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Written Answers

Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

Written Answers toQuestions

Wednesday 13 December 2006

Wales

Compensation Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much in compensation payments was paid by his Department in 2005-06; and what the reason for the payment was in each case. (108202)

Departmental Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many of his Department’s (a) computers and(b) laptops were stolen in each of the last nine years; and what the total value was of stolen computers and laptops in this period. (109219)

Legal Advice

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much has been spent by the Office on external legal advice in each of the past five years. (109094)

The Wales Office has spent the following amounts on external legal advice, all of which has come from the Treasury Solicitor.

Amount (£)

2001-02

5,509.50

2002-03

4,765.00

2003-04

909.00

2004-05

7,103.19

2005-06

2,140.40

Leglislative Programme: Annual Statement

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will assess the merits of making an annual statement on the implications of the Government’s legislative programme for matters that fall within the enhanced legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales. [109228]

Yes. The Government of Wales Act 2006 will enhance the legislative competence of the National Assembly, giving the new Assembly the power to pass its own laws for the first time from May next year. I intend in future therefore to make an annual statement making clear the implications of the Government’s legislative programme for matters that fall within that legislative competence.

Retirement Age

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales, pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, columns 189-90W from the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-East (Mr. McFadden) to the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Marsden) on the retirement age, what his Department’s policy is for the setting of retirement ages for staff below the senior civil service under the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992. (108010)

Staff serving in the Wales Office are either on loan from the Welsh Assembly Government or employed by the Department for Constitutional Affairs. Their individual retirement age is agreed with their home Departments rather than by the Wales Office. The Wales Office sets no standard retirement age and has a number of staff who have opted to work beyond normal retirement age.

Church Commissioners

Cathedrals

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Sir Stuart Bell), representing the Church Commissioners, if he will make representations to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills to ensure that the history and heritage of England's cathedrals is taught in schools. (105530)

Contact between schools and English cathedrals is extensive. Each year, cathedrals host a large number of school visits, which support a wide range of curricular activities. Such visits usually combine a focus on the history of the cathedral and the region with the development of the children's awareness of the building's key purpose—Christian worship and the celebration of the Christian faith.

I am happy to remind the Secretary of State of this positive existing practice and to request his support in encouraging schools to take full advantage of the opportunities offered.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

British Waterways

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect of recent reductions in British Waterways’s budget on (a) canal maintenance and (b) the number of people employed by British Waterways. (108271)

This is an operational matter for British Waterways. Major engineering works to the value of £5.6 million have been deferred this year. It is for the Board of British Waterways to decide on its future projects and maintenance programme, together with the staffing levels required to support its operations.

Coastal Access

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding his Department provides (a) to the highway authorities to maintain rights of way and (b) for maintenance of coastal access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000; and if he will make a statement. (108875)

Funding for local highway authorities to maintain public rights of way is through the Environment Protection and Cultural Services block of the Revenue Support Grant. The EPCS block provides for a wide range of services. Provision for rights of way is not separately identified within the total.

The right of access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 was implemented throughout England in October 2005 for land mapped as open country and registered common land; some of this is located near the coast. The Department does not fund highway authorities in respect of their powers, for example, to make byelaws or to appoint wardens under the Act.

We are already looking at a number of ways to improve access to the English coast. I have asked Natural England to come forward with advice and recommendations on coastal access by the end of February 2007. This advice will help to inform a planned public consultation exercise.

GM Crops

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the evidential basis was for determining that the Government’s target for GM cross-pollination should be 0.3 per cent.; and whether alternative targets were considered. (105532)

The general aim for coexistence is to minimise unwanted genetically modified (GM) presence in non-GM crops as far as possible, while recognising that it is impractical to rule out all GM transfer. This is recognised by the agreed EU threshold for labelling GM presence of 0.9 per cent. In the context of this threshold, coexistence measures have to allow for all the potential sources of GM presence, including crop-to-crop cross-pollination.

These considerations underpin our proposed crop separation distances that aim to limit cross-pollination to a maximum of 0.3 per cent. In practice, any cross-pollination would generally be less than 0.3 per cent. as crops would normally be more than the specified distance apart.

Marine Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to improve scientific understanding of the effect of marine climate change; what research he has commissioned in this area; and if he will make a statement. (105081)

To improve scientific understanding, we have led the development of the Marine Climate Change Impact Partnership (MCCIP) to provide a UK-wide co-ordinating framework for the transfer of high-quality marine climate change impact evidence to policy advisors and decision-makers. The MCCIP will act as a focal point to investigate, inform, advise and encourage action, in order to adapt to the challenges and opportunities presented by the impacts of climate change in the marine environment.

The first MCCIP Annual Report Card (ARC) was launched in November. The ARC highlights the range of potential impacts in our seas. Many of these, and the connections between them, are poorly understood. We will use the ARC to help focus future research efforts of all MCCIP partners. Copies are available on the MCCIP website at http://www.mccip.org.uk and have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

DEFRA is also funding a project to look at the ‘connections’ that occur within a marine ecosystem. This project will make predictions of the effect of climate variability on the complex ecosystem connections and the consequences for the health of the sea.

Additionally, DEFRA funds the Marine Environmental Change Network (MECN) which co-ordinates and supports those collecting long-term time series information for marine waters. Long-term data series are important in understanding how much of the change we have seen in the marine environment is due to climate variability, other human pressures or natural fluctuations. One of these time series is the Continuous Plankton Recorder, run by the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (www.sahfos.org), which has collected plankton in the Atlantic, North Sea and Eastern Pacific since 1931.

DEFRA and the Department for Trade and Industry are funding research on the impact of increasing carbon dioxide on the marine environment and the consequent ocean acidification. At present, we have little evidence of changes that have occurred, or are occurring, in UK waters. Therefore, we intend to develop a pilot marine monitoring programme for measuring carbon dioxide in our shelf seas as well as taking further ecosystem-based measurements in conjunction with the Natural Environment Research Council under their Oceans 2025 initiative.

Pesticides

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of health risks associated with pesticides in drawing up the National Pesticides Strategy. (106814)

The UK Pesticides Strategy published in March 2006 was directed at the sustainable use of plant protection products and their impact on the environment. We did not at that stage include human health issues within the strategy since we were considering the report by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) on ‘Crop Spraying and the Health of Residents and Bystanders’.

We indicated, however, that we would consider extending the strategy to cover human health issues and we will be consulting on a revised draft strategy embracing both human health and environmental protection early in the new year.

Rural Payments Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations his Department has received on farmers (a) becoming bankrupt and (b) being threatened with legal action by creditors related to delayed awards of rural payments. (101379)

The Rural Payments Agency has received representations from a number of 2005 Single Payment Scheme claimants about delays in making payments. Where cases of financial difficulty have been raised, the Agency has taken additional action where possible to expedite payment.

Timber

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will meet representatives from the wood panel industry to discuss forecasts of softwood availability. (107520)

[holding answer 11 December 2006]: The forecasts of softwood availability are prepared and published by the Forestry Commission with assistance from the Forest Service, Northern Ireland. I have no plans to meet representatives of the wood panel industry. Any questions about the forecast should be addressed to the Forestry Commission.

Transport

British Transport Police

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many British Transport Police officers have been (a) physically and (b) verbally assaulted in each of the last 10 years; (108907)

(2) what the average response time was for British Transport Police officers to attend railway stations without a permanent police presence in each of the last 10 years;

(3) how many (a) guns and (b) knives have been confiscated by British Transport Police in each of the last 10 years;

(4) how many British Transport Police officers there were in each of the last 15 years.

This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police, who can be contacted at:

British Transport Police

25 Camden Road

London

NW1 9LN

E-mail:general.enquiries@btp.pnn.police.uk.

Community Railways Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many community rail line designations have been made. (108925)

12 lines have been designated. Additionally, three community rail services have also been designated.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff were employed through employment agencies in (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies in each of the last five years for which information is available; and what the (i) average and (ii) longest time was for which these temporary workers were employed in each year. (102950)

The following tables provide details of responses to the request for information.

2001-02

Agency

Number of temp agency staff

Average time

Longest time

DfT(C)

No information available

DVLA

No information available

GCDA

4

3 months

6 months

MCA

No information available

VOSA

No information available1

VGA

2

2

2

DSA

3

3

3

HA

No information available

2002-03

Agency

Number of temp agency staff

Average time

Longest time

Dft(C)

No information available

DVLA

No information available

GDCA

2

4 months

6 months

MCA

No information available

VOSA

No information available1

VCA

2

2

2

DSA

3

3

3

HA

257

No information available

2003-04

Agency

Number of temp agency staff

Average time

Longest time

DfT(C)

No information available

DVLA

No information available

GCDA

1

6 months

6 months

MCA

No information available

VOSA

No information available1

VCA

2

2

2

DSA

3

3

3

HA

224

No information available

2004-05

Agency

Number of temp agency staff

Average time

Longest time

DfT(C)

No information available

DVLA

18

1,127 days

937 days

GCDA

8

6.5 months

12 months

MCA

No information available

VOSA

No information available1

VCA

2

2

2

DSA

3

3

3

HA

178

No information available

2005-06

Agency

Number of temp agency staff

Average time

Longest time

DfT(C)

86

12.5 weeks

81 weeks

DVLA

18

1,175 days

897 days

GCDA

12

8 months

12 months

MCA

No information available

VOSA

No information available1

VCA

2

2

2

DSA

3

3

3

HA

164

No information available

1 Annual report provides a combined figure for agency/consultancy support

2 4 agency staff within last five years with the average time being three months and the longest time 12 months.

3 Only information available: 98 staff as at 31 October 2006 (longest time 351 days and average time 123 days) 56 staff as at 31 December2006 (longest time 369 days and average time 244 days

East Coast Railway Line

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how his Department estimates for planning purposes the number of passengers using the East Coast main line GNER services. (108902)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many seats there are in a GNER Mallard standard class carriage. (108903)

The seating capacity in a GNER Mallard standard coach is as follows:

Coaches B, C, D, E, have 76 seats

Coach G has 70 seats (including four tip-up seats)

Coach H has 30 seats (this coach includes the buffet and kitchen)

East London Line

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect on the Network Rail services into London Bridge of the extension of the East London Line in 2010. (108432)

The Department has worked closely with the East London Line (ELL) project team and with Network Rail to ensure that it will be possible to deliver satisfactory levels of service from south London to both London Bridge and ELL destinations when ELL commences operations.

The direct journey opportunities offered by the extended ELL services are expected to enable significant numbers of passengers to avoid the need to travel from south to east London via London Bridge, thus easing congestion at that busy station.

Fareham-Gosport-Portsmouth Light Rapid Transit Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what tests were applied in judging the viability of the Fareham-Gosport-Portsmouth Light Rapid Transit scheme; and by what measures the scheme fell short of each such test. (105541)

This scheme was appraised in accordance with our published guidance on appraising public transport schemes. Value for money is one of a range of factors Ministers consider when taking decisions. Funding approval was subsequently revoked in July 2004 because costs had escalated considerably.

Foreign Lorry Drivers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many foreign lorry drivers have been involved in an accident on British roads in the last12 months; how many were taken to court; and how many failed to turn up for the trial. (107002)

Kent Rail Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received on fare increases on the Kent Integrated Franchise for 2007. (108563)

A number of letters have been received from members of the public about fares changes on Southeastern.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect of the condition of the track on the performance of the North Kent rail services on 7 December; and if he will make a statement. (108811)

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

John Armitt

Chief Executive

Network Rail

40 Melton Street

London NW1 2EE

Low Carbon Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) local and (b) national targets have been set by his Department for the uptake of low carbon vehicles in the public and private sectors since 1997; and what progress against each target has been made. (108661)

[holding answer 12 December 2006]: DfT has not set local targets for uptake of low carbon vehicles.

The Powering Future Vehicles Strategy set national targets of 10 per cent. of all new car sales to be cars emitting 100g/km of CO2 or less at the tailpipe by 2012 and 600 or more buses coming into operation per year to be low carbon, defined as 30 per cent. below current average carbon emissions, by 2012. These targets are currently under review.

The European voluntary agreements on new car fuel efficiency require European, Japanese and Korean car manufacturers to reduce average new car CO2 emissions by some 25 per cent. from 1995 levels by 2008-09. In 2004 (the latest year for which EU-level data is available), average CO2 emissions from new cars sold in the EU were down by more than 12 per cent.

Official Cars

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) Government pool cars and (b) cars run by his Department were manufactured(i) in the UK and (ii) abroad. (104810)

Information on cars operated by the Government Car and Despatch Agency, an agency of the Department for Transport, is available on page 14 of its annual report and accounts 2005-06, copies of which are available in the Library for the reference of Members.

Aside from the GCDA fleet, the Department and its other agencies have 843 cars. Of these, 134 were manufactured in the UK and 709 were manufactured abroad.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what sanctions are available against (a) special advisers, (b) ministers and (c) other civil servants if special advisers make use of official cars or taxis in circumstances which are not permitted; (107893)

(2) in what circumstances special advisers may use an official car or taxi;

(3) on how many occasions since 1997 his Department has taken action against (a) special advisers, (b) Ministers and (c) other civil servants for permitting special advisers to use official cars or taxis in circumstances that are not within his Department's guidelines; and if he will make a statement.

Guidance on the use and provision of Government cars is set out in the Ministerial Code and ‘Travel by Ministers’. Guidance on the use and provision of official cars and taxis by civil servants, including special advisers, is set out in the civil service management code and departmental staff handbooks. It is for individual Ministers and their Departments to account for the use of official cars and taxis.

Oyster Card

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 6 December 2006, Official Report, column 412W, on fares technology, whether he expects smart card schemes outside London to be compatible with the Transport for London Oyster card. (108927)

The current Oyster card is not currently compatible with interoperable smartcard schemes using the ITSO standard being introduced elsewhere.

Research undertaken by the Department for Transport has demonstrated that it is possible for the Oyster card to be modified so that it can be used for ITSO standard ticketing. Decisions on the future of the Oyster card are for the Mayor of London.

As announced jointly with the Mayor of London on 10 May 2006, Transport for London has agreed to work with the Department to ensure that all Oyster equipment in London is capable of accepting ITSO smartcards.

Rail Overcrowding

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the five most overcrowded train services were outside London in the last 12 months. (108904)

Passengers in Excess of Capacity (PIXC) only applies to weekday commuter trains arriving in London between 07:00 and 09:59 and those departing between 16:00 and 18:59.

The PIXC measure does not apply to other cities in the UK and so the information requested can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Railway Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many passengers have been removed from trains for threatening staff or other passengers in each of the last ten years; (108923)

(2) how many passengers have been removed from trains for being drunk in each of the last ten years.

This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police, who can be contacted at:

British Transport Police

25 Camden Road

London NW1 9LN

E-mail: general.enquiries@btp.pnn.police.uk.

Railway Track

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of railway track have been replaced in each of the last ten years. (108922)

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

John Armitt

Chief Executive

Network Rail

40 Melton Street

London NW1 2EE

Railways Franchises

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) franchise premiums are due to his Department and (b) subsidies are payable to each rail franchise for each of the next 10 years or the remainder of the franchise. (108967)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 6 November 2006, Official Report, columns 683-84W.

Road Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road accidents involving one or more hit-and-run (a) drivers and (b) riders there were in each police force area in each year from 1997 to 2004; and how many (i) fatalities, (ii) serious injuries and (iii) other injuries resulted from those accidents. (104409)

Tables showing personal injury road accidents reported to the police involving one or more hit-and-run (a) drivers and (b) riders in each police force area in each year from 1997 to 2004; and the resulting (i) fatalities, (ii) serious injuries and (iii) slight injuries, have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues in the Home Office on the provision of face-to-face support for road crash victims. (108718)

I have had a number of discussions recently with ministerial colleagues in the Home Office on matters of road safety and the role of the police in enforcing traffic law in support of road safety. We have not specifically discussed the support for road accident victims and their families.

South West Trains

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the estimated premium payment to the Exchequer is by South West Trains over the life of its franchise. (108699)

Stagecoach is contracted to pay a net premium of £1.577 billion over the life of the South West franchise in 2006-07 prices to the Department for Transport. This equates to a net present value of £1.191 billion. The annual profile of these figures is available on the DfT website.

Waterloo to Reading Railway Line

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his plans are for future capacity on the Waterloo to Reading railway line. (108698)

Stagecoach, the successful bidder for the South Western franchise, has committed to increasing capacity in the new franchise. Details of the allocation of the capacity increases are still to be finalised, but Stagecoach will announce its proposals in due course. However, it is recognised that the Windsor lines are crowded at peak times and that will need to be addressed.

Constitutional Affairs

Boundary Commission

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs who the members are of the Boundary Commission for England; what qualifications are required for appointment to the Commission; and what criteria are used to appoint members. (108431)

The Chairman of the Boundary Commission is the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Deputy Chairman is the Honourable Mr. Justice Sullivan, and the two other Boundary Commissioners are Michael Lewer, CBE, QC, and Robin Gray.

The position of Chairman of the Boundary Commission is ex officio for the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Deputy Chairman must be a High Court judge. There are no specific qualifications required for the other Boundary Commissioner positions.

There are no statutory criteria for appointments to the Boundary Commission for England. Prospective appointees will generally be expected to provide evidence of an ability to: understand and apply legislation; give objective consideration to sometimes lengthy representations, many of which will express conflicting views; and deliver recommendations supported by sound reasoning.

Departmental Entertaining

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to the answer of27 November 2006, Official Report, column 343W, on the Lord Chancellor (functions), how many functions the Lord Chancellor has held at his official residence in Admiralty House since taking up residence; and at how many of those functions staff from her Department assisted. (108476)

Since taking up residence on11 October 2006, there have been seven functions. Staff from the Department assisted at four of them.

Family Courts

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether it is her Department’s policy not to consider any proposals for reform of family courts which contravene the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. (108695)

The Government are committed to implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in all of its policies. The UN Convention and the principles it enshrines have been and continue to be taken into account when formulating policy.

Gershon Review

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what efficiency savings have been made in her Department and agencies as a result of the Gershon review; and if she will make a statement. (108360)

The latest figures are contained within my Department’s autumn performance report and consist of £204.9 million of financial savings, 581 full-time equivalent staff reductions and 85 relocated posts.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much has been spent by her Department and its associated public bodies in order to achieve Gershon efficiency savings; whether these costs have been taken account of in reporting of headline efficiency savings; and if she will make a statement. (108361)

We do not hold this information centrally and it could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Sir Peter Gershon’s independent report into public sector efficiency did not require that efficiencies be recorded net of up-front investment costs and the Department for Constitutional Affairs has followed this advice.

Litigants in Person

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 29 November 2006, Official Report, column 764W, on litigants in person, what reasons the Civil Procedure Rule Committee gave for keeping the rate at which litigants in person can claim costs at its 1995 level. (108808)

Magistrates

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what her plans are to increase diversity of membership among the magistracy in Lancashire. (108557)

Magistrates are recruited and selected by local Advisory Committees who follow the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor’s directions when making recommendations for appointment to the magistracy. This provides guidance that each local justice area should broadly reflect the community it serves. The Lancashire Advisory Committee will be meeting early in 2007 to consider what is required to improve the diversity of the magistracy in Lancashire. This will include reaching out to different parts of the community by, for example, arranging presentations for local community groups and articles in the local press.

Ministerial Residence

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which Government Department is paying the council tax bill on the Lord Chancellor’s ministerial residence in Admiralty House. (108480)

Small Claims Court

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether her Department expects to publish details of her consultation on the small claims court process by the end of December 2006; and what the consultation period will be. (105423)

The consultation paper will be published by the end of January 2007. The intention had been to publish by the end of this year but publication of the paper has been delayed to allow the Government to give proper consideration to recommendation 54 of the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, which was published on 6 December. The consultation period will be 12 weeks.

Special Advisers

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many of her Department's civil servants work full-time to support all departmental special advisers; and what the salary is of each such civil servant. (106514)

Support to special advisers is provided in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

Trade and Industry

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff were employed on a consultancy basis in (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies in each of the last five years for which information is available; and what the (i) average and (ii) longest period was for which a consultant was employed in each year. (102973)

The Department has engaged the following number of individuals to provide consultancy services as defined by the Office of Government Commerce:

Financial Year

Number

2003-04 (from September 03)

7

2004-05

60

2005-06

72

2006-07 (to date)

35

The Department does not have information on the number of individuals working on contracts entered with consultancy firms.

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

I have asked the Chief Executives of the Executive Agencies to respond directly to the hon. Member.

Letter from Tim Moss, dated 13 December 2007:

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has asked me to reply on behalf of Companies House to your question regarding how many staff were employed on a consultancy basis in (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies in each of the last five years for which information is available; and what the (i) average and (ii) longest period was for which a consultant was employed in each year.

The following table provides detail from the financial data available on consultants employed by Companies House over the last 5 years.

Average time (days)

Financial year

Number

Estimate

Longest period

2006-07

9 sets of consultancy

170

40 days

2005-06

23 sets of consultancy

253

60 days

2004-05

22 sets of consultancy

241

40 days

2003-04

15 sets of consultancy

125

35 days

2002-03

7 sets of consultancy

2,594

150 days

Letter from Iain MacGregor, dated 13 December 2007:

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has asked me to reply on behalf of the National Weights and Measures Laboratory (NWML) to your question regarding how many staff were employed on a consultancy basis in (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies in each of the last five years for which information is available; and what the (i) average and (ii) longest time was for which a consultant was employed in each year.

NWML employed staff on consultancy basis in each of the last five years as follows:

Number

Longest days

Average days

2002

Not available

2003

Not available

2004

2 consultants

1.5

1.25

2005

3 consultants

2

1.5

2006

2 consultants

9.5

6

Letter from Ron Marchant, dated 13 December 2007:

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what the Department’s annual budget is for employing workers on a consultancy basis; and how much of this budget has been used in each of the last five years for which records are available.

The Patent Office does not employ staff on a consultancy basis. Some professional service companies have been engaged for short term projects but any individuals are not under our direct control.

Letter from Desmond Flynn, dated 13 December 2007:

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has asked me to reply to you directly on behalf of The Insolvency Service in respect of your question (2006/136), asking how many staff were employed on a consultancy basis in his Department and each of its agencies in each of the last five years for which information is available; and what the average and longest period was for which a consultant was employed in each year.

Individuals and companies are engaged as consultants on ad hoc basis to undertake specific pieces of work. The number and duration of their engagements varies from activity to activity. The information you request is not collected and could only be collected at disproportionate cost.

Energy Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the total amount spent by (a) small and (b) medium-sized businesses on gas and electricity in each of the last three years. (108929)

Data on the amount spent by industry is not collected by sizeband, so we are unable to provide a breakdown for small or medium sized businesses.

The total spend by business on gas and electricity over the past three years has been as follows:

£ million

Gas

Electricity

2003

2,435

6,345

2004

2,770

7,120

2005

3,680

9,845

In 2005, the UK price to industry for electricity was around the EU average price, and for gas the UK price to industry was 9 per cent. below the EU average price.

Fuel Poverty

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people lived in fuel poverty in Beverley and Holderness in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (108463)

Fuel poverty statistics are only available at Government Office region level. Latest available figures are sourced from the 2004 English House Condition Survey and show that in 2004, 163,000 households in Yorkshire and The Humber (7.7 per cent. of all households in Yorkshire and The Humber) were in fuel poverty. This statistic cannot be broken down farther. Figures for fuel poverty in Yorkshire in 2001, 2003 and 2004 are given as follows. Figures for other years are not available.

Number of households poverty in fuel

2001

232,000

2003

180,000

2004

163,000

Gershon Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent by his Department and its associated public bodies in order to achieve Gershon efficiency savings; whether these costs have been included in reporting headline efficiency savings; and if he will make a statement. (108355)

Sir Peter Gershon's independent report into public sector efficiency did not require that efficiencies be recorded net of upfront investment costs and the Department has followed this advice.

Low Carbon Buildings Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the budget required to meet household demand for grants in full under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme in (a) 2006-07, (b) 2007-8 and (c) 2008-09. (108520)

Since the Low Carbon Buildings Programme was launched in April 2006, demand from the household stream has been higher than anticipated. With a limited pot of £28.5 million available under Phase 1, we announced on 25 October 2006 that a further £6.2 million would be allocated to the household stream. Together with this, we have introduced measures to manage the demand going forward, which should make it possible for us to fund the household stream through to June 2008. By this time, some of our wider measures to promote microgeneration should be taking hold, and we believe the sector may have matured to a point where householder grants are no longer necessary.

Micro-renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry why household grants for all micro-renewable energy systems will be ended in 2008. (108518)

We announced on 25 October 2006 that we would be re-allocating £6.2 million of the total £28.5 million funding to the household stream, giving a total pot of £12.7 million. On projected demand levels this should allow householder funding to continue until June 2008. By this time, some of our wider measures to promote microgeneration should be taking hold, and we believe the sector may have matured to a point where householder grants are no longer necessary.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what measures in the Government's micro-generation strategy will provide, from summer 2008, capital support to a householder wishing to install micro-generation equipment equivalent to the current grant levels available under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. (108519)

The aim of the microgeneration strategy is to create conditions where microgeneration becomes a realistic alternative generation source of heat and/or electricity. This will be achieved when costs are reduced and awareness of these technologies is widespread. The low carbon buildings programme is currently helping to reduce the upfront costs of microgeneration installations, and, to complement this, the measures in the strategy are aimed at stimulating widespread demand to help achieve the economies of scale that will lead to costs falling and negate the need for capital grants. Key measures that will help to achieve this include:

Making it easier for microgenerators to access renewable obligation certificates

Working with energy suppliers to ensure that microgenerators receive a fair reward for exported electricity

A robust accreditation scheme (to build trust in the industry)

Local authorities requiring new developments to source a percentage of energy requirements from onsite renewable sources (whilst not in the strategy itself, the Housing Minister made a statement that she expected all local authorities to develop such requirements following work undertaken in relation to the strategy)

The removal of unnecessary controls in the consents regime (which regulates a wide range of developments by householders).

More detail can be found in the microgeneration strategy itself at:

http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/souurces/sustainable/microgeneration/strategy/page27594.html

River Severn

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of the feasibility of power generation projects in the River Severn. (108955)

Between 1978 and 1994 the Government supported a number of studies under their Tidal Energy Research and Development Programme. Those studies included a detailed assessment of a Severn barrage tidal power generation scheme1.

During the course of the recent Energy Review we received a range of views on tidal generation, including representations by the Severn Tidal Power Group2 on their plans for a Severn Barrage, which could provide around 5 per cent. of current UK electricity demand by 2020 and cost in the region of £14 billion. We also received representations from a number of the Environmental Non-Government Organisations, which raised strong concerns regarding such a scheme, in view of the environmental designations that apply to the Severn Estuary.

We are interested in improving our understanding of how to make best use of the potential tidal resource in UK waters. Therefore, together with the Welsh Assembly Government, we are working with the Sustainable Development Commission, the South West Regional Development Agency and other key interested parties to explore the issues arising from the tidal resource in the UK, including the Severn Estuary, including potential costs and benefits of development using a range of tidal technologies and their public acceptability.

The final report of the study is expected to be published in June 2007 and further information can be found at

www.sd-commission.org.uk/pages/tidal.html

1 Energy Paper 57 HMSO 1989 (ISBN 0 11 412952 5)

2 The Severn Tidal Power Group is a joint venture of four large power engineering and construction companies: Alstom, Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine and Taylor Woodrow.

Electoral Commission Committee

Elections: Reviews

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, whether the Electoral Commission has made a decision that the implementation of electoral reviews of districts will take precedence over parish review cases. (108675)

[holding answer 12 December 2006]: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has not made such a decision, and seeks to progress both parish review cases and electoral reviews of districts as quickly as possible.

Electoral Commission: Powers

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what powers the Electoral Commission has (a) to inspect local authorities' electoral registration departments and (b) to set targets for those departments. (108484)

The Electoral Commission has statutory powers to observe the working practices of electoral registration officers, and to seek information from them on expenditure in connection with the performance of their functions. The Commission also has powers to determine and publish performance standards for electoral registration officers in Great Britain, and to prepare and publish assessments of their performance against such standards.

Scotland

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of Statefor Scotland how many (a) marketing officers,(b) communications officers and (c) press officers are employed in his Department; and what the total expenditure on communications for his Department was on (i) Government Information and Communication Service staff and (ii) other (A) press officers, (B) special advisers and (C) staff in the last year for which figures are available. (104359)

The Scotland Office currently has one press officer and there is one vacant post.

The Office does not record expenditure in the form requested; however, the Office spent £29,261 on communications during 2005-06, excluding overhead costs, such as accommodation, utilities and corporate services, which are paid centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the effective date is of the annual pay award for staff in his Office; and what the actual implementation date was in each of the last five years. (108948)

All the staff in the Scotland Office are on secondment from the Scottish Executive or the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) and the Office reimburses these Departments for the sums involved. The Office is not involved in pay negotiations or the implementation of any pay agreement; this is a matter for the parent Departments.

Both Departments’ annual pay awards are effective from 1 August.

Staff on secondment from the Executive have had their pay awards implemented on 1 August in each of the last five years, with the exemption of the August 2005 award, which was delayed due to protractedpay negotiations, and processed and backdated inMay 2006.

At the beginning of 2004, some Scotland Office staff formally transferred to the DCA from the Scottish Executive following the completion of a preference exercise as a consequence of the earlier merging of the Scotland Office into the DCA. These staff became eligible for the DCA’s 2004 pay award which was processed and backdated at the end of November 2004; their 2005 pay award was processed and backdated at the end of March 2006, and their pay award for August 2006 is still under negotiation.

Furniture

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent by his Department on furniture made by British firms in each year since 2000. (105152)

The Scotland Office has generally, but not exclusively, obtained office furniture through central procurement contracts set up by the Scottish Executive. The Office does not separately identify expenditure on furniture, or the source of supply; however, the following table details the amount spent on ‘furniture and fittings’ in each year since 2000, from all sources.

Furniture and fittings

Amount (£)

2000-01

0

2001-02

1,673

2002-03

27,182

2003-04

4,454

2004-05

25,096

2005-06

16,995

2006-07

0

Gender Equality

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to publish his Department's gender equality scheme. (101471)

The Scotland Office is part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, who expect to publish their gender equality scheme by 30 April 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to ensure that private organisations contracted to work in his Department are aware of their duties under gender equality legislation when they are exercising public functions on behalf of public bodies. (101524)

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to ensure that his Department is taking steps to meet the requirements of the forthcoming duty on public bodies (a) to end unlawful discrimination and harassment and (b) to promote equality between women and men. (101565)

The Scotland Office is part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) who will be ensuring better performance on the general gender equality duty which will require public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment and promote equality of opportunity between women and men. The Scotland Office will be working with the DCA on the implications of the Department's gender equality scheme.

Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much energy consumed by his Department is acquired from renewable sources. (106152)

The Scotland Office subscribes to the sustainable development policies adopted by the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given bythe Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, East (Bridget Prentice) on 7 December 2006, Official Report, column 657W.

Leader of the House

Compensation Payments

To ask the Leader of the House how much in compensation payments was paid by the Privy Council Office in 2005-06; and what the reason was for each payment. (108197)

Furniture

To ask the Leader of the House how much was spent by the Privy Council Office on furniture made by British firms in each year since 2000. (105071)

Detailed information on the country of manufacture of furniture purchased is not held by the Privy Council Office.

Queen's Speech

To ask the Leader of the House which items in the Queen’s Speech programme are (a) in part and (b) wholly consequent on proposals made at European Union level. (108091)

The written ministerial statement giving further details of the legislative programme outlinedin the Queen’s Speech, 16 November 2006, Official Report, column 7WS, listed 27 possible Bills. Of these, 19 have been introduced (some with an amended name), namely:

Concessionary Bus Travel

Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress

Further Education and Training

Fraud (Trial without a Jury)

Greater London Authority

Justice and Security (Northern Ireland)

Local Government and Public Involvement in Health

Mental Health

Northern Ireland (St. Andrews Agreement)

Offender Management

Pensions

Statistics and Registration Service

Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement

Welfare Reform

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide

Crossrail

Digital Switchover (Disclosure of Information)

Legal Services

Investment Exchanges and Clearing Houses.

The Government have also introduced the Planning Gain Supplement (Preparations) Bill. None of these Bills is in part or wholly consequent on proposals made at European Union level, though all Bills are prepared having regard generally to the extent to which EU and other international obligations are relevant to the provisions made by the Bill.

Preparation of the remaining planned Bills is ongoing. It is not possible to state how far, if at all, such Bills will be consequent on European Union proposals.

House of Commons Commission

Light Bulbs

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the Commission will take steps to replace standard light bulbs throughout the House of Commons estate with energy saving light bulbs; and if he will commission an estimate of the likely savings in (a) energy cost and (b) energy usage which would result from such a policy. (108235)

Steps are already being taken to replace standard light bulbs where possible throughout the Parliamentary Estate.

Guidelines issued to consultants designing new lighting schemes for large projects require the use of low energy lamps. Smaller projects to replace standard lamps with low energy lamps are completed as new lamp designs become available. For example, low energy lamps have been used on the Christmas trees in New Palace Yard and Westminster Hall.

The likely savings on this project and in general are as follows:

Project

(a) Saving in energy cost

(b) Saving in energy usage (%)

Christmas tree lights project

£3,761 per annum

98

Changing a standard 75 watt lamp with a 15 watt compact fluorescent lamp having the same light output.

0.54 pence per hour at day electricity

80

International Development

Conflict Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of providing development aid to states affected by conflict. (105030)

DFID does not maintain an agreed list of ‘states affected by conflict’. We do have a list of fragile states which we are currently reviewing as countries frequently move in and out of fragility and conflict, and political circumstances in a country can rapidly change. This list will include countries that are generally recognised to be conflict-affected. Detail on DFID’s definition and the list of fragile states can be found in DFID’s policy paper, “Why We Need to Work More Effectively in Fragile States”, page 7 and annex 1, which is available in the House of Commons Library. As part of the Government’s 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR07), DFID is reviewing how to maximise value for money from our spending on fragile states.

Our regular cycle of DFID Country Programme Evaluations (CPEs) includes states affected by conflict. In 2005, we teamed up with four other donors to do a joint evaluation of our work in Afghanistan. For 2007, we are planning CPEs for Nepal and Indonesia. We also do specialist reviews of our work on particular themes related to states affected by conflict: for example a review is currently under way of our support to security and justice sector reform in Africa. We are also planning an evaluation of our work in ‘fragile states’ for 2007-08. Finally, we intend to pilot a ‘conflict audit’ in a number of countries, which will help us review how well we integrate conflict into all our development work.

To maximise the effectiveness of development assistance to states affected by conflict, DFID—with other Government Departments, donor agencies, country partners and civil society—conducts conflict assessments. These help us to better understand the conflict dynamics within a region/country and ensure that at a minimum development assistance does not inadvertently fuel conflict, through, for example, being blind to the distributional impacts of aid. More than this, the assessments feed into our broader country planning processes, helping us to identify where our development assistance can be most effective. In Yemen, for example, our conflict assessment highlighted how poor access to justice and security was a significant conflict risk factor and led us to support the development of an integrated justice sector development programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations he has received about aid provision in states affected by conflict. (105031)

I receive numerous representations in relation to aid provision. Given that DFID does not maintain an agreed list of ‘states affected by conflict’, the only way in which this question could be answered would incur disproportionate costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the proportion of children in states affected by conflict who are able to access primary education. (105063)

The primary source of global data on out-of-school children is the Education for All Global Monitoring Report. The 2007 report was launched on 26 October.

DFID does not maintain an agreed list of ‘states affected by conflict’. We do have a list of ‘fragile states’ which we are currently reviewing, as countries frequently move in and out of fragility and conflict, and political circumstances in a country can rapidly change. This list will include countries that are generally recognised to be conflict-affected. Detail on DFID’s current definition and list of fragile states can be found in DFID’s policy paper, “Why We Need to Work More Effectively in Fragile States”, page 7 and annex 1, which is available in the House of Commons Library.

Using the DFID list of ‘fragile states’, data fromthe 2007 Global Monitoring Report and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates for countries without published data, the percentages of primary-aged children enrolled in primary school in these states is calculated as 69 per cent.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) marketing officers, (b) communications officers and (c) press officers are employed in his Department; and whatthe total expenditure on communications for his Department was on (i) Government Information and Communication Service staff and (ii) other (A) press officers, (B) special advisers and (C) staff in the last year for which figures are available. (104355)

The requested staff figures are in the following table.

Number

Marketing officers

5

Press officers

9

Communication is integral to DFID’s work and many staff in different teams are involved in communication work. It is therefore not possible to break down communications expenditure by types of staff, including special advisers. To disaggregate this information would incur disproportionate costs.

Efavirenz

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the decision by the government of Thailand to issue a compulsory licence for Efavirenz. (105317)

DFID welcomes countries’ efforts to use the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) flexibilities and compulsory licensing in order to improve access to medicines.

In this particular case, Efavirenz patent-holder Merck says that it has not been consulted over licensing and that the Royal Thai Government have not followed the correct procedure. Merck has requested a meeting with the Royal Thai Government in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Ethical Trading Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Ethical Trading Initiative; and if he will make a statement. (104961)

DFID helped establish the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) in 1998 and since that time has provided over £2 million to support its development. The overall goal of our support to ETI is to improve the lives of workers and their families through the application of internationally recognised labour standards throughout global supply chains.

DFID regularly reviews the work we support. An independent review of ETI was undertaken by Ashridge Centre for Business and Society for DFID in 2005. DFID also supported the recently published Impact Assessment commissioned by ETI, which was undertaken independently by the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

The Impact Assessment found that ETI member companies’ codes of conduct covered at least 20,000 suppliers, of which nearly all had been informed of the need to comply with the codes, and almost half (9,000) had been assessed for code compliance. The assessment found that many workers had benefited from the implementation of the ETI Base Code. In most of the supply sites in case studies used in the assessment, there were improvements in relation to health and safety, working hours, wages and child labour. For instance, it was more common for the minimum wage to be paid and for there to be greater provision for state insurance and payments, and there was less employment of children and young workers. The assessment foundless positive impact in relation to freedom of association, discrimination, regular employment and harsh treatment.

DFID is confident that the ETI takes the Impact Assessment seriously and is acting on its recommendations. We recently agreed a five-year Partnership Programme Agreement with ETI in which we have placed specific emphasis on: the need for more poor workers to know about their rights and to be supported by civil society initiatives; increasing the number of businesses taking action to ensure labour laws and standards are implemented; increasing civil society engagement with government to improve legal protection for poor workers; increasing the number of retailers in developed and developing countries that are aware of ethical trade and its benefits; and supporting the private sector to participate with trade unions and NGOs in support of DFID’s objectives.

We believe that in its relatively short life-span the ETI has done much to establish best practice in the credible implementation, monitoring and independent verification of corporate codes of conduct and we look forward to continuing to work with them to this end.

Haiti

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of (a) the humanitarian effects and (b) the likely effects on agricultural production of the recent floods in Haiti; and whether the British Government plans to provide assistance. (108093)

The late November floods in Haiti are reported by the Haitian Red Cross Society to have killed seven people and affected approximately 3,740 families. At least 335 of these families have been evacuated to temporary shelters.

The International Federation of the Red Cross has provided 80,000 Swiss francs for immediate relief and has launched an appeal for US $522,000. The needs are mostly for clean water, basic health care and kitchen, hygiene and sleeping items.

Several non-government organisations (NGOs) and UN agencies are also providing emergency assistance, concentrating on these needs.

The UN considers that the humanitarian needs are being met by existing or pledged assistance.

Agriculture has been damaged, with losses to fruit and vegetable crops and livestock and disruption of transport to markets. According to agencies present in the flooded areas, it is too early to measure the total damage. Some agencies have started distributing seeds and tools and to plan longer-term recovery assistance.

In view of the fact that the Red Cross, UN and NGOs are meeting immediate humanitarian needs, DFID will not be providing emergency assistance. We will continue to monitor the post-flooding needs in Haiti and will keep the possibility of support for longer-term agricultural recovery under review.

HIV and AIDS

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how the $1.5 million pledged to the global fund to fight HIV and AIDS has been spent; and which countries have received financial support from the fund. (104958)

The UK’s commitment to tackle AIDS is set out in ‘Taking Action: The UK’s strategy for tackling HIV and AIDS in the developing world’. This commits the UK to spend £1.5 billion to tackle AIDS between 2005 and 2008. It outlines how the UK will act to strengthen political leadership on AIDS; to improve the global response to AIDS, ensuring international initiatives and multilateral organisations complement national approaches in developing countries; to support better national programmes, including through our bilateral assistance to country responses; and to improve the long-term response, including through support for research into new medicines, preventative technologies and AIDS programmes. An independent, interim evaluation of Taking Action is currently under way, and we look forward to its findings in early 2007.

Support to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria—the Global Fund—is one of the ways we assist efforts to tackle HIV and AIDS. We have committed £359 million to the Global Fund over seven years (2002-08). This includes £100 million for 2006 and a further £100 million for 2007, subject to the Global Fund’s performance. The UK is now the fourth largest donor for the period 2006-07 (after France, the US and Japan) and the second largest in the EU. The UK’s current commitment to the Global Fund represents around 8 per cent. of its funding.

Since it was created in January 2002, the Global Fund has approved a total of US $6.8 billion to nearly 400 grants in 136 countries. 56 per cent. of this will go to sub-Saharan Africa, 11 per cent. to East Asia and the Pacific, 10 per cent. to Latin America and the Caribbean, and 8 per cent. to Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Kashmir

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effect of corruption on the disbursement of (a) UK and (b) international funds for earthquake relief in Kashmir; and if he will make a statement. (107907)

The Government of Pakistan (GoP) have reaffirmed publicly that every effort will be made to ensure that earthquake programmes are implemented in a fully transparent and accountable manner. It is bound to submit its audited accounts to its Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee for review.

We have been working very closely with the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and our key donor partners, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to help Pakistan meet this commitment. A full range of measures are being put in place by GoP, with our support, to address corruption concerns. Measures to guard against corruption include three layers of auditing, including an internal audit at ERRA, an external audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan, and independent verification of expenditures. In addition, the main seven donors (UN, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, the United States, Japan and DFID) have agreed on an earthquake reconstruction monitoring and evaluation framework. The Government of Pakistan have, additionally, agreed with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and DFID a set of measures to help guard against the risk of corruption, includingthe development of a fully automated financial management information system.

Middle East

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions Ministers and officials from his Department have had with Ministers and officials from (a) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (b) the Treasury, (c) No. 10 and (d) other Departments on development assistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. (108232)

DFID Ministers and officials are in regular discussion with counterparts from other Government Departments, both in London and in Jerusalem. However, it is not our policy to provide details of all such meetings.

Official Cars

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many cars run by his Department were manufactured (a) in the UK and (b) abroad. (104817)

DFID HQ uses cars supplied by the Government Car and Despatch Agency. Information on cars operated by the Government Car and Despatch Agency is available on page 14 of its Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06, copies of which are available in the Library for the reference of Members.

DFID’s overseas offices do run cars, but no central record is held of their country of manufacture. All our vehicles are procured through processes designed to ensure value for money through open, untied competition.

Tsunami Victims

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has spent on providing support for the victims of the tsunami. (108272)

DFID has pledged £140 millionin response to the Indian Ocean tsunami ofDecember 2005. £75 million was pledged to the immediate humanitarian relief effort, including £7.5 million to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities. Thiswas exceeded as our total commitment rose to£76.214 million. A further £65 million was pledged to meet reconstruction needs in tsunami-affected countries. The breakdown of commitment and spend to date by country (including the provision at regional level) is shown in the following tables.

Humanitarian relief

£ million

Committed

Spent

Regional (inc. DRR)

50.642

41.15

Sri Lanka

4.825

4.653

India

2.767

2.617

Indonesia

16.47

16.47

Somalia

0.5

0.5

Maldives

1.01

1.01

Total

76.214

66.4

The regional commitment includes DFID support to the United Nations and £7.5 million for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities. £7.222 million for DRR has yet to be disbursed. We are considering options for spending this allocation. A further £2.592 million has not been spent because projects that we supported cost less to deliver than was originally budgeted. DFID is recovering remaining unspent funds.

Reconstruction and recovery

£ million

Pledged

Committed

Spent

Regional

0

0

0

Sri Lanka

2

2

0

India

3

3

0

Indonesia

59.2

19.6

14.1

Somalia

0

0

0

Maldives

0

0

0

Total

64.2

24.6

14.1

DFID’s focus in the reconstruction phase for Sri Lanka has been to build capacity in-country to manage the longer-term recovery effort. This work is focused upon the north and east of Sri Lanka, but has been suspended due to the current crisis.

The money committed to reconstruction and recovery in India will provide a recovery and reconstruction programme coordinated by the UN for social equity, restoration of livelihoods, shelter, ecosystem restoration, HIV/AIDS, disaster preparedness, and programme management.

In Indonesia DFID is supporting the following programmes:

(a) £38 million to the Multi Donor Trust Fund to support housing, infrastructure, transport, capacity building, and projects which support the sustainable management of the environment;

(b) £10 million providing cash for work as part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Emergency Response and Transitional Recovery Programme (ERTR);

(c) £6 million to the World Bank Support for Poor and Disadvantaged Areas (SPADA) programme. This supports governance, growth and service delivery in Aceh and Nias. £3 million through the Decentralisation Support Facility (DSF) managed by the World Bank, to support Government and implement partners’ ability to assist tsunami-affected communities to rebuild their lives;

(d) We are also supporting a number of smaller projects aiming to improve transparency in the way reconstruction funds are managed and build capacity of local governments and agencies.

In addition to DFID funding, the British Government have also contributed through the European Commission (EC). The EC has already pledged €123 million in humanitarian assistance and up to €350 million for longer-term reconstruction. The UK’s share of this is approximately £15 million and £40 million respectively. Her Majesty’s Treasury estimates that the Government will also be contributing approximately £50 million through tax relief on public donations made through the Gift Aid Scheme.

The UK has also contributed to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, who have both pledged resources in support of the tsunami-affected area.

Culture, Media and Sport

Digital Switchover

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her estimate is of the number of households which will qualify for assistance n switching over to digital television in each parliamentary constituency in the south-west. (105509)

The information is as follows:

Constituency

Total eligible benefits units

Bath

11,000

Bournemouth East

11,000

Bournemouth West

12,000

Bridgwater

13,000

Bristol East

13,000

Bristol North West

12,000

Bristol South

13,000

Bristol West

9,000

Cheltenham

11,000

Christchurch

16,000

Cotswold

10,000

Devizes

11,000

East Devon

16,000

Exeter

13,000

Falmouth and Camborne

14,000

Forest of Dean

11,000

Gloucester

12,000

Kingswood

12,000

Mid Dorset and North Poole

10,000

North Cornwall

15,000

North Devon

14,000

North Dorset

12,000

North Swindon

9,000

North Wiltshire

10,000

Northavon

10,000

Plymouth, Devonport

13,000

Plymouth, Sutton

12,000

Poole

13,000

St. Ives

14,000

Salisbury

13,000

Somerton and Frome

12,000

South Dorset

13,000

South East Cornwall

13,000

South Swindon

9,000

South West Devon

10,000

Stroud

11,000

Taunton

14,000

Teignbridge

16,000

Tewkesbury

11,000

Tiverton and Honiton

14,000

Torbay

16,000

Torridge and West Devon

14,000

Totnes

14,000

Truro and St Austell

15,000

Wansdyke

11,000

Wells

14,000

West Dorset

13,000

Westbury

12,000

Weston-Super-Mare

14,000

Woodspring

10,000

Yeovil

13,000

Totals

634,000

Notes:

1. Rounded to the nearest thousand.

2.The table shows all parliamentary constituencies covered by the Government office for the south west. The region receives terrestrial television services from the following ITV regions: West Country, West, Meridian and Central.

3. Eligibility for help from the digital switchover help scheme will be by benefit unit rather than the whole household definition used by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Northern Ireland Office to forecast future household growth.

4. The definition of a benefit unit is a couple and any dependent children. It excludes adults deemed to be non-dependents who, if eligible, will be able to claim assistance from the help scheme in their own right.

Digital Television

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she is taking to ensure that digital television coverage extends to (a) the whole of Blaydon constituency and (b) Crawcrook village. (109185)

The vast majority of households in those areas should be able to receive digital TV services via either digital satellite or digital terrestrial now.

At switchover, coverage of digital terrestrial television will be increased to substantially match that currently achieved by analogue services.

Gaming Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many remote gaming operators have been prosecuted for breach of section 42(1)(c) of the 1968 Gaming Act in the last 12 months; what charge was brought in each case in which all proceedings are complete; and on what date each charge was brought. (108280)

In the last 12 months there have been no prosecutions for violating the advertising provisions of the 1968 Gaming Act.

The joint DCMS/Gambling Commission guidance on remote gambling advertising has led to a significant reduction in adverts that would be deemed to be in breach of the current regulatory framework in this area.

Gershon Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been spent by her Department and its associated public bodies in order to achieve Gershon efficiency savings; whether these costs have been included in reporting headline efficiency savings; and if she will make a statement. (108356)

The Department did not allocate a separate budget to implement Gershon, and the NDPBs were not given funding specifically to implement efficiency savings. Therefore any costs will have been absorbed into day-to-day work and are not included in reporting headline efficiency savings. We have not previously asked NDPBs for information on the cost of implementing the efficiency programme; to obtain this information now could be achieved only at disproportionate cost as it would involve the 28 NDPBs plus DCMS having to review costs since the start of the programme.

Licensing

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what role (a) town and (b) parish councils have in making representations to a licensing authority in respect of an application pertaining to their local area; and on what grounds a licensing authority may reject such representations. (108270)

Revised guidance to licensing authorities issued by the Secretary of State in June this year clarified that a parish council is a body which represents people living in the vicinity of a premises. It is therefore an interested party able to make relevant representations under the Act. This also applies to town councils.

For the licensing authority to consider representations from interested parties to be relevant they must relate to the impact of the application on the licensing objectives, be made within the prescribed period and not be frivolous or vexatious.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which Ministers in her Department have visited Leicester in the last year; and where they visited in Leicester. (108691)

In the last year, I have visited Leicester twice. On 26 January 2006 I opened the Broughton Astley library and visited the Braunstone library, and on 4 July 2006 I spoke at the cultural strategy launch at the Peepul Centre.

No other DCMS Ministers have visited Leicester in the last 12 months.

All ministerial visits are conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code and ‘Travel by Ministers’.

Olympic Games

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which consultants have worked on the 2012 Olympics to date; and what the project task and cost was in each case. (108309)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 4 December 2006, Official Report, column 100.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the answer of5 December 2006, Official Report, columns 264-5W, on the 2012 Olympics, which organisations submitted their responses to the consultation after the deadline of17 November; and if she will make a statement. (108936)

The response from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens, South(Mr. Woodward) to the hon. Member of 5 December 2006, Official Report, columns 264-65, contained errors when setting out the responses which were received after 17 November. The correct figures are that 146 responses were received before the deadline and 25 were received after 17 November. These 25 are in the following list.

Global Refund UK Limited

People1st

Openwide International Limited

Creative and Cultural Skills

National Caravan Council

Local Government Association

Devon County Council

The Guild of Registered Tourist Guides

Umbrella response—England’s Regional Development Agencies

Jewellery Quarter Regeneration Partnership;

Lancaster City Council

Cardiff Council

Imagination Ltd

Greenwich Council—Tourism Development Department

British Resorts and Destinations Association

BT Group

East Midlands Tourism

SkillsActive

CTC Charitable Trust

City of London Corporation

Campaign for Museums

Northern Ireland Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure

East of England Development Agency

South West Tourism

Natural England

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the answer of5 December 2006, Official Report, columns 264-5W, on the 2012 Olympics, whether her Department requested submissions from (a) local authorities and (b) regional development agencies to the consultation; and if she will make a statement. (108938)

DCMS officials sought submissions from a variety of organisations through an open dialogue with stakeholders during the consultation process. This included local authorities and regional development agencies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of materials and waste associated with the development of the Olympic site she plans to be moved by water. (107060)

The Olympic Delivery Authority is currently considering ways in which construction and waste materials might be transported to and from the Olympic Park, including what use might be made of both rail and waterways. More specific information will be set out in the ODA’s Sustainable Development Strategy due to be published in the new year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when the announcement on funding for the Bow Locks to the Prescott Channel is due to be made. (107061)

British Waterways and other members of the DEFRA family, along with the Olympic Delivery Authority, have drawn up a plan for the regeneration of the waterways of the Lower Lea Valley and Olympic Park. These proposals include the provision of a lock and weir on the Prescott Channel, which will bring a wide range of benefits. Beneficiaries will contribute towards the cost of the lock.

A number of issues remain to be clarified. The timing of an announcement depends on when these issues are resolved, hopefully early next year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made against the national target on physical exercise set out in the 2002 Game Plan report published by the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit; and if she will make a statement. (108993)

The Government remain committed to the Game Plan aim of increasing levels of participation in physical activity. DCMS has set out its priorities through its public service agreement (PSA) to increase the number of people from priority groups who participate in sport by 3 per cent. by 2008. Progress at national level will be measured via the Taking Part survey.

Theatres

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of changes in the number of theatres since 1997. (108162)

No estimates have been made on the change in the number of theatres since 1997.

The Arts Council England commissioned an economic impact study of UK theatre, published in 2004, which estimates that 541 theatres make up the building-base of UK theatre. This includes commercial theatres, local authority venues and subsidised theatres.

The number of theatre organisations receiving regular funding from Arts Council England has increased from 192 in 1996-07 to 234 in 2006-07.

Tote

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on progress with her Department’s plans to sell the Tote. (109354)

I expect to be able to announce soon how the Government intend to proceed with its objectives of removing the Tote from public ownership, promoting horserace pool betting and benefiting racing.

Written Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what target her Department has for the maximum acceptable amount of time to answer parliamentary written questions; and what percentage of parliamentary answers met that target in each parliamentary session since 2001. (107471)

My Department aims to answer parliamentary questions within the timescales specified by Parliament, which is named day questions on the day named, and ordinary written questions within a working week.

Defence

Armed Forces: Casualty Reporting

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why data on casualties have not been centrally compiled for operations in (a) Sierra Leone and (b) the Balkans since May 1997. (105716)

Data on casualties were not collected centrally before the formation of the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre in April 2005 because casualty reporting and tracking was the responsibility of each Service individually. Historic data on casualties have now been compiled for major and ongoing operations in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq and other theatres brigaded together, including Sierra Leone. The Defence Analytical Services Agency is currently working to reconcile these data. When this detailed work is complete it will be placed in the public domain.

Conventional Military Threats

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of conventional military forces in tackling terrorism (a) in the UK and (b) overseas. (105198)

The police have primacy in the detection and prosecution of criminal activity undertaken in the UK by terrorists and their sympathisers and in the maintenance of public safety. The armed forces can and do provide support to the police, at their request, using specialist military capabilities (for example through bomb disposal). The permanent deployment since 1969 of the armed forces in support of the police in Northern Ireland has, for example, been an essential element in delivering the improved security situation seen in recent years.

Overseas, the armed forces continue to play a key role as part of the cross-Government and international effort to counter the terrorist threat. Building the counter-terrorist capacity of friends and allies is an integral part of the Government’s strategy addressing the terrorist threat. Conflict prevention, peace support operations and defence diplomacy can all assist in prevention by tackling some of the underlying causes of terrorism.

Both at home and overseas, our armed forces can therefore play an important role in pursuing terrorists and those who support them but there is no military solution to the terrorist threat. Irrespective of location, the response must be wide-ranging and include respect for the rule of law, international obligations, and human rights, all of which are threatened by the activities of terrorists.

Letters of Condolence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many letters of condolence he sent to the next of kin of personnel who have died in service in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq in each year between 2001 and 2005; and how many he has sent in 2006. (105699)

Since August 2003, the Defence Secretary has written letters of condolence to the next of kin of all those who have died on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Details of the numbers of fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan are available on the MOD website:

www.mod.uk

Living Accommodation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces families in (a) Germany and (b) Cyprus are waiting for family accommodation; and what the (i) average and (ii) longest wait is which has been experienced. (103741)

No Service personnel entitled to Service Families Accommodation (SFA) arecurrently waiting for accommodation in Cyprus or Germany.

The average wait during the last 12 months for the allocation of SFA in Germany was seven days and the longest wait for SFA was 101 days. The 101-day wait resulted from the need to convert two properties into one to meet that particular family’s needs.

Nimrod

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average age is of the Nimrod fleet of aircraft. (105610)

I refer the hon. Member to the answerI gave on 16 October 2006, Official Report,column 985W.

Northern Ireland

Autism

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the waiting times are for an autism diagnosis in each health trust area in Northern Ireland. (107798)

The information requested is not held centrally and will take some time to collate. I will write to the hon. Member with the relevant information as soon as it becomes available and place a copy in the Library.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what funds were allocated to the (a) Police Service of Northern Ireland Historic Enquiries Team, (b) Public Prosecutions Service, (c) Forensic Science Service and (d) Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (i) in total and (ii) for investigating deaths occurring during the troubles; and what funds have been allocated to each body in total and for this purpose for (A) 2006 and (B) 2007. (106967)

The Government are committed to dealing with the past in Northern Ireland in order to help the whole community to move forward. Reviewing unresolved deaths as a result of the security situation is one way of helping to achieve this. A significant amount of money has been allocated to the task and all the organisations involved in the work are committed to working together to ensure the overall benefits are maximised. PSNI HET has an individual budget of £24.2 million, of which the budget for 2005-06 was£4.4 million, with an actual spend of £3.95 million. The budget for 2007 is £4.7 million. The project is scheduled to last six years and the following table details the expenditure of each organisation in relation to HET work.

HET funding allocation by organisation

2005-06

2006-07

Organisation

Total original overall budget for HET related work over six year period (£ million)

Total budget for organisation(£ million)

Total budget for HET related work within organisation (£)

Total budget for organisation(£ million)

Total budget for HET related work within organisation (£)

PSNI HET

24.2

4.4

14.4 million

4.7

4.7 million

PPS

1.8

25.1

2115,000

34.6

330,000

FSANI

7.5

38.2

4354,000

38.9

921,000

OPONI

5

8.5

93,000

9.3

497,000

1 £3.95 million actual spend.

2 £44,000 actual spend.

3 FSANI generate income via a charging arrangement.

4 £288,000 actual spend.

5 No specific budget has yet been allocated to OPONI this will shortly be resolved.

6 £136,000 actual spend.

House Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average house price is in Northern Ireland. (108845)

There are no official figures on the average house prices in Northern Ireland published by Government.

However, the hon. Member may wish to note that the latest Northern Ireland Quarterly House Price Index figures prepared by university of Ulster Jordanstown (UUJ) and released on 4 December record an average house price of £180,128 for the 3rd quarter (July-September 2006).

Further information is available from their website:

www.ulster.ac.uk.

Personal Income

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will place in the Library the figures used to produce the Northern Ireland income distribution charts on page 20 of Households Below Average Income in Northern Ireland for each of the three reports that have been published. (108572)

Police: Londonderry

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many police officers were deployed in relation to the policing of the Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry on (a) 2 December 2006 and (b) 3 December 2005. (108513)

PSNI deployed 603 officers this year and 588 in 2005.

While this year a greater number of officers were deployed in high visibility equipment, no police officers were deployed on the parade route in public order equipment.

It is also worth noting that the military were not deployed on the streets for any parade this year.

Single Payment Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his latest estimate is of the percentage of single payment scheme funds which were disbursed by 30 June in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. (107980)

At 30 June 2006, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development had paid out97 per cent. (£215.353 million) of the £221.804 million budget allocation for the 2005 Single Farm Payment Scheme. The Department was successful in its administration of payments in the first year of this scheme.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the efficacy of the eradication of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. (108649)

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime 2006 Opium Survey estimates that 15,300 hectares, or about 10 per cent. of opium poppy, was eradicated in Afghanistan this year, some three times more than last year. The survey also suggests that where eradication took place in 2005, farmers were less likely to plant poppy in the next season. Eradication is a useful deterrent where there is access to legal livelihoods and when used as part of a balanced counter-narcotics strategy, such as the Afghan government’s National Drug Control Strategy, which includes measures to interdict drugs, bring criminals to justice, build institutions and provide alternatives for poppy farmers. In areas of Afghanistan, where access to governance, security and development has improved, reductions in cultivation achieved last year have been sustained and in some cases cultivation has fallen further.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of this year’s opium production in Afghanistan; how many metric tonnes of opium were produced in Afghanistan in each of the last three years; how much she estimates has been produced to date in 2006-07; whether there has been an increase in production in (a) Helmand and (b) Oruzgan; and whether these figures meet London Compact benchmarks for eradication. (108534)

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan. UNODC figures show a yield of 4,200 metric tonnes (mt) in 2004, 4,100 mt in 2005 and 6,100 mt in 2006. It is too early to estimate overall levels of opium production for 2007.

The cultivation picture varies between and within provinces. In 2006 there was a 162 per cent. increase in Helmand, accounting for 70 per cent. of the overall increase, and a rise of 379 per cent. in Uruzgan. However, in three of the four highest poppy cultivating provinces in 2005, production was down this year (Balkh—33 per cent., Farah—25 per cent. and Kandahar—3 per cent.). Where access to governance, security and development has improved, reductions achieved last year have been sustained, and in some cases cultivation has fallen further. This shows that the National Drug Control Strategy is starting to have an impact in some parts of the country. President Karzai recently said

‘we must be looking at a 10-year period’

to rid Afghanistan of poppy. Achieving the Afghan Compact benchmark of a sustained annual reduction in the amount of land under poppy cultivation by 2010 will be a key step towards this goal.

Bangladesh

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the political stability of Bangladesh. (108722)

Elections in Bangladesh are scheduled for January 2007. It is vital for the future of Bangladesh that these elections are seen to be free, fair and peaceful, and that the result reflects the will of the Bangladeshi people. International observers will have an important role to play in validating the outcome of the elections—the UK expects to participate in an EU observation mission. We shall continue to take a close interest in preparations for elections and stand ready to help where we can, but ultimately it is for the parties and the people of Bangladesh to make their elections a success. We look to the new Caretaker Government to carry out its functions in an impartial manner, in line with Bangladesh’s constitution and in the best interests of the Bangladeshi people. We look to the Election Commission to act in a competent and independent manner.

The armed forces have been deployed on the streets since 10 December. We shall monitor that deployment and trust that military personnel will perform their duties impartially and with due respect for human rights and the rule of law.

In the longer term, a dysfunctional and confrontational political culture threatens Bangladeshi democracy; deeply rooted corruption and poor governance threaten Bangladesh’s potential economic development; extremism threatens security and stability. The next Government will need to address these issues if Bangladesh is to fulfil its ambitions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received from the British high commissioner to Bangladesh on the implications of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh for the political situation. (108723)

Our high commission in Dhaka regularly reports on the political situation in Bangladesh. This is a critical time for the country. The conduct of the elections in early 2007 will shape Bangladesh’s future.

A number of Islamist parties will participate in the elections. We welcome their commitment to democracy and the use of peaceful means to achieve their objectives. Our concern is with those organisations and individuals who use violence to pursue their extremist agendas. We are encouraged by the recent efforts of the Government of Bangladesh to curb extremism and remain committed to working with them in the long term to address this important challenge.

We believe that strong democracy represents the most effective means of tackling the roots of extremism in Bangladesh and continue to call for free, fair, peaceful and accepted elections in Bangladesh in early 2007.

Iraq: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the observance of the human rights of gay men in Iraq. (108724)

I have received only limited reporting on the observance of the human rights of gay men in Iraq. The challenge for the Government of Iraq is to implement the constitution in such a way as to uphold the rights of all Iraqis, and to develop the capability of the Iraqi security forces to protect these rights in practice. The United Kingdom is supporting the security and justice sectors in Iraq to enable them to carry out this essential task.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what visits the Minister for Trade (Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for Trade and Industry) made on his visit to India and Pakistan; what representations he made regarding anti-conversion laws; and what meetings he held with (a) Indian and (b) Pakistani trade representatives. (108