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Written Answers

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2006

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 24 October 2006

Scotland

Pensioners

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many (a) male and (b) female pensioners there are in each parliamentary constituency in Scotland. (95774)

The number of male and female state pension claimants in each parliamentary constituency in Scotland is provided in the following table.

Thousand

Gender of claimant

Scotland

Total

Female

Male

Total

943.78

603.98

339.8

Aberdeen North

15.31

9.82

5.49

Aberdeen South

15.76

10.21

5.54

Airdrie and Shotts

13.78

8.97

4.81

Angus

17.67

11.19

6.47

Argyll and Bute

19.81

12.55

7.26

Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

20.41

12.89

7.52

Banff and Buchan

16.97

10.48

6.5

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

20.54

12.75

7.79

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

12.44

7.79

4.65

Central Ayrshire

17.55

11.32

6.23

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

14.59

9.46

5.13

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

13.66

8.8

4.86

Dumfries and Galloway

22.19

13.79

8.4

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

18.44

11.46

6.98

Dundee East

17.04

10.89

6.15

Dundee West

16.34

10.43

5.91

Dunfermline and West Fife

15.54

9.92

5.62

East Dunbartonshire

17.61

11.13

6.48

East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

18.49

11.93

6.55

East Lothian

18.53

11.73

6.79

East Renfrewshire

17.23

11.14

6.09

Edinburgh East

14.2

9.13

5.07

Edinburgh North and Leith

13.44

8.78

4.66

Edinburgh South

14.44

9.54

4.9

Edinburgh South West

14.34

9.25

5.08

Edinburgh West

18.64

11.84

6.8

Falkirk

18.31

11.7

6.6

Glasgow Central

10.69

6.78

3.91

Glasgow East

14.99

9.82

5.17

Glasgow North

9.06

5.91

3.15

Glasgow North East

15.34

10.07

5.26

Glasgow North West

14.64

9.83

4.81

Glasgow South

14.62

9.69

4.93

Glasgow South West

14.45

9.61

4.85

Glenrothes

15.99

10.16

5.83

Gordon

15.25

9.53

5.73

Inverclyde

15.93

10.41

5.52

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

17.36

11.06

6.3

Kilmarnock and Loudoun

17.74

11.34

6.39

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

18.58

11.87

6.71

Lanark and Hamilton East

18.27

11.81

6.45

Linlithgow and East Falkirk

18.38

11.69

6.69

Livingston

13.98

8.94

5.04

Midlothian

14.53

9.23

5.3

Moray

17.28

10.81

6.47

Motherwell and Wishaw

15.73

10.15

5.58

Na h-Eileanan An Iar

6

3.83

2.17

North Ayrshire and Arran

19.68

12.63

7.05

North East Fife

16.91

10.71

6.19

Ochil and South Perthshire

18.63

11.72

6.91

Orkney and Shetland

7.88

4.95

2.93

Paisley and Renfrewshire North

15.57

9.95

5.61

Paisley and Renfrewshire South

16.3

10.55

5.75

Perth and North Perthshire

20.07

12.71

7.36

Ross, Skye and Lochaber

13.18

8.34

4.84

Rutherglen and Hamilton West

17

11.2

5.8

Stirling

15.98

10.15

5.83

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

13.99

8.7

5.28

West Dunbartonshire

16.55

10.91

5.64

House of Commons Commission

Forestry Stewardship Council

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what plans the House Administration has to begin refurbishment work to the parliamentary estate; and whether Forestry Stewardship Council wood is planned to be used in such refurbishment. (94386)

The parliamentary authorities continue to draw up plans for the ongoing refurbishment and upgrade of the parliamentary estate. All wood used on the estate has to be obtained from sustainable managed sources. The specification of materials allows wood suppliers to source timber from forests or plantations that are properly managed and cause no harm to other ecosystems such as those certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council.

Medal Collection

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission by whom the decision was taken to remove the medal collection from their original display cases near the House of Commons Terrace and remount them in new cases; when the decision was taken; and what factors were taken into account when (a) making the decision and (b) commissioning the new cases. (96691)

Following discussions with Members of both Houses, the Serjeant at Arms, who has responsibility for the fabric of the House and is the point of contact for the medal collection, asked the Curator's Office at the start of the summer recess to undertake a redisplay of the medals. The previous display, which was mounted in 1978, was dated and poorly laid out by modern standards. Furthermore evidence of insect infestation had been identified in the display cabinets. As part of the project to refurbish the display, the medals were cleaned, conserved, and documented over the summer, and a new hanging scheme devised and implemented. The felt lining in the existing cabinets was replaced and the glass was brought up to modern museum standards. Following research, the display was reconfigured in a more logical and easily understandable way, with new text labels being provided in order to explain the history and importance of the medals. The final part of the project will include increasing the ambient light level.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what experience in the mounting and displaying of medal collections (a) the individuals who remounted the House of Commons medal collection and (b) the consulted experts had. (96692)

A wide range of specialist museum expertise was brought together by the Curatorial Office for this project. The cleaning and conservation of the medals was carried out by Rupert Harris Conservation, who specialise in metalwork conservation; the graphic design was carried out by Hyperkit; the new hanging system for the medals was designed, fabricated and installed by the Whitewall Company, who specialise in exhibition design and installation for the museum sector. Finally the research and documentation and compilation of text information was undertaken by Andrew Hanham, formerly of the History of Parliament Trust, and an expert in medals.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what assessment has been made of the extent to which the newly mounted medals near the Terrace (a) have been displayed (i) evenly and (ii) showing their ribbons and (b) are labelled appropriately. (96693)

The initiative to refurbish the display cabinets and re-display the medals in a new and more meaningful way has been met with enthusiasm from both Houses. Once lighting has been improved, and the lettering of the text captions resolved so that they are easily read, the project will be complete. There is no proposal to increase the amount of ribbon showing beyond that already on display.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the House authorities will seek further expert curatorial advice on the display of medals near the terrace. (96694)

The House authorities have already sought expert advice. The refurbishment scheme was run by in-house professional curatorial staff, with outside museum experts engaged for each of the specialisms required. Advice was sought from the Ministry of Defence medals office and the display complies with modern museum standards, and once the final parts of the project lighting and labelling are resolved, it will allow information about this little known collection in the House to be more widely accessible.

Slavery

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what plans the Commission has to commemorate the 200th anniversary of (a) the abolition of slavery legislation and (b) the role of William Wilberforce. (96916)

An exhibition on The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and People, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, will be held in Westminster Hall from 23 May to 23 September 2007. Funding for the exhibition has been jointly provided by the House of Commons Commission and the House of Lords authorities. The role of Wilberforce will feature prominently.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will reply to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire’s letter about global warming to the Prime Minister of 6 June, transferred to his Department in July. (95696)

[holding answer 20 October 2006]: I apologise for the delay. A reply was sent on 18 October 2006.

Domestic Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received regarding micro-chips used to monitor domestic waste. (95165)

The Government have received various representations from Members of Parliament and members of the public inquiring about the Government policy on the installation of micro-chips in householders’ bins. These representations included inquiries on the use of chips to monitor domestic waste. Increasing recycling levels is an important element of tackling climate change.

Energy Efficiency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the operation to date of the energy efficiency commitment. (96433)

The Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC) requires energy suppliers to achieve ever more challenging targets for the promotion of household energy efficiency. It has done so very successfully and in a cost-effective way. Three reports on phase 1 of EEC, which concluded in March 2005, have been published to date. These include one by Ofgem, the scheme administrator, and an external evaluation commissioned by DEFRA. The reports are available on the Department’s website: http://defraweb/environment/energy/eec/index.htm.

The data show that EEC phase 1 has exceeded its targets. Measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation are saving 0.4 million tonnes of carbon equivalent per year. Consumers are benefiting by £9 for every £1 they spend, and consumer bills are expected to fall by £3 billion over the period up to 2020. Most low income households and more than two fifths of all households in Great Britain have directly benefited from EEC1.

Executive Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what (a) percentage and (b) total amount his Department has required that the (i) Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, (ii) Agricultural Wages Committee (England), (iii) British Potato Council, (iv) British Waterways, (v) British Wool Marketing Board, (vi) Broads Authority, (vii) Central Science Laboratory, (viii) Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, (ix) Consumer Council for Water, (x) Countryside Agency, (xi) Covent Garden Market Authority, (xii) Natural England, (xiii) Environment Agency, (xiv) Food for Britain, (xv) Gangmasters Licensing Authority, (xvi) Government Decontamination Service, (xvii) Home-Grown Cereals Authority, (xviii) Horticultural Development Council, (xix) Marine Fisheries Agency, (xx) Meat and Livestock Commission, (xxi) Milk Development Council, (xxii) National Forest Company, (xxiii) Pesticides Safety Directorate, (xxiv) Regional Flood Defence Committees, (xxv) Review of Funding Mechanisms for Flood and Coastal Defence, (xxvi) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, (xxvii) Rural Payments Agency, (xxviii) Sea Fish Industry Authority, (xxix) State Veterinary Service, (xxx) Sustainable Development Commission, (xxxi) UK Biodiversity Group, (xxxii) Veterinary Laboratories Agency and (xxxiii) Veterinary Medicines Directorate reduce its budget for 2006-07 from the level planned at the beginning of the financial year; and if he will make a statement. (94753)

As a result of the recent review, the following changes (in value and percentage) from the levels planned at the beginning of the year have been made to the resource budgets for 2006-07 of the bodies listed:

(i) Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales—£Nil

(ii) Agricultural Wages Committee (England)—£Nil

(iii) British Potato Council—£Nil

(iv) British Waterways—£3.934 million (7 per cent.) reduction

(v) British Wool Marketing Board—Nil

(vi) Broads Authority—£Nil

(vii) Central Science Laboratory—£Nil

(viii) Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science—£900,000 (3 per cent.) reduction

(ix) Consumer Council for Water—£Nil

(x) Countryside Agency—include within Natural England (xii) as follows

(xi) Covent Garden Market Authority—£Nil

(xii) Natural England—£12.9 million (7 per cent.) reduction

(xiii) Environment Agency—£23.7 million (5 per cent.) reduction

(xiv) Food From Britain—£403,000 (8 per cent.) reduction

(xv) Gangmasters Licensing Authority—£Nil

(xvi) Government Decontamination Service—£Nil

(xvii) Home-Grown Cereals Authority—£Nil

(xviii) Horticultural Development Council—£Nil

(xix) Marine Fisheries Agency—£1.722 million (6 per cent.) reduction

(xx) Meat and Livestock Commission—£15,000 (4 per cent.) reduction

(xxi) Milk Development Council—£Nil

(xxii) National Forest Company—£300,000 (8 per cent.) reduction

(xxiii) Pesticides Safety Directorate—£839,000 (7 per cent.) reduction

(xxiv) Regional Flood Defence Committees—£Nil

(xxv) Review of Funding Mechanisms for Flood and Coastal Defence—£Nil

(xxvi) Royal Botanic Gardens Kew—£600,000 (3 per cent.) reduction

(xxvii) Rural Payments Agency—£23.0 million (11 per cent.) increase

(xxviii) Sea Fish Industry Authority—£Nil

(xxix) State Veterinary Service—£3.0 million (3 per cent.) reduction

(xxx) Sustainable Development Commission—£Nil

(xxxi) UK Biodiversity Group—£Nil

(xxxii) Veterinary Laboratories Agency—£2.4 million (3 per cent.) reduction

(xxxiii) Veterinary Medicines Directorate—£283,000 (7 per cent.) reduction

Lead Shot Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the extent of lead poisoning as a cause of death for birds. (95187)

Restrictions on shooting over wetlands, and the use of lead weights for fishing, have made a substantial contribution to reducing the contamination of wetland sites and the waterbirds they support. However, some research has shown there is a level of non-compliance in relation to wildfowl.

Work has also been undertaken by Natural England, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and others on the red kite. Initial findings suggest that some red kites are being killed by ingesting lead contained within species on which they are scavenging. Lead within prey species could be from both shotgun cartridges and fragments from rifle bullets. Other predatory species may also be affected, but insufficient research has been carried out to demonstrate this.

My Department is planning to let a contract for a study to identify methods of monitoring compliance with restrictions on shooting over wetlands.

Natural England

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department originally allocated for Natural England first year's operating budget; and how much has been allocated for 2006-07. (96072)

Natural England inherited its budget for 2006-07 from English Nature, the Rural Development Service (RDS) and parts of the Countryside Agency, which came together to create the new organisation. It is, therefore, not strictly possible to make the comparison the hon. Gentleman is looking for.

The full-year ‘core’ budget for Natural England has now been set at just over £170 million, but this does not include a number of significant areas of expenditure such as the full costs of former RDS corporate services and some of the costs of the Shared Service Organisation. Once these and other funding streams are factored in, the total budget will be over £225 million.

The Secretary of State hopes to be able to announce Natural England's 2007-08 budget in the next few days.

Ofwat

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what response his Department has made to the Ofwat Position Paper on the capital restructuring of Thames Water; and if he will make a statement. (96779)

DEFRA offered no response to this paper. This is a matter for Ofwat as part of its independent economic regulation of the water industry in the interests of consumers. I note that Ofwat was able to approve proposals put forward by Thames and that the interests of consumers were furthered by the introduction of a ring-fencing condition in line with best practice in other sectors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussion has taken place in the last two years between Ofwat and his Department on the appointment of officers to the Customer Services Committee covering the London region; and what steps he is taking to monitor their performance in protecting the interests of customers. (96780)

Customer Service Committees were replaced by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) on 1 October 2005. Under the new arrangements, Ofwat is no longer involved in the appointment of consumer representatives. I regularly meet with the National Chair of CCWater to discuss matters of interest to consumers, including matters of particular interest to consumers in the Thames Water area.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what responsibility Ofwat has to (a) monitor, (b) report and (c) intervene in relation to investment commitments of utilities; and if he will make a statement. (96781)

Each year companies provide, in their June return submissions to Ofwat, a range of financial information including levels of investment to meet agreed outputs. This information is published in Ofwat’s “Financial performance and expenditure of the water companies in England and Wales” 2005-06 report. A copy of this report has been placed in the Library of the House.

The choice of capital structures is for the management of the companies, not the regulator. Ofwat has no powers to approve or reject individual company proposals. In each case it considers whether the ring-fence around the regulated company should be strengthened as a means to protect customers from any undue risk.

Culture, Media and Sport

Balen Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will ask the BBC to publish the Balen report. (96551)

Elite Sport

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made in raising the £100 million from private sponsors for elite sport announced in the 2006 Budget; and if she will make a statement. (96547)

UK Sport, the Government's lead agency for elite sport, submitted an options paper in the summer to DCMS on raising £100 million from the private sector for elite athletes.

DCMS is discussing these and other options with HM Treasury.

Ethnic Minorities

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support her Department gives to encourage students from ethnic minorities to take up (a) careers and (b) training in (i) music, (ii) the media and (iii) sport. (96196)

My Department is active in a number of ways. We continue to work very closely with the Department for Education and Skills on the Music Manifesto, which sets out a series of shared aims for music education including improving opportunities for young people to broaden their musical interests and skills, and to develop a world-class work force. These aims are about improving music making opportunities and pathways for progression for all young people, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In addition, the Creative Economy Programme diversity strand has been looking at breaking down barriers to entry into the creative industries for people from disadvantaged and minority groups. This includes, but is not exclusively dedicated to, ethnic minorities and entry into careers in the music and media industries.

In relation to the media, section 27 of the Communications Act 2003 places a duty on Ofcom (the Office of Communications) to promote training and equal opportunities in employment by television and radio broadcasters. The Cultural Diversity Network (CDN) was also launched in October 2000 by television broadcasters with the aim of promoting cultural diversity both on and off-screen.

The UK Film Council’s document, “Success through Diversity and Inclusion” (published 2003) is specifically designed to help increase the diversity of the British film industry’s work force across the film industry value chain. That strategy very clearly references the actions needed to encourage students from black and minority ethnic groups in particular to take up careers in the film industry.

The council’s joint film skills training strategy with Skillset, The Bigger Picture, has also fully integrated the industry’s equality and diversity commitments. In addition, the UK Film Council/Skillset Graduate Fellowship Programme provides graduates from minority ethnic groups with funded work placements for up to one year in film companies that represent different aspects of the film business.

DCMS aims to increase the number of ethnic minorities who participate in sport. A crucial factor of this is to ensure a sufficient and highly skilled workforce supported by a core curriculum and career pathway that will encourage students to work, train, and stay in the sector. It should also represent the communities to allow engagement of ethnic minorities from grassroots participation to the training of coaches.

Our non-departmental public body Sport England, works to build capacity within the delivery system for sport with key partners such as SkillsActive, the National Governing Bodies of Sport and County Sports Partnerships. An important part of this is the promotion of equality in sport, which underpins their work. In addition, Sport England funds the leading sports equity agencies which assist in implementing the Equality Standard for Sport aimed at increasing involvement from ethnic minorities among other groups. The delivery system also provides a framework for training coaches and volunteers.

SkillsActive is licensed by the Government as the Sector Skills Council for active leisure and learning to lead the skills and productivity drive in these sectors through the development of fit for purpose, industry-led qualifications. Their partnership work has developed sports apprenticeship programmes and other endorsed qualifications which must adhere to strict guidelines on ethnic minority registrations.

European Sports Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress she has made in implementing the findings of the European Sports Review. (96508)

The Independent European Sport Review is a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate on how the special nature of sport can best be recognised in both national and EU policy-making. A revised version was published on 16 October.

While it outlines the right direction of travel, it raises some complex and challenging issues that are the subject of ongoing discussion across Whitehall and at European level. The Commission’s forthcoming White Paper on Sport will be key to taking the issues raised forward.

Many of the Review’s recommendations fall directly to the football authorities for implementation. UEFA have already made good progress, recently announcing the European roll out of the UK’s Supporters Direct initiative. I look forward to seeing further progress in the near future and to working with stakeholders and EU colleagues to take these important issues forward.

Gambling

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the prevalence studies on problem gambling relating to (a) bingo, (b) betting shops and (c) casinos. (95722)

The latest data available about the levels of problem gambling in Britain are drawn from the last national prevalence survey, published in 2000. They do not permit definitive conclusions to be drawn for particular gambling activities, but have been used in conjunction with other data to assess relative risks.

The Gambling Commission is conducting a further prevalence study and will report in September 2007.

London Olympics

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what locations in the East Midlands are being considered by her Department to serve as training sites for athletes for the 2012 Olympics. (96109)

The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) is putting together a Pre Games Training Camp Guide in which facilities in the UK that have been selected as providing a suitable training environment are listed by location and by sport.

LOCOG have released details on their website, inviting expressions of interest from potential host facilities. Applications can be made on the London 2012 website: www.london2012.com/trainingcamps. Applications will initially be assessed locally with selection coordinated by the Nations and Regions Group Coordinator. A proposed list of facilities will then be submitted to LOCOG for final selection. This guide will be the primary means of informing National Olympic Committees (NOC) and National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) when choosing where to stage their pre-games preparation camps for 2012. The guide will be distributed to NOCs and NPCs in July 2008.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when she will reply to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire’s letter of 24 August 2006, reference CMS 47989/gh, concerning a constituent. (95699)

[holding answer 20 October 2006]: I replied to the hon. Gentleman’s letter of 24 August, reference CMS 50109 on 23 October.

Sportsmatch

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was provided to Sportsmatch by her Department in each year since 1992; and if she will make a statement. (96548)

Funding for Sportsmatch was originally granted direct from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Since 1 April 1999 this funding has been channelled to Sportsmatch via Sport England. The annual funding since 1992 is as follows:

Funding (£ million)

1992-93

1

1993-94

2.9

1994-95

3.3

1995-96

3.7

1996-97

3.2

1997-98

3.2

1998-99

3.2

1999-2000

3.37

2000-01

3.37

2001-02

3.55

2002-03

3.675

2003-04

3.675

2004-05

3.675

2005-06

3.675

Total

45.490

Television Rights (Cricket)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made on arranging a meeting between her Department, the English Cricket Board and the broadcasters to discuss television rights; and if she will make a statement. (96550)

The Department has contacted the relevant parties for their availability to attend a meeting and await responses.

Defence

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what quantity of stores and equipment are being locally sourced in Afghanistan; (94871)

(2) where the local purchase team of the Royal Logistics Corps supplying troops in Helmand Province is located.

[holding answer 17 October 2006]: There is no Royal Logistic Corps local purchase team in Helmand Province. Where necessary, local purchases are made by the Civil Secretariat team, which is part of the National Support Element and based in Kandahar.

The Defence Logistics Organisation provides the majority of supplies to troops in theatre. Only a very small quantity of supplies is purchased locally. Articles such as mobile phones are purchased locally on an ad hoc basis. In remote locations troops may also purchase local produce to supplement their ration packs.

Additionally, a weekly souk has been set up at both Kandahar and Camp Bastion, where cleared local market traders sell local products.

British Nuclear Tests (Australia)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has discussed the Australian Participants in British Nuclear Tests (Treatment) Bill 2006 with the Australian Government. (93065)

Defence Ministers have not discussed the Australian Participants in British Nuclear Tests (Treatment) Bill 2006 with the Australian Government though provisions of the Bill have been discussed at official level.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to provide the hon. Member for North East Milton Keynes with a substantive reply to his letter of 2 October to Wing Commander Conway, Station Commander RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. (96826)

I replied to the hon. Gentleman on 20 October, in accordance with our stated 15 working day target for answering correspondence.

Departmental Accounts

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of the National Audit Office's management letters relating to his Department's annual accounts for each financial year since 1997-98. (93035)

I will write to the hon. Gentleman, and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Departmental Strategic Plan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's Strategic Plan for 2005-06; (94513)

(2) if he will place in the Library a copy of his Department's Corporate Plan for 2005-06.

There is no single Defence document either titled ‘Department's Strategic Plan 2005-06’ or ‘Department's Corporate Plan for 2005-06’. The Department's strategic direction is set out in the Defence White Paper “Delivering Security in a Changing World” (Cm 6041-1). We will be publishing a further Defence White Paper this Parliament. The Departmental Plan 2005-09, which sets out in detail how we as a Department fulfil the aspirations we have set out in the Defence White Paper, has already been placed in the Library.

Elias Judgment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to make a statement on his Department's reaction to the Elias judgment with regard to the Far East Internees Ex-Gratia Scheme. (94899)

I refer my hon. Friend to my written statement of 17 October 2006, Official Report, columns 46-47WS.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what investigations are taking place into extrajudicial assassinations in Basra; and how many (a) arrests and (b) convictions have resulted from such investigations; (91462)

(2) what steps have been taken to remove the influence of sectarian political parties from the Basra Police Service;

(3) what steps have been taken to prevent extra-judicial killings in Basra; and if he will make a statement.

We work closely with the Iraqi Security Forces, including with the Iraqi Police, to maintain security in Basra and to prevent acts of violence. The removal of militia influence within the Iraqi Security Forces is a key element of the programme of reform in the security sector.

UK forces do not have the ability to prosecute Iraqis, though we do, where it is deemed essential, intern small numbers on the grounds that they represent an imperative threat to security. Where there is an evidential case against individuals, we aim to transfer them to the Iraqi judicial system for investigation and prosecution.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training is being given to British troops to ensure that they respect the rights of civilians in Iraq. (92943)

All service personnel receive training on the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) during their initial training. It ranges from up to two hours of training for soldiers, through to eight hours of training for junior officers, including a practical exercise on search, arrest and detention. While LOAC and its implications are first introduced during initial training, it is recognised that this is a very complex topic for the inexperienced and requires continual reinforcement during productive service. Therefore, the content and frequency of the training in productive service is appropriate to rank, responsibility and force readiness. Specifically, all army and RM personnel are required to undertake annual refresher training in LOAC each year as part of their Mandatory Annual Training Tests programme. LOAC training includes instruction on the treatment of combatants, POWs and civilians, as well as rules of engagement, the Law of Self Defence and emphasises that only reasonable and proportionate force may be used where a necessity of defence arises. Additional and enhanced LOAC training is also provided, again related to rank and role of the individual, in command and staff courses for selected SNCOs and officers.

Prior to deployment on operations all personnel undertake pre-deployment training, which includes LOAC and theatre-specific operational law and cultural awareness briefings. These lessons are also reinforced during in-theatre arrival briefings. Units and personnel specifically detailed to undertake prisoner handling/detainee duties undertake 10 days of specialist training, both theoretical and practical, under the control of the Provost Marshal (Army).This training has been subject to International Committee of the Red Cross and British Red Cross observations, and we have engaged both organisations to ensure UK planning for treatment of detainees is appropriate.

In addition to LOAC training, Service personnel are aware that under the Service Discipline Acts, they are subject to English criminal law wherever they are serving. This provides that any conduct on operations which would constitute a criminal offence if committed in England, can be prosecuted by courts-martial.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what support will be available to extended families of the Staffordshire Regiment who will be serving in Iraq. (95521)

The unit has held pre-deployment briefings for families of its personnel at its home base in Wiltshire and in Wolverhampton to provide information about the operational tour and what support is available to both personnel and families. All families have been issued with deployment packs containing contact details of both the Unit Welfare Officer and the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, either directly or via the soldiers. The unit has also requested addresses and e-mail addresses of family members, including partners, so that they can provide regular updates from theatre to those families away from the home base in Wiltshire.

The first point of contact for families should normally be the Unit Welfare Office, which remains in the UK when the unit is deployed, though they can also contact the Confidential Support Line, Army Welfare Service or in an emergency the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre.

In the unfortunate event of any casualties, the families and other nominated emergency contacts will be supported by the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre and Visiting Officers, who will keep them informed of developments and assist the families in accessing any appropriate welfare support.

Iraq/Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 19 December 2005, Official Report, column 2342W, on Iraq/Afghanistan, if he will keep the families of the dead soldiers informed of proceedings; when he expects arrests to take place; which Iraqi police divisions he expects to carry out the arrests; whether British troops are expected to be involved; what recent discussions he has had with the Iraqi authorities on this investigation; and what progress has been made in the investigation. (95320)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 7 June 2006, Official Report, column 624W. My right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary has since discussed this case with the Iraqi Prime Minister and his Interior Minister on 27 August. The British ambassador in Baghdad raised it with the Iraqi Interior Minister in a recent meeting, and we are continuing to provide whatever assistance the Central Criminal Court of Iraq needs. The families continue to be kept fully informed.

Local Purchasing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on local purchasing in theatres of war. (94873)

[holding answer 17 October 2006]: It is MOD policy that as much business as possible is awarded to local contractors (companies based in the country), as this aids the local economy while ensuring best commercial practice is followed and subject to the limitations imposed by the local security situation.

Long-term Absence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what definition his Department uses of long-term illegally absent; and what the punishment is for long-term absence. (91285)

In relation to members of the armed forces, offences relating to absence are set out in sections 37 and 38 of the Army Act 1955 (with equivalent provisions under the Air Force Act 1955 and the Naval Discipline Act 1957). There are two main relevant offences: absence without leave and desertion. There are no separate offences of short-term illegal absence or long-term illegal absence. To be guilty of the offence of being absent without leave, an individual must knowingly and intentionally be away from their unit, or place of duty, without reasonable explanation. A member of the armed forces is guilty of desertion if he is absent without leave either with the intention of remaining permanently absent, or with the intention of avoiding service abroad or to avoid service before an enemy.

The maximum sentence for being absent without leave is two years’ imprisonment. The maximum sentence for desertion is life imprisonment.

Medical Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of the closure of military hospitals on the standard of medical support for service personnel; (94485)

(2) what assessment he has made of the merits of opening new military hospitals.

The decisions to close all UK military hospitals were taken in the last decade, and remain valid today. It had become clear that the existing military hospitals did not have a sufficient patient volume or range of cases to develop and maintain the skills of our medical personnel. This would, over time, have reduced the level of care the Defence Medical Services (DMS) would be able to provide to our military patients both in peacetime and, crucially, on deployed operations.

The creation of Ministry of Defence Hospital Units in NHS hospitals has ensured the high standard of medical support to Service personnel kept pace with the advances in medical practice. Equally, the relatively low total number of military in-patients would barely fill two military wards and is insufficient to justify a dedicated military hospital.

Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers attending the Operational Training Advisory Group training package for Afghanistan held at Lydd Training Camp between 16 and 21 July were subsequently deployed to Iraq; and what extra theatre-specific training was provided for such soldiers. (91497)

The number of individuals who attended the Operational Training Advisory Group training package for Afghanistan held at Lydd Training Camp between 16 and 21 July, but who subsequently deployed to Iraq is not centrally held. This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Approximately 80 per cent. of the Operational Training Advisory Group training is generic and about 20 per cent. theatre specific but all individuals receive additional theatre specific training during the reception, staging and onward integration process on arrival in an operational theatre. This covers procedures specific to theatre, acclimatisation and cultural awareness. This training lasts between three to five days.

Minister for Women

Sexually Explicit Publications

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment she has made of the effect of the unregulated sale and display of magazines and tabloid titles carrying sexually explicit and degrading images of women on efforts to improve gender equality in England. (95565)

The Government recognise that some images and articles in magazines and newspapers on sale in many newsagents may be offensive to many people. The controls which exist on unsuitable material aim to strike a balance between freedom of expression and protection of the public and to be proportionate to the potential harm that might be caused.

Under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 it is a criminal offence to publish any article which is considered to be obscene; that is, an article which in the view of the court tends to “deprave and corrupt”. The Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981, also makes it an offence to display any indecent matter which is exposed to view in a public place or where it can be seen in a public place—it is for the courts to decide in each case whether the material in question is indecent or not. The Act also applies to the front covers of newspapers and magazines on public display.

If a newspaper or magazine does not contravene the criminal law, it is for the newsagent to decide whether it should be sold and, if so, where it should be displayed in the shop. Most newsagents and supermarkets abide by a voluntary Code of Practice, refusing to sell “adult” magazines to persons under the age of 18 and placing sexually explicit magazines on their top shelves.

Government policies in the round are tackling the portrayal of women in the media.

Work and Pensions

Benefit Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effect of his policy of encouraging the payment of benefit via bank accounts on the number of people going into debt as a result of banks imposing excessive penalty charges when the person exceeds overdraft limits or a direct debit or cheque are returned. (93224)

There is no reason to expect that those using an account to receive their benefit or pension are more or less likely to face bank charges than any other account holder.

Paying benefits into bank accounts contributes to the Government's wider financial inclusion agenda. For example, households that operate without mainstream banking services may pay higher charges for basic financial transactions such as accessing cash or paying utility bills; are more vulnerable to loss or theft through lack of security; and may face additional barriers to employment.

The Office of Fair Trading is currently examining charges in retail banking, including penalty charges on current accounts.

Carer's Credit

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in each (a) Government office region and (b) county receive the carer's credit for the state second pension; and what each figure is as a ratio of the population in each region and county. (94836)

The information is not available in the format requested. However, such information as is available is in the following table:

Government office region

Total number of carers

Percentage of population estimates

North East

83,000

5.3

North West

219,000

5.3

Yorkshire and Humber

162,000

5.3

East Midlands

130,000

5.0

West Midlands

177,000

5.5

Eastern

178,000

5.3

London

239,000

4.9

South East

246,000

5.0

South West

155,000

5.2

Wales

93,000

5.3

Scotland

143,000

4.5

Total Great Britain

182,5000

5.1

Notes: 1. Information is for 2003-04 tax year. 2. Carers who do not work or earn below the lower earnings limit build up entitlements to state second pension if throughout the tax year they are looking after a child under age six and get child benefit for that child; or looking after an ill or disabled person and qualify for home responsibilities protection; or entitled to carer’s allowance. 3. Figures are based on a 1 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a high degree of sampling error and should be used only as a guide. 4. Figures are shown to the nearest thousand. 5. Population estimates relate to people of working age and are taken at mid-2003. Source: Second Tier Pension Provision.

Employers' Liability Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of companies with invalid or insufficient employers' liability insurance. (93779)

[holding answer 16 October 2006]: Research conducted for Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2003 indicated that less than 1 per cent. of companies had failed to take out employers’ liability (compulsory) insurance (ELCI).

HSE is not aware of any complaints concerned with deficiencies in ELCI policies, nor of any prosecutions brought by HSE under the ELCI Act on the grounds of insufficiency.

Pensioners

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people receive the retirement pension age addition for those aged 80 years or over in each constituency in Scotland. (95751)

The information requested is in the following table:

Parliamentary constituencies

State Pension age addition recipients

Aberdeen North

3,400

Aberdeen South

3,600

Airdrie and Shotts

2,200

Angus

4,100

Argyll and Bute

4,300

Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

4,000

Banff and Buchan

3,500

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

4,500

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

2,300

Central Ayrshire

3,900

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

2,800

Cumbernauld Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

2,300

Dumfries and Galloway

4,300

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

4,100

Dundee East

3,700

Dundee West

3,500

Dunfermline and West Fife

3,000

East Dunbartonshire

3,400

East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

3,900

East Lothian

4,500

East Renfrewshire

4,000

Edinburgh East

2,700

Edinburgh North and Leith

3,200

Edinburgh South

4,100

Edinburgh South West

3,800

Edinburgh West

4,400

Falkirk

3,900

Glasgow Central

2,200

Glasgow East

3,100

Glasgow North

2,600

Glasgow North East

3,000

Glasgow North West

3,600

Glasgow South

3,400

Glasgow South West

2,900

Glenrothes

3,500

Gordon

3,400

Inverclyde

3,500

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

4,200

Kilmarnock and Loudoun

4,200

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

4,100

Lanark and Hamilton East

3,600

Linlithgow and East Falkirk

3,800

Livingston

2,100

Midlothian

3,400

Moray

3,500

Motherwell and Wishaw

3,400

Na h-Eileanan an lar

1,300

North Ayrshire and Arran

3,800

North East Fife

4,200

Ochil and South Perthshire

4,000

Orkney and Shetland

1,900

Paisley and Renfrewshire North

3,200

Paisley and Renfrewshire South

3,400

Perth and North Perthshire

4,800

Ross Skye and Lochaber

2,800

Rutherglen and Hamilton West

3,100

Stirling

3,500

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

3,400

West Dunbartonshire

3,400

Notes: 1. Data are taken from the 5 per cent. extract of the Pension Service Computer System as at September 2005, and the figures are subject to a degree of sampling variation. They are also adjusted to be consistent with the overall caseload from the Work and Pension Longitudinal Study. 2. The figures are rounded to the nearest hundred. 3. Parliamentary constituencies are those for the Westminster Parliament. Source: DWP Information Directorate

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners (a) are liable for tax on their private pensions and (b) have an annual income of less than £10,000. (89197)

I have been asked to reply.

There are an estimated 1.1 million pensioners liable for tax on their private pensions with an annual income of less than £10,000.

International Development

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his assessment is of progress made towards meeting Afghanistan’s millennium development goals. (96418)

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is off track to meet all millennium development goals. Years of conflict and insecurity have denied basic services that we take for granted, like health care and schooling; and, one in four Afghan children dies before their fifth birthday. The reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is a long- term initiative which will be reliant upon the commitment of donor agencies for many years yet.

The Government of Afghanistan recognised in the 2005 millennium development goal report “Vision 2020” that Afghanistan is unlikely to meet any of the millennium development goals by 2015. In light of this it was agreed that Afghanistan should adapt the global timelines and targets to make them meaningful in the Afghan context. The Government therefore extended the time period for achieving the targets to 2020; revised a number of the targets to make them more relevant to Afghanistan and added a ninth goal on enhancing security.

There has been progress towards these goals since 2001: presidential and parliamentary elections were held. Six million children have returned to school, over a third of them girls. 13,000 girls’ and boys’ primary and secondary schools have been built and 15 teacher training centres have been established. 35,000 lives have been saved from routine immunisations which our children are given as a matter of course.

In 2005-06 the legal economy is estimated to have grown by 14 per cent. 3.5 million refugees have returned home. Major road rehabilitation is connecting major urban centres and Afghanistan with its neighbours. Reliable electricity supply is being restored. The telecommunications sector is growing fast, connecting businesses and people in Afghanistan.

Juba Initiative Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the written statement of 17 October 2006, Official Report, column 51WS, who will be eligible to draw down from the Juba Initiative Fund. (96266)

The Juba Initiative Fund is directly managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs who have international staff based in Juba. They will be responsible for making all payments upon receipt of invoices and drawing down resources as required from a UN bank account.

The fund will be used to help pay for a Secretariat led by the Vice President of Southern Sudan and a Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team. Costs of the Secretariat include the food and accommodation costs of the delegates at the talks. The UN will pay the cost of accommodation and food directly to the hotels that are being used and no one will receive any cash payments.

South Asia

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to reduce income equalities in the Indian sub-continent. (95800)

DFID’s programmes in South Asia operate in support of national government initiatives to reduce poverty and income inequality. Our programmes to do so in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are set out in Country Assistance Plans agreed with the national Governments. The total of DFID bilateral assistance in 2005-06 to these countries was £437 million.

In addition to these funds, the UK Government contribute to European Community and UN activities.

DFID’s activities in individual countries to address poverty and income inequality are widely varied, and include:

Programmes to increase health and education outcomes for the poorest and most remote communities, with a particular focus on improving the health of mothers and children;

Rural livelihoods projects to improve and diversify agricultural incomes;

Support for governance reforms to improve the effectiveness of public expenditure management, leading to the allocation of further resources targeting the poorest;

Projects aimed at making improvements in the poorest urban areas;

Programmes to improve access to water and sanitation facilities;

Partnerships with agencies such as the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to achieve sustainable and equitable human development.

Transport

A14

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the financial cost to businesses of accidents or delays on the A14 in each year since 1997. (95546)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the volume of traffic using the A14 has been in each year since 1997. (95550)

Figures are given for the section of the A14 trunk road running between Newmarket and Felixstowe.

Following are tables which indicate the traffic flows between A14/A11/A1304 Waterhall Interchange (J38) to A14/A134 St Saviours Interchange (J43) and A14/A134 St Saviours Interchange (J43) to Felixstowe (J62).

A14 Waterhall to A134 St Saviours Interchange

Average daily traffic flow1

1997

239,000

1998

39,293

1999

40,805

2000

42,073

2001

42,208

2002

42,138

2003

42,434

2004

42,732

2005

41,619

20063

n/a

n/a = not available.

1 Daily traffic flow is 24-hour annual average daily total from automatic traffic counter at Risby.

2 Calculated value.

3 To date.

A14 St Saviours Interchange to Felixstowe

Average daily traffic flow1

1997

42,124

1998

40,858

1999

46,850

2000

45,642

2001

49,085

2002

50,109

2003

52,269

2004

54,896

2005

52,764

20062

56,184

1 Daily traffic flow is 24-hour annual average daily total from automatic traffic counter at Ipswich southern bypass.

2 To date.

Figures for the entire length of the A14 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Airport Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that the level of security checking required for airside airport staff by his Department is the same as that required for Criminal Records Bureau checks. (93682)

The level of security checking for airside staff exceeds that which a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check on its own could provide. The Department mandates a regime which involves the confirmation of identity via an acceptable document, such as a valid passport, and verification of references for the past five years, including any gaps. This is supported by a check of unspent criminal records, available from the Criminal Records Bureau’s equivalent agency in Scotland. Additionally, airport staff who undertake a security duty, such as searching and screening passengers and baggage, are subject to national security vetting to counter-terrorist check level.

Airports (Terrorism)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his Answer of 13 September 2006, Official Report, columns 2265-66W, on terrorism, when procedures to deal with a terrorist attack were last exercised at (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick, (c) Stansted and (d) London City airport. (94140)

[holding answer 16 October 2006]: Prior to August 2006, I confirm that procedures to deal with a terrorist attack were last exercised at:

(a) Heathrow on 7 July 2005 in response to the events in London on that day. Previously, the airport also undertook a large scale, multi agency desk-top exercise on 14 January 2004;

(b) Gatwick on 23 November 2005;

(c) Stansted on 9 March 2006;

(d) London City Airport in November 2005.

Blue Badge Parking

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to introduce a right of appeal against a decision of a local council to refuse a request for a blue badge for parking concessions for people with severe walking difficulties. (92931)

The Department is currently finalising new improved guidance to local authorities on the blue badge scheme. This will include strong recommendations for internal procedures to deal with appeals against a local authority’s decision not to issue a badge. Specifically, it will recommend detailed written explanation of the grounds for refusal and an appeals system that is clear, straightforward and fair and not in itself a deterrent to applying for a badge.

The draft guidance will form part of a regulatory package on which we intend to go out to consultation later this year.

Bus Staff (Violence Protection)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received on the protection of passengers and staff from violence on buses. (94431)

The Department for Transport regularly receives correspondence from MPs and the public on a range of bus issues including issues around the safety and security of bus passengers.

Buses

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of rural householders were within a 10 minute walk of a regular bus service in each of the last 20 years. (93809)

The following table shows data for 1985-86 to 2005 on the percentage of rural households that are within (a) 6 minutes’ walk and (b) 13 minutes’ walk of a bus stop with a service at least once an hour.

Percentage of households within (a) 6 minutes and (b) 13 minutes of a bus stop with a service at least once an hour: Great Britain.

Percentage of households

6 minutes or less

13 minutes or less1

1985-86

30

35

1989-91

31

37

1990-92

35

40

1991-93

42

48

1992-94

46

52

1993-95

44

51

1994-96

42

48

1995-972

34

38

1996-98

35

39

1997-99

36

43

1998-2000

39

45

1999-01

44

50

2002

41

47

2003

48

54

2004

47

56

2005

45

54

1 Includes households within 6 minutes’ walk.

2 Figures for 1995-97 onwards are based on weighted data.

Source:

DfT National Travel Survey

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many pensioners qualified for free (a) off-peak national and (b) local bus travel in each county in (i) 1986, (ii) 1996 and (iii) 2006. (93870)

Free off-peak national bus travel is to be introduced in April 2008. Information on eligible pensioners, or those who would have been eligible had a statutory concession existed, is shown by each county, unitary authority and Passenger Transport Executive in the following table. Information on the eligible population of pensioners is taken from the Census produced by the Office for National Statistics. A statutory minimum concession for bus travel was introduced in the Transport Act 2000 and the eligibility criteria for pensioners changed in 2003. Data for 1986 and 1996 refer to men aged 65 or older and women aged 60 or older. Data for 2005 refer to all those aged 60 or older.

Thousands of eligible pensioners in mid:

1986

1996

2005

Bath and North East Somerset UA

33.7

34.5

39.6

Bedfordshire

51.3

58.3

77.4

Blackburn with Darwen UA

24.1

22.2

24.0

Blackpool UA

37.8

33.7

35.7

Bournemouth UA

44.3

40.6

40.8

Bracknell Forest UA

10.7

13.5

17.3

Brighton and Hove UA

59.3

49.8

48.3

Bristol, City of UA

77.1

70.4

72.3

Buckinghamshire

68.4

76.2

99.8

Cambridgeshire

79.5

89.7

118.9

Cheshire

112.0

124.4

159.1

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

100.1

110.3

141.2

Cumbria

95.7

99.8

124.7

Darlington UA

19.1

19.2

22.2

Derby UA

39.4

42.0

48.6

Derbyshire

130.2

137.8

173.0

Devon

151.2

162.0

201.2

Dorset

89.0

98.7

123.2

Durham

89.1

93.5

113.1

East Riding of Yorkshire UA

55.3

62.8

84.2

East Sussex

128.7

126.3

144.6

Essex

214.9

240.4

306.6

Gloucestershire

99.5

108.9

134.9

Greater London

1191.6

1073.3

1165.2

Greater Manchester PTE

454.9

439.4

500.6

Halton UA

17.7

18.6

22.2

Hampshire

189.0

217.9

283.9

Hartlepool UA

15.2

16.3

19.2

Herefordshire UA

31.6

36.2

47.5

Hertfordshire

161.4

174.3

211,5

Isle of Wight UA

32.7

33.1

40.9

Kent

250.5

257.7

313.7

Kingston upon Hull UA

46.7

45.4

47.3

Lancashire

211.8

215.1

260.4

Leicester UA

49.4

46.6

47.1

Leicestershire

90.0

104.3

137.8

Lincolnshire

111.7

131.6

176.2

Luton UA

22.9

24.2

30.8

Medway UA

34.6

35.3

45.3

Merseyside PTE

269.3

266.6

298.6

Middlesbrough UA

22.3

23.9

27.0

Milton Keynes UA

17.4

22.8

32.2

Norfolk

155.3

172.9

220.7

North East Lincolnshire UA

27.7

29.6

35.3

North Lincolnshire UA

25.2

28.8

36.7

North Somerset UA

37.4

40.2

50.6

North Yorkshire

107.7

115.5

146.0

Northamptonshire

92.7

99.7

128.6

Northumberland

57.1

60.6

76.2

Nottingham UA

50.2

47.6

46.5

Nottinghamshire

124.8

137.7

173.3

Oxfordshire

88.2

96.6

123.1

Peterborough UA

21.9

24.9

29.9

Plymouth UA

44.9

44.8

51.9

Poole UA

29.3

31.1

36.6

Portsmouth UA

37.5

34.2

35.7

Reading UA

21.9

21.2

23.3

Redcar and Cleveland UA

23.4

25.9

32.8

Rutland UA

5.2

6.1

9.0

Shropshire

49.8

56.4

73.8

Slough UA

15.0

15.7

18.0

Somerset

95.3

106.0

133.7

South Gloucestershire UA

31.0

37.7

52.1

South Yorkshire PTE

237.7

239.3

276.3

Southampton UA

37.8

37.6

40.1

Southend-on-Sea UA

39.7

36.0

38.3

Staffordshire

120.5

138.0

186.5

Stockton-on-Tees UA

25.2

29.2

37.1

Stoke-on-Trent UA

46.1

46.4

51.0

Suffolk

123.2

133.6

170.2

Surrey

188.4

195.1

233.2

Swindon UA

24.6

27.7

34.3

Telford and Wrekin UA

18.2

21.2

29.9

Thurrock UA

18.8

20.6

26.1

Torbay UA

34.3

33.0

38.8

Tyne and Wear PTE

210.4

212.1

235.6

Warrington UA

28.5

30.6

39.5

Warwickshire

81.8

91.2

118.2

West Berkshire UA

18.8

21.3

28.1

West Midlands PTE

459.8

467.2

526.3

West Sussex

167.7

170.0

199.4

West Yorkshire PTE

363.4

363.1

417.3

Wiltshire

70.6

77.4

100.7

Windsor and Maidenhead UA

22.2

23.6

28.0

Wokingham UA

15.4

19.1

27.6

Worcestershire

84.6

97.7

129.2

York UA

32.4

34.0

40.6

Crossrail

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with HM Treasury on the financing of Crossrail. (95494)

[holding answer 20 October 2006]: The Secretary of State has regular discussions with HM Treasury, including on such matters to do with the financing of Crossrail as may be relevant at the time.

Cyclists

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of cycling (a) injuries and (b) deaths which may have been prevented had the cyclist been wearing a helmet in each of the last five years. (96297)

The evidence indicates that cycle helmets provide protective benefits in the event of a collision and therefore prevent and reduce injuries. Research suggests that between one third and one half of pedal cycle casualties attending hospital sustained an injury to the head or face.

However, we do not know how many head injuries may have been prevented or reduced had the cyclist been wearing a helmet, since we do not know what level of protection is offered in different types of accidents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department spent on advertising the dangers of cycling without wearing a helmet in each year since 1997. (96298)

The Department's activity to promote cycle safety forms part of the THINK! road safety campaign and encourages riders to wear protective clothing including helmets whenever they are out on their bikes. We have developed on and offline resources aimed at 7 to 16-year-olds containing cycle safety messages which include Cyclesmart, a partnership with Disney, Cyclesense and Skillz on Wheelz campaigns aimed at teens. This activity has been ongoing since 2003.

In fiscal year 2003-04, we ran advertising focused on schools (primarily school diaries) costing £65,000.

In fiscal year 2005-06 we invested £205,000 on advertising promoting Skillz on Wheels and the Cyclesmart websites.

Due to departmental reorganisations, sourcing total expenditure figures for prior to 2002 would involve disproportionate costs. The Department's executive agencies have not run separate campaigns focusing on cycling helmets in the past four years.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent by his Department on food and alcohol for its staff working out of office in each year since 2001-02. (91900)

It is the policy in the Department for Transport and its agencies that staff are not reimbursed for expenditure on alcoholic beverages. Reimbursement for food is not recorded separately in the Department and the majority of agencies, but forms part of the rules for day and night subsistence allowances. Subsistence costs, and specific food costs where available, are included in the following table. Two agencies, GCDA and DSA cannot separate travel and subsistence, and so a total figure including food, accommodation, and travel is shown. Information about food costs alone would be available only at disproportionate cost.

£

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

DfT(C)

Total subsistence allowance

332,027

356,590

346,878

365,442

GCDA1

Total travel and subsistence

204,729

210,385

254,352

260,038

192,172

MCA2

HA2

DSA

Total travel and subsistence

3345,324

3317,559

3,760,000

4,840,000

5,560,000

VOSA

Total subsistence allowance

358,232

378,902

442,565

DVLA

Total subsistence

247,890

321,220

367,400

392,670

VCA

Food

2,917

3,976

8,347

5,510

4,660

1 GCDA joined DfT in November 2005. 2 Available only at disproportionate cost. 3 DSA changed their accounting procedure for 2003-04, resulting in the apparently higher figure.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of (a) staff and (b) new staff employed since April 2005 in (i) his Department and (ii) each of the agencies for which he has responsibility is recorded as disabled. (92182)

The Cabinet Office publishes statistics on staffing facts and figures across the civil service. The Civil Service Statistics 2005 report includes details of the number of staff by disability status.

Records for the Department of Transport and its agencies indicate the following:

Total staff

Recorded as disabled

Percentage disabled

Percentage of new staff employed since April 2005 recorded as disabled

DfT(C) exc. agencies

1,990

50

2.5

0.82

DVLA

6,770

520

7.6

2.24

DSA

2,670

90

3.5

1.27

HA

2,150

90

4.1

1.3

MCA

1,210

100

8.2

0.6

VCA

110

1

1

1

VOSA

2,720

20

0.8

0.63

GCDA

290

10

3.4

0

Total

17,910

880

5.0

1.3

1 Numbers less than five have been suppressed.

The figures provided in the table have been taken from two different sources. Figures in columns one to three have been extracted from the CSS 2005 report and figures in column four have been extracted from internal departmental recording systems.

It should be noted that there is no requirement for staff to register as disabled. Information supplied about disabilities is on a voluntary basis so the above figures may not reflect the true picture.

Free Travel (Pensioners)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will review the exclusion of the rush hour from the free travel scheme for pensioners. (95705)

The statutory minimum entitlement to free local bus travel for pensioners is currently from 9.30 am to 11 pm Monday to Friday, with no peak time restrictions at weekends or on bank holidays. Local authorities already have the discretion to vary their concessionary fare schemes to include peak time bus travel, based on their judgment of local needs and their overall financial priorities. There are no plans at present to change the statutory times.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what consultations Ministers and officials have undertaken with Bus Users UK on free travel for pensioners; (95713)

(2) which organisations his Department is consulting on the implementation of free travel entitlements for pensioners.

The Department for Transport has set up various groups to canvass the views of stakeholders. Those invited include:

Age Concern

Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers

Better Government for Older People & Older People's Advisory Group

Bus Users UK

Community Transport Association

Confederation of Passenger Transport UK

Deaf Blind UK

Disability Charities Consortium

Disability Rights Commission

Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee

Epilepsy Action

Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

Help the Aged

Joint Committee on the Mobility of Disabled People

Joint Committee on the Mobility of Blind and Partially Sighted People

Local Government Association

London Councils (formerly Association of London Government)

London Travel Watch

National Pensioners Convention

Passenger Transport Executive Group

Royal National Institute for the Blind

Royal National Institute for the Deaf

Transport 2000

Bus Users UK is one of many such organisations representing users which was invited to a meeting with officials in September.

Ministers from the Department have met with representatives from various organisations to discuss concessionary travel for pensioners.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what basis future funding will be allocated for the national free travel scheme for pensioners. (95773)

From April 2008 people aged 60 or older and disabled people will be entitled to free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in the country. No decision has been made on the funding mechanism. We are consulting local authorities, bus operators and other interested parties on the best framework for delivering the improved concessionary fares entitlement.

Hazardous Freight

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many freight trains carrying (a) nuclear products and (b) hazardous material have travelled through (i) East Dunbartonshire and (ii) Scotland in each year since 1997. (96473)

The Department does not hold or maintain such records. The transport of dangerous goods by rail, including radioactive material, is subject to strict regulation, based upon internationally agreed provisions, to minimise the risk to members of the public, workers and the environment.

Land Use

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the research report commissioned by his Department entitled Representing the Housing Market in Land Use/Transport Models—phase 1. (94688)

The phase one of Department's research to review the modelling of housing market has been completed and a copy has today been placed in the Library of the House.

Parking

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the conclusions of his Department's most recent review of the powers available to the parking adjudicator; and if he will make a statement. (95625)

The Government have not undertaken a review of the powers available to the parking adjudicator. Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 gave the Lord Chancellor the power to make a number of regulations dealing with the notification, adjudication and enforcement of penalty charges. Draft regulations were consulted on by the Department for Transport in July. A summary of the responses will be published and the regulations put before Parliament, it is hoped, early in 2007.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what opportunities he has provided to hon. Members to contribute to consultations on regional planning assessments for the railways; (96664)

(2) what consultations he has held with passenger transport authorities over regional planning assessment for the railways;

(3) what formal opportunities local councils have had to contribute to consultations about regional planning assessments for the railways.

Typically in the development of the Regional Planning Assessments we have held a series of workshops which have included officers from regional planning and development bodies, local authorities and statutory rail passenger bodies. The Regional Planning Assessments have benefited from this constructive engagement which has been used to shape the findings. Where hon. Members have requested meetings then we have welcomed the opportunity to have these discussions. Where priorities have been identified for further development they will be considered in the Network Rail Route Utilisation Strategies and in the development of franchises and will then be subject to formal consultation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish submissions received from (a) elected councils, (b) passenger transport authorities and (c) regional assemblies before the publication of regional planning assessments for the railways. (96665)

Although we routinely discuss regional planning assessments as they develop with regional and local interests, there have been no formal consultation exercises and therefore no formal submissions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what opportunities elected members of local authorities on regional assemblies have had to contribute to consultations on regional planning assessments for railways. (96905)

We routinely discuss regional planning assessments as they develop with regional and local interests, though there have been no formal consultation exercises.

Safety Cameras

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what response he has made to the finding in TRL report number 595 (table 3.18) commissioned by the Highways Agency regarding the effect of the presence of fixed speed cameras on personal injury accidents near motorway road works. (95512)

TRL report 595—which is one of a regular series examining the safety performance of traffic management at major motorway works—found no significant difference in the overall personal injury accident (PIA) rate between the 17 sites with cameras and the 12 sites without cameras. There was a 1 per cent. decrease in the proportion of fatal and serious PIAs recorded at the sites with cameras when compared to the “without works” period at the same locations. The report also explains that sites with cameras had a non-works PIA rate significantly (5 per cent. level) higher than the rate for sites without cameras, illustrating that the two types of sites had different characteristics.

Overall, TRL report 595 showed that road works are becoming safer. Motorway road works sites previously had a much higher accident rate than motorways without road works. The report shows that we are now approaching a point where the risks are almost equal.

In 2005, five workers were killed and 12 were seriously injured in incidents on England’s motorways and major A roads. The Highways Agency shall therefore continue to take appropriate steps, such as using cameras to enforce temporary speed restrictions, to minimise the risks faced by the workforce as they carry out their difficult and essential work.

A more comprehensive evaluation of safety cameras, which examined some 4,000 sites, was published in December 2005, and found that there had been a significant reduction in casualties at camera sites overall.

School Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the level of support from (a) Hampshire county council, (b) Southampton council and (c) Portsmouth council for securing travel plans and safe routes to schools for schools in Hampshire; and if he will make a statement. (93334)

Local authorities have been required to report on the number of school travel plans implemented and the number of schools implementing first safe routes to schools schemes as part of the local transport plan annual progress reporting process.

In addition and as part of the “Travelling to School” project, the Department receives information from the Department for Education and Skills on the number of schools with approved school travel plans in each authority area. It is the published objective of the project for all schools in England to have an approved travel plan in place by March 2010 and there is an interim milestone for 10,000 schools (approximately 40 per cent.) to have a travel plan in place by the end of March 2006. 39.7 per cent. of schools in Hampshire, 55.5 per cent. of schools in Southampton and 61.5 per cent. of schools in Portsmouth had an approved travel plan in place at that date and all three authorities are therefore on course to achieve 100 per cent. coverage by March 2010.

Sustainability of Land use and Transport in Outer Neighbourhoods

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what financial contribution his Department has made to the Sustainability of Land Use and Transport in Outer Neighbourhoods research project. (94686)

The Department's overall expected financial contribution to the above project amounts to £117,495, of which £35,000 was funded by ODPM in 2004. To date £69,474.60 has been spent.

Traffic Congestion

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the extra costs to British business of congestion on the road and motorway network. (95081)

[holding answer 19 October 2006]: The Secretary of State for Transport is in regular contact with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on a range of issues. Sir Rod Eddington is currently studying the long-term impact of transport decisions on the UK's productivity, stability and growth, within the context of the Government's commitment to sustainable development.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department plans to take to reduce traffic congestion in (a) the West Midlands region and (b) Coventry. (95772)

The seven West Midlands Metropolitan districts are jointly looking at congestion problems in the conurbation and the role that demand management, and specifically road pricing, could play in addressing them. They published a report of their initial findings on 22 September and are working with officials from the Department in taking this forward.

The Department for Transport has also been working with the Metropolitan districts to develop a five year ‘Urban Congestion Target’ to reduce the impact of traffic growth on the Metropolitan network, which includes targeting routes within Coventry. In the period up to 2011, the Metropolitan districts will receive over £230 million in Local Transport Plan settlements and were allocated over £90 million through the Regional Funding Allocations for major schemes that will deliver improved public transport.

Wales

Coal Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with senior executives in the coal industry in Wales; and if he will make a statement. (95230)

I receive regular updates from a number of executives within the coal industry.

The Government will convene the first Coal Forum on 14 November to bring together coal-fired generators, coal producers and suppliers, power plant suppliers, trade unions and small businesses, in order to help them find solutions to secure the long-term future of coal-fired power generation and coal production in the UK.

Government Social Research Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the cost was of the Government Social Research Service in his Department in each of the last five years; how many projects have been completed by the service in that period; and how many people are employed in the service in his Department. (95846)

None. The role of the Wales Office is not to undertake strategic social research. For devolved matters in Wales this would be undertaken by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Hospital Waiting Times

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer of 12 October 2006, to question 93595, how many patients were waiting for an NHS operation at a hospital in Wales for longer than 26 weeks in the last three years. (96830)

As at the end of August 2006 there were 61,616 patients waiting for in-patient or day case treatment in Wales.

Of that total, over 63 per cent. of the patients had been waiting for three months or less.

Further details of the NHS waiting times for Wales at the end of August 2006 can be found on www.wales.gov.uk/statistics.

Steel Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with senior executives in the steel industry in Wales; and if he will make a statement. (95229)

I have had discussions with both the chief executive of Corus and the chairman of Tata Steel regarding the proposed acquisition of Corus by Tata, and have sought assurances regarding Corus’s commitment to Wales and the status of Corus workers and pensioners in Wales. I remain in close contact with both companies and will closely monitor the progress of the proposed takeover.

Education and Skills

Children in Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the number of children in care whose parents also spent time in care. (95626)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many, and what proportion of girls in care became pregnant in each local authority area in the most recent period for which figures are available. (95627)

Information on the proportion of girls in care who became pregnant in each local authority is not collected centrally. However information on the number and proportion of girls in care who are mothers at 31 March 2005 is shown in the following table.

Mothers aged 12 and over who are looked after at 31 March 20051,2

Number and percentage

All females looked after aged 12 and over3

All mothers aged 12 and over4

The percentage of females looked after aged 12 and over and who were mothers

England

13,400

320

2

North East

640

10

2

Shire counties

Durham

90

5

5

Northumberland

80

5

5

Unitary authorities

Darlington

20

0

0

Hartlepool

20

0

0

Middlesbrough

40

5

5

Redcar and Cleveland

30

5

5

Stockton on Tees

40

5

5

Metropolitan districts

Gateshead

50

0

0

Newcastle Upon Tyne

100

5

5

North Tyneside

40

5

5

South Tyneside

50

5

5

Sunderland

80

5

5

North West

2,100

40

2

Shire counties

Cheshire

130

5

5

Cumbria

120

0

0

Lancashire

280

5

5

Unitary authorities

Blackburn and Darwen

60

5

5

Blackpool

50

5

5

Halton

30

0

0

Warrington

40

5

5

Metropolitan districts

Bolton

60

5

5

Bury

50

0

0

Knowsley

60

0

0

Liverpool

190

5

5

Manchester

330

10

4

Oldham

80

5

5

Rochdale

60

5

5

Salford

120

5

5

Sefton

80

5

5

St. Helens

50

5

5

Stockport

70

5

5

Tameside

50

5

5

Trafford

40

5

5

Wigan

80

5

5

Wirral

130

5

5

Yorkshire and The Humber

1,400

30

2

Shire counties

North Yorkshire

90

0

0

Unitary authorities

East Riding Yorkshire

60

5

5

Kingston Upon Hull

110

5

5

N E Lincolnshire

40

5

5

North Lincolnshire

40

5

5

York

30

0

0

Metropolitan districts

Barnsley

50

0

0

Bradford

160

5

5

Calderdale

50

5

5

Doncaster

90

5

5

Kirklees

60

0

0

Leeds

300

5

5

Rotherham

80

5

5

Sheffield

140

5

5

Wakefield

90

5

5

East Midlands

770

10

2

Shire counties

Derbyshire

100

5

5

Leicestershire

90

5

5

Lincolnshire

110

5

5

Northamptonshire

100

0

0

Nottinghamshire

100

5

5

Unitary authorities

Derby

80

5

5

Leicester

100

5

5

Nottingham

90

5

5

Rutland

5

0

0

West Midlands

1,400

30

2

Shire counties

Shropshire

50

0

0

Staffordshire

130

0

0

Warwickshire

100

5

5

Worcestershire

90

0

0

Unitary authorities

Herefordshire

30

0

0

Stoke-on-Trent

90

5

5

Telford and Wrekin

40

5

5

Metropolitan districts

Birmingham

400

10

3

Coventry

110

5

5

Dudley

60

5

5

Sandwell

110

5

5

Solihull

60

5

5

Walsall

80

0

0

Wolverhampton

90

5

5

East of England

1,200

20

2

Shire counties

Bedfordshire

80

0

0

Cambridgeshire

90

0

0

Essex

260

10

2

Hertfordshire

200

10

4

Norfolk

180

5

5

Suffolk

130

5

5

Unitary authorities

Luton

90

0

0

Peterborough

70

5

5

Southend

60

5

5

Thurrock

50

0

0

London

3,100

120

4

Inner London

1,400

60

5

Camden

110

5

5

City of London

5

0

0

Greenwich

130

10

9

Hackney

110

10

7

Hammersmith and Fulham

100

5

5

Islington

110

5

5

Kensington and Chelsea

60

5

5

Lambeth

160

10

8

Lewisham

160

10

4

Southwark

190

10

4

Tower Hamlets

100

5

5

Wandsworth

70

5

5

Westminster

80

5

5

Outer London

1,700

60

3

Barking and Dagenham

100

5

5

Barnet

100

5

5

Bexley

60

5

5

Brent

90

5

5

Bromley

70

5

5

Croydon

200

10

3

Ealing

110

5

5

Enfield

70

5

5

Haringey

150

5

5

Harrow

40

5

5

Havering

50

5

5

Hillingdon

160

5

5

Hounslow

70

5

5

Kingston Upon Thames

30

5

5

Merton

40

5

5

Newham

160

10

6

Redbridge

50

5

5

Richmond Upon Thames

30

5

5

Sutton

30

5

5

Waltham Forest

90

0

0

South East

1,700

20

1

Shire counties

Buckinghamshire

60

0

0

East Sussex

100

5

5

Hampshire

230

5

5

Kent

300

5

5

Oxfordshire

120

5

5

Surrey

190

5

5

West Sussex

170

5

5

Unitary authorities

Bracknell Forest

20

0

0

Brighton and Hove

90

5

5

Isle of Wight

40

5

5

Medway Towns

80

0

0

Milton Keynes

40

0

0

Portsmouth

60

5

5

Reading

30

5

5

Slough

30

5

5

Southampton

70

0

0

West Berkshire

30

0

0

Windsor and Maidenhead

10

0

0

Wokingham

10

0

0

South West

1,100

30

2

Shire counties

Cornwall

140

5

5

Devon

140

5

5

Dorset

80

0

0

Gloucestershire

100

5

5

Isles of Scilly

0

0

0

Somerset

90

0

0

Wiltshire

60

5

5

Unitary authorities

Bath and N E Somerset

20

0

0

Bournemouth

40

5

5

Bristol

130

5

5

North Somerset

30

5

5

Plymouth

110

5

5

Poole

20

0

0

South Gloucestershire

40

5

5

Swindon

50

5

5

Torbay

60

5

5

1 Figures exclude children looked after under an agreed series of short term placements.

2 This is the first year of data collection and some authorities have reported difficulties in recording this information.

3 All females in care aged 12 and over.

4 All mothers in care aged 12 and over.

5 Small numbers suppressed to preserve confidentiality. Normally this will be a number between 1 and 5 inclusive, or a percentage where either the Numerator is between 1 and 5 or the Denominator is between 1 and 10 inclusive.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the offending rates of (a) children and (b) looked after children were in each local authority area in the most recent period for which figures are available. (95628)

Extended Hours

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in England have been operating extended hours from 8 am to 6 pm five days a week since the beginning of the autumn term. (96212)

[holding answer 23 October 2006]: 2,237 primary schools and 708 secondary schools were delivering the extended schools full core offer of activities at the beginning of the autumn term. The core offer includes primary schools providing access to child care from 8 am to 6 pm all year round where there is local demand and secondary schools offering access to a range of activities for young people from 8 am to 6 pm where there is local demand. The rest of the core offer is comprised of parenting support, swift and easy referral and opening up facilities to the wider community.

What the provision looks like in practice will vary according to the needs of each community, based on consultation through schools. Some schools may not have identified a local need for services from 8 am to 6 pm and may be meeting the needs of parents and children through activities or child care with different opening hours.

Higher Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many and what percentage of young people in the poorest decile of the population attended (a) university and (b) further education in each of the last 30 years. (93516)

This information is not held centrally.

(a) The latest available figures on participation by local areas were published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in January 2005 in “Young participation in higher education”, which is available from the HEFCE website at: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2005/05_03/. The HEFCE report shows participation rates for young people who enter higher education aged 18 or 19 disaggregated by constituency, local education authority (LEA), Learning and Skills Council area and government office region for the years 1997 to 2000 inclusive.

Research1 that compared degree acquisition by age 23 by people whose parents' incomes fell into the highest and lowest income quintiles, for 1981, 1993 and 1999, showed that around 1999, 46 per cent. of children whose parental incomes were in the highest quintile of incomes acquired a degree by age 23 compared with 9 per cent. of children in the lowest quintile. In 1981, the figures were 20 per cent. for the highest quintile and 6 per cent. for the lowest quintile. The research suggests that during the 1990s children whose parental incomes were in the highest quintile of incomes were around five times more likely to acquire a degree by age 23 than children in the lowest quintile, up from around three times in the early 1980s.

We believe that more people with the potential to benefit from higher education should have the opportunity to do so. Higher education leads to a range of benefits, not only higher earnings but reduced crime, better health, and wider social capital benefits.

The new student support arrangements offer a better deal for students from poorer backgrounds. We have reintroduced grants for those from low income households; we have ended up front fees; and we have introduced the Office for Fair Access so that universities have agreements on outreach and funding help that they will offer poorer students. £300 million is being offered in bursaries and other financial support. Alongside this, the Government and their partners support the Aimhigher programme, which enables partnerships of schools, colleges and universities to design and deliver a range of aspiration and attainment raising activities to enable young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in higher education to be able and willing to go on to HE.

We are also determined to improve educational attainment so that more people are in a position to benefit from HE. Our proposals in the Schools White Paper, which is now the basis for the Education and Inspections Bill 2006, will help ensure that every young person has the opportunity to reach their potential, including, where appropriate, university education.

(b) The following table gives evidence from the Youth Cohort Study (YCS) on the proportion of young people in full-time education at age 16 by parental occupation (NS-SEC) for 16-year-olds in 2000, 2002 and 2004. Young people whose parents work in routine and other/not classified occupations are most likely to be in the poorest income groups of the population–13 per cent. and 12 per cent. of the 2004 cohort were in these NS-SEC groups respectively.

1 Blanden, J. and Machin, S., ‘Educational inequality and the expansion of UK higher education’, Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Special Issue on the Economics of Education, 51 (2) pp. 230-249 (2004).

Percentage whose main activity is full-time education at age 16 by NS- SEC

2000

2002

2004

Higher professional

86

87

85

Lower professional

79

78

79

Intermediate

72

69

71

Lower supervisory

61

58

61

Routine

56

59

57

Other/not classified2

62

62

63

2 Includes many respondents for whom neither parent had an occupation.

Source:

Youth Cohort Study cohorts 10-12, sweep 1

Islamist Extremists (Monitoring)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what advice he has issued to universities on monitoring the activities of Islamist extremists in universities. (95759)

[holding answer 20 October 2006]: We have been consulting within Government, with Universities UK and with representatives from individual institutions to develop appropriate advice to universities on ways in which they can address violent extremism through their work to promote good campus relations. This follows UUK guidance last year entitled, “Promoting Good Campus Relations”. The consultation is continuing and we intend to issue the guidance later this year.

Literacy/Numeracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the number of school leavers who have needed remedial training from their employer to improve literacy and numeracy levels in the last 12 months. (92909)

We do not have an estimate of the numbers of school leavers who have needed remedial training in literacy and numeracy from employers but the National Employer Skills Survey 2005 shows that, of employers who had recruited 16-year-old school leavers in the last 12 months, 11 per cent. reported problems with poor numeracy skills and 10 per cent. reported problems with poor literacy skills.

We need to do more to ensure that young people enter the workplace with good levels of literacy and numeracy. We continue to improve standards of reading, writing and mathematics in primary and secondary schools through our National Strategies. We will also be ensuring that the qualifications taken by young people in schools and colleges genuinely respond to calls from employers and others for young people and adults to have the practical, applied skills needed in modern society. Following trialling, Functional skill tests will be taken by young people as part of their GCSEs from 2009 (English and ICT) and mathematics (2010). Candidates will not be able to achieve a GCSE grade A*-C without mastering the functional element.

In the meantime, provisional GCSE results show the percentage of 15-year-old students achieving 5+A*-C including English and mathematics rose from 44.3 per cent. last year to 45.1 per cent. this year—an increase of 9.5 percentage points compared with 1997. This means around 62,000 more pupils are now achieving a good pass in English and maths than did so in 1997. Guidance issued recently by the Department for Education and Skills confirmed that local authorities and schools will from 2008 be required for the first time to set targets for the proportion of pupils achieving 5 A*-C GCSEs, including English and mathematics.

Private Finance Initiative Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will list the owners of all private finance initiative schools; (91953)

(2) how much made from the private finance initiative consortium selling equity stakes has been passed on to the local education authorities from private finance initiative schools.

Private finance initiative (PFI) projects for the provision of schools are delivered through contracts between local authorities and private sector contractors. There are currently 103 such projects with signed contracts covering over 800 schools. The names, locations and other details (including the names of the private sector contractors) of these schools are available in the House Library.

Under PFI, a private sector contractor will fund the construction or modernisation of a school or schools and then deliver a managed service based on them. The local authority will not make any payments until the facilities are available and thereafter payments are conditional on satisfactory availability and performance of the service. The contractor will deliver the managed service under the terms of a contract and will operate the assets under the terms of a lease or licence granted by the local authority; at the end of the contract the assets will revert to the local authority and must be fit for a period of further use. The local authority retains ownership of the freehold of the site throughout the contract.

A schools PFI consortium is a private company and parties investing in it initially can later sell their equity holding to a third party. Since any equity sold has previously been purchased by those investors the local authority would not be entitled to a share. The Department does not collect information about such private sector commercial transactions.

School Meals

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assistance his Department has made available to Lancashire county council to enable the introduction of guidelines on meals for pupils. (96545)

The Government are determined to transform the quality of food in schools and support the work local authorities and schools are doing to raise the nutritional standards of school meals.

Lancashire county council received £665,975 from the Targeted School Meals Grant for 2005-06 and £1,115,778 for 2006-07 to improve school food. In addition, in each of those years, schools were awarded a lump sum of £1,070 per primary school and £1,500 per secondary school, with an additional amount per pupil. The per pupil amount for PRUs and all schools except nursery schools is 50p; for nursery schools it is 50p for half of FTE pupils, to reflect the fact that fewer pupils in nursery schools take school meals.

In addition to financial support, the School Food Trust, as our key delivery partner on the improvement of school food, has produced guidance for schools and authorities on the new standards and is working with local authorities to help them implement them.

University Speakers

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with Universities UK in relation to monitoring the activities of speakers and prospective speakers on campuses. (94355)

Ministers and officials talk to UUK on a wide range of issues, these have included discussions about support and guidance that both UUK and the Department can provide to HEIs and student groups relating to promoting good campus relations. These discussions are intended to inform the guidance we will be issuing to Higher Education Institutions shortly.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of UK-led poppy eradication schemes in southern Afghanistan. (93197)

Eradication policy and implementation are the responsibility of the Afghan Government. The UK provides support to the planning, monitoring and targeting work of the Afghan eradication forces. The Afghan Government also instruct Governors on how to eradicate poppy in their provinces. 2006 saw an increase in eradication, which contributed to reductions in opium poppy cultivation in some provinces. According to the 2006 UN Office of Drugs and Crime Afghan Opium Survey summary, 15,300 hectares of poppy were eradicated across Afghanistan, including 7,830 hectares in the south. Eradication on its own will not solve the problem. It is a useful deterrent where there is access to legal livelihoods but needs to be balanced with measures to interdict drugs; bring criminals to justice; build institutions; and encourage development of rural communities to provide alternatives for poppy farmers. The UK is spending £270 million over a three-year period on supporting the Government of Afghanistan's National Drug Control Strategy.

British Embassy (Dili)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the potential effect of the closure of the British embassy in Dili on (a) trade activities in the South Pacific and (b) the relationship between East Timor and the UK. (95139)

We assess that the closure of our embassy in Dili will have no significant effect on trade activities in the South Pacific.

Our embassy in Jakarta has now assumed responsibility for UK relations with East Timor. Our ambassador in Jakarta, Mr. Charles Humfrey CMG, will be accredited to East Timor on a non-resident basis. He and his staff will make regular visits there to maintain links between the UK and East Timor. An honorary consul has also been appointed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely effect on the Truth and Friendship Commission between East Timor and Indonesia of the closure of the UK embassy in Dili and the relocation of diplomatic services to Jakarta. (95093)

We assess that there will be no impact on the Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF). We have encouraged both Governments to make the CTF a process that enjoys the confidence of the victims and the international community and we will continue to monitor the work of the commission from our embassy in Jakarta.

Burma

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations she has received about the activities of the Burmese army in Karen State; and if she will make a statement. (95145)

We have received recent representations from hon. Members and Peers as well as members of the public about the Burmese army’s offensive in Karen State.

I raised our concerns about human rights issues in Burma, including the attacks in Karen State, when I called in the Burmese ambassador on 15 June, in my letter to the Burmese Foreign Minister on 5 July and when I raised human rights issues most recently with AS BAN ambassadors, including the Burmese ambassador, on 18 September.

The EU issued a statement on 3 May calling on the Burmese Government to cease their attacks in Karen State. The statement was sent to the Burmese Ministries of Information and Foreign Affairs. The statement can be found at: http://www.eu2006.at/en/News/CFSP_ Statements/May/(0305Myanmar.html?null

On 29 September, the United Nations Security Council discussed Burma in a private meeting. The UK’s Permanent Representative in New York raised the situation in Karen State at that meeting.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost was of paying fees at independent schools for the children of staff employed by her Department in the last year for which figures are available. (95987)

The amount the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has spent on education at independent schools for children whose parents have a world-wide mobility obligation for the financial year 2005-06 is £11,779,021. This figure includes tax and national insurance contributions.

It is a condition of employment that members of the Diplomatic Service must be prepared to serve anywhere in the world at any time during their career, sometimes at very short notice. Those with children also have the legal obligation as parents to ensure that their children receive a full-time education from the age of five years. The FCO's provisions for children's education are intended to help staff meet these potentially conflicting obligations.

Children who accompany their parents on postings overseas are expected to use free state schooling if it is available locally and suitable. If suitable schooling is not available free of charge locally but is available at fee-charging schools, fees are refunded to enable children to receive the education they would be entitled to in the UK.

With staff and their families having to move at regular intervals, sometimes at short notice and at times which may disrupt schooling for their children, continuity of education can be problematic particularly during the important exam years. The FCO's provisions address this problem by enabling children to board in the UK while their parents remain subject to the world-wide mobility obligation.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much has been spent by her Department on (a) chartering aircraft and (b) non-scheduled air travel in each of the last five years. (96218)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) uses chartered aircraft and non-scheduled flights for some ministerial travel. Aircraft are also chartered in times of consular emergency. This expenditure is not held centrally in a form where it can be easily isolated from other travel expenditure, and it is not possible to provide a full answer to the question without incurring disproportionate cost.

However, details of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's travel costs, and a breakdown of the type of travel used, are passed to the Cabinet Office for publication in the annual report on the cost of ministerial travel. The travel costs for other Ministers are also included, although this is not broken down by type of travel.

The FCO has also chartered a number of aircraft during various consular emergencies. Identified costs of these charters for recent emergencies are shown in the following table.

Amount (£)

Iraq—2003

327,397.85

Istanbul—November 2003

22,716.00

Tsunami—December 2004

213,500.00

Sharm el Sheikh—July 2005

59,000.00

Dahab bombings—April 2006

64,500.00

Total

687,113.85

European Union

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to her statements in Prospects for the European Union in 2006 (Cm 6896), what discussions she and colleagues have held with the Finnish presidency on (a) the place of freedom, security and justice in the treaties, (b) the use of passarelle clauses and (c) changes to the decision-making procedures in this policy area; what assessment she has made of the likelihood of the Finnish Government bringing forward proposals in this area during their presidency; and if she will make a statement. (90004)

There have been a number of discussions with the Finnish presidency, both formal and informal, of EU co-operation in the field of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). Among the issues being discussed is the proposed use of the Article 42 Treaty on European Union (TEU) passerelle clause, which provides for the Council to decide, under unanimity, to transfer elements of the field of JHA from the third pillar (TEU) to the first pillar (Treaty on European Community). One consequence of the use of the passerelle could be the application of qualified majority voting to some parts of EU police and judicial co-operation.

The Commission proposed the use of the passerelle in its Communication “Implementing the Hague Programme: the Way Forward”, and the Finnish Government are taking forward discussion of the proposal during their presidency. Most recently, the passerelle was discussed by EU Interior and Justice Ministries at the JHA Informal Council in Tampere on 20-22 September, and the JHA Council of 5-6 October. A broad exchange of views took place. It is as yet unclear whether the Finnish presidency will bring forward formal proposals in this area during their presidency. We will keep Parliament informed of developments in this area.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to her statement in Prospects for the European Union in 2006 (Cm 6896), in what ways the common agricultural policy was simplified (a) during the UK presidency and (b) as a result of decisions made during the UK presidency; what changes to the common fisheries policy have been made in response to the UK's views; and if she will make a statement. (90005)

The UK was instrumental in getting agreement at the December 2006 Agriculture Council for the Commission’s communication on the simplification and better regulation for the common agricultural policy. It sets out a strategy for reducing administrative burdens in the agriculture sector. Agreement was reached on the simplification objective and the Commission was asked to produce an action plan with options to measure administrative burdens and targets for reduction by the end of 2006. The draft action plan was discussed at an international conference of stakeholders on 3 and 4 October.

Progress continues to be made on the simplification of the common fisheries policy. The Commission, in response to UK concerns, has recently produced a strategy paper giving an early indication of its thinking on the appropriate catch limits and related measures for 2007. Additionally, it has asked the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea to consider providing scientific input much earlier in the process. We welcome these developments but look forward to seeing further streamlining of arrangements in the future.

Gibraltar

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will compensate Gibraltarian workers who continued to pay into the Gibraltar Social Insurance Fund after 1969 on the same terms as Spanish workers who stopped paying into the fund in 1969. (95257)

The Trilateral Agreement reached in Cordoba on 18 September provides a settlement to the long running issue of pensions paid to Spanish workers affected by the 1969 border closure. The Government already pay pensions to this group under a 1996 agreement. As part of the Cordoba settlement the Government will offer a lump sum payment to these pensioners as an incentive for them to leave the Gibraltar Social Insurance Fund (GSIF). The Government will then make uprated payments to those who leave the GSIF.

Future payments to Gibraltarian pensioners are a matter for the Government of Gibraltar, who pay their current pensions. To this end, the Chief Minister has already announced that the Government will uprate the pensions of all those in the GSIF from April 2007.

Hampton Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what input (a) her 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”. (89478)

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

Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the final date was for amending the text of the Department’s Human Rights and Annual Report 2006 prior to publication. (95376)

The deadline for substantive contributions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Annual Report on Human Rights was 1 June. A further deadline of 17 August was set for final updates, however, some substantive information received up to 27 August was included. Minor editorial amendments were possible until the final proofs were sent to the printers on 28 September.

International Arms Embargo

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of progress towards the implementation of the international arms embargo provided for in UN Security Council Resolution 1701. (93216)

The UK remains committed to the full implementation of all elements of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701. This resolution included a call on the Government of Lebanon to secure their borders and other entry points to prevent unauthorised entry of arms; and that all states should take measures to prevent the supply to Lebanon of arms by their nationals or from their territory, other than those authorised by the Government of Lebanon or UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

In response to Resolution 1701 the Council of the EU on 15 September adopted a Common Position to give effect to the arms embargo within the EU. We have urged other countries to take comparable measures. The UN Secretary-General has reported that he has received assurances from the Syrian President that Syria will undertake all necessary measures to implement this requirement; and that Syria is willing to assist Lebanon in setting up an effective interdiction regime, and where possible to establish joint border patrols with the Lebanese authorities. Meanwhile, the Lebanese armed forces have advised the UN that some 8,000 Lebanese troops have been deployed along Lebanon’s land border with Syria.

The UK and EU partners are examining what assistance we might provide to the Government of Lebanon in their efforts to secure their borders. Germany has sent a team of experts to Lebanon to advise on possible measures. In September, the Government of Lebanon asked the UN for assistance in securing Lebanon's maritime border. Several countries, including the UK with HMS York, have contributed naval assets to enable an interim naval task force to be deployed. A German naval deployment is currently replacing this interim arrangement.

Lebanon

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment has been made of the (a) scale and (b) nature of arms transfers from (i) Syria and (ii) Iran to Lebanese-based militias; and if she will make a statement. (88127)

We are very concerned about the role of Syria and Iran. Iran supplies Hezbollah with financing and weapons and has personnel in Lebanon assisting Hezbollah. As well as supplying arms to Hezbollah, Syria also facilitates the supply of arms and finance from Iran to Hezbollah. For reasons of operational sensitivity it would be inappropriate to comment in more detail.

Through their support for Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are encouraging extremism, threatening the stability of the region and putting peace in the Middle East further out of reach.

We call on Syria and Iran to stop their support for Hezbollah and end their interference in Lebanese internal affairs in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her Lebanese counterpart on the disarmament of armed militias in Lebanon; what the outcome of those discussions was; and what assessment she has made of the prospects for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. (93215)

I myself have held no discussions with my Lebanese counterpart on the disarmament of militias in Lebanon. However, during his visit to Lebanon in September, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister held discussions with the Prime Minister of Lebanon and other interlocutors about the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, which includes the disarmament of militias in Lebanon. The result of those discussions was a joint agreement, spelled out at the joint press conference that the Prime Minister gave at the time with Prime Minister Siniora, for the UK to support the Lebanese armed forces with equipment and training, so that they can extend their authority throughout the whole of Lebanon. Both the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel have endorsed UNSCR 1701 and the UK remains committed to its full implementation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the Lebanese Government’s request to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon to broker a ceasefire; and if she will make a statement. (87554)

The Government worked hard with key partners, including the Government of Lebanon, to secure UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, adopted unanimously by the Security Council on 11 August 2006, which called for a full cessation of hostilities. The ceasefire came into effect three days later. Since then the ceasefire has largely held. We are now focused on humanitarian and reconstruction efforts and enhancing the Government of Lebanon’s ability to take full control of their territory, a requirement of both UNSCR’s 1559 and 1701.

Urgent work has been undertaken to strengthen the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in order to carry out the range of important new tasks set out in UNSCR 1701. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have withdrawn their troops from South Lebanon except from the general area of Ghajar north of the Blue Line which is still under IDF control. UNIFIL is in close contact with the IDF to facilitate a speedy withdrawal from the area of Ghajar. The Lebanese armed forces have deployed along the Blue Line except from the general area of Ghajar.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what humanitarian support the UK plans to offer to Lebanon. (87557)