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Written Answers

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 29 June 2006

House of Commons Commission

Departmental Finance Directors

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the House of Commons finance director. (80084)

The House’s director of finance and administration since 1997 is Andrew Walker. He has over 20 years experience in the Inland Revenue and HM Treasury in a variety of tax and management positions. He is assisted in his duties as finance director by appropriately qualified and experienced staff in the Financial Management Directorate. He is due to complete an accountancy qualification course (CIPFA) during 2007-08.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what recent estimates have been made of the level of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the House estate in the form of (a) carbon dioxide, (b) methane, (c) nitrous oxide, (d) tetrafluoromethane, (e) hexafluoroethane and (f) sulphur hexafluoride. (80773)

The total quantity of carbon dioxide emissions produced on, or attributable to, the House of Commons element of the parliamentary estate in 2005-06 is estimated at 10,300 tonnes. The released quantities of the other five greenhouse gasses are not measured but the quantities are estimated to be small.

Parliamentary Papers

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will make it his policy to ensure that unnumbered Command Papers are indexed in PIMS, together with their location and date of publication; and if he will make a statement. (81244)

The Library already indexes all unprinted Command Papers in PIMS. Unprinted (or unnumbered) commands appear in the Vote as being laid “by Command”, (as opposed to “by Act”), and are treated accordingly. They are given running numbers which start each session, for ease of retrieval. These numbers appear in PIMS. Each unprinted Command Paper is also retrievable by subject, issuing department, date or name of organisation etc.

Deputy Prime Minister

Rural Post Offices

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he will be taking to encourage cross-departmental working on the future of rural post offices. (79425)

As Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on the Post Office Network (MISC 33) set up in May of this year, I have a key role in bringing together different Departments to discuss issues relating to rural post offices and to deliver agreement on actions.

The Government remains committed to rural post offices as demonstrated by our £750 million package of support—£150 million per year for five years to 2008—through the Social Network Payment.

I will continue to work with ministerial colleagues to ensure that Government policy-making in this area is coordinated effectively.

Solicitor-General

Honour Crimes

22. To ask the Solicitor-General what work the Crown Prosecution Service is doing in relation to crimes known as honour crimes. (80904)

The CPS is determined that when these crimes are uncovered they will be prosecuted firmly, fairly and robustly. The CPS wishes to encourage victims and witnesses of honour crimes to come forward and send out a message that this behaviour will not be tolerated. They are working closely with partners in the criminal justice system and the community and voluntary sector to raise awareness and develop strategies for tackling and preventing honour crimes.

Sentencing

23. To ask the Solicitor-General if he will assess how the Crown Prosecution Service can better inform victims about the length of a sentence given to a criminal. (80905)

The Prosecutors’ Pledge, introduced by the Attorney-General in October 2005, requires prosecutors to support victims from point of charge through to any appeal. The Pledge underpins the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, implemented in April 2006. The Code requires Witness Care Units to explain to victims the effect of the sentence within one working day. Further information may be provided to victims who require it by the CPS or the Probation Service.

Craig Sweeney

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will refer the case of Craig Sweeney to the Court of Appeal as an unduly lenient sentence. (80898)

My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General is considering the papers in this case, and will reach a decision shortly. As in all cases of this type, he has to comply with a strict time limit of 28 days from the date the sentence was passed in making his decision.

The power to refer is exercised in the public interest. The Attorney will make his decision purely on the merits of the case and not in response to political or public pressure.

International Development

Departmental Finance Directors

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the finance director of his Department. (80083)

Richard Calvert is Director of Finance and Corporate Performance at DFID. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and has a masters degree in law. He has held a range of policy and operational posts in DFID including serving in the UK Delegation to the EU in Brussels, as Private Secretary to the Secretary of State, and as Head of the Information and Civil Society Department.

Before taking up his present post in September 2003, he worked on secondment as Head of Service Quality in the Children, Schools and Families Directorate at Hertfordshire county council.

Departmental Websites

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many websites there are within his responsibilities; and what the total cost of maintaining such websites was in the last year for which figures are available. (79064)

The information requested is as follows:

Overall costs maintaining DFID websites are as follows:

Main DFID website and two country office sites—£127,097 for 2005.

Developments magazine—£11,500 for 2005.

Research for Development portal—£293,464 set up costs for 2005.

Specialist audience sites include:

AIDSPortal—£355,000 since 2004.

Sending Money Home—£9,650 to set up. There are no maintenance costs.

Good Humanitarian Donorship initiative—£1,500 to set up. There are no maintenance costs.

Financial Deepening Challenge Fund’s website—average costs are £2,000 per year.

Illegal-Fishing.info—£40,000 to maintain in 2005.

Asia 2015 Conference website—£14,000 to set up and maintain in 2005.

PASS Livelihoods—£36,824 from October 2005-September 2006

The Business Linkages Challenge Fund—£2,565 for January-December 2005.

EC-PREP—£2,500 for January-December 2005.

There are a number of websites set up as part of DFID funding to contractors or professional organisations. Contractors are responsible for maintaining these and have therefore not been included here. Figures are included as part of the overall contract.

HIV/AIDS

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the recent UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS. (80322)

The United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting agreed a Political Declaration which met virtually all of the UK’s objectives, including: committing countries to develop, by the end of 2006, ambitious national plans to scale up towards universal access by 2010 to comprehensive HIV prevention programmes, treatment, care and support, with interim targets for 2008; to ensure that no credible, sustainable national plan should go unfunded, recognising the need to provide from donor countries, national budgets and other sources $20-23 billion annually by 2010 for AIDS responses; and to intensify efforts to develop new technology especially microbicides and vaccines.

Middle East

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions he has had with his counterparts from Arab states regarding their potential contribution to the temporary international mechanism to channel assistance directly to the Palestinian people; (80998)

(2) what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts about the sums of money the EU expects to commit to the temporary international mechanism to channel assistance directly to the Palestinian people set out in the European Council Presidency Conclusions of 15 and 16 June.

The UK has encouraged contributions to the temporary international mechanism for Palestinian basic needs from the European Union, Arab donors and other members of the international donor community. The European Community is making a contribution of €105 million. We are expecting individual EU member states to release statements regarding their contributions shortly. The mechanism is open to any donor that wishes to contribute.

Plant Breeding

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what funding has been allocated by his Department to strengthen public sector research on seed varieties (a) in the UK and (b) overseas; and if he will ask the World Bank to increase its lending for such projects; (79836)

(2) if he will list the public sector projects his Department has funded for plant breeding in developing countries in the last three years;

(3) whether his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned research into (i) the extent of the role of the private sector within the global seed industry and (ii) the impact of the private sector’s role on (A) developing new plant varieties for poor farmers and (B) the diversity of genetic resources available to public plant breeders.

DFID has allocated a total of £15.8 million to support public sector research on improved seed varieties, including plant breeding, over the past three years. The vast majority of research supported has been carried out overseas, with some advanced research being carried out at UK institutions, including the John Innes centre and the university of Leeds.

DFID is already working with the World Bank and other donors to see how we can increase the quality and quantity of aid given for agricultural research. For example, we are working in Africa to support regional agricultural research programmes. We expect this will lead to increased grants and loans for research from the World Bank and other donors. We expect some of these funds will be used to support plant breeding and development of new seed varieties that meet the needs of poor farmers.

DFID’s Plant Sciences Research Programme managed by the centre for arid zone studies at the university of Wales at Bangor allocated £3.6 million over the last three years for plant breeding research with overseas partners. This included work on: resistance of pearl millet to downey mildew, nematode resistance of rice, banana and potato, aluminium tolerance in wheat, new breeding methods based on farmer participation in design and selection of varieties of rice, maize and cassava, and genetic marker assisted methods for pearl millet improvement.

DFID also provides core funding to the international agricultural research centres of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Centres vary in the proportion of their budgets devoted to plant breeding. Of the core support DFID has given to centres, over the last three years, we estimate that £12.2 million has been used to support research on plant breeding and improving crop varieties for the benefit of poor people in developing countries.

DFID has not undertaken, or commissioned, research into the extent of, and impact on, the role of the private sector within the global seed industry. However policy research has been carried out which examined the pros and cons of revenue generation from public plant breeding and links to the private sector. (Tripp and Byerlee 2000, http://www.odi.org.uk/NRP/57.html). DFID is also supporting the Seeds of Development Programme managed by the university of Cornell. The purpose of this programme is to better understand the role of private sector in achieving agricultural growth which benefits poor people by improving their access to better quality seeds.

Somaliland

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department has provided to Loughborough university’s water engineering development centre in its work on developing Somaliland’s water programme. (80592)

We are aware of Loughborough university’s links with Somaliland. We do not support these directly but are funding a number of projects with UNICEF who have supported some of Loughborough university’s activities in Somaliland. UNICEF also undertake considerable work in water and sanitation with the authorities in Somaliland on behalf of DFID and a number of other donors.

Water Provision

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the role of private companies in delivering water in developing nations. (80321)

DFID’s assessment is that there are circumstances when the private sector can play a role in meeting the needs of poor people. This is because, in spite of extensive technical assistance, public water utilities in developing countries have found it difficult to improve their performance and outreach. This has come about for a variety of reasons that we need to understand and learn from. DFID continuously assesses and learns from examples of public and private sector participation in delivering water.

There are good and bad examples of both public and private service provision. The best approach often involves partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and communities. An important factor for success is effective regulation, with enforceable contracts that set out clearly what is expected. One example is a four-year public-private partnership in South Africa focusing on poor rural communities, which has brought water to more than nine million people in five provinces.

Trade and Industry

Animal Experiments

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what funding the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research received in 2005-06 (a) in total, (b) from the Medical Research Council, (c) the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, (d) from pharmaceutical companies and (e) from other sources; and what the percentage change in funding is for 2006-07. (80770)

The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3RS) received £954,402 from its funders during 2005-06 as follows:

£

Medical Research Council (MRC)

600,000

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

66,667

Home Office

125,000

Industry

75,000

Charity

75,000

Other

12,735

Total

954,402

The Centre’s budget for 2006-07 funding is projected to increase by 141 per cent.

Copyright Infringement

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what budget his Department has set for helping businesses combat (a) copyright infringement and (b) industrial espionage in each year since 1997. (80240)

The Department, especially through the Patent Office, helps businesses to combat copyright infringement in a number of ways, for example through raising awareness of the intellectual property system and the value of intellectual property, as well as coordinating enforcement action against intellectual property crime. However, as our awareness activities usually cover the whole range of intellectual property and as copyright infringement on a commercial scale is usually associated with other offences, we do not have figures available relating specifically to copyright infringement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received on copyright infringement. (80241)

I have not received any recent representations specifically relating to copyright infringement, apart from the hon. Member, although I am aware of the concerns of the creative industries in this area.

In December last year the Chancellor asked Andrew Gowers to lead an independent review of the Intellectual Property Framework. The review is looking at practical issues affecting businesses and consumers and will report to the Government this autumn.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many prosecutions for copyright infringements there have been in England and Wales in each year since 1997. (80242)

The following figures are the number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts under the various copyright offences in England and Wales.

Number of defendants

1997

169

1998

158

1999

152

2000

151

2001

110

2002

97

2003

111

2004

134

Notes: Figures for 2005 are not yet available. Figures relating to specifically copyright offences before the crown court are not available.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts under various copyright offences, England and Wales, 1997-20041.

Statute

Offence description

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Sec. 198 1a, b, d.iii. and Sec. 107 1a, b, d.iv and E.

Makes, imports or distributes illicit recordings. Makes for sale or hire, imports possesses or distributes articles which infringes copyright.

78

86

65

72

59

38

47

65

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Triable either way offences except sections included in 84/09.

2

2

2

2

2

2

8

9

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 S.107 2A and 4A as added by Copyright and Related Rights Regulations Reg. 26(1)

Person infringes copyright in a work by communicating the work to the public.

2

2

2

2

2

2

6

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 S.198 2A and 5A as added by Copyright and Related Rights Regulations Reg. 26 (3)

Person who infringes a performer’s making available right in the course of business/otherwise

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Summary offences.

91

72

87

79

51

59

56

51

1 These data are on the principal offence basis. 2 Not applicable as these offences were part of the 2003 Copyright and Related Rights Regulations. Source: RDS—Office for Criminal Justice Reform

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent estimate he has made of the cost of copyright infringement is to (a) the UK economy and (b) the EU economy. (80244)

Currently there are no reliable estimates of the value of counterfeit goods being sold in the UK. This lack of evidence makes it impossible to estimate the cost of copyright infringement to both the UK and the EU economies. But our recently published National Intellectual Property Enforcement Report provides a general assessment of the threats and challenges faced by IP rights’ owners and how our IP crime strategy is dealing with these issues.

The Patent Office and the DTI are helping to sponsor the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in an international study to develop methodologies and a clearer assessment of the scope and scale of counterfeiting and piracy throughout the world. The Study is scheduled to produce its first results towards the end of 2006.

The EU-US action strategy for the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights statement issued last week recognised the need for the OECD study to provide reliable data.

Counterfeit Goods

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent estimate he has made of the value of counterfeit goods sold in the UK. (80243)

There are currently no reliable estimates of the value of counterfeit goods being sold in the UK. But our recently published National Intellectual Property Enforcement Report provides a general assessment of the threats and challenges faced by IP rights’ owners and how our IP crime strategy is dealing with these issues.

The Patent Office and the DTI are helping to sponsor the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in an international study to develop methodologies and a clearer assessment of the scope and scale of counterfeiting and piracy throughout the world. The Study is scheduled to produce its first results towards the end of 2006.

Defence Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his Department’s areas of responsibility are with regards to (a) the defence industry and (b) the export of weapons. (80260)

The information is as follows:

(a) The Enterprise and Business Group of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is responsible for the Government’s manufacturing strategy. In this role, it promotes the legitimate interests of a wide range of UK businesses including the UK defence industry and its supply chain and also works to secure investment and research and development that bring benefits to the UK economy. It is Government policy, as set out in the Defence Industrial Strategy, for wider industrial factors to be taken into account on major defence equipment procurements and DTI contributes to this industrial analysis.

(b) Separately, the Department discharges the statutory functions vested in the Secretary of State by the ‘Export Control Act 2002’. Principally, this is to process applications for licences to export items whose export is controlled by that Act. This function is carried out by the Export Control and Non-Proliferation directorate, a part of Energy Group.

Departmental Websites

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many websites there are within his responsibilities; and what the total cost of maintaining such websites was in the last year for which figures are available. (79062)

We operate one core DTI website, www.dti.gov.uk, within which there are links to a wider community of websites managed by partner agencies and other arm’s length bodies. We are aware of 48 DTI websites hosted by other domains.

The support for the Department’s core website is included in the overall service charge paid monthly under the IT service contract in place since 1 April 1999. There is no separation of website costs in this charge.

Information about the Department’s other websites is not held centrally and to gather it would involve disproportionate cost.

Energy Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) of 12 June 2006, Official Report, column 874W, on the Energy Review, how many of the responses to the Energy Review were from (a) individuals, (b) businesses, (c) schools, (d) academia, (e) non-government organisations and (f) other organisations; and what proportions of each were (i) in favour of and (ii) opposed to the extension of nuclear energy generation. (80382)

We received over 5,300 responses to the Energy Review consultation, expressing a range of views on many aspects of the energy industry. Releasing figures for only some of the responses to the consultation, out of context and without accompanying analysis, has the potential to mislead the public by focusing on the views and comments of only one section of the respondents.

We will publish a summary of the responses to the Energy Review consultation in the coming weeks. The responses are currently being posted in full on the DTI website: www.dti.gov.uk/energy/review.

Nuclear Power Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much the Government spent on nuclear power in each of the last five years. (80832)

The Government’s expenditure on civil nuclear energy from 2001 to 2006 is set out as follows.

Figures for direct Government expenditure (but not including spending by the Research Councils) on nuclear fission are given in the following table:

Financial year

Nuclear fission (£ million)

2001-02

2.0

2002-03

2.1

2003-04

2.1

2004-05

2.2

2005-06

2.3

Note: Expenditure is in support of emergency support arrangements provided by the Met Office in the event of a nuclear release into the atmosphere, and includes a contribution towards the cost of the underpinning meteorological modelling capability

In addition, expenditure by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council on research in aspects of nuclear fission is as follows:

Financial year

Nuclear fission (£ million)

2001-02

0.33

2002-03

0.31

2003-04

0.21

2004-05

0.11

2005-06

0.95

Figures for nuclear fusion R and D are given in the following table:

Financial year

Nuclear fission (£ million)

2001-02

14.4

2002-03

14.6

2003-04

15.6

2004-05

19.5

2005-06

17.0

In terms of British Energy, a loan facility was provided to the company in 2002 to support it through its restructuring. This loan was re-paid in full with interest in December 2003 and no further drawings can be made. As a result of the restructuring which completed in January 2005, the Government have taken direct financial responsibility for BE’s historic spent fuel liabilities. The following payments have been made since restructuring to meet those historic spent fuel liabilities: 2004-05— £185 million; 2005-06—£189 million. The Government are also underwriting British Energy’s decommissioning fund to the extent that its liabilities outweigh its assets. In return the company is making enhanced payments into the fund. On current valuations, the assets of the fund exceed the liabilities.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) assumed responsibility for the UK’s historic nuclear legacy on 1 April 2005. The legacy is made up of experimental facilities created 30 and 40 years ago and which were built without any consideration at the time for future decommissioning and clean up. About 80 per cent. of the total legacy costs relate to Sellafield and Dounreay—neither of which ever produced much electricity. In its approved Strategy the NDA set out its proposals for nuclear clean up which is estimated to be £62.7 billion. This is the life time cost of clean up—likely to take up to 100 years plus to implement.

Under the 2004 Spending Review the NDA received a budget of £2.2 billion for 2005-06—about half of which was to be raised by the NDA’s commercial activities. Following the successful conclusion of the EC State Aid Review on 4 April 2006, financial responsibility for decommissioning BNFL sites has passed to the NDA under the Energy Act 2004. Until this point BNFL held nuclear funding assets of some £17.3 billion on its balance sheet to fund future decommissioning costs. Following the transfer of the nuclear decommissioning liability to the NDA, these assets have been transferred back to the Government.

Figures relating to spend by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs are unavailable and could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.

Racial Abuse Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints of racial abuse in his Department have been (a) investigated and (b) upheld in each of the last five years. (72903)

The number of formal complaints of discrimination on the grounds of race investigated and upheld in the past five years is contained in the following table:

Complaints made

Complaints upheld

2006 (to date)

0

0

2005

3

0

2004

5

2

2003

2

1

2002

3

0

Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support is being given by the Government to companies interested in generating energy from tidal lagoons. (76542)

This type of scheme is the application of conventional technology therefore the primary mechanism for Government support is the Renewables Obligation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received on tidal lagoon electricity generation; and what contribution he expects this method of generation to make to the Government’s targets for the use of renewables. (76543)

The Department has received a number of representations from two organisations regarding a single tidal lagoon project in the U.K.

The Government have set a target of 10 per cent. of electricity in the UK to come from renewables by 2010. However, we have not specified what level of contribution should come from individual technologies. That is left to industry, being consistent with the Government’s policy of an open and competitive energy market.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much public subsidy was given to the renewable energy industry in each of the last nine years. (80044)

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin) on 12 September 2005, Official Report, column 2262W.

Rural Post Offices

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 20 June 2006, Official Report, column 1748W, on the Rural Post Office Network, why he is not working to a specific timetable for the consultation on the future of the Rural Post Office Network. (80868)

With a funding support package of £150 million a year for the rural network in place until 2008, we believe it is more important to ensure that we have the fullest possible data and information on which to assess future options than to work to a prematurely predetermined consultation timetable.

Small Arms Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) standard individual trade control licences and (b) Open individual trade control licences have been issued to (i) York Guns, (ii) Jago Ltd. and (iii) Procurement Management Services Ltd. since June 2003 for the transfer of small arms from Bosnia to Iraq or any other destination countries. (80458)

Trade control licence applications are made to the Government in confidence and the information they contain is therefore exempt from disclosure. Further, the Government can neither confirm nor deny that an export licence has been applied for in this instance.

The Government publish details of trade control licences issued, in their annual and quarterly reports on strategic export controls. The Government’s annual reports are available from the Libraries of the House and the DTI Export Control Organisation website at http://www.dti.gov.uk/europeandtrade/strategic-export-control/index.html.

Smart Grids

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research he has commissioned into the evolution of smart grids to enhance the existing national grid. (80017)

The joint DTI/Ofgem/industry ‘distributed generation co-ordinating group’ (DGCG) commissioned a key study on this topic that was led by the Institution of Electrical Engineers to work with all parties in the sector to form a vision for future networks. This work reported last year—the “Technical Architecture” report is available at:

http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/temp/ofgem/cache/cmsattach/11732_ TA.pdf

The group’s work continues under the re-formed Electricity Networks Strategy Group (ENSG).

Separately, Ofgem and British academics, supported by DTI and British companies, have been active participants in the European Union’s Technology platform that has developed a vision for Europe’s Electricity Networks of the Future. Their ‘SmartGrids’ report was published recently and is available at:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/energy/pdf/smartgrids_en.pdf

Defence

Aerospace Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer by the Minister of State for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge) of 15 June 2006, Official Report, column 1410W, on the aerospace industry, what discussions he has had with BAE Systems on securing ongoing export contracts for the Brough site; and if he will make a statement. (79875)

The Government’s decision to acquire the Hawk 128 for the Royal Air Force helped to secure in 2004 a major order from India for 66 aircraft. The Government of Bahrain has also ordered the aircraft. The Ministry of Defence, through the Defence Export Services Organisation, is giving BAE Systems strong support to win further export orders.

My noble Friend, the Minister for Defence Procurement (Lord Drayson) has regular meetings with BAE Systems to discuss a range of topics, including matters affecting the company’s plans for work to be undertaken at their Brough site where the Hawk aircraft is manufactured.

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many mobilised reservists from each of the three services are deployed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (80722)

The number of reservists serving in specific areas of an operation’s Joint Operational Area (JOA) is not recorded. However, the number of reservists serving in the Operation HERRICK JOA on 31 May 2006 was:

Number

Royal Navy

2

Army

142

Royal Air Force

10

Aldermaston

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the planned expenditure on hydrodynamic testing at the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment is in each of the next three years. (78952)

It is planned to spend in the order of £5 million on hydrodynamic testing at the Atomic Weapons Establishment this year, rising to around £6 million by the end of 2007-08. The precise budget beyond that has not been finalised.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the projected capital costs are for the construction of the centralised Explosive Handling Facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston. (79093)

Mature costings are not available and disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice commercial interests.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the projected capital costs are for the construction of new Material Science facilities at the Atomic Weapons Establishment sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield. (79094)

Mature costings are not available and disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice commercial interests.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are to introduce a petaflop computing capability at the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment. (79095)

Petaflop technology is not expected to be available before the end of the decade.

Ballistic Missile Interceptors

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions the Government have had with US authorities on siting land based ballistic missile interceptors in (a) the UK and (b) UK territorial waters. (80385)

Officials work closely with the United States on joint technology programmes and to further our understanding of the US ballistic missile defence system. Their discussions include the modelling of possible missile defence architectures. However, we have had no discussions about the use of specific sites for interceptors in the United Kingdom.

Defence Training Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates his Department has met (a) employees and (b) consultants of Foresight Communications to discuss (i) the Defence Training Review and (ii) other matters, in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (78110)

To my knowledge, no members of the Ministry of Defence who are involved with the Defence Training Review have met employees or consultants of Foresight Communications in the last 12 months. I cannot answer for everyone within the Department on this matter as the information is not held centrally and would incur disproportionate costs to retrieve.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 20 June 2006, Official Report, column 709W, on departmental staff, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the change in the number of staff failing to achieve an acceptable mark in their annual report since 2002-03; and what measures have been put in place to address the issue. (80789)

The increase in numbers year on year was partly due to the introduction of industrial staff to performance appraisal as part of the Ministry of Defence four year pay deal. Also, the figures provided in the answer of 20 June 2006, Official Report, column 709W, were, as explained, a snapshot at the end of the reporting year. We have, throughout the pay deal, raised line manager awareness of the impact on pay of failing to address poor performance at the end of the reporting year and the increase in numbers show that managers were responding to this. The Department remains keen for line managers to deal with poor performers and to manage them out if they do not respond to encouragement and assistance to improve their performance.

Departmental Televisions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many television sets are in operation in the Department (a) in total, (b) in Minister's private offices and (c) in each office building in the Department; and how many television licences are held by the Department. (62798)

The information requested on the total number of televisions, their locations and licenses is not held centrally and could not be collected without disproportionate cost and effort. However, in respect of the Department's three central London office buildings, there are 100 televisions in the Main Building—of which there is one in the office of each of the four Ministers; 83 in the Old War Office Building; and 10 in St. George's Court. Two TV licences are held for the Main Building, and one each for the Old War Office Building and St. George's Court.

Future Aircraft Carrier Project

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what impact he expects negotiations with the US Administration on the transfer of technology and software for the Joint Strike Fighter to have on the Future Aircraft Carrier Project. (80723)

[holding answer 27 June 2006]: We remain optimistic that our negotiations with the US administration on the transfer of technology and software for the Joint Strike Fighter will be successful and as such will have no impact on the Future Aircraft Carrier programme. We remain fully committed to the Future Aircraft Carrier programme which represents a quantum step up in military capability for the UK’s armed forces.

Hutton Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 16 June 2006, Official Report, columns 1524-25W, on the Hutton Report, at what time of day, and on what day, the press statement from his predecessor, the right hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon), reference 168/03 and dated 19 July 2003, available on the Government News Network website, was (a) cleared for release and (b) released under embargo to the media. (81218)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 16 June 2006, Official Report, columns 1524-25W.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many mobilised reservists are deployed in Iraq, broken down by service. (80721)

On 31 May 2006 each service had the following number of reserve personnel serving in the Operation TELIC Joint Operational Area:

Number

Royal Navy

1

Royal Marines

2

Army

422

Royal Air Force

63

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to publish the findings of the investigation into the fatal attack of 13 May on British troops serving in Basra. (80869)

The Service Police Report resulting from the Royal Military Police (Special Investigation Branch) investigation into the fatal attack of 13 May on British troops serving in Basra is not yet complete. Service Police Reports are not made public, although they are provided to the relevant Coroner’s Office for use at the inquest.

It has yet to be decided whether a Service Board of Inquiry into this incident will be held. If there is to be a Board of Inquiry, its findings will be made available to the next of kin of the deceased once it is complete.

The Army is in contact with the families of the deceased soldiers and is keeping them informed of developments.

Joint Personnel Administration

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes (a) have been made and (b) are planned to (i) concessionary travel, (ii) living allowances, (iii) other allowances and (iv) compensation for each of the armed forces as a consequence of the introduction of Joint Personnel Administration; and if he will make a statement. (79662)

Due to the amount of information requested I have placed a detailed response in the Library of the House.

Joint Striker Fighter

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions his Department has had with the US Defense Department on sharing of (a) stealth technology and (b) flight control software for the Joint Strike Fighter project. (80724)

[holding answer 27 June 2006]: As part of the continuing process of preparing to operate the Joint Strike Fighter as a sovereign capability, Ministers and senior officials have had a wide range of discussions with US counterparts on all aspects of the Joint Strike Fighter programme. As my noble Friend, the Minister for Defence Procurement, has previously explained in another place, those discussions have raised the issue of information access and explained the UK’s requirements for operational sovereignty. These detailed discussions continue and we remain optimistic that they will be successful.

Meteor Beyond-visual-range Air-to-air Missile

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the results of MBDA’s first test firing of the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile on 9 May; and whether the development of the Meteor missile is on schedule. (79542)

The first firing of a Meteor missile took place on 9 May. The missile maintained full guidance control throughout its planned flight. Data were successfully collected during the flight and the debris was recovered. A second firing was successfully conducted on 20 June, the data from which are now being analysed.

The Meteor programme remains on schedule to achieve the in-service date declared in the Major Project Report 2005.

Missile Effectiveness

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the (a) Storm Shadow air-launched cruise and (b) Brimstone anti-tank guided missile, with particular reference to deployment in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan; and whether it is meeting military requirements. (79539)

The Ministry of Defence conducts assessment of its weapons systems on a regular basis. Details of these assessments cannot be released as this could prejudice the safety and security of our armed forces.

Project Hyperion

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the conclusions of Project Hyperion will be announced. (80796)

Suicide Vulnerability

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what right of appeal is available to a trainee in the UK armed services discharged as a result of being discovered to be at risk following an assessment made as a part of the suicide vulnerability risk management policy. (79840)

Service personnel are not discharged from the armed forces as a result of being discovered to be at risk following an assessment made as part of suicide risk management policies.

There are a number of reasons why service personnel could be discharged from the armed forces, such as for medical reasons, on compassionate grounds, or because the individual is thought to be temperamentally unsuitable to service life. If a service person does not agree with the reason for their discharge, they have the right to submit a redress of complaint. If an individual is discharged on medical grounds they may also submit an appeal to a Medical Appeal Board.

Training Exercises

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of training exercises have been suspended in the last 12 months. (81143)

Of the 548 training events recorded in the Defence Exercise Programme for the period 1 July 2005-30 June 2006, 63 (11 per cent.) were suspended.

Trident

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether evidence from experiments conducted in (a) existing and (b) proposed hydrodynamic testing facilities will be used to support the decision on whether to reuse or replace the Trident warhead pit. (79090)

Evidence from hydrodynamics experimentation, both current and future, represents an essential supporting element in all decisions in connection with UK warhead assurance and in-service life.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the (a) Trident missile, (b) nuclear warheads, (c) guidance systems and (d) submarine launch platforms are each expected to be (i) no longer available and (ii) beyond refurbishment. (81340)

The expected life of each element of the UK’s nuclear deterrent was set out in a memorandum provided by the Ministry of Defence to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, which was published on the Committee’s website on 20 January 2006 (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm20 0506/cmselect/cmdfence/835/835m04.htm).

Work and Pensions

Child Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the likely effect on child poverty of proposals in A New Deal for Welfare: Empowering People to Work to introduce the Employment and Support Allowance. (77937)

We believe that work is the best route out of poverty. It builds family aspirations, fosters greater social inclusion and can improve an individual’s health and well-being. Our Green Paper sets out proposals aimed at achieving an employment rate equivalent to 80 per cent. of the working age population. We will do this by reducing the number of people on incapacity benefits, by helping lone parents into work and by increasing the number of older workers.

We propose to significantly reduce the number of people claiming incapacity benefits through a three pronged approach: reducing the number of people who leave the workplace due to illness; increasing the number leaving benefits and better addressing the needs of all those on benefit with additional payments to the most severely disabled people.

Work is still under way in relation to the proposals, and an assessment of the potential impact on child poverty will form part of this. We are currently reviewing the DWP contribution to reducing child poverty across all current and planned policies and, in the autumn, we will be setting out our new strategy for how we can make faster progress towards reaching our goal of halving child poverty by 2010.

Child Support Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many and what proportion of cases recorded on the Child Support Agency old rules scheme would pay (a) increased and (b) decreased payments if migrated to the new rules scheme. (77946)

For those cases with a full maintenance assessment on the child support computer system (CSCS) in February 2006, we estimate that around (a) 60 per cent. would have an increased liability and (b) 40 per cent. would have a decreased liability if the new scheme rules were applied to their current reported circumstances.

We estimate that the majority of changes in maintenance liabilities will be for less than £10 per week. To give non-resident parents and parents with care time to adjust to their new amount, most changes are phased in by fixed annual steps.

Source: Child support computer system five per cent. extract, February 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the average number of Child Support Agency staff who are involved in each case from first application to the establishment of regular payments. (77947)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many unprocessed cases were held by the Child Support Agency during each month of the last year for which figures are available; (77949)

(2) what his latest estimate is of the backlog of new claims held by the Child Support Agency.

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his latest estimate is of the backlog of new claims held by the Child Support Agency.

You also asked how many unprocessed cases were held by the Child Support Agency during each month of the last year for which figures are available.

As at March 2006, the Agency had a total 333,000 uncleared potential applications. This consisted of 66,000 old scheme applications and 267,000 new scheme applications. These figures can be found in table 1 and table 2.1 of the latest issue Agency’s ‘Quarterly Summary Statistics’ (QSS), a copy of which is available in the House library.

The following table shows the number of uncleared potential applications across both schemes for each month of the last year.

Although the total volume of uncleared potential applications fell by 8% between January 2005 and March 2006, the Agency recognises that this remains unacceptably high. The Agency therefore has a 2006/07 target to ensure that, by March 2007, the volume of new scheme uncleared applications outstanding at March 2006 is reduced by 25 %.

Number of uncleared potential applications across both schemes, March 2006

Total agency uncleared applications

New scheme uncleared applications

Old scheme uncleared applications

April 2005

352,000

266,000

86,000

May 2005

346,000

265,000

82,000

June 2005

341,000

263,000

78,000

July 2005

340,000

263,000

76,000

August 2005

339,000

264,000

75,000

September 2005

333,000

261,000

73,000

October 2005

331,000

262,000

70,000

November 2005

328,000

259,000

69,000

December 2005

327,000

259,000

68,000

January 2006

327,000

260,000

67,000

February 2006

332,000

265,000

67,000

March 2006

333,000

267,000

66,000

Notes:

1. The definition of an uncleared potential application differs between new and old schemes. Old scheme cases are considered cleared when they have been processed through to an assessment. New scheme cases are only considered cleared when they have received a calculation and have a payment schedule in place.

2. These figures include all uncleared potential applications from those received in the latest month to those received more than a year ago.

3. Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what his latest estimate is of the average time it takes the Child Support Agency to bring cases from first application to assessment; (77950)

(2) how many and what proportion of eligible parents received their first payment from the Child Support Agency within the target time of six weeks in each month of the last year for which figures are available.

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your Parliamentary Questions about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his latest estimate is of the average time it takes the Child Support Agency to bring cases from first application to assessment.

You also asked how many and what proportion of eligible parents received their first payment from the Child Support Agency within the time limit of six weeks in each month of the last year for which figures are available.

As at the end of March 2006, of those cases that progressed to calculation since the introduction of the new scheme, the average time from first contact to calculation was 181 days (26 weeks). Of such cases, 24 per cent received a calculation in less than 6 weeks; 48 per cent between 6 weeks and 6 months; 16 per cent between 6 months and a year; and 12 per cent took more than a year.

It should be noted, however, that the Agency does not regard an application as being cleared once a calculation alone has been carried out, but only once collection arrangements have been agreed with the non resident parent. Additionally, since not all Child Support Agency applications result in a calculation, an application is also defined as cleared if the case is closed; the parent with care is identified as claiming Good Cause or is subject to a Reduced Benefit Decision; or the application is identified as being a change of circumstances on an existing case as opposed to a new application.

As of the end of March 2006, for all cases cleared since the introduction of the new scheme, the mean average time taken to process a new-scheme application from the date of first contact to clearance, as defined above, was 204 days (29 weeks). Of those cases cleared, 25 per cent did so in less that 6 weeks; 41 per cent between 6 weeks and 6 months; 17 per cent between 6 months and a year; and 17 per cent took more than a year. These figures exclude 126,000 applications that came through the Jobcentre Plus interface and which have been cleared, but for which insufficient management information exists to enable age at clearance to be determined.

The Agency does not have a time limit for the time taken for a parent with care to receive their first payment. Information regarding the number and percentage of cases receiving a first payment within six weeks or longer is attached.

Once a case has received a calculation, a method of collection must be agreed with the non-resident parent and set up by the Agency which, in the cases of a Direct Debit or a Standing Order, may take a few weeks. The day on which payment is due from the non- resident parent is then specified by the Agency having taken in to account the date of any other income payable to the non-resident parent, which may result in a delay of up to 4 weeks to make payment to the Agency. The Agency then has to process the payment from the non-resident parent and make payment to the parent with care.

Delays may occur if a non resident parent does not comply. For an employed non-resident parent the Agency can then impose a Deductions from Earnings Order (DEO). Where this occurs, the Agency must contact and liaise with the employer to set up the DEO, wait for the subsequent payment from the employer, which in itself can take over 20 days, before money is available to be paid to the parent with care.

The elapsed times between a payment request by the Agency and actual payment by the non resident parent mean that, it is unlikely that it would be possible for many parents with care to receive maintenance payments within 6 weeks of their first contact with the Agency.

The Agency published its 2006 Client Charter on 28th April 2006. This sets out the minimum standards of service which we aim to meet in future for each of our main business areas. The first three service standards which relate to first contact and payments are attached.

I hope you find this helpful.

Number of cases where payment has been made from the Agency to the parent with care by time elapsed since first contact with the CSA

Number of cases receiving payment in

Date of intake

Less than 6 weeks

6 weeks or longer

Number of cases where payment not yet received

Total

January 2005

500

5,000

1,000

6,500

February 2005

500

5,000

1,500

7,000

March 2005

500

5,000

1,500

7,000

April 2005

500

5,000

1,500

7,000

May 2005

500

4,500

1,500

6,500

June 2005

500

5,000

1,500

7,000

July 2005

500

4,500

1,500

6,500

August 2005

500

4,000

1,500

6,000

September 2005

500

4,000

2,000

6,500

October 2005

500

3,500

2,000

6,500

November 2005

500

3,500

2,500

6,500

December 2005

500

2,000

2,000

4,500

Percentage of cases where payment has been made from the Agency to the parent with care by time elapsed since first contact with the CSA

Percentage of cases receiving payment in

Date of intake

Less than 6 weeks

6 weeks or longer

Percentage of cases where payment not yet received

Total

January 2005

5

76

19

6,500

February 2005

6

76

19

7,000

March 2005

5

74

21

7,000

April 2005

6

73

21

7,000

May 2005

6

73

21

6,500

June 2005

7

70

23

7,000

July 2005

7

69

23

6,500

August 2005

8

66

26

6,000

September 2005

9

64

28

6,500

October 2005

10

57

33

6,500

November 2005

10

54

36

6,500

December 2005

7

47

46

4,500

Note: Numbers are rounded to the nearest 500, and percentages to the nearest whole percent. As such, components may not sum to totals.

Child Support Agency Client Charter—Service standards relating to first contact and payment

Standard 1

If the parent with care can give us contact details for the non-resident parent, we will start gathering information from the non- resident parent within four weeks of the application being received. We will aim to make an accurate decision on the application within 12 weeks, but in some cases this may take as long as 26 weeks.

If we do not have current contact details for the non-resident parent, we will trace them as quickly as we can. These applications may take longer to progress. In the small number of cases where we cannot trace the non-resident parent, we will not be able to progress the application.

Standard 2

Where we are collecting child maintenance, we aim to make a first payment to the parent with care within six weeks of making the initial payment arrangements with the non-resident parent.

If the non-resident parent has a job but either fails or refuses to pay, we will aim to obtain payment via a Deduction from Earnings Order (DEO) within four months of making initial payment arrangements.

Where the non-resident parent has still not paid four months after initial payment arrangements were made, we will refer the case to our specialist enforcement unit.

Standard 3

We will make maintenance payments to parents with care within a week of receiving the money from the non-resident parent.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average administration cost per case on (a) the new and (b) the old Child Support Agency scheme was in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (77953)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the average administration cost per case on (a) the new scheme and (b) the old scheme was in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

The Child Support Agency is funded to administer child support applications and payments regardless of whether the case is administered on the new scheme or the old scheme. The actual costs of administering child support cases under each scheme are not separately identified and as such we cannot supply information to the level of detail required.

The cost of administering the Child Support Agency in 2004/05 was £325.6 million. Figures for 2005/06 will be available when the Agency's Annual Report and Accounts are published. A change in accounting policy proposed by the Department for Work and Pensions, will lead to a restatement of 2004/05 expenditure reported in the Agency's annual accounts. This reflects the incorporation of costs associated with the Modernisation Programme in the accounts of individual Agencies rather than charging such costs directly to the central Departmental Resource Account. It is expected that the restated 2004-05 figure will increase expenditure to around £425 million. Costs for 2005/06 will be prepared on the same basis.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints have been made to the Child Support Agency in each year for which figures are available. (77954)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Stephen Geraghty. He will write to the hon. Member with the requested information.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many complaints were made to the Child Support Agency in each year for which figures are available.

The volumes of complaints received direct from clients, their representatives and MPs to the Child Support Agency or to our Ministers, for which information is available, are in the attached table.

It should be noted that it is difficult to use this information to make meaningful comparisons over time due to changes in the way that information has been recorded. In particular whilst the volume of stage 1 written complaints undoubtedly rose between 2002-03 and 2003-04, this is likely to have been due in part to more rigorous recording of complaints received at the time, and the introduction by the Agency of a three tier complaints process during 2003-04.

It should also be noted that the volume of complaints has stabilised. In the twelve months up to March 2006, the Agency received a total of 55,000 complaints. This compares to 55,000 for the 12 months up to May 2005 (the earliest period for which comparable data for total numbers of complaints received is available).

Further, to put the attached figures into context, the 55,000 complaints received in the 12 months to March 2006 represent less than 4% of the 1.5 million cases dealt with by the CSA.

I hope you find this answer useful.

Agency complaints—number of cases received in the Agency 1997 to 2006

1997-98

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Stage 1 complaints received (Written)

27,875

28,073

21,015

19,634

15,493

15,182

24,809

29,213

27,344

Stage 1 Complaints received (telephone)

1

1

1

1

1

2

7,458

10,570

10,660

Chief Executive Complaints

3

3

3

4,096

4,555

7,804

4

5

5,887

Treat Official Complaints6

3

3

3

2,609

2,869

1,344

1,521

1,108

1,278

MP Complaints to Business Units

3

3

3

4,175

4,818

4,537

5,317

8,871

9,729

1 Whilst the Agency did receive stage 1 telephone complaints prior to 2002-03, their volumes were not recorded. 2 Although 671 stage 1 telephone complaints were recorded between December 2002 and March 2003, their volumes were not recorded throughout the whole year, thus preventing meaningful comparison with later years. 3 Whilst the Agency did receive complaints directly to the Chief Executive, treat official complaints, and MP complaints to Business Units prior to 2000/01, their volumes were not recorded. 4 During 2003-04 complaints sent directly to the Chief Executive were not recorded separately from those complaints that were escalated to him as part of the 3-stage process. Therefore, although 7,183 complaints in total were received during 2003-04, it is not possible to separate out those complaints received by the Chief Executive directly (as opposed to those escalated via the complaints process), thus preventing meaningful comparison with data for earlier years. 5 In April and May of 2004, the Chief Executive received a total of 1,435 complaints however, is not possible to separate out those complaints received by the Chief Executive directly, as opposed to those escalated to stage 3 of the complaints process). From June 2004-March 2005, after which time such complaints were recorded separately, the Chief Executive received 4,393 direct complaints and 2,549 complaints escalated upwards from stage 2. Again, these recording issues prevent meaningful comparison of this category with earlier years. 6 Treat official letters are those received by a Minister from a member of the public, and referred for initial consideration to an official of the agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the average time taken to resolve complaints to the Child Support Agency about (a) old scheme cases and (b) new scheme cases. (77956)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what his latest estimate is of the average time taken to resolve complaints to the Child Support Agency about (a) old scheme cases and (b) new scheme cases.

The Agency had a 2005/06 internal target to ensure that 68% of stage one client complaints were resolved or had a resolution plan in place within 15 working days of receipt of the complaint from the client.

I cannot provide the average time taken to resolve complaints but information on the Agency's 2005/06 performance against this standard is set out in the table below.

Percentage of complaints which have been resolved, or have a resolution plan within 15 working days of receipt of the complaint for 2005/06

Old child support scheme

90

New child support scheme

88

Overall

89

Note: This target is measured by checking a 10% sample of cases which have been resolved or have a resolution plan in place.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to process compensation payments made to Child Support Agency clients for administrative errors was in 2005-06. (77957)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time taken to process compensation payments made by Child Support Agency clients for administrative errors was in 2005-6.

Financial redress is made to clients in cases where maladministration has occurred. The Agency does not hold robust information to distinguish administrative errors from other acts of maladministration.

However, in the 2005/06 financial year 80% of financial redress payments for maladministered cases were processed within 30 days

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the 10 largest total (a) compensation and (b) maladministration payments made by the Child Support Agency to a single individual have been since May 1997, including separate payments made in relation to a single case requiring compensation; and if he will make a statement. (77958)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds, dated 29 June 2006:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the 10 largest total (a) compensation and (b) maladministration payments made by the Child Support Agency to a single individual including separate payments made in relation to a single case requiring compensation have been since May 1997; and if he will make a statement.

The Agency does not have sufficient robust information to give you precisely the information you requested. I apologise for this but can give you information on the ten highest financial redress payments awarded due to maladministration between the period 1 December 2001 to 31 May 2006.

The table below contains the available information.

£

1

41,000.00

2

27,961.66

3

22,160.08

4

19,965.36

5

19,056.49

6

18,980.90

7

16,000.00

8

14,905.97

9

14,732.40

10

14,648.55

Maladministration and compensatory payments in excess of £10,000 represent a small fraction (just over 0.01%) of the total number of such payments made by the Agency.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the total cost was of compensation payments made to clients of the Child Support Agency for administrative errors in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (77959)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds, dated 29 June 2006:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the total cost of compensation payments made to clients of the Child Support Agency for administrative errors was in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

Financial redress is made to clients in cases where maladministration has occurred. The Agency does not hold robust information to distinguish administrative errors from other acts of maladministration.

The following table summarises the financial redress payments made to clients in each of the last five years, as outlined in the Agency's Annual Report and Accounts. Figures for 2005-06 will be available in the Agency's 2005-06 Annual Report and Accounts.

Financial redress paid to clients (£)

2000-01

3,053,000

2001-02

2,590,000

2002-03

2,478,000

2003-04

2,331,000

2004-05

3,043,000

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints of (a) harassment, (b) bullying and (c) discrimination in the workplace there were against Child Support Agency staff in each of the last five years for which figures are available. (77960)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many cases of (a) harassment (b) bullying and (c) discrimination have been reported to the Child Support Agency in each of the last five years.

The numbers of harassment, bullying and discrimination cases formally reported to the Agency in the last five years are as follows:

Number of cases reported

2001/02

49

2002/03

32

2003/04

44

2004/05

22

2005/06

18

The nature of the complaints does not allow separation of the data into the constituent elements of harassment, bullying and discrimination.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the proportion of sickness absence days taken in a year at the Child Support Agency which were due to stress and other mental health problems. (77961)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive.

He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds, dated 29 June 2006:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As the Chief Executive is out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the proportion of sickness absence days taken at the Child Support Agency in the last five years that were due to stress and other mental health problems.

The table below shows the absences broadly due to stress and other mental health problems as a percentage of total sickness absences.

Percentage

January 2001-December 2001

28.8

January 2002-December 2002

28.3

April 2003-March 2004

31.8

April 2004-March 2005

32

April 2005-March 2006

26.7

Figures for January 2003 to March 2003 are unavailable as a change in methodology for collection of sickness data was introduced in April 2003.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) absence rates due to sickness and (b) turnover rates for Child Support Agency staff were for each year since 1995-96. (77967)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As the Chief Executive is out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the (a) absence rates due to sickness and (b) turnover rates for Child Support Agency staff were for each year since 1995-96.

The tables below provide the information requested.

Year ending

Annual sickness rate (average working days lost per member of staff, expressed in full-time equivalent terms)

December 1999

12.5

December 2000

11.9

December 2001

12.3

December 2002

12.9

March 2003

13.7

March 2004

15.6

March 2005

15.9

March 2006

12.0

Year ending March:

Turnover rates (Percentage)

1999

27.6

2000

17.1

2001

14.6

2002

14.6

2003

13.0

2004

14.9

2005

16.6

2006

13.6

Notes: 1. Data prior to 1999 are not available. 2. Due to a change in methodology for collection of sickness data introduced in April 2003, the year end dates have changed from December to March.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the key performance metrics are for measuring the performance of the EDS contract with the Child Support Agency. (77969)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply for the Chief Executive. As he is out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what the key performance metrics are for measuring the success of the EDS contract with the Child Support Agency.

In August 2005, the Department realigned its IT contracts with Electronic Data Systems (EDS), including that covering the Child Support Reforms (CSR), into the Standard Services Business Allocation (SSBA). The realigned contract is intended to deliver industry standard services at market competitive prices to the Department as a whole including Child Support Agency.

Under the SSBA, EDS is required to meet contractual levels for live operational services across a full range of industry standard measures. The key criteria on which EDS' performance is measured in respect of CS2 (the principal IT system used by the CSA) are:

The level of system availability (where the current target is 99.2%, rising to 99.6% over time);

The level of desktop infrastructure availability (where the current target is 99.2%, rising to 99.4% over time);

Accuracy and timeliness of payments to parents with care (where the target is 100%).

The Department is entitled to financial remedies if these targets are not met. In addition, the Department can benchmark EDS services against external industry comparators to help achieve ongoing performance and value for money.

The general contract realignment included resolution of outstanding CSR contractual issues with EDS. As part of this agreement, EDS is required to deliver a staged programme of work to fix agreed defects on CS2. The Department is monitoring delivery of this programme to planned milestone dates and to agreed testing acceptance and implementation quality criteria. Once all the relevant services have been transformed, application reliability, which affects processing times, will also become a contractual service level.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library the latest list of change requests made to EDS by the Child Support Agency. (77972)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent parliamentary question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will place in the Library the latest list of change requests made to EDS by the Child Support Agency.

The following table shows the latest list of change requests made by the Child Support Agency.

Change requests

Benefits

CR1 (chargeable defects)

This allows the business to prioritise and approve small IT fixes during the testing phase which are identified as chargeable, without delaying the current testing and delivery timescales.

Change Release 1.1 (Integration Test Project)

To ensure continuity of the development activity for Change Release 1.1 whilst business requirements are re-affirmed.

Management Information Improvement Project

This will supply management information for the key core process areas of the business to assist performance management.

Call Off Scans

This will allow the Agency to meet its legal requirement to maintain the accuracy of data on the CS2 system and also allow the business to obtain detailed case information.

HSBC Bank Files

This updates and changes the way bank files are handled between the Agency/Department and HSBC and creates an automatic link between the banking system and Agency systems.

Programme Launch

This will ensure that a defined and contracted programme of work is accepted, is jointly regarded as representing the best IT solution to support of the Agency’s change programme. In turn this will mean that relevant EDS resource can be effectively and efficiently managed and projects implemented.

Year- end scans on FMS

This will allow the analysis of Agency debt to support year- end accounting activities, the development of policy proposals and emerging plans.

Weeding and Archiving

This allows the Agency to maintain efficient weeding and archiving of data.

Data Management System Performance Changes

This will reduce the overall time of the Data Management System batch run, and thereby minimise impact on the online working day start time.

Notifications Survey - DWP (CSA)

This will improve clarity of client notifications.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many telephone calls to the Child Support Agency (a) were received, (b) received an engaged tone and (c) were disconnected during the interactive voice response process in the period April 2002 to May 2006. (77973)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many telephone calls to the Child Support Agency (a) were received, (b) received an engaged tone, (c) were disconnected during the interactive voice response process in the period April 2002 to May 2006.

The latest information is contained in the table. Please note that point (c) has been interpreted as referring to the total number of calls abandoned (for example, by clients who do not have a National Insurance number to hand and hang up to go and find it before calling back) or lost during the automated part of the process.

Further information on the Agency’s telephony performance is available in Table 16 of the latest edition of the Agency’s Quarterly Summary of Statistics. A copy of this document is available in the House library, as well as on the internet, at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/csa.asp.

The Agency has shown significant and sustained improvement in telephony performance. Specifically:

Average waiting times to answer calls from the queue improved in 2005/06 compared to 2004/05, from 2:29 minutes to 1:21 minutes for new system calls; and 0:56 seconds to 0:28 seconds for old system calls.

In 2005/06, 91% of the calls available in queues for Agency employees were answered. This is up from 84% in 2004/05.

I hope you find this helpful.

Telephony outcomes, 2002-03 to 2005-06

April 2002- March 2003

April 2003- March 2004

April 2004- March 2005

April 2005- March 2006

Attempted client calls to both CS2 and CSCS numbers

4,145,000

6,051,000

5,738,000

5,352,000

Calls for which outcome not recorded

45,000

145,000

48,000

42,000

Calls for which outcome recorded

4,100,000

5,906,000

5,689,000

5,310,000

Of which:

Calls that received an engaged/busy tone

See note

498,000

126,000

50,000

Calls abandoned/lost during the IVR process.

528,000

362,000

320,000

317,000

Notes: 1. Data is presented for calls made regarding cases on the new system (CS2) and the old system (CSCS) combined. 2. “Attempted client calls” excludes calls attempted outside working hours. 3. “Calls for which outcome not recorded” are those that were received but for which, due to data problems, the eventual outcome was not recorded. The volume of such calls has decreased significantly in the last 3 years as management information systems have improved. 4. “Calls for which outcome recorded” are those which were received and for which there is management information to track the eventual outcome. 5. IVR denotes the automated touch tone part of the process where clients enter their details via the telephone key pad. Once callers have cleared this part of the process, they enter a queue to be answered by a CSA employee. Note that there is no IVR process on the old system. 6. Numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what policies are in place with regard to (a) migrating Child Support Agency cases on the old rules system to the new rules system and (b) migrating them back onto the old rules system. (77978)

We have always said that we would not consider transferring the bulk of the old scheme cases onto the new scheme until the new scheme was working well.

Child support legislation allows an old scheme case to transfer to the new scheme where an old scheme case has prescribed links to a new scheme application.

There is no policy for converting cases back to the old scheme. But where a re-application for child support maintenance is made within 13 weeks of an old scheme application ceasing, “linking rules” will provide for the new application to be assessed under old scheme rules.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what total amount of outstanding debt is owed to parents with care via the Child Support Agency; and what proportion of this is deemed uncollectable. (77980)

The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Hilary Reynolds:

In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply form the Chief Executive. As he is currently out of the country, I am responding on his behalf.

You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what total amount of outstanding debt is owed to parents with care via the Child Support Agency; and what proportion of this is deemed uncollectable.

The outstanding debt balance for 2004/05 is £3,252.75 million for both new scheme and old scheme cases, of which £1,984.42 million has been classified as probably uncollectable. This information is shown the table below.

2004-05

Debt Position (£ million)

Collectable

637.79

Possibly uncollectable

599.54

Deferred

31.00

Probably uncollectable

1984.42

Total

3252.75

I am unable to provide the outstanding debt amount owed to the parent with care as there is no differential applied to the outstanding debt balance between the Secretary of State and the parent with care.

This response is based on the position at the end of the financial year 2004/05. The 2005/06 figures are currently being audited by National Audit Office and will be published in the Agency's Annual Report and Accounts.

Definitions of Collectability of Debt

Collectable

Amount outstanding which the debt analysis exercise revealed is likely to be collected. This takes into account factors such as regular contact with the non-resident parent, where regular payments are being made or an arrears agreement has been set up.

Possibly Uncollectable

Amounts outstanding which the debt analysis exercise revealed some uncertainty over whether it will be collected. The amounts are considered doubtful where, for example, payments have been infrequent or it has not been possible to establish an arrears agreement or impose a deduction of earning order.

Deferred Debt

Debt deferred by the Agency, provided non-resident parents meet certain conditions on payment of regular maintenance and the remaining debt outstanding.

Probably Uncollectable

Amount outstanding which the debt analysis exercise revealed is likely to be very difficult to collect due, for example, to the lack of contact with, or the personal circumstance of, the non-resident parent. In many of these cases the Agency has suspended recovery action until such time as the individual's circumstances change.

I hope you find this response helpful.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in prison have Child Support Agency maintenance liabilities. (79616)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average time was which the Child Support Agency took for processing a change in circumstances applications in (a) 2001-02, (b) 2002-03, (c) 2003-04, (d) 2004-05 and (e) 2005-06. (81228)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many variations to Child Support Agency payment schedules were granted on the grounds of (a) assets, (b) lifestyle inconsistent with income, (c) diversion of income and (d) income not taken into account purposes in (i) 2004-05 and (ii) 2005-06. (81229)

Child Support Agency (Scotland)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Scotland have been transferred over to the new Child Support Agency system. (80166)

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much industrial injuries disablement benefit was underpaid in each year since 1997; and how much was underpaid due to (a) fraud, (b) customer error and (c) official error in each year. (77989)

Mesothelioma

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many mesothelioma diagnoses have been made by his Department in connection with a claim for industrial injuries disablement benefit in the last three years; and how many of these were posthumous claims for backdated benefit; (79109)

(2) what the occupations were of claimants of industrial injuries disablement benefit for mesothelioma in the last three years.

[holding answer 20 June 2006]: The available information is in the following table. Although included in the table, information on the number of posthumous claims for backdated benefit is not available separately.

Mesothelioma diagnoses in connection with a claim to industrial injuries disablement benefit by occupation

Number

2002

2003

2004

2005

All occupations

1,000

1,170

1,345

1,175

11

Corporate managers

15

25

15

15

12

Managers and proprietors in agriculture and services

5

5

21

Science and technology professionals

60

95

105

90

22

Health professionals

5

23

Teaching and research professionals

5

10

10

10

24

Business and public service professionals

5

5

5

5

31

Science and technology associate professionals

45

40

50

35

32

Health and social welfare associate professionals

5

5

10

33

Protective service occupations

10

10

10

5

34

Culture, media and sports occupations

5

35

Business and public service associate professionals

10

10

15

5

41

Administrative occupations

20

20

35

20

42

Secretarial and related occupations

5

5

10

10

51

Skilled agricultural trades

5

5

10

10

52

Skilled metal and electrical trades

270

310

350

290

53

Skilled construction and building trades

265

285

335

315

54

Textiles, printing and other skilled trades

15

25

20

30

61

Caring personal service occupations

5

5

5

5

62

Leisure and other personal services occupations

5

5

10

10

71

Sales occupations

5

10

10

5

72

Customer service occupations

5

5

81

Process, plant and machine operatives

115

150

160

140

82

Transport and mobile machine drivers and operatives

20

35

35

45

91

Elementary trades, plant and storage related occupations

90

110

115

100

92

Elementary administration and service occupations

20

15

20

15

Notes:

1. The table uses the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-8).

2. Figures for 2005 are for nine months only and are provisional.

3. — Nil or Negligible.

4. Numbers are rounded to the nearest five.

Source:

All figures are from a 100 per cent. sample of clerical forms received from the Disablement Benefit offices.

National Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether under his proposals for pensions a man with childcare responsibilities requiring a career break will receive national insurance contribution credits. (80316)

As part of our package of proposed reforms, published in Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system (Cm 6841), we want to make the state pension scheme fairer and more widely available. The changes would give people more certainty about what state pension entitlement they are building up, while retaining the contributory principle.

Replacing home responsibilities protection with national insurance credits for those reaching state pension age on or after 6 April 2010 means the person awarded child benefit for a child under age 12—whether that is a man or a woman—would be entitled to national insurance credits. The credits, which would count towards both the basic and additional state pension in the same way as paid contributions, would therefore be available to men on career breaks if they were awarded the child benefit.

Pension Credit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many residents in each electoral ward in Carlisle constituency receive pension credit. (81105)

The information is in the following table.

Pension credit individual beneficiaries in Carlisle, November 2005

Ward name1

Individual beneficiaries2

Belah

225

Belle Vue

295

Botcherby

380

Burgh

45

Castle

305

Currock

255

Dalston

190

Denton Holme

365

Harraby

385

Morton

585

St. Aidans

320

Stanwix Urban3

230

Upperby

505

Yewdale

250

Carlisle constituency total

4,280

1 Wards are based on 2003 ward boundaries. 2 The number of individual beneficiaries includes both claimants and their partners. 3 Only part of Stanwix Urban ward falls within Carlisle parliamentary constituency. Note: Number of individual beneficiaries are rounded to a multiple of five, therefore ward totals do not always sum to area totals. Source: DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) 100 per cent. data.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many residents of Luton South receive pension credit, broken down by ward. (80509)

Pension credit individual beneficiaries for wards in Luton South parliamentary constituency, November 2005Ward name1Individual beneficiaries2Barnfield3170Biscot950Crawley285Dallow885Parley830High Town350Round Green540South630Stopsley305Wigmore360Caddington, Hyde and Slip End305Luton South constituency total5,420 1 Wards are based on 2003 ward boundaries. 2 The number of individual beneficiaries includes both claimants and their partners. 3 Only part of Barnfield ward falls within Luton South parliamentary constituency. Note: Number of individual beneficiaries are rounded to a multiple of five, therefore ward totals do not always sum to area totals. Source: DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study (WPLS) 100 per cent. data.

Pensioner Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what measures his Department has taken to reduce pensioner poverty in Coventry South since 1997. (80585)

The seventh annual ‘Opportunity for all’ report (Cm 6673) sets out the Government’s strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion and reports progress against a range of indicators.

The Government have introduced a number of measures since 1997 to help older people enjoy a better standard of living, such as minimum income guarantee, and then its successor, pension credit, winter fuel payments, free TV licences for over 75s and increases above inflation in the basic state pension. The minimum level of income pensioners are expected to live on has increased by a third in real terms since 1997. As at November 2005, 4,800 people in Coventry South constituency were receiving pension credit.

Between 1996-97 and 2004-05 numbers of pensioners in Great Britain in relative low income, after housing costs, have fallen by over a third from 2.8 million to 1.8 million. Pensioners are now less likely to be in low-income than younger people, on an after housing costs basis. Information on the numbers of pensioners in low income is not available at constituency level.

The Pensions White Paper “Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system” (Cm 6841) announced our commitment to uprate the pension credit standard guarantee and the basic state pension in line with earnings growth ensuring that we continue to tackle pensioner poverty.

Prescribed Disease A11

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he expects the changes to the terms of prescription for Prescribed Disease A11 to be put in place. (69201)

State Pension

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether under his proposals for pensions women with no childcare responsibilities will qualify for a full basic state pension with 30 years' contributions. (80315)

The proposals, published in the White Paper, Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system (Cm6841), are designed to enable more women and men to maximise their state pension entitlement, while retaining the contributory basis of the system.

Under these proposals, women with no childcare responsibilities who reach state pension age on or after 6 April 2010 would qualify for a full basic state pension on the basis of 30 years' contributions. The thirty qualifying years could be achieved through paid national insurance contributions, the award of credits, or a combination of both, including our proposed more generous crediting arrangements. The proposals would apply equally to men in this position.

Work Search Premium Pilots

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to evaluate the Work Search Premium pilots. (76512)

The Work Search Premium (WSP) pilots are running in eight Jobcentre Plus districts. Lone parents participating in the pilots are paid a £20 a week premium for a maximum of 26 weeks to help with the costs associated with searching for work. Participation is voluntary and certain eligibility criteria must be met. Participants agree to undertake intensive work search and will also be entitled to help with the cost of formal childcare while undertaking work search activities.

The evaluation of the pilots aims to assess the long and short term effect of the pilots on lone parents and movements off benefit and into work. It consists of a quantitative impact assessment which will estimate the net impact of the WSP pilots on patterns of flows off Income Support and other working age benefits like jobseeker’s allowance, as well as other outcomes like entry into work.

The first published report, which we expect to publish in the autumn, will use 12 months of programme data and will examine the impact of the WSP on those lone parents already claiming benefit at the time of introduction of the pilot. A report covering 30 months of data will be published in autumn 2008, and one covering 48 months of data will be published in spring 2010.

In addition, qualitative evaluation will explore the impact of the pilots on the attitudes, motivations and responses of eligible lone parents, and examine the effectiveness of delivery. This will include interviews with lone parents and Jobcentre Plus lone parent advisers. We expect this report to be available in spring 2007.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Energy Efficiency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the main barriers to the UK making more and better use of energy efficiency methods; and what steps his Department is taking with other Departments to overcome these barriers. (79684)

The Energy Efficiency Innovation Review, published jointly by Her Majesty's Treasury and DEFRA last December, assessed the barriers to the increased take-up of energy efficiency measures. These include high up-front investment costs, lack of access to capital, split incentives, other market failures, the hassle factor, lack of consumer information and mistrust of suppliers or installers. Further information can be found on the DEFRA website:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/energy/review/.

This evidence has been used to inform the Review of the UK Climate Change programme, published in March this year, and the ongoing Energy Policy Review. For example, in the household sector, the Energy Efficiency Innovation Review identified consumer misapprehension of the costs and benefits of energy efficiency as a key barrier. The Government have subsequently announced a £20 million initiative to promote consumer uptake of energy efficiency measures, working with energy suppliers and local authorities.

Environmental Liability Directive

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the consultation on the implementation of the Environmental Liability Directive to start. (79213)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 June 2006, Official Report, column 499W, on the Environmental Liability Directive, why the first of the two consultations on the Environmental Liability Directive on policy options has been delayed. (80390)

The first public consultation on the implementation of the Environmental Liability Directive will be launched later this year.

The Government are still considering how best to present the options for transposing the Directive. The Directive raises many issues because of its relationship with existing domestic environmental protection legislation. The Government want to ensure that the issues are clearly set out for optimum stakeholder engagement.

Municipal Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will report on the progress of his Department's 10 demonstration plants to encourage new technologies to treat biodegradable municipal waste. (78537)

A full report of all of the demonstration projects will be published as soon as DEFRA have completed due diligence and agreed contracts with technology providers.

At present DEFRA have completed four contracts and it is anticipated that a number of others will be completed by the end of June 2006.

The four signed contracts are with Bioganix, Greenfinch/South Shropshire, Premier Waste and Novera. Further information on these technologies is available on the DEFRA website at the following address:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/wip/newtech/dem-programme/index.htm

Rural Stress

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has commissioned into stress in rural areas; what assessment he has made of levels of stress in rural areas; and what measures are being taken to reduce levels of stress in rural areas. (79581)

[holding answer 22 June 2006]: In 2003 DEFRA funded a study by Exeter university reviewing research on rural stress. In 2005 a study into “The Wider Social Impacts of Changes in the Structure of Agricultural Businesses” also considered issues of stress in the farming community.

Copies of these reports are available online at:

http://www.centres.ex.ac.uk/crr/pdf1/reports1/StressReview FinalReport.pdf

http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/research/soc_impact.htm

DEFRA is closely involved with a number of voluntary and community organisations working to alleviate the level of stress in rural areas through the Rural Stress Action plan. The plan supports £300,000 worth of projects each year, and funds are committed until March 2008.

Since it began in 2000 there have been two full evaluations of the Rural Stress Action plan. Copies of these can be found on the DEFRA website.

http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/stress/default.htm

Thames Water (Leaks)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of the failure of Thames Water to meet its leakage targets for the regulatory year 2005-06; and if he will make a statement. (80613)

The failure of Thames Water to meet its leakage targets for the regulatory year 2005-06 is disappointing. The Economic Regulator, Ofwat, has already said that it views the issue as serious and will carefully scrutinise the company's annual return before deciding on regulatory action. Ofwat is responsible for setting leakage targets and has powers to deal with poor performance. I will not pre-empt Ofwat's response on this issue.

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what definition of research he uses in relation to (a) the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (No. 2) Regulations 2006, Part 2(4) and (b) EC Regulation 999/2001. (79811)

[holding answer 26 June 2006]: It is not possible to define research specifically in the context of the above regulations; indeed, it is not deemed necessary to do so. My Department, in collaboration with other funding bodies, seeks to facilitate investigations that will further scientific knowledge on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) but has to take into account the likelihood of success, scope for sound interpretation of data and relevance to policy needs before funds can be committed. Investigations that are specifically addressed by the above regulations and which are statutory obligations would normally be classed as surveillance, namely investigations that determine the existence of TSEs in individual animals or targeted populations. Research and surveillance are complementary, and evidence arising in one area inevitably impacts on the other.

Transport

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport 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. (73114)

The figures for the Department for Transport and its agencies for periods of sick leave of less than five days in the last three years are as follows:

Periods of sick leave

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Five or more

1,395

1,378

1,516

Four

780

733

919

Three

626

602

826

Two

1,044

1,066

1,525

The Department is committed to managing sick absence effectively and to putting in place the recommendations of the ‘Managing Sickness Absence in the Public Sector’ report. The DfT Board takes an active interest in the issue of attendance management, and a number of steps have already been taken.

Overseas Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what overseas visits have been made by Ministers in his Department in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006. (80499)

Information about overseas visits undertaken by Ministers in the Department for Transport on official business, during 2004, 2005 and to date in 2006, has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the ‘Ministerial Code’ and ‘Travel by Ministers’, copies of which are available in the Library. Since 1999, the Government have published on an annual basis a list of all overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500. Copies of the lists are available in the Library. Information for 2005-06 is currently being compiled and will be published when it is ready.

Rail Services (Cheltenham Spa)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) earliest and (b) last trains (i) to Cheltenham Spa from London Paddington and (ii) from London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa were on (A) 6 June 1986, (B) 6 June 1996 and (C) 6 June 2006; how many direct and indirect train services were provided on a weekday between Cheltenham Spa and London Paddington on each of those dates; and how many of those services were direct in each case. (80826)

The earliest and last trains (direct) to/from Cheltenham Spa and London Paddington on weekdays were as follows:

1986

1996

2006

First Services

London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa

06:40

05:30

06:48

Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington

05:18

06:03

05:59

Last Services

London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa

22:05

21:00

19:45

Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington

21:10

21:00

22:10

The number of direct and indirect train services on weekdays to/from Cheltenham Spa and London Paddington was as follows:

At 6 June each year:

1986

1996

2006

London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa

Direct

14

4

8

Indirect

0

15

14

Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington

Direct

13

4

9

Indirect

0

13

16

Note:

The connecting services shown are where connections are made at Swindon.

Reorganisation Strategies for DfT

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will ensure that all measures for handling surplus staff arising from the Shared Service Programme set out in ‘Reorganisation Strategies for DfT’ are followed by his Department and its agencies. (79778)

The Department and its agencies will follow the principles of fairness and transparency set out in that document.

Road Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents involving heavy goods vehicles were reported to the police in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and how many involved foreign-registered heavy goods vehicles. (81080)

The number of personal injury road accidents reported to the police involving heavy goods vehicles in each year from 2001 to 2005 is shown in the following table. Identification of foreign registered vehicles involved in personal injury road accidents is possible only from 2005, the latest year for which data are available.

Accidents involving heavy goods vehicles1 and accidents involving foreign registered foreign goods vehicles: 2001-05

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)

Foreign registered HGVs

2001

13,631

2002

12,427

2003

12,205

2004

11,542

2005

11,162

1,098

1 Heavy goods vehicles are goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes maximum gross weight.

South West Trains

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account was taken of plans for future housing and infrastructure in the formulation of the new South West Trains franchise; and if he will make a statement. (78365)

The specification for the new South Western franchise has been developed to build upon the current franchise operation. The future levels of forecast demand have been based on standard rail industry modelling assumptions.

A new and improved service will operate between Salisbury and Romsey via Southampton Central and Southampton Airport Parkway, replacing the Romsey-Totton service via Eastleigh. The new service will create a regular half-hourly Salisbury-Southampton service, create new travel opportunities between Salisbury and Southampton airport, and allow stops to be made at Dunbridge and Dean.

In addition, services in South Hampshire and Dorset have been enhanced to provide a second train each hour through to Weymouth from London, and cross-Bournemouth services to be improved. It is also proposed that an hourly semi-fast Southampton-Brighton service be introduced to connect these major urban areas.

Franchise replacements are not vehicles for significant infrastructure investment. However, they do need to consider infrastructure schemes that have committed funds to enable their delivery, and the South Western franchise process has adhered to this approach.

Vandalism

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many incidents of vandalism were reported to the British Transport Police in the last 12 months, broken down by (a) Government office region and (b) constituency. (77784)

The British Transport Police do not record vandalism offences by either Government office region or constituency and therefore this data can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Constitutional Affairs

Coroners (Northern Ireland)

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many (a) coroners and (b) deputy coroners there have been in Northern Ireland in each year since 1997. (80058)

The number of coroners and deputy coroners in Northern Ireland since 1997 is set out in the following table:

Presiding judge

Full-time coroners

Part-time coroners

Deputy coroners

1997

1

6

5

1998

1

6

5

1999

1

6

5

2000

1

6

5

2001

3

6

5

2002

3

6

5

2003

3

6

5

2004

3

6

5

2005

3

6

5

2006

1

3

0

1

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the (a) legal background and (b) practitioner experience is of each (i) coroner in Northern Ireland, (ii) deputy coroner who served between 1997 and 2006 and (iii) newly appointed (A) coroner and (B) deputy coroner. (80059)

With the exception of one part-time coroner who was a barrister, all coroners and deputy coroners who served between 1997 and 2006 were solicitors. Of the two full-time coroners appointed in April 2006, one was a barrister and the other was a solicitor. In addition a High Court judge was appointed to the office of coroner in May 2006 to be the presiding judge for the Coroners Service.

With effect from 15 October 2002 in order to be eligible for appointment to the position of coroner or deputy coroner in Northern Ireland a person must be a barrister or a solicitor of at least five years standing.

The professional standing of coroners appointed since 15 October 2002 is as follows:

Date appointed

Barrister/solicitor

Number of years standing

3 April 2006

Solicitor

19

3 April 2006

Barrister

13

Prior to 15 October 2002 eligibility for appointment as a coroner or deputy coroner in Northern Ireland was based on having practised for not less then five years as a barrister or solicitor. Details of the number of years in practice of individual coroners appointed prior to 15 October 2002 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Court Service (Suffolk)

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on the recent performance of the Court Service in Suffolk. (79392)

Figures are provided to cover performance against key targets over financial year 2005-06 compared with the previous year. The information is as follows:

Ineffective trials

2005-06 Crown—4 per cent. Improved from 10 per cent. last year. Target 15 per cent.

2005-06 Magistrates—12 per cent. Improved from 15 per cent. last year. Target 16 per cent.

Crown Court Timeliness

2005-06—84 per cent. of cases dealt with within target (Trials 16 weeks, Section 51 26 weeks, Committals for Sentence 10 weeks, Appeals 14 weeks). Up from 81 per cent. last year. Target 78 per cent.

Persistent Young Offenders (Crown and Magistrates)

2005-06—37 days arrest to sentence. Down from 25 days last year. Target 71 days or less.

Payment rate (Magistrates Courts)

2005-06—109 per cent. Up from 102 per cent. last year. Target 89 per cent.

Family Public Law

Percentage cases completed within 40 weeks.

2005-06 County Court—64 per cent. Up from 61 per cent. last year. Target 70 per cent.

2005-06 Magistrates—73 per cent. Down from 77 per cent. last year. Target 70 per cent.

County Court Small Claims

2005-06—90 per cent. of cases dealt with within 15 weeks. Up from 73 per cent. last year. Target 80.5 per cent.

County Court Fast Track

2005-06—79 per cent. of cases dealt with within 30 weeks. Down from 91 per cent. last year. Target 78 per cent.

County Court Multi Track

2005-06—100 per cent. of cases dealt with within 50 weeks as last year. Target 78 per cent.

Community Penalty Breach Warrants

Percentage of proceedings resolved within 25 days.

2005-06—72 per cent. Up from 41 per cent. last year. Target 50 per cent.

Departmental Pensions

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will estimate the pension liability of her Department over the next 30 years. (75279)

The hon. Member is referred to a technical Note by HM Treasury which was placed in the Library of the House on 2 March 2006, Official Report, columns 388-90, following an oral statement in Parliament by the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Pension liabilities are not estimated for individual departments, they are estimated for individual pension schemes, as shown in the breakdown of liabilities per pension scheme given in Table 1 of the technical Note.

Dr. David Kelly

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 14 June 2006, Official Report, columns 1255-67W, on Dr. David Kelly, what discussions took place between (a) the coroner, (b) the deputy coroner, (c) the assistant deputy coroner of Oxfordshire and (d) anyone else responsible to the Oxfordshire coroner and (i) her Department and (ii) Lord Hutton before the local registrar’s decision to issue a certified copy of entry in the register of deaths for Dr. David Kelly. (81212)

Dr. Kelly’s death was registered on 18 August 2003 following the adjournment of the inquest at the request of the Lord Chancellor under Section 17A of the Coroners Act 1988. My officials met the coroner on 11 August 2003. At the outset of Lord Hutton’s inquiry the coroner was in contact with the inquiry secretariat to explore the boundaries of their respective jurisdictions and to provide the inquiry with information relating to Dr. Kelly’s death. No other discussions took place between the coroner, the deputy coroner, the assistant deputy coroner of Oxfordshire and anyone else responsible to the Oxfordshire coroner and either my Department or Lord Hutton.

Electoral Fraud

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many incidents of (a) postal vote fraud and (b) other electoral fraud there were in (i) European elections, (ii) parliamentary elections and (iii) local elections in each of the last 30 years. (79077)

Information in this detail is not collected centrally. However, I refer my hon. Friend to the previous answer on 13 June 2005, Official Report, column 181W, for information on electoral fraud convictions. Since then, I am aware that in Halton, in May 2006 a former Labour councillor was convicted and fined for electoral fraud offences relating to the local and European parliamentary elections in 2004.

Judges (Part-time)