Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 454: debated on Thursday 14 December 2006

Written Answers toQuestions

Thursday 14 December 2006

Solicitor-General

Gender Equality

To ask the Solicitor-General when he expects to publish the Law Officers’ Departments’ gender equality schemes. (101485)

The Crown Prosecution Service published its Agenda Equality Scheme on 4 December. My other Departments will publish their Schemes by April 2007 in accordance with the requirements of the Equality Act 2006.

To ask the Solicitor-General what steps he is taking to ensure that private organisations contracted to work in the Law Officers’ Departments are aware of their duties under gender equality legislation when they are exercising public functions on behalf of public bodies. (101520)

From 6 April 2007, private sector organisations, when carrying out functions of a public nature on behalf of public authorities, will be required to comply with the general gender equality duty which is to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment and promote equality of opportunity between women and men.

My Departments already have in place some guidance on these issues and reference will be made to the Equal Opportunities Commission’s (EOC) Code of Practice of gender equality duty and any further EOC guidance when available.

In addition in drawing up gender equality schemes my Departments will ensure that these issues are fully covered. The CPS already has in place guidance on addressing equality issues in procurement, including issues of gender equality.

To ask the Solicitor-General what plans he has to carry out gender impact assessments of the Law Officers’ Departments’ major policy developments and new legislation. (101543)

My Departments are all putting arrangements in place to ensure regular gender impact assessments of policy developments, legislation and office practices and procedures. This conforms to the requirements which will take effect from 6 April 2007, in line with the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (Public Authorities) (Statutory Duties) Order 2006; and Departments will also refer to Equal Opportunities Commissions (EOC) Code of Practice on the gender equality duty and specific guidance when available.

Staff have been, or are being, trained to conduct such assessments.

To ask the Solicitor-General what steps he is taking to ensure that the Law Officers’ Departments are 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. (101561)

My Departments are all taking the necessary steps to meet the statutory duties that will come into force in April 2007 to end unlawful discrimination and harassment and to promote equality between women and men.

The CPS has already published its single Equality Scheme and my other Departments will have published their Gender Equality Schemes by April 2007.

The necessary training of staff is also being undertaken.

Trade and Industry

Coal Extraction

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support for trial schemes his Department has given to extraction of national coal reserves through Underground Coal Gasification; and what assessment his Department has made of the merits of such extraction. (108934)

The DTI provided support for a study into the feasibility of using UCG to access the coal reserves under the Firth of Forth. This work was undertaken by Heriot-Watt University, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish and Southern Energy Ltd. A report was published earlier this year, entitled “Creating the Coal Mine of the 21st Century”.

In addition a report by DTI, titled “Review of the Feasibility of Underground Coal Gasification in the UK”, on the feasibility of UCG in the UK was published in June 2004.

Companies House

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many attempts to gain unauthorised access to the computer systems of Companies House have (a) been detected and (b) succeeded in each of the last five years. (108320)

Over the last five years there have been no successful attempts to gain unauthorised access to Companies House computer systems.

It is difficult to put a figure against the number of unauthorised access attempts. On average 200,000 internet connections are rejected by our firewall per day.

Cramlington Land Partnership

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support was provided to Cramlington Land Partnership by the Government in 2005-06; and what the nature was of the land that the partnership developed in relation to this funding. (108382)

Cramlington Land Partnership was offered an ERDF grant of £279,260 against eligible expenditure of £1,117,040 on 16 December 2003 under the North East Objective 2 Programme 2000-06 to refurbish an existing building to create a total of 12 units with improved parking and vehicle loading facilities. The offer was further increased to a total of £321,854 against total eligible costs of £1,287,416 and the creation of a further three units on 4 July 2005. The project was completed in September 2006.

The refurbished building was already located on brown field land (0.95 ha) but the project costs did not include any further development of the land.

Departmental Publications

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost was of commissioning the Ethnic Minority Business Finance Survey. (103319)

The Ethnic Minority Survey of SME Finance was commissioned after the 2004 UK SME Finance survey at a cost of £162,000. It was commissioned because the UK SME survey did not provide reliable data on ethnic minority experience in raising finance.

The Survey required substantial resources and work in order to allow us to fully identify the different problems and experiences between the five key ethnic minority groups (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African and Black Caribbean).

The results will be compared to the experiences of white owned businesses when accessing finance.

Electricity Supply

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether each domestic dwelling has a right to be connected to an electrical supply. (108831)

Electricity distributors are under a duty, with a few exceptions, to connect premises when requested by either the owner, the occupier or an authorised supplier acting with the consent of the owner or occupier. Payment can be requested by distributors for this work. The vast majority of homes fall within the framework which provides for an electricity connection to be made.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in what circumstances a utilities company may impose a compulsory wayleave in order to provide an electrical supply to a resident who is not so connected. (108832)

As with other utilities performing a public service role, distribution network operators have access to compulsory powers to install and maintain their equipment. This enables them to fulfil their statutory duty to connect which is set out in sections 16 and 17 of the Electricity Act 1989, as amended by section 44 of the Utilities Act 2000. The exercise of compulsory powers is subject to a statutory process where ultimately confirmation or refusal of application is given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry or officials acting on his behalf.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on action to ensure each pensioner has access to an electrical supply. (108833)

No discussion has taken place. For those homes without a supply, electricity distributors are under a general duty, with a few exceptions, to connect premises when requested by either the owner, the occupier or an authorised supplier acting with the consent of the owner or occupier. Distributors can require payment for making connections.

Energy Prices

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact on small businesses of recent rises in energy prices; and if he will make a statement. (108928)

The Government are concerned that business customers, including small businesses, have been affected by the recent rises in energy prices, though small users still pay around the EU median, thanks to our competitive energy market.

A number of initiatives have been launched to help small businesses cope with rising energy prices, such as the joint Energywatch/Federation of Small Businesses “Make the Connection” campaign, and Ofgem’s non-domestic review group.

Energy Supply: Marketing

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which codes of practice govern the information that (a) energy suppliers and (b) their agents are obliged to provide to small businesses in the course of marketing activities. (108981)

There are no codes of practice governing the information provided to the business sector as part of the process of marketing gas and electricity supply.

EU Gas Co-ordination Group

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the (a) function, (b) constitution and (c) budget of the EU Gas Co-ordination Group is for 2006-07. (108371)

The function of the EU Gas Co-ordination Group is to facilitate the co-ordination of security of supply measures in the case of a major gas supply disruption. This is defined as a situation where the EU risks losing more than 20 per cent. of its gas supply from third countries and the situation cannot be managed using national measures. It also has a role in collecting and providing information on the current and future security of supply situation in the EU and identifying and discussing problems affecting security of gas supply. It has no powers to direct member states or their companies to take any measures, e.g. release gas supplies, in an emergency. The group comprises representatives of member states, gas producers, gas suppliers, gas transporters, gas consumers and electricity generators. The group has no budget.

Nanotechnology

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment he has made of the outcome of government spending on nanotechnology research in the last five years; (108403)

(2) how much money the Government plans to spend on nanotechnology in the next five years; and how this funding programme will be structured.

The Government intend to provide continued funding for nanotechnologies over the next five years. Funding will be directed towards a programme of research to address the potential risks posed by engineered nanoscale materials. Further funding will help industry to maximise the potential benefits of nanotechnologies by contributing to research, knowledge sharing and infrastructure development.

Decisions on the amounts of funding have yet to be taken. However, the Government's first research report, published in November 2005, and a progress report in October 2006 set out current and proposed work and indicate what further research is needed to address the potential risks posed by engineered nanoscale materials. The new Technology Strategy Board will have responsibility for “science to business” collaborative research and development, and Knowledge Transfer Networks (one of which will build on the work of the Micro and Nano Technology Network). We will also be promoting the substantial funding opportunities within the EU framework programmes which we co-fund with other member states. We are working internationally to ensure that the UK funds research that complements, and does not duplicate, other research around the world.

The outcomes of nanotechnology research to address the potential risks posed by engineered nanoscale materials are assessed by the relevant Departments and agencies, with coordination by the Nanotechnology Research Co-ordination Group. It is too early to draw conclusions from the outcomes as few projects have been completed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to increase public engagement in the nanotechnology debate. (108405)

A substantial programme of public engagement on nanotechnologies has been initiated and will be largely completed in summer 2007. The outcomes of this work will be reviewed before decisions are taken on the need for further public engagement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to commission further work on the regulation of nanotechnology. (108406)

This Department has commissioned an independent regulatory overview to identify any regulatory gaps. The overview report will be published before the end of 2006 and will complement the reviews already carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Food Standards Agency and the Health and Safety Executive. The report will inform Government work with those bodies which make or influence regulation, such as the OECD and the EU, and the British and international standard-setting organisations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will set up a strategy group to supervise the implementation of the Government’s nanotechnology strategy; (108407)

(2) what UK Government policy is on nanotechnology; and what resources are available to implement the policy.

UK Government policy is to work in partnership with industry, civil society groups, the research community, the public and the international community to ensure that nanotechnologies are developed in a way that maximises the benefits to the UK while minimising potential risks throughout the life cycle of nanoscale materials, where possible within an internationally harmonised framework of controls.

Relevant Government Departments and agencies and research councils co-operate in the implementation of this policy and contribute funding for administrative resources and specific activities. Work to address the potential risks posed by engineered nanoscale materials is coordinated and given strategic direction by the Nanotechnology Issues Dialogue Group, which comprises representatives from those bodies, and supplemented by the Nanotechnology Research Co-ordination Group which sets the agenda for research work in this area. The Council for Science and Technology is currently carrying out an independent review of the Government’s delivery of their agenda for the responsible development of nanotechnologies and will report in spring 2007.

Nuclear Power Stations

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what response the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has made to the assessment of British Energy that the reactors closed at (a) Hunterston B and (b) Hinkley Point B will be safe to operate by the end of January 2007. (107610)

[holding answer 4 December 2006]: British Energy have put in safety submissions for the restart of reactor 3 at Hunterston B. NII is currently assessing these. NII will not allow restart of reactor 3 until a satisfactory safety case for further operation has been made.

British Energy will need to apply to NII for the restart of reactor 3 at Hinkley Point B following its current periodic outage. If NII is not satisfied with the safety case for return to service of reactor 4 at Hinkley Point B, or reactor 4 at Hunterston B, it would use its regulatory powers. NII will not allow restart of these reactors until a satisfactory safety case for further operation has been made.

Post Offices

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) post offices and (b) sub-post offices (i) opened and (ii) closed in (A) Somerset and (B) the UK in each of the last 10 years. (109009)

The question the hon. Member has asked relates to operational matters for which Post Office Limited (POL) is directly responsible.

Information is available from the Libraries of the House. I have, however referred the request for information to Alan Cook, Managing Director of POL, for a direct and substantive reply to the hon. Member.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices in (a) York, (b) North Yorkshire and (c) the United Kingdom conduct, on average, less than (i) 10, (ii) 50, (iii) 100, (iv) 200 and (v) 500 transactions a week; and how many conducted over 500 transactions per week. (109175)

This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. Alan Cook, the managing director, has been asked to reply directly to the hon. Member.

Royal Society International Fellowship Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much his Department plans to allocate to the Royal Society international fellowship scheme in each of the next five years. (109068)

The preliminary background work to develop the new international fellowship scheme is currently being undertaken. Decisions about funding allocation will be made as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review and consideration of the scheme proposal, including budgetary issues, in relation to the CSRO7 settlement and other priorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many foreign students he expects to take part in the Royal Society international fellowship scheme. (109069)

The preliminary background work to develop the new scheme is currently being undertaken. This preparatory work will develop detailed implementation plans for the scheme, including parameters for the number of fellows and alumni, taking into account affordability, experience from other similar schemes already in operation in the UK and internationally and drawing on the best practice from these.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which areas of science will be covered by the Royal Society international fellowship scheme. (109070)

The preliminary background work to develop the new scheme is currently being undertaken. This preparatory work will develop detailed implementation plans for the scheme taking into account affordability, and experience from other similar schemes already in operation in the UK and internationally and drawing on the best practice from these. The implementation plans will cover proposals for disciplinary coverage of the scheme on which appropriate consultation will take place.

Small Business Energy Bills

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidelines energy suppliers are required to adhere to on managing small businesses’ energy debts. (105462)

There are no guidelines in respect of the business energy sector. Debt arrangements are a contractual matter between the supplier and the customer.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidelines or codes of practice are in place to protect small businesses from the disconnection of their gas or electricity supply. (105471)

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is responsible for the regulation of gas and electricity supply. The Energy Retail Association code of practice on disconnection applies only to domestic customers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will discuss with Ofgem extending the level of regulatory protection given to small businesses in the energy market. (105270)

The approach to regulatory protection in respect of gas and electricity broadly reflects that in general consumer law. It is open to Ofgem to consider whether and how such protection should be extended.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what redress is available to small businesses that have been mis-sold (a) energy or (b) fixed-line telecommunications contracts. (105305)

Small businesses that have been unable to resolve complaints with their gas and electricity supplier may seek assistance from the statutory consumer body, Energywatch, as well as seeking redress through the courts. Small businesses that have been mis-sold fixed-line telecommunications contracts have access to alternative dispute resolution schemes, which all telecommunications providers are obliged by the regulator, Ofcom, to be members of, as well as being able to seek redress through the courts.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what protection from the mis-selling of contracts is given to small businesses in the (a) energy and (b) fixed-line telecommunications markets. (105307)

As in general consumer law, regulatory protection in relation to mis-selling does not extend to the business market for gas and electricity. The regulation of the fixed-line telecommunications market is the responsibility of Ofcom. All companies selling fixed-line telecoms services are required by Ofcom to draw up mandatory codes of practice consistent with published guidelines and then comply with these. If companies breach these obligations Ofcom’s powers now include the ability to secure written undertakings from companies about their sales and marketing practices. Ofcom has taken enforcement action and four investigations are already complete, with fourteen enforcement notices issued to six of the worst offenders. These have secured significant changes to behaviour to ensure consumers’ rights are protected, including action to require repayment of monies to affected consumers. Ofcom has also already fined one company the maximum possible 10 per cent. of its turnover.

Culture, Media and Sport

BBC Trust

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many members of staff are working on the recruitment of the Chairman of the BBC Trust; and if she will make a statement. (108183)

As with all public appointments a number of members of staff will be involved in work on the recruitment procedure. One senior official will chair the selection panel which shortlists and interviews candidates and then makes recommendations to Ministers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the timetable is for the recruitment of a Chairman of the BBC Trust; and if she will make a statement. (108184)

We aim to appoint a new chair as soon as possible. While we recognise the need to move swiftly, we must allow time to generate a strong field of candidates and allow for due and proper process. We will advertise the post in the national press soon and hope to appoint a chair in the spring. In the meantime, the current Vice-Chairman, Anthony Salz will be acting chair of the Governors until the end of the year. Chitra Bharucha, who was appointed Vice-Chairman of the BBC Trust on 1 November 2006, is now Acting Chair of the Trust. She will carry out this role until a new chair is appointed, although Governors remain in place until 31 December 2006.

Gambling

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people are being treated for gambling addiction (108978)

Licensed Bed and Breakfast

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many bed and breakfast establishments in England and Wales are licensed to serve alcohol. (109463)

This information is not held centrally. It may be available from individual licensing authorities.

Licensing Act 2003

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether she has received the final report on the Licensing Act 2003 by the Independent Fees Review Panel; whether she plans to place it in the Library; and if she will make a statement. (108979)

DCMS received the final report of the Independent Licensing Fees Review Panel on 12 December 2006. The Panel’s conclusions and recommendations about the fees regime are being considered. Copies of the report will be placed in the Libraries of the House shortly.

Licensing Laws

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether she has had any discussions with local authorities on the effect of the Licensing Act (2003) on public performances of (a) religious carols and (b) secular Christmas songs; and if she will make a statement. (108677)

Ministers have not had any discussions with local authorities on the effect of the Licensing Act 2003 on carols or Christmas songs. However, officials have shared previous advice they have given on this issue with the local authorities coordinators of regulatory services (LACORS) and this has been disseminated by LACORS and is available on the DCMS website. Most singing of carols and Christmas songs is either spontaneous, incidental to other activities or part of a religious service and therefore not usually licensable.

Licensing requirements depend on the type of event at which songs are being performed and not whether the songs themselves are religious or secular. For example, secular songs being performed as part of a religious service would not make that service licensable. Conversely, a rock band choosing to play a religious carol as part of its set would not make a rock concert an exempt religious service. It is not possible to describe every scenario, which is why it is ultimately for licensing authorities to determine what requires a licence and what does not.

London Olympics

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether her Department holds responsibility for the final decision on the level of contingency to be included in the revised Olympic budget once it is agreed. (105568)

The final decision on the level of contingency to be included in the revised Olympic budget is a matter for the Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 30 November 2006, Official Report, column 809W, on the London Olympics, how much her Department (a) spent in 2005-06 and (b) expects to spend in 2006-07 on the salaries of the eight individuals working on the 2012 Olympics who do not fall into the Department’s pay band structure. (105594)

Of the eight agency employees referred to in my answer of 30 November 2006, Official Report, column 809W, on the London Olympics, three were employed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport during 2005-06. One of these was paid £2,000. The other two were legal advisers (civil servants) on loan from the Treasury Solicitor’s Department paid within the following bands.

Number of staff (FTE)

Pay band minimum (£)

Pay band maximum (£)

SCS pay band 1

l

55,000

116,000

A(U)

1

57,000

68,199

In 2006-07 the three agency employees including the two legal advisers continued to work on the Olympics for DCMS. Excluding the two legal advisers the cost of the remaining six agency employees is expected to be around £650,000 in 2006-07.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, column 99W, on 2012 Olympics, what estimates KPMG gave as part of its advice for the costs of (a) the Olympic Stadium, (b) other sports facilities, (c) the Olympic village, (d) press and media facilities, (e) Games work force, (f) information systems, (g) telecommunications and other technologies, (h) internet, (i) ceremonies and culture, (j) medical services, (k) catering, (l) transport, (m) security, (n) the Paralympic Games, (o) advertising and promotion, (p) administration, (q) pre-Olympic events and co-ordination, (r) other miscellaneous costs and (s) contingency. (108021)

I refer the hon. Member to my statement on costs to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport on 21 November 2006 [Q30].

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which Government Department or agency holds overall responsibility for meeting cost overruns in the delivery of the 2012 Olympics. (108540)

My Department is responsible for co-ordinating the funding arrangements but the issue of how cost increases are to be funded is one for the Government as a whole.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether Ministers in her Department have met the new owners of West Ham United to discuss the post-games use of the Olympic Stadium; and if she will make a statement. (104688)

[holding answer 5 December 2006]: I met Eggert Magnusson, the new chairman of West Ham, on 29 November to discuss the post-Games use of the Olympic Stadium. The meeting was also attended by Ken Livingstone, Sir Roy McNulty, acting chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), David Higgins, chief executive of the ODA and Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

During the discussion, I underlined our commitment to the International Olympic Committee that the Olympic Stadium would have an athletics legacy, and that football would have to work alongside this. I also stressed that the timetable for decisions was very tight, with the final decision to be taken by the Olympic Board early in the new year.

It was agreed that West Ham would reflect on the discussion and decide how it wished to proceed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what provision her Department made for a contingency reserve for the Olympic Games within the figures specified in London's 2012 Candidate File for (a) the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and (b) Sports Facilities and the International Press Centre. (102862)

Details of the contingency for (a) the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games are shown at table 6.6.1 on page 103 of the Candidate File. For each of the main venue construction projects, including sports facilities and the international press centre, there is an allowance in the bid figures for 23.5 per cent. for contingencies and preliminaries.

National Lottery

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the average time was to deliver lottery funds from the time of receipt of application in the last period for which figures are available. (109363)

Performance is not reported in this way by lottery distributors. When an application is successful, the lottery grant awarded may be paid, for example, when the grantee decides to make a claim, or when key stages of a project are completed and the lottery contribution becomes payable. Grants are often paid out in instalments over an extended period. This is particularly true of large capital projects.

Information about individual applications and payments is not held by my Department and could be aggregated only at disproportionate cost.

Responsibility in Gambling Trust

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions she has held with (a) the Responsibility in Gambling Trust and (b) members of the gambling industry on the industry’s performance in providing the level of resources recommended by the Budd Report to fund the Trust’s work; when these discussions took place; and if she will make a statement. (108975)

Ministers and officials have discussed this issue with both the Trust and industry representatives on a number of occasions.

We have set the industry a target of raising £3 million each year, for problem gambling treatment, education and public awareness and research, once the Gambling Act 2005 is fully implemented (from September 2007). The Act has powers to impose a statutory levy, if it is considered necessary.

Security: Football Grounds

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of the Football Licensing Authority’s seminar on the possibility of weapons of mass destruction being used at major sporting venues was dedicated to potential (a) atomic, (b) biological and (c) chemical incidents. (109370)

The only seminar of this type was an awareness day on CBRN terrorist attack, organised by Stoke City football club, with inputs from the local authority, emergency services and the FLA, in July 2004. This included a scenario of a gas attack inside the ground. Counter-terrorism protective security advice is a matter for the Home Office and the police.

Sponsored Bodies

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was incurred by her Department in reassessing pensions liabilities under FRS17, as referred to on page 60 of the departmental annual report for Sponsored Bodies. (109350)

My Department has incurred no direct costs in reassessing pensions liabilities under FRS17. DCMS Sponsored Bodies with pension schemes requiring a reassessment of the parent bodies’ liabilities to meet the new disclosure requirements have met the marginal cost of additional accounting and actuarial advice from within current resource allocations.

Talented Athletes

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost to date has been of the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme. (109582)

The Department has confirmed £17 million in funding for the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, including TASS 2012, to cover the period 2004-05 to 2007-08.

TV Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many people were convicted of not having a valid television licence in each London constituency in each of the last five years. (104977)

[holding answer 7 December 2006]: Robust data are not available because of differences in recording practices by the courts.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Whaling

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take in response to the decision by Iceland to resume commercial whaling. (109027)

I called in the Icelandic ambassador on 26 October. Our ambassador in Reykjavik led a multi-national diplomatic protest of 25 countries together with the European Commission on 1 November. I supported a declaration strongly critical of Iceland at a recent meeting of EU Environment Ministers.

Biomass

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential contribution of biomass to the UK’s energy needs; and if he will make a statement. (109028)

UK biomass has the potential to supply 6 per cent. of our electricity needs by 2020. Demand for biomass heat could be about 6 per cent. of heat needs by the same date. With current technologies, UK agriculture could also provide crops to meet 5 per cent. of road fuel demand by 2010.

European Parliament

15. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has made an assessment of the environmental impact of the sittings of the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. (109029)

No, but given the reality of climate change, it is clearly important that EU institutions should provide a lead on environmentally sustainable behaviour. In this country, we have already set ourselves serious sustainability targets to achieve greener Government.

Carbon Emissions: Local Government

16. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential for local authorities to facilitate the reduction of carbon emissions in the communities they represent. (109030)

Local authorities have a critical role in achieving our climate change objectives. The 2006 UK Climate Change Programme includes measures to help local authorities deliver cuts in emissions.

Organic Food

17. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the regulation of organic food growers and suppliers. (109031)

The Department ensures effective regulation of producers of organic agricultural produce through the work of the Advisory Committee on Organic Standards and in particular its Certification Committee.

Climate Change

18. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his European counterparts on tackling climate change. (109032)

I had extensive discussions with my European counterparts at the UN Climate Change Conference in Nairobi in November.

Although progress was made, we need to move forward with greater urgency and EU environment ministers will be meeting on 18 December to set out the way forward for 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of climate change on food production in England. (104998)

The Government continue to make considerable investment in research on climate change and agriculture to help both policy makers and industry plan for the uncertainties ahead. A recent review, summarising all the recent research on impacts and adaptation in agriculture is available on the DEFRA website:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/science/documents/publications/Defra_CC03_review_030705_JPGamended_jrp%20FINAL.pdf.

Overall, the research suggests that climate change impacts do not appear to threaten the viability of the agriculture industry as a whole in the UK due to the adaptability of UK systems. However, individual agricultural businesses and land managers will need to be alive to the need for adaptation. There may also be opportunities to grow new crops. We do not have a single assessment of the overall effects on UK food production, as this is influenced not only by the regionalised impacts of climate change, but the reaction of individual businesses to climate change, and their reaction to market changes and other policy levers.

In-vessel Composting

19. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what monitoring his Department undertakes on the effect on local communities of in-vessel composting sites; and if he will make a statement. (109033)

Composting is a vital component of sustainable waste management.

It is licensed and regulated by the Environment Agency under a waste management licence—or an exemption from the need for a licence.

Environmental Taxation

20. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on environmental taxation. (109034)

I have discussed environmental taxation, and a range of other subjects, in various meetings with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

EU Emissions Trading

21. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the EU emissions trading scheme. (109035)

In the UK, the first year of operation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme has been very successful, with near universal compliance. Phase I in the UK is set to deliver savings of 65 million tons of CO2 from business as usual.

Microgeneration

22. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he last discussed with ministerial colleagues at the Department of Trade and Industry the implementation of that Department’s policy in support of microgeneration.

The Secretary of State regularly meets his Cabinet colleague at the Department for Trade and Industry to discuss policies, such as microgeneration, where DTI and DEFRA both have a key role to play in their successful delivery.

Flood Defences

23. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to increase funding for sea and flood defence. (109037)

Government funding for flood and coastal erosion risk management has gone up by 35 per cent. in real terms since 1996-97. Future funding needs will be considered in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why the recent guidelines from his Department on transporting greyhounds were issued on British Greyhound Racing Board paper. (108401)

DEFRA has not produced any guidance specific to greyhounds. However, the Department has issued guidance on compliance with new EU rules on the welfare of animals during transport, which come into effect in January 2007. This guidance does not include specific advice on the transport of greyhounds as the EU Regulation sets only general requirements for these animals.

The British Greyhound Racing Board have produced separate guidance for their members on compliance with the new rules, which includes detailed technical requirements that are not specified in the regulation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the possible implications for (a) animal welfare standards and (b) farmers’ competitiveness of differences in the four devolved areas of the United Kingdom between rural development programme schemes in respect of animal welfare promotional measures. (108531)

Improvements in animal welfare standards and farmers’ competitiveness can be achieved through a variety of means. There will be separate Rural Development Programmes for each part of the UK for the new programming period, 2007-13. The detail of these programmes will reflect the assessment made of the priorities and needs for each respective part of the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the livestock indicators relating to animal welfare launched by his Department on 24 November are intended to allow progress in each devolved area of the United Kingdom to be measured (a) separately and (b) on a United Kingdom-wide basis. (108533)

These livestock indicators have been introduced to show progress towards the delivery of the “Animal Welfare Strategy for Great Britain” in England. They are being developed by DEFRA in consultation with the England Implementation Group, the independent advisory body overseeing delivery of the strategy in England.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the draft Animal Welfare Delivery Strategy takes account of the delay in implementing the England Rural Development Programme 2007 to 2013 announced on 1 November. (108614)

The draft Animal Welfare Delivery Strategy does not contain specific actions, resource commitments or funding mechanisms. These will be considered in an action plan, to be developed with stakeholders and published separately.

Bovine TB

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department plans to make to tackle bovine TB in (a) England and (b) Shropshire. (108933)

We already have in place a series of measures designed to reduce the geographic spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in England and to achieve a sustained reduction in high incidence areas, including Shropshire. Our plan is to continue to work in partnership with interested parties to embed and monitor these measures, some of which have only been in operation for a matter of months. Examples of this include pre-movement testing phase one and the more extensive use of the gamma interferon blood test.

We are committed to introducing the second phase of pre-movement testing in March 2007. This will extend the policy to younger animals, and continue to fund a wide-ranging bTB research programme, using the emerging evidence to inform our policies. We will also work with our industry partners to further raise awareness of the crucial role farmers have to play in controlling bTB by complying with statutory policies, applying disease prevention measures and good husbandry practices. We are also considering the evidence and practicalities of adding badger culling to these tools for preventing bTB in cattle.

Christmas: Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the number of Christmas trees which were recycled in each of the last three years; and whether his Department provides support to local authorities for the recycling of Christmas trees; (108180)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of Christmas cards that were recycled in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what estimate he has made of the number of Christmas cards that were recycled in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement.

DEFRA has not made an estimate of the number of Christmas trees which were recycled in the last three years. I am aware that some local authorities (LAs) have in the past reported the number of Christmas trees they recycle to the environmental charity EnCams. Figures for 2002 show that nearly 2 million trees were recycled by the LAs which provided returns in England and Wales.

While DEFRA does not provide specific support to LAs for the recycling of Christmas trees, we have provided significant additional funding to increase the proportion of waste that they recycle through the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services (EPCS) spending block. This includes waste management services, Private Finance Initiative funding for waste, the Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund and the Waste Performance and Efficiency Grant.

Waste Watch recently estimated that up to 1 billion Christmas cards could end up in rubbish bins across the UK rather than being recycled. We would expect those authorities which carry out collection and recycling of waste paper to recycle Christmas cards with the rest of the waste paper they collect.

In addition, the Woodland Trust runs an annual Christmas card recycling scheme with Recycle Now. Their 2005 scheme recycled more than 58 million cards, collecting the equivalent of at least one card for every person in Britain. The trust has set a 2007 target to recycle 90 million Christmas and new year cards. More information on this year’s scheme can be found on the Woodland Trust’s website at:

http://www.woodland-trust.org.uk/cards/.

Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to local authorities of implementing each of the provisions of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005; (109230)

(2) what powers there are for local authorities to raise funds to implement the provisions of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 22 November 2006, Official Report, column 133W.

Contractors

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contractors based in (a) EU member states and (b) other states provided services to his Department and each executive agency since 31 August 2005; and what the (i) nature and (ii) cost of this work was in each case. (103506)

The Department expects to award all contracts in line with the objective of achieving value for money and in line with EU Treaty obligations on transparency and free movement of goods and services. The Treaty, and the public procurement rules, prohibit discrimination on the grounds of nationality. Accordingly the Department does not hold a central database of non-UK suppliers. Requests for information on individual contractors can be answered on a case-by-case basis.

DHL

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department paid to DHL in each financial year between 1997-98 and 2005-06. (104168)

The Department came into being in July 2001. From information held centrally, the sums paid to DHL by the core Department are as follows:

Financial year

Value (£)

2002-03

2,718.71

2003-04

399.31

2005-06

15.62

Food Labelling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what criteria were taken into account when setting the requirement to label food containing 0.9 per cent. genetically modified ingredients. (106205)

I have been asked to reply.

The European Commission regulation on genetically modified food and feed (1829/2003) provides a 0.9 per cent. threshold for the adventitious presence of authorised genetically modified organisms in food and feed. Food and feed does not need to be labelled as ‘GM’ providing that the GM presence is below 0.9 per cent. and is accidental. The capability of the food and feed supply chain in being able to work to this threshold was taken into account in agreeing this level, in addition to the ability of laboratories to accurately analyse the presence of GM material.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the UK has sent data to the EC regarding monitoring of food and feed in connection with non-compliance on the GMO labelling requirements introduced under EC Regulation 1829/2003 for the years 2004 and 2005. (106168)

I have been asked to reply.

No data have been sent to the European Commission regarding monitoring of food and feed in connection with non-compliance on the GMO labelling requirements introduced under EC Regulation 1829/2003 for the years 2004 and 2005. The regulation does not require such data to be routinely submitted to the commission.

Organic Status

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations govern the production of organic food; and if he will make a statement. (108152)

The production and control standards for organic food are set out in Council Regulation 2092/91. These standards apply both to production within the European Union and to imports from third countries. Additional standards, applying to organic production in the UK, are set out in the Compendium of UK Organic Standards which is available on the DEFRA website at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/FARM/organic/standards/pdf/compendium.pdf.

A revision of EU organic regulation is currently under discussion.

Single Payment Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many individuals at the Rural Payments Agency are involved in the administration of the Single Payment Scheme, in terms of (a) headcount and (b) whole-time-equivalent. (103333)

Current numbers of full-time equivalents working on SPS processing are approximately 2,043. Headcount data is not maintained.

Softwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction of forecast volume of available supplies of UK sourced softwood on (a) the wood panel industry and (b) other biomass-using industry; and if he will make a statement. (108762)

I have not made any assessment. The recent UK softwood availability forecast, published by the Forestry Commission, provides improved and more up-to-date supply information than was previously available. This should enable any detailed industry appraisals that need to take into account the potential supply of UK softwood to be better informed.

Special Advisers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of his Department’s civil servants work full-time to support departmental special advisers; and what the salary is of each such civil servant. (106508)

Four officials contribute to the administrative support of departmental special advisers. To respect the privacy of these officials, it is not possible to disclose details of their salaries.

Species Recovery Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much of Natural England’s budget has been allocated to the Species Recovery Programme; and how much English Nature allocated to the programme in 2005. (109123)

I am informed by Natural England that the budget allocated to the species recovery work in this financial year is £1.1 million. Further benefits to species will accrue through other Natural England spending, particularly via agri-environment schemes, work on SSSIs and National Nature Reserves. The budget allocated to the Species Recovery Programme by English Nature in 2005-06 was £1.3 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that the budget allocated to the Species Recovery Programme will be sufficient to ensure the continued funding of programmes to reverse the decline in numbers of England’s animals, plants and fungi. (109124)

I have been working closely with Natural England to provide a steer on our key Departmental priorities, which include our commitment to halt the loss of England’s biodiversity by 2010. It is the responsibility of Natural England’s Board to ensure that the organisation fulfils the aims and objectives set by my Department, including determining how best to deploy its available resources. I am confident that the grant in aid settlement which I will shortly be announcing for Natural England, should allow it to deliver its Species Recovery Programme.

Thermal Depolymerization

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the use of thermal depolymerization as a mechanism for (a) generating fuel and (b) disposing of waste; and if he will make a statement. (108080)

No assessment of thermal depolymerization has been made by this Department as a mechanism for generating fuel or disposing of waste.

Timber

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what measures he proposes (a) to improve and (b) to tighten enforcement of checks on imports of illegally harvested timber; and if he will make a statement; (109227)

(2) what measures he has put in place to stop the importation of illegal timber.

There are limited legislative controls in this area at present, although UK Customs have seized wood and wood products protected under CITES legislation.

We are taking further action to tackle imports of illegally logged timber through our implementation of the Forestry Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation. This was formally adopted by the European Union in December 2005, during our Presidency. The Regulation allows the EU to establish legally binding Voluntary Partnership Agreements with timber producing countries. These will include licensing systems to identify legal products, and control their export to the EU. Customs officers will be given powers to prevent access to unlicensed products from partner countries.

Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the contribution to waste streams of shelf-ready packaging; and what discussions he has had with retailers about shelf-ready packaging. (108651)

We have not made any formal assessment of the contribution to waste streams of shelf-ready packaging. Potentially, it could help to reduce external in-transit packaging. But it could also affect the type or amount of materials used to package individual products.

We are continuing to engage with retailers and the food industry to reduce the amount of food and packaging waste which is being generated—by the industry itself, as well as consumers. For example, DEFRA’s Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS), published in April this year, challenges the food manufacturing sector to reduce its own waste by 15-20 per cent. by 2010.

13 major grocery retailers (representing 92 per cent. of the UK grocery sector) are also supporting the “Courtauld Commitment”. This means that they have agreed to work with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in order to: design out packaging waste growth by 2008; deliver absolute reductions in packaging waste by March 2010; and identify ways to tackle the problem of food waste.

WRAP works closely with the major supermarket chains to achieve the necessary behavioural changes. Three roundtable meetings have taken place to discuss food waste, putting recycling information on package labelling, and the issues and opportunities associated with biodegradable packaging. Through an Innovation Fund, WRAP also provides technical and financial support to retailers and suppliers. This is helping to identify ways of reducing the weight of primary packaging and the cost of production and transportation—mainly through research and development and innovative packaging design.

Defence

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was paid by the UK Government to Afghan (a) provincial governors, (b) police chiefs and (c) other officials in each of the last four years; and what the purpose was of the payments. (107207)

I have been asked to reply.

The wages of Afghanistan’s provincial governors and Government officials are paid by the Afghan Government (GoA) from its core budget. The GoA’s core budget is part-funded by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) established in 2002 to provide for the recurrent costs of Government. The UK is the largest contributor to the ARTF, committing £355 million between 2002 and 2009; £235 million of that commitment has been disbursed. The UK also contributes funds to the GoA through a number of ongoing projects aimed at building capacity in the Afghan Government.

Police chiefs salaries are covered by the Law and Order Trust Fund (LOTFA) established in 2002 at the request of the Afghan Government and the UN and administered by the UN Development Programme. The UK remains a major contributor to LOTFA both through the European Commission, whose annual contribution to the fund since 2002 has been around €30 million, and bilaterally, contributing £1.5 million in financial year 2006-07.

Agency Personnel: Scotland

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of its personnel budget for financial year 2005-06 the Defence Aviation Repair Agency spent in Scotland in (a) monetary terms and (b) as a percentage of the total personnel budget; how much was spent in each category in 2004-05; and if he will make a statement. (107898)

DARA spent £6.63 million on civilian pay at its Almondbank site in Perthshire during the financial year 2005-06. The figure represents 9.19 per cent. of DARA’s total personnel budget during the same period. For the financial period 2004-05 the costs were £6.48 million, representing 7.91 per cent. of DARA’s total personnel costs during that financial reporting period. These figures are only the pay, allowance and overtime costs and exclude agency staff.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people are employed by the Naval Manning Agency; how many are employed in Scotland; what the personnel costs of the agency are expected to be in 2006-07; and what they were in 2005-06. (107899)

The Naval Manning Agency (NMA) formally ceased to be a Defence Agency on 1 April 2005. There are therefore no details of employees/personnel costs relating to NMA for 2005-06 and 2006-07.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of its personnel budget for 2005-06 the Defence Analytical Services Agency spent in Scotland in (a) monetary terms and (b) as a percentage of the total personnel budget; how much was spent for each category in 2004-05; and if he will make a statement. (107922)

None of the personnel budget for the Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA) was spent in Scotland in either 2004-05 or 2005-06. No DASA personnel are based in Scotland.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of its personnel budget for 2005-06 the Defence Medical Education and Training Agency spent in Scotland in (a) monetary terms and (b) as a percentage of the total personnel budget; how much was spent for each category in 2004-05; and if he will make a statement. (107927)

In the financial year 2004-05, the Defence Medical and Training Agency (DMETA) did not spend any of its budget in Scotland. In the financial year 2005-06, some £129,000 was spent by DMETA on the placement of a service doctor with a Scottish hospital. This represented some 1.5 per cent. of the agency’s total personnel budget.

DMETA does not own any training or other units in Scotland, although it places Defence Medical Services personnel in Scottish hospitals from time to time.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of its personnel budget for 2005-06 the British Forces Post Office spent in Scotland in (a) monetary terms and (b) as a percentage of the total personnel budget; how much was spent for each category in 2004-05; and if he will make a statement. (107937)

The figures requested are as follows:

BFPO personnel budget

(£)

Percentage

2004-05

137,510

0.01

2005-06

140,900

0.01

Note:

These figures do not include travel and subsistence costs.

The BFPO headquarters occupies its current location for logistical reasons, basing itself near the Ml and M25 and close to both Heathrow airport and RAF Brize Norton, which provide the excellent communication necessary to support BFPO in its role.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of its personnel budget for financial year 2005-06 the Veterans Agency spent in Scotland in (a) monetary terms and (b) as a percentage of the total personnel budget; how much was spent for each category in 2004-05; and if he will make a statement. (107940)

In 2005-06 the Veterans Agency spent £22.03 million on personnel costs, of which £0.5 million was spent in Scotland. This represents 2.27 per cent. of the total personnel budget.

In 2004-05 the Veterans Agency spent £19.184 million on personnel costs, of which £0.47 million was spent in Scotland. This represents 2.45 per cent. of the total personnel budget.

Annual Reports: Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of (a) producing, (b) publishing and (c) distributing the annual report of each trading fund of the (i) Army Base Repair Organisation, (ii) Defence Aviation Repair Agency, (iii) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (iv) Meterological Office and (v) UK Hydrographic Office was in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (105453)

Those costs that can be identified as specifically attributable to the production, publication and distribution of Trading Fund Annual Reports are shown in the following table. These figures exclude the costs of activities carried out by Trading Fund employees in relation to the drafting and compilation of Annual Reports as such costs are not accounted for separately from their other responsibilities.

Trading funds’ costs for producing, publishing and distributing their 2005-06 annual reports and accounts (all costs exclude VAT)

Trading fund

Production

Publication

Distribution

ABRO 1

0

10,155

3,047

DARA 1

16,537

6,787

2

Dstl 1

13,144

3

40

Met Office

11,760

10,594

3,500

UKHO (production and printing carried out in-house)

1,970

130

100

1 External costs only

2 Included as part of publication costs

3 Included within production costs

4 Distributed via electronic means

Armed Forces: Casualty Reporting

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the standard operating procedure is for casualty reporting for the armed forces. (105715)

The operating procedures for casualty reporting are contained in the Joint Service Publication 751 “Joint Casualty and Compassionate Policy and Procedures”, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps have been taken to improve UK military casualty reporting since the commencement of operations in Afghanistan. (105718)

The MOD is committed to openly publishing casualty statistics on the number of service personnel killed and wounded on operations. Information on casualties sustained since January 2006 in Afghanistan is available on our website:

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/OperationsFactsheets

Since 28 October 2006 we have been able to provide data on the personnel admitted to medical facilities as a result of disease, as well as for non-battle injury. This additional reporting has been brought about by improvements in tracking of this category of personnel, and brings the reporting of statistics for casualties in Afghanistan into line with reporting for casualties in Iraq.

Furthermore, since 28 October 2006 improvements in the way the data are recorded in theatre, and collated and analysed back in the UK have made it possible for updates to be provided every two weeks (two weeks in arrears), rather than monthly (one month in arrears).

Historic data on casualties which occurred in Afghanistan before 1 January 2006 have now been collated and are currently being reconciled. I will write to the hon Member when this exercise has been completed.

Armed Forces Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many individuals have been recruited into the armed forces in 2006. (104706)

Between 1 January 2006 and 30 September 2006, intake from Civilian Life to the UK Regular Forces was 15,8501. This information can be found at www.dasa.mod.uk

1 Due to the introduction of a new personnel administration system for RAF, all RAF data from 1 May 2006 are provisional and subject to review.

Bevin Boys

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 27 November 2006, Official Report, column 356W, on the Bevin Boys, which ministerial colleagues he is consulting; and when he expects to make an announcement. (107955)

To date, consultation on the possibility of some form of further recognition for the conscripted coal miners has involved the Department of Trade and Industry, the Home Office and the Cabinet Office. The outcome of these deliberations will be announced in due course.

Chaplaincy Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many publicly funded full-time equivalent chaplaincy staff there were on average in 2005-06; what the cost was of such chaplaincy staff in 2005-06; what estimate he has made of the cost in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08; and whether he has assessed the merits of providing equivalent pastoral support for those who are not religious and who may not wish to receive such support from a religious chaplain. (105331)

The last available figures are as at 1 October 2005 and these show a total of 313 publicly funded full-time chaplaincy staff. The cost, based on capitation rates is £295,000.

The cost for 2006-07 and 2007-08 are expected to remain the same except for any adjustments in inflation.

The chaplain provides “an all souls ministry” and as such provides spiritual, moral and pastoral care for all religions and none. The chaplain is an integral part of the unit or headquarters in which they serve. The majority of pastoral work is not denominational or religious. Other support organisations are also available to all personnel in the form of Welfare Services, a Confidential Support Line and the Womens Royal Voluntary Service.

Defence Sixth Form College, Leicestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much public money has been given to Minerva for the (a) construction and (b) operation of services at the Defence Sixth Form College in Leicestershire. (104666)

Payments commenced in July 2004 and the total paid to date (30 November 2006) amounts to £14.085 million, including VAT. The payment does not differentiate between construction and service costs.

Defence Training Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure that there is an in-house bid for any defence training contract which is outsourced. (105429)

The Ministry of Defence already gives serious consideration to in-house bids for potential outsourcing contracts, and a judgement is made on a case-by-case basis.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the effective pay award date is for his Department’s staff; and what the actual implementation date was in each of the last five years. (108294)

[holding answer 11 December 2006]: The effective pay award date for the main body of civilian staff employed by the Ministry of Defence is 1 August.

Pay implementation dates for civilian staff in each of the last five years are shown as follows:

Date

2002

1 October 2002

2003

1 August 2003

2004

1 August 2004

2005

1 August 2005

2006

1

1 Not yet implemented.

Departmental Statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on statistics relating to the work of his Department in each of the last five years. (107269)

There is no definition of the term “statistics relating to the work of the Department” and no centrally held information on either the volume or costs of statistics published each year on this basis.

Estimates for the annual costs of National Statistics are contained in the relevant National Statistics annual report and accounts, which are available on the National Statistics website at:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=1051

Copies are also available in the Library of the House.

The last year these were produced was 2004-05.

Double-cross Agents

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors led his officials to believe that file WO208/3548, referred to in his answer of 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 1453W, contains details of double-cross agents. (106182)

One official recalls examining a file covering so called ‘double-cross agents’ that he believes was WO208/3548 approximately five years ago.

Faslane

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many hours of work were required to complete the recent revalidation assisted maintenance periods at Faslane naval base on (a) HMS Vigilant, (b) HMS Vengeance and (c) HMS Sceptre. (105551)

The following table shows the man-hours of work to complete the recent Revalidation Assisted Maintenance Periods (RAMPs) for HMS Vigilant, HMS Vengeance and HMS Sceptre:

RAMP

Man-hours

Period (weeks)

HMS Vigilant

116,000

40

HMS Vengeance

71,000

26

HMS Sceptre

97,500

40

The figures include work carried out by both MOD staff and staff employed by Babcock Naval Services, who carried out the RAMPS on behalf of the Department, but does not include the time worked by subcontractors as this information is not held.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the total working hours of all civilian personnel employed at (a) Faslane naval base and (b) RNAD Coulport is spent on work (i) exclusively related to Trident, (ii) unrelated to Trident and (iii) partly related to Trident. (105552)

Faslane and Coulport form part of HM Naval Base Clyde, which carries out all the normal functions of a naval base. The requested information is not centrally held and could be provided only at disproportionate cost, but it is estimated that around 60 per cent. of the total working hours of civilian personnel employed at the naval base is spent on Trident-related work.

Firefighters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many senior aircraftsmen firefighters have left the Royal Air Force in each year since 1997; (104923)

(2) how many senior aircraftsmen firefighters have applied for early release from the terms of their employment with the Royal Air Force.

The total number of senior aircraftsman (SAC) firefighters who left the RAF in each financial year since 1997-98 is shown in the following table. This includes those leaving on time expiry, voluntary outflow and other wastage.

SAC firefighter outflows

1997-98

90

1998-99

100

1999-2000

30

2000-01

70

2001-02

40

2002-03

60

2003-04

30

2004-05

40

2005-06

60

2006-07 to end September

130

1 Denotes provisional. Due to the introduction of a new Personnel Administration System for RAF, all RAF data from 1 May 2006 are provisional and subject to review

Notes

Data have been rounded to the nearest 10. Numbers ending in 5 have been rounded to the nearest 20 to prevent systematic bias.

The number of senior aircraftsman fire-fighters who have applied for voluntary outflow in each financial year since 1997-98 is shown in the following table.

Voluntary outflow applications

1997-98

40

1998-99

30

1999-2000

40

2000-01

40

2001-02

70

2002-03

40

2003-04

40

2004-05

50

2005-06

50

Notes

1. Data have been rounded to the nearest 10. Numbers ending in 5 have been rounded to the nearest 20 to prevent systematic bias.

2. Due to the roll out of the new Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system to the RAF in March 2006, voluntary applications data for 2006-07 to date are not currently available.

Household Cavalry

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what breeds of horses are used by the Household Cavalry. (108278)

The horses used by the Household Cavalry are principally Irish Draught cross thorough breeds. Drum horses are either Clydesdale or Shire.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what incidents of British service personnel coming under attack on the Shatt al-Arab waterway took place before the 12 November bombing; and if he will make a statement. (105510)

Centrally held records show that between 15 June 2003 and 23 November 2006 there have been 16 attacks on British forces transiting the Shatt al-Arab waterway.

Mental Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department makes of the mental welfare needs of personnel on discharge from the armed forces; and what steps are taken to follow up those identified as vulnerable. (101069)

The number of medical discharges from the UK armed forces due to psychological illness is low. Of the over 200,000 regular service personnel less than 0.1 per cent. are discharged annually for mental health reasons, whatever the cause. Of these, only 20-25 meet the criteria to be diagnosed with PTSD.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) employs specialist mental health social workers (MHSW), who assist personnel who are medically discharged from the service on the basis of a mental illness. The aim of this service is to liaise with the relevant external agencies (Government and non-governmental), and (along with resettlement agencies) provide the patient with a seamless transfer into civilian life. The MOD’s MHSW routinely liaise with health and social services; housing agencies; the Department of Work and Pensions; Combat Stress; Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA); The Royal British Legion; the Service Benevolent Funds; Regimental Associations; and other relevant charitable organisations.

For veterans, healthcare is primarily the responsibility of the NHS. The Veterans Agency Welfare Service also provides practical assistance to veterans in need of support, focussed on those with mental or physical illness or injury suffered as a result of military service for which a compensatory pension is in payment. Following recommendations on mental health services for veterans in 2005 by the independent Health and Social Care Advisory Service, officials from the MOD, the UK Health departments and Combat Stress have been working together to develop and implement a new community-based model for mental health services for veterans. It is hoped that, beginning in the spring of 2007, the model will be piloted at sites across the UK. The pilots are likely to last two years and, if successful, will be rolled out nationally.

Military Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many qualified minibus drivers there were in HM forces in each year since 2001; (108084)

(2) what the requirement is for the number of minibus drivers in HM forces; and how many there are;

(3) what the projected cost is of training to fill the shortfall in minibus drivers for the armed forces.

The MOD has not set an overall requirement for a specified number of minibus drivers, and the number serving at any time will fluctuate dependent on individual and unit requirements. The actual number of drivers with minibus licences is not centrally recorded and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The MOD is, however, not aware of a shortfall in minibus drivers.

Public Appointments

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which public appointments have been made by his Department to former Ministers who have served in the Government since May 1997. (105770)

The Ministry of Defence has not appointed any former Ministers who have served in the Government since May 1997 to its Public Bodies.

Reserves Mental Health Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the statement of 21 November 2006, Official Report, column 28WS, on the Reserves Mental Health Programme, what discussions he has had with the Department of Health on ensuring that general practitioners are made aware of the mental health treatment made available to reservists. (107960)

The Department of Health was involved from an early stage in our plans for the new programme. We provided guidance to the Department of Health and other UK health authorities for wider dissemination to GPs, who were also informed via direct email distribution. Guidance for patients and health professionals isalso available by visiting http://www.army.mod.uk/rtmc/rmhp.htm or by contacting free phone number 0800 0326258.

RNAD Coulport

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any part of RNAD Coulport has been subject to radioactive contamination to a level that would preclude its use by civil industry. (105548)

There have been no incidences of radioactive contamination that would preclude any part of the Coulport site being used by civil industry.

Service Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has on the average pay for an army sergeant in (a) France, (b) the United States and (c) Germany; and what the average pay is for a sergeant in the British Army. (106985)

Minimum and maximum rates of gross basic pay for Army sergeants in the nations specified, based on current exchange rates, are as follows:

£

France

10,145-15,965

United States

11,058-18,281

Germany

14,025-15,466

United Kingdom

26,751-32,916

These rates are for basic pay only ie pay for the rank. A British Army sergeant equates to rank level 5 and 6 in NATO terms. The rates of pay shown therefore, broadly correspond to this NATO ranking.

Service Personnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 30 November 2006, Official Report, column 812W, on service personnel (honours), what his Department’s policy is on the publication in national newspapers of the names of British servicemen and women who have been honoured for operational service by the United States Administration. (105114)

Awards bestowed on British Servicemen by the United States and other foreign governments are published in the London Gazette following receipt of The Sovereign’s permission to wear such awards. National newspapers may then re-publish these awards. As a matter of policy the Department does not pay for the insertion of the names of recipients of either British or foreign awards in the media other than in the London Gazette.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service people have been injured in operations in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan so as to require second-line medical attention since the commencement of those operations. (103001)

In answering this question I have taken ‘second-line medical attention’ to mean treatment in field hospitals in theatre.

The Ministry of Defence publishes data on battle and non-battle casualties that have resulted from our operations in Iraq from March 2003 and Afghanistan from 1 January 2006. The best centrally available casualty statistics can be found on the Ministry of Defence website

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/OperationsFactsheets

Work is ongoing to ascertain whether casualty data for Afghanistan pre-2006 is sufficiently robust to enable figures to be published in the same format as for Iraq.

Iraq

The method of reporting for Iraq was changed at the end of 2005 so figures are quoted separately for before and after 1 January 2006:

Between March 2003 and 31 December 2005, 6,609 UK military and civilian personnel were treated at the Shaibah “Role 3” Field Hospital.

Between 1 January 2006 and 15 November 2006, 64 UK military or civilian personnel were admitted to the Shaibah Role 3 Facility in Iraq categorised as Wounded in Action, including as a result of hostile action. A further 1,089 UK military or civilian personnel were admitted to the Shaibah Role 3 Facility for Disease or Non-Battle Injuries.

Afghanistan

Between 1 January 2006 and 15 November 2006, 75 UK military or civilian personnel were admitted to UK or coalition medical facilities in Afghanistan categorised as Wounded in Action, including as a result of hostile action.

The method of reporting admittance to field hospitals in Afghanistan was changed at the end of October 2006, to bring it in line with reporting for Iraq. From 28 October 2006 figures for admittance for non-battle injuries also include disease whereas beforehand they only included non-battle injuries.

Between 1 January 2006 and 27 October 2006, 63 UK military and civilian Personnel were admitted to UK and Coalition medical facilities for non-battle injuries.

Between 28 October 2006 and 15 November 2006, 46 UK military and civilian Personnel were admitted to UK and Coalition medical facilities for disease or non-battle injuries.

Territorial Army

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the target establishment number is, under the new structure for the Territorial Army, for each (a) category and (b) sub-category referred to in the answer of 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 782W. (104303)

[holding answer 7 December 2006]: The new target establishments determined under the Future Army Structure are shown in the following table.

Arms and service directorate

Total liability

Total officer liability

Total soldier liability

Household Cavalry/Royal Armoured Corps

1,456

204

1,252

Royal Artillery

2,212

234

1,978

Royal Engineers

4,139

323

3,816

Royal Signals

4,470

401

4,069

Infantry

6,030

394

5,636

Small Arms School Corps

0

0

0

Army Air Corps

519

45

474

Royal Logistic Corps

7,472

583

6,889

Royal Army Medical Corps

3,215

1,128

2,087

Royal Army Dental Corps

145

53

92

Royal Army Veterinary Corps

14

14

0

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army

1,401

669

732

Nursing Corps

Adjutant General Corps (Provost)

642

51

591

Adjutant General Corps (staff and personnel support)

898

61

837

Adjutant General Corps (education training services)

53

53

0

Adjutant General Corps (army legal services)

12

12

0

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

3,163

146

3,017

Intelligence Corps

641

123

518

Army Physical Training Corps

9

0

9

Royal Army Chaplain’s Department

109

109

0

E2 Appointments (shown previously as staff/general list/general service corps)

1,365

883

482

All Arms/Corps sub total

37,965

5,486

32,479

Unallocated

261

n/k

n/k

Officer Training Corps

3,500

n/k

n/k

All Arm/Corps total

41,726

n/k

n/k

A breakdown of these new targets by gender cannot be provided as liability reflects the number of soldiers/officers required for a particular arm or service directorate. Individual arms’ and service directorates’ liabilities may vary in the future as the establishment endorsement process continues. The overall total will, however, remain unchanged.

UK Nuclear Weapons Capability

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how he plans to assess (a) the view of the public on UK nuclear weapons and (b) whether the public supports his position that maintaining nuclear weapons is in the best interests of the UK’s future security. (105528)