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Written Answers

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 25 October 2006

Church Commissioners

Property

To ask the honourable Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners how many empty properties are owned by the Church of England; and for how long on average they have been empty. (96368)

The Commissioners are one among thousands of separate legal entities making up the Church of England. Many of these bodies own property and it is not possible to give a single figure covering the whole Church. The Commissioners' property investment portfolio is very well let with few vacancies.

Northern Ireland

Domestic Violence

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland have been convicted of assault in which the victim was (a) a female partner, (b) a male partner and (c) one of their children in each of the last three years. (95523)

Northern Ireland court proceedings and sentencing data do not currently record the relationship between those who have been convicted of assault and their victims. I anticipate that this information will become available with the development of the Causeway information system.

Energy Sources

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in securing cost-effective, environmentally-friendly sources of power in Northern Ireland since the publication of proposals on 25 July 2005. (96312)

The July 2005 proposals relate primarily to the North South cooperation on a longer-term vision for renewable energy within the All-Island electricity market—known as the ‘2020 Vision’.

In that specific context, extensive cooperation with the Republic of Ireland is continuing in the development of actions for implementation. A key element of this work is the all-island grid study involving research into the potential for renewable energy—and wind energy in particular—to be accommodated in the electricity grid systems in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The study, which is due to be completed in mid-2007 will provide a firm evidence base on which to develop strategic investment decisions in relation to securing renewable sources of power.

The detailed responses to the ‘2020 Vision’ paper itself are being analysed by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (DCMNR) and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) with a view to presenting the outcome to an industry forum in the new year.

In addition to the ‘2020 Vision’ work, the hon. Member will be aware that the Secretary of State’s Environment and Renewable Energy Fund was launched in February 2006 with the aim of making Northern Ireland an exemplar region in renewables development. The £59 million ring-fenced package is already being implemented through a number of programmes to enhance renewables actions and secure cleaner sources of power for Northern Ireland across both the public and private sectors.

Further Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the community background is of the new chairmen of the new further education colleges; and if he will make a statement. (96513)

The chairs designate of the six new Further Education Colleges were formally appointed in September 2006. Two have a Protestant community background, and four have a Roman Catholic community background The chairs designate will be appointed as chairs of the six new colleges on the date on which the mergers take place and will serve for a four year period. The selection process was monitored by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland to ensure that it was run in an open, unbiased and transparent manner.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applicants there were for the recent appointments to the proposed new further education colleges in Northern Ireland, broken down by community background; and how many of these were interviewed, broken down in the same way. (96514)

32 people applied to become chairs of the six new further education colleges and 23 were interviewed. The community background of the applicants at each stage of the process is shown in the following table.

ProtestantRoman CatholicNeitherTotal

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Number

All applicants

16

50

13

41

3

9

32

Invited for interview

12

52

10

44

1

4

23

The selection process was monitored by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA) for Northern Ireland under their good practice kite mark scheme. The selection panel, which was balanced in terms of gender and community background, consisted of an OCPA-nominated independent assessor and two departmental officials. In line with recommended practice, the selection panel did not, at any stage, see the monitoring information relating to the community background of any applicant, which is requested purely for statistical purposes.

Hedges

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he has received in response to the Minister of State's call of 10 August 2005 for members of the public in Northern Ireland to report nuisance hedges to the planning service. (96309)

The Planning Service carried out a consultation exercise between August and October 2005 seeking information on the scale and geographical spread of problems with nuisance high hedges in Northern Ireland.

The consultation generated a high level of public interest with a total of 641 responses received—610 of those from members of the public. A summary of the main results of the consultation exercise is available on the Planning Service website (www.planningni.gov.uk).

Jobcentres

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many jobcentre staff in Northern Ireland have been the victims of assault in each of the last three years. (96425)

The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) has 10 jobcentres which form part of a network of 35 regional offices. The remaining 25 offices are Jobs and Benefits Offices (JBO) which are administered jointly with the Social Security Agency, Department for Social Development (DSD).There have been no reported incidents of physical assault on staff in any of the 10 jobcentres in the last three years. There have been five reported incidents of physical assault in Jobs and Benefits Offices in each of the last three years involving one DEL member of staff, one Social Security Agency member of staff and three contract staff as follows:

Number of incidents

October 2003 to October 2004

3

October 2004 to October 2005

1

October 2005 to October 2006

1

Motoring Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland have been convicted for (a) motoring offences that resulted in a fatality and (b) careless driving in each year since 2003. (95390)

Table 1 provides the number of convictions for those motoring offences causing death, while table 2 includes convictions for careless driving and other similar offences.

Data cover the calendar years 2003 and 2004, the latter being the most up-to-date available at present.

It should be noted that data are collated on the principal offence rule, thus only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Table 1: Number of convictions for motoring offences causing death by offence 2003 and 20041

Number of convictions

Offence

2003

2004

Causing death by dangerous driving

21

9

Causing death by driving carelessly when unfit

0

1

Causing death by driving carelessly with excess alcohol

1

0

Causing death by inconsiderate driving with excess alcohol

2

1

Total

24

11

1 Data for 2004 are provisional.

Table 2: Number of convictions for careless driving and other similar offences by offence 2003 and 20041,2,3

Number of convictions

Offence

2003

2004

Careless driving

2

0

Driving without due care and attention

1,690

1,695

Grievous bodily injury by driving carelessly when unfit

1

2

Grievous bodily injury by driving carelessly with excess alcohol

2

1

Driving without reasonable consideration for others

25

40

Total

1,720

1,738

1 Data for 2004 are provisional. 2 Figures do not included careless driving offences which resulted in a fatality. 3 Figures do not included reckless driving, furious driving or dangerous driving.

Older Students

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people over the age of 60 years enrolled in full-time or part-time (a) vocational and (b) non-vocational courses in each college of further and higher education in Northern Ireland in academic year (i) 2004-05 and (ii) 2005-06. (96516)

The following table details the number of people over the age of 60 years enrolled in full-time or part-time (a) vocational and (b) non-vocational courses in each college of further and higher education in Northern Ireland in academic year 2004-05. Data pertaining to 2005-06 will be available in December 2006.

College

Vocational students

Non-vocational students

Total

Armagh College

213

88

301

Belfast Institute

2,883

1,133

4,016

Castlereagh College

924

266

1,190

Causeway Institute

517

289

806

East Antrim Institute

1,020

167

1,187

East Down Institute

599

224

823

East Tyrone Institute

1,299

140

1,439

Fermanagh College

374

185

559

Limavady College

292

61

353

Lisburn Institute

232

188

420

Newry and Kilkeel Institute

392

184

576

North Down and Ards Institute

394

961

1,355

North East Institute

302

198

500

North West Institute

532

418

950

Omagh College

169

122

291

Upper Bann Institute

1,618

329

1,947

Total

11,760

4,953

16,713

Note: Age is at 1 July 2004. Source: Further Education Statistical Record

Parliamentary Boundaries

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the timetable is for the ratification of parliamentary boundary changes in Northern Ireland. (95901)

The Parliamentary Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland is required to submit its final report to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by June 2007. The Secretary of State must then lay the Commission’s final recommendations (with or without modifications) before Parliament for approval.

Programme for Government Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assistance he plans to provide to the Programme for Government Committee in its work to agree priorities for the new Executive; and if he will make a statement. (95161)

In the wake of the St. Andrews Agreement, I remain convinced that the circumstances are now right to make vital progress and ultimately to see a permanent political settlement in Northern Ireland. The work of the Programme for Government Committee is key to this process and I have asked my officials in the Northern Ireland Departments to be at the disposal of the Committee and to offer whatever information is required in carrying out the task of agreeing priorities for the new Executive.

I look forward to the outcome of their discussions.

Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many incidents of bullying have been reported in schools in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years (a) in total and (b) by education and library board; (95528)

(2) which 10 schools in Northern Ireland have had the highest number of incidents of bullying in each of the last three years.

The Department of Education does not collect the information requested.

Information about the scale and nature of bullying in Northern Ireland schools is contained in a research report published in October 2002. A research briefing summary is available on the Department’s website at www.deni.gov.uk/rb8_2002.pdf. The Department has commissioned updated research into bullying, in all its forms, and the results are expected to be ready for publication by mid 2007.

Seat Belts

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many motorists in Northern Ireland have been prosecuted for not wearing seat belts in each of the last five years. (92888)

Data for prosecutions for not wearing a seatbelt include both drivers and passengers. Table 1 provides the number of prosecutions for the offences of failing to wear a seatbelt and carrying a child under 14 years without a seatbelt.

Data covers the calendar years 2000 to 2004, the latter being the most up-to-date available at present. It should be noted that data are collated on the principal offence rule, thus only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Table 1: Prosecutions for failing to wear a seatbelt 2000-041

Failure to wear seatbelt2

Carrying child under 14 years without a seatbelt3

Total

2000

38

5

43

2001

54

4

58

2002

47

3

50

2003

49

8

57

2004

68

10

78

1 Data for 2004 are provisional. 2 Prosecution data cannot be disaggregated for drivers and passengers and the figures for ‘failing to wear seatbelt’ include both these categories. 3 Includes ‘carrying child under 14 years without seatbelt (front)’ and ‘carrying child under 14 years without seatbelt (rear)’.

Sex Offenders

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland have been (a) prosecuted for and (b) convicted of serious sexual assaults in each of the last three years. (96437)

Table 1 provides the number prosecuted and subsequently convicted for rape, attempted rape and indecent assault.

Data covers the calendar years 2002 to 2004, the latter being the most up-to-date available at present.

It should be noted that data are collated on the principal offence rule, thus only the most serious offence with which an offender is charged is included.

Table 1: Prosecutions and convictions for rape, attempted rape and indecent assault 2002-20041

2002

2003

2004

Prosecutions

Convictions

Prosecutions

Convictions

Prosecutions

Convictions

Rape

25

8

26

8

29

15

Attempted rape2

5

2

5

2

8

3

Indecent assault3

90

55

109

66

123

81

1 Data for 2004 are provisional. 2 Includes attempted rape and assault with intent to rape. 3 Includes indecent assault on female, indecent assault on male, indecent assault on female child and indecent assault on male child.

Sports Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made on the new sports strategy for Northern Ireland. (96135)

The Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL) has prepared a new draft Sports Strategy in partnership with the Sports Council for Northern Ireland (SCNI). This draft is currently being amended to reflect the outcome of a stakeholder testing exercise undertaken in April 2006. I hope to publish the amended draft for consultation later this year.

Violent Crime

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many violent crimes in which the victim’s occupation or the victim type was given as taxi driver have been carried out in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years, broken down by (a) district command unit and (b) council area.

Paul Goggins: PSNI have advised the following breakdown of violent crime where the victim was a taxi driver.

As district command unit and council area are coterminous the statistics are outlined only by district command unit and included a Belfast total.

Violent crime recorded by the police1 where the victim was a taxi driver2

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Antrim

6

3

8

Ards

2

2

5

Armagh

0

2

0

Ballymena

3

7

3

Ballymoney

0

0

0

Banbridge

2

1

2

Carrickfergus

1

0

2

Castlereagh

0

2

1

Coleraine

5

10

13

Cookstown

1

1

1

Craigavon

8

14

14

Down

0

1

1

Dungannon and South Tyrone

5

2

9

Fermanagh

2

5

1

Foyle

6

9

15

Larne

3

1

1

Limavady

2

1

1

Lisburn

11

8

8

Magherafelt

3

0

2

Moyle

0

0

0

Newry and Mourne

3

7

11

Newtownabbey

0

0

4

North Down

1

1

5

Omagh

4

4

1

Strabane

2

3

8

East Belfast

4

2

7

North Belfast

10

9

11

South Belfast

3

4

5

West Belfast

2

3

3

Belfast total

19

18

26

Northern Ireland

89

102

142

1 Violent crime includes offences against the person, sexual offences and robbery.

2 Figures are based on the victim type or victim occupation being categorised as a taxi or mini cab driver.

(94964)

Transport

20 mph Zones

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance he has issued on the enforcement of 20 mph zones. (97298)

Traffic Advisory Leaflet 9/99 and DETR Circular 05/00 provide local traffic authorities with guidance on when and where to introduce 20mph zones. Both documents recognise the key to an effective 20mph zone is that it is self-enforcing through regular traffic calming measures which reduce speeds to 20mph or less without the need for police enforcement.

This message was reinforced in the Department's new guidance on setting local speed limits, published in August this year, which further encourages implementation of 20mph zones.

Airbus A380

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which UK airports are suitable for use by the A380 Airbus. (95750)

Heathrow is the only UK airport currently to have developed the ground facilities and adapted its operational procedures in order to handle scheduled A380 passenger services.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies in respect of hotel and other similar privately-provided accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) other persons in each year since 2001-02. (91899)

The Department for Transport and the majority of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies do not record payments for hotel accommodation for staff and others separately from other subsistence costs. More detailed information would only be available at disproportionate cost. Overnight subsistence allowances for UK and overseas, and specific hotel costs where available, are contained in the following table.

£

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

DfT (C)

UK subsistence allowance staff

292,079

307,442

299,915

332,702

UK subsistence allowance other

151

0

0

320

Overseas subsistence allowance staff

404,344

452,256

439,283

495,697

Overseas subsistence allowance other

3,999

5,415

3,794

15,450

GCDA

Total subsistence allowance

204,729

210,385

254,552

260,038

192,172

MCA

UK hotel

Only available at disproportionate cost

610,083

Overseas hotel

Only available at disproportionate cost

151,691

HA

Only available at disproportionate cost

DSA

Total travel and subsistence

345,324

317,559

3.76 million

4.84 million

5.56 million

VOSA

Accommodation

712,363

737,172

700,016

DVLA

UK hotel

629,000

701,000

679,000

Overseas hotel

1,100

7,000

8,000

VGA

UK hotel

931

5,688

4,540

37,132

58,706

Overseas hotel

0

330

1,277

142,44

26,672

Information relating to overseas travel by Ministers is published on an annual basis. Information for the period 2 May 2005 to 31 March 2006 is available in the Library of the House. Information for the current financial year will be published as soon as it is ready after the end of the current financial year. No records are kept about the category of any hotels in which Ministers have stayed.

The amounts spent on hotel and other similar privately-provided accommodation for Ministers and officials during visits abroad are as follows:

£

29 May 2002-31 March 2003

4,110

1 April 2003-31 March 2004

6,907

1 April 2004-31 March 2005

2,423

1 April 2005-31 March 2006

9,094

1 April 2005-31 August 2006

1,045

Details of the amount spent on hotel and other similar privately-provided accommodation for Ministers and officials within the UK are not routinely collated and can only be provided at disproportionate cost.

All travel is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the ministerial code, travel by Minister and the civil service management code.

Departmental Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many cars are available for the use of (a) Ministers and (b) senior officials in his Department; and how many of these are hybrid vehicles. (95677)

Official cars and drivers for ministers and senior officials are provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency under guidance set out in Travel by Ministers and the Ministerial Code.

There are five official cars allocated to the Department for Transport, two which are hybrid petrol/electric vehicles used by ministers.

EU Headlights Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential effect on (a) carbon emissions and (b) fuel consumption of the EU policy of vehicles travelling with headlights on at all times. (95678)

The European Commission’s consultation paper on the impact of daylight running lights (DRL) stated that DRLs would increase the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of a vehicle by up to 1.5 per cent. We think that this estimate is roughly correct. The impact of an EU-wide policy would be less than this; a portion of driving is at night anyway, many member states already have mandatory rules on the use of DRLs, and specially designed DRLs (rather than dipped beam headlamps) can be much more energy efficient.

The UK opposes both mandatory fitment of dedicated DRLs and compulsory daytime use of dipped beam headlamps, due to concerns about increased risk to vulnerable road users (including motorcyclists), and increased costs to motorists, as well as the environmental impacts. We have expressed these concerns at international fora and will reiterate them in our response to the European Commission consultation.

European Aviation Safety Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the European Aviation Safety Agency will be given full enforcement powers; and if he will make a statement. (96791)

In line with other EU Agencies, the European Aviation Safety Agency does not itself have powers of enforcement.

The Agency drafts common safety rules in the fields in which it has competence. These rules, when formally adopted through Community procedures, are legally binding across the EU. In some areas of regulation, such as type certification of aircraft products and parts, the Agency implements the rules itself, but in other areas implementation is the responsibility of member states’ National Aviation Authorities (NAAs).

Enforcement of these rules is the responsibility of the NAAs, who have the option of taking action in the national courts in the event of non-compliance.

Freight Trains

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Office of Rail Regulator plans to introduce an environmental levy on goods transported by freight trains. (95483)

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) published, on 11 October 2006, a consultation document “ORR's Sustainable Development and Environment Duties”.

One of the issues on which ORR is seeking stakeholder views relates to the use of an environmental charge that would reflect the costs of train operations on the environment.

A copy of the consultation document can be found on the ORR website at http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/304.pdf and will be made available in the Library of the House. Consultation responses are requested by 22 December 2006.

FV Gaul

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the total cost of investigations and inquiries into the loss of the F V Gaul in 2006 prices. (96789)

The total cost to the Department of investigations and inquiries into the loss of the FV Gaul was £6.5 million.

£

Original Formal Investigation 1975

20,000

MAIB 1998 survey

692,000

Re-opened Formal Investigation

5,800,000

No adjustment has been made for 2006 prices.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made towards the implementation of the formal safety recommendations arising from the F V Gaul Re-opened Formal Investigation. (96790)

It is considered that, as far as is reasonably practicable, the recommendations have been implemented.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether any evidence of a design fault in the construction and arrangement of the duff and offal chutes on the trawler F V Gaul was made available to the Wreck Commissioner during the 2004 investigation. (96794)

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch provided the inquiry with a copy of a full set of technical drawings for the vessel, a number of which detailed the design of these chutes. These drawings were reviewed by the technical experts and the expert representing the Department for Transport referred to these drawings in the production of the document “Notes on the duff and offal chutes”, submitted to the Re-opened Formal Investigation. These notes included comments on the design of the chutes and the potential design inadequacies.

Nottingham NET Tram System

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the change in estimated costs for lines two and three has been of the Nottingham NET tram system since his Department accepted the final submission. (94198)

We received the final information from the promoters in response to our questions in spring this year. At that time, the promoters estimated that the scheme would require central Government funding of £422 million PFI credits, and a local contribution of £140.6 million (in present value).

Today we approved programme entry for the NET extensions, with central Government funding of £437 million PFI credits, on the basis of the promoter’s latest estimates. The latest estimate for the required local contribution is £141.0 million (in present value).

Road Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent on road safety campaigns in (a) Suffolk, (b) Bedfordshire, (c) Cambridgeshire, (d) Essex, (e) Hertfordshire and (f) Norfolk in each year since 1997. (95543)

The information requested is not available. It is for each local authority to determine its spend on road safety campaigns.

Rugby Western Relief Road

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what delegated legislation will be necessary for the construction of the Rugby Western Relief Road. (96300)

To enable Warwickshire county council to proceed with the construction of the Rugby Western Relief Road, the council will require confirmation by the Secretary of State for Transport of two orders: A Side Roads Order, to effect alterations to highways and private accesses, and a Compulsory Purchase Order to acquire the necessary lands. The council will also require planning permission.

Train Services (London to Brighton)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the future of services to London Victoria from Brighton station. (95775)

Electoral Commission Committee

Comptroller and Auditor General Report

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Speaker’s Committee has received the Comptroller and Auditor General’s statutory value for money report on the Electoral Commission for 2004-05. (97482)

Yes. The Speaker’s Committee considered this report, entitled “Is the Public Aware of Democracy?”, at its meeting on 18 July 2006. The report examines the Electoral Commission’s expenditure in 2004-05 in pursuance of its statutory duty under section 13 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 to promote public awareness of electoral and democratic systems. The Comptroller and Auditor General had previously reported on the Commission’s expenditure in this area in his 2002-03 report, and this report includes a summary of the progress made by the Electoral Commission in implementing recommendations he made then.

The Committee is grateful to the Comptroller and Auditor General for this further report on an area to which the Electoral Commission devotes each year a significant proportion of its overall financial resources. The Committee has published it as an appendix to its first report 2006 and, as that report makes clear, will be following up the conclusions and recommendations with the Electoral Commission. The Committee’s report was laid before the House on 25 July 2006 as House of Commons paper number 1581. Copies have been placed in the Library and are now available in the Vote Office.

Electoral Commissioners

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Speaker’s Committee has considered the implications of the statutory disqualifications from appointment as an Electoral Commissioner for the effectiveness with which the Commission discharges its functions. (97483)

The effect of section 3(4) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 is to disqualify from appointment as an Electoral Commissioner a wide range of people who have been actively involved with political parties, or held elective office, over the preceding 10 years. At its meeting on 3 May 2006, the Speaker’s Committee agreed to write to the Lord Chancellor raising the issue of whether these restrictions reduced the effectiveness of the Electoral Commission in discharging its functions, and to seek to place the exchange of correspondence in the public domain.

I have now placed in the Library copies of Mr. Speaker’s letter to the Lord Chancellor on this matter, and the Lord Chancellor’s reply. In view of the relevance of the exchange to the current inquiry of the Committee on Standards in Public Life into the Electoral Commission, I am also arranging for it to be sent copies, as I undertook to do when I gave evidence to that Committee on 7 September.

Scotland

Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many formal complaints his Department has received in each year since 1999. (96472)

Information is not available prior to 1 April 2001; since that date, the Scotland Office has received two complaints, one in 2003-04 and one in 2005-06.

Comprehensive Spending Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Treasury on the comprehensive spending review 2007; and if he will make a statement. (96467)

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department has spent on organising and hosting conferences in the last 12 months. (93095)

The Scotland Office has incurred no expenditure organising and hosting conferences in the last 12 months.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much his Department spent on taxis in the last 12 months. (93108)

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many press officers are employed by his Department; and how many were employed in each year between 1999 and 2005. (96466)

At present, the Scotland Office has one press officer; figures for previous years are published in the Office’s annual reports.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much has been spent by his Department on (a) chartering aircraft and (b) non-scheduled air travel in each of the last five years. (96210)

Guardian's Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people in each constituency in Scotland receive the guardian’s allowance. (95753)

The information requested is not available by constituency. The average number of people receiving the guardian’s allowance in the UK is 2,800.

Muslim Council of Britain

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much (a) financial support and (b) support in kind his Department and its agencies have given to the Muslim Council of Britain in each year since 1997. (96283)

The Scotland Office was established in July 1999. Since that date it has incurred no expenditure in cash or in kind in support of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Private Finance Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much has been spent by his Department on private finance initiative projects postponed pending further consideration or stopped in the last 12 months. (96802)

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) live calves and (b) live sheep have been exported for (i) slaughter and (ii) further fattening since 1 May, broken down by country of destination. (95755)

As at 11 October, the number of calves exported from the UK to mainland Europe for fattening, prior to slaughter this year, by country, are in the following table:

Country

Estimated number of Calves

Belgium

11,526

France

2,349

Germany

34

Italy

738

Netherlands

25,511

Spain

3,200

Total

43,358

These figures have been taken from the Cattle Tracing System.

Equivalent figures for sheep are not available. However, information from the European Union-wide Trade Control and Expert System, TRACES, (based on export health certification) indicates that sheep exports to mainland Europe from 1 May to 30 September were:

Country

Estimated Number of Sheep

France

24,452

Germany

6,947

Italy

8,578

Netherlands

2,624

Total

42,601

These figures represent the number of sheep on applications for export health certificates. Not all these sheep will have been subsequently exported. The figures therefore represent a maximum. TRACES does not distinguish between the purpose of exports.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he takes to establish whether live calves exported to other European Union Member States are unloaded after 18 hours of travel and given at least 24 hours rest, food and liquid as required by Council Directive 91/628/EEC concerning the protection of animals during transport; and if he will make a statement. (95756)

Responsibility for applying Council Directive 91/628/EEC in other member states rests with the relevant competent authority in those countries. However, state veterinary service staff at Animal Health Divisional Offices check route plans when they are returned by transporters. Transporters are required to record details of the actual journey undertaken and to explain any variations from the journey planned.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) live calves and (b) live sheep destined for export have been rejected prior to export since May 2006 at (i) the place of origin and (ii) the port; and if he will make a statement. (95757)

This information is no longer collected. Following increased levels of exports, the use made of this data could no longer justify the resources required to collect it.

Animal Production Businesses

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many animal production businesses in England have more than 250 employees. (93488)

Data from the June Agricultural Survey is not available at business level but only by individual holding. The number of holdings in England at June 2005, where livestock production is the predominant activity and employees number greater than 250, are less than five. In order to protect the confidentiality of survey respondents, as required under the Agricultural Statistics Act, it is not possible to reveal the exact numbers when these are very small.

Animal Welfare Bill

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many working parties he has set up to discuss aspects of regulations associated with progress of the Animal Welfare Bill; and who has been invited to sit on each working party. (96074)

Since 2004, the Department has set up 13 working groups on the Animal Welfare Bill and accompanying regulations. Membership has consisted of the main animal welfare organisations, the relevant industry and hobby groups, local authorities and DEFRA officials. Some groups have also included representatives from other Government departments, the Devolved Administrations, the police and Equity.

Bovine Tuberculosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cattle found to have TB lesions after slaughter in abattoirs had (a) passed and (b) failed the TB skin test in each year since 1997. (95951)

The following table gives the (i) number of TB skin test reactors confirmed by the identification of visible lesions at post-mortem examination and/or by laboratory analysis, (ii) the number of non-TB skin test reactor animals identified as potentially infected by TB at routine slaughter, i.e. ‘slaughterhouse cases’, and (iii) the number of slaughterhouse cases where bovine TB was confirmed by laboratory culture. All figures are for Great Britain.

(i) Total number of confirmed reactors

(ii) Total number of slaughterhouse cases

(iii) Total number of confirmed slaughterhouse cases

20061

4,663

456

247

2005

8,657

591

390

2004

6,422

389

239

2003

6,308

303

178

20022

6,993

386

193

20012

2,342

197

111

2000

3,644

242

132

1999

2,841

189

100

1998

2,272

120

58

1997

1 ,441

12

7

1 Provisional figures for Jan-August 2006. Data downloaded from the state veterinary service database on 27 September 2006 and subject to change as more data become available.

2 In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. When testing resumed in 2002, resources were concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests which would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also the proportion of high risk herds tested immediately after the FMD outbreak was greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, data for 2001 and 2002 are not comparable with other years.

Source:

State Veterinary Service database

Of the cases where lesions suggestive of bovine TB were identified during post-mortem examination (‘slaughterhouse cases’) it is not possible to identify how many had previously tested clear for TB. If this information was readily available it would still not be possible to state with certainty whether a slaughterhouse case with confirmed Mycobacterium bovis infection had acquired it before or after passing a TB skin test.

Carcase inspection at slaughter is an important surveillance tool. Its objective is to provide a safety net to identify Mycobacterium bovis in animals which have not been subject to testing prior to slaughter as well as cases which may have been missed by the skin test. Post-mortem inspection is also an important safeguard to human health.

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many fines have been issued under the provisions of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 in each local authority. (96338)

The legislation on fixed penalty notices under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 was commenced in April this year. Data on the number of fixed penalty notices issued is collected by means of annual returns from local authorities. Data for the period April 2006 to March 2007 will be collected next year for release in autumn 2007.

Departmental Waste Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to publish the Department's waste review by the end of 2006; and if he will make a statement. (95590)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr Cable) on 16 October 2006, Official Report, column 91OW.

National Air Quality Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the review of the National Air Quality Strategy to be completed; and if he will make a statement. (96899)

A consultation document on the review of the Air Quality Strategy was issued on 5 April, inviting comments by 11 July. A copy of the document is available on the DEFRA website at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/airqualstrat-review/.

We are currently analysing the responses, carrying out further assessment of some of the measures and updating the baseline to take account of the latest data, such as energy projections. A final Strategy report is planned for the early part of next year.

Newcastle Disease

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the East Lothian Newcastle Disease outbreak; how many of each type of bird were slaughtered; what contingency plans were being followed; and what compensation is available to breeders whose birds were slaughtered. (96844)

[holding answer 24 October 2006]: Animal health and welfare is a devolved issue and, as such, the Scottish Executive implemented their Newcastle Disease contingency plan. Compensation arrangements were made under Scottish legislation.

Organic/Free Range Produce

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will increase the penalties for misrepresenting (a) organic and (b) free range products. (94443)

The Organic Products Regulations and the Egg Marketing Regulations provide for penalties not exceeding level five of the standard scale. This is in line with the level for similar offences and there are currently no plans to increase the level.

Sheep Diseases

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if his Department will assess the merits of using the Australian vaccination for caseous lymphadenitis in sheep. (95952)

Commercial vaccines to protect against caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) are available in several countries including Australia. None of the commercially produced vaccines are currently authorised for marketing in the UK; however a veterinary surgeon may apply for a Special Import Certificate to import vaccine for use in a particular infected flock. Glanvac, a vaccine used in Australia has been imported into the UK for the control of CLA infection in both sheep and goats.

The widespread availability of a CLA vaccine in GB would depend on a commercial decision by a vaccine manufacturer to apply for a Marketing Authorisation; however if CLA vaccine were to become generally available, its use could suppress clinical disease in infected flocks without eradicating infection. As vaccinated animals can transmit infection, the use of vaccine in the absence of health certification could increase the risk of spread of infection.

Veterinary Surgeons

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the public petition of 9 June 2004 from Mrs. I. O’Neill and others for an independent ombudsman to deal with complaints against the veterinary profession; and what response he has made to the petition. (96294)

The Government have made it clear on a number of occasions that they accept that the current arrangements for dealing with complaints against veterinary surgeons could be improved. This means looking at the scope of any complaints system, the range of actions that the regulatory body has at its disposal, and whether the system is sufficiently transparent and fair.

We have received a number of ideas on how complaints against veterinary surgeons should be managed, including the appointment of an independent ombudsman. We will also look at whether better models exist for the way in which complaints against other professions are handled. These issues are being considered as part of a wider review of the existing regulatory framework for veterinary surgeons. However there is currently no set timetable for making changes to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many veterinary surgeons qualified in each year since 2000. (96592)

The number of veterinary surgeons to have qualified in each year since 2000 are as follows:

Number of veterinary surgeons qualified

2000

480

2001

494

2002

493

2003

498

2004

588

2005

566

House of Commons Commission

Commission Staff

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will (a) carry out an age audit of its staff to establish an age profile of its workforce, (b) negotiate an age management policy with trade unions and employees to eliminate age discrimination and retain older workers, (c) identify and support training needs and offer older staff flexible working to downshift towards retirement and (d) extend to over-fifties the right to request to work flexibly and the right to training with paid time-off; and if he will make a statement. (96482)

The House of Commons Service has monitored the age profile of its staff for a number of years. For the last two years, the following statistics have been produced by the Corporate Learning and Diversity team.

Age

September 2005

September 2006

Under 25

5.3

5.1

25-39

36.7

37.3

40-49

27.1

28.8

50-59

22.3

21.0

60-65

8.6

9.2

The House’s retirement policy has been reviewed, in consultation with the trade unions, in the light of legislation on Age Discrimination which became law on 1 October. The new retirement procedure allows staff to request to remain in employment after their 65th birthday either in their present role or in another role within the House where a vacancy occurs.

All staff of the House are required to complete a personal development plan each year. Departmental Training Officers then arrange events to meet identified needs. Training, learning and development are available to all staff of the House. There are no age restrictions apart from where the training might still be continuing when retirement age is reached. Work-related training is normally undertaken in working time, so staff are paid as normal. The House also offers pre-retirement courses. The House’s Corporate Business Plan states that it recognises flexible working will help to retain valued staff which will be essential to meet changing business needs. For some time, all permanent staff have had the right to request flexible working. Working patterns by gender, ethnicity, age and pay band are being monitored to ensure fair treatment to all.

Parliamentary Staff (Foreign Nationals)

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many foreign nationals work on the parliamentary estate. (96937)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) on 25 July 2006, Official Report, column 1642W, for details of how many passholders are non-UK citizens.

Defence

Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency plans his Department has should the Royal Navy require two aircraft carriers for an operation whilst one is out of service for maintenance purposes once the future aircraft carriers have entered service. (94915)

The Defence requirement is for an aircraft carrier to be available at high readiness for operations throughout the year. The acquisition of two ships will ensure this requirement is met and will also allow for essential training and maintenance to be carried out. The second carrier will also be able to fulfil the Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) role when the dedicated LPH ship, currently HMS Ocean, is unavailable.

Battle Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which units are allocated to an EU order of battle deployment; (96250)

(2) what resources the Government have identified as plausible UK commitments in the event of a deployment of the EU Rapid Reaction Force.

There is no EU order of battle or EU rapid reaction force.

In the Helsinki Headline Goal, adopted in 1999, the EU established a target of being able to deploy up to 50,000 to 60,000 troops on a range of crisis management tasks, from humanitarian relief to peace support operations. The UK has offered forces up to a maximum of 12,500 troops, 72 combat aircraft and 18 warships plus support ships. This is not a standing force, but an indication of the numbers and types of forces that the UK could potentially make available for EU-led operations, subject to other commitments.

Additionally the UK has agreed periodically to provide troops on standby in the context of the EU Battlegroups concept. EU Battlegroups are small, mobile self-sustaining forces (approximately 1,500 troops) intended for rapid intervention in a crisis, typically in response to a UN request. The UK provided a national Battlegroup on standby during the first half of 2005 and will do so again in 2008. With the Netherlands we have also offered an amphibious Battlegroup in 2010. Each Battlegroup will be on standby for a period of six months.

The commitment of national forces to an EU-led operation remains a sovereign decision for nations concerned.

Hampton Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what input (a) his Department and (b) its (i) agencies and (ii) non-departmental public bodies had into the Hampton Review and its report, “Reducing Administrative Burdens: Effective Inspection and Enforcement”. (89563)

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

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether US Government officials have paid sums to British forces in connection with operations in Iraq. (95220)

US Government officials do not pay sums to British forces in connection with operations in Iraq. Coalition partners do share logistical support but where payment is required for these activities, it is provided on a repayment basis.

The UK does have access to US Commander’s Emergency Response Programme (CERPs) funding. Resources drawn from this are, however, allocated directly to certain reconstruction projects in MND(SE).

Military Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel are expected to be deployed in a Vector vehicle. (93925)

Vector has a seating arrangement designed for a crew of two (a vehicle commander and driver) and four passengers, with an occasional seat for a seventh person. However, the deployment of personnel in Vector vehicles is a matter for military commanders, who will crew them as they see fit.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advantage the Vector vehicles have over the latest Snatch Land Rovers in terms of protection from improvised explosive devices and other explosive devices. (93926)

In addition to improved agility and terrain accessibility, Vector vehicles offer better levels of protection than the Snatch Land Rover against the key threats faced in Afghanistan, including improvised explosive devices. I cannot disclose the specific details of threats and the protection measures to counter them, as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice the security of our armed forces.

Night Vision Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines are used by his Department for the allocation of night vision goggles to troops; and if he will make a statement. (95537)

There are no specific guidelines issued for the allocation of night vision goggles. It is for Commanders to determine when and how they are used and the equipment is then issued to individuals according to the requirements of each task. Priority is given to units either on Operations, or undertaking pre-deployment training.

Wales

Departmental Dress Code

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what his Department's policy is on the display of religious (a) artefacts, (b) symbols and (c) dress by its staff; how many staff have been subject to disciplinary proceedings regarding this policy in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (95642)

The Wales Office does not have a formal dress code. Staff are expected to present a smart/professional appearance while at work or conducting official business. Where an employee's religion requires them observe a particular dress code, this is respected.

No Wales Office staff have been subject to disciplinary proceedings on the basis of dress.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if his Department will (a) carry out an age audit of its staff to establish an age profile of its workforce, (b) negotiate an age management policy with trade unions and employees to eliminate age discrimination and retain older workers, (c) identify and support training needs and offer older staff flexible working to downshift towards retirement and (d) extend to over-fifties the right to request to work flexibly and the right to training with paid time off; and if he will make a statement. (96505)

The Wales Office is a small organisation with a diverse workforce. Staff represent all working age bands, and the Wales Office is fully compliant with age discrimination legislation. Opportunities for training, flexible working, recruitment and retention are available to all staff, regardless of age. On this basis, it is not necessary for the Wales Office to undertake an age audit.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what proportion of vacancies in his Department in the last 12 months required candidates to have at least a grade C in (a) English and (b) mathematics GCSE. (96742)

The Wales Office is a small organisation, with fewer than 60 staff based in Cardiff and London. It draws its staff from other bodies, namely the National Assembly for Wales and Department of Constitutional Affairs. These staff have already had their qualifications assessed, and so we do not directly specify any requirement for these qualifications in our vacancies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether his Department recognises the International GCSE as an acceptable substitute for a GCSE for the purposes of recruitment. (96866)

The Wales Office is a small organisation, with fewer than 60 staff based in Cardiff and London. It draws its staff from other bodies, namely the National Assembly for Wales and Department of Constitutional Affairs. These staff have already had their qualifications assessed, and so we do not need to carry out any further assessment of GCSEs or other qualifications.

Muslim Council of Britain

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much (a) financial support and (b) support in kind his Department and its agencies have given to the Muslim Council of Britain in each year since 1997. (96282)

The Wales Office was established in 1999 and has given neither financial support nor support in kind to the Muslim Council of Britain.

Social Exclusion

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with other appropriate Government departments on how best practice on social exclusion can be shared with the Welsh Assembly Government. (95232)

Devolution enables the Welsh Assembly Government to adopt tailor-made policies to tackle social exclusion in Wales. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Social Exclusion takes a close interest in the work of the Assembly Government in this area, and her Department maintains contact with the Assembly Minister for Social Justice and her officials in order to exchange best practice and to ensure that work is properly co-ordinated.

The different countries of the UK have recently worked together to produce the UK's National Action Plan on Social Inclusion for the EU, which sets out some of the most promising programmes and approaches developed across the countries of the UK.

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 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. (96224)

The costs of chartering aircraft by the Department in each of the past five years are not separately identifiable within the Department’s accounts without incurring disproportionate costs.

In respect of overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers, since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. Where non-scheduled aircraft are used this is shown in the list. Information for 2005-06 was published on 24 July 2006. Copies of the lists are available in the Library for the reference of Members.

All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Library for the reference of Members. All official travel is undertaken in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Management Code, a copy of which is also available in the Library for the reference of Members.

Digital Dividend Review Consultation

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether she expects to publish an interim report following the closure of the Digital Dividend Review Consultation. (96142)

[holding answer 23 October 2006]: On 17 November 2005 Ofcom announced the beginning of the Digital Dividend Review project. This is to examine the options arising from the release of spectrum afforded by the digital switchover programme.

It is for Ofcom to decide when to publish a report.

Funding (Theatres)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much public funding has been made available to theatre companies in the East Midlands in each year between 1998 and 2005. (96110)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport does not fund the arts directly, but through Arts Council England, who are responsible for distributing public money from Government.

The Arts Council of England merged with the regional arts boards in 2002-03. It is not possible to provide reliable funding figures for theatre in the East Midlands prior to this date.

Arts Council England, East Midlands regular funding for theatre organisations

£000

2002-03

3,280

2003-04

4,295

2004-05

4,522

2005-06

4,734

In addition, since 2003-04 Arts Council England, East Midlands has allocated over £2.6 million to 169 organisations and individuals through their Grants for the arts funding scheme.

Government Art Collection

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which Ministers have artwork from the Government Art Collection in their offices; what requests the collection has received for changes to the artwork hanging in ministerial offices in each of the last five years; and what the average cost of (a) exchanging and (b) hanging a new artwork from the collection has been over the same period. (96238)

A list of which Ministers have works of art from the Government Art Collection in their offices and what requests the collection has received for changes to the works of art hanging in ministerial offices in each of the last five years is provided in a separate document. I am arranging for copies of this document to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Government Art Collection (GAC) spends approximately £130,000 from its annual Programme Vote on transport and installation in major Government buildings in the UK and all around the world, as well as the transport of works of art to and from conservators and framers. The GAC employs freelance specialist fine art transporters and installers for these jobs.

It is not possible to provide a meaningful figure for the average cost of exchanging and installing an individual work of art in a Minister’s office. For reasons of economy, the installation of groups of works of art in ministerial and other offices and areas in departmental buildings—such as entrance halls, waiting rooms, conference rooms, corridors, etc.—are almost always batched together in the same job. Additionally, time taken to remove and install works of art in offices may vary due to the size, weight, number and handling difficulties of individual works and physical considerations such as the type of wall involved, etc. Individual GAC staff costs would also have to be taken into consideration, to include recording all moves of works of art, assistance with initial selections of works of art, organising their transport and installation, and overseeing the installation itself.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 19 October 2006, Official Report, column 1369W, on ministerial visits, when she next plans to visit Northern Ireland. (97084)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State currently has no plans to visit Northern Ireland.

PFI Projects

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been spent by her Department on Private Finance Initiative projects postponed pending further consideration or stopped in the last 12 months. (96799)

DCMS does not keep detailed costs as projects are managed by local authorities. Within the last 12 months one project has been postponed for reconsideration. DCMS does not have details of the cost accrued by the local authority.

Shepway district council-Leisure PFI project. was delayed for re-consideration of the Outline Business Case.

Public Events (Risk Assessment)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what guidance her Department has issued to licensing authorities on the requirement for requiring risk assessments for public events which included regulated entertainment. (95828)

The guidance issued to licensing authorities under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 states that all applicants for a premises licence or club premises certificate should carry out a risk assessment against the four licensing objectives in order to identify any necessary steps to be recorded in the operating schedule.

The guidance does not state how the risk assessment should be carried out or recorded. However, it lists publications which give technical and professional advice about safety and risk assessment at events and may be relevant in the context of regulated entertainment.

Tourism (Press Releases)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many press releases on tourism her Department has issued since April. (95647)

The Department has issued one tourism-specific press release since April 2006. It has also issued a number of press releases relating to tourism as well as other areas; and on areas that are a key part of our tourism industry, such as licensing, heritage and culture.

VisitBritain, funded by grant in aid from the Department, has issued 81 press releases since April. These have covered the promotion of England and Britain as a tourism destination, VisitBritain’s responsibility to help the British tourism industry address the media more effectively, and activity to raise the value of the visitor economy.

UK Film Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been spent by the UK Film Council in the East Midlands in the last six years. (96107)

The UK Film Council has made lottery awards, both directly and through its delegates Skillset and First Light, to organisations and film makers based in the East Midlands over the last six years as follows:

Lottery (£)

2000-01

n/a

2001-02

107,000

2002-03

349,055

2003-04

142,989

2004-05

97,055

2005-06

1,546,400

In addition to its direct funding of projects, the UK Film Council disperses a combination of Lottery and Grant in Aid (GIA) funding through the Regional Investment Fund for England (RIFE) to each of the English regions through nine Regional Screen Agencies. EM Media is the agency tasked with supporting film activity in the East Midlands. In each of the last six years the UK Film Council has invested RIFE monies in EM Media as follows:

£

GIA

Lottery

Total

2000-01

2001-02

330,000

270,000

600,000

2002-03

590,000

322,000

912,000

2003-04

590,000

322,000

912,000

2004-05

590,000

322,000

912,000

2005-06

590,000

322,000

912,000

Prime Minister

Abortion

To ask the Prime Minister how many (a) letters and (b) postcards he has received since July from (i) members of the public, (ii) hon. Members and (iii) members of the House of Lords about the issue of abortion; how many and what percentage (A) supported and (B) opposed abortion; and if he will make a statement. (95288)

Since July my office has received approximately 200 representations about this issue. Given the volume of correspondence I receive, thousands of letters each week covering a broad spectrum of issues, my office records letters by subject rather than by the view expressed.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Prime Minister how much has been spent by his Office on (a) chartering aircraft and (b) non-scheduled air travel in each of the last five years. (96214)

Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. Copies of these lists are available in the Library of the House. Information on the number of officials accompanying Ministers on overseas visits is included in the list.

All Ministers' travel arrangements are in accordance with the arrangements for official travel set out in chapter 10 of the ministerial code, and the accompanying guidance document, “Travel by Ministers”.

Human Rights

To ask the Prime Minister when (a) he and (b) his office first saw the draft of the Foreign Office's 2006 report on Human Rights for 2006. (95934)

Ministerial Resignations

To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with (a) the Deputy Prime Minister, (b) the Secretary of State for the Home Department and (c) the Chancellor of the Exchequer since July about his forthcoming resignation as Prime Minister; and if he will make a statement. (95287)

I have regular meetings and discussions with ministerial colleagues and others on a wide range of subjects. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.

Official Gifts

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 867W, on official gifts, (1) how each of the assets recorded on the Donated Asset Reserve as held by his Office are used; and for what reason each is retained; (95331)

(2) what use is made of the Segway transporter held by his Office as a donated asset; and for what reason it is retained.

I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 867W.

Privy Council

To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 867W, on the Privy Council, through what mechanism he receives possible nominations for submission to the Queen; from whom he receives names; in what forum and with whom he discusses the merits of each candidate; and whether dossiers are maintained on each. (95332)

I receive nominations from a broad range of people. I consult as necessary before submitting names to the Queen.

International Development

Millennium Development Goals

7. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations he has received from schools on the UK's contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. (96576)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and I have received around 80 letters from schoolchildren this year on a wide range of issues relating to the Millennium Development Goals. We have met with school children and other young people, both at DFID offices and on regional visits.

Mongolia

8. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what UK aid has been allocated to Mongolia in 2006-07. (96577)

DFID does not have a bilateral aid programme with Mongolia. However, DFID does contribute to the European Commission's development assistance to Mongolia. In 2005 the EC contribution was €5.12 million, of which the UK's contribution was some £615,000.

Pakistan

9. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in the earthquake region of Pakistan. (96578)

During my recent visit to the earthquake-affected areas I saw at first hand the current situation and the changes that have taken place since the earthquake. Much has already been achieved. Thousands of people have been given semi-permanent shelter. Pre-fabricated housing and weather-proof tents have been provided. All health and education facilities are working, in permanent or temporary structures.

The immediate challenge for the Pakistani government is the coming winter. They have worked with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and donors on a comprehensive winter contingency plan. The UK is ready to provide additional help if required during this period.

UN (Conflict Prevention)

10. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what he expects the future role of the UN to be in helping to prevent conflict in developing countries; and if he will make a statement. (96579)

The Secretary General submitted in September a report which sets out how the UN will in future help to prevent conflict, including by resolving disputes peacefully and by building work on prevention into its development programmes. The report also calls for improvements to coordination in and outside of the UN, and to the UN's early warning, information collection and analysis capacity. The UK will continue to support these efforts through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool. We will also continue to support the UN's Peacebuilding Commission and peacekeeping operations in preventing the recurrence of conflict.

Climate Change

11. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department's work on tackling climate change. (96580)

DFID takes the issue of climate change very seriously. We are working with others, in particular the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, to increase investment in lower carbon energy, so that we can make progress towards reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the problem. We are helping developing countries to collect data on the range and type of climate-related changes that are likely to take place in coming years. We are also helping developing country planners to interpret that data, so they can make informed decisions about how best to respond. For example, they might need to introduce drought resistant crops.

Health Care Drugs

12. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the supply of health care drugs to the developing world from G8 countries; and if he will make a statement. (96581)

The World Health Organisation estimates that one third of the world’s population is without access to medicines, including the supply of drugs.

DFID are supporting a number of global initiatives such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria; International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm), UNITAID and advance market commitments for vaccines.

DFID helps to fund the broader health sector plans of developing country governments. Our programmes will build capacity in countries’ own health services to manage all major causes of illness including the provision of drugs and other supplies.

Zimbabwe

13. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he next expects to meet his EU counterparts to discuss aid to Zimbabwe. (96582)

I regularly meet my EU counterparts, and our discussions include the situation in Zimbabwe. Foreign Ministers discussed Zimbabwe at the General Affairs and External Relations Council this month. The EU Common Position on Zimbabwe remains firm. The UK will press for extension of targeted measures against members of the Zimbabwe Government, due for review next February. EU members share deep concern for the plight of Zimbabweans resulting from bad governance. This was most recently demonstrated through the statement of condemnation of the brutal handling and serious abuse of the trade union demonstrators in Harare by the Zimbabwean authorities.

Afghanistan

14. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress his Department is making towards reconstruction in Afghanistan. (96583)

Between 2001 and March 2006 DFID spent over £390 million on reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is DFID’s fifth largest programme and we are Afghanistan’s second largest bilateral donor, spending over £100 million in 2005-06. We are focusing on: building effective state institutions; improving economic management and improving rural livelihoods. The best way to do this is by supporting Afghans themselves—which is why over 70 per cent. of our aid goes directly to the Government of Afghanistan. Afghanistan remains one of the UK’s top priorities and we have provided valuable support to the Government who have made great progress over the last five years.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 17 October 2006, Official Report, column 1152W, on Afghanistan, what projects his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) financially supported in Helmand Province. (96359)

DFID undertakes livelihoods projects, preferring to work through the Government of Afghanistan where possible. This support is essential to strengthen Government systems and build effective state institutions that will be able to continue to meet Afghanistan's development needs.

In Helmand, DFID supports a number of livelihood programmes. I announced a £30 million Helmand Agriculture and Rural Development Programme earlier this year. This programme aims to increase economic opportunities for the rural poor of Helmand by supporting the Government of Afghanistan in the roll-out of existing successful National Programmes in Helmand. These programmes will provide improved water and sanitation, essential small-scale rural infrastructure, greater access to small loans, improved roads and access to markets and agricultural inputs and training to the people of Helmand. Priority preliminary tasks have been undertaken: i.e. sites for road and well building have been identified; engineering surveys conducted; and the Government procurement process started. This programme will construct 200 wells in and around Lashkar Gah city by end March 2007, and 49km of road will be under construction by then. Should the security situation allow, we also expect to build a further 490 wells in four districts in central Helmand by end March 2007.

Through the £3 million DFID-funded Research into Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF), the Restorative Agriculture and Rural Economy Research Project, implemented by Mercy Corps, is working on export feasibility of grapes, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplants and okra, and has made strong contacts with raisin importers (organic and fair-trade). The programme is evaluating at least 10 different small-scale agri-processing industries, and producing case studies of enterprises that prove to have value added. For example tomato paste. In addition the programme has introduced a simple technology for the production of mint as a herbal remedy.

DFID has committed £4 million to the UK Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP) funding allocation of £6.5 million for the delivery of quick impact projects (QIPS) in Helmand to get short-term development results and help build a platform for longer-term activities. From the total allocation, half has been committed and all will be spent by March 2007. To date, nearly fifty such projects have been funded and implemented. These funds have provided humanitarian assistance to victims of the drought, constructed permanent vehicle checkpoints to improve security, improved security around the shrine in Gereshk, reinforced the river bank walls and provided flood defences for the Bowlan bridge. A full list of UK funded QIPs under the four broad sub-headings (Reconstruction and Development, Security, Governance, and Counter Narcotics) is attached.

Supporting Documentation: Summary of Quick Impact Projects in Helmand Province

ProjectValue (USD)

Reconstruction and Development

Sayed Tajdar Shrine: Wall and gate construction

21,224

Sayed Tajdar Shrine: Road and footpath construction

3,076

Improvement of Friday Market and Gabion wall

140,623

Improvement of Friday Market (Cha-i-Anjeer)

24,950

Emergency food distribution

3,400

Gabion Extension

34,108

Support to Office of the Governor to respond to needs of Internally Displaced People

60,000

Support to Radio Stations

150,000

Weir on Helmand River

153,147

Silt removal from Helmand River

259,479

Extension of Gabion walls on Helmand River

168,045

Ulema Shura Ramadan Food

6,867

Lashkar Gar Hospital Mortuary

50,000

Bost Hospital Generator

60,000

Womens Centre improvements

30,000

Kartelegan and Toortank day care centres

80,000

Ulema Shura Eid Support

1,900

Womens Centre ISAF badges

750

Security

Permanent Vehicle Check Points (PVCPs)

21,387

Afghan National Police Outposts

480,000

Afghan National Army Platoon House

45,000

Afghan National Army Outposts

158,756

4 Permanent Vehicle Check Points (PVCPs)

155,000

4 Enhanced Permanent Vehicle Check Points (PVCPs)

110,000

12 Permanent Vehicle Check Points (PVCPs) for Geresk

600,000

New PSCC

150,000

Governance

Media Training

486,900

Radio Transmitter

122,400

Helmand Governor - Armoured Car

126,684

3,000 uniforms for 1,500 police

30,000

GPS for the chief of police

150

ID card making facility (ANP)

25,000

Generators for the Governor

170,000

Wall for the office of the prosecutor

10,000

Support to the Office of the Governor

35,000

Tribal Liaison Office, District Reports

155,708

Rehabilitate Printing Press

45,000

Counter Narcotics

Windmill Wells

10,640

Vehicles for Counter Narcotics Police Authority

72,080

Counter-narcotics PI campaign

279,939

Communications equipment for the Counter Narcotics Police Afghanistan

10,000

PA Systems for 12 District Centres

3,000

Counter Narcotics Tractor Repairs

12,000

Counter Narcotics Tractor Ploughs

30,000

Total

4,592,213

Palestinian Country Assistance Plan

15. To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what impact the refusal of Hamas to recognise Israel and renounce terrorism will have on the Palestinian Country Assistance Plan. (96584)

The 2004 Palestinian Country Assistance Plan (CAP) sets out how we will work towards three outcomes:

prospects for peace enhanced;

more effective, accountable and inclusive Palestinian institutions;

humanitarian and development assistance delivered more effectively.

These objectives remain valid. However, following the Hamas-led Government’s failure to meet the Quartet principles, we cannot support the Palestinian Authority. Instead, we have had to find ways to get aid straight to the Palestinian people. DFID has produced an interim programme update setting out how we are working towards our CAP objectives in the current political environment. This is available at www.dfid.gov.uk I am also placing a copy in the House of Commons Library.

Africa (Climate Change)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the number of people in sub-Saharan Africa who are at risk from diseases directly attributable to climate change. (96078)

The World Health Organisation has estimated that over 50,000 deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2000 were due to climate change (World Health Report 2002). These deaths were due to diarrhoea, flood injury, malaria and malnutrition. 2 per cent. of all cases of diarrhoea and malaria and almost one fifth of cases of malnutrition during this period were attributed to climate change. In their recent report entitled “The Climate of Poverty: Facts, Fears and Hope”, Christian Aid estimated that 182 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa were at risk of dying from diseases directly attributable to climate change by the end of this century if temperatures rise by 6oC.

At Gleneagles in 2005, the UK and other G8 countries acknowledged the urgent need to increase efforts to combat climate change in their own countries and in the developing world. The Department for International Development has allocated £5 million over five years for work to improve the quality and availability of climate data in Africa and £24 million over five years to improve the capacity of African countries to adapt to climate change by building and maintaining a body of skilled African researchers.

We have funded assessments of the potential impact on health in 12 of the least developed countries’ nine of which are in Africa including Sudan, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Uganda. DFID is also the fourth largest donor to the Global Environment Facility contributing £118 million between 2003-04 and 2006-07.

DFID is also working with African countries to tackle the problem, through strengthening national health systems and providing targeted support to programmes against TB, malaria and other communicable diseases. In Kenya for example, DFID has funded the distribution of approximately six million insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against malaria. This year, DFID has also doubled its contribution to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria to £66 million.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost was of paying for fees at independent schools for the children of staff employed by his Department in the last year for which figures are available. (95989)

The cost of paying for fees at independent schools for the children of staff employed by the Department for International Development in the last year for which figures are available, is £626,113.

Lebanon

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance has been promised to the Lebanese Government for post-conflict rebuilding; and what percentage of this aid (a) has been and (b) is planned to be sent to the Lebanese Government. (95936)

The Government have allocated £22.3 million (around US $40 million) for humanitarian relief in Lebanon, including the UK’s share of the European Union’s humanitarian spending and the US $5 million drawn from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund. Working through international partners and non-governmental organisations, the Department for International Development (DFID) has contributed to providing medicines and other emergency supplies; providing water and sanitation; munitions clearance and funding for temporary bridges to allow humanitarian access. Fortunately the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon is now subsiding.

Including this UK contribution, the Government of Lebanon have received formal pledges of $940 million (around £500 million) for humanitarian and recovery activities. The Government of Lebanon will assess its unmet needs in advance of a donor conference in January 2007. DFID has not made further pledges for post-conflict rebuilding.

Moldova

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding his Department has made available to assist vulnerable groups in Moldova; and if he will take steps to ensure that recipients of the funding are involved in meetings to discuss funding with officials in his Department. (95631)

DFID is working closely with the Moldovan Government to support the priorities identified in its Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EGPRSP) 2004-06 and has funded a range of programmes in support of vulnerable groups. These include: a Social Investment Fund to help rural communities plan and manage social infrastructure investments, including community-based services for vulnerable groups; a Rural Investment and Services Project which has supported the development on 900 small and medium-sized enterprises/livelihood projects in the poorest communities in Moldova; social assistance capacity building through the development of a network of NGOs that represent the interest of community groups; and community projects including support for integration of disabled children into the wider community.

DFID is currently discussing with the Government of Moldova a Social Assistance Reform project and support to regional development in pilot regions of Moldova.

It is our practice in Moldova as elsewhere to consult widely in the design and implementation of our programmes including with Government, civil society and representatives of beneficiary communities.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will instruct his officials to attend technical co-ordination meetings of the OSCE in Moldova on anti-trafficking measures; and if he will make a statement. (95632)

DFID officials in Moldova are in regular contact with the OSCE office in Chisinau. DFID is not directly involved in anti-trafficking programmes. The OSCE, the International Organisation for Migration, the United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Programme are leading on support to anti-trafficking measures.

DFID bilateral programmes, and support to multilateral agencies in Moldova, aim to reduce poverty and social and economic deprivation associated with trafficking. Priorities include social assistance reform, regional development, public administration and public financial management reform, and support to social investment and rural investment programmes.

DFID is currently discussing with the Government of Moldova possible social assistance reform support as well as support for regional development.

It is our practice in Moldova as elsewhere to consult widely on the design and implementation of all our projects and programmes including with Government, civil society and representatives of beneficiaries communities.

Temporary International Mechanism

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contribution the UK has made to the Temporary International Mechanism. (95946)

DFID has so far provided £9 million to the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) for Palestinian basic needs. Of this, £3 million was for essential medical supplies; £3 million was to support the water, sanitation and electricity sectors, and £3 million was to provide allowances for the poorest Palestinian Government workers, such as teachers.

Trade and Industry

Claims Handling Agreement

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many compensation claims under the Claims Handling Agreement in which diagnosis occurred after the original medical assessment process report are still outstanding; and when he expects the backlog to be cleared. (94243)

The Claims Handling Agreement has no provision to deal with claimants who at the time of the Medical Assessment Process (MAP) do not have COPD but develop it at a later date. If a claimant wishes to claim for post-MAP development of COPD he is fully entitled to do so but will need to bring a separate claim under normal common law procedures.

Galileo Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total cost for the UK has been of the Galileo programme; what the cost was of the last tranche of payment; which British companies are involved in the project; and what estimate he has made of the number and location of jobs in the UK which are dependent on the Galileo project. (91279)

[holding answer 18 September 2006]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has the policy lead on Galileo.

The European Union (EU) and member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) jointly fund the development of Galileo. To date the UK’s subscription to the ESA element of the programme has been €142 million. The last tranche of payment was €4.15 million.

The EU’s contribution to the design and development phase of Galileo is made from the EC budget and is estimated by the Commission to be €790 million. The UK’s contribution to the EC budget is around 17 per cent. of the total, before the UK receives any abatement.

About 15 UK companies are already involved in Galileo—providing hardware, software, management and operations expertise. Industry estimates in 2005 indicated that about 500 UK Galileo-related jobs had been created in the upstream sector since the start of the Development Phase. If the project develops successfully, and depending on the sourcing decisions made by the European Space Industry involved in Galileo, I would expect more to be created in downstream sectors.

Low Carbon Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice his Department gives to householders wishing to apply for a grant under stream 1 of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme; and if he will make a statement. (96845)

Should a householder wish to apply for a low carbon buildings grant, we continue to direct them towards the website, www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk or helpline number 0800 915 0990, for all information on the scheme and how to apply for a grant.

It is important to be aware that for a householder to be eligible to apply for a grant, they need to undertake a number of energy efficiency measures prior to submitting their application. This is in line with the scheme objective of encouraging both energy efficiency and microgeneration technologies in a range of buildings as part of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme phase 1 scheme criteria.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to ensure that household grant applications under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme continue to be accepted once the £3.5 million budget for year one of the programme is allocated. (96846)

Initial funding for household applications was £6.5 million over the next three years. The uptake of grants in year one has been far higher than anticipated, reflecting the keen interest in microgeneration from householders. Over half of the original three-year budget has been committed. To enable the programme to continue we are re-allocating £6.2 million from other streams of this programme to the householder stream. I anticipate this funding lasting until mid-2008; by this time some of our wider measures to promote microgeneration should be taking hold, facilitating the uptake of these technologies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date stream 1 of his Department’s Low Carbon Buildings Programme began accepting household grant applications; and on what date he expects the year one budget will be allocated. (96847)

We began accepting household grant applications for the Low Carbon Buildings Programme at the beginning of May 2006. To date, we have committed £3.8 million to 2,456 successful applicants. However, not all of these applications are likely to go forward to completion.

We will continue to monitor the amount that is being paid out and are in the process of reviewing the level of funding that is made available for the household stream going forward.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of the likely demand for household grants under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme in years one and two of the programme; and if he will make a statement. (96848)

In year one of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme household stream, £3.8 million has been committed towards 2,456 projects to date, of which £300,000 has been drawn down.

The initial funding for household applications was £6.5 million over three years. To enable the programme to continue we are re-allocating £6.2 million from other streams of this programme to the householder stream. I anticipate this funding lasting until mid-2008; by this time some of our wider measures to promote microgeneration should be taking hold, facilitating the uptake of these technologies.

Steel Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the acquisition of Corus by Tata Steel on employment in the UK steel industry. (96817)

We have made no such assessment. Corus has stated that there would be no job cuts in the short term, although like any other company the unpredictability of markets meant that it could not offer guarantees on jobs in the longer term. However the link-up with a low-cost producer with access to raw materials and to high-growth markets for products where Corus has a particular strength will enable the company to compete on a global scale, and thereby help secure the future of plants located in the UK.

Wind Turbines

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of research into the appropriate acoustic separation distance for larger wind turbines from residential properties; what distances are recommended in the Department’s planning guidelines; and when those distances were last reviewed. (94244)

While there are no separation distances set down for noise, Planning Policy Statement 22: Renewable Energy gives guidance that Local Plans may include criteria that set out the minimum separation distances between the different types of renewable energy projects and other developments. The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind Farms (ETSU-R-97) sets out the criteria when assessing the impact of noise on the nearest sensitive residential premises.

Constitutional Affairs

Computer Data (Privacy)

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what bilateral arrangements exist between the United Kingdom and the United States of America to secure the privacy of computer data owned by UK nationals and stored via the internet on servers located within the United States. (95801)

The United Kingdom has no bilateral arrangements with the United States regarding the storage, via the internet, of computer data owned by UK nationals on servers located in the United States.

Where UK-based organisations transfer personal data outside the European Economic Area, they are required to make an assessment that adequate protection is in place for that data, via contractual or other arrangements. In the case of the USA, the European Commission has deemed that those US companies which are part of the "Safe Harbour" arrangements have adequate data protection for the purposes of complying with the 1995 Data Protection Directive.

Where individuals consent to the transfer of their personal data, there is no barrier to it being sent outside the UK. Individuals who directly purchase goods or services on-line need to be aware that there may not be the same level of data protection outside the EEA area and should consider the terms of any privacy policy operated by the vendor before they conduct a transaction.

Database Security

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many confirmed security breaches of computer databases controlled by her Department have occurred in each year since its establishment. (96373)