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Written Answers

Volume 453: debated on Monday 20 November 2006

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 20 November 2006

Education and Skills

Educational Attainment

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of (a) White British, (b) Black Caribbean, (c) Black African, (d) Pakistanis, (e) Indian, (f) Bangladeshi and (g) groups of other ethnicity pupils who were entitled to free school meals achieved five or more A*-C GCSEs in the last period for which figures are available, broken down by gender. (100930)

The latest published data relate to 2005 and are shown in the following table. Provisional 2006 data by pupil characteristics will be available on Thursday, 23 November from the Department's Research and Statistics Gateway (www.dfes.gov.uk/statistics).

Percentage achieving 5 or more grades A* to C at GCSE and equivalent in 2005, by ethnicity, FSM and gender

Not entitled to FSM

Entitled to FSM

All Pupils

Boys

Girls

Total

Boys

Girls

Total

Boys

Girls

Total

White British

53.8

64.1

58.8

21.0

29.2

25.1

50.2

60.1

55.0

Indian

67.2

78.0

72.4

47.9

59.9

53.7

64.8

75.8

70.1

Pakistani

48.9

58.6

53.6

34.4

46.9

40.4

43.2

54.1

48.4

Bangladeshi

49.4

62.1

55.8

44.7

55.8

50.4

46.7

58.5

52.7

Black Caribbean

36:6

51.6

44.6

24.6

42.8

33.5

33.3

49.4

41.7

Black African

49.2

60.8

55.3

32.9

41.0

37.0

42.9

53.3

48.3

All other ethnic groups

57.5

68.1

62.8

34.4

43.4

38.9

52.4

62.5

57.4

All pupils1

53.8

64.2

58.9

25.5

34.4

29.9

49.9

60.0

54.9

1 Includes pupils for which information was not sought or refused.

Environmentally Sustainable Behaviour

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions have taken place on establishing a formal set of guidelines for schools and other educational establishments on undertaking recycling, energy and water saving and lowering emissions. (100723)

The Department for Education and Skills went out to public consultation this year on its strategy for sustainable schools. The Department’s response to the consultation and its Sustainable Schools Action Plan will be published in the next few weeks. The strategy establishes guidelines for schools on all aspects of sustainability including recycling, energy and water saving and reducing carbon emissions. The Learning and Skills Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England have been leading discussions on establishing guidelines for their respective education sectors. DfES, LSC and HEFCE actions in these areas are detailed in the DfES Sustainable Development Action Plan for Education and Skills1.

1 http://www.dfes.gov.uk/aboutus/sd/actionplan.shtml

Five-Year Strategy for Children and Learners

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many new school sixth forms he expects to be created under paragraphs 36 to 42 of the Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners (Cm 6272) in (a) 2007, (b) 2008 and (c) 2009. (101395)

By December 2006, 13 schools are likely to have submitted proposals to the Schools Organisation Committee under the arrangements announced in the Five Year Strategy and 14-19 White Paper, where there is ‘presumption’ of success for sixth form proposals from high performing vocational specialist schools. We expect that 26 schools will be eligible to make proposals under these arrangements in 2007, although it is not known how many will take up the opportunity. By 2008, we anticipate that 60 high performing schools will have used the ‘presumption’ arrangements to establish new sixth forms. Assumptions cannot be made at this time about 2009.

Foundation Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what effect a school applying for foundation trust status will have on a programme to replace that school’s building under the Building Schools for the Future initiative. (100731)

As local authority maintained schools, trust schools will remain part of Building Schools for the Future (BSF) and must be fully included in their authority’s ‘strategy for change’ and investment project. Indeed, as BSF promotes diverse and responsive local provision, the schools in each project will consider whether trust status would be appropriate for them.

School Science Facilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department has taken to refurbish school science laboratories since May 2005. (101214)

The Government have set out their strategy to deliver the best in science teaching and learning in “Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-14: Next Steps”, published in March.

We are also providing the capital investment to back this up. Refurbishment and new building of school science laboratories is a priority in most of the Department’s capital programmes. Overall, we are supporting capital investment in schools of £5.5 billion in 2005-06, £5.9 billion in 2006-07 and £6.4 billion in 2007-08. Every secondary school and every local authority is, for example, able to invest in laboratories, where this is needed. Our strategic programmes, Building Schools for the Future and Academies, are also providing brand new science laboratories: planning is underway for almost a third of secondary schools, with every school due to benefit over the longer term.

To back up the strategy and the investment, we are also ensuring that science facilities are designed to meet curriculum needs and to inspire excellent teaching and learning. “Project Faraday” has been launched to address this need. Teams of leading designers and educationalists with expertise in science teaching will develop a range of exemplar designs for school science laboratories by mid-2007. Science demonstration projects will then be built to provide practical examples, to act as benchmarks and to disseminate the learning. We will evaluate the project over a number of years.

Sixth Forms

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the impact of new school sixth form provision on the (a) overall retention of 16 to 19-year-olds in an area and (b) the overall proportion of young people not engaged in education, employment or training in an area. (101396)

Recent academic research published by the Learning and Skills Network finds that the local mix of post-16 institution types is not the most important determinant of whether or not a student goes on to participate post-16.

We believe that choice and diversity are powerful levers for driving up quality and increasing participation rates. This will include more school sixth forms and we have introduced measures to make it easier for successful schools to open sixth forms where there is pupil and parental demand to extend quality and choice for local students.

The recent FE White Paper showed that the staying-on rate for those with any good GCSE passes—who now form the majority of the cohort—is higher in schools with sixth forms, and also that the overall staying-on rate is higher in such schools.

Collaboration post-16 between schools, and between schools and colleges, will be essential to ensure critical mass and sufficient choice for learners, particularly in light of the development of specialised diplomas, which will be available nationwide.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many schools applied (a) successfully and (b) unsuccessfully to open a sixth form in (i) 2004, (ii) 2005 and (iii) between January and October 2006. (101397)

Proposals to establish new school sixth forms, made by local authorities or school governing bodies, are decided locally. The Secretary of State plays no part in the decision making process.

The following table sets out the numbers of statutory proposals for new school sixth forms published in 2005 and 2006 and outcomes. No proposals for new school sixth forms were published in 2004.

2005

2006

Total published

5

21

Approved

3

5

Rejected

1

0

Awaiting decision

1

16

Vocational Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with the (a) Chairman and (b) Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council on the future of centres for vocational education. (100625)

Ministers have had discussions on a number of occasions with the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council on the future of centres of vocational excellence (CoVE).

Transport

Buses

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to give new powers to local authorities to regulate buses in Wales. (100690)

The Government intend to publish a draft Bill in the current Session which will include provisions to improve local bus services. Regarding matters that are devolved in Wales, it will be for the National Assembly to decide which provisions should apply to Wales and which should not. Officials will be working closely with the Welsh Assembly Government as detailed proposals are developed.

Delivery Restrictions (Lorries)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to relax current time restrictions placed on lorries delivering to supermarkets. (100974)

In most cases delivery restrictions have been imposed for good reasons, usually to protect the quality of life of the local residents. Local authorities are therefore best placed to make any assessment of the suitability of local conditions for any relaxation.

Guidance on delivery restrictions to retail outlets such as supermarkets was published on the Department's website on 1 November. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of the House. The guide is a concise overview of central and local government policy on road freight delivery restrictions.

It is hoped that the guide will encourage dialogue between industry and local authorities in considering alternatives to blanket restrictions on existing and new commercial developments.

Freight Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with retailers and other companies on making greater use of inland waterway and coastal freight transport in their supply chain. (101455)

The Department's main work in this area is through the funding it provides for Sea and Water—an industry body which Government established in 2003 with a remit to promote the movement of freight and coastal shipping. Sea and Water holds frequent meetings with potential users of water freight services and hosts seminars on the issue, including one in 2005 specifically for the retail sector.

Sea and Water is an industry body, partly funded by Government, with a remit to promote the movement of freight by inland and short sea shipping. Details about the organisation and its promotional activities can be found on their website at:

http://www.seaandwater.org

Pilot Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, (1) how many commercial flight tests were carried out at weekends in each year since 2000; (100976)

(2) how many new (a) private pilot licences, (b) commercial pilot licences and (c) airline transport pilots licences were issued in each of the last 20 years;

(3) how many people (a) hold multi-engine examiner authorities and (b) held multi-engine examiner authorities in each of the last 10 years;

(4) if he will place in the Library copies of the (a) original impact assessment and (b) post impact assessment of the JAR-FCL pilot licence;

(5) how many pilots were trained in the UK in each of the last 20 years, broken down by nationality.

The Civil Aviation Authority holds information on the number of Commercial Pilot Skill Tests, pilot licences issued in the UK and current holders of multi-engine examiner authorities.

The number of Commercial Pilot Skill Tests carried out on a year-by-year basis since 2000 is given in Table 1. Due to the large amount of data involved, it is impracticable to identify which tests were held at weekends.

Table 1

Number of skills tests

2000-01

797

2001-02

755

2002-03

725

2003-04

741

2004-05

852

2005-06

935

Table 2 shows the number of Private Pilot Licences (PPL), Commercial Pilot Licences (CPL) and Airline Transport Licences (ATPL) issued in each of the last 20 years.

Table 2

Financial year

PPL

CPL

ATPL

All licences total

1986-87

3098

307

383

3788

1987-88

3043

440

396

3879

1988-89

3411

672

518

4601

1989-90

4451

1041

651

6143

1990-91

4669

1253

865

6787

1991-92

4804

1005

658

6467

1992-93

3621

664

553

4838

1993-94

3868

394

229

4491

1994-95

3614

388

200

4202

1995-96

3808

471

380

4659

1996-97

3621

487

351

4459

1997-98

3974

634

372

4980

1998-99

3707

759

561

5027

1999/2000

3577

986

761

5324

2000-01

3145

1046

1777

5968

2001-02

2957

1029

1551

5537

2002-03

3467

341

1605

5413

2003-04

3708

972

1358

6038

2004-05

3190

1100

1300

5590

2005-06

3277

1320

1332

5929

There are currently 1,313 holders of multi-engine examiner authorities. Historic records of examiner numbers and records of pilots trained in the UK are not held.

A copy of the Authority's 1999 consultation on a proposal to amend the Air Navigation Order 1995 to facilitate implementation of JAR-FCL and its accompanying Regulatory Impact Assessment will be placed in the House Library. A post impact assessment has not been carried out, in light of the future transfer of pilot licensing functions to the European Aviation Safety Agency, and the likelihood of the agency carrying out its own impact assessment.

Defence

Armed Forces Police Support

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what legal powers the armed forces have (a) to carry firearms and (b) to arrest individuals when operating in support of the police and security services on the UK mainland. (100828)

Members of the armed forces derive their power to carry firearms on the UK mainland, solely for the purpose of their duties, from the royal prerogative. When engaged in the performance of their duties they are not bound by the restrictions in the Firearms Act 1968, on the possession of firearms, but are otherwise subject to the criminal law. Such duties could include specific operations conducted in support of police forces or other civilian authorities in accordance with Military Aid to the Civil Authority procedures.

Armed forces personnel operating on the UK mainland do not have specific powers of arrest conferred on them, beyond a citizen's power of arrest, which is provided for in section 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Commando Brigades

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what Commander 3 Commando Brigades’ mission statement is. (100685)

The mission statement for Commander 3 Commando Brigade, as directed by the Chief of Joint Operations, is:

“To ensure the optimal use of UK forces in order to contribute to the delivery of UK strategic intent in Afghanistan”.

Nuclear Deterrent

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to publish the White Paper on the future of the Strategic Nuclear Deterrent. (100641)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 30 October 2006, Official Report, column 113W, to the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynn Featherstone).

Troop Transportation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average time is for Transport Security Police and movement staff to process (a) personnel, (b) baggage, (c) ammunition and (d) weapons when transporting UK forces to and from deployments abroad. (100751)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF flights transporting UK forces (a) from deployments abroad to the UK and (b) from the UK to deployments abroad were (i) cancelled and (ii) delayed for a period longer than a day in each of the last three years. (100755)

The available information is not centrally held and will take some time to collate. I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Culture, Media and Sport

British Summer Time

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will assess (a) the effect of the adoption of single/double summer time on the leisure, sport and tourism industries and (b) the consequent effect on gross domestic product. (101879)

Regeneration

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the role of art and culture in regeneration. (100895)

Art and culture can play a significant role in regeneration. Examples of this can be seen across the country, such as the Lowry in Salford, the Sage in Newcastle-Gateshead and the Bellenden renewal area in Peckham, South London. My Department's publication “Culture at the Heart of Regeneration” highlighted how culture can drive regeneration by reviving town centres, drawing communities together and promoting economic development. The role of culture in regeneration has been strengthened by a joint agreement on sustainable communities, signed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, my Department and a number of its key non-departmental public bodies in July this year.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

China

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will discuss future relations with Africa with the Chinese government, with particular reference to reducing the arms trade with Africa. (101431)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers and officials hold regular discussions with the Chinese Government on the full range of international issues, including Africa and the arms trade. This dialogue includes working with China as it seeks to improve its export controls and encouraging China to support work towards an arms trade treaty which would end the irresponsible trade in conventional arms. We are actively seeking to broaden and deepen our dialogue with China on issues relevant to Africa, both bilaterally and together with EU partners. For example, the EU/China summit in September agreed to a structured dialogue on Africa that we hope will begin soon. Key themes for this enhanced dialogue will be how the EU and China can work in ways which reinforce the principles for poverty reduction and sustainable development identified by the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development: peace, security, democracy, good governance, human rights and sound economic management.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Chinese authorities on recent incidents in Tibet. (101432)

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 25 October 2006, Official Report, column 1906W. The Chinese Government have promised to provide the EU with further information regarding the incident on 30 September. We expect the information to be forthcoming in December. We will await this information before making further representation, either bilaterally or through the EU.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government will submit evidence to the US review of policy in Iraq led by National Security adviser Stephen J. Hadley announced in November. (100687)

United Nations Security Council Resolution 687

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she plans to take to implement paragraph 14 of UN Security Council Resolution 687. (100629)

Iraq is a party to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and is working with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Iraqi Cabinet approved a recommendation for accession on 3 August and the legislation is currently before the Iraqi Parliament.

Iraq supported the 61st United Nations General Assembly 1st Committee resolution on the "Establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Region of the Middle East", which was an important contribution to the goal of establishing in the middle east a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.

The UK will continue to support the Iraqi Government in this work.

Communities and Local Government

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to reply to the letters of 30 May and 16 October 2006 from the right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude) on housing delivery and infrastructure in West Sussex. (100777)

Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes in England were banded in each council tax band A to H in the latest year for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. (101277)

Details of the number of homes in England banded in each council tax band A to H, as at 18 September 2006, are published on the Department for Communities and Local Government’s website at:

http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/stats/dwelling .htm

Electric/Magnetic Fields (Housing)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whether she (a) has assessed and (b) plans to assess the merits of placing an obligation on house vendors to inform prospective buyers of the proximity of high voltage overhead transmission lines or the average strength of extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields within a property; and if she will make a statement; (101084)

(2) what models of good practice are being followed by local planning authorities on restricting building priority new affordable homes in close proximity to high voltage overhead transmission lines; and if she will make a statement;

(3) what planned residential developments for social housing will be built in close proximity to high voltage overhead transmission lines; and if she will make a statement;

(4) what guidance she provides to local planning authorities on building priority new affordable homes in close proximity to high voltage overhead transmission lines; and if she will make a statement;

(5) whether there are initiatives within social sector housing sectors to limit the siting of new homes in close proximity to high voltage overhead transmission lines; and if she will make a statement;

(6) whether her officials are engaged in the Department of Health-led Stakeholder Advisory Group on Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields (SAGE) process; whether she plans to liaise with ministerial and parliamentary colleagues in determining her response to the forthcoming SAGE report; what other steps she is taking to develop policies in this area; and if she will introduce measures to protect the public from exposure to EMF from high voltage overhead transmission lines.

The Home Information Pack will become mandatory on 1 June 2007 and will include information of use to potential home buyers. Although there will be no requirement for them to do so, sellers may include a commercially produced environmental report in the pack. These reports commonly include information on actual or potential environmental hazards, including the proximity of overhead transmission lines.

Government planning for housing policies aim to ensure that new housing is developed in the most sustainable locations. In deciding whether to allocate land for housing and whether to grant planning approvals, local planning authorities need to make assessments and consider a wide range of matters about the most appropriate and most suitable location for new homes. Such assessments would include the proximity to high voltage overhead power lines as appropriate.

At present, other than the need to observe operational safe clearing distances, there is no planning guidance for local planning authorities on how to decide planning applications for new development in the vicinity of power lines.

However, following the publication of the (then) National Radiological Protection Board's new electro-magnetic field guidelines in March 2004, and the associated advice to Government, the Government are giving further consideration to taking forward the issue of building near power lines and pylons, and will, in due course, be consulting with all relevant groups.

The Stakeholder Advisory Group on electro-magnetic fields set up last year has enabled Government officials, including those from DCLG, to engage in discussions with industry, regulators, professional bodies and interest groups about how to respond to this complex issue.

The Government will consider the report findings when they are published next year.

Firefighters' Pension Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average firefighters pension paid out at age 55 was in each of the last five years. (101145)

Key Worker Status

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which new groups are being considered for key worker status. (100473)

The Key Worker Living Programme aims to keep the skills needed in frontline public services, in areas where there are significant recruitment and retention needs. While we recognise that all key worker groups provide a valuable service, resources are finite and decisions prioritising those eligible for assistance from the scheme have been made following discussions with key worker sponsor Departments who set the key worker groups and areas where the assistance will be targeted. We currently have no plans to extend the scheme although my officials do regularly discuss and review the eligible roles with the key worker sponsor Departments.

Key workers who are not eligible for the Key Worker Living Programme may benefit from other products available under our HomeBuy scheme which will expand the opportunity for home ownership to over a 100,000 households by 2010.

Local Government Wards

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the disparity was between the least and the most deprived wards in each local government area, ranked in descending order, in the most recent year for which figures are available. (101401)

The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004 provides the most recent figures on deprivation for England. Deprivation is measured at Lower Layer Super Output Area (SOA) level rather than at ward level as the former allows better identification of small pockets of deprivation and overcomes problems associated with changing ward boundaries.

A table has been placed in the Library of the House providing a list of all local authority areas in England showing the percentage of each authority’s SOAs that fall within the 10 per cent. most and 10 per cent. least deprived in England.

Home Department

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) changes to practice and (b) investigations have been made in the light of delays in answering his Department's Parliamentary Questions; and if he will make a statement. (100899)

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has recognised that the Department's performance in answering parliamentary questions in the first session of Parliament was not acceptable. My right hon. Friend has instructed both the Permanent Secretary and I to investigate the current delivery mechanisms. Specifically, he has identified the Department's obligations to Parliament as one of the key performance measures that should result from his plan to reform the Home Office. This work remains ongoing although I am pleased to reassure you that performance over the last four months did improve considerably. Specific procedures which have been tightened include:

The future provision of monthly reports to the Leader of the House on performance.

The earlier identification at director level of those parliamentary questions which are overdue.

In addition, I hold weekly meetings to address all parliamentary issues including PQ's.

Treasury

Corporation Tax

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to introduce regional variation to corporation tax rates within the UK. (100628)

HM Revenue and Customs

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many interceptions were made by HM Revenue and Customs on uncanalised yacht and pleasure craft traffic entering (a) the UK and (b) south coast waters in each of the last five years. (100792)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many customs officers in (a) the South Region and (b) the UK have been redeployed from static border detection work to mobile teams since 2002. (100788)

All HM Revenue and Customs Detection staff are currently deployed on a flexible, mobile and intelligence led basis to address the highest risk.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total quantity of drugs seized by HM Revenue and Customs was in each of the last five years, broken down by type of drug. (100789)

Information on drugs seizures made by HM Revenue and Customs is contained in the annual reports for HM Customs and Excise and HM Revenue and Customs. The figures for the year ending 31 March 2006 will be published in the next annual report.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what performance indicators HM Revenue and Customs uses to measure the impact of its policies to reduce the supply of class A drugs to the UK. (100790)

HM Revenue and Customs has responsibility for the interception of prohibited and restricted goods, including class A drugs, at the UK frontier. HM Revenue and Customs’ performance indicators for the interception of class A drugs at the UK frontier are set out in the Department’s ‘Public Service Agreement (PSA) 2005-06 to 2007-08’. Details may be found in the Technical Note to the PSA on the HMRC website at:

www.hmrc.gov.uk/psa/tn05-08.htm.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) drug, (b) firearm and (c) prohibited alcohol seizures were carried out by customs officers in (i) the UK and (ii) the south region in each of the last five years. (100793)

The number of drugs and firearms seizures can be found in the annual reports of HM Revenue and Customs, and HM Customs and Excise.

The number of seizures of alcohol in the UK for each of the last five years is as follows:

Number

2005-06

2,864

2004-05

4,589

2003-04

6,081

2002-03

5,596

2001-02

9,415

Information by location cannot be disclosed as this would provide information of value to those seeking to circumvent HM Revenue and Customs’ controls, thereby prejudicing the prevention and detection of crime.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) cigarette and (b) other tobacco seizures there were in (i) the UK and (ii) the south region in each of the last five years. (100795)

The number of seizures of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the UK for each of the last five years is as follows:

Cigarettes

Other tobacco products

2005-06

68,581

19,955

2004-05

60,772

16,668

2003-04

58,150

21,829

2002-03

66,198

24,808

2001-02

67,432

36,764

Information by location cannot be disclosed as this would provide information of value to those seeking to circumvent HM Revenue and Customs’ controls, thereby prejudicing the prevention and detection of crime.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer where customs officers normally based in the Port of Poole are currently working. (100797)

Numbers of HMRC staff deployed at ports and airports will change continually in line with intelligence and risk assessments and there is not a routine daily deployment of staff.

The deployment of customs officers cannot be disclosed as this would provide information of value to those seeking to circumvent HM Revenue and Customs’ controls, thereby prejudicing the prevention of crime.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many customs officers have been based in the Port of Poole in each of the last five years; and how many are currently based there. (100799)

The deployment of customs officers cannot be disclosed as this would provide information of value to those seeking to circumvent HM Revenue and Customs’ controls, thereby prejudicing the prevention of crime.

EU Benefit Claimants

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many workers from the new member states of the EU are claiming benefit in the UK for families living in their home countries. (100883)

A quarterly report, last produced on 22 August 2006 by the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and Department for Communities and Local Government is published on the Home Office immigration and nationality directorate’s website, http://www.ind.home office.gov.uk/aboutus/reports/accession_monitoring_ report, and provides detailed information including the number of workers from the new member states of the EU who are claiming child benefit.

First Aid

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on first aid trainers of recent changes in employment practice of training companies relating to the tax status of freelance trainers. (101016)

For the purposes of tax, there has been no recent change to the employment status of first aid trainers. There is no statutory definition of employment and self-employment for tax. A worker's status is determined by the terms and conditions under which they are engaged.

Gift Aid

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much was reclaimed from the Inland Revenue through gift aid in (a) Scotland and (b) the UK in the most recent period for which figures are available; (101202)

(2) how much his Department estimated would be claimed from the Inland Revenue each year by charities through gift aid at the time of its inception.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) do not separately identify Gift Aid claims by countries of the UK.

Amounts of tax repaid to charities in the UK on donations under Gift Aid are published on the HMRC website at:

www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/charities/menu.htm.

Provisional figures for 2005-06 show total repayments to charities under Gift Aid of £728 million.

Gift Aid was introduced in October 1990. It was estimated at the time that the cost of the relief for individual donations would be less than £3 million.

However, the Gift Aid scheme has changed radically since its inception in 1990 and the scheme's scope has broadened hugely. The most significant changes occurred in 2000 when a £250 minimum limit on Gift Aid donations was abolished (allowing tax relief on any donation, large or small, regular or one-off) and donations under Deeds of Covenant were brought within the regime.

Insurance Policies

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what measures are in place to ensure that insurance policies sold in a sealed pack off-the-shelf display terms, conditions and exclusions on the outside of the pack; (100727)

(2) whether he has received representations on the insurance policies provided in off-the-shelf packages on the high street.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is responsible for the regulation of the sales of insurance policies.

The FSA makes no distinction in its regulatory treatment of the sale of sealed pack, off-the-shelf, insurance policies and other forms of non-advised sales. Off-the-shelf insurance policies are typically bought in a high-street store, such as a supermarket, with the contract normally concluded by a subsequent telephone conversation or by completing an application form and returning it by post.

For all products that they regulate, the FSA applies the principle that firms should treat their customers fairly and provide them with clear information. Firms are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that customers do not buy policies under which they are ineligible to claim benefits.

Firms are also required to give customers a policy summary, in addition to the full policy information, to provide key information in a clear and easily digestible form. The summary must set out the significant features and benefits of the insurance and significant or unusual exclusions, so that customers can check that the insurance is appropriate for their needs.

FSA rules also require that for non-investment insurance contracts firms offer retail customers a minimum cancellation period of 14 days for general insurance contracts and 30 days for pure protection contracts.

HM Treasury and the FSA have received a small number of representations on the subject of non-advised insurance sales.

Ministerial Meeting

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer what (a) matters were discussed and (b) decisions were taken at the meeting with his international business advisers on 17 November; and if he will make a statement. (100604)

On 17 November the International Business Advisory Council discussed how business and Government can work together to make the case for globalisation and increase the benefits globalisation can bring, including to Britain.

Morbidity Rates

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the causes of death for (a) women and (b) men living in Hartlepool constituency were in each of the last 10 years. (100740)

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

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 20 November 2006:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question asking what were the causes of death for (a) women and (b) men living in Hartlepool constituency in each year in the last 10 years. I am replying in her absence. (100740)

The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

National Insurance Contributions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what purpose the funds raised from National Insurance contributions are put; and if he will make a statement. (100502)

Funds raised from the payment of National Insurance Contributions are used to pay contributory benefits and to help to fund the NHS.

Pre-Budget Report

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will present his next pre-Budget report; and if he will make a statement. (101284)

On 6 December, as the Chancellor announced in his written ministerial statement on 16 November 2006, Official Report, column 1WS.

Premium Bonds

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average length of time was that a premium bond had been held on winning a prize of £5,000 or more in each of the last 10 years. (100476)

For those premium bonds where the purchase date is known, the average lengths of time that a Premium Bond had been held on winning a prize of £5,000 or more in each of the last 10 years is set out in the following table:

Average age of Premium Bond on winning £5,000 or more (years)

December 2005 to November 2006

3.7

As at December each year:

2004-05

3.7

2003-04

3.4

2002-03

3.7

2001-02

3.5

2000-01

3.4

1999-2000

3.2

1998-99

2.9

1997-98

2.9

1996-97

2.7

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) longest, (b) shortest and (c) average length of time was that a premium bond had been held on winning a prize of £100,000 or more in each of the last 10 years. (100477)

For those premium bonds where the purchase date is known, the longest, shortest and average period of time that a Premium Bond had been held on winning a prize of £100,000 or more in each of the last 10 years is set out in the following table:

in yearsin months

As at December to November:

(a) longest

(c) average

(b) shortest

2005-06

21

3.6

1

2004-05

18

2.6

1

2003-04

12

3.1

1

2002-03

21

3.6

1

2001-02

15

3.4

1

2000-01

30

2.9

1

1999-2000

16

3.2

2

1998-99

17

2.4

4

1997-98

16

3.2

2

1996-97

17

3.7

2

Random Inquiry Programme

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which month in 2007 his Department will publish information on the random enquiry programme for 2004-05. (101237)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 2 November 2006, Official Report, column 585W.

Small Breweries Relief

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from businesses on the market effects of the small breweries relief; and if he will make a statement. (100530)

The Chancellor receives a large number of representations on a wide range of subjects. He takes all of these into account when taking decisions at Budget.

Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what tax credit verification checks are in operation. (101236)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 1042W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the tax credit e-portal will be re-opened in 2006; and if he will make a statement. (101308)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 2 November 2006, Official Report, column 585W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many payments were made for tax credit maladministration (a) as a result of decisions of HM Revenue and Customs, (b) after a ruling from the Parliamentary Ombudsman and (c) after a ruling from the adjudicator in each month from April 2003 to October 2006; what the total cost was of each category of payments; and if he will make a statement. (101309)

Travel Insurance

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to expand the Financial Service's Authority's remit to regulate the sale of travel insurance. (100726)

As announced on 4 August 2006, the Treasury is currently conducting a review into whether sales of travel insurance sold along with a holiday and related travel should be subject to regulation by the Financial Services Authority. A formal call for evidence will be published shortly. Following the review, a decision on the Government's preferred approach will be made in first quarter of 2007.

VAT Fraud

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many people were sentenced for VAT missing trader intra-community fraud in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement; (100981)

(2) what the average sentence was for those convicted of VAT missing trader intra-community fraud in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(3) how many VAT missing trader intra-community suspect registrations were refused in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what the value was of VAT missing trader intra-community fraud repayments disallowed to exporters in carousel fraud supply chains in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(5) how many reported VAT missing trader intra-community fraud cases there were in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(6) what the value was of VAT missing trader intra-community fraud in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(7) what the value was of VAT missing trader intra-community fraud assets recovered in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(8) what the value was of VAT involved in criminal VAT fraud cases (a) reported and (b) prosecuted in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(9) what the value was of VAT subject to injunctions relating to missing trader fraud in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(10) how many pre-registration visits were carried out as part of the missing trader strategy in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(11) how many prosecutions were completed for VAT missing trader intra-community fraud in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement;

(12) how many VAT fraud cases were reported for criminal prosecution in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave him on 7 November 2006, Official Report, columns 1045-51W.

Health

Branded Generic Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when the 2005 consultation on the reimbursement of branded generic drugs is expected to be published; (101667)

(2) what assessment her Department has made of the beneficial effect on National Health Service finances of introducing the proposals for the reimbursement of generic medicine proposed in its recent consultation paper.

Responses to the proposals in this consultation raised a number of complex issues which could not be easily resolved. A decision has therefore been taken to defer any final conclusion until the Department receives the Office of Fair Trading report on the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) which is expected in the first quarter of 2007.

The Department will not be able to determine what savings may be made by the national health service until such time as the these issues have been resolved.

NHS Trusts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the maximum amount each NHS trust may spend on marketing their services to general practitioners under patient choice and payment by results is; and what definition of marketing she uses; (100763)

(2) what the maximum amount each NHS trust may spend on marketing their services to patients and members of the public under patient choice and payment by results is;

(3) how much each NHS trust has budgeted for marketing their services to (a) patients and (b) general practitioners under patient choice and payment by results.

Information on NHS trust budgets for marketing is not held centrally.

In the “Operating Framework for 2006-07” the Department set out its expectation that providers would not want to spend excessively, on advertising and marketing and its preference for a self-regulatory approach. The Department will launch a “Code of Practice for Advertising and Promotion of National Health Services” for consultation shortly.

NICE

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will permit the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to negotiate on price with pharmaceutical companies the indicative prices they are given for the purposes of assessing the cost-effectiveness of treatments being subjected to a technology appraisal. (101686)

The Department has no plans to give the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence a role in drug price negotiation. The Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) is the means by which the Government seek to achieve a balance between reasonable prices for the national health service and a fair return for the pharmaceutical industry.

Prescription Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether Asthma UK will be consulted during her review of prescription charges; (101329)

(2) what plans she has to consult with patient groups about prescription charges.

We have already been approached by Asthma UK and some other organisations that wish to make representations as part of the review of prescription charges. We would welcome comments on possible options for changing the current prescription charge arrangements that are cost-neutral for the national health service from all organisations that wish to make representations.

Respiratory Conditions

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much she spent on research into (a) respiratory conditions and (b) asthma in each of the last five years. (101330)

The main agency through which the Government support biomedical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Innovation. MRC expenditure since 2001-02 on respiratory disorders, and the element of that portfolio related to asthma, has been:

£ million

Respiratory disease, including asthma

Asthma

2001-02

11.4

3

2002-03

13.2

2.8

2003-04

12.1

2.8

2004-05

10.3

2.6

2005-06

1

1

1 Not yet available

The main part of the Department's total expenditure on health research is devolved to and managed by national health service (NHS) organisations. The Department additionally funds research to support policy and to provide the evidence needed to underpin quality improvement and service development in the NHS. Total reported expenditure by research active NHS organisations, and expenditure by the Department's national research programmes on the disease areas in question, is shown in the table.

£ million

Respiratory disease, including asthma1, 2

Asthma3

2001-02

n/a

0.6

2002-03

24.5

0.6

2003-04

30.7

0.8

2004-05

31.2

0.7

2005-06

32.0

0.4

n/a = Not available.

1 Expenditure data were not collected centrally from NHS research active organisations prior to 2002.

2 The national research programme activity in this area includes a research initiative on air pollution. Part of the focus of this initiative was to investigate the impact of air pollutants on lung function and another part on studies of the effect of living near roads on respiratory symptoms; others are in part relevant to improving our understanding of the factors that cause or exacerbate asthma. It is not possible separately to identify the asthma related costs included in the latter.

3 Research active NHS organisations' annual research and development reports identify expenditure in some 16 national priority areas, including respiratory disease. Those reports do not include separate details of expenditure on asthma research. The figures shown here relate only to expenditure by the Department's national R and D programmes.

Welfare Food Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many families registered on the welfare food scheme have children aged (a) three, (b) two, (c) one and (d) less than one-year-old. (101197)

At present, the token distribution unit is fully committed to the implementation of healthy start across Great Britain from 27 November 2006. As a result, welfare food scheme milk token data cannot be interrogated this week, due to a major system upgrade. It will be available from 27 November 2006.

As at May 2006, there were approximately 550,000 households in Great Britain receiving welfare food scheme milk tokens. This represents on average 700,000 children under the age of five.

Work and Pensions

Jobcentre Plus

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what date he was informed of the business case for the closure of Christchurch Jobcentre Plus; when he expects to respond to it; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the business case. (100807)

No business case for the closure of Christchurch Jobcentre Plus office has been referred to Ministers.

Pension Schemes

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to allow companies to reduce benefits already earned in defined benefit pension schemes. (100812)

The Government have no plans to reduce benefits already earned in defined benefit pension schemes.

The White Paper “Security in retirement: towards a new pensions system” the Government announced a deregulatory review of occupational pensions with the aim of reducing the regulatory burden on those who offer good quality pension schemes. The review will look at a broad range of proposals that have been raised by stakeholders and will need to strike a balance between protecting members’ benefits and encouraging employer provision by lightening regulation.