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Written Answers

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 19 October 2006

Minister for Women

Apprenticeships

20. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps the Government are taking to ensure that older women have access to apprenticeships. (95024)

Government are putting in place a coherent package of measures in response to employment issues faced by low-skilled women and identified by the Women and Work Commission. This includes building on trials of apprenticeships for mature learners, extending skills coaching and improving recruitment and progression pathways.

Cohabiting Relationships

21. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment has been made of the impact on women’s legal and financial status of the breakdown of cohabiting relationships. (95025)

Legal and financial status will be covered in DCA-funded research on the legal rights of cohabitants and their children. A Law Commission review is considering the impact of the current law on cohabitants and children when a relationship ends through separation or death, and the merits of greater legal protection.

Political Representation

22. To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps she is taking to encourage women’s representation in politics. (95026)

In 2002 we introduced the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act allowing positive measures towards women’s increased participation. This legislation is having an impact and the numbers are rising particularly in the parties that made use of these measures. 27 per cent. of Labour MPs are now women. Overall, 20 per cent. of MPs are now women compared with 9 per cent. before 1997.

Leader of the House

Additional Costs Allowance

To ask the Leader of the House what percentage of hon. Members claimed (a) the maximum and (b) within £5.00 of the maximum Additional Costs Allowance in each year since 1997. (93279)

The information requested is as follows. Information prior to 2001-02 is not available. The 2005-06 Additional Costs Allowance figures are currently being compiled and will be published later this month.

Percentage of MPs claiming maximum ACA

Percentage of MPs claiming £5 of maximum (including those claiming the maximum)

2001-02

8.6

17.5

2002-03

35.5

38.8

2003-04

23.2

33.7

2004-05

28.5

31.6

Members' Pension Scheme

To ask the Leader of the House what the annual savings would be from increasing the employee contribution rate of the hon. Members' pension scheme by one per cent.; and if he will make a statement. (93546)

The net cost of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Scheme is met by the Exchequer after taking into account the contributions made by Members of Parliament and the fund’s investment income. An increase in the contribution rate by Members of 1 per cent. of their parliamentary salary would result in a net increase to the fund of approximately £383,000 per annum from this source, which would lead to a corresponding decrease in the Exchequer contribution.

Trade and Industry

Competitiveness

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent steps he has taken to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of British exporting companies; and if he will make a statement. (95040)

International trade is an essential part of the UK's prosperity. Over a quarter of our GDP is exported. Foreign-owned businesses account for around 20 per cent. of UK jobs in production sectors, and 9 per cent. of service sector jobs (excluding financial services).

Through UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the Government launched their new five-year strategy “Prosperity in a Changing World” on 20 July. This represents a step change in our support for British businesses trading internationally. Key themes of the strategy include developing a programme of support for companies trading internationally in emerging markets such as India and China; marketing the UK internationally as a place to do business in and with; actively supporting knowledge-intensive businesses and innovative sectors; implementing an international R&D strategy in partnership with academic and business communities; and introducing a single coherent strategy to promote the UK and the City of London as the world’s leading centre for financial and business services.

Airbus

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had on the future of Airbus in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (95042)

Airbus is a great success story and a great contributor to the UK economy. DTI is in close touch with EADS and Airbus. Government remain a strong supporter of Airbus.

Wind Farms

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received on the noise levels of wind farms. (95046)

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and his officials regularly receive representations with regard to noise from wind farms. These representations have been in the form of telephone calls, letters, emails or at meetings. They typically relate to planning applications being progressed by DTI or ETSU-97, “The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind farms2.

Companies Bill

15. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent estimate his Department has made of the cost to businesses (a) on the Isle of Wight and (b) in England arising from the Companies Bill following changes made to the Bill in Committee. (95047)

I believe the Companies Bill will bring significant savings to companies in all areas throughout the UK.

Bank Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what role the Office of Fair Trading has in challenging the practice of banks imposing excessive penalty charges when a customer exceeds overdraft limits or a direct debit or cheque are returned. (93223)

Under the Unfair Contract Terms in Consumer Contacts Regulations 1999, the Office of Fair Trading has a duty to consider any complaint it receives about unfair terms. Using its powers in this legislation, the Office of Fair Trading has carried out an investigation into the fairness of penalty charges for defaults in respect of credit cards and has stated that it believes that credit card default charges had been generally set at a significantly higher level than was considered fair and set a £12 threshold for OFT intervention unless there were exceptional business factors.

The OFT is of the view that the broad principles do read across to the retail banking area and has decided to undertake further work on the application of these principles to bank current accounts. This fact-finding exercise is expected to take between three to six months, at which stage the OFT will consider whether a further detailed investigation of the fairness of individual bank default charges is needed.

CSR Settlement

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to reach agreement with the Treasury on the next comprehensive spending review settlement. (95110)

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people work within the (a) aerospace and defence, (b) automotive, (c) biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and health care, (d) broadcasting, (e) chemicals, (f) computer games, (g) construction, (h) digital content, (i) electronics and IT services, (j) environmental industries, (k) information security, (l) international ICT policy, (m) manufacturing, (n) marine, (o) materials and engineering, (p) postal services, (q) publishing, (r) retail, (s) telecommunications and (t) climate change project office sectors of his Department, broken down by grade. (94578)

[holding answer 17 October 2006]: The requested figures are listed as follows as closely as is possible to the request. In certain cases, units are combined, as statistics are only available at this level.

(a) (n) Aerospace, marine and defence

Number

Band A

3

Band B

3

Band C

19

SCS

1

(b) Automotive

Number

Band A

2

Band B

4

Band C

10

SCS

1

(c) Bioscience

Number

Band A

1

Band B

12

Band C

7

SCS

1

(d) Communication Networks

Number

Band A

4

Band B

12

Band C

15

SCS

1

(e) Chemicals

Number

Band A

0

Band B

1

Band C

9

SCS

1

(f) (h) (k) (q) (s) Broadcasting and Content

Number

Band A

3

Band B

8

Band C

21

SCS

1

(g) Construction

Number

Band A

3

Band B

11

Band C

11

SCS

1

(i) Electronic and IT services

Number

Band A

3

Band B

5

Band C

18

SCS

1

(j) Environmental industries

Number

Band A

1

Band B

2

Band C

5

SCS

0

(l) Europe and International ICT policy

Number

Band A

3

Band B

8

Band C

7

SCS

1

(m) (o) Materials, engineering and manufacturing

Number

Band A

1

Band B

7

Band C

15

SCS

1

(p) Postal services

Number

Band A

2

Band B

5

Band C

8

SCS

1

(r) Retail

Number

Band A

1

Band B

3

Band C

4

SCS

0

(t) Climate change project office

Number

Band A

1

Band B

5

Band C

4

SCS

1

Employment (York)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what programmes and funding are available from his Department to assist York to attract new jobs. (95045)

I believe the Redundancy Response Group set up by the Council with the support of other agencies is the right response to help people find new jobs.

Insolvency Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether additional (a) financial and (b) human resources have been provided to the Insolvency Service for the administration of the Bankruptcy Restriction Order regime since the introduction of the Enterprise Act 2002. (94096)

From 1 April 2004 additional resources have been provided to the Insolvency Service by way of its Enforcement programme which includes the application of the Bankruptcy Restriction Order (BRO) regime. Expenditure on BROs amounted to some £863,000 in 2004-05 and £5,990,000 in 2005-06. Insolvency Service staff carry out a range of duties and it would be disproportionately costly to seek to calculate the level of additional staff resource attributable to that expenditure.

Manufacturing

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his priorities are with respect to ensuring a regional balance in investment in modern manufacturing. (95038)

The Government are working with all stakeholders to implement our Manufacturing Strategy so that we maintain and grow a high value added modern manufacturing capacity in all regions.

The DTI, together with the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Treasury, share a public sector agreement which seeks to improve the economic performance of all the regions of England, while in the longer term narrowing the gap in growth rates between the regions.

We employ a range of levers, which include tax incentives, R and D investment, support and advice, grants and loans to support modern manufacturing in the regions.

Public Service Agreement Targets

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many public service agreement targets relating to better regulation of his Department are in operation. (94093)

There are no public service agreement (PSA) targets directly relating to better regulation of the Department. However better regulation is a top priority for the Department and is linked to a number of the department’s PSA targets, such as PSA 1 (productivity), PSA 3 (competition and consumers), PSA 6 (enterprise) and PSA 10 (maximising potential in the workplace).

Temporary Agency Workers Directive

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to help make progress in the European Council on agreement on the draft Temporary Agency Workers Directive. (95041)

The Government continue to support the underlying principles of the draft directive and are committed to working with the European Commission to introduce appropriate rules to protect agency workers. It is not however for the UK to set the agenda in the EU. This is a matter for the EU presidency (currently held by Finland) and the European Commission. The DTI has made clear to its Finnish counterpart that it stands ready to assist the Finnish presidency in the matter of the draft directive.

Unfair Dismissal

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether any legal challenges have been brought to the qualifying period for the right to claim unfair dismissal. (95305)

From 1985 until June 1999 the qualifying period for unfair dismissal was two years. The validity of this period was unsuccessfully challenged in “R v. Secretary of State for Employment, ex p Seymour-Smith and Perez”. The Department is not aware of any further challenges to the qualifying period.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will abolish the one-year qualifying period that exists before unfair dismissal may be claimed. (95306)

The Government believe that the one-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal achieves the right balance between fairness for employees and flexibility for employers. We reduced the qualifying period from two years in 1999.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many cases of unfair dismissal were successful at tribunal in each of the last three years. (95307)

The Employment Tribunals Service annual reports and accounts provides a breakdown of the outcome of cases by jurisdiction, summarised in the following table.

Outcome of unfair dismissal claims 2004-06

Disposed of

Successful at Tribunal

Percentage

2003-04

40,927

4,363

11

2004-05

35,482

3,493

10

2005-06

35,415

3,425

10

Source:

ETS Annual Reports (Table 2), 2003-04 to 2005-06

Transport

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the use of sugar beet for biofuel production. (95043)

Biofuel produced from sugar beet can offer a number of environmental benefits, with the precise benefits depending on a range of factors, including the energy used to fertilise and process the crop. The Government will be introducing a renewable transport fuel obligation in April 2008 which will require all transport fuel suppliers to ensure that a set percentage of their total fuel sales is made up of biofuels or some other renewable transport fuel. This will create a major new market for biofuels in the UK, and it will be up to individual transport fuel suppliers to source their biofuels from whatever feedstock they deem most appropriate. From the outset the RTFO will include environmental assurance schemes to monitor the carbon savings achieved and the impact on the wider environment.

Driving Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of driving licences which were lost or stolen in the Royal Mail postage system in 2005-06. (94982)

MOT Tests

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the increase in the price of an MOT test is planned to be introduced in 2006. (94746)

The statutory instrument to increase the MOT fees maxima has been laid in the House and, subject to parliamentary scrutiny, the new maximum fees will take effect from 7 November.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with the South Hampshire Rail Users Group; and if he will make a statement. (93335)

Ministers have had no such discussions, although there has been correspondence between the group and departmental officials.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the amount of spending on lineside clearance was in each of the past 15 years, broken down by region; and who was responsible for the clearing work in each region in each year by region. (95574)

This is an operational matter for Network Rail, as the owner and operator of the national rail network. The hon. Member should contact Network Rail’s chief executive at the following address for a response to his question.

John Armitt

Chief Executive

Network Rail

40 Melton Street

London NW1 2EE

Translink (Bedfordshire)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when a decision will be taken on whether the Translink guided busway between Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Luton will be built; and if he will make a statement. (95397)

We expect to reach a decision within the next few weeks on whether to grant legal powers and planning permission for the proposed Translink guided busway. It will be for Luton borough council, as promoter of the scheme, to consider their next steps in the light of that decision.

Home Department

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people from Afghanistan have moved to the UK in each of the last five years; and how many have returned to Afghanistan in the same period. (94131)

Information on the number of Afghanistan nationals given leave to enter the United Kingdom, together with those returned voluntarily or following enforcement action, has only been available since 2004.

The available information is in the following table:

No data are available on the total number of persons who return to their country of origin.

Passengers given leave to enter the United Kingdom by purpose of journey: Afghanistan nationals, 2004 to 2005

United Kingdom

Number of journeys

Purpose of journey

2004

2005

Visitors

1,870

1,700

Students

75

80

Work permit holders (inc. dependants)

15

25

Admitted as a spouse or fiancé(e)

300

385

Passengers in transit

265

285

Passengers returning after a temporary absence

5,660

4,280

Others given leave to enter

725

970

Accepted for settlement on arrival

70

180

Refugees, exceptional leave cases and their dependants1

10

10

1 Excluding such persons given temporary admission and grants made under the Family ILR exercise. Data rounded to three significant figures or the nearest five where appropriate, as such components may not sum to the totals shown.

Removals, voluntary departures and assisted returns of nationals of Afghanistan, to Afghanistan, in 2004 and 20051, 2

Number of persons

United Kingdom

2004

2005

Total persons removed

590

930

Of whom:

Removals and voluntary departures3, 4, 5

360

505

Left under Assisted Voluntary Return Programmes6

230

425

1 Figures rounded to the nearest five and may not sum due to rounding. 2 Provisional figures. 3 Removal figures in 2005 include 10 persons who it is established have left the UK without informing the immigration authorities. 4 Includes persons refused entry at port and subsequently removed, enforced removals and persons departing voluntarily after enforcement action had been initiated against them. 5 Excludes Assisted Voluntary Returns. 6 Persons leaving under Assisted Voluntary Return Programmes run by the International Organization for Migration. May include some on-entry cases and some cases where enforcement action has been initiated.

Asylum Seekers

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers and their dependants were being supported by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) in accommodation in the City of Newcastle upon Tyne on 1 June 2003, (b) 2004, (c) 2005 and (d) 2006; how many were receiving subsistence only support on each date; how many failed asylum seekers and their dependents were receiving Article 4 support in Newcastle on each such date; and how many claimants of NASS support in Newcastle have had support withdrawn under section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 in each year since coming into force. (92810)

The number of asylum seekers supported by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) is published on a quarterly and annual basis, broken down by Government office region and local authority. The latest publication covering the second quarter of 2006 is available on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html.

The number of failed asylum seekers and their dependants receiving Section 4 support is not available historically and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost by looking at individual case files. However management information shows that there are currently 140 principal applicants and five dependants being supported under Section 4 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Please note that all figures are rounded to the nearest five.

No cases in Newcastle have had their support terminated under section 9 of the 2004 Act, as section 9 was implemented by means of a pilot run in London, Leeds and Manchester.

Crime Reports

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to improve the quality of crime reports taken from the public; and if he will make a statement. (93005)

In 2002 the Home Office, in partnership with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), introduced the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS), designed to improve the quality of crime recording in all forces. NCRS was developed following extensive research undertaken by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and Her Majesty’ Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), as well as research commissioned by the Home Office, which demonstrated wide-ranging inconsistencies in the way that forces were managing crime reports taken from the public. NCRS is based on a number of key principles including the requirement for forces to create incident reports for all incidents and to record these incidents as crimes if, on the balance of probabilities, the circumstances of the incident amount to a crime and if there is no credible evidence to the contrary. NCRS was designed to secure a better quality of service for the victims of crime, particularly around reporting, and has delivered significant improvements.

The Home Office, through the Police and Crime Standards Directorate, has provided a strong lead in ensuring that forces are complying with NCRS. A three-year programme of annual external audit has been undertaken in partnership with the Audit Commission across a wide range of crime types, to ensure that forces are recording the crimes reported to them accurately and consistently. In 2003 the independent audit found that only 2 per cent. of forces were achieving a good or excellent level of performance for data quality. Self-improvement by forces, supported by the Home Office, have resulted in an outstanding improvement in performance. The Audit Commission’s report Crime Recording 2005, published in June 2006 found that 81 per cent. of forces are now rated as either good or excellent, with no forces scoring poor. This represents a significant step forward in ensuring that the quality of reports taken from the public is robust and capable of supporting the investigation of crime. The Home Office remains committed to maintaining this high level of quality and fully intends to work with forces to build upon the achievements to date.

Miscarriages of Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what costs have been incurred by the Government and paid by or on behalf of the independent assessor of claims for compensation for miscarriage of justice in respect of legal advice and litigation arising from assessments since 1976; and what the (a) date and (b) amount was of each such payment. (94399)

Costs incurred and paid by the Government on behalf of the independent assessor of compensation for miscarriages of justice, as a result of legal challenges to assessments, are available only as total figures for financial years. The first financial year in which such costs were incurred was 2002-03, when £9,551 was paid. In 2003-04 the figure was £16,907, in 2004-05 it was £14,149 in 2005-06 it was £15,929, and in the current financial year it is £2,686 to date.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what communications and discussions have taken place between the Government and the current independent assessor regarding changes in the scheme; (94402)

(2) what discussions he has had with the independent assessor relating to his planned changes in the scheme for compensation for victims of miscarriages of justice.

Officials and the independent assessor of compensation for miscarriages of justice meet regularly to discuss a range of issues, including the effectiveness of the existing compensation schemes. Meetings between the assessor and Ministers take place from time to time; such a meeting took place before the then Home Secretary announced changes to the compensation schemes on 19 April 2006 .

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the performance by the independent assessor of claims for compensation for miscarriages of justice of his functions has been assessed or monitored; and by whom. (94406)

The performance of the independent assessor of compensation for miscarriages of justice is monitored by the Miscarriages of Justice Team in the Better Trials Unit of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform. A monthly audit of cases is carried out and regular meetings are held with the assessor. It is also open to any applicant who is dissatisfied with the assessor’s handling of their case to seek judicial review.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what policies and procedures his Department has regarding the expression of official sympathy, regret and apology in serious miscarriage of justice cases. (94409)

It must always be a matter for deep regret that any miscarriage of justice occurs, and I am, of course, sorry that sometimes people are affected in this way. I believe that the best remedy for a miscarriage of justice is for the wrongful conviction to be overturned by a court of law. The state will also, on application, pay compensation in recognition of the consequences of a miscarriage of justice, if the criteria in section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 are met.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in which cases in which there has been a miscarriage of justice a meeting with the Government has been (a) sought and (b) granted by the Government since 1997; when and where such meetings have taken place; and who has represented the Government at such meetings. (94410)

Records are not necessarily kept centrally of requests for meetings. However, we are aware that the then Home Secretary met with the legal representatives and family members of the late Derek Bentley in November 1998, and that the then Minister of State met the hon. Member for Leicester East in December 2004 to discuss an individual case. Other meetings between Ministers and hon. Members may have taken place.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what education and training (a) has been given to and (b) is planned for (i) the current director and (ii) other staff of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform regarding the nature of the work of that office, with particular reference to (A) miscarriage of justice cases and (B) meeting the need of those who are relatives of victims who have died as a result of criminal conduct. (94414)

All staff within the Office for Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR) receive training appropriate to their role upon appointment. As part of her induction and in the course of day-to-day business, the chief executive of OCJR receives a large amount of briefing, both orally and in writing. This includes briefing on victims and miscarriages of justice. Members of the Miscarriages of Justice Team, in the Better Trials Unit of the OCJR, have received training on how to handle applications for compensation and all other aspects of the work for which they are responsible. Staff working directly with victims of crime undertake training with a trauma counsellor and have regular opportunities to work with victims’ groups and to meet and listen to the experiences of actual victims. The training and personal development requirements of all OCJR staff are reviewed regularly as part of an individual’s performance and appraisal.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) complaint and (b) redress procedures exist to deal with concerns relating to resolving issues arising from miscarriage of justice cases. (94418)

People who consider they are the victim of a miscarriage of justice can, if they regard a particular party or body as being responsible, make a complaint in accordance with any established complaints procedure. For example, all police forces have such procedures in place, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission ensures that complaints are dealt with effectively. The IPCC sets standards for the way the police handle complaints and, when something has gone wrong, they help them learn lessons and improve the way they work. In terms of redress, people can lodge an appeal against conviction, and if that is unsuccessful they can, in certain circumstances, apply to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a reinvestigation of their conviction and possible referral to the Court of Appeal. Compensation in respect of a miscarriage of justice is payable, on application, if the criteria of section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 are met. It is also open to people to pursue a civil claim in the courts.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what expertise and experience is available within his Department regarding (a) the administration of estates, (b) assessing compensation for personal injuries and miscarriages of justice and (c) alternative dispute resolution. (94420)

Policy responsibility for the administration of estates rests with the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA). Officials in the Home Office liaise with officials in the DCA, as necessary. In appropriate cases, advice on the administration of estates could also be sought from independent counsel. The decision whether a person is eligible for compensation under section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 is one for the Secretary of State. However, the assessment of the amount of compensation payable under section 133, and in cases within the discretionary scheme for compensation for miscarriages of justice which operated until 19 April 2006, is for the independent assessor. The current assessor is Lord Brennan, QC, who is experienced in the assessment of such claims. Home Office lawyers, the Treasury Solicitor and, as necessary, independent counsel advise Home Office Ministers about alternative dispute resolution.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) head-count and (b) full-time equivalent officials are responsible for work relating to those who have suffered a miscarriage of justice, their relatives and campaigners, broken down by grade. (94422)

The following tables show the current head-count and full-time equivalent officials in the Miscarriages of Justice Team, in the Better Trials Unit of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, and the Criminal Cases Review Commission, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department.

Criminal Cases Review Commission

Grade

Head-count

FTE

Directors and Comms

4

3.92

Advisers

4

4.00

Managers

7

6.61

Group Leaders

7

6.62

CRMs

36

32.29

Caseworkers

4

3.61

Case Admin

18

17.81

Records Management

3

3.00

Non-Case Admin

9

8.20

Commissioners

13

10.5

Miscarriages of Justice Team

Grade

Head-count

FTE

G6

1

1

SEO

3

2.44

EO

4

3.8

AO

1

1

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the (a) size, (b) structure and (c) remit is of the Miscarriages of Justice Team of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform; and how each has changed since its re-branding. (94423)

The Miscarriages of Justice Team, in the Better Trials Unit of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform, comprises nine staff–one grade 6 who heads the team, three senior executive officers (two of whom are senior caseworkers and the third of whom is responsible for sponsorship issues relating to the Criminal Cases Review Commission), four executive officer caseworkers, and one administrative officer, who provides general support. The team's remit is to consider applications for compensation under section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and the remaining applications under the now abolished ex gratia scheme, to undertake the administrative procedures involved in processing the claims of successful applicants, to consider applications for remission or pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, to consider requests to refer cases of alleged wrongful conviction to the relevant Court of Appeal in the Channel Islands or Isle of Man, and to sponsor the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The size, structure and remit have not changed since the team was renamed.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what support and assistance is given by the Government to (a) those who have suffered a miscarriage of justice as a result of being the victim of criminal conduct and (b) those who have suffered a miscarriage of justice without there being any allegation of criminal conduct causing the miscarriage of justice. (94424)

The Home Office pays compensation, on application, to anyone who has suffered a miscarriage of justice, if they meet the criteria set out in section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. It also sponsors a project at the Royal Courts of Justice, which is run by the National Association of Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and which provides an advice and assistance service to those who have been released from prison.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many miscarriages of justice there have been in capital cases which have resulted in a payment of compensation in the last 30 years; and in how many such cases claims for compensation are outstanding; (95106)

(2) if he will take steps to ensure that outstanding compensation claims in respect of miscarriages of justice in capital cases are expedited.

There have been four such cases, one of which remains outstanding. Eligibility under section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 was confirmed in that case on 6 October 2006. The assessor is currently considering a request for an interim award and the legal personal representative has been asked to make the necessary written submissions so that the assessor may determine the award. As soon as the appropriate submissions are received they will be passed to the assessor for his consideration.

Primary Carer Home Leave

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the evidential basis was for the decision that three nights and four days in every eight week period was the most appropriate period for primary carer home leave. (93753)

The maximum frequency and duration of child care resettlement leave were decided in consultation with prison operational managers across the estate, including those responsible for the care of women prisoners, who considered these parameters to be sufficient to enable prisoners to maintain their relationships with their children while maintaining public confidence in temporary release. The new policy provides a clear structure to the frequency and duration of temporary releases for child care purposes. Prisoners continue to have access to prison visits and the Special Purpose Licence is also available to prisoners to deal with emergencies relating to their parental duties, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria and passing a risk assessment.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the basis was for the decision to change the eligibility for release on temporary licence from that of primary carer status to sole carer status under Prison Service Order 6300. (93755)

Feedback received from prisons and external consultees during the development of the new policy established that the needs of sole carers needed to be met more consistently across the estate while better addressing public confidence in temporary release. The new Childcare Resettlement Licence was specifically designed to ensure that sole carers would be able to maintain their relationships with their children through their sentence (provided they otherwise met the requirements for ROTL, including passing a risk assessment).

The previous temporary release policy set out in Instruction to Governors 36/1995 defined a primary carer as “a prisoner who on release at the end of sentence will have the sole responsibility of caring for a child under the age of 16 years”. The new policy broadens eligibility by allowing prisoners access to child care resettlement leave whether or not the prisoner will be released before the child’s 16th birthday. Prisoners become ineligible for childcare resettlement leave only when their child attains the age of 16 years.

Prison Estate

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to his statement of 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 32, on the prison estate, how many category C prisoners he expects to be transferred from HMP Coldingley to open prisons. (94972)

Prisoners can only be allocated to open conditions if they are categorised D, the lowest security category. Each prisoner will be subject to a rigorous and robust risk assessment covering a range of factors to ensure their suitability for open conditions. It is not possible to accurately predict the number of prisoners who will be sent to open prisons from Coldingley prison.

Prison Service

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason the Prison Service London area uses the Great Westminster Clock as the logo on their letterheads rather than HM Prison Service logo; who authorised such use; and if he will make a statement. (93966)

London area office uses the Great Westminster Clock alongside the Prison Service logo on its paperwork, not instead of it. A number of groups within the Prison Service use their own logos alongside the Prison Service logo. The use of the clock was authorised by the area manager.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent by (a) HM Prison Service and (b) his Department on investigations conducted by Mr. Ron Tasker in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (94362)

Mr. Tasker has conducted a wide range of investigations in the last three years for various areas of the Home Office. To establish the exact costs of these investigations would involve disproportionate cost.

Prisons

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make an assessment of the outcomes for the women prisoners of Drake Hall and their children of (a) Drake Hall’s interpretation of the Prison Service Order (PSO) providing for the Primary Carer Home Leave and (b) Drake Hall’s implementation of PSO 6300 from January 2006. (93752)

In support of the Government’s National Action Plan for Reducing Re-offending, the Prison Service recently published its “Strategy and resource guide for the resettlement of women prisoners”. This highlights many factors that contribute to positive resettlement outcomes. Research specifically on the impact of temporary release on outcomes in prison has not been carried out and there are no plans to do so.

However, the Prison Service recently requested feedback from female establishments, including Drake Hall, about the introduction of the new Childcare Resettlement licence; the responses were positive and suggest the new licence has not generally decreased levels of temporary release to prisoners. Some establishments have reported an increase in the use of temporary release to visit children—as was intended.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library the feedback from prison establishments collected during the development of the policy that established Prison Service Order 6300; and whether this feedback included direct feedback from prisoners who were (a) primary and (b) sole carers. (93754)

The information requested is not available in a form that can be easily placed in the Library and could be produced only at disproportionate cost. Prisoners were not asked directly to contribute to the development of Prison Service Order 6300 but a number of external agencies were asked for their views on how the previous ROTL policy could be improved. Those consulted included Action for Prisoners’ Families, National Advisory Council for the Independent Monitoring Boards, Partners of Prisoners Group, HM Inspectorate of Prisons and NACRO.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what value of phone cards each prisoner receives free of charge annually. (94199)

Prisoners’ telephone calls are now managed under the Pinphone system. Prisoners no longer purchase phonecards, they buy credits in units which are added to their personal Pinphone telephone account.

On first reception into prison, a number of prisons provide prisoners with a short domestic call, at public expense. Additionally, public expense calls are offered to prisoners to resolve urgent domestic crises and also a five minute call to prisoners with close family living abroad who have not received a domestic visit during the preceding month.

Detail of the value of the calls made on the Pinphone system cannot be disclosed as it is commercially sensitive. The value of calls made on official telephones is not recorded centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what the incidence was of further offences whilst on release on temporary licence under the prison service order providing for primary carer home leave by (a) women prisoners at Drake Hall under the Drake Hall Governor’s interpretation allowing prisoners to spend up to five days in every 28-day period at home with their children and (b) women prisoners from prisons other than HMP Drake Hall in the five years prior to 2006; (94258)

(2) what the incidence of further offences by women prisoners whilst on release on temporary licence for childcare resettlement leave has been following the introduction of Prison Service Order 6300 in January;

(3) what the incidence of further offences whilst on release on temporary licence for reasons other than childcare resettlement leave by (a) female prisoners and (b) male prisoners has been since January.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what discussions his Department has had with (a) the Prison Service and (b) the National Offender Management Service about building a category C prison at Ford; (94783)

(2) what proposals he has received on the building of a category C prison at Ford in West Sussex.

I have received no proposals and there have been no discussions about the building of a category C prison at Ford.

Probation Service

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much has been spent in real terms on the Probation Service in each of the last 20 years; and what expenditure is planned for each of the next three years. (93555)

It is not possible to provide figures for the last 20 years. The resource funding to the National Probation Service from 2001-02 to 2007-08 expressed in real terms is as follows:

£ million

2001-02

653

2002-03

676

2003-04

758

2004-05

793

2005-06

854

2006-07

912

2007-08

1 920

1 indicative

The figures have been expressed in real terms by adjusting where possible for organisational change, technical accounting changes, and for inflation (using Treasury Discount factors where 2004-05 = 100).

Planned funding is not yet available beyond 2007-08.

Victims of Crime (Code of Practice)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department has taken under the code of practice for victims of crime. (95103)

The code of practice for victims of crime came into force on 3 April 2006. It sets out the standards of service, support and information to which victims are entitled. A number of Home Office agencies and other criminal justice agencies are required to provide services under the code of practice:

Police forces—initial identification of all vulnerable or intimidated victims; keeping victims up to date on at least a monthly basis on progress in their case; informing all victims when a suspect is arrested, bailed or charged; referring victims to Victim Support.

The Crown Prosecution Service—notifying victims about decisions not to bring any proceedings following receipt of the full evidential report and of any decision substantially to alter or drop any charge.

Witness Care Units—meeting the minimum requirement for passing on all court results received from courts to victims.

Her Majesty’s Courts Service—ensuring court results get passed to Witness Care Units.

Youth Offending Teams—contacting victims, where relevant, to discuss their involvement in a restorative justice intervention; keep victims informed about the progress of the intervention if they wish.

The Prison Service—maintaining the telephone helpline for victims to call if they have unwanted contact from a prisoner.

The Probation Service—meeting their statutory obligations to keep certain victims informed of the key stages in an offender’s sentence and to find out if those victims wish to make representations about licence conditions.

The Parole Board—must consider any representations that victims have offered to the Probation Service on the conditions to be included in the release licences and information regarding the victim that relates to the current risk presented by a prisoner in deciding whether or not to grant or recommend release.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority—must respond to all correspondence regarding applications for compensation no later than 20 days from receipt of the letter; inform the applicant of their right to a review of their decision.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel—must respond to all correspondence relating to the appeal case no later than 20 days from receipt of the letter; ensure explanations for appeal decisions are available to applicants.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission—must consider the extent of contact to be made with the victim and if they decide to contact the victim they should update them when the case in under review and if requested notify them of their decision.

Vulnerable and intimidated victims are entitled to an enhanced level of service under the code. If victims feel they have not received the level of service to which they are entitled, they have a route of complaint to the agency concerned. If the response from the agency is not satisfactory, victims can complain to the parliamentary ombudsman via their local MP.

The Office for Criminal Justice Reform provided support to Local Criminal Justice Boards in implementing the code during the months leading up to its introduction.

Yarl's Wood

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he plans to implement the recommendations made by HM Inspector of Prisons in her two reports upon Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre; and if he will make a statement. (94993)

In line with established practice and the protocol agreed with HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, our responses to these reports will take the form of action plans setting out which recommendations are accepted and the action that has been or will be taken to implement them. The two action plans are in the process of being finalised and, once agreed, will be submitted to HM Chief Inspector. Many of the recommendations contained in both reports have already been implemented, or are in the process of being so.

International Development

Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the cost-effectiveness of British aid. (92945)

The effectiveness of British aid is assessed against the targets set out in DFID’s public service agreement and in DFID’s efficiency programme, which cover the period 2005-08. The most recent assessment is contained in the departmental report 2006, which was published in May. The next assessment will be contained in DFID’s autumn performance report, which will be published in December. All DFID projects and programmes over £1 million in value are reviewed annually. Currently, 74 per cent. of those projects are judged to be largely or wholly meeting their objectives. DFID also has a framework for monitoring the effectiveness of our contributions to multilateral agencies, and a programme of independent evaluations of major policies and country programmes.

Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the role is of the Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE OT) within his Department; in which countries it has been operational in the last three years; how many staff are based in CHASE OT; and if he will make a statement. (94428)

The Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department Operations Team (CHASE OT) is a team of expert consultants that supports DFID’s humanitarian response to sudden and complex disasters.

At present the team has 35 posts. In the last three years it has deployed staff and relief supplies to many countries, including Sudan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India, Guatemala, El Salvador, Guyana, Pakistan, Lebanon, Russia, North Korea, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Mali, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, the Caribbean, Haiti, Colombia, Afghanistan, Iran, USA, Morocco, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, and Iraq.

The team helps DFID to respond rapidly and effectively to crises overseas, saving lives and alleviating suffering.

Databases (Security Breaches)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many confirmed security breaches of databases controlled by his Department occurred in each of the last five years; whether the breach resulted from internal or external sources in each case; how many records were compromised on each occasion; and what estimate was made of the total number of records accessible to the individuals concerned. (92838)

East Africa (Crop Failures)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the humanitarian consequences of the crop failure in east African countries. (92681)

DFID has been one of the major supporters of the humanitarian response to the failure of the short season rains at the end of 2005. Since then we have committed over £56.2 million to meet the most urgent humanitarian needs. Additional DFID contributions have been made via our support to the UN-managed central emergency response fund (CERF) to which the UK is the largest contributor, and through the EC Humanitarian Office (ECHO).

Prospects are generally quite good for the main 2006 season in east Africa. Crop production is, however, only one of the factors affecting humanitarian needs. While most communities demonstrate impressive resilience in the face of adverse conditions, some remain in need even when crop production is good. There is evidence that in many communities, notably in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea, acute malnutrition remains well above levels that are regarded as sufficient to trigger humanitarian interventions. We will continue to monitor these needs carefully and respond where necessary.

In Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda indications are that the main 2006 crop will be good but there is not yet any quantitative assessment. In Kenya production is estimated to be up 15 per cent. on last year, and the numbers of those estimated to require food aid has been reduced from 3.1 million to 2.4 million. Somalia main season production, normally 80 per cent. of total annual crop production, has been estimated to be 30 percent. down. In general however UN estimates of those in urgent humanitarian need in Somalia are down from 1.8 million to 1.4 million.

Luanda

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid the UK has given to Angola by (a) direct and (b) bilateral programmes; and what future he envisages for the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme. (94880)

Over the last five years, DFID has given over £35 million in aid to Angola through its bilateral programme. Statistics are not yet available for DFID’s multilateral contributions for 2005, but from 2000-04, the UK’s imputed share of multilateral funding to Angola (European Commission, World Bank and United Nations) was £46.5 million.

DFID has given approximately £16.5 million to the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme (LUPP) since 1999. A recent DFID end-of-project evaluation of LUPP found that it has been a notable success. We anticipate that it will provide lessons for DFID and our partners on urban poverty and operating in post-conflict countries.

In the context of a declining donor presence in Angola, we consider it very important that LUPP and similar programmes are able to have a sustained impact and reduce their reliance on external funding. We are pleased, therefore, that the Government of Angola has been seeking inputs from LUPP for its own work in urban poverty and service delivery. We are also pleased that LUPP partners will continue similar work in municipalities within and outside Luanda with the support of other partners, including the private sector (Chevron, Coca Cola and the diamond company Lazare Kaplan). To complement this, we have invited LUPP partners to submit a further proposal to DFID for our consideration, focused on their governance and influencing work. This should help capitalise on the gains made by LUPP to date, enable stronger links to be forged between the Government of Angola and civil society on urban poverty, and be manageable for DFID in light of our reduced administrative and financial resources for Angola.

Reproductive Health/HIV

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department’s bilateral aid to (a) reproductive health programmes and (b) HIV programmes was in 2005-06, broken down into (i) project or sector aid, (ii) programme aid, (iii) technical co-operation, (iv) grants and other aid in kind, (v) humanitarian assistance and (vi) CDC investments. (94900)

Figures for bilateral spending on HIV and reproductive health during 2005-06 are not available yet. They are being finalised and will be published in this year’s “Statistics for International Development” report at the end of this month.

Somaliland

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many of his Department’s personnel are based in Somaliland; and if he will make a statement. (94042)

There are currently no DFID personnel permanently based in Somaliland. When required, and security permits, DFID officials based in Nairobi and London travel to the region.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much bilateral development assistance has been provided by the UK to Somaliland in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (94043)

Many programmes and projects that DFID supports in Somalia benefit, but are not specific to, Somaliland. However, we estimate that about 30-40 per cent. of our bilateral development assistance to Somalia benefits Somaliland. The UK’s total bilateral programme in Somalia in 2003-04 was £4.0 million; in 2004-05 it rose to £5.3 million; and in 2005-06 is provisionally recorded as £18.8 million. DFID’s support to Somaliland is channelled through UN agencies and NGOs. The following are some examples:

support to the Africa Educational Trust for an independent examination centre and for improved access to affordable forms of basic education;

support to UN-HABITAT to strengthen and expand urban planning and capacity building of local councils;

support to UNDP’s Rule of Law and Security (RoLS) programme to upgrade Mandera police academy through building training facilities for high ranking officers and to establish women and children's desks in police stations to ensure broader access to justice for women and children; and

support via an EC programme, implemented by Interpeace (formerly WSP-International), that provided comprehensive support to preparations for parliamentary elections in Somaliland in 2005. The programme played a major role in ensuring that Somaliland’s elections were peaceful and democratic.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure that where animals are abandoned as a result of their owners being jailed, the welfare of the animals themselves is safeguarded. (92096)

If an owner is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, it is his responsibility to make arrangements for the care of his animals.

Under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal. Additionally, it is an offence under the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960 to abandon any domestic or captive animal in circumstances likely to cause unnecessary suffering.

In certain limited circumstances, abandoned animals which are suffering can be legally destroyed by the State Veterinary Service. In other cases, the RSPCA is often able to help.

Under the Animal Welfare Bill, currently before Parliament, an inspector or constable may take an animal into possession if, in the opinion of a veterinary surgeon, the animal is suffering, or is likely to suffer if its circumstances do not change. This will provide a legal basis for acting in cases where animals have been abandoned for any reason and are likely to suffer as a result.

Central Science Laboratory (York)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to change the status of the Central Science Laboratory in York; and if he will make a statement. (92688)

I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement by my noble Friend, Lord Rooker, 20 June 2006. It is available at the following link on the DEFRA website:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/ministers/statements/jr060620.htm

National Fallen Stock Company

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reason was for the reduction in the allocation of funding to the National Fallen Stock Company; and what plans he has to retain and enhance membership of the company. (94125)

There has been no reduction in funding to the National Fallen Stock Company. Government allocated £20 million for the scheme over a three-year period in order to help with initial pump priming. We have recently agreed to extend that funding for a further year, but it was always intended that central Government's contribution would reduce over time. The recent reduction in the percentage contribution to farmers' collection costs reflects this approach.

Last year the Government commissioned an independent review of the National Fallen Stock Scheme to: examine the operation of the scheme to date; make recommendations for retaining and enhancing the membership of the scheme in the future; and identify the transitional steps needed to move towards a post-subsidy situation. The review team delivered its recommendations in April 2006. The Government are now working closely with the National Fallen Stock Company to develop appropriate responses. We aim to publish these later this year.

North Sea Fisheries

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to prevent French fishing vessels from causing damage to the property of British fishermen off the coast near Bridlington and Flamborough Head. (93967)

French trawlers can legitimately operate outside the 12-mile limit off the Yorkshire coast. They also have limited access rights in the 6-12 mile area between Flamborough Head and Spurn Point to fish for herring. The activities of these vessels have been closely monitored by the Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA). A French trawler was successfully prosecuted on 7 July in Grimsby for fishing illegally inside the 12-mile limit and total fines and costs amounted to £14,750. Since this incident, no further evidence of subsequent incursions within the 12-mile limit have been found.

The MFA monitors fishing activity through a programme of inspections on land and at sea, using the Royal Navy's Fishery Protection Squadron. Aerial surveillance, combined with a satellite Vessel Monitoring System, precisely records the position of all vessels over 15m in length, including any French vessels. In recent weeks, approximately 80 per cent. of French vessels operating off the Yorkshire coast have been inspected when their catches are being landed.

The MFA will be hosting a meeting between members of the UK and French fishing industries in London on 31 October. This will help to develop a dialogue about practical ways of minimising interference with each others' fishing operations, and reduce the risk of damage to fishing gear.

Shellfish

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to change the legal size limit for catching lobsters and crabs in UK waters; what consultations are taking place; with whom; and if he will make a statement. (93968)

A consultation on the legal size limit for lobsters is currently under way, which proposes to increase the minimum landing size of lobsters from 87mm to 90mm carapace length and asks for views as to whether this should be in one stage or incremental steps. It also asks for views on additional measures such as setting a maximum landing size.

The 11-page consultation document is available on the DEFRA website, as is a list of consultees, which includes local authorities, fishermen's associations and universities: www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/lobster

The closing date for the consultation is 17 November 2006.

Most English crab stocks are currently assessed as being fished sustainably, but there are growing concerns that they are at risk of being exploited beyond sustainable limits if fishing effort continues to increase. DEFRA will shortly be publishing a discussion paper on possibilities for controlling effort on fishing for brown crabs. An increase in the European Union minimum landing size for brown crabs is one of the possible measures upon which the Department is inviting comments before formulating more specific proposals.

Water Resource Plans

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures he is taking to encourage standardisation of water resource plans in the south-east. (95078)

All water companies in the south-east currently have voluntary water resources management plans which were produced using guidelines prepared by the Environment Agency. In April 2007 it is proposed to make water resources management plans a statutory requirement, using powers in the Water Act 2003. All water companies' statutory water resources management plans, including those for water companies in the south-east, will be required to include standard information specified in both primary legislation and in directions. The Environment Agency's water resource planning guidelines will be updated and provide additional guidance.

Scotland

Act of Union

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department plans to mark the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between Scotland and England. (91611)

As announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 15 June 2006, Official Report, column 67WS, the anniversary will be marked by the issuing of a commemorative two-pound coin.

The Scotland Office, in liaison with other Departments, is developing plans to mark the anniversary in a number of ways.

Human Trafficking

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the extent of human trafficking into Scotland for the purpose of the sex trade. (93000)

The Home Office and Scottish Executive carried out a joint consultation earlier this year on proposals for an action plan on trafficking. The results of that consultation together with the views expressed in the Joint Committee on Human Rights report on human trafficking published last week, will be taken into account in framing the UK strategy which the Government expect to finalise later this year. I visited in June this year a counter-trafficking project co-ordinated by Glasgow city council which offers victims counselling and support to help re-establish their lives.

Ministerial Office (Dover House)

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the ministerial office in Dover House is (a) occupied and (b) used by his Department. (94673)

Dover House contains a number of ministerial offices, all of which are in regular use. The principal rooms are used by Scotland Office Ministers and the Advocate General for Scotland; other rooms are currently used by the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and by visiting Ministers of the Scottish Executive.

Offshore Northern Seas Conference

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what (a) new initiatives and (b) future meetings are to take place further to the Minister of State attending the Offshore Northern Seas Conference in August 2006. (91065)

[holding answer 13 September 2006]: My hon. Friend, the Minister for Energy, and I shared UK ministerial representation at the ONS Conference in Stavanger. I was particularly pleased to see so many Scottish-based enterprises participating in this major international event. PILOT, the Government/Industry taskforce, will take a continuing interest in aspects of follow-up activity from ONS, which will include:

The Minister for Energy and the Norwegian Minister for Petroleum and Energy will attend the January 2007 meeting of the North Sea Rim Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage where they expect to hear the conclusions from work on future collaboration.

Ongoing bilateral talks with the Norwegian Government at official level and with the industry on additional supplies of gas into the UK.

Current work on supply chain opportunities will be extended to include launch of a second phase cross-border business-to-business mentoring scheme.

House of Commons Commission

Braithwaite Report

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what plans the Commission has for a further review of the management of the House of Commons Service as recommended in the Braithwaite report in 1999. (96209)

The Commission has appointed Sir Kevin Tebbit, KCB to review the implementation of the Braithwaite report on the management and services of the House. The terms of reference of the review are:

To review the implementation of the recommendations of the report of Mr. Michael Braithwaite (HC 745, 1998-99) on the management and services of the House of Commons and his subsequent report of July 2000 on the Serjeant at Arms’ Department, and in particular to assess:

whether the expected benefits have been realised;

what further actions are required for the House Service to achieve the objectives laid down in the Outline Strategic Plan for the House of Commons Administration 2006-11;

whether, in particular, the organisational and staffing arrangements currently in place are adequate to realise the objectives laid down in the Resolution of the House of 26 January 2005 relating to Connecting Parliament with the Public.

Sir Kevin will start work later this month and is expected to report to the Commission by the middle of next year. He will be consulting widely among Members and staff.

Roof Terrace

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission when the Roof Terrace will be opened for use by hon. Members and staff. (93858)

The Roof Terrace has been closed on grounds of health and safety. An assessment of the remedial action required is currently taking place and only when this action has been identified will it be possible to say when the terrace will reopen. Every effort will be made to do so as soon as possible.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will place in the Library the results of the most recent health and safety audit of the Roof Terrace. (94576)

Education and Skills

Aimhigher Campaign

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much his Department has spent on advertising for the Aimhigher campaign in each year since its inception. (94454)

The Aimhigher campaign was launched in 2001 with the aim of raising the aspirations of young people and their parents so that going on to higher education became a real option for them. Since its launch, the Department has spent the following on advertising:

£

2001-02

1,750,000

2002-03

2,650,000

2003-04

3,400,000

Under the Aimhigher Student Finance banner, the Department has also run advertising to raise awareness and understanding about the financial help available for students entering higher education. Since its launch in 2003, the Department has spent the following on advertising:

£

2003-04

790,000

2004-05

1,100,000

2005-06

2,500,000

Apprenticeships

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what support his Department provides for apprenticeships and training in construction and related industries. (94515)

[holding answer 17 October 2006]: At the end of 2005 there were 24,250 young people participating in apprenticeships (apprenticeships and advanced apprenticeships) in construction in England. The funding for construction apprentices from the Learning and Skills Council for 2005/06 was £62,999,222.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he will reply to the letter of 27 June 2006 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regards to Dr. S. Ala-ud-din. (95581)

I refer the right hon. Member to the reply given on 18 October 2006, Official Report, column 1223W.

Data Protection Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance his Department issues to schools on their duties under the Data Protection Act 1998. (95096)

Guidance to the law on data processing and sharing is available for schools and others on the Department’s Teachernet website at http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/atoz/d/data processing/.

Databases (Security Breaches)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many confirmed security breaches of databases controlled by his Department occurred in each of the last five years; whether the breach resulted from internal or external sources in each case; how many records were compromised on each occasion; and what estimate was made of the total number of records accessible to the individuals concerned. (92836)

The number of cases of computer hacking detected in the Department for Education and Skills was nil in 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04. There was one case of computer hacking in 2004-05 which was perpetrated by an outsider. There have been no other cases since then.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much his Department has spent on taxis in the last 12 months. (93117)

Details of expenditure on taxis incurred by the Department over the last 12 months are set out as follows:

1 October 2005 to 30 September 2006—£217,464.15

The expenditure is based on staff travel claims and approved invoices received from taxi companies paid via the Department’s Integrated Financial Information System.

The Department’s Integrated Financial Information System for staff travel was a staged introduction; full implementation was not completed until April 2006. Claims made prior to the introduction of the online system are not included in these figures nor is expenditure for taxi fares incurred abroad or claims by staff that do not have access to the online system. To extract this information would involve disproportionate cost.

Discretionary Barring

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many cases have been considered by the advisory panel on discretionary barring led by Sir Roger Singleton since its establishment in January. (95293)

The Singleton panel of independent experts has considered 1,317 cases since its establishment.

Hampton Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what input (a) his Department and (b) its (i) agencies and (ii) non-departmental public bodies had into the Hampton Review and its report, “Reducing Administrative Burdens: Effective Inspection and Enforcement”. (89554)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 280W.

Learning Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps the Government have taken to ensure his Department is working effectively with (a) the Department of Health, (b) the Department for Communities and Local Government and (c) local authorities to ensure that adequate facilities for the learning disabled are provided. (94745)

The Department is working closely with the Department of Health and the Department of Work and Pensions on a project to improve outcomes for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities including the provision of adequate facilities. As the project progresses it is planned to include the Department for Communities and Local Government and local authorities in the scope of the work.

Nursery Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the Government's 10-year strategy for funding nursery education on the number of places available; and if he will make a statement. (94902)

The Government's 10-year child care strategy sets out our commitments: to extend the free early education entitlement to 38 weeks a year across all settings; to increase the number of free hours each week from 12.5 to 15; and to offer them more flexibly than at present. Around £3 billion per year is provided to local authorities to fund the free entitlement.

The first of those changes was implemented this year with flexibilities to help those providers not able to extend their provision to 38 weeks. Additional funding of £82 million in each of financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08 has been made available to LAs to support the extension to the free entitlement in private, voluntary and independent settings.

We are testing the extension to 15 hours, delivered more flexibly, in 20 local authorities next year, with a view to a full roll-out by 2010. We will conduct a full assessment of impact in the light of findings from the Pathfinders.

We expect there to continue to be sufficient places available to deliver the free early education entitlement to all three and four-year-olds. The closure rate of child care places has fallen significantly since the introduction of the 10-year strategy, indicating that the Government's policy of refocusing local authority budgets towards supporting sustainability, rather than creating new places, is working.

Student Finances

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the expected cost is to the Exchequer per £100 of student loan advanced; and if he will make a statement. (94950)

For maintenance loans, we estimate that for every £100 of loan advanced in FY2006-07, the cost to the Exchequer is £21. For fee loans, we estimate that for every £100 of loan advanced in FY2006-07, the cost to the Exchequer is £33. These estimates are based on the current RAB charges1 issued in my written statement on the costs of student finance on 10 November 2005.

1The RAB charge is an estimate of the percentage of the face value of loans issued in a given year which reflects the resource cost over the expected life of the loan to the Government of making the loans.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will estimate the total value of student loans advanced for the additional top-up fee over the standard fee; what the expected cost of such loans is to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement. (94951)

The table shows planned total expenditure on student loans for fees, based on current policies, in FYs 2006-07 and 2007-08. The figures show total expenditure on loans for fees, not just the addition over the previous fee.

£ million

Financial year

2006-07

2007-08

Cash/face value of loans—plans 1

450

1,130

Resource cost to Exchequer, based on 33 per cent. RAB charge—plans 1,2,3

150

370

1 Figures on an England and Wales basis, rounded to the nearest £10 million. Cash and resource figures may not correspond exactly due to rounding.

2 The RAB charge is an estimate of the percentage of the face value of loans issued in a given year which reflects the resource cost over the expected life of the loan to the Government of making the loans.

3 Figures taken from Departmental Annual Report 2006.

Steady state costs were given in my written statement on 10 November 2005.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many higher education institutions charged the full £3,000 fee in 2006; and what percentage of students took out fee loans. (94952)

There are currently 117 higher education institutions in academic year 2006/07 which have an access agreement with the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) to charge up to £3,000, and who are charging £3,000. These institutions are:

Anglia Ruskin University

Arts Institute at Bournemouth

Aston University

Bath Spa University

Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies

Bishop Grosseteste University College

Bournemouth University

Brunel University

Buckingham Chilterns University College

Canterbury Christ Church University

Central School of Speech and Drama

City University, London

College of St. Mark and St. John

Conservatoire for Dance and Drama

Courtauld Institute of the Arts

Coventry University

Cumbria Institute of the Arts

Dartington College of Arts

De Montfort University

Edge Hill University

Goldsmiths College

Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Harper Adams University College

Heythrop College, University of London

Imperial College London

Institute of Education

Keele University

Kings College London

Kingston University

Lancaster University

Leeds College of Music

Liverpool Hope University

Liverpool John Moores University

London Metropolitan University

London School of Economics and Political Science

London South Bank University

Loughborough University

Manchester Metropolitan University

Middlesex University

Newman College of Higher Education

Norwich School of Art and Design

Nottingham Trent University

Oxford Brookes University

Queen Mary, University of London

Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication

Roehampton University

Rose Bruford College

Royal Academy of Music

Royal Agricultural College

Royal College of Music

Royal Holloway, University of London

Royal Northern College of Music

Royal Veterinary College

School of Oriental and African Studies

School of Pharmacy

Sheffield Hallam University

Southampton Solent University

St. Georges Hospital Medical School

St. Martins College

St. Marys College

Staffordshire University

Trinity Laban

University College Falmouth

University College for the Creative Arts

University College London

University of Bath

University of Birmingham

University of Bolton

University of Bradford

University of Brighton

University of Bristol

University of Cambridge

University of Central England

University of Central Lancashire

University of Chester

University of Chichester

University of Derby

University of Durham

University of East Anglia

University of East London

University of Essex

University of Exeter

University of Gloucestershire

University of Greenwich

University of Hertfordshire

University of Huddersfield

University of Hull

University of Kent

University of Leeds

University of Leicester

University of Lincoln

University of Liverpool

University of Luton

University of Manchester

University of Newcastle upon Tyne

University of Northampton

University of Northumbria at Newcastle

University of Nottingham

University of Oxford

University of Plymouth

University of Portsmouth

University of Reading

University of Salford

University of Sheffield

University of Southampton

University of Sunderland

University of Surrey

University of Sussex

University of Teeside

University of the Arts London

University of the West of England, Bristol

University of Warwick

University of Westminster

University of Winchester

University of Wolverhampton

University of Worcester

Writtle College

Source:

OFFA, Student Loans Company

Information on the number of tuition fee loans taken out will be published in a statistical first release in November 2006 and data are restricted until published.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what his estimate is of the total annual cost of the maintenance grant payable to poorer students in each year from 2003-04 to 2008-09; and if he will make a statement. (94953)

Actual and planned expenditure on maintenance grants payable to poorer students from FY 2003-04 in England and Wales are as follows:

Financial year

Actual/plans

Expenditure on maintenance grants (£ million)

2003-041

0

2004-052

Actual

59

2005-062

Actual

151

2006-073

Plans

374

2007-083

Plans

607

1 There was no expenditure in FY 2003-04 as the Higher Education Grant was not introduced until September 2004.

2 Actual expenditure on the Higher Education Grant in England and Wales.

3 Planned expenditure on the Higher Education Grant, the Maintenance Grant and Special Support Grant in England and Wales.

The Higher Education Grant was introduced in September 2004, and the new Maintenance Grant and Special Support Grant in September 2006. The expenditure data cover all such grants available for poorer students. Data do not include other grants and allowances paid to students in particular circumstances, such as lone parents and students with disabilities. Planned expenditure for FY 2008-09 is not available as it falls outside the current Spending Review allocation.

University Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the average amount of state funding given to students from low-income families during a three-year degree course in each of the last five years. (93675)

The new student support system for students domiciled in England provides extra help for students from low income families, particularly through a mean-tested maintenance grant of up to £2,700. In 2006/07, students with household earnings of £17,500 or less would be entitled to the maximum amount of support.

The table shows the maximum amount of support available annually to new English students entering higher education in each of the last five years. All institutions of higher education also offer a range of bursaries, which are designed to support participation by students from low income families. In 2006/07, all students receiving the maximum maintenance grant will also receive a minimum bursary of £300 per year.

£

Academic year1

Fee remission grant

Tuition fee loan

Maintenance loan2

Maintenance grant3,4

2002/03

1,100

n/a

3,905

0

2003/04

1,125

n/a

4,000

0

2004/05

1,150

n/a

4,095

1,000

2005/06

1,175

n/a

4,195

1,000

2006/07

5n/a

63,000

73,205

2,700

1 In 2002/03 students whose household income was less than £20,480 would receive the full means-tested support available; this value was £20,970 in 2003/04. In 2004/05 following the introduction of the HE grant, students would receive full means-tested support if their household income was £15,200 or less. This rose to £15,580 in 2005/06 and £17,500 in 2006/07. 2 Value of loan is based on the rate of loan paid to students studying outside London, and living away from their parents’ home. 3 The higher education grant was introduced in 2004/05 to help students from lower income backgrounds with the cost of HE. In 2006/07, a new maintenance grant of up to £2,700 was introduced. 4 Data do not include numbers receiving supplementary grants and allowances eg students with disabilities, students with dependents, single parent students, those incurring certain travel costs and those who have recently left care. 5 In 2006/07, students can receive a tuition fee loan to cover the cost of their course fees. 6 The amount of tuition fee loan available is equivalent to the tuition fees charged, up to a maximum of £3,000. 7 The maximum rate of loan is £4,405. This is reduced pro rata for the first £1,200 of the maintenance grant received.

The Student Income and Expenditure Survey is a regular study on students' income, expenditure, borrowing and debt. The most recent survey, carried out in 2004/05, shows that for full time, English domiciled dependent students who are in receipt of a higher education grant and hence have a household income of £15,200 or less, the mean level of student support received was £5,925. For students from high income families, who are those deemed to be paying full tuition fees ie whose household income is £31,973 or more, the mean level of student support received was £2,577. Both figures include student loans, the higher education grant, fee remission grants as well as supplementary grants and allowances for students in particular circumstances. They represent the average level of support for one year, not the duration of the course. The next survey is planned for the 2007/08 academic year.

In addition to the financial support given directly to students, the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s allocation of teaching grant, paid to support teaching and learning, equates to an average £3,820 per student in HE.

Culture, Media and Sport

Digital Television

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to ensure that digital television coverage will be universal and reliable when analogue television broadcasting is discontinued. (95399)

The vast majority of households can receive digital TV services via digital satellite, terrestrial, cable or Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL).

Three quarters of UK households are currently able to receive digital terrestrial television. From switchover, coverage of digital terrestrial television will be increased to substantially match that currently achieved by analogue services.

Hotel Accommodation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans the Government have to introduce compulsory registration of hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation in England. (94769)

The Government have no plans to introduce a statutory accommodation registration scheme. The four voluntary inspection and grading schemes run by VisitBritain, VisitScotland, VisitWales, and the Automobile Association have been standardised and greatly improved following extensive work by this Department and VisitBritain with the tourism industry.

The Tourism Olympic Strategy consultation makes clear that the voluntary schemes will form the basis of the programme for improving the quality of the UK tourism product. This will be necessary if the industry is to make the most of the opportunity of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The consultation ends on 17 November.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many (a) hostels, (b) bed and breakfast establishments and (c) bed spaces were registered in Bournemouth in 2005. (94920)

DCMS does not maintain central records of visitor accommodation providers. The total numbers of visitor accommodation establishments and bed spaces in Bournemouth for 1995, 2001, and 2006 are in my answer of 12 October 2006, Official Report, column 814W. This information was provided by Bournemouth borough council, which has advised my Department that it does not maintain separate records of hostels or bed and breakfast establishments.

Licensing Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 24 July 2006, Official Report, columns 956-7W, on the Licensing Act, what meetings the Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism has held since 24 May with representatives of (a) the licensing trade, (b) local authorities, (c) residents’ groups, (d) magistrates, (e) police officers, (f) village hall associations, (g) sports clubs, (h) performing arts, (i) the tourism industry, (j) fire services and (k) the retail sector to discuss the Licensing Act 2003 and related legislation; and if she will make a statement. (93824)

The answer of 24 July wrongly attributed a meeting with stakeholders as taking place on 24 May. This happened on 6 June. Since then the following meetings have taken place to discuss the Licensing Act.

12 July:

Historic Houses Association

9 October:

Asda, Sainsbury’s, Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, Morrisons, Co-op, United Co-op, Somerfield, Tesco, Wine and Spirits Trade Association, British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores, Musgrave, Budgens, Londis, Association of Chief Police Officers, Trading Standards Institute, LACORS, Home Office and DCMS.

16 October:

Alcohol Concern

18 October:

Better Regulation Commission

I wrote to representatives of several key stakeholder organisations in September inviting them to a meeting which is scheduled for 26 October to discuss the Licensing Act. The following organisations are scheduled to attend:

Home Office; Department for Communities and Local Government; Association of Chief Police Officers; LACORS; LGA; British Retail Consortium; British Beer and Pub Association; Mitchells and Butlers plc; Nexum Leisure; Central Council for Physical Recreation; and Action with Communities in Rural England.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on how many occasions she has visited (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. (94962)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has, during the last 12 months, visited Wales once, Scotland twice but not Northern Ireland.

Obscene Material

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will assess the merits of introducing a classification system for obscene materials for print media mirroring that in place for classifying film materials. (94905)

There is no classification system in place for obscene material in films. Both films and printed material are covered by the Obscene Publications Act 1957. Ultimately it is a matter for the courts to determine what exactly is covered, but obscene material in films or in newspapers is illegal, and could not appear in a classified film, or in any publication. We have no proposals to introduce a classification scheme for newspapers and magazines; because of the extremely tight production deadlines involved, it would quite simply not be possible to factor in the time required for scrutiny. DCMS officials continue to monitor the situation for any evidence of a significant problem that might require Government intervention.

Ofcom

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people were interviewed for the job of chief executive of Ofcom. (94191)

Under the terms of the Office of Communications Act 2002, the chief executive of Ofcom is appointed by the Ofcom board, subject to approval by the Secretaries of State. I am informed that Ofcom’s selection panel invited six candidates for interview, two of whom later withdrew their applications, so four candidates were interviewed. The selection process was conducted by Ofcom in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) Code of Practice.

Olympic Games

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the likely effect of the 2012 Olympic Games on Surrey. (94996)

The Government are determined that the whole of the UK, including Surrey, can contribute to and benefit from the 2012 Olympic games and Paralympic games.

In order to maximise the potential benefits arising from the games across the UK, a Nations and Regions Group (NRG), comprising representatives from every nation and region, has been established. The south east is represented by Mary McAnally, Chair of the South East Regional Sports Board and board member of the Regional Development Agency.

In April 2006 the South East England Development Agency commissioned Locum Consulting to prepare a preliminary review of the potential impacts arising from the games, Review of the Impacts of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games on the South East Region. A copy of the report is available online at the following web address:

http://www.seeda.co. uk/Work_in_the_Region/2012_Games/

The report concluded that potential areas of benefit would include business and inward investment opportunities, the hosting of pre-games training camps, the four-year cultural festival prior to the games, volunteering opportunities, and tourism.

Premises Licence/Temporary Events Notice

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what guidance she has produced on whether an (a) premises licence and (b) temporary events notice is required when a private organisation or individual holding a private not-for- profit event uses commercial caterers who supply alcohol. (94635)

DCMS officials have provided advice in response to individual inquiries about similar circumstances.

A premises licence or temporary event notice will be needed wherever any “sales by retail” of alcohol take place. Whether an event is held privately or for profit is not relevant. If alcohol was given away for free at a private event such as a wedding it would not need a licence. However, where there is a “cash bar”, or where a ticket is sold for a private event and alcohol is provided as a result of the purchase of the ticket, then a licence would be required. A caterer selling alcohol will need a premises licence for the place where the sales take place.

If event organisers are not sure whether an authorisation is required, they should contact their licensing authority (usually the local authority). However, we are currently drawing up guidance to assist people who are organising community based activities and small fundraising events and we will look at including guidance on this kind of scenario.

Sustainable Development Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made on her Department’s sustainable development strategy. (94139)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport followed publication of a sustainable development strategy two years ago with an action plan published this year. We will report formally against the four main target areas (Policy, Estates Management, Communication and the Olympic Games) next spring. The Department is making good use of the opportunities afforded by the refurbishment of its main building to reduce carbon emissions. We are installing energy saving equipment and educating staff in good energy management practice. DCMS is also actively encouraging all its associated non-departmental public bodies, which include the national museums and galleries, the lottery distributors and the national sports bodies, to produce sustainable development action plans and to use their influence to raise public awareness and change patterns of behaviour.

Theatre Museum

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether her Department made a submission to the recent Victoria and Albert Museum consultation on the Theatre Museum; and if she will place in the Library a copy of the submission. (95303)

No submission was made by DCMS to the recent Victoria and Albert consultation on the Theatre Museum.

Prime Minister

Bilderberg Group

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 12 October 2006, Official Report, column 862W, on the Bilderberg Group, if he will provide the information requested in respect of himself since 1997. (95308)

Engagements

To ask the Prime Minister how many times he has visited members of the British armed forces who have been wounded either in Afghanistan or Iraq in hospital since 2001; what the dates were of these visits; and which hospitals he visited. (94797)

I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr. Harper) on 27 February 2006, Official Report, column 36W.

Ministerial Code

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 5W, on the Ministerial Code, what information relating to the number of complaints received may be divined from section 1 of the Ministerial Code; what his policy is on (a) recording and (b) publishing the number of complaints received alleging possible breaches of the code; for what reason his answer did not contain the information sought; and which paragraph of section 1 of the code refers to the process for handling alleged breaches. (95309)

As section 1.4 of the Ministerial Code makes clear, I do not expect to comment on every allegation brought to my attention.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Prime Minister on how many occasions he has visited (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. (94956)

Official Residences

To ask the Prime Minister what the guidelines are on (a) Ministers and (b) relatives of Ministers using official ministerial residences for commercial purposes. (94865)

Queen's Speech

To ask the Prime Minister if he will include a Bill on climate change in the Queen’s Speech. (94539)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Conwy (Mrs. Williams) at Prime Minister’s Questions on 11 October 2006, Official Report, columns 299-300.

Solicitor-General

R v. Lindis Percy (Prosecution Costs)

To ask the Solicitor-General how much the prosecution in the case of R v Lindis Percy at Harrogate Magistrates Court on 18, 19 and 21 September 2006 is estimated to have cost in public funds. (94610)

Ms Percy appeared before Harrogate magistrates court on 18, 19 and 21 September 2006, facing trial on two separate charges of obstructing the highway at RAF Menwith Hill. She was convicted on both charges and was ordered to contribute £150 towards the cost of the prosecution.

It is estimated that the prosecution costs in this case were in the region of £600 (excluding VAT). This figure comprises the advocate’s costs. It does not include witness costs, as all witnesses were police witnesses. Neither does this figure include staff or running costs, which are attributable to the operation of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as a whole and cannot be assessed on an individual case basis. I am also unable to comment on police, court and defence costs as these figures are not kept by the CPS (which is solely responsible for the prosecution). Prosecutions are not about cost, but justice.

Northern Ireland

Cancer Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the take-up is of (a) breast and (b) cervical cancer screening in rural areas by women in their (i) 50s and (ii) 70s; and if he will make a statement. (94113)

Information is not available in the form requested as data cannot be disaggregated any lower than board level. Data are provided for the three board areas, which include mainly rural areas.

Data are not available regarding breast screening uptake rates for women in their 50s. However, the uptake rate for breast screening for women in rural areas in the 50-64 age group is detailed in the table: