for missing persons in the last five years.

No RAF helicopters from RAF Benson were used in the search for Dr. David Kelly on 18 July 2003. However, I understand that a Chiltern Air Support Unit police helicopter which is based at RAF Benson was on standby but not used. I am informed that a police helicopter from the Chiltern Air Support Unit based at Luton was used in the search.

Details of the personnel based at RAF Benson on the 17 July 2003 were as follows:

Number of personnel

RAF personnel

1,379

Army personnel

18

Navy personnel

2

MOD civilian personnel

166

Non-MOD (contractors)

150

Foreign

2 (exchange aircrew from Canada and the United States)

Hercules Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of fitting reticulated foam devices to Mk1 Hercules aircraft. (71527)

I am withholding information regarding which of our Hercules aircraft will be fitted as the release of this information may prejudice the security of our armed forces.

There is an initial programme, however, to fit Explosion Suppressant Foam to a number of them that will cost some £600,000 per aircraft.

Iran

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the military capability of the Iranian armed forces. (72958)

As a matter of routine we assess the military capability of other nations’ armed forces, including that of Iran. I am withholding this information on the grounds that to release it would prejudice the capability, effectiveness, and security of the armed forces.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the quality of the Iraqi (a) armed forces and (b) police force based in Multi-National Division (South-East). (65442)

Regular assessments of the capability of Iraq's security forces are made as part of the process of considering the preparedness of each province for transition to Iraqi security control, including the four provinces of Multi-National Division (South-East).

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department plans to take to make helicopters in Iraq safer for flight personnel. (71728)

We are continually reviewing ways of providing greater protection for all our personnel deployed on operations. For helicopters, we have identified a number of improvements to meet the specific operational conditions in Iraq; these have been, or are being, implemented through urgent operational requirement procedures. They include improvements to countermeasures, self protection, and crew and aircraft armour.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 4 May 2006, Official Report, columns 181-84W, on Iraq, if he will place a copy of the eligibility criteria for the Operation TELIC medal in the Library. (73426)

Command Paper 6135 was presented to Parliament in February 2004 by my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Defence and laid down the qualifying criteria for the Iraq medal for service on Operation TELIC from 20 January 2003. In accordance with standard procedures, a copy was placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of why the two Britons rescued from Basra Prison by British forces were (a) dressed as Arabs and (b) in possession of explosives at the time of their detention; and if he will make a statement. (73589)

An internal review was carried out in the wake of the events of 19 September 2005. I am withholding further details as disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of our armed forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role UK forces have played in the (a) training and (b) operations of the Facilities Protection Service in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. (73598)

[holding answer 25 May 2006]: Coalition forces have trained some 6,650 members of the Facilities Protection Service (FPS) based in Multi-National Division (South-East). The basic training course provides FPS guards with the skills that allow them to act as static security. The advanced course content varies, being structured at the discretion of FPS commanders, but frequently includes such areas as combat life support, Quick Reaction Forces, and logistics. At present, the FPS are operating at over 800 sites in Multi-National Division (South-East) on behalf of 22 Ministries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers prescribed medication for psychological problems have been posted back to active service in Iraq. (73741)

[holding answer 25 May 2006]: We are aware of a very small number of cases where service personnel deployed to Iraq have been prescribed medication for a psychological illness; however, precise figures are not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Joint Personnel Administration

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how much has been spent on the Joint Personnel Administration computer system; (72639)

(2) when he expects to introduce the Joint Personnel Administration computer system fully for (a) the Royal Air Force, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Army;

(3) what assessment has been made of the suitability of the Joint Personnel Administration system for defence services;

(4) what reports Ministers have received about the operation of the Joint Personnel Administration system;

(5) how many complaints have been received about the operation of the Joint Personnel Administration computer system; and what changes have been made to the timetable for its introduction since the system was originally planned.

On 20 March 2006, the Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency (AFPAA) rolled out Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) to all 48,000 RAF service personnel throughout the world on time and on budget. The event marked the culmination of five years of system design, development, integration and testing and bears testimony to a very strong partnering agreement between MOD and EDS. The total cost to date of JPA is £116 million.

The suitability of JPA was considered in July 2004 by the Defence Investment Approvals Board in approving the Main Gate Business Case. Prior to rollout, the readiness for service was assessed by an independent Office of Government Commerce Gateway review.

On JPA rollout to the RAF there were a small number of technical issues which had not manifested themselves in the extensive testing carried out prior to its launch. This resulted in the system operating much more slowly than anticipated which greatly restricted the number of self-service users at any one time. Over the course of the last six weeks these early problems have been overcome and all users now have full access to the system. JPA has performed satisfactorily on rollout to RAF professional HR administrators and has delivered pay to the RAF with only a relatively few discrepancies caused by the migration of data from the legacy systems to JPA. Although the first few weeks following rollout have generated a significant number of enquiries, no formal complaints have been received.

Following RAF rollout, the related provisional JPA dates for the RN and Army were June and November 2006 respectively. However, in order to more closely align JPA with Defence Information Infrastructure (Future) programme requirements, current plans are that JPA will be rolled out to the RN from October 2006 and to the Army from March 2007 respectively.

Low Flying Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the locations are of each tactical training area in the UK in which low flying aircraft are permitted to fly to a minimum height of 100 feet. (73291)

There are three Tactical Training Areas (TTA) in the UK Military Low Flying System, within which fixed wing aircraft and military Helicopters are permitted to operate down to 100 feet, and sometimes below, throughout the Low Flying System.

The three areas are located in mid-Wales; in the Highlands of Scotland to the north-west of the Great Glen; and, in south-west Scotland and the Anglo Scottish border area, from Dumfries and Galloway across to the Cheviot hills. Maps showing the location of the Tactical Training Areas are included in The Pattern of Military Low Flying, which is published annually, and placed in the Library of the House.

Ministerial Visits (Accommodation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) on how many occasions (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his Department have stayed overnight in (i) five-star, (ii) four-star and (iii) three-star hotels in each of the last three years; (69111)

(2) what the total cost was of overnight accommodation for (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his Department staying overnight in (i) mainland Great Britain, (ii) Northern Ireland, (iii) the Republic of Ireland and (iv) other countries in each of the last three years;

(3) what discounts are available in relation to hotel accommodation used by (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his Department.

The Ministry of Defence has an Enabling Arrangement with Expotel Hotel Reservations Ltd. for booking hotel accommodation which staff can access through the Central Hotel Booking Service (CHBS). The MOD does not directly receive discounts for hotel accommodation but CHBS is required to secure the lowest possible rates available for accommodation, generally of three-star quality, throughout Great Britain and overseas. Northern Ireland is not included in this agreement.

This enabling arrangement is not mandated and individuals can choose to make their own bookings, providing they do so within a financial limit of £53 per night. There is no central record of bookings arranged outside CHBS and an attempt to collect such information could be undertaken only at disproportionate cost.

CHBS does not record information on the star rating of the hotel, the choice of hotel being determined by value for money. Nor does CHBS hold information differentiating between civil servants and special advisers.

Nuclear Submarines

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions a local authority safety plan for visiting nuclear submarines has been declared fit for purpose within 24 hours of a submarine docking at a UK port in each of the last five years. (73795)

Local authority off-site emergency plans in respect of nuclear submarine berths are maintained in accordance with the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 (REPPIR). These regulations are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive, Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (HSE NII). Any questions relating to the fitness for purpose of the off-site plan should be referred to the HSE NII.

Nuclear Weapons Testing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent research he has assessed on the possible association between witnessing atomic and nuclear weapons testing and ill health. (74119)

Ministry of Defence officials are currently studying the report of New Zealand research which used gene analysis techniques to identify minute changes in DNA which may correlate with radiation exposure. The report of this study was recently presented to the New Zealand War Pensions Research Trust Board but has not been peer-reviewed or published in the scientific press.

Racial Abuse

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints of racial abuse have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in his Department in each of the last five years. (70618)

Records are not kept centrally in the form requested and it is not possible to identify complaints citing racial harassment separately from those citing racial discrimination. Changes to record-keeping will lead to improvements for the future. The available information is as follows:

Royal Navy

The number of formal redresses of complaint which cited racial discrimination and/or harassment in each of the last five years were:

Number

2001-02

1

2002-03

2

2003-04

0

2004-05

3

2005-061

5

1 Figures for 1 April to 31 December 2005

It has not been possible from the data available to identify those redresses of complaint which were upheld and those complaints which were resolved locally through the chain of command.

Army

The number of formal redresses of complaint which cited racial discrimination and/or harassment investigated and upheld in each year were:

Investigated

Upheld

2001-02

9

1

2002-03

4

1

2003-04

6

1

2004-05

10

0

2005-06

9

0

Records of racial harassment complaints resolved locally through the chain of command are not held centrally.

RAF

The number of formal redresses of complaint which cited racial discrimination and/or harassment investigated and upheld in each year were:

Investigated

Upheld

2001-02

4

1

2002-03

2

0

2003-04

2

0

2004-05

1

0

2005-06

4

1

The number of informal complaints which cited racial discrimination and/or harassment and were resolved through chain of command or line management action were:

Number

2001-02

n/a1

2002-03

3

2003-04

0

2004-05

2

2005-061

1

1 Records of informal complaints of racial harassment began in 2002-03.

Ministry of Defence Civil Service

There is no requirement to report centrally bullying and harassment cases (including racial abuse) that are resolved at local unit level. To obtain this information would incur disproportionate costs. The figures provided as follows are for the last five calendar years, and record civilian harassment cases, involving racial abuse, where MOD units have requested a formal harassment investigation be carried out by a trained departmental civilian harassment investigation officer. Records are not held centrally on whether these investigated complaints were then subsequently upheld.

Number

2001

1

2002

0

2003

1

2004

1

2005

1

RAF Heavy Lift

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the heavy lift capability of the Royal Air Force. (72938)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Goodwill) on 22 May 2006, Official Report, column 1188.

Regimental Bands

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many regimental bands there are in the Army; where they are located; and what the strength is of each regiment which has retained a regimental band. (70340)

As at 1 May there were 29 bands in the Regular Army and 14 in the Territorial Army (TA). Under the Future Army Structure (FAS), the number of Regular Army bands will reduce to 23 and the TA bands will increase to 19.

It has only been possible to show a breakdown of strengths by regiment for regular infantry units. All other figures are for the appropriate arm/service. Details are shown in the following tables for Regular and Territorial Army units respectively.

Regular Army

Arm/service—strength

Location

Current band

Representing

Regimental/corps strength

Household Cavalry/RAC:

5,530

Bovington

Hussars and Light Dragoon Band

Kings Royal Hussars Queens Royal Hussars

n/a

Munster, Germany

Royal Lancers Band

9/12 L Queens Royal Lancers

n/a

Falingbostel, Germany

Dragoon Guards Band

1st Queens Dragoon Guards Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

n/a

Falingbostel, Germany

Royal Tank Regiment Band

Royal Tank Regiment

n/a

Windsor

Life Guards Band

Life Guards

n/a

Knightsbridge

Royal Horse Guards Dragoon Band

Royal Horse Guards

n/a

Infantry:

24,080

Edinburgh

Lowland Band

Royal Regt of Scotland

3,440

Edinburgh

Highlanders Band

Catterick

Queens Lancashire Regt Normandy Band

Queens Lancashire Regiment

670

London

Scots Guards Band

Scots Guards

680

London

Irish Guards Band

Irish Guards

600

London

Welsh Guards Band

Welsh Guards

580

London

Grenadier Guards Band

Grenadier Guards

730

London

Coldstream Guards Band

Coldstream Guards

780

Bassingbourn

Queens Minden Band

Princess of Wales Royal Regiment

1,290

Royal Regiment of Fusilliers

1,240

Royal Anglian Regiment

1,320

Weeton

Kings Normandy Band

Kings Own Royal Border Regiment

590

Catterick

Kings Waterloo Band

KINGS

580

Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire

620

Queens Lancashire Regiment

670

Duke of Wellington's Regiment

630

Green Howards

580

Prince of Wales Clive Band

Devon and Dorset Light Infantry

590

Prince of Wales Lucknow Band

Royal Welsh Regt

1,200

Cheshire Regt

540

Royal Gloucester Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment

610

Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment

600

Staffordshire Regiment

580

Colchester

Parachute Regiment Band

Parachute Regiment

1,980

Winchester

Light Division Band

Light Infantry

1,290

Royal Green Jackets

1,230

Ballymena

Royal Irish Band

Royal Irish

630

Royal Artillery:

7,350

Woolwich

Royal Artillery Band

Royal Artillery

7,350

Corps of Army Music:

9301

Chatham

Royal Engineers

Royal Engineers

8,820

Blandford

Royal Signals

Royal Signals

8,560

Arborfield

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

9,770

Middle Wallop

Army Air Corps

Army Air Corps

1,990

Deepcut

Royal Logistics Corps

Royal Logistics Corps

15,650

Worthy Down

Adjutant General's Corps

Adjutant General's Corps

6,800

1 The personnel of the regimental bands are included in the Corps of Army Music strengths.

Territorial Army

Arm/service—strength

Location

Current band

Regimental/corps strength

Household Cavalry/Royal Armoured Corps:

1,240

London

Inns of Court and City Yeomanry Band Royal Yeomanry

n/a

Royal Regiment of Artillery:

2,240

Bolton

Lancashire Artillery Band

n/a

Honourable Artillery Company

n/a

The Infantry:

7,480

Edinburgh

52 Lowland Band

n/a

Perth

Highland Band

n/a

Canterbury

Kohima Band of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment

n/a

Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Northumbria Band

n/a

Peterborough

Royal Anglian Band

n/a

Liverpool

North West Infantry Band

n/a

Exeter

Devonshire and Dorset Band

n/a

Newport

Royal Welsh Regiment (V) Band

n/a

Wolverhampton

West Midlands Regiment Volunteer Band

n/a

Headington

The Waterloo Band Royal Green Jackets Volunteers

n/a

Kinnegar

North Irish TA Band

n/a

The Royal Logistics Corps:

5,920

Hull

150 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps Band

n/a

As explained in the written statement made to the House on 9 March 2006, Official Report, columns 69-70WS the North Irish band will be re-titled The Royal Irish Regiment Band (TA) and its performance capacity will be enhanced to ensure continued provision of military music in Northern Ireland, in combination with programmed visits by Regular Army bands based in Great Britain.

Small Change Big Difference Campaign

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department and its agencies have taken following the launch of the Government's Small Change Big Difference Campaign. (72002)

A key element of the Ministry of Defence's 'People Programme' concerns the health, welfare and sickness absence of our civilian staff. From 1 June 2006, guidance will be included on the Defence Intranet to encourage staff to consider healthy choices in relation to lifestyle and diet. Guidance will be available on giving up smoking, diet and maintaining a healthy weight, alcohol consumption and exercise. Links will be provided to specialist websites and Government initiatives including 'Small Change, Big Difference'.

As part of the launch of these services, the Department is to hold a ‘Health Awareness Week' in early July. A series of events will be held around MOD sites to promote a healthy lifestyle. MOD already has a thriving Sports and Social Association and a number of workplace sports clubs and gyms which staff can join at their own cost and in their own time. MOD restaurants also provide healthy choices.

Health is vital to operational effectiveness and the armed forces have always had policies for health promotion. A Health Promotion Action Plan was published last year prior to the production of the Choosing Health White Paper covering issues such as diet, tobacco and alcohol consumption and sexual health. There is an expert panel on armed forces feeding which advises on diet and has published “Recruits' and Commanders' Guides to Nutrition”. These offer advice on diets and eating patterns which are compatible with military requirements and health.

Somme Anniversary

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme; and if he will make a statement. (73268)

It is assumed that the hon. Member is referring to the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, which occurs on 1 July 2006. An Anglo-French commemoration will take place at Thiepval on that day, the details of which have not been finalised. The main feature of the commemoration will be a Service of Remembrance organised by the Royal British Legion. It is expected that regimental associations and cadets will be present. A British military band is being provided.

Vehicle Sharing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what incentives his Department offers to encourage staff to share vehicles when travelling to work. (73092)

Encouraging staff to share vehicles when travelling to work is dependent on the circumstances of each site. For example, at Abbey Wood in Bristol, there is a scheme offering 300 car-sharing priority parking spaces. There are also informal schemes established on an individual basis. The Royal Navy also encourages the practice through its intranet sites with schemes in place at Royal Navy Fleet HQ, and at Portsmouth and Devonport Naval Bases.

Vehicle-sharing is one of a number of measures that the Ministry of Defence encourages as part of its work on sustainable development and travel. These include the use of both telephone- and video-conference facilities for business meetings, and offering staff a pay advance to purchase bicycles and public transport season tickets for commuting to their place of work.

Trade and Industry

Industrial Injuries

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and (b) vibration white finger claims have been submitted from Tamworth constituency, broken down by district electoral ward. (71226)

Although I cannot provide statistics by electoral ward, I have broken down the claims submitted from Tamworth constituents by postcode1. The figures are as follows:

1 The postcodes listed include areas beyond the Tamworth constituency boundary.

Postcode

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Vibration white finger

B77

1,022

289

B78

1,155

396

B79

571

141

WS14

33

5

Total

2,781

831

The figures for Tamworth constituency are 1,700 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claims and 437 vibration white finger claims submitted.

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