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Written Answers

Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2006

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 28 June 2006

Leader of the House

Access to Parliament

To ask the Leader of the House if he will take steps to ensure that any future plans for Parliament Square and surrounding roads which involve pedestrianisation take into account the need for speedy access to the Palace of Westminster by hon. Members and Peers. (80527)

Correspondence

To ask the Leader of the House what the average cost to his Office was of replying to a letter written by (a) an hon. Member and (b) a member of the public in the last period for which figures are available; and how much of that sum is accounted for by (i) officials’ time, (ii) cost of stationery and (iii) postage costs. (80507)

The information requested is not held centrally.

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. The report for 2005 was published on 30 March 2006, Official Report, column 76WS.

Departmental Finance Directors

To ask the Leader of the House what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the finance director of the Privy Council Office. (80082)

HM Treasury and the National Audit Office have agreed that the Privy Council Office, which is a small Department, need not have a professionally qualified finance director. Financial management falls within the responsibilities of the director of corporate services, with professional support from a chartered accountant. A second qualified accountant (FCCA) is a non-executive member of the Department’s Audit and Risk Committee.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Leader of the House if he will make arrangements for the tabling of written parliamentary questions for answer during parliamentary recesses. (79564)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend for Wirral, South (Ben Chapman) on 24 May 2006, Official Report, column 1836W.

Political Party Funding

To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to the answer of 13 June 2006, Official Report, column 1057W, on the funding of political parties, when Sir Hayden Phillips is expected to make his report. (79520)

As set out in the terms of reference published on 20 March 2006, Sir Hayden Phillips is to report to the Government by the end of December 2006 with recommendations for any changes to the current arrangements.

Transport

Carlisle Northern Development Road

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what role the North West regional assembly will play in determining the priority given to the building of the Carlisle northern development road. (80690)

We asked the regions to advise us on their priorities for major transport schemes within the indicative regional funding allocations that were announced in July 2005. We are currently considering the North West region’s advice, which the North West regional assembly were involved in determining, on the priority it attaches to the Carlisle northern development route and other major transport schemes in the North West. We hope to announce our response to the region’s advice before the parliamentary summer recess. This scheme is currently assumed to be funded through the private finance initiative (PFI) with only a small element coming from the regional funding allocation. We are currently considering Cumbria’s bid for an increase in PFI funding requirement.

Departmental Finance Directors

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the finance director of his Department. (80077)

The Department’s finance director is Ken Beeton.

Mr. Beeton is a chartered accountant and was appointed to his current post in March 2003. He worked previously at the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), where he gained relevant experience in a range of financial and policy posts. Before joining DfES, Mr. Beeton worked in the private sector and gained relevant financial experience in insurance, building societies, manufacturing and the accountancy profession.

East Riding

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding for which his Department is responsible has been allocated to the East Riding of Yorkshire council for each year since 1997-98. (80531)

The East Riding of Yorkshire council has been allocated nearly £62 million in funding in the local transport capital settlements since 1997-98.

Table 1 shows the funding allocated to The East Riding of Yorkshire council in the local transport capital settlements since 1997-98. The funding allocation includes: the integrated transport block; road maintenance; and approximately £5 million provided in 2003-04 for the replacement of the Dutch River Bridge.

The integrated transport block allocations are available for local authorities to use on road and public transport improvements, according to their local priorities.

Additionally Table 2 sets out the bus subsidies received by The East Riding of Yorkshire council. Funding for rail and trunk roads has not been included as it is not possible to allocate it across any specific constituency.

Table 1: East Riding of Yorkshire council

Total funding (£000)

1997-98

1,824

1998-99

856

1999-2000

2,378

2000-01

2,879

2001-02

7,598

2002-03

8,061

2003-04

10,876

2004-05

16,958

2005-06

10,372

Table 2: East Riding of Yorkshire council nature of funding

(£000)

Rural bus subsidy grant

Rural bus challenge

Total bus subsidy

1997-98

1998-99

534

534

1999-2000

534

423

957

2000-01

534

400

934

2001-02

682

825

1,507

2002-03

781

358

1,139

2003-04

797

797

2004-05

821

821

2005-06

853

853

Foreign-registered Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made of the amount of fines and charges unpaid by the owners of foreign registered vehicles in the UK in each of the past five years. (80827)

Information on the amount of fines and charges unpaid by the owners of foreign registered vehicles in the UK in each of the past five years is not collected centrally, and so an estimate could be made only at disproportionate cost.

Parking Act 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the operation of the Parking Act 1989; what recent representations he has received about the operation of this Act; and whether he has plans to amend this Act. (80201)

The Parking Act 1989 amended the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to:

(a) allow the use of cashless parking systems in car parks controlled by local authority orders. Originally, such systems had to be type-approved by the Secretary of State but that requirement was repealed by the Deregulation (Parking Equipment) Order 1996;

(b) include provisions on the display of information at off-street parking places; and

(c) modify the offences and proceedings provisions concerning parking places.

We have not received any recent representations about this Act and do not have any current plans to amend it.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress First Great Western trains is making in refurbishing class 43 mark III coaches; and if he will make a statement. (80634)

First Great Western (‘FGW’) announced on 5 June 2006 that it had signed two contracts with Bombardier Transportation to the value of £63 million and £85 million for the improvement and overhaul of its High Speed Train fleet. FGW also said that the first of the new-look trains would be in service in November 2006, with all 405 carriages completed by December 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps are being taken to limit the environmental impact of the Crossrail project. (78612)

We are putting a number of mechanisms in place to control the environmental impacts of the construction and operation of Crossrail:

arrangements within the Crossrail Bill for local planning authorities to approve detailed design and construction arrangements;

policies, commitments and undertakings entered into outside the Bill; and

existing legislation, unless expressly or impliedly disapplied or modified by the Crossrail Bill.

In particular, any nominated undertaker will be contractually bound to comply with controls set out in the ‘Environmental Minimum Requirements’—a suite of documents that is being developed in consultation with local authorities and other relevant stakeholders. The nominated undertaker will also be required to take such opportunities as may be reasonably practicable to reduce significant adverse impacts.

The information paper: ‘DO2 Control of Environmental Impacts’ sets out our approach. A copy of this paper has been placed in the Library and is also available on the Crossrail Bill supporting documents website at:

http://billdocuments.crossrail.co.uk

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment the Government made of the Superlink proposals; and what criteria were used in deciding on the Crossrail option. (78622)

The route and service options considered as part of the development of the Crossrail project were appraised in a manner consistent with the Government’s New Approach to Appraisal (NATA). Guidance on applying NATA to projects is provided in the Guidance on the Methodology for Multi-Modal Studies (GOMMMS). The information paper ‘A1 Development of the Crossrail Route’ outlines the alternative Crossrail route options that were considered and the reasons for selecting the preferred scheme. A copy of the paper has been placed in the Library and is also available on the Crossrail Bill supporting documents website at:

http://billdocuments.crossrail.co.uk

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2006, Official Report, column 1629W, on railways, what progress has been made in his examination of the case for establishing a direct rail service from Shrewsbury to London. (80334)

The West Coast Main Line Progress Report, published in May 2006, sets out the latest position regarding a direct rail service from Shrewsbury to London. A copy of the report has been placed in the House Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in the development of the Crossrail system; and to what extent the system is to be integrated into the Thames Gateway redevelopment. (79282)

The Crossrail Bill—a Bill to provide the powers necessary to build Crossrail—is currently undergoing consideration by a Select Committee in the House of Commons. The overall Bill timetable is a matter for Parliament but we currently expect Royal Assent in 2007.

In parallel with the Bill process, Cross London Rail Links Limited (CLRL) are continuing to develop the Crossrail project and recently appointed Bechtel to act as the project’s development manager.

The Crossrail project would provide two stations within the Thames Gateway area, Custom House and Abbey Wood, which would increase capacity in this area and improve links with central and west London. Abbey Wood would also provide a convenient cross platform interchange with the North Kent line.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many trains were cancelled in each of the past 12 months, broken down by region. (77783)

The following table show the number of all trains cancelled, as a percentage, in the year 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006, by Network Rail route, listed by rail industry four-weekly business reporting period.

Percentage of cancellations per period by route

National Rail route

PI

P2

P3

P4

P5

P6

Anglia

0.15

0.16

0.17

0.21

0.16

0.15

Kent

0.09

0.08

0.13

0.17

0.13

0.11

London North East

0.63

0.57

0.60

0.67

0.49

0.57

London North West

0.36

0.29

0.32

0.39

0.32

0.29

Scotland

0.35

0.28

0.32

0.30

0.23

0.24

Sussex

0.07

0.07

0.08

0.17

0.09

0.10

Wessex

0.08

0.07

0.09

0.08

0.07

0.10

Western

0.27

0.25

0.27

0.32

0.28

0.28

Total

2.00

1.76

1.96

2.32

1.77

1.83

P7

P8

P9

P10

P11

P12

P13

Anglia

0.13

0.21

0.22

0.24

0.15

0.11

0.16

Kent

0.12

0.09

0.11

0.13

0.07

0.08

0.08

London North East

0.50

0.56

0.59

0.53

0.52

0.58

0.51

London North West

0.32

0.35

0.27

0.27

0.22

0.58

0.30

Scotland

0.27

0.36

0.35

0.32

0.28

0.24

0.29

Sussex

0.10

0.08

0.09

0.09

0.09

0.07

0.08

Wessex

0.06

0.12

0.16

0.10

0.05

0.07

0.09

Western

0.24

0.30

0.32

0.24

0.23

0.28

0.27

Total

1.74

2.07

2.11

1.91

1.62

1.69

1.78

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it a legal requirement for train operators to provide and maintain toilets on trains, including for disabled people. (79891)

The Department has no plans to make provision and maintenance of toilets on trains a legal requirement.

The Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 (RVAR) sets out the accessibility requirements applicable where trains are fitted with toilets.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has (a) to increase parking facilities and (b) to upgrade station facilities at Warrington Bank Quay. (79944)

As part of the current renegotiation of the West Coast Trains franchise, Virgin Rail Group has been asked to develop and implement plans for increased car parking capacity at stations where they are the station facility owner. This includes Warrington Bank Quay station. Virgin Rail Group will be proposing where and when the additional car parking spaces are going to be implemented in their bid submission. Implementation is subject to a positive business case.

The Customer Information System at the station is due to be upgraded this year.

Roads

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average cost to public funds was of a road fatality in the last period for which figures are available. (80199)

The values used to estimate the benefits of the prevention of road accidents and casualties are set out in the “Highways Economic Note No. 1: 2004 Valuation of the Benefits of Prevention of Road Accidents and Casualties” which can be found on the DfT website at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/qroups/dft_rdsafety/documents/divisionhomepage/030 763.hcsp

The average values, based on 2004 casualty data, are £1,384,463 for a fatality and £1,573,217 for a fatal accident. These amounts are the values to be used in the appraisal of road traffic schemes. The casualty figure takes account of lost output (which includes any non-wage payments paid by the employer), medical and ambulance costs and human costs based on willingness to pay values representing pain, grief and suffering. The accident figure is higher because it includes non-casualty specific costs such as the costs of policing, insurance and administrative costs and damage to property, and because on average more than one casualty is involved in each accident.

Included within these values are the costs to public funds for medical, ambulance and police costs (emergency services) which in 2004 averaged at £817 per fatal casualty and £7,076 per fatal accident. In addition some element of the lost output cost would be considered as a cost to public funds.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much central Government funding has been allocated to East Riding of Yorkshire council for road improvements in each year since 1997-98; and if he will make a statement. (80529)

The following table shows the funding allocated to The East Riding of Yorkshire council in the local transport capital settlements since 1997-98. The funding allocation includes the integrated transport block, road maintenance block and approximately £5 million provided in 2004-05 for the replacement of the Dutch River Bridge.

The integrated transport block allocations are available for local authorities to use on road and public transport improvements, according to their local priorities.

East Riding of Yorkshire council

Total funding (£000)

1997-98

1,824

1998-99

856

1999-2000

2,378

2000-01

2,879

2001-02

7,598

2002-03

8,061

2003-04

10,876

2004-05

16,958

2005-06

10,372

In addition central funding support for services, including routine highways services, is provided through revenue support grant. This is not allocated by the Government between individual council services.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to announce (a) the regional funding allocation for the South West and (b) funding for the upgrade of the A358. (81160)

We are currently considering the South West region’s advice on the priority it attaches to the upgrade of the A358 between Ilminster and Taunton and other major transport schemes in the South West. We hope to announce our response to the region’s advice before the parliamentary summer recess.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine TB

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the case for the planned badger cull since the publication of his Department’s most recent figures for new cases of notified bovine tuberculosis. (78618)

We welcome the fact that the number of new bovine TB incidents in Great Britain overall has decreased over the last few months. However, given the cyclical nature of the disease it is too early to draw any conclusions about whether this is a temporary or more sustained reduction and we will continue to monitor the position closely. The reduction is likely to be caused by a complex combination of factors.

In considering whether to cull badgers, we are taking into account all the evidence including the science, and considering how an effective cull might be delivered on the ground. Any policy must form part of a holistic approach to bovine TB that balances cattle and wildlife controls.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who the members of the Gamma Interferon Working Group are; and when each was appointed. (78345)

Members of the working group were drawn from officials across the Department, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, the State Veterinary Service, the Welsh Assembly Government and SEERAD. They were appointed in October 2005.

Brixham Fish Market

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 June 2006, Official Report, column 887W, on Brixham Fish Market, what the normal procedures referred to are; and when he expects a decision on the new fish market at Brixham to be made. (80661)

In England, Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance grant applications are considered in quarterly competitive tranches. Applications are assessed by an internal panel of representatives from DEFRA, the Marine Fisheries Agency and the Regional Development Agencies. Those applications that appear to the panel to best match the criteria are prioritised for funding within budgetary limits. In this instance, the panel considered the Torbay council application on 25 May. A final decision will be made when an assessment of the potential impact of a possible restriction of scallop dredging in Lyme Bay is completed. I expect this to be within the next few weeks.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will reply to the letter dated 12 May from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Ms C. Greenhalgh. (79486)

The letter has been transferred to the Cabinet Office as the Department with responsibility for policy on civil contingency planning. Unfortunately, there was a delay in transferring the letter, for which I apologise to my right hon. Friend.

Disposable Nappies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the time taken for a disposable nappy to decompose. (79267)

The Wisard software tool used by the Environment Agency (EA) in their report, “Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK”, assumed a 500 year time boundary for leachate in landfill. The EA therefore concluded that it would take that amount of time for the plastic part of a disposable nappy to decompose. The paper-fluff and faeces should take approximately 100 and 10 years respectively to degrade.

Field Mapping

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of the level of accuracy in field mapping by the Rural Payments Agency; and what measures his Department is undertaking to improve accuracy. (80702)

[holding answer 27 June 2006]: The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is responsible for the maintenance of the Rural Land Register (RLR), and information from the RLR is used to support claims to the Single Payment Scheme. The process of digitising land and amending existing land registrations has been amended recently, with activity brought back onto RPA’s main computer system. This followed a period when an outsourced provider was used to digitise land during a period of exceptionally high demand.

The digitisation process itself includes a number of quality checks to ensure that the correct land parcel and area are digitised. Where errors are found they are corrected before maps are issued to customers. Further amendments are made where customers identify issues with the maps they receive. RPA is aware of a number of cases where there have been issues with maps sent to customers. The re-establishment of an in-house process will aid the cross check of new and amended land areas to customer details.

Fish Farms

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on the outbreak of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia at a fish farm on a tributary of the Ouse in Yorkshire; and what steps his Department is taking to prevent the spread of the disease; (78188)

(2) what plans his Department has to instigate the compulsory slaughter of diseased fish reared on fish farms;

(3) if his Department will compensate those fish farm owners who have their stock compulsorily slaughtered as a result of disease; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 12 June 2006, Official Report, column 903W.

On 19 June, the National Control Centre of CEFAS, Weymouth Laboratory confirmed that viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) has been detected in a sample of grayling taken from the River Nidd below the outlet of the farm infected with the disease, although the infected fish showed no clinical signs of the disease. Further comprehensive sampling and testing is taking place on fish in the river, both below and above the infected farm.

Fish disease experts at CEFAS advise that although there is no scientific evidence that VHS virus infection causes significant outbreaks in wild freshwater fish stocks, any persisting infection in wild stocks could be a source of infection or re-infection for trout farms in the vicinity through VHS virus contamination of the river supply to the farm.

There are no plans at present to carry out compulsory slaughter of fish on farms in the areas of the River Ouse and River Don affected by the current outbreak but the matter will be kept under review. No further cases of VHS have been detected on fish farms.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the locations are of fish farms on which the presence of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia has been detected in the UK. (78189)

Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia was confirmed in rainbow trout at Nidderdale Trout Farm, Low Laithe, Summerbridge, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 4BU on 26 May 2006. No further cases of the disease have been detected so far at any other farm during a comprehensive sampling and testing programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the incidence and spread of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia among farmed fish populations. (78192)

Following the confirmation of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) in farmed rainbow trout on a fish farm in Yorkshire on 26 May 2006, my Department, through its Executive agency CEFAS, commissioned an epizootiological investigation into the source of the infection. This investigation includes the testing of farmed and wild fish populations which may have had contact with the infected stock, as well as all of the other potential pathways of disease transmission.

The Department has acknowledged the seriousness and potential impact of this most important disease on the UK aquaculture industry, and has previously funded research projects on epidemiology and mathematical modelling of disease outbreaks, the pathogenicity and transmission of different strains of the virus, and studies on the detection of the virus in fish and cell cultures.

Fishing Fleets

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much and what proportion of the EU fund for the modernisation of fishing fleets he expects to be allocated to British-owned vessels. (80160)

[holding answer 26 June 2006]: No decisions have been taken on what will be funded under the new EU fisheries fund (EFF). The UK expects to receive, subject to confirmation, around €112 million from the EU; the overall EU resources available for the fund will be €3,849 million.

The operational programme to implement the EFF will set out priorities for using the fund and we will consult on this later in the year. Modernising the fishing fleet is only part of the range of measures available, and we do not want to fund anything which could increase capacity.

Our over-arching aim is to have a sector which is sustainable and profitable and supports strong local communities, managed effectively as an integral part of coherent policies for the marine environment.

Freshwater Fish

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to introduce a compensation scheme in response to any need for the compulsory slaughter of freshwater fish stocks; and if he will make a statement. (79855)

[holding answer 26 June 2006]: My Department has no plans to introduce such a scheme. Under successive Governments, compensation has not been available for the compulsory slaughter of fish due to an outbreak of serious fish diseases; this remains my Department's policy.

Household Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government has to reduce household waste. (79189)

The waste minimisation programme run by the Government-funded Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) is working to stem the growth of household waste. This is part of a package of measures to enable the UK to meet the requirements of the landfill directive and move towards sustainable waste management.

As part of the programme, WRAP is working with 13 major retailers to reduce the amount of waste from supermarkets, including looking for ways to redesign packaging as well as support for research and development into waste minimisation. It is also working with local authorities to establish greater participation in home composting through its targeted National Home Composting Programme.

In its recent consultation on the review of its Waste Strategy, the Government identified the importance of waste prevention for reducing waste, including in the household. So far only limited progress is being made to prevent waste, and so more needs to be done. The revised Waste Strategy, due to be published later this year, will identify what further steps should be taken.

The revised Waste Strategy will also outline what can be done to build on recent improvements in household recycling. The consultation on the review proposed target increases for household waste recycling to 40 per cent. by 2010, 45 per cent. by 2015 and 50 per cent. by 2020.

Local authorities received £45 million in 2005-06, £105 million in 2006-07 and £110 million in 2007-08 under the Waste Performance and Efficiency Grant to help them develop new and more efficient ways to deliver waste reduction and increase recycling and diversion from landfill.

Landfill Directive

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what percentage of the biodegradable waste required to meet the first EU Landfill Directive has been diverted from landfill in the UK; (78529)

(2) whether local authorities will be financially liable for the UK’s compliance in meeting the EU Landfill Directive’s targets.

Article 5(2) of the EC Landfill Directive sets three target years (2006, 2009 and 2016) by which member states must reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill in proportion to the amount produced in 1995.

The directive also allows member states which landfilled over 80 per cent. of their municipal waste in 1995 to postpone the targets by up to four years. The Government have informed the European Commission of their intention to make use of this four-year derogation, which means the target years for the UK are 2010, 2013 and 2020.

The UK target for 2010 is to reduce biodegradable municipal waste landfilled to no more than 75 per cent. of that produced in 1995. For England, this equates to 11.2 million tones in 2010. It is estimated that in 2003-04, around 14.7 million tonnes was disposed of in this way, with a provisional estimate of a further reduction to around 13.9 million tonnes in 2004-05 (i.e. 124 per cent. of the 2010 target).

In preparation to the first 2010 target year, the UK have already taken steps to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill. The Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS), was launched in April 2005, and is one of the Government’s key measures to encourage progressive reductions in the amount of biodegradable municipal waste that disposal authorities are able to send to landfill sites.

Should any waste disposal authority have landfilled more waste than it holds allowances for, it can use the sixth month reconciliation period (from March to the end of September), to trade, borrow or bank allowances to manage their liabilities. Any waste disposal authority which has landfilled biodegradable municipal waste in excess of the allowances it holds at the end of the reconciliation period will be liable to a financial penalty of £150 per tonne (according to section 9(2) of the Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003).

The LATS regulations also provide for supplementary penalties (in addition to any penalties for exceeding allowances) that are proportional to (a) any fines imposed on the UK in respect of obligations under the Landfill Directive and (b) the amount by which an authority exceeds its allowance in a Landfill Directive target year, or subsequent scheme years following Landfill Directive target years.

Due to the nature of a tradable allowances scheme, it is not possible to assess accurately now whether any waste disposal authority is likely to landfill biodegradable municipal waste in excess to that which it holds allowances for until the Environment Agency has completed the reconciliation process for the LATS year 2005-06, expected by the end of September.

Marine Bill

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to bring forward a draft Marine Bill; and if he will make a statement. (78416)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to publish a draft Marine Bill; what steps are being taken to ensure that the Marine Bill is introduced and passed at the earliest opportunity; and how the Marine Bill will protect the marine environment of the UK. (78619)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Government expect to publish the draft Marine Bill. (79057)

DEFRA published a consultation document on 29 March 2006 setting out the Government’s thinking in a number of key areas to be addressed by a Marine Bill. These include marine spatial planning, nature conservation, licensing reform, and the possibility of setting up a new marine organisation. We had already undertaken initial consultation on some fisheries issues that will also be dealt with in the Bill.

The final scope of our proposals for a Marine Bill, including the strategic direction we should take, will not be decided until we have fully considered the responses to the consultation exercise. The consultation period ended on 23 June 2006. We will publish a summary of the responses within three months.

We will need to take these responses into account before any decision is made on the timing of further consultation on detailed proposals for a draft Bill. Introduction of a Marine Bill will follow later in this Parliament, subject to the availability of parliamentary time. We want to move forward swiftly, but this is a complex area and we must make sure that we take sufficient time to consult effectively and get our proposals right.

The Government’s primary purpose for a new Marine Bill is to introduce a stronger framework for the seas, based on marine spatial planning, that balances conservation, energy and resource needs. Together with a planning system for the marine area, we have proposed a number of possible approaches for the reform of marine nature conservation legislation. These include new mechanisms for the conservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity, including protected areas for important species and habitats.

Marine Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to promote marine conservation. (79399)

The Government are committed to a Marine Bill which will introduce a new framework, based on marine spatial planning, that balances conservation, energy and resource needs. The aim is to obtain best value from different uses of our valuable marine resources by maintaining and protecting the ecosystems on which they depend. We are developing integrated criteria for the selection of marine protected areas (MPAs), including those for wider nature conservation.

We are also considering how many additional protected areas might be needed to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity and fulfil the international commitments we have made in this area.

Poultry Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had within the EU on the provision of financial support to the poultry industry (a) in the UK and (b) other member states. (79587)

[holding answer 26 June 2006]: A number of recent discussions involving the Commission and member states took place, between 7 April 2006 and 21 June 2006. These culminated in the adoption of an amendment to Article 14 of Council Regulations 2777/75 and 2771/75 on the Common Organisation of the Market in Eggs and Poultrymeat, respectively.

The amendment provides legal powers to make special support measures available to member states in the event of significant evaporation of consumer confidence in poultry products as a direct result of avian influenza, causing the market to collapse.

Radon Gas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice the Government have issued on the account which should be taken of levels of radon gas in decisions on building new schools. (77686)

I have been asked to reply.

Resistance to contaminants, including radon, is covered by requirement C1 (2) of the Building Regulations. This requirement applies to all buildings including schools.

Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what representations he has received from local authorities on the recycling of televisions and computer monitors containing cathode ray tubes; (78442)

(2) what assessment his Department has made of the national operational capacity for the recycling of televisions and computer monitors containing cathode ray tubes;

(3) how many (a) televisions and (b) monitors containing cathode ray tubes have been recycled from local authority civic amenity sites since July 2005.

No such representations from local authorities have been received. The majority of inquiries on the recycling of televisions and computer monitors received by DEFRA officials have been referred to the Department of Trade and Industry, who lead on implementation of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) directive.

There are an increasing number of WEEE recovery plants opening in anticipation of the UK’s implementation of the WEEE directive that are capable of dealing with waste televisions and computer monitors. These plants are regulated by the Environment Agency under a waste management licence.

Information on the number of televisions and monitors which have been recycled from local authority civic amenity sites is not currently gathered by the Department.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many public recycling bins are available in London; and what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) maintaining, (b) emptying and (c) replacing these bins in 2006-07. (79373)

Latest available data show that London has 38 civic amenity sites and 2,715 recycling sites. A recycling site usually consists of more than one bin and, therefore, data are not available for numbers of public recycling bins in London. No estimate has been made centrally regarding costs.

A range of information and statistics on waste and recycling in London is available from Capitalwastefacts (an online fact-file developed by the Greater London Authority and London Remade), which is available at the following address:

http://www.capitalwastefacts.com/Home/tabid/36/Default.aspx.

Rubbish Collection (Charging)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the likely effect of variable charging for rubbish collection on levels of fly-tipping. (78244)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the merits of the introduction of variable charging for household waste. (78538)

We have no current plans to introduce charging for household waste. The Government are considering what further steps are needed to tackle household waste as part of the review of the Waste Strategy, which will be published later this year. We are also looking at the spending pressures local authorities face, with regard to waste management, ahead of the comprehensive spending review.

Variable charging is one of a number of tools that could be used to encourage waste minimisation and recycling of household waste. Local authorities already have powers to run incentive schemes or require householders to separate their waste for recycling. Recent research shows that at least half of English local authorities have run, or are running, some form of incentive scheme and some, such as Barnet, require householders to separate their recycling.

Many countries, including some in the European Union, have introduced successful household waste charging schemes, achieving reductions in waste and increases in the separation of waste for recycling. (Evidence from studies of this international experience shows a small increase in fly-tipping incidents when schemes are introduced, but this quickly tails off where schemes are well designed and effective enforcement action is taken.)

Rural Enterprise Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department plans to continue to process all applications for the Rural Enterprise Scheme, Processing and Marketing grant that are received up until 30 June; what the status is of the bid from Perry’s Cider of Dowlish Wake, Ilminster; and if he will make a statement. (80008)

[holding answer 27 June 2006]: All applications that are received by the closing date of 30 June and which meet the eligibility requirements for the Rural Enterprise Scheme and Processing and Marketing Grant will be processed and given due consideration for funding.

The bids from Perry’s Cider of Dowlish Wake, Ilminster are currently undergoing technical assessment and, subject to meeting eligibility requirements, will be considered for funding by the RDS South West Regional Appraisal Panel at their final meeting on 25 and 26 July.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has undertaken into live tests for bovine spongiform encephalopathy; and whether this included studies of prion proteins. (79812)

[holding answer 26 June 2006]: Scientific investigation of a live animal test for bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been a priority part of the research programmes funded by DEFRA and other Departments for several years. Information on these projects can be found on the DEFRA and Medical Research Council websites:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/research/project data

http://www.mrc.ac.uk/index/current-research/current-mrc_tse_portfolio.htm

A wide range of possible diagnostic markers of the disease have been studied, with a particular focus on prion proteins.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance he has issued on whether cattle suspected of being infected with a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy must be culled within a specified period under EC Regulation 999/2001. (79813)

[holding answer 26 June 2006]: State Veterinary Service (SVS) staff are instructed to slaughter cattle suspected of being affected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) at the time of their examination. In a minority of cases, the SVS arrange for live suspects to be transported to the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) in Weybridge, subject to an assessment of fitness to travel and journey time considerations. BSE suspects received at the VLA are slaughtered within 72 hours of arrival. However, most BSE suspects are slaughtered on-farm.

Waste and Resources Action Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s total annual expenditure was for (a) projects, (b) salaries and (c) office premises in each of the last five years. (78532)

The information requested is set out in the following table:

£

Project

Salary

Premises

2001-02

4,729,000

1,295,000

198,000

2002-03

12,475,000

2,357,000

233,000

2003-04

26,278,000

4,049,000

346,000

2004-05

43,634,000

6,577,000

450,000

2005-06

68,539,000

8,564,000

497,000

Waste Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to tackle the illegal export of waste televisions and computer monitors containing cathode ray tubes. (78439)

Waste electrical electronic equipment, such as television sets and computer monitors containing cathode ray tubes, are classified as hazardous waste for the purposes of shipment out of the UK. Under the Waste Shipment Regulation, the export of hazardous waste to non-Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries is prohibited. Exports of this waste to other OECD countries is permitted for recovery operations but such shipments would be subject to prior informed consent procedures.

The illegal shipment of waste abroad for disposal under the guise of recycling is totally unacceptable and the UK Government and competent authorities, such as the Environment Agency, take such matters extremely seriously. The Environment Agency will continue to monitor the scale and destination of waste at major UK ports through ongoing inspections, and will not hesitate to take enforcement action where evidence of illegal activity is found.

Trade and Industry

Clear Skies Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the value was of the total funding pot under the Clear Skies scheme. (80772)

The Clear Skies programme had a £13.25 million budget over three years beginning January 2003.

Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what value the current total funding pot has under Stream 1 of the low carbon buildings programme for householders. (80771)

The current funding for Stream 1 household applications under the low carbon buildings programme is £6.5 million over three years for the financial years 2006-07 to 2008-09.

Landlords (Retained Deposits)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many actions have been initiated by trading standards officers against companies which have unfairly retained deposits paid on student accommodation; (75887)

(2) what estimate he has made of the amount of money unlawfully retained by companies from deposits on student accommodation in the past 12 months;

(3) what steps he is taking to encourage action against companies which unlawfully retain deposits paid by students who have rented student accommodation.

I have been asked to reply.

The Government are committed to ensuring that where tenants pay a deposit to their landlord in good faith it will be returned at the end of the tenancy, providing the tenant does not cause any damage or theft to the property. Provisions contained in Part 6 of the Housing Act 2004 will make it a requirement that any landlord who offers assured shorthold tenancies and wishes to take a monetary deposit must safeguard that deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme (TDS).

The Department does not hold information on the actions of trading standards officers or the level of deposits that may have been withheld by landlords.

Zimbabwe

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his policy is on investment by UK companies in Zimbabwe; and what steps he is taking to improve standards of corporate behaviour in Zimbabwe. (78630)

The EU does not have economic or trade sanctions with Zimbabwe, and therefore we do not place any barriers on investment in Zimbabwe. UK companies will take decisions on investing in Zimbabwe on the basis of their commercial assessment of those investments.

There are no specific initiatives to improve corporate behaviour in Zimbabwe. HMG are however committed to promoting responsible business practice by British companies wherever they operate. We do this through a combination of sector-specific activities, such as;

The extractive industries transparency initiative, which aims to increase transparency over payment by companies to Government and Government linked entities, as well as transparency over revenues by those host country Governments.

The voluntary principles on security and human rights which aims to maintain the safety and security of extractive operations, whilst ensuring that human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected.

HMG also support international organisations active on corporate responsibility such as the UN global compact, which seeks to promote responsible corporate citizenship so that business can be part of the solution to the challenges of globalisation.

International Development

Burmese Refugees

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what help he has made available to support relief groups in Thailand assisting those people displaced from their homes in Burma. (76022)

There are three types of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Burma. These are (with the latest available numbers, from October 2005):

(i) people in temporary settlements in ceasefire areas administered by ethnic nationalities (340,000);

(ii) villagers who have been evicted by the Burmese Government and moved into designated relocation sites (108,000); and

(iii) civilians hiding from the Burmese Army in areas most affected by armed conflict (92,000).

The recent military offensive against the Karen people has swelled the number of civilians hiding in conflict areas by at least 15,000. DFID’s approach to providing emergency assistance to these IDPs has been to use our comparative advantage (the fact that we have a small presence inside the country and a strong network of relationships with ethnic minority and other groups) to reach the IDPs using local community groups inside Burma. This is a complementary approach to the use of relief teams operating cross border from Thailand, and it enables access to IDPs who would not be reached by any other means, and through a mechanism which is much less well supported by other donors. The development of civil society within the country is also a fundamental step in a successful transition to democracy.

The number of IDPs that we can reach from inside the country is limited. Access is difficult, and the small local groups with whom we are working do not currently have the capacity to deliver greater volumes of emergency relief, although we are working to strengthen their ability to do more. Those delivering assistance to IDPs cross border from Thailand face similar challenges. Therefore we recognise the importance of maintaining co-ordination with all donors (both those delivering assistance cross border, and those working inside the country) to ensure that together we manage to reach as many IDPs as possible.

DFID also provides support to IDPs in temporary settlements in ceasefire areas in eastern Burma through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to which we provide £500,000 a year, of which approximately 75 per cent. is attributable to work with displaced people in this area.

In addition, our health, education and rural livelihood projects provide assistance in eastern Burma, and support internally displaced people in temporary settlements and designated relocation sites there, as well as other vulnerable people. For example, in Karen State, our Fund for HIV/AIDS in Burma supports World Vision projects in two townships, Save the Children UK projects in four townships and Care projects in five townships, as well as supporting other national non-governmental organisations (NGOs). DFID-funded rural livelihoods and pre-primary education projects are also about to start in Karen State.

DFID is also providing support to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working among displaced Burmese people in the refugee camps on the Thai side of the Thai-Burma border—as a grant to the Thai Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) of £1.8 million over three years. In addition, the UK contributes approximately the same amount again as its share of the EC’s support to the TBBC. The British embassy in Bangkok advocates on behalf of Burmese refugees living in Thailand through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to improve the situation in the refugee camps in Thailand and to bring about a relaxation of the regulations prohibiting freedom of movement and employment outside the camps.

Timber (Papua New Guinea)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations he has received regarding illegal logging in Papua New Guinea; and if he will make a statement. (78899)

DFID has been informed of the seriousness of illegal logging in Papua New Guinea by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Roger Berry) and by the British high commissioner. DFID has no programmes in Papua New Guinea through which it can offer assistance. However, DFID has raised this matter with the European Commission which will consider assistance.

Defence

Abuse of Power Reports

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many persons have been subject to disciplinary or administrative procedures as a result of failure to report an incident of abuse of power in the Army in the past 12 months. (79837)

None. The most recent case concerned Corporal Daniel Kenyon who was convicted in February 2005 of failing to report an incident involving the abuse of Iraqi civilians.

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how long he expects British troops to be based in Afghanistan. (80636)

As announced by the then Secretary of State for Defence my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (John Reid) on 26 January 2006, Official Report, column 1529, the Helmand Task Force is planned to be a three year deployment. It is impossible to predict exactly how long there will be a UK military presence of somekind, as part of wider international support to the Government of Afghanistan, beyond that period.

Cluster Munitions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with British manufacturers on the decision of the Belgian Government to ban cluster munitions. (79688)

Combined Cadet Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent progress has been made in implementing the plans announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2006 to create branches of the Combined Cadet Force in state schools. (80692)

Since the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement in February 2006, the Ministry of Defence has been working with the Department for Education and Skills and the Treasury to develop plans for a pilot scheme that will further extend Combined Cadet Forces in the state school sector. As was announced on the 27 June 2006 we will be establishing six new pilot schemes in schools across England. Funding arrangements have just been put in place by the Treasury and we are now discussing arrangements with schools who have already expressed an interest in establishing a Combined Cadet Force.

Deepcut (Document Disclosure)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date he wrote to the chief constable of Surrey police regarding the disclosure of documents to the families of (a) Sean Benton, (b) Cheryl James and (c) Geoff Gray; if he will copy the letter to the legal representatives of those families; and if he will place copies in the Library. (79870)

I wrote to the chief constable of the Surrey police regarding Recommendation 33 of the Deepcut Review on 13 June 2006. A copy of the letter will be provided to the legal representatives of the families concerned. A copy of the letter will also be placed in the Library of the House.

Departmental Bills

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those Government Bills sponsored by his Department that are still to be introduced during the 2005-06 session. (78853)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Leader of the House on 16 June 2006, Official Report, column 1432W.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list contracts in excess of £500,000 his Department has entered into in connection with Iraq since the beginning of 2003; on what date each was entered into; whether the civilian contractor in each contract had military connections; what the nationality of each civilian contractor was in each case; what each contract was for; whether each contract was awarded following competitive bidding; whether work was wholly carried out in Iraq; and what estimate he has made in each case of the comparable cost of similar work carried out in the UK. (61481)

I will place three lists of contracts in the Library of the House. The first shows works contracted by the Multi-National Division (South-East) Civil Secretariat with total value in excess of £500,000, and wholly carried out in Iraq, from 2003, detailing the company, service provided, and date each contract was entered into. Second are those contracts let by the Defence Communications Service Agency for and in support of British operations in Iraq. And third are those contracts placed for movement of freight or personnel by air or surface means, awarded following competition. Two of these contracts (DTMA/CB/0803 and DTMA/CB/0813) were let for air support entirely within Iraq/surrounding area. Two further contracts (DTMA/CB/0703 and DTMA/CB/0720) were let specifically for aeromedical tasks between Cyprus and the UK. The remaining movement contracts were placed for the transport of freight/personnel mainly between the UK/Europe and Iraq/Gulf States in support of Op TELIC. Comparable costing for these is inappropriate. Further details are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on which dates since February 2006 (a) he and (b) his Ministers have visited British soldiers injured in Iraq; and what locations were visited on each occasion. (80693)

Defence Ministers frequently visit members of the armed forces injured in Iraq. Since February Defence Ministers have visited injured personnel on four occasions as follows:

My predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (John Reid), visited the Field Hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base on 18 March 2006.

I too visited the Field Hospital at Shaibah Logistics Base, Iraq on 18 May 2006. The Minister of State for the Armed Forces visited injured personnel as part of his visit on 8-9 May 2006 to 7th Armoured Brigade in Germany.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Watson) visited the Royal College of Defence Medicine at Selly Oak on 16 June 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what average time has elapsed before inquiries into the deaths of British service personnel in Iraq have commenced. (80141)

The information requested is not held centrally and can be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. However, the Service Police initiate an investigation immediately they are notified of the death of any member of the armed forces in Iraq. Wherever possible, it is their policy to issue an Initial Case Report within 24 hours of notification unless prevented by operational circumstances.

Missile Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the role is of the Missile Defence Centre within his Department; and if he will make a statement. (79950)

The UK Missile Defence Centre was opened by the former Minister of State for Defence Procurement on 18 July 2003. It provides the primary technical interface between the UK and the US Governments in this area of research and development. The centre is jointly resourced by Government and Industry, and will act as a showcase for the specialist expertise and equipment which UK Industry has to offer to the US Missile Defence programme. The MDC also facilitates the exchange of information on the evolving US system, to inform the technical advice provided to policy makers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions the UK Government has had with the US authorities on acquiring ballistic missile defence (a) technology and (b) equipment from the US. (79951)

We have had no recent discussions with the US about the acquisition, in the form of purchase or ownership, of ballistic missile defence technology or equipment. We continue to work closely with them on co-operative technology programmes through the UK Missile Defence Centre.

Private Members’ Bills

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Private Members' Bills were drafted by his Department in each Session since 1997; and which subsequently received Royal Assent. (78852)

Royal Military Police

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the terms of reference were of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary’s thematic review of the Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch; what the target date is for completion; and what arrangements he plans to make for publication. (79880)

The terms of reference for the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspection of the Royal Military Police (RMP) Special Investigations Branch (SIB) are as follows:

(a) To inspect SIB specialist policing functions in the investigation of major and serious crimes, including investigations conducted on operations, and to identify any areas for improvement (in the context of current good practice, where applicable).

(b) To identify any other transferable good practice emerging from inspection.

(c) To alert Deputy Provost Marshal (Investigations) of any issues that may impact upon the conduct of a live investigation.

(d) To deliver a draft report to the Provost Marshal (Army) for his consideration on behalf of the Adjutant-General and Director General Security and Safety.

(e) To deliver a final report for the attention of the same.

The inspection of the RMP SIB started on 1 April 2006 and the HMIC is due to provide a report by 31 July 2006.

The final report will be published, both in hard copy and on the HMIC website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the merits of bringing the Royal Military Police Special Investigations Branch under the oversight of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. (79881)

The Royal Military Police (RMP) Special Investigations Branch (SIB) has a minimal interface with the general public in comparison to their civilian counterparts. As a result, complaints by third parties unconnected to the armed forces about the conduct of the RMP (SIB) are far less likely to occur. We do not therefore consider it appropriate for the RMP (SIB) to be brought under the oversight of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

However, a comprehensive redress of complaints system exists for all service personnel, including service police personnel, who wish to complain or express a grievance about any matter related to their service. Improvements were proposed under the Armed Forces Bill which included a redress panel system where panels would include an external, independent member for certain types of complaints, and an external reviewer focusing on process, delay, fairness, and the effectiveness of the procedure, and providing recommendations for improvements where necessary. Further to the Deepcut Review, we plan to extend the role of the external reviewer, renamed the Service Complaints Commissioner, who would have statutory powers to receive a complaint or allegation from a service person, family or other third party, to place it in the hands of the chain of command and to be notified of the outcome. The Commissioner would have direct access to Ministers and would publish an annual report on the complaints process.

These proposed arrangements will now be subject to the full process of parliamentary scrutiny in the context of the remaining stages of the Armed Forces Bill’s passage through Parliament.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training is available to members of the Royal Military Police in the conduct of European Convention of Human Rights Article 2—compliant investigations into an overseas death in barracks. (79884)

Members of the Royal Military Police (RMP) Special Investigation Branch (SIB) follow standard police investigative procedures and receive training that conforms to UK Home Office standards, modified to take account of the Military Criminal Justice System. As such, both their training, either basic or continuation, and their investigative techniques, are compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Culture, Media and Sport

Biodiversity

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps her Department plans to take to monitor the extent to which public bodies which report to her comply, from October, with their duty to conserve biodiversity in exercising their functions, under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. (74406)

Under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, all public bodies have a duty to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in the exercising of their functions. There is no statutory obligation on Departments to monitor the extent to which public bodies comply with this duty. However, we understand DEFRA is working with a wide range of partners to develop guidance for public bodies to support the implementation of this duty and will involve all relevant Departments on the development of guidance.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the average cost to her Department was of replying to a letter written (a) by an hon. Member and (b) by a member of the public in the latest period for which figures are available; and how much of that sum is accounted for by (i) officials’ time, (ii) cost of stationery and (iii) postage costs. (80469)

The information requested is not recorded and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members/peers correspondence. The report for 2005 was published on 30 March 2006, Official Report, columns 76-78WS.

Departmental Finance Directors

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the finance director of her Department. (80091)

My Department’s finance director is Nicholas Holgate. He has a degree in economics and is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. His relevant experience comprises 18 years’ employment in HM Treasury, including three years as head of strategy, finance and purchasing.

Horse Racing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps her Department is taking to enable the Government to meet their manifesto commitment to end their financial involvement in horse racing. (80844)

The Government's 2005 manifesto commitment with regards to horse racing stated,

“Having passed the necessary legislation the Government remains committed to completing the sale of the Tote to a Racing Trust”.

My Department is pursuing a closed sale of the Tote to a consortium of racing interests.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what consultation (a) has taken place and (b) is planned on the extension of the horse racing levy beyond 2009; and with whom. (80845)

No decision has been taken to extend of the Horserace Betting Levy beyond 2009, although the matter is under consideration by my Department following the publication of the phase two report of the Future Funding of Racing Review Group, Chaired by Lord Donoughue of Ashton.

In order to inform this consideration the Review Group subsequently produced a further report (a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses) aimed at identifying improvements that could be made to the Levy Board's operation. The group received submissions from:

Arena Leisure Plc

Ascot Racecourse

The Association of British Bookmakers

The British Horseracing Board

Gala Coral Group Plc

GG Media Ltd.

Industry Committee (Horseracing) Ltd.

The Jockey Club

Ladbrokes Plc

The National Association of Bookmakers

The National Trainers Federation

Northern Racing Ltd.

The Racecourse Association

The Racehorse Owners’ Association

The Rails Bookmakers’ Association

Satellite Information Services Ltd.

Timothy Hale (in support of the RCA)

Watson Bookmakers Ltd.

Weatherbys Ltd.

William Hill Plc

Should the Government decide to extend the levy beyond 2009 further consultation will be carried out.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to her statement of 18 March 2005, Official Report, column 29WS, on funding of horse racing, what progress has been made in working with football leagues to develop solutions to the funding difficulties arising from a judgment by the European Court of Justice. (80846)

I have met with representatives of the premier league, football leagues, Scottish football leagues on a number of occasions to discuss the impact of the European Court of Justice’s ruling on database rights.

I understand that a deal is now under negotiation between Football Dataco, which licenses football fixture data, and British bookmakers which I am optimistic will provide guaranteed funding for the football leagues in the short to medium term.

Internet Gambling

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received from gambling addiction support and campaign groups on problem gambling on the internet. (80852)

We have received a number of representations from gambling addiction support groups, faith groups and others about problem gambling and the internet.

We are engaged in regular discussions with these bodies via my Department's Gambling Act Implementation Community Liaison Group.

Public Consultations

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 14 June 2005, Official Report, column 1223W, on consultations, what mechanisms are in place to ensure value for money in public consultations. (80758)

In order to ensure that consultation is as effective as possible, my Department follows the Government’s code of practice on consultation. By following the code i.e. carrying out comprehensive consultation and taking on board the views of those likely to be affected and the views of experts, the Government are more likely to meet its policy objectives. Following each formal consultation, the DCMS is obliged, under the code, to give feedback regarding the responses received and how the consultation process influenced the policy in question.

Radio Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will bring forward legislation to allow her Department (a) to intervene in and (b) to review the decisions taken by Ofcom in connection with the granting of radio licences; and if she will make a statement. (80170)

The Government have no plans to introduce powers to allow them to intervene in Ofcom’s licensing decisions, nor do they believe there is a case for a review at this time.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what appeals mechanism is available to radio stations which have their request for a radio licence rejected by Ofcom; and if she will make a statement. (80171)

If an unsuccessful applicant believes that Ofcom has acted unlawfully then they can ask for the decision to be judicially reviewed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what radio licences have been granted in each county in England and Wales since the enactment of the Communications Act 2003; what applications for such licences have been rejected; what the reason for rejection was in each case; and if she will make a statement. (80172)

The matter raised is the responsibility of the Office of Communications (Ofcom), as independent regulator for the communications sector. Accordingly my officials have asked the chief executive of Ofcom to respond directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the chief executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Scottish Bed Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent assessment her Department has made of the likely impact of a bed tax on the Scottish tourism industry. (81144)

The Department has not made such an assessment. As is appropriate in the case of an independent review, my Department will fully assess the potential impact of any recommendations that Sir Michael Lyons makes in his final report on the function, future role and funding of local government once he has made them.

The Public, West Bromwich

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether work has recommenced on The Public arts organisation in West Bromwich. (80623)

Some enabling works on the site of The Public will take place during the summer, but it is anticipated that more significant activity will recommence on the site in early October.

Following the agreement of a rescue package for the arts organisation The Public Charity Ltd., the artistic content and gallery commissions have been reviewed and work on testing the content for the gallery will begin shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the role of the Arts Council is in the tendering process for the future use of The Public in West Bromwich. (80624)

Arts Council England are part of a stakeholder group which currently also includes the other funders, Sandwell metropolitan borough council, Advantage West Midlands and the Government office for the west midlands. The brief for the tendering process was written with the joint agreement of this group. Representatives of Arts Council England were involved in the shortlisting of submissions and were on the interview panel for the shortlisted proposals.

Tourism

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how many tourist information centres were (a) in operation, (b) opened and (c) closed in England in each year since 2000; (80273)

(2) how many tourists used information centres in England in each year since 2000;

(3) how much funding Tourism England committed to supporting tourist information centres in each year since 2000.

Most tourist information centres (TICs) are controlled by local authorities and not funded or managed centrally. The provision of tourism services by local authorities, including TICs, is a discretionary matter for them.

However, VisitBritain has recently conducted a consultation on a strategy for providing national leadership for the tourist information network in England. The proposals, put forward after extensive discussion with the National TIC Steering Group and regional partners, include a range of actions designed to increase efficiency and service standards; increase revenue opportunities; and ensure integration with the ‘Englandnet’ business support tool.

It is hoped that these actions will strengthen the TIC brand and allow VisitBritain to market the network in Britain and overseas.

Until March 2006, VisitBritain part-funded One NorthEast and the Yorkshire Tourist Board (YTB) to conduct co-ordination of the network. Between 2000 and 2003, this work was carried out by the regional tourist boards, led by the English Tourism Council. The costs of this work centrally were as follows:

£

2000-01

110,000

2001-02

100,000

2002-03

97,070

2003-04

56,500

2004-05

56,500

2005-06

56,500

Unfortunately, detailed annual records of the number of TICs and their visitor numbers are not held centrally. There were approximately 560 TICs in 2000 and there are about 514 now. YTB made a rough estimate in 2002 that around 75 million visits were made to England’s TICs. The acquisition of improved data on these matters is an important element of VisitBritain’s current proposals.

Electoral Commission Committee

Finance Director

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the finance director of the Electoral Commission. (80078)

The Electoral Commission informs me that it does not have a specific post of finance director, but that the responsibilities of its Director of Corporate Services, Roger Gough, include Finance, as well as Human Resources, IT, Procurement and Facilities. Mr. Gough has a Diploma in Management. Before becoming Director of Corporate Services at the Electoral Commission, Mr. Gough was a Director of Resources in the magistrates courts service for seven years.

Treasury

Building Costs (2012 Olympics)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of possible inflation of building costs in (a) London, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England as a result of the construction work associated with the 2012 Olympics. (80132)

The Treasury has made no estimate of the possible inflation of building costs as a result of the construction work associated with the 2012 Olympics. As announced in January, the Public Sector Construction Clients’ Forum, set up by the Office of Government Commerce, is carrying out a project to examine the construction industry’s capacity to deliver planned national capital construction programmes, including the provision of the Olympics infrastructure, in the period 2005 to 2015.

Correspondence

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average cost was to his Department of replying to a letter written by (a) an hon. Member, (b) a Member of the House of Lords, (c) a member of the public writing to a Minister at the Department and (d) an internal letter written by another Minister, in the last period for which figures are available; and how much of the cost was accounted for by (i) officials time, (ii) cost of stationery and (iii) postage costs. (80169)

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to correspondence from Members of both Houses of Parliament. The report for 2005 was published on 30 March 2006, Official Report, columns 76-78ws.

Information relating to costs is not recorded and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Custom Entry Clearances

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 13 June 2006, Official Report, column 5767W, on AK-47s, what UK custom entry clearances have been issued to UK-based companies for the import into the UK from Bosnia of (a) military vehicles and (b) assault rifles since June 2003. (79909)

Since June 2003 UK Customs have issued six entry clearances to UK companies in respect of imports of military vehicles from Bosnia that have been recorded under Commodity Code heading 871 00000 which covers military vehicles.

Since June 2003 UK Customs have issued nine entry clearances to UK companies in respect of imports under Commodity Code 9301 9000 (other military weapons, other than revolvers, pistols and arms in heading 9307). Entry clearance is issued on the basis that import licenses had been granted prior to importation.

Death Statistics

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he plans to take to ensure that the data on deaths that would be released under clause 11 of the Police and Justice Bill cannot directly or indirectly be misused by commercial organisations; how the activities of commercial organisations will be monitored in relation to the use of such data; and what penalties would be available if the data were misused. (80536)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, 28 June 2006:

As Registrar General for England and Wales, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what steps are to be taken to ensure that data on deaths that would be released under clause 11 of the Police and Justice Bill cannot directly or indirectly be misused by commercial organisations; how the activities of commercial organisations will be monitored in relation to the use of such data; and what penalties would be available if the data were misused. (80536)

It is the case now that death registration data is in the public domain as soon as any death is registered. The data is, however, difficult to access in bulk in England and Wales and is not accessible using modern technology. The intention of the provision is to reduce the scope for criminal activity arising from the fraudulent use of a dead person’s identity, and to do so by making data available more quickly and in a more accessible format than is permitted at present.

It is recognised that provision of the data quickly and in bulk does create a need for additional controls. Any commercial organisation seeking to utilise data on deaths would need to demonstrate clearly that it would be used in such a way as to fulfil the intent of the clause by enabling the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of offences, and no data will be released unless that is the case. A regime is being designed, based on those criteria, to enable rigorous assessment of applications for receipt of the data.

The data will be released subject to strict conditions, and subsequent misuse of it will, lead as a minimum to withdrawal of the supply of data to the organisation concerned; further penalties would depend on the nature of the improper use.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the most recent death rate from heart disease was in (a) Stoke-on-Trent, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England. (80604)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 28 June 2006:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question asking what the most recent death rate from heart disease was in (a) Stoke-on-Trent (b) the West Midlands and (c) England. I am replying in her absence. (80604)

The latest year for which figures are available is 2004 and these are given in the following table.

Death rates1 from coronary heart disease2 for Stoke-on-Trent local authority, West Midlands Government Office Region and England3, by sex, 20044

Stoke-on-Trent

West Midlands

England

Male

215

157

155

Female

85

73

73

1 Rates per 100,000 population standardised to the European Standard Population. 2 The cause of death was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). The codes used are listed below: Coronary heart disease—ICD-10120-125 Deaths were selected using the original underlying cause. 3 Usual residents of these areas. 4 Deaths registered in 2004.

Invoice Payments

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of bills presented by private organisations to (a) HM Treasury and (b) HM Revenue and Customs were paid within (i) 10 days, (ii) 20 days, (iii) 30 days, (iv) 60 days and (v) 90 days in the last period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (80642)

The Treasury aims to pay all invoices within contractual conditions or 30 days from the receipt of goods or service, whichever is the later. We monitor performance against the 30 day target. Further analysis could be undertaken only at disproportionate cost.

For the 12 month period ending 31 March 2006, 94.7 per cent. of undisputed Treasury and Debt Management Office invoices and 99.5 per cent. of undisputed Office of Government Commerce invoices were paid within 30 days. HMRC settled 98.8 per cent. of invoices within 30 days of receipt of goods or service.

Improving payment performance continues to be a priority and is reported in the relevant resource accounts.

Long-term Unemployment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in (a) Hartlepool constituency, (b) the Tees Valley sub-region and (c) the North East Region were long-term unemployed in each year since 1989. (80539)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 28 June 2006:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your parliamentary question about unemployment. (80539)

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) compiles statistics of unemployment for local areas from the annual local area Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Population Survey (APS) following International Labour Organisation definitions.

Table 1 shows the number of long-term unemployed for the Hartlepool parliamentary constituency, the Tees Valley sub-region and the North East region for each 12 months ending February 1999 to February 2004, from the annual LFS, and for the 12 months to December 2004 from the APS. Data are not available for earlier years.

These estimates, as with any from sample surveys, are subject to a margin of uncertainty. Changes in the estimates from year to year should be treated with particular caution.

ONS also compiles statistics for local areas of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (ISA). Table 2 shows the annual average number of people claiming ISA for more than 12 months resident in the Hartlepool parliamentary constituency, the Tees Valley sub-region and the North East region for the calendar years 1989-2005. Data are not available for the Hartlepool constituency prior to 1996.

Table 1: Number of long-term unemployed1 in the Hartlepool parliamentary constituency, the Tees Valley sub-region and the North East region

£000

12 months ending:

Hartlepool

Tees Valley sub-region

North East

February 1999

2

9

33

February 2000

1

11

33

February 2001

1

10

28

February 2002

1

7

24

February 2003

1

6

20

February 2004

1

5

17

December 2004

1

5

15

1 12 months and over. Notes: 1. Estimates are subject to sampling variability. 2. Changes in the estimates from year to year should be treated with particular caution. Source: Annual local area Labour Force Survey; Annual Population Survey.

Table 2: Number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance for more than 12 months1 in the Hartlepool parliamentary constituency, the Tees Valley sub-region and the North East region; annual averages; 1989-2005

Hartlepool

Tees Valley sub-region

North East

1989

n/a

10,815

36,970

1990

n/a

8,465

28,730

1991

n/a

9,815

33,060

1992

n/a

12,830

45,025

1993

n/a

15,580

53,170

1994

n/a

16,000

54,225

1995

n/a

14,570

49,735

1996

1,835

13,415

45,745

1997

1,615

10,435

33,785

1998

1,415

8,420

24,660

1999

1,240

6,750

20,305

2000

855

5,240

16,680

2001

625

4,240

13,365

2002

520

3,195

10,390

2003

350

2,545

7,960

2004

270

2,170

6,445

2005

270

2,000

5,700

n/a = Not available. 1 Computerised claims only. Data rounded to nearest five for disclosure control. Source: Jobcentre plus administrative system.

Private Members' Bills

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what records are kept in his Department of Private Members’ Bills introduced; and if he will make a statement. (80168)

The Treasury complies with the requirements of the Public Records Act 1967 and maintains such records of Private Members’ Bills and other parliamentary business as may be required for operational purposes. Information relating to Private Members’ Bills is available from published sources and from the House authorities.

Recruitment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies spent on recruitment, search and selection agencies in each of the last five years. (68335)

The Treasury and its agencies do not record recruitment, search and selection agency costs separate from other recruitment expenditure. This information could therefore be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Sickness Absence

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff in his Department have had (a) five or more, (b) four, (c) three and (d) two periods of sick leave of less than five days in each of the last three years. (73036)

The information requested in respect of the Treasury is as follows:

Number of staff

Spells of sickness absence

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Two

125

165

193

Three

71

71

85

Four

46

47

62

Five or more

43

57

64

Spring Departmental Report

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date he plans to publish the HM Revenue and Customs Spring Departmental Report; in which month the Spring Report was published in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement. (80010)

[holding answer 27 June 2006]: The HMRC Spring Departmental Report 2006 will be published on 29 June 2006 (Cm6832).

The following table gives details of the Spring Report publication dates as requested.

HMRC

Publication June 2005

Command number Cm6542

Inland Revenue

May 2004 May 2003 June 20021 2001

Cm6225 Cm5925 Cm5428 No report published2

HM Customs and Excise

May 2004 May 2003 June 2002 April 2001

Cm6224 Cm5924 Cm5427 Cm5117

1 This was published as Inland Revenue: the Government’s Expenditure Plans for 2002-04 2 Inland Revenue: the Government’s Expenditure Plans for 2000-01 to 2001-02 (Cm4117) was published in April 2000.

Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 25 January 2006, Official Report, column 2222W, on tax credits, what the results of the surveys to assess the effectiveness of tax credits communications were; and if he will place the results of the surveys in the Library. (50584)

Teenage Pregnancy and Life Expectancy

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the most recent (a) teenage pregnancy rate and (b) life expectancy rate was in (i) Stoke-on-Trent, (ii) the West Midlands and (iii) England. (80602)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 28 June 2006:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question asking what the most recent (a) teenage pregnancy rate and (b) life expectancy rate was in (i) Stoke-on-Trent, (ii) the West Midlands and (iii) England. I am replying in her absence. (80602)

Available figures are estimates of the number of pregnancies that resulted in a live birth, stillbirth or termination.

Teenage conception rates for 2004 (the most recent year for which data are available) are given in Table A. Data for 2004 are provisional.

Figures for life expectancy at birth for English regions and local authorities are published annually by ONS based on three-year rolling averages. The most recent figures, for 2002-04, are included in Table B.

Table A: Teenage pregnancy rate, 2004

Region

Rate1

Stoke-on-Trent

67.4

West Midlands

45.0

England

41.5

1 Rates for women aged under 18 are based on the population of women aged 15-17.

Table B: Life expectancy at birth (years) by sex, 2002-041

Region

Male

Female

Stoke-on-Trent

73.2

78.7

West Midlands

75.9

80.6

England

76.55

80.91

1 Results are based on deaths registered in 2002-04 and mid-year population estimates for these years.

Tobacco Products (Duty)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his most recent estimate is of (a) the proportion of tobacco products consumed in the UK on which duty has not been paid due to smuggling and fraud in each year since 1997 and (b) the resultant cost to the Exchequer. (80793)

HM Revenue and Customs estimates of the proportion of tobacco products consumed in the UK on which duty has not been paid due to smuggling and fraud are available from 1999-2000.

The proportion of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco consumed in the UK on which duty has not been paid due to smuggling and fraud and the resultant cost to the Exchequer for 2000-01 to 2003-04 are given in Table 3.3 and Table 3.5 respectively of “Measuring Indirect Tax Losses—2005”, published by HM Revenue and Customs in December 2005 and is available from the House of Commons Library. The proportion of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco consumed in the UK on which duty has not been paid due to smuggling and fraud for 1999-2000 can be found in Table 3.2 and Table 3.5 respectively of “Measuring indirect tax losses” published in November 2002 by HM Customs and Excise, also available from the House of Commons Library, with the corresponding resultant cost to the Exchequer in Table 3.1 and 3.4 respectively.

Communities and Local Government

City Regions Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the likely effects of the city regions project on (a) Herefordshire and (b) other low wage economies. (80188)

Cities and city regions are often the economic drivers of economic growth within the wider region. Economic growth within the cities and city regions will often provide knock on benefits to the wider region. We are conscious, however, that no one size fits all and in considering the business case proposals from the core cities we are giving careful thought as to their impact on smaller towns and rural areas outside the city region.

My officials are working with DEFRA who are looking into the impact of city regions on rural areas both within and outside city regions. This research includes a number of case studies, one of which concentrates on the Birmingham city region and its impact on South Shropshire, the rural district with the highest proportion of employees earning less than two-thirds of the English median.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average cost to her Department was of replying to a letter written (a) by an hon. Member and (b) by a member of the public in the latest period for which figures are available; and how much of that sum is accounted for by (i) officials' time, (ii) cost of stationery and (iii) postage costs. (80471)

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. The report for 2005 was published on 30 March 2006, Official Report, columns 76-78WS.

The information requested is not recorded and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Draft Housing Regulations

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library copies of the responses to his Department’s consultation on Houses in Multiple Occupation and Selective Licensing Draft Regulations. (62287)

I have been asked to reply.

I have made arrangements for copies of the responses received to the consultation exercise on the draft regulations relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and Selective Licensing to be placed in the Libraries of the House.

EU Directive 2002/91/EC

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether (a) local authorities will be funded under the new burdens procedure for the implementation of articles 7 to 10 to EU directive 2002/91/EC and (b) the polluter pays principle will apply in relation to the implementation of these articles. (78260)

The EU energy performance of buildings directive will impact on a number of areas of local authority responsibility as it will on other property owners. The new burdens requirement does not apply to policies which apply the same rules to local authorities and to private sector bodies, unless these have a disproportionate effect on local government. My officials are engaging with key stakeholders including local authorities on how the directive will be implemented.

A statutory instrument and supporting regulatory impact assessment is scheduled for early 2007 and a decision on whether the new burdens procedure and funding applies will be taken at that point. Consistent with polluter pays principles this regulatory impact assessment will also include the social cost of carbon when assessing the costs and benefits of implementing articles 7 to 10 of the directive.

Fire Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many deliberate (a) vehicle fires and (b) fires there were in (i) Southend-on-Sea, (ii) Essex, (iii) Hertfordshire and (iv) England and Wales in each year since 1990. (80251)

The available information covers deliberate primary fires attended by fire and rescue services at the locations listed in (ii), (iii) and (iv) of the question.

Information for Southend-on-Sea is not available centrally.

Deliberate road vehicle primary fires attended by fire and rescue services 1990-91 to 2004-05

Essex

Hertfordshire

England and Wales

1990-91

682

368

25,433

1991-92

895

484

38,929

1992-93

840

533

44,631

1993-94

544

398

40,889

1994-95

679

422

34,561

1995-96

520

419

39,531

1996-97

610

376

39,315

1997-98

659

450

39,146

1998-99

783

448

46,880

1999-2000

1,123

782

59,580

2000-01

1,595

839

63,678

2001-02

1,696

894

73,695

2002-03

1,609

881

69,413

2003-04

1,463

824

63,535

2004-05

1,000

598

48,028

Deliberate primary fires in other locations attended by fire and rescue services 1990-91 to 2004-05

Essex

Hertfordshire

England and Wales

1990-91

452

278

23,628

1991-92

485

331

25,826

1992-93

417

349

27,411

1993-94

457

323

30,382

1994-95

656

341

37,807

1995-96

581

470

38,155

1996-97

479

497

37,908

1997-98

485

360

34,475

1998-99

540

387

31,723

1999-2000

634

424

34,962

2000-01

733

412

33,653

2001-02

788

429

38,092

2002-03

705

353

33,782

2003-04

670

437

36,529

2004-05

527

331

30,139

Notes:

1. Figures are based on the sampled data grossed to fires and rescue service totals.

2. Figures exclude any fires in November 2002 and January-February 2003 strike periods.

Source:

Fire and Rescue Service returns to DCLG

Home Information Packs

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to what criteria the energy performance certificate within home information packs will have to conform to meet the EU directive on the energy performance of buildings; what standard measurement scale will be used; whether different measurements will be required where there are different types of construction within the same building; and whether the energy performance certificate will be required to include information on (a) roof insulation, (b) cavity wall insulation, (c) hot water tank insulation and (d) improvements that could be made. (75419)

The regulations laid before Parliament on 14 June 2006 and made under part 5 of the Housing Act 2004 require that the Energy Performance Certificate within the Home Condition Report complies with the legislation implementing the EU energy performance of buildings directive.

The methodology used to prepare reports will be the reduced data standard assessment procedure (RDSAP) for residential property up to 450 sq m. For larger or more unusual homes, the methodology used will be the simplified building energy method (SBEM).

Home inspectors will collect a standard data set that identifies size, construction, levels of existing insulation, heating and heating controls. It will provide both energy and environmental impact ratings on an A-G grade. It will also give an indication of energy costs, suggestions for measures to cut energy bills and improve the home’s performance ratings, and for other measures to reduce CO2 emissions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the likely annual cost to vendors of home information packs; and what estimate she has made of the total annual value to purchasers of the packs. (76033)

The regulatory impact assessment published on 14 June 2006 alongside the home information pack regulations sets out the expected costs and benefits of home information packs. A copy of this document is in the House Library.

Estimates of the cost of the components of HIPs in the current market suggest an average cost of around £600 to £700 plus VAT to compile. Most of this cost is not new and is being met at present by both sellers and buyers. Some providers have already said they would offer HIPs at reduced cost or even free.

HIPs are expected to reduce the abortive and duplicated costs to consumers caused by failed transactions which result from survey or valuation inspection findings.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the annual number of derogations the Government will grant as a result of information for home information packs not being available at the time of sale. (76068)

The legislation does not provide for the Government to make derogations. The home information pack regulations laid on 14 June 2006 allow for cases where despite all reasonable efforts, certain documents are unavailable or cannot be obtained. In such cases, marketing may begin without those documents. Where documents are temporarily unavailable, efforts to obtain the missing information must continue, with documents added to the pack as soon as they are available. The pack must also make clear what information is missing, why, and what steps are being taken to obtain it.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the likely impact of home condition reports contained in home information packs on the market value of low value properties. (76086)

It is important that sellers and buyers should have reliable information about the condition of properties they are considering up front, particularly as this reduces significantly the risk of transaction failure, wasted costs, duplication and unexpected repair costs once the buyer has moved in. The Home Condition Report will bring transparency to the process and ensure that negotiations regarding sale price reflect the condition of the property.

The Government commissioned research in 2000 and 2003 on the potential implications of home information packs (HIPs) for low value and low demand properties. They also consulted in March 2003 on whether there should be special arrangements in such cases. The findings of the research and consultation showed that buyers, sellers and local property professionals felt that HIPs could help the functioning of the market in those areas, and that exempting particular properties or areas of properties could reduce demand and therefore prices even further.

Local Authority Employees (Assaults)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) physical and (b) verbal assaults there have been on local authority employees in each of the last five years, broken down by (i) employment type and (ii) region. (80866)

This information is not held centrally and cannot be collected without a disproportionate cost.

Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the letter sent by listing officers to local authority chief executives to which reference was made in ODPM council tax letter 1/2005. (70569)