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Written Answers

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

Written Answers toQuestions

Tuesday 31 October 2006

Transport

Airport Security (Northern Ireland)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which groups of people are exempt from passing through security at Northern Ireland's airports; and what the reasons are for the exemptions in each case. (98374)

Certain passengers such as members of the Royal Family, other Heads of State, Presidents, and Heads of Government are exempt from screening at UK airports, on the basis that their security has been satisfactorily ensured in other ways. However, airlines may require that such exempted persons are searched as a condition of carriage, company policy or at the discretion of the aircraft commander.

Cargo Transfers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 30 March 2006, Official Report, column 1119W, on cargo transfers, when his Department now expects to consult on the secondary legislation that will regulate ship-to-ship transfers within the limits of the UK’s territorial sea; and when this legislation is likely to come into force. (96892)

The secondary legislation which will regulate ship-to-ship transfers within the limits of the UK’s territorial sea remains in preparation. The Department expects to be in a position to consult on it early in 2007, with a view to its coming into force in late spring/early summer 2007.

Congestion Charging

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 23 October 2006, Official Report, column 1533W, on congestion charging, what discussions he has held with Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority about road user charging. (98078)

During a visit to Merseyside on12 July this year, I met councillors and officers of the Merseyside authorities and Merseytravel to discuss the Transport Innovation Fund and matters including road user charging. Department for Transport officials have regular meetings with officers of the Merseyside authorities about the range of transport issues.

Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost of consultants used by his Department was in 2005-06. (95684)

The Department spent £72.1 million on consultants in 2005-06.

The central Department and its agencies currently have separate accounting systems. This means that it has not been possible in all cases to provide actual expenditure. The central Department and the DVLA have only been able to provide this information in relation to committed spend (i.e. orders raised and contracts awarded during the period in question). Figures are based on the latest revised OGC definition of consultancy.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department spent on taxis in the last 12 months. (93106)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department spent on taxis in the most recent year for which figures are available. (95838)

The Department for Transport centre has spent £92,212.67 on taxis during the year up to 30 September 2006. In addition, DfT Rail Group has spent £10,704.

Of the Department's agencies, VOSA, GCDA, MCGA and HA do not record taxi fares separately from other travel expenses, and could provide the information only at disproportionate cost. The remaining agencies spent the following on taxi fares: DSA £91,000, VCA £2,380.90, and DVLA £53,000.

Departmental Mail

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of the Department's mail is shipped using private companies; and what the cost was over the last 12 months. (95147)

During the period 1 September 2005 to 31 August 2006 the Department spent £1.7 million with private companies for mail services. This represents 7.5 per cent. of the Department's total spend for this service.

Drink-driving

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many pedestrian deaths in road accidents there were where the pedestrian had over 100 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood in each year since 2003; and what percentage of all pedestrian road accident deaths in (a) England and (b) each region this represents in each case. (97636)

The number of pedestrian deaths where the pedestrian had a blood alcohol content over 100mg per 100ml and the percentage of all pedestrian road accident deaths in each region this represents are not available. Estimates of the percentage of pedestrian fatalities aged 16 and over in England who had over 100 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood are given in the following table. No data are yet available for 2005.

Pedestrian fatalities aged 16 and over: England 2003 -04

Percentage of sample with blood alcohol content over 100mg/100ml

Sample size

2003

33

254

2004

37

229

Source: Coroners' data

Driving Standards Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on the Driving Standards Agency Multi-Purpose Test Centre due to be built in Leicester. (98449)

The Driving Standards Agency exchanged contracts on 7 September 2006 for the development of the Multi-Purpose Test Centre at Tigers Road in Wigston, Leicester.

Building works will begin during the week commencing 27 November, with an estimated completion date of mid to late December 2006.

Eurotunnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what contractual arrangement the UK Government have with Eurotunnel with regard to freight. (98572)

The Secretary of State for Transport and Eurotunnel are both signatories to the 1986 Concession Agreement for the channel tunnel. The terms of this agreement oblige Eurotunnel to make agreements with other rail companies in accordance with the Provisions of the Treaty of Canterbury and the Concession Agreement.

In 1987 the British Railways Board (BRB) and the French national railway (SNCF) entered into a joint long-term usage contract (Channel Tunnel Usage Agreement) (also referred to as the Railways Usage Contract or RUC) with Eurotunnel. This contract—which defines the arrangements for the operation of both rail passenger and rail freight services through the channel tunnel—runs to 2052.

The UK Government’s responsibilities with respect to the channel tunnel rail freight are principally derived from BRB’s continuing obligations as formal signatory to the RUC, and from supplementary agreements to the RUC that were implemented to enable the privatisation of BRB’s international freight (and passenger) businesses. These were legally transferred to the Strategic Rail Authority in 2001 and subsequently transferred to DfT Rail in August 2005.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Monsieur Gounon of Eurotunnel with regard to freight. (98573)

Ministers have had no discussions with Monsieur Gounon of Eurotunnel on the subject of freight. Discussions on this matter have been conducted by officials.

Fire Services (Aerodromes)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of (a) lives saved and (b) serious injuries prevented as a result of the requirement for lower category aerodromes to have a fire truck permanently on standby. (97592)

No estimates have been produced in the form requested. However, the Civil Aviation Authority has conducted several reviews over the years which have included reviews of the safety data relating to category one and category two licensed aerodromes. Most recent were a review by the Light Aviation Airports Study Group and the Regulatory Review of General Aviation in the UK. The reports of these reviews were published in January 2006 and July 2006 and copies are available on the CAA website.

M1

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason both carriageways of the M1 motorway were closed in Leicestershire on 29 September; who authorised such closure; and what steps were taken to ensure that the motorway was opened as soon as possible. (98300)

Both carriageways of the M1 motorway were closed between junctions 21 and 20 at about 13.20 hrs on 29 September, as a result of an accident involving two cars. An occupant of one of the cars was seriously injured.

All three lanes of the northbound carriageway were blocked and the southbound carriageway was closed for about two minutes to allow access for the air ambulance. There was no damage to the road infrastructure and the motorway was fully reopened at about 14.50 hrs once the vehicles had been moved to the hard shoulder. A diversion route for northbound traffic was put into operation.

The closure was instigated and subsequently lifted by the Highways Agency's East Midlands Regional Control Centre at the request of Leicestershire Police, who attended the incident.

Ministerial Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on how many occasions he has visited (a) Scotland and (b) Wales in the last 12 months. (95011)

The Secretary of State for Transport is in close contact with Ministers in the Devolved Administrations, in recent weeks meeting the Transport Minister of the Welsh Assembly and the Transport Ministers of the Scottish Executive. In addition he has made one visit to Scotland in his official capacity. All ministerial visits are conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers.

Motorways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 17 October 2006, Official Report, column 1136W, on motorways, when he expects to extend active traffic management and hard shoulder running to other motorways and trunk roads. (97217)

Initial indications from the current hard shoulder trial on the M42 near Birmingham are encouraging. However, further evidence from the trial will be needed to assess the overall impact on journey times, motorway capacity and safety.

The Highways Agency will continue to evaluate the evidence as the trial progresses to develop its understanding of the possible application of active traffic management—including hard shoulder running—elsewhere on the motorway and trunk road network. If the trial results prove positive we will want to implement the techniques at other locations as soon as practical.

Muslim Council of Britain

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport 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. (96274)

The Department for Transport including its agencies has not provided any financial support to the Muslim Council of Britain in any year since 1997.

Northern Ireland Flights

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many incidents of (a) drunken and (b) disruptive behaviour were reported on flights to and from Northern Ireland's airports in each of the last three years; and what steps he is taking to address this problem. (96512)

The number of reportable disruptive passenger incidents involving flights to or from Northern Ireland for 2003, 2004 and 2005, including those involving alcohol, is shown in the table. This information is produced from statistics reported by UK airlines to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) through the Disruptive Passenger Reporting Scheme. Information for 2006 is in preparation and will be published in shortly.

Number of reportable incidents

Number of reportable incidents involving alcohol

2003

14

8

2004

31

16

2005

28

10

The Government and the CAA encourage all UK airlines to participate in this reporting scheme and to adopt a zero tolerance policy to make clear that disruptive behaviour on airline flights is not acceptable.

Rail Freight

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what tonnage of rail freight was carried in the last year for which figures are available; and what it was in 1997. (97269)

[holding answer 26 October 2006]: The figures for tonnage are not held by the Department. However, in the financial years 1996-97 and 1997-98 goods moved by rail freight in Great Britain totalled 15.1 and 16.9 billion tonne kilometres, respectively. And in 2005-06 the equivalent figure was 22.11 billion tonne kilometres. These figures are published in "Rail Trends" by the Office of Rail Regulation, which is on its website www.rail-reg.gov.uk. A copy of this document is held in the House Library. This information supersedes my answer of 17 October 2006, Official Report, column 1128W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will commission a report on the safety implications of the recent incident that caused a train carrying nuclear waste from Hartlepool to be delayed in Sunderland station for four hours; and if he will make a statement. (98441)

The event at Sunderland was a minor incident that did not endanger the flask, its contents, the public or the environment in any way. There were no nuclear safety implications and therefore no reason for any investigation over and above any which the organisations involved would routinely carry out following abnormal events.

The transport of radioactive material, including irradiated nuclear fuel, is governed by the stringent internationally-agreed standards recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an agency appointed by the United Nations to oversee all aspects of the peaceful uses of atomic energy worldwide. During the period of over 40 years that the IAEA Regulations have been in existence, there has been no instance of death or serious injury to persons, nor significant damage to the environment, from radiological effects caused during the transport of radioactive material worldwide by all modes of transport when properly packaged and transported in conformity with these Regulations.

Irradiated nuclear fuel flasks are designed to withstand a very severe impact followed by severe fire. The safety of these movements is therefore secured by the design and build quality of the flasks used and not by the particular mode of transport used or route travelled.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many trains were cancelled between October 2005 and October 2006, broken down by reason. (97830)

The number of franchised passenger trains reported as cancelled in the year to August 2006 was 73,830. This represents 1.4 per cent. of the services planned to run.

The Department does not hold data relating to the reasons for each cancellation, or data relating to non-franchised train services.

Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from biofuels producers regarding the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation. (98646)

Ministers and officials are in regular contact with biofuel producers and other stakeholders about the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). We have taken careful account of their views in designing the scheme. We will formally consult biofuel producers and other stakeholders on the draft secondary legislation giving effect to the RTFO in early 2007.

Road Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many pedestrians have been (a) injured, (b) seriously injured and (c) killed in collisions with cyclists in each region for each of the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (98536)

The number of pedestrians injured in collisions with cyclists in each region for each of the last 12 months is given in the following table:

Pedestrian casualties hit by pedal cycles by severity, government office region and month: GB 2005

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Injured1

North East

0

2

2

0

2

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

North West

0

5

3

2

2

4

4

6

2

4

2

1

Yorkshire and Humber

1

2

1

5

4

2

2

1

0

1

0

0

East Midlands

1

1

1

4

1

1

0

2

1

4

0

3

West Midlands

3

1

0

0

0

1

3

0

2

2

0

0

East of England

3

1

1

1

5

5

2

4

3

1

3

0

South East

0

3

5

3

4

6

6

3

3

8

3

4

London

2

3

6

5

7

9

4

7

9

7

6

3

South West

1

0

1

2

0

6

2

2

1

0

1

2

England

11

18

20

22

25

34

23

25

22

27

16

13

Wales

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

1

Scotland

0

0

3

1

1

4

5

0

0

1

0

0

Total

11

19

24

23

26

38

28

25

23

28

17

14

Seriously injured

North East

0

0

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

North West

0

0

1

0

0

2

0

2

1

1

1

1

Yorkshire and Humber

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

East Midlands

1

0

1

0

0

1

0

1

0

1

0

1

West Midlands

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

1

1

0

0

East of England

0

0

0

0

1

2

0

1

0

1

1

0

South East

0

1

1

0

0

3

0

0

0

1

1

1

London

1

0

2

3

1

3

1

1

1

0

0

0

South West

0

0

0

1

0

4

1

1

0

0

0

0

England

2

1

6

5

3

15

5

6

3

5

3

3

Wales

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

Scotland

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

2

1

7

5

3

16

5

6

4

5

4

3

Killed

North East

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

North West

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Yorkshire and Humber

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

East Midlands

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

West Midlands

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

East of England

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

South East

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0.

0

0

0

0

London

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

South West

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

England

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

Wales

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Scotland

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

1 Includes casualties that were seriously and slightly injured.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people have been (a) killed and (b) injured by drivers who were using hand-held mobile phones. (98546)

In 2005 there were 12 people killed and 452 people injured in road accidents where a police officer attended the scene and “driver using mobile phone” was reported as a contributory factor. This contributory factor includes “hand-held” and “hands-free” phones, where their use (or attempted use) contributed to the accident.

Roads Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport in respect of how many (a) trunk road and (b) local authority road schemes he has withdrawn (i) funding and (ii) approval since 1997; and what the reasons were for the withdrawal of the approval and funding in each case. (96823)

We undertook a detailed review of the trunk roads programme in 1998, the results of which are published in “A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England”.

More recently, we sought advice from the regions in 2005 on their priorities for new schemes on the regional trunk road network and major transport schemes promoted by local authorities. We broadly accepted the regions’ advice which recommended that six schemes in the Highways Agency’s Targeted Programme of Improvements and eight local authority road schemes with an earlier Government funding approval should not be funded in the period to 2015-16. All other schemes previously approved are currently expected to progress, subject to satisfying statutory and departmental approval processes.

Safety Cameras

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many speed cameras there are in Halifax; and how many motorists they have recorded exceeding the speed limit in the last 12 months. (98067)

The Department only holds this information for offences detected by the West Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership within the National Safety Camera Programme. There are currently 10 fixed speed cameras and 13 mobile camera sites operating in Halifax. In the year ending December 2005, the latest 12-month period for which figures are available, 78,780 motorists were recorded exceeding the speed limit in West Yorkshire. Separate figures for Halifax are not available. This information has been provided to the Department by the West Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership.

Sea and Water

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding his Department gave to Sea and Water in each of the last three years; and what discussions the Department has had with that organisation on the strategic direction for coastal shipping and inland waterways delivery of freight transport. (98141)

Since its formation in 2003-04, Sea and Water has received £120,000 funding per annum from the Department for Transport for start up and running costs. This funding will cease in 2008-09 at the latest, after which Sea and Water will become entirely self-funding. Departmental officials have met with Sea and Water on a regular basis since its inception to discuss how best to realise the potential of water freight.

SS Montgomery

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on how many occasions Royal Navy divers have inspected the hulk of the SS Montgomery (a) in each of the last three years and (b) to date in 2006; and what evidence there is that the ship has moved during the past five years. (96946)

The wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery was surveyed by divers in 2003, and by high-resolution multi-beam sonar survey in 2005 and September 2006. The 2003 diver survey comprised an ultra-sonic hull-thickness survey, as well as a visual inspection. The report of this survey is available on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency website.

From these surveys it does not appear that the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery has moved.

Sustainability of Land Use and Transport in Outer Neighbourhoods

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the research report commissioned by his Department entitled “Sustainability of Land Use and Transport in Outer Neighbourhoods”. (94687)

A report will be produced at the end of the project and this will be made available in the Library of the House. The project is expected to be completed in summer 2007.

Constitutional Affairs

Claims Handlers

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will conduct an investigation into referral payments by claims handlers to solicitors for mining claims prior to March 2004, including payments by Walker and Co and Indiclaim to various solicitors. (97747)

The Department has no plans to investigate referral payments by claims handlers to solicitors for mining claims prior to March 2004. However, the statutory regulation of claims management services, currently being introduced under Part 2 of the Compensation Act 2006, will ensure that the conduct of claims handlers is tightly regulated including their referral practices. Walker and Co and Indiclaim are firms set up and/or run by officials of the UDM/Vendside and are being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). It would not be appropriate to comment until the SFO have concluded their investigations.

Compensation Act

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs by what process a chartered insurance practitioner may apply for an exemption from the requirement for authorisation for very small entities providing regulated claims management services in the context of the Compensation Act 2006; and if she will make a statement. (98400)

A chartered insurance practitioner or any other person should contact the Department's Claims Management Regulation Team (Claims Management Regulation Team, Department for Constitutional Affairs, 3.10 Selborne House 54-60 Victoria Street, London or email: claimsmanagementregulation@dca.gsi.gov.uk) about exemptions or any other aspect of the regulation of claims management services under Compensation Act 2006. DCA published the draft Exemptions Order for consultation between 8 September and 13 October and we are considering the responses made. We plan to lay the first Order in November but if additional exemptions are necessary further Orders can be made.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of the Compensation Act on the practice of vehicle repair firms being paid by solicitors to refer customers who have been in road traffic accidents to them. (98308)

The Compensation Act provides the statutory framework for the regulation of claims management services. The Law Society rules already impose strict requirements on solicitors related to referrals from introducers such as vehicle repair firms. We are considering the appropriate regulatory arrangements to be applied through the new powers provided by the Act. This includes considering if those firms where referrals are purely incidental to their main business—for example vehicle repairers—should be subject to direct regulation or full responsibility for their compliance with the appropriate rules should be taken by the solicitors or other authorised businesses to whom they introduce to.

Electoral Administration

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what guidance her Department has provided for returning officers on the implementation of the Electoral Administration Act 2006. (97684)

My Department provides regular updates to election administrators on the provisions of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 and subsequent secondary legislation.

In addition, the Electoral Commission, in accordance with their power under section 10(3) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, are ensuring that returning officers receive sufficient guidance on the implementation of the Electoral Administration Act 2006. This is taking the form of formal written guidance, briefing events, support materials and ministerial meetings.

Jury Service

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs for what reason people over the age of 70 years are prohibited from carrying out jury service; and if she will make a statement. (97511)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government agree with Lord Justice Auld's finding in his review of the criminal courts that there is no compelling case for changing the present age limit of 70 for jury service. It would be unreasonable to require people above that age to serve, and having abolished in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 the category of persons who are excusable as of right, we do not propose to reintroduce it for those over 70 in order to allow them to choose to serve as jurors.

Postal Voting

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Clwyd (Chris Ruane) on 19 October 2006, Official Report, column 1387W, on postal voting, (1) what methods of collecting additional personal identifiers from existing postal voters her Department will advise returning officers to use; (97434)

(2) whether targets will be set for returning officers for the collection of additional personal identifiers from existing postal voters;

(3) what monitoring of the process of collecting additional personal identifiers from existing postal voters her Department will introduce.

The Government plan shortly to make transitional regulations that will require Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) to obtain a signature and date of birth from existing postal voters to ensure that they will be subject to the new personal identifiers arrangements for absent voters. The regulations will require EROs to send a notice in writing to existing postal voters requesting the personal identifiers, which may be sent by the Royal Mail, a commercial delivery firm or any other way that the ERO thinks appropriate. EROs will be required to send a reminder to postal voters who have not responded after 21 days. Further, EROs will be required to provide information to existing postal voters about how the personal identifiers will be used, and to explain that failure to provide the personal identifiers will result in the person losing their entitlement to vote by post, though loss of entitlement will not prevent the person from making a fresh postal vote application.

We do not consider it would be practical to set targets for the collection of the personal identifiers or to put in place formal monitoring arrangements. I understand that the independent Electoral Commission plans to issue guidance to electoral administrators about the collection of personal identifiers from existing postal voters, and to collect data about the number of notices issued by EROs and the percentage that are returned.

Small Claims Courts

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the present maximum claim is that can be pursued in the small claims court; and what consideration she is giving to (a) increasing and (b) decreasing the threshold. (98310)

The Civil Procedure Rules provide that the small claims track is the normal track for:

any claim for personal injuries which has a financial value of not more than £5,000 where the claim for damages for personal injuries is not more than £1,000;

any claim which includes a claim by a tenant of residential premises against his landlord for repairs or other work to the premises where the estimated cost of the repairs or other work is not more than £1,000 and the financial value of any other claim for damages is not more than £1,000;

any other claim which has a financial value of not more than £5,000.

We intend to publish a consultation paper, which will include consideration of the case track limits, by the end of the year.

Treasury

Benefits and Credits Directorate

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff have been in post in the Benefits and Credits Directorate of HM Revenue and Customs in each month since April 2005. (95733)

Benefits and Credits was formed by bringing together staff working on tax credits and child benefit from various parts of the Department, with some additional staff, over the second half of 2005. Records of numbers have not been kept on a monthly basis.

Better Regulation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals his Department has made on simplification of regulations since he launched the Better Regulation action plan on 24 May 2005; and what progress has been made on implementation of those proposals. (98037)

The Treasury continues to make good progress on simplifying existing regulations and promotes a risk based approach to regulation in areas where the Treasury is directly responsible.

The Treasury has measured and set a 25 per cent. target for reducing the administrative burdens its regulations place on business and charities. The Treasury will also publish, by the end of the year, a rolling programme of simplification measures to reform and remove existing regulation.

Breast Cancer

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) men and (b) women (i) died of and (ii) were diagnosed with breast cancer in (1) the UK, (2) the North of England, (3) South Tyneside and (4) Jarrow constituency in each year since 1996. (97857)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 31 October 2006:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking how many (a) men and (b) women (i) died of and (ii) were diagnosed with breast cancer in (1) the UK, (2) the North, (3) South Tyneside and (4) Jarrow constituency in each year since 1996. [97857]

The latest available figures for deaths from breast cancer are for the year 2005. Numbers of deaths from breast cancer by sex for the years 1996 to 2005 for the UK, North East Government Office Region (GOR), South Tyneside County District (CD) and Jarrow Parliamentary Constituency (PC) are given in Table 1 below.

The latest available figures for newly diagnosed cases of cancer (incidence) are for the year 2004 (England and Wales) and 2003 (Scotland and Northern Ireland). Numbers of cases of breast cancer by sex for the years 1996 to 2003 for the UK and 1996 to 2004 for North East Government Office Region (GOR), South Tyneside County District (CD) and Jarrow Parliamentary Constituency (PC) are given in Table 2 below.

Table 1: Number of deaths where breast cancer was the underlying cause of death,1 UK, North East GOR, South Tyneside CD and Jarrow PC, 1996 to 20052

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Males

UK3, 4

77

77

82

71

77

89

88

82

70

92

North East GOR

5

3

4

3

2

2

7

6

2

3

South Tyneside CD

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1.

0

0

Jarrow PC

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Females

UK3, 4

13,708

13,387

13,202

12,946

12,767

13,015

12,846

12,623

12,338

12,417

North East GOR

575

607

567

542

516

555

508

471

522

550

South Tyneside CD

30

42

39

32

31

34

33

28

26

25

Jarrow PC

15

15

17

20

19

16

21

14

13

13

1 Cause of death was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes 174-175 for the years 1996 to 2000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 1996 to 1999 in Scotland, and Tenth Revision (ICD-10) code C50 for subsequent years. The introduction of ICD-10 means that the numbers of deaths from this cause before 2000 for the UK and 2001 for sub-national areas are not completely comparable with later years.

2 Figures are for deaths registered in each calendar year.

3 UK figures include deaths of non-residents in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but not in England and Wales.

4 UK figures for 2005 include figures for Northern Ireland which are provisional.

Table 2: Numbers of newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer1 for the UK, North East GOR, South Tyneside CD and Jarrow PC, 1996-2004

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Males

UK

240

263

304

311

239

294

292

341

__

North East GOR

6

11

10

13

10

16

17

15

14

South Tyneside CD

0

0

0

1

1

0

2

1

1

Jarrow PC

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Females

UK

36,574

37,751

39,338

41,056

40,618

40,982

41,258

43,711

__

North East GOR

1,536

1,539

1,681

1,666

1,663

1,715

1,696

1,892

1,960

South Tyneside CD

103

102

95

106

118

101

101

129

116

Jarrow PC

54

59

43

68

60

53

61

71

57

1 Breast cancer is defined as code C50 in the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD 10).

Note:

Figures for North East GOR for the years 2000-2003 are available in Table 4 of the Annual Reference Volume, Cancer statistics: Registrations, Series MB1.

Source:

Office for National Statistics, Welsh Cancer Intelligence & Surveillance Unit, Scottish Cancer Registry ISD and Northern Ireland Cancer Registry.

Child Trust Fund

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations the Government have made to Child Trust Fund operators requesting that they provide ethical investment options. (98399)

The Child Trust Fund has been specifically designed to allow ethical investments. Details of the providers offering ethical investment options are available in the Child Trust Fund information booklet. The choice of provider is a decision for each individual.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many families in Chorley have taken out child trust funds; and if he will make a statement. (98041)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) on 30 October 2006, Official Report, columns 226-27W.

European Private Equity

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the report of the European Commission’s alternative investment expert group on developing European private equity. (97849)

The report makes a contribution to the review of the framework for fund management in Europe. The Treasury and the Financial Services Authority have considered it in consultation with industry representatives.

A copy of the response sent by the UK authorities to the European Commission has been deposited in the Library of the House.

HMRC Call Centres

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether HM Revenue and Customs has implemented the informative message to stop silent calls in its call centres. (97740)

[holding answer 30 October 2006]: HM Revenue and Customs is currently undertaking work to upgrade the outgoing telephony systems in its contact centres and expects to have the technical ability to play such recorded messages fully in place from March 2007. In the interim, arrangements are in place to ensure that the contact centre telephone number is always displayed therefore anyone missing a call would have the option of calling the number back.

Immigration

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of all UK workers were migrant workers in each reporting period since 1992-93, broken down by region; and if he will make a statement. (96623)

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 31 October 2006:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the percentage of employed people in the United Kingdom who were migrant workers, by region, since 1992. (96623)

The attached table gives the percentage of employed people of working age in each region of residence who were either United Kingdom or foreign born, for the three month period ending June, for each year since 1997. Comparable estimates are not available for 1998 and 2000, and for earlier periods.

Estimates are taken from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

Percentage1 of people in employment of working age2 who were born in the United Kingdom or were born abroad, by region of residence, 1997 to 2006, United Kingdom, not seasonally adjusted

Three months ending June each year

United Kingdom

North East

North West

Yorkshire and the Humber

East Midlands

West Midlands

Eastern

1997

Born in UK

92.5

97.3

95.9

95.6

94.4

93.8

93.6

Born abroad

7.5

2.7

4.1

4.4

5.6

6.2

6.4

1999

Born in UK

92.3

97.8

96.0

95.5

94.2

93.7

93.4

Born abroad

7.7

2.2

4.0

4.5

5.8

6.3

6.6

2001

Born in UK

91.8

97.0

96.1

95.5

94.7

94.1

92.7

Born abroad

8.2

3.0

3.9

4.5

5.3

5.9

7.3

2002

Born in UK

91.4

96.9

96.1

95.3

94.2

93.7

92.7

Born abroad

8.6

3.1

3.9

4.7

5.8

6.3

7.3

2003

Born in UK

90.9

97.5

95.9

94.3

94.5

93.2

92.5

Born abroad

9.1

2.5

4.1

5.7

5.5

6.8

7.5

2004

Born in UK

90.6

96.1

95.8

94.6

93.7

92.7

91.8

Born abroad

9.4

3.9

4.2

5.4

6.3

7.3

8.2

2005

Born in UK

90.1

96.1

94.7

93.5

93.1

93.7

91.1

Born abroad

9.9

3.9

5.3

6.5

6.9

6.3

8.9

2006

Born in UK

88.9

96.3

93.9

93.4

91.6

91.5

89.4

Born abroad

11.1

3.7

6.1

6.6

8.4

8.5

10.6

Three months ending June each year

London

South East

South West

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

1997

Born in UK

74.7

92.7

95.5

96.7

97.2

96.9

Born abroad

25.3

7.3

4.5

3.3

2.8

3.1

1999

Born in UK

74.2

92.7

95.4

97.1

96.4

96.5

Born abroad

25.8

7.3

4.6

2.9

3.6

3.5

2001

Born in UK

71.6

92.0

95.2

96.4

96.8

96.3

Born abroad

28.4

8.0

4.8

3.6

3.2

3.7

2002

Born in UK

70.1

91.6

94.0

96.7

96.3

96.5

Born abroad

29.9

8.4

6.0

3.3

3.7

3.5

2003

Born in UK

68.2

90.7

93.7

95.5

96.2

96.5

Born abroad

31.8

9.3

6.3

4.5

3.8

3.5

2004

Born in UK

67.3

91.0

94.4

95.9

96.1

95.1

Born abroad

32.7

9.0

5.6

4.1

3.9

4.9

2005

Born in UK

66.3

90.6

93.9

95.8

95.5

95.4

Born abroad

33.7

9.4

6.1

4.2

4.5

4.6

2006

Born in UK

65.0

88.6

93.0

96.2

95.0

94.2

Born abroad

35.0

11.4

7.0

3.8

5.0

5.8

1 Those who did not state their country of birth are excluded from totals. 2 Men aged 16 to 64 and women aged 16 to 59. Note: Comparable data not available for 1998 and 2000. Source: ONS Labour Force Survey (LFS).

IT Projects

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 283W, on information technology projects, what the reasons were for the time taken to implement the Government Actuary’s Department’s BS7799 compliance IT project; and if he will make a statement. (98031)

The Government Actuary’s Department BS7799 compliance IT project was impacted upon by the department vacating its then offices.

It is expected that BS7799 accreditation will be in place in the next few months.

Personal Debt

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what studies he has commissioned into the implications of the rise in the level of personal debt. (98196)

HM Treasury continually monitors the levels of both household liabilities and assets, and the implications of these for the wider economy are examined as part of the pre-Budget report and Budget forecasting process.

Planning Gain Supplement

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the threshold will be for exemption from the Planning Gain Supplement; and whether this will be based on (a) area and (b) value of development; (98276)

(2) whether there will be exemptions to the Planning Supplement for (a) renewable energy and (b) other classes of development.

The Government published a consultation paper on the proposed Planning Gain Supplement in the 2005 pre-Budget report. This included details on the scope of PGS, including proposals for minimum thresholds and exemptions. Further announcements on PGS will be made by the end of the year.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how Planning Gain Supplement levies will be (a) collected and (b) distributed; and which agencies will be eligible to receive money to spend on infrastructure; (98278)

(2) what guidance will be issued to relevant authorities on what investment can be paid for by the levies raised by the Planning Gain Supplement.

The Government published a consultation paper on the proposed Planning Gain Supplement in the 2005 pre-Budget report. This included a chapter on the allocation of PGS revenues; further to this the Government stated at Budget 2006 that it will ensure that a significant majority of PGS revenues are retained for infrastructure priorities within the local authority area where the revenues derived. The remainder would be dedicated to strategic infrastructure of regional importance.

Further announcements on PGS’s implementation will be made by the end of the year.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings have been held between his Department and Scottish Executive officials to discuss the proposals for a Planning Gain Supplement. (98280)

The consultation document published alongside the 2005 pre-Budget report indicated that if introduced, a Planning Gain Supplement (PGS) would apply throughout the UK. The Government continue to work closely with the Scottish Executive on the interaction of PGS with devolved policy areas. Further announcements on PGS will be made by the end of the year.

Public Sector Pensions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what annual savings in Government spending are anticipated in each year from 2006-07 to 2050-51 as a result of the recent reforms to public sector pensions; and if he will make a statement. (96532)

The agreement at the Public Services Forum on 18 October 2005 concerned the principles for reforming civil service, NHS and teachers pensions. There is no breakdown of the savings year-by-year that would result from that PSF agreement, but the overall savings were estimated to have a net present value of around £13 billion over the next 50 years. The reforms have still to be finalised but, on the basis of the proposals that have been made, savings at least as great as those assumed at the time of the PSF agreement should be achieved. Separately, pension arrangements for the armed forces, police and firefighters have been reformed, and there is currently consultation on reforms to the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Road Tax

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have applied for the new zero-rate road tax for environmentally-friendly cars. (97446)

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) administers the collection of vehicle excise duty (VED).

The zero VED rate for cars with the very lowest carbon emissions, (which applies to all band A cars registered on, or after, 1 March 2001), was introduced in Budget 2006 to encourage take-up and assist the development of the low carbon market.

There are currently 386 vehicles licensed as dutiable under the zero rate. However, it is not possible to extract the number of license renewals since the zero rate was introduced on 23 March this year.

Special Advisers

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date each special adviser employed by his Department took up his post. (97811)

Spencer Livermore, Damian McBride and Jonathan Ashworth were reappointed as special advisers on 10 May 2005, following the general election, as set out in Treasury press notice PN 46/05 of the same day. Jo Dipple took up post in June 2006.

Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps (a) to investigate the case of Mrs. Hughes of Brixham, a constituent of the hon. Member for Totnes, and (b) to ensure that she ceases to receive unsolicited cheques for tax credit to which she is not entitled. (97332)

[holding answer 30 October 2006]: I have asked HM Revenue and Customs to urgently investigate Mrs. Hughes’s case and to ensure that no further payments are made to her until her continuing entitlement to tax credits has been confirmed.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many tax credit claims have been stopped because of fraud or suspicion of fraud in each month since May 2006; and if he will make a statement; (95580)

(2) how many tax credit claims in payment have been stopped since 1st July due to fraud and suspicion of fraud.

Information on compliance interventions for 2005-06 can be found in the Comptroller and Auditor General's Standard Report on HMRC's 2005-06 Accounts. Information on tax credit compliance interventions for 2006-07 will be available at the end of the year.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what proportion of appeals against tax credit overpayments were successful in each (a) month, (b) quarter and (c) year since April 2003; (96124)

(2) how many tax credit overpayments were (a) disputed and (b) successfully disputed in each (i) month since 1st May 2006 and (ii) year since 2003-04; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers I gave him on 14 July 2006, Official Report, column 2116W, and 18 July 2006, Official Report, columns 359-60W and to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Mr. Alexander) on 10 October 2006, Official Report, columns 730-31W.

The Tax Credit Office (TCO) received around 31,500 disputed overpayments in September 2006.

The number of overpayments where the overpayment was successfully disputed, that is, where the overpayment was written off in full or in part by the TCO because of official error, was around 1,000 in September 2006.

The figures for overpayments written off do not directly relate to those disputes that were received in the same month.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost of advertising and publicity relating to tax credits has been for each year since 2003-04. (97653)

Total media spend, exclusive of VAT, in each year is as follows:

£ million

2003-04

7.25

2004-05

6.5

2005-06

3.4

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of fraud involving the child care element of tax credits; and if he will make a statement. (97664)

Estimates of fraud and error involving child care costs were included in the document “Child and Working Tax Credits Error and fraud statistics 2003-04” available on the HMRC website at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/stats.htm

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the methods used to steal (a) Department of Work and Pensions and (b) Network Rail staff identities in 2005-06 to use in relation to tax credit fraud; and if he will make a statement. (97668)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him on 18 January 2006, Official Report, columns 1357-58W, and to the HMRC publication “Tackling error and fraud in the Child and Working Tax Credits”, available on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/index.htm

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the total volume of (a) actual and (b) prevented organised tax credit fraud since April 2003; and if he will make a statement. (97669)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him on 17 July 2006, Official Report, columns 161-62W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has assessed the merits of returning to a system of fixed tax credit awards; and if he will make a statement. (97671)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many staff work on tax benefits administration; and how many did so in April 2006; (97672)

(2) how many staff were employed by HM Revenue and Customs and its predecessor bodies in each year since 2000-01; how many of these staff worked wholly or partly on tax credits; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 19 July 2005, Official Report, column 1699W.

The number of staff employed in 2005-06 can be found at part 2, figure 1, of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s standard report for 2005-06 which is available at: http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/chronindex.asp?type=account.

Around 8,750 staff were employed in 2005-06.

Overall staffing figures for earlier years for the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise can be found in their annual reports.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated level is of systematic tax credit fraud in 2006-07; and if he will make a statement. (97675)

The information is not available. The 2006-07 random enquiry programme cannot start until after finalisation. Results of the 2003-04 random enquiry programme can be found in “Child and Working Tax Credits Error and Fraud Statistics 2003-04”, available at www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/index.htm.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost was of tax credit administration in 2005-06, broken down by main cost headings. (97696)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 25 October 2006, Official Report, column 1950W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many overpayments of (a) working tax credit and (b) child tax credit were found to be a result of HM Revenue and Customs error in 2005-06. (98043)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credit overpayments have involved an element of official error since 1 April 2005; and if he will make a statement. (98134)

The information is not available.

Estimates of numbers and values of overpayments or underpayments for 2005-06 awards will not be available until family circumstances and incomes for 2005-06 have been finalised. HM Revenue and Customs statistics for 2005-06 will be available next spring.

Amounts written off due to official error will be included in the remissions figure in HMRCs accounts.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what procedures (a) HM Revenue and Customs and (b) the Department have in place for the approval of easements to tax credit verification rules; how these have changed since 2002; and if he will make a statement; (98138)

(2) whether approval is needed from (a) the Chairman of HM Revenue and Customs and (b) Treasury Ministers for easement of the tax credit verification rules.

HMRC has operational responsibility for the administration of tax credits. The HMRC governance structure was set out in their spring departmental report, published in June 2006.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many callers to the tax credits helpline received an engaged tone and were not placed in a queue for each month since June; and if he will make a statement. (97271)

VAT (Church Buildings)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what discussions he has had with other EU countries about extending VAT relief to church buildings which are not listed; (97110)

(2) what assessment he has made of the merits of extending VAT relief to church buildings which are not listed.

European agreements governing the application of VAT reliefs mean that while the UK can retain its existing VAT zero rates, such as those for approved works of alteration to certain listed buildings, we cannot extend them or introduce new ones. It is therefore not possible to zero-rate alteration or repair work carried out to unlisted church buildings. Furthermore, the same agreements do not allow for the application of reduced rates in this area.

The Government recognise that listed places of worship are not just an essential part of our religious life but an important part of the history and fabric of our country, and that the need to use specialist craftsmen and costly materials means their upkeep can be a heavy burden, particularly on small congregations. That is why the Government have pressed the case at EU level for their repair and maintenance to be added to the supplies for which a reduced rate of VAT is available. However, while we recognise the importance of all places of worship within their communities, we also recognise that listed status means that the special architectural or historic interest in the church in question has been acknowledged and as such special tax treatment is justified on this basis.

VAT Fraud

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the upper and lower levels of missing trader VAT fraud in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (98463)

Annual estimates of attempted MTIC fraud from 2000-01 to 2004-05 were published alongside PBR 2005 in “Measuring Indirect Tax Losses – 2005”, which is available from the House of Commons Library or from the following website: www.hmrc.gov.uk/pbr2005/mitl2005.pdf.

The first estimates of attempted MTIC fraud were made for 1999-2000, and can be found in “Measuring and Tackling Indirect Tax Losses—2004”, which is also available from the House of Commons Library. The estimate for 2005-06 will be published at PBR 2006.

Welsh Demographics

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what percentage of the population of (a) Wales, (b) the County Borough of Neath Port Talbot and (c) the constituency of Aberavon is over the age of 65 years; (97979)

(2) what percentage of the population of (a) Wales, (b) the County Borough of Neath Port Talbot and (c) the constituency of Aberavon is a carer.

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

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 31 October 2006:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions asking what percentage of the population of (a) Wales, (b) the County Borough of Neath Port Talbot and (c) the constituency of Aberavon are (i) over the age of 65 years and (ii) carers (97979 & 97980)

(i) The latest available population estimates for Wales and Neath Port Talbot are the mid-2005 population estimates. These show that around 18% of the population in both Wales and Neath Port Talbut Unitary Authority were aged 65 years and over. Population Estimates, other than from the 2001 Census, are not normally available for parliamentary constituencies. However, for Aberavon it is possible to estimate the population based on the mid-2004 Experimental Small Area Population Estimates released on 27 October 2006, which show that approximately 19% of the population are aged 65 years and over.

(ii) Figures for numbers of carers at local level are only available from the census. On Census day (29 April 2001) 12% of people in Wales were providing unpaid care, compared with 14% of people in both the County Borough of Neath Port Talbot, and the Parliamentary Constituency of Aberavon. The figures for both Wales and the County Borough of Neath Port Talbot have been taken from table KS08 in Census 2001 Key Statistics for Local Authorities in England and Wales. The figure for Aberavon has been taken from table KS08 in the 2001 Census Report for Parliamentary Constituencies.

World Bank/IMF

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total annual remuneration of (a) the President of the World Bank and (b) the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund was as at July 2006. (98575)

The total annual remuneration of both the president of the World Bank and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund was $461,510 (£243,2151) as of 1 July 2005.

Consistent with established practice, in June 2006 an increase to the remuneration was proposed in line with movement in the Washington metropolitan area consumer price index (May 2005 to May 2006). This would mean an increase of 4.2 per cent. with effect from 1 July 2006 to around $480,890 (£253,4291).

1 Dollar-Sterling spot market rate at close 27 October 2006

Deputy Prime Minister

Departmental Branding

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his Department has ordered branded (a) stationery and (b) other items. (96412)

A sign has been procured for the main entrance to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office and business cards have been ordered for those staff who require them. No other branded items have been ordered. Other stationery from the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is continuing to be used.

Gifts

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister on how many occasions he has consulted the permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office regarding the offer of gifts to members of other governments or governmental organisations since becoming Deputy Prime Minister. (96757)

Information relating to internal discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion and advice.

Mail (Private Companies)

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what percentage of his Office’s mail is shipped using private companies; and what the cost was over the last 12 months. (95137)

Since the formation of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in May 2006, no private companies have been used to ship external mail.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister on how many occasions he has visited (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. (94960)

During 2005 and 2006, I have visited Scotland twice and Wales on one occasion in a ministerial capacity.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) hospitality and (b) gifts he received in relation to his visit to the MIPIM Property Development Conference in Cannes last year. (96394)

Redhill Aerodrome Ventures

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with representatives of Redhill Aerodrome Ventures in the last five years. (91255)

Defence

“Not to Exceed” Dates

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the “not to exceed” in-service date at main gate was for (a) Defence Information Infrastructure (Head Office), (b) Defence Information Infrastructure (Fleet Service), (c) Catterick Garrison SDR Project-Gaza/Megiddo Lines, (d) DLO BCP Defence Electronic Commerce Service-E-Catelogues, (e) Logistics Information Technology System-Delamination for DII/F, (f) Defence Estaters Regional Prime Contracting-South West, (g) Colchester Garrison, (h) Joint Personnel Administration and (i) Projects Allenby and Connaught; and what the ‘not to exceed’ cost at main gate was for the demonstration and manufacture phase of each project, broken into (i) indirect resoure Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL), (ii) direct resource DEL and (iii) capital DEL. (93047)

The term “not to exceed” was not used during the approvals process for the majority of the projects as they predated the use of this concept. The values and dates used in the following table are those approved at Main Gate.

Similarly, not all of the projects broke the cost down into Indirect RDEL, Direct RDEL and Capital DEL. The table therefore reflects the values approved in the relevant Main Gate, many of which are for service based contracts, not a demonstration and manufacture phase.

Approved cost (£ million)

Project name

Approved in service date

Indirect RDEL

Direct RDEL

Capital DEL

Defence Information Infrastructure (Head Office)

May 2004 (First User Live)

92

48

Defence Information Infrastructure (Fleet First)

June 2004

15

7.9

Catterick Garrison SDK Project GAZA-MEGIDDO

Not Approved at Main Gate

DLO BCP Defence Electronic Commerce Service-E-catalogues

No ISO Approval within case

4.973

6.115

5.433

Logistics Information Technology System-Delamination for DII/F

March 2005 (project delivery date)

13.131

10.642

Defence Estates Regional Prime Contracting-South West

June 2005 (core services element)

492.6

25.94

Colchester Garrison PFI

No ISO Approval within case

1,025.5

Joint Personnel Administration

March 2006 (RAF)

108.6 (Manufacture and Migration Cost)

June 2006 (RN)

November 2006 (Army)

Project Allenby-Connaught PFI

May 2006

7727

595

Agency Trading Accounts

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will place in the Library copies of the Memorandum Trading Accounts for the (a) Defence Transport and Movements Agency, (b) Defence Vetting Agency, (c) Disposal Service Agency, (d) Duke of York's Royal Military School, (e) Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency, (f) Naval Recruiting and Training Agency, (g) Pay and Personnel Agency, (h) RAF Training Group Defence Agency, (i) Service Children's Education, (j) Veterans Agency, (k) Medical Supply Agency, (l) Queen Victoria School and (m) Warships Support Agency for each of the last two financial years; (93049)

(2) if he will place in the Library copies of the 2004-05 Memorandum Trading Accounts for the (a) Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency, (b) Army Training and Recruitment Agency, (c) British Forces Post Office, (d) Defence Analytical Services Agency, (e) Defence Bills Agency, (f) Defence Communications Services Agency, (g) Defence Dental Agency, (h) Defence Estates, (i) Defence Geographic and Imagery Intelligence Agency, (j) Defence Intelligence and Security Centre, (k) Defence Medical Education Training Agency, (l) Defence Procurement Agency and (m) Defence Storage and Distribution Agency;

(3) if he will place in the Library copies of the 2005-06 Memorandum Trading Accounts for the (a) Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency, (b) Army Training and Recruiting Agency, (c) British Forces Post Office, (d) Defence Analytical Services Agency, (e) Defence Bills Agency, (f) Defence Communications Services Agency, (g) Defence Estates, (h) Defence Medical Education Training Agency, (i) Defence Procurement Agency and (j) Defence Storage and Distribution Agency.

Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the expected date of commission is of the future aircraft carriers; and what tonnage they will be. (94911)

The projected programme dates, including commissioning and in-service dates, for the future aircraft carriers will only be set following the main investment decision and once they have been approved by Ministers. This decision has not yet been taken, and will only be taken when we know with confidence the risks, the costs and the associated contractual framework involved in building the carriers. The current design of the carriers assumes a start of life displacement of some 65,000 tonnes.

Animal Experiments

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what animals are being used in experiments at the Alverstoke Institute, Gosport; for what purposes they are being used; and if he will make a statement. (94937)

The only animals used for research purposes at the Alverstoke site are goats. QinetiQ Alverstoke uses the animals as part of a research programme that advises on safe procedures and treatments for submariners escaping from a disabled submarine.

Chaplains

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to change the number of chaplains in each of the Armed Forces. (97318)

The Royal Navy currently has 701 chaplains and is seeking to recruit up to its establishment of 751 chaplains. A review of the Royal Navy chaplaincy service is currently taking place as part of the Navy Board Personnel Change Programme to ensure that the establishment, placement and training of chaplains matches the current, and anticipated, needs of the service.

The Army currently has 1451 chaplains and is seeking to recruit up to its establishment of 1601 Chaplains.

The RAF currently has 701 chaplains and is seeking to recruit up to its establishment of 751 chaplains.

In addition to serving service chaplains the armed forces have four full time civilian chaplains to the military for the Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Muslim faiths. There is also an honorary officiating chaplain to minister to those of the Jewish faith. There are no plans to change the number of these chaplains.

1 All figures have been rounded to the nearest five

Defence Estates

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on co-operation with regional development agencies when surplus Defence Estates property is being disposed of; what assessment he has made of the implications for employment and regeneration of such disposals; and if he will make a statement. (95606)

[holding answer 20 October 2006]: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is required to obtain market value when disposing of surplus assets. However, this Department places all surplus land on English Partnership's “Register of Surplus Public Sector Assets” to allow other Government Departments and agencies to express an interest, including regional development agencies. The MOD works closely with English Partnerships, regional development agencies, local authorities and other key stakeholders when considering its disposal strategy. This will normally include an assessment of development and regeneration opportunities through preparation of a planning brief which can be taken forward by prospective purchasers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment Defence Estates makes of local economic development priorities when disposing of surplus property. (95607)

[holding answer 20 October 2006]: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is required to obtain market value when disposing of surplus assets. Defence Estates—the MOD agency with responsibility for the defence estate—works closely, however, with all interested parties to seek the best possible future use for the site. It is our normal practice to work with local planning authorities in disposing of sites and discussions of local economic development priorities should take place as part of that process, including with other Government agencies and Departments on a case by case basis.

Defence Vetting Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff from the Defence Vetting Agency have been contracted to the Office for Nuclear Security since 2005; and for how long each has been contracted. (94230)

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent by his Department on food and alcohol for its staff working out of office in each year since 2001-02. (91922)

Expenditure on food and alcohol consumed by staff working on detached duty is not distinguished separately from the associated expenditure on travel and accommodation and could be provided at disproportionate cost only. The conduct of civilian staff on detached duty is guided by principles set out in the Civil Service Code of Conduct and in Government Accounting. The MOD Civilian Travel Manual emphasises the need to exercise economy and observe the highest standards of financial propriety.

Departmental Lawyers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2006, on departmental lawyers, if he will break down by main area of law the cost of departmental lawyers in each of the last 10 years. (93303)

The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Redundancies

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many redundancies there were in his Department in each year since 1997; what the cost of such redundancies was in each year; how many temporary staff were employed in each year; and how many staff were seconded by outside organisations to posts within his Department in each year. (95251)

Available information is shown in the following table. Information on redundancies for civilian staff prior to 1999-2000 is not available.

Civilian redundancies

Service personnel redundancies

Average number of casual civilian staff

Number of civilian staff seconded into Department

1997-98

1

10

2,930

1,180

1998-99

1

2

2,250

1,370

1999-2000

1,560

2

2,050

1,880

2000-01

1,220

2

1,760

230

2001-02

840

2

1,750

300

2002-03

710

2

1,800

380

2003-04

1,580

2

900

550

2004-05

890

2

1,370

580

2005-06

1,620

530

1,370

390

1 Data not available. 2 Zero or rounded to zero. Notes: 1. Data on costs of redundancies are not held centrally. 2. This table uses the revised definition of civilian personnel (www.dasa.mod.uk). 3. None of the above information is available for Royal Fleet Auxiliary or locally engaged civilian staff. 4. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in 5 have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias. 5. Casual staff and secondments do not apply to service personnel.

Energy Consumption

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent steps have been taken to address energy waste through lack of insulation in departmental properties. (90325)

It is the policy of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to comply fully with the Building Regulations. This includes the requirement to reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions for buildings also covered by part L2 Conservation of Fuel and power for England and Wales which came into force in April 2006. Accordingly, the MOD is adopting a range of policies to improve the whole-life efficiency, energy use, and sustainability of its built estate.

Measures include improved air tightness, higher thermal mass, care in sizing, positioning and detailing windows, orientation of buildings and the use of sustainable building materials and construction techniques. These measures are reflected in new and refurbished buildings which are better designed and more energy efficient; and in efforts to monitor and improve the way that defence personnel use energy in buildings that they occupy.

Environmental Policies

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recycling facilities are provided to army barracks and bases (a) in the UK and (b) overseas for the use of (i) armed forces’ personnel, (ii) catering staff and (iii) civilian personnel. (90323)

Where possible, both in the UK and overseas, a range of recycling facilities are provided to army barracks and bases for use by armed forces and civilian personnel. Continental bins, closed box skips and large skips may be provided to facilitate the segregation and recycling of waste material. Where possible paper, glass, cardboard, wood, scrap metal and tyre waste is recycled.

In the UK and overseas the provision of catering services is outsourced to various commercial catering companies who in most cases take responsibility for the recycling and disposal of their own waste products. This is in line with contract requirements that state that the contractor shall manage waste in accordance with UK waste management legislation and departmental policy to reduce, re-use and recycle.

Eurofighter Typhoon

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timescale is for the delivery of Typhoons to the Royal Air Force squadrons following the successful bid by BAE Systems for the supply of Eurofighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia. (93590)

The negotiations on the supply of Eurofighter-Typhoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia have yet to be concluded. The final Tranche 1 Typhoon aircraft will be delivered to the Royal Air Force in September 2007. Tranche 2 aircraft deliveries commence in 2008 and will continue until 2013-14.

Health and Safety at Work (Prosecutions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many prosecutions for offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 have been taken against his Department's personnel since 1976; how many prosecutions were successful in each of the last 10 years; and what percentage this represents of total prosecutions of his Department for such offences in this period. (94236)

The Ministry of Defence is only aware of two such prosecutions over the past five years, one of which was successful. Beyond that the information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will consider allowing ex-military personnel to occupy empty homes on military bases in the UK. (97011)

[holding answer 25 October 2006]: Other than properties which are vacant pending families moving in, for work to be done or for administrative purposes, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) does not retain unused dwellings. The MOD sold the vast majority of service family accommodation (SFA) in England and Wales to Annington Homes Limited (AHL) in November 1996, with the arrangement that the Department would lease-back from them the accommodation we needed to house service families. When properties are no longer required, they are returned to AHL for them to dispose of as they see fit.

In order to help with adjusting to civilian life or for the purpose of house-hunting, recently retired or redundant service personnel may apply in accordance with Tri-Service Accommodation Regulations (Joint Service Publication 464) for surplus SFA located outside secured areas for a maximum period of six months on payment of the market rate for such accommodation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to make service families accommodation regulations consistent with regulations for civilian property. (91756)

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

Medical Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military personnel are on waiting lists for treatment at NHS hospitals. (94487)

[holding answer 17 October 2006]: Service personnel who return with serious injuries from operational theatres are treated immediately. In addition, the MOD pays NHS Trusts to expedite elective secondary-care treatment ahead of typical NHS time scales where there is an operational benefit.

On average, about 4,200 personnel across all three services will be in the process of being seen as either an in-patient or out-patient in the NHS Trusts which host Ministry of Defence Hospital Units, the majority of whom remain employed during this process. A small number of military personnel will receive treatment at other NHS hospitals, but this information is not held centrally and could only be obtained by examining all individual medical records.

The MOD runs its own rehabilitation units (for military patients with a range of musculo-skeletal conditions) and community-based psychiatric facilities, and has a contract with the Priory Group for the provision of in-patient psychiatric treatment. Such patients will therefore not need treatment in NHS facilities.

Mental Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where departments of community mental health are located; what services they provide; and if he will make a statement. (91295)

The MOD has 15 Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMHs) in the UK at the following locations:

Kinloss (Inverness)

Leuchars (Edinburgh)

Faslane

Aldershot

Brize Norton

Catterick

Colchester

Cranwell

Marham

Plymouth

Portsmouth

Tidworth

West Midlands (Donnington)

Woolwich

Lisburn (Northern Ireland)

We also have satellite centres at the following overseas locations:

Germany—Community Health Teams (CHT) at:

Wegberg (including in-patient facility)

Paderborn

Gutersloh

Osnabruck

Hohne

Gibraltar (CHT)

Cyprus (CHT)

DCMH teams comprise Psychiatrists and Mental Health Nurses, with access to Clinical Psychologists and mental health social workers. The aim is to see referred individuals at their unit medical centre and, with the patient’s permission, to engage with GPs and the patient’s chain of command to help manage any mental health problems identified. The full range of psychiatric and psychological treatments are available including medication, psychological therapies and environmental adjustment where appropriate, provided by 25 Consultant Psychiatrists and around 120 Registered Mental Health Nurses working in the Defence Medical Services. For PTSD our treatment meets the standards set by the independent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Middle East

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which UK (a) air and maritime assets and (b) other military facilities are being used in support of UN operations in the Lebanon; (97149)

(2) whether the UK plans to provide any further support to the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 26 October 2006]: The UK provided HMS York to a UN-sponsored temporary maritime task force in early September. This task force was replaced by a follow-on force under UNIFIL command on 15 October; we do not plan to provide any further maritime support. We have offered to provide support in other areas, including use of our sovereign base areas on Cyprus, and provision of a naval logistician to assist the UN. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK pays a premium contribution to the costs of UN operations.

Military Personnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the (a) actual and (b) establishment figures are for each regiment of the British regular infantry; (89635)

(2) what the (a) current and (b) establishment infantry manning levels are, broken down by (i) division and (ii) battalion.

Establishment figures for the Infantry are not generally compiled in terms of regiment (the description of the organisation beyond a single cap badge). The following table shows the currently recorded strengths and establishments of the Infantry by battalion, the fighting unit, and Infantry Division but does not include those members of the regiment serving outside the battalion.

Infantry trained strength and establishment of the regular Army and full time reserve service (FTRS) by battalion as at 1 August 2006

Battalion

1Strength

Establishment

Footguards

2,540

2,920

1 Grenadier Guards

540

570

1 Coldstream Guards

540

570

1 Scots Guards

470

640

1 Irish Guards

490

570

1 Welsh Guards

500

570

Scots Div

12,790

2,930

1 Royal Regiment of Scotland

1700

570

2 Royal Regiment of Scotland

1500

570

3 Royal Regiment of Scotland

1560

570

4 Royal Regiment of Scotland

1550

640

5 Royal Regiment of Scotland

1480

590

Queen’s Div

3,140

3,560

1 Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

490

640

2 Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

520

570

1 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

550

640

2 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

480

570

1 Royal Anglian Regiment

580

600

2 Royal Anglian Regiment

530

560

King’s Div

12,960

3,500

1 Yorkshire Regiment

1510

570

2 Yorkshire Regiment

1470

570

3 Yorkshire Regiment

1510

600

1 Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment

1500

590

2 Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment

1590

620

3 Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment

1400

560

Prince of Wales Div

12,360

2,970

1 Cheshire Regiment

1460

570

1 Royal Welsh Regiment

1460

570

2 Royal Welsh Regiment

1470

640

1 Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment

1490

560

1 Staffordshire Regiment

1480

640

Light Div

13,060

3,510

1 Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, Light Infantry

1490

590

1 Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, Light Infantry

1450

560

1 Light Infantry

1570

640

2 Light Infantry

1520

570

1 Royal Green Jackets

1490

570

2 Royal Green Jackets

1530

600

Para

1,460

1,760

1 Parachute Regiment

460

580

2 Parachute Regiment

480

590

3 Parachute Regiment

520

590

1 Royal Irish Regiment

450

590

1 Royal Ghurkha Regiment

20

20

2 Royal Ghurkha Regiment

20

20

1 provisional, as some records are currently being updated to reflect recent and planned divisional and regimental Infantry changes.

Notes:

1. The establishment figures refer to the number of posts within a battalion that may be filled by Infantry personnel (officers and soldiers). Therefore, it excludes posts that are filled by attached personnel of other Arms and Services such as chefs, clerks, etc. Establishments will also vary depending on the particular role of a battalion; for example, Armoured Infantry battalions have larger establishments than light role Infantry battalions.

2. Strength figures include members of the Regiment serving with the battalion i.e. 2 Parachute Regiment (2 Para) includes Para personnel posted to 2 Para, it does not include other Infantry serving with the 2 Para or Para personnel posted away from the regiment. Strength figures also exclude attached Arm/Services.

3. The Guards Division strengths and establishments exclude the Public Duty Companies.

4. Figures are for trained Infantry Officers and Soldiers and include Infantry Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) personnel serving

with the battalions.

5. Royal Ghurkha Regiment figures are for the Regular Army Officers (UK Personnel) only and do not include the Ghurkhas.

6. Strength and Establishment figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Totals are rounded separately and therefore may not equal the sum of their parts.

Military Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles were purchased for Army use; on what date they were purchased; what the total purchase price was; (a) by which formations, (b) for what purposes and (c) when the vehicles were used; and if he will make a statement; (80568)

(2) what modifications were made to the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles in order to enhance mine protection and the TMRP-6 threat; how many vehicles were modified; what the total cost was of those modifications while on the Army inventory; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what (a) maintenance and (b) other difficulties were experienced by Army formations in their use of the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles while on their charge; what steps were taken to resolve those difficulties; what outcomes resulted from those steps; and if he will make a statement;

(4) when and to whom the inventory of OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles was disposed of; how much was received; what the end destination of the vehicles was; and if he will make a statement;

(5) if he will assess (a) ease of maintenance and (b) reliability of the (i) OMC/Alvis Mamba and (ii) current version of the RG-31M.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the reasons are for replacing the Mamba vehicle with the mine-protected vehicle; and what the estimated cost is. (81608)

[Pursuant to the reply, 25 July 2006, Official Report, c. 1539-43W]: I stated that the 14 Mamba Mine Protected Vehicles were disposed of in 2004 for a total of £44,000, this was incorrect. The actual total was £448,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Snatch One, Two and Three Land Rovers are in Iraq and Afghanistan; and how many of each are operational. (93927)

For UK holdings, I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Ellwood) on 14 June 2006, Official Report, column 1230W. In respect of Iraq and Afghanistan I am withholding details of the military capability deployed on operations since its disclosure would reveal the strength and capability of UK forces operating in theatre, and could have a bearing on operational security.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the first batch of Panther vehicles is expected to be deployed; which type of vehicle they will replace; and if he will make a statement. (93929)

On current plans the in service date for Panther is November 2007; the deployment of this vehicle on operations will then depend on judgments by the permanent joint headquarters.

Panther will replace a variety of vehicles operating in the command and liaison role including CVR(T) Spartan, Landrover, Saxon, FV432 and FV436 vehicles. I refer the hon. Lady to the answers I gave on 3 November 2005, Official Report, column 1263W, and 14 December 2005, Official Report, columns 2041-42W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when the development of the replacements for the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine protected vehicles became Project Tempest; and when and to whom the main development and construction contracts were awarded for the Truck, Mine Protected Vehicle; (80542)

(2) when the decision was made to purchase replacements for the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine protected vehicle; what the original performance specifications for the replacement vehicle were; and on what grounds these were decided;

(3) how many Truck, Mine Protected Vehicles were purchased by his Department; and what the total cost of the vehicles supplied was when they were taken on charge;

(4) what the total cost of Project Tempest was, excluding the acquisition costs of the Truck, Mine Protected Vehicle;

(5) where Truck, Mine Protected Vehicles have been deployed since they have been taken on charge; for what periods and with what formations; where they are now deployed; and how many are currently still on charge and in active service;

(6) whether any aspects of the technology and design of the Project Tempest Truck, Mine Protected Vehicles were classified;

(7) in whom the intellectual property of Project Tempest was vested; and what agreements were made by his Department to recover (a) fees and (b) other income from subsequent use of the design and technology employed in the project.

Reliability and safety problems with the previous Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV), Mamba, led the Department to consider refurbishment and modification of Mamba or its replacement. Replacement through a competitive Urgent Operational Requirement was chosen as the best option with bids assessed against the user’s requirements of survivability (predominantly against mines), mobility, fightability and supportability. In November 2001 the bid from Supacat of the Tempest vehicle, based on an early version of the Force Protection Inc Cougar, was selected. Tempest was the name of the vehicle not the programme, but it is no longer used and the vehicle is now known in UK service simply as the MPV.

A £2.7 million contract for eight MPVs was awarded to Supacat shortly afterwards with Technical Solutions Group Inc. (a subsidiary of Force Protection Inc.) supplying the base vehicle. The MPVs are supported under a contractor logistic support arrangement with Supacat Ltd. I am unable to provide the cost of the contract as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests.

MPVs are used by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams for specialist tasks such as EOD reconnaissance, rescue and recovery and route proving. MPVs were deployed to Bosnia from January to May 2004; and Iraq from July 2003 to November 2004. There are still eight MPVs in service including a number currently in Afghanistan.

MPV was a commercial off the shelf equipment with some UK specific EOD modifications. Supacat Ltd. own the MPV intellectual property, although the MOD has free user rights for repair and maintenance. The majority of its specification is not classified but I am unable to comment on its detailed specifications and in particular its protection, as this would, or would be likely to prejudice the security of our armed forces.

Mines

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the threat from sea mines since 1998; and what the results were. (94946)

As stated in Cm 6269, “Delivering Security in a Changing World: Future Capabilities”, the reduced threat and changed requirement for large scale operations means that we can meet our operational and standing tasks with a fleet of 16 mine counter-measures vessels.

Minimum Wage

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many employees in (a) his Department and (b) related agencies and non-departmental public bodies were affected by the increase in the minimum wage on 1 October. (96447)

Pending the outcome of negotiations on the main pay award for MOD civilian staff from 1 August, the salaries of 1,693 MOD staff in the most junior pay band were increased from 1 October to meet the rise in the national minimum wage.

None of MOD's Trading Funds or non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) were affected by the rise.

The armed forces are exempt from the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.

Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many commissioned officers were (a) female and (b) non-white in 2006. (94913)

At 1 April 2006 there were 3,540 female and 710 recorded non-white commissioned officers in the UK Regular Forces. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Operational Bonus

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what impact the operational bonus announced on 11 October will have on the payment of the X factor to members of the armed forces in (a) the 2006-07 financial year and (b) future financial years. (94387)

[holding answer 16 October 2006]: The introduction of the operational bonus will have no impact on the payment of X factor in 2006-07. The value of X factor will remain at 13 per cent. of basic pay for regular service personnel up to the rank of lieutenant colonel and equivalent at the mid pay point, beyond which it tapers. X factor is regularly reviewed by the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB). The next review is due in 2007-08. My Department will therefore be submitting a paper of evidence on X factor to the AFPRB in 2007 to inform the body’s deliberations for its 2008 report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the cost of the new operational bonus from 2007-08 will be met from (a) existing departmental budgets and (b) additional funds. (94522)

The cost of the new operational bonus, to be called “Operational Allowance”, will not be met from existing departmental budgets, but from the Treasury Reserve.

Porton Down

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 8 May 2006, Official Report, column 41W, on Porton Down, why the number of (a) mice used in procedures has increased since 2000 and (b) non-human primates used in procedures has increased since 2003; and if he will make a statement. (95716)

The increase in the numbers of procedures involving both mice and non-human primates is directly related to the size and maturity of the on-going medical countermeasures research programme. Mice are used mainly in studies to identify and assess candidate pre-treatments and therapies against biological warfare agents.

Non-human primates are involved in studies to develop advanced animal models for efficacy assessment of post exposure therapies for biological and chemical warfare agents, and studies to assess the visual effects resulting from exposure to very low levels of nerve agents.

Recent products from the Defence research programme include a therapy to treat those suffering from botulism. This is now available to treat UK servicemen, should botulinum toxin ever be used as a weapon against them, and has already been used to treat patients in both UK and Thailand who were subject to naturally occurring cases.

Promotion

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) allowance is made in initial training and (b) seniority in rank is granted for previous service when non-commissioned officers below the rank of warrant officer are selected for commissioned service in (i) the Royal Navy, (ii) the Royal Marines, (iii) the British Army and (iv) the Royal Air Force. [R] (91488)

In the Naval Service, there are two schemes for entering the officer corps from the ranks:

The Upper Yardman/Corps Commission (UY/CC) schemes for RN ratings and RM other ranks respectively who are under the age of 26 (for engineers—age 30) on the first day of the month that initial officer training begins.

The Senior Upper Yardman/Senior Corps Commission (SUY/SCC) schemes for RN ratings and RM other ranks respectively who are over the age of 26 (for engineers—age 30) and would have a minimum of four years to serve (until their retirement date) on the first day of the month that initial officer training is expected to begin.

Individuals selected for the officer corps via the UY/CC schemes are treated in exactly the same way as individuals entering from outside the service and undertake the same initial training and are awarded the same rank and seniority on entry (currently based on age) as their civilian counterparts.

Individuals selected for the officer corps via the SUY/SCC schemes undertake phase 1 training but thereafter receive bespoke training (where required) based on their experience and the nature of the post to which they are appointed. Given the greater relative experience of SUY/SCC officers over those selected by direct entry or via the UY/CC route, and in recognition of their likely employment (often as deep specialist officers), former ratings and other ranks (below the rank of Warrant Officer) gain a minimum one year’s seniority advantage over their peers by passing out of phase 1 training as a Lieutenant RN or Captain RM.

In the Army there are two categories of personnel commissioned from the ranks: Late Entry (LE) Officers and those soldiers who attend the full Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) Commissioning Course before the age of 29 and go on to be treated as Direct Entry (DE) Officers:

Those who commission as LE Officers arrive on a level playing field as their civilian counterparts. They do exactly the same amount of training on commissioning and must attend the Late Entry Officer Course within their first year. There is then no difference in the speed with which they can be promoted up the rank structure.

DE Officers from the Ranks attend the year long Commissioning Course at RMAS and will progress at different speeds depending on their reckonable service. They are allowed to carry forward half of their service in the ranks up to a maximum of four years. This allows those with more reckonable service to be promoted to Captain within 2.5 years of commissioning. This is on a par with graduate officers who can accumulate a maximum of 3.4 years reckonable service in recognition for their academic studies.

In the RAF, non-commissioned personnel who are selected for commissioned service in the general branches are made no allowance in terms of their initial training. If, however, they are entering as a nurse, they undertake the shorter SERE (Specialist Entrant—Re Entrant) course. This recognises their specialist skills and is tailored to the career pathways available to the specialist branches.

Non-commissioned airmen/women are commissioned under the terms set out in the following table:

Former rank1,2

Rank on graduation from IOT

Promotion to Flight Lieutenant after:3,4,5

Flight Sergeant/Chief Technician

Flying Officer

1 year

Sergeant

Flying Officer

18 months

Corporal

Flying Officer

2 years

Senior Aircraftsman/Junior Technician

Flying Officer

2.5 years

1 All serving airmen and ex-non-commissioned personnel, except those commissioned as graduate entrants iaw para. 0221 will attend Initial Officer Training as Officer Cadets (OCs). Para. 0221 states that: candidates from civil life, serving officers and airmen who hold a qualification equivalent to a degree which is acceptable for graduate entry into one branch may also be eligible for graduate entry into other branches. 2 Former rank also refers to Normal Paid Acting Rank. 3 Serving and ex-non-commissioned personnel entering a ground branch who obtained a degree prior to initially joining the service will have the period of commissioned service they are required to complete before promotion to flight lieutenant reduced by six months. 4 Excludes ex-serving nurses who, in recognition of their professional qualifications, will have their seniority assessed under the provisions of para 0387, which states that: In the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS), officers are awarded a time credit for full-time civil nursing experience in a recognized appointment after registration as a Registered General Nurse. Time credits are set against the normal time-promotion progression to assess rank and seniority on entry. Subject to a maximum total of six years they are awarded in accordance with the following scale: (a) The first two years in full. (b) Officers who possess a Registered Nurse Tutors Certificate on entry; the first three years—in full. (c) Any later experience—in half. 5 Or attaining the age of 24, whichever is the later.

RAF Machrihanish

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with which public agencies the future of RAF Machrihanish has been discussed; what plans he has for RAF Machrihanish; and if he will make a statement. (95702)