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Written Answers

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 18 January 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 18 January 2007

International Development

British Overseas Territories

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to question 113431, tabled on 19 December 2006, by the hon. Member for Romford, what criteria are taken into account in deciding to make ministerial visits to British overseas territories and Crown dependencies. (116122)

Many factors are considered in determining ministerial priorities for travel to partner countries and territories. These include the size of DFID's programme, the justification for engagement at ministerial rather than at official level and the practicality of accommodating a visit alongside other ministerial and parliamentary duties. DFID has no responsibilities for the Crown dependencies.

Statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the process is for deciding the date of publication of statistics prepared by or relating to the Department; and who is involved in that process. (113089)

The National Statistics Code of Practice (2002)—which serves as a model for all public sector statistical work—established the principle that

“final responsibility for the content, format and timing of release of national statistics”

rests with the Head of Profession for statistics in each department. In reaching their decisions, Heads of Profession take into consideration the detailed procedural guidance given in the ‘National Statistics Protocol on Release Practices’.

Copies of the code and its 12 supporting protocols are available in the Library of the House and can also be accessed using the following address:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/about/national_statistics/cop/default.asp

House of Commons Commission

Visitors Entrance

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, when the visitors entrance to the Palace of Westminster is expected to be completed; what the reasons are for the delay in its construction; what the total cost of the project will be; whether additional costs will be incurred as a result of the delay; and if he will make a statement. (114743)

I refer the hon. Member to the replies I gave on 19 December 2006, Official Report, columns 1791-92W. The House of Commons Commission will receive a further report on progress at the end of this month.

Leader of the House

Correspondence

To ask the Leader of the House how many letters to his Department sent from hon. Members during Session 2005-06 remain unanswered, broken down by those which are (a) one month old, (b) two months old, (c) three months old, (d) four months old and (e) over six months old. (114611)

For the calendar year 2006 the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons answered 95 per cent. of correspondence from hon. Members that required a reply within our 15 working day deadline. We have no outstanding correspondence from hon. Members received in the 2005-06 Session.

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members’/Peers’ correspondence. The report for 2005 was published on 30 March 2006, Official Report, columns 75-78WS. Information relating to 2006 is currently being collated and will be published as soon as it is ready.

Engagements

To ask the Leader of the House on what dates Ministers in his Office made official visits to the London boroughs of (a) Tower Hamlets, (b) Newham and (c) Waltham Forest in each year since 1997. (115744)

Our records do not cover the entire period requested. The records available show that there have been two occasions that Ministers from the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons have made official visits to the London borough of Newham. I visited Stratford on 20 June 2006 to view the Olympic park site; and the late right hon. Robin Cook MP, when Leader of the House, visited Newham on 2 May 2002.

To ask the Leader of the House on what dates the Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council made official visits to the London boroughs of (a) Tower Hamlets, (b) Newham and (c) Waltham Forest in each year since 1997. (115748)

Our records do not cover the period requested. However, the Leader of the Lords and Lord President of the Council spoke at a Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS event in Tower Hamlets on 22 May 2006 and at the UNESCO launch of ‘Education For All: Global Monitoring Report 2006’ in Tower Hamlets on 9 November 2005.

Trade and Industry

Trade Balance

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the UK trade balance was in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. (116331)

The UK trade balance was £4.7 billion in deficit in November 2006 (the most recent period for which figures are available from the ONS), up from £4.1 billion in October 2006, as a small rise in exports (up 0.5 per cent.) was outweighed by a larger rise in imports (up 2.3 per cent.).

Total UK exports (goods and services) were £326 billion in 2005—up 9 per cent. on 2004. There was a strong performance in both goods (up 11 per cent.) and services (up 6 per cent.).

The stock of inward investment in the UK rose to £483 billion at the end of 2005, a rise of £119 billion over the stock at the end of 2004.

The UK is the second most popular destination for inward investment in the world (behind the US).

Post Office

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to increase the business opportunities for the Post Office. (116332)

Within the proposed framework of Government support, the development of business opportunities for the Post Office is an operational matter for the management of Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd.

Minimum Wage

15. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to prevent employers paying below the minimum wage. (116333)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to prevent employers paying below the minimum wage. (116324)

The Government publicise details of the minimum wage every time it increases and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) follow up all complaints about underpayment. HMRC also target enforcement action on low-paying employers and take tough action against those that are found to be non-compliant.

Marine Renewables Deployment Fund

16. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the operation of the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund. (116334)

The DTI’s £50 million “Marine Renewables Deployment Fund” was established to assist the continued development of wave and tidal-stream energy technologies beyond the initial research and development phase.

The fund is open to applications under any of the planned rounds.

Corus

17. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with Corus and steel trade unions on the take-over of Corus. (116335)

Although there have been no specific meetings with Ministers, the company and trade unions have kept DTI officials and advisors up to date as the situation has developed and of course further meetings will be held if requested by Corus and the unions.

York: Science City

18. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance the Government have provided to York as a science city. (116336)

Since 1998 Science City York has secured funding of £3.5 million. The funding sources include the City of York council, European funding, the Learning and Skills Council and Yorkshire Forward.

The main change since my hon. Friend asked the same question on 8 June 2006 is the addition of £470,000 to meet the three-year salary costs (2007 to 2009) and recruit administrative support for the new post of chief executive, Science City York.

A further £2.63 million is allocated from Northern Way.

Bank Holidays

19. To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to increase the number of bank holidays. (116337)

Emissions Trading Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he had with (a) management in the UK steel industry, (b) trade unions and (c) the European Commission on the impact of phase 2 of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme on the UK steel industry. (116104)

This matter was discussed on 21 June 2006 when I met with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Steel and Metal-Related Industry, at which UK steel companies were represented. On 13 July 2006, I met a delegation from the Metals Forum—including a representative of the trade association UK Steel—and the EU ETS phase 2 allocations was among a range of issues covered. On 17 October 2006 my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Derek Wyatt) was present when I discussed EU ETS phase 2 allocations with senior management from Thamesteel. This subject has also been reviewed at meetings of the Business Energy Forum, which is jointly chaired by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South-West (Mr. Darling) and Richard Lambert of the Confederation of British Industry. There have been no meetings on the impact of this issue on the steel industry with the trade unions or the European Commission.

Radio Spectrum

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received on the Office of Communications consultation on the allocation of the radio spectrum; and if he will make a statement. (116338)

The Department is in regular contact with users of, and those with an interest in, the radio spectrum. No specific representations have been received on the Office of Communications’ (Ofcom) recent consultations on the allocation of the radio spectrum. Ofcom, the independent regulator of communications, is responsible for managing civil radio spectrum in the UK, and Ofcom is accountable directly to Parliament in respect of its statutory responsibilities. Any representation on Ofcom’s spectrum consultations are a matter for the regulator.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Air Travel Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his estimate is of annual departmental emissions from air travel, broken down by Department. (115099)

The table shows estimated annual emissions of carbon dioxide from air travel attributable to Government Departments. These are estimates based on air travel spending and/or distance travelled, collected for the purpose of calculating payments into the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund1. Some departmental figures include air travel emissions attributable to associated agencies. When applied to the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund, departmental figures will be multiplied by two to take into account the additional impact of emissions at altitude.

1 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for Culture, Media and Sport operate their own offsetting schemes.

Department

Tonnes of carbon dioxide per year

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

14,243

Department for International Development

8,676

Ministry of Defence

7,583

HM Revenue and Customs

4,155

Department for Trade and Industry

3,404

Home Office

2,362

Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

1,997

Treasury

1,662

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

1,350

Department of Health

955

Cabinet Office

818

Department for Transport

520

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

340

Office of National Statistics

190

Department for Education and Skills

148

Law Officers Department Crown Prosecution Service

228

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

151

Law Officers Department Serious Fraud Office

133

Department for Constitutional Affairs

139

Office of Government Commerce (OGC)

111

Export Credits Guarantee Department

128

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

80

Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers

30

Government Actuary’s Department

23

Debt Management Office

4

Total

49,430

Defra recognises some of the inherent difficulties in calculating carbon dioxide emissions from financial expenditure, and is actively seeking to improve carbon dioxide reporting mechanisms across Government.

The recent Pan-Government Travel Contract (led by the DWP, OGC and Defra) had sustainability as a stringent criterion. My Department, in partnership with our travel service provider, has developed carbon reporting based on business mileages, rather than financial expenditure. This has improved the reliability of data streams and enabled strategic analysis.

Through the work of the Defra-led Government Carbon Offsetting Fund Interdepartmental Group and the Civil Service Travel Group, Defra is promoting the use of the collaborative Pan-Government Travel Contract. We are also sharing best practice across the Government Estate.

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the result was of his Department’s consultation on proposed guidance for the transport of greyhounds; and whether his Department plans to issue guidance relating specifically to the transport of greyhounds. (115494)

Defra has not consulted specifically on proposed guidance for the transport of greyhounds. However, in May 2006 Defra published a consultation paper on the implementation in England of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations. A summary of responses can be found on the Defra website at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/anirnaltransport-eureg/responses-summary.pdf.

Following that consultation, my Department issued guidance on compliance with Regulation 1/2005 which is available on the Defra website at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/welfare/farmed/transport/eu-transportreg.htm.

Specific guidance on the transport of greyhounds is not planned but it is our intention to use powers provided under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to introduce regulations and a code on the welfare of greyhounds used in racing.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 14 December 2006, Official Report, columns 1242-3W, on animal welfare, whether the British Greyhound Racing Board consulted his Department before issuing its guidance; and if he will make a statement. (115495)

The British Greyhound Racing Board did consult Defra before issuing its guidance on transporting greyhounds.

Bovine Animal Seizures

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Minister authorised the decision to attempt to seize bovine animal UK OX0564 00177 on 10 January 2007; and on what date that decision was taken. (116111)

[holding answer 17 January 2007]: My letter of 15 November 2006 advised the hon. Member that I considered the animal in question to be a bovine spongiform encephalopathy cohort and that the state veterinary service would make arrangements to slaughter it. The law requires cohorts to be slaughtered as soon as possible.

A decision on when to remove an animal for slaughter is an operational one for the state veterinary service. Given the public interest generated about this animal the SVS informed Ministers of their intention to remove the animal on 8 January 2007. They were under no obligation to do so.

Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the total carbon emissions of the UK were for road transport in the most recent year for which information is available; (115438)

(2) what the total carbon emissions of the UK were for (a) power generation and (b) domestic consumption in the most recent year for which information is available.

The UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory published in 2006 contains final estimates of emissions to 2004, which is the latest year for which information is currently available.

The total UK emissions of carbon dioxide from road transport, power generation and the domestic sector in 2004, as reported in the Inventory, are set out in the following table.

Sector

Total UK emissions of carbon dioxide in 2004 (Megatons (Mt))

Road transport

119.8 carbon dioxide or 32.7 carbon

Power generation

171.4 carbon dioxide

Domestic sector

87.9 carbon dioxide

Provisional DTI figures, published in March 2006, suggest small increases in emissions in 2005. Final statistics for 2005 from the UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory will be available on 31 January.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's targets are for the reduction in total carbon emissions of the UK for (a) road transport, (b) power generation and (c) domestic consumption by (i) 2020, (ii) 2030 and (iii) 2050. (115439)

The new Climate Change Bill announced in the Queen's speech will make the Government's long-term goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent. by 2050 a statutory target. How this target is measured and how progress is reported, are fundamental issues that are still being considered. Appropriate interim targets are being looked at.

The Government do not have specific carbon dioxide emission reduction targets for individual sectors. However, the 2006 UK climate change programme (UKCCP) sets out the measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in six broad sectors: energy supply; business; transport; domestic; agriculture, forestry and land management; and public and local government.

The 2006 UKCCP also contains data on recorded emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases covered by the Kyoto protocol, and projected emissions of these gases to 2020.

The 2006 UKCCP can be accessed on the Defra website at:

http://defraweb/environment/climatechange/uk/ukccp/

Climate Change Bill

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to reply to the letter of 11 October 2006 from the right hon. Member for Warley on the Climate Change Bill. (114948)

Compensation Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much in compensation payments was paid by his Department in 2005-06; and what the reason for the payment was in each case. (108207)

The following amounts were paid in compensation by the Department in 2005-06:

Litigation

£

Employment

Dismissal

Case 1

17,000

Case 2

2,683.36

Case 3

19,000

Case 4

44,000

Case 5

4,468

Case 6

19,767

Case 7

6,870

Case 8

17,593

Case 9

24,000

Personal injury

Case 1

750

Case 2

3,000

Case 3

3,000

Case 4

3,000

Case 5

400

Case 6

3,310

Case 7

65,436.90

Rights of way

Case 1

3,500

Foot and Mouth Disease

Claims

Case 1

3,228.50

Case 2

2,526.25

Personal Injury

Case 1

40,000

Arbitration

Case l

81,678.75

Case 2

25,000

Case 3

35,000

Case 4

3,400

Case 5

36,177

Case 6

181,843.99

Slaughter Premium

Liquidated claims

51,364.26

Unliquidated claims

89,627.86

1 Settlement prior to ET £6,000

2 Settlement prior to ET

Countryside Access

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the policy is of his Department on encouraging equestrian access to the countryside. (116097)

We have worked closely with both the British Horse Society and British Horse Industry Confederation on the production of the joint “Horse Industry Strategy for England and Wales” which was launched in December 2005. Improved equestrian access features strongly in the strategy which is available from the Defra website at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/horses/topics/strategy.htm.

The Government are committed to improving access for equestrians by increasing the number of bridleways and improving the off-road riding and driving network. A number of current initiatives, such as Rights of Way Improvement Plans and the Discovering Lost Ways Project, aim to achieve this objective. Local access forums also play an important role in pressing the case for equestrian access in the development of the bridleway network.

Departmental Budget Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the likely effect will be of the conclusions of his Department’s summer budget review on funds available to the Institute for Grasslands and Environmental Research in each of the next three years. (116052)

No ongoing research projects at the Institute for Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) have been affected by the recent budgetary reductions. Defra allocated over £150 million to research and development (R&D) in 2006-07, reflecting the value the Department places on research. However R&D spending is not ring-fenced and cannot be protected from other competing pressures.

Defra-funded research at IGER in 2006-07 is currently £5.4 million, with ongoing spend for 2007-08 and 2008-09 at £2.1 million and £1.1 million respectively. Negotiations are progressing for further new research to start at IGER during 2007-08 and subsequently.

Departmental Energy Efficiency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 8 January 2007, Official Report, column 271W, on departmental energy efficiency, what steps he is taking to spread best practice to other Departments and public bodies. (115458)

The Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust are Government-funded bodies that are working to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

These bodies work with public sector organisations such as local authorities, schools, the NHS and Government Departments. They spread best practice in both the public and the private sector.

For example, in 2006 the Department of Health, in partnership with the Carbon Trust, published a guide which provides best practice to ensure that everyone involved in managing, procuring and using healthcare buildings and equipment considered the implications of energy use, and it can be found at:

http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/Publicsites/cScape.CT.PublicationsOrdering/PublicationAudit.aspx

Departmental Energy Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to make his Department carbon-neutral. (105746)

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will meet the commitment for a carbon-neutral central Government estate by 2012 through a package of measures, which include reducing emissions, using renewable energy and only offsetting what cannot be eliminated.

Defra is currently working with the Carbon Trust to implement a carbon management programme which will prioritise activity to maximise energy and carbon savings. The programme will look to develop a systematic approach to carbon management and assist in reducing carbon emissions through operational improvements, reduced energy costs, staff awareness and monitoring initiatives. This activity goes hand in hand with Defra’s own energy efficiency programme, which is focusing on monitoring energy consumption across the estate and identifying opportunities for better managing energy use.

Eastern Region Flood Defences

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reasons are for the reductions in the budget of the Eastern Region Flood Defences from 2006-07 to 2007-08. (116465)

Defra will provide £435.7 million to the Environment Agency in 2007-08 for Flood Risk Management, almost £23 million more than was available in 2006-07.

The agency allocates funding to Regional Flood Defence Committees both for new capital schemes and to maintain existing defences on the basis of national priorities to ensure that the funding is spent to optimum effect. This inevitably means that the allocation to each Regional Flood Defence Committee is likely to change year on year, particularly as capital schemes are completed.

During the current year, major schemes in the Anglian Eastern area have completed, notably Canvey and Tilbury. A wide range of capital schemes—such as Broadlands and Eastern Broad—will be taken forward in the agency’s Anglian Eastern area in 2007-08.

Environment Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of how much public money was lost through financial mis-management at the Environment Agency in each of the last five years. (116173)

[holding answer 17 January 2007]: The National Audit Office have confirmed in the last two financial years (and PricewaterhouseCoopers before that (2001-02 to 2003-04)) that in all material aspects the expenditure and income for the Environment Agency have been applied to the purposes intended by Parliament and the financial transactions conform to the standards set by the authorities which govern them.

Flooding: Insurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government have contingency plans in place to ensure that coastal communities at risk from rising sea levels and flooding can access property insurance in the event of the private sector withdrawing insurance coverage. (114936)

The Government continue to work with the Association of British Insurers to maintain the widespread availability of flood risk insurance. Insurance cover remains broadly available to households in areas at risk of flooding in accordance with the Association’s ‘Statement of Principles’ which is published on their website. I met the Association in November and they confirmed there are no plans to withdraw from the Statement of Principles.

Litter

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many fixed penalty fines for litter offences were issued by each local authority in England in each of the last three years for which figures are available. (114328)

London Waste and Recycling Forum

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to establish the proposed London Waste and Recycling Forum and Fund; and whether (a) the Fund and (b) the Forum will be put on a statutory footing. (113426)

The issue of London’s waste is currently being debated in Parliament in the context of the Greater London Authority (GLA) Bill. The GLA Bill was introduced to Parliament on 27 November 2006, and will take forward a number of changes to the Mayor’s powers announced on 13 July last year. The Government announced a package of measures to strengthen London’s ability to manage waste sustainably without change to current structures.

The Government intend to establish a London-wide Waste and Recycling Forum which will bring stakeholders together to deliver improved performance on waste minimisation and recycling, promote collaborative action and link waste with other London priorities around climate change, transport and employment. Under the Government’s proposals, neither the Fund nor the Forum should have statutory powers.

Meat Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the volume and value of beef imported from Brazil was in each of the last five years, broken down by state. (116064)

[holding answer 17 January 2007]: The volume and value of beef imports (including meat and offal preparations) from Brazil to the United Kingdom since 2001 are shown as follows:

£000

Tonnes

2001

134,030

92,681

2002

131,709

100,573

2003

123,255

97,590

2004

134,113

93,619

2005

133,163

85,752

20061

128,677

70,724

1 January to October.

These figures were obtained from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for all consignments which have been declared through the required channels by both exporters and importers, in accordance with European Union (EU) regulations.

Due to the EU tracing systems for all trade, it is not possible to break down these figures by states within third countries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which states in Brazil have (a) reported outbreaks of foot and mouth in the last 12 months and (b) been subject to EU bans on exports. (116065)

[holding answer 17 January 2007]: In the last 12 months outbreaks of foot and mouth disease have been reported in Brazil in or around the regions of Mato Grosso do Sul, São Paulo and Parana.

These regions, and associated affected areas, have been subject to European Union (EU) restrictions on exports since October 2005, when outbreaks were first confirmed there.

Imports of livestock susceptible to foot and mouth disease from Brazil as a whole are currently banned under EU law. There is currently no evidence that we are aware of to justify a total EU ban on imports of meat and related food products from Brazil, although the Commission is keeping the situation under close scrutiny.

Natural England

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the implications of changes to Natural England’s budget are for the educational elements of the Higher Level Scheme. (113471)

[pursuant to the reply, 11 January 2007, Official Report, c. 677]: My answer gave the year of Natural England’s budget as 2006-07. This was incorrect and should have read 2007-08. The rest of the answer remains correct and is detailed in full as follows:

Natural England’s budget for 2007-08 was announced on 22 December as £169.59 million. This represents core funding, largely in relation to running costs. The Higher Level agri-environment scheme is funded under separate arrangements to support the UK’s Rural Development Programmes.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will provide substantive responses to the parliamentary questions raised with his Department’s Permanent Secretary in the evidence session held by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on 4 December 2006. (115085)

The Department’s Permanent Secretary will be writing to my hon. Friend before the end of this month in order to provide further information on the matters raised.

Rat Population

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information he collects on the money spent by sewerage undertakers on control of rat populations; and what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of that control. (116156)

The Department does not collect information on monies spent by sewerage undertakers on the control of rat populations, which is not one of their statutory functions. Nor does it make regular assessments of the effectiveness of sewerage undertakers’ control of rat populations in sewers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken as a result of his Department’s review of liaison arrangements between water companies and local authorities in relation to sewer baiting for rats; and what further measures are planned. (116164)

A joint protocol, published in 1999 by the Local Government Association and Water UK, set out arrangements for closer working relationships between water companies and local authorities on rodent infestations in sewers. Sewer baiting policy is a matter for individual water companies.

The last review, undertaken in 2003, did not receive sufficient responses to enable any clear conclusions to be drawn from the information provided.

I am not aware of any representations from local authorities or water companies requiring further guidance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the work of the Rats in Sewers Working Group. (116165)

The Rats in Sewers Working Group was established to encourage the development of joint strategies between local authorities and water companies for sewer baiting and the control of rodent populations. This resulted in the publication of a joint protocol by the Local Government Association and Water UK.

The Working Group aims to meet, as appropriate, to discuss issues such as the effectiveness of the protocol.

Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the value for money of funding provided to the Waste and Resources Action Programme for the campaign Recycle Now. (116198)

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) was allocated a total of £11 million for a two-year period to run a national campaign on recycling. Recycle Now was launched in September 2004.

A review of the campaign’s value for money showed that it has cost 51 pence per household, which is within the range of costs reported in other EU member states for similar campaigns.

An independent survey carried out by marketing groups has shown that the Recycle Now television adverts generate very strong public recognition and, therefore, compare favourably to successful commercial advertisements with significantly larger budgets.

Work carried out by NOP on behalf of WRAP indicates an increase in committed recyclers, from 45 per cent. to 57 per cent. over the period from April 2004 to March 2006. This represents an additional five million committed recyclers (that is, those who regard recycling as important, those who recycle even if it requires additional effort, and those who recycle a lot or everything that they can). The campaign therefore exceeded the 55 per cent. committed recycler target set out in WRAP’S 2004-06 business plan.

The Government firmly believes that public participation is key to increasing recycling and waste minimisation and in taking forward a policy of sustainable waste management. We have seen household waste recycling rates increase to 27 per cent. in 2005-06 (in combination with increased levels of recycling infrastructure). This exceeds the 25 per cent. target and represents nearly a fourfold increase since 1997.

Rights of Way

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the accessibility of rights of way routes to disabled people. (115905)

In 2005 Natural England produced a framework which aims to provide clear and detailed advice for countryside managers on how to improve access opportunities for disabled people. It guides land managers, land owners and others, through a process of working more actively with disabled people. This can be found on the Natural England website at:

www.countryside.gov.uk/Images/Inclusive_tcm2-27716.pdf

Under section 69 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, highway authorities must consider the needs of disabled people when authorising the erection of stiles and gates or other works on footpaths or bridleways. A local authority may also enter into agreements with owners, occupiers or lessees of land to improve stiles, gates or other structures to benefit disabled people.

The Welsh Assembly Government commenced section 69 in December 2006 and are currently consulting on statutory guidance, which is available online at:

http://new.wales.gov.uk/consultations/currentconsultation/envandcouncurrcons/?lang=en

DEFRA plans to consult on the section 69 statutory guidance shortly.

Rural Payments Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many single payment scheme claimants have been written to by the Rural Payments Agency (a) advising them that their claim may be adjusted and (b) to seek a refund of overpayment; and what total sum of money is being reclaimed following overpayment. (115187)

[holding answer 16 January 2007]: RPA does not keep statistics on all letters and their type sent out to customers. However, as at 19 December, the 2005 SPS claims for 17,288 customers had been adjusted. These adjustments have resulted in claim reductions of £11.26 million. Overall, 3,647 claimants have received overpayments valued at about £23.1 million. The overpayments are in the process of being recovered.

Statistics

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the process is for deciding the date of publication of statistics prepared by or relating to the Department; and who is involved in that process. (113087)

The National Statistics Code of Practice (2002)—which serves as a model for all public sector statistical work—established the principle that

‘final responsibility for the content, format and timing of release of National Statistics’

rests with the Head of Profession for Statistics in each department. In reaching their decisions, Heads of Profession take into consideration the detailed procedural guidance given in the ‘National Statistics Protocol on Release Practices’.

Copies of the Code and its 12 supporting Protocols are available in the Library of the House and can also be accessed using the following address:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/about/national_statistics/cop/default.asp

Tail Docking

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of illegal tail docking have been notified to the Department in the last two years. (115592)

Thames Barrier

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times the Thames Barrier has been raised in each year since its construction. (113854)

Environment Agency figures show that since its construction, the Thames Barrier has been closed to prevent flooding during the winter flood season (generally October to April) on 95 occasions as follows:

Total

1982-83

1

1983-84

0

1984-85

0

1985-86

1

1986-87

1

1987-88

0

1988-89

1

1989-90

4

1990-91

1

1991-92

1

1992-93

4

1993-94

7

1994-95

4

1995-96

4

1996-97

1

1997-98

1

1998-99

2

1999-2000

6

2000-01

24

2001-02

4

2002-03

20

2003-04

1

2004-05

4

2005-06

3

2006-071

0

Total

95

1 To date.

At present the Thames Barrier is closed on average three to four times a year. In extreme conditions more frequent closures have been necessary to protect London from flooding—such as during the winter of 2000-01, when the barrier was closed 24 times and January 2003, when it was closed 19 times. These unusual occurrences were generally the result of continued high freshwater flows which only required a smaller tidal surge to necessitate a closure of the barrier.

Veterinary Surgeons

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role the Department plays in the regulation of veterinary surgeons, including in suspension and removal. (115591)

The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 designates the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) as the body responsible for regulating the professional education and conduct of veterinary surgeons in the UK.

DEFRA is considering ways in which the current regulatory framework might be modernised.

Warm Front

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many quotations for boiler replacements under the Warm Front initiative exceeded the individual grant available in (a) 2003, (b) 2004, (c) 2005 and (d) 2006. (113699)

[holding answer 10 January 2007]: As the Warm Front scheme developed, new (raised) grant levels have been introduced to keep abreast of changes in the market place and Warm Front’s evolving policy framework. In the interests of accuracy, the various grant levels have been separately identified.

The proportion of boiler replacements which exceeded the grant maxima in the relevant scheme years are:

2003-04

Grant limit

Boiler replacements costing above grant maxima (percentage)

£1,500

11

Due to the varying nature of work involved in boiler replacement jobs, it is inevitable that some cases exceed the grant maximum, and 11 per cent. for year 2003-04 is deemed a reasonable level.

2004-05

Grant limit

Boiler replacements costing above grant maxima (percentage)

£1,500

88

£2,500

42

Small increases in labour costs and material prices resulted in a large percentage increase of boiler replacements exceeding the grant maxima. This level was not deemed acceptable and, as such, a legislative change to raise the grant level was identified as the necessary course of action.

2005-06

Grant limit

Boiler replacements costing above grant maxima (percentage)

£1,500

97

£2,500

84

£2,700

29

2005-06 witnessed the transition between the first phase of Warm Front, and the current phase. As part of this transition, prices for materials and labour were harmonised across regions throughout England. Warm Front policy was also developed and previous Warm Front customers (from the first phase of the scheme) found themselves able to re-apply for the scheme and qualify for a greater level of assistance. Indications are that a significant proportion of the 29 per cent. of boiler replacements exceeding the £2,700 maximum had already received a portion of their available grant under the first phase of the scheme.

2006-07 (current)

Grant limit

Boiler replacements costing above grant maxima (percentage)

£2,700

30

Where heating measures alone are recommended, around 70 per cent. of cases can be fully funded by Warm Front. 40 per cent. of those cases that exceed the grant maxima have previously received assistance from the scheme—and thus are seeking grant support with less money in the household account.

Water Companies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on increasing the five- year periodic review cycle in respect of setting price limits for water companies; and if he will make a statement. (116445)

Ofwat's 2006 consultation ‘Setting water and sewerage prices, is five years right?’ sought views on a number of issues including the length of time between price reviews.

Over 30 responses were received from water industry stakeholders. A summary of responses is included in Ofwat's document ‘A sustainable water industry—To PR09 and beyond’. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House and is also available on Ofwat's website at:

http://www.ofwat.gov.uk/aptrix/ofwat/publish.nsf/AttachmentsByTitle/SustainableWaterInd011106.pdf/$FILE/SustainableWaterInd011106.pdf.

My Department continues to work closely with Ofwat and other water industry stakeholders in preparation for the 2009 periodic review of price limits.

Transport

Advertising

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department spent on advertising with The Guardian newspaper, including online, and on advertorials and advertising features, in the latest year for which figures are available. (113993)

The Department did not use The Guardian in fiscal year 2005-06 for advertising in support of our THINK! road safety or Continuous Registration campaigns.

The Guardian has been used for recruitment advertising. Details, however, are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Air Navigation Order

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will investigate why the consultation co-ordinator for the Department for Transport’s proposed amendment of the Air Navigation Order 2005 has not (a) acknowledged and (b) responded to correspondence from (i) a constituent of the hon. Member for Strangford and (ii) the hon. Member’s constituency office acting on his behalf; (114927)

(2) what the role is of the consultation co-ordinator for the Department for Transport dealing with the Air Navigation Order 2005;

(3) how many letters the consultation co-ordinator has received in response to the consultation on the Air Navigation Order 2005; and how many responses he has made;

(4) how many emails the consultation co-ordinator for the Department for Transport dealing with the Air Navigation Order 2005 has received from those concerned with this matter; and how many responses he has sent.

[holding answer 15 January 2007]: The consultation coordinator, who monitors the Department's compliance with the Government's code of practice on consultation, has received nine letters and 22 emails about the consultation on the Air Navigation Order 2005. I will reply to the hon. Member's letter on this issue shortly, and am arranging for replies to be sent to the other correspondents.

Air Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average number of flights per day was between London airports and (a) Manchester, (b) Glasgow, (c) Edinburgh, (d) Aberdeen, (e) Cardiff and (f) Newcastle in each year since 1997; what the average number of flights per day was between Cardiff and RAF Valley over the same period; and if he will make a statement. (116067)

The Department does not hold the information but it can be obtained from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Contact details for CAA are on the following web page:

http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?categoryid=80&pagetype=90&pageid=74.

Aviation Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what definition he uses of attributable to the UK in the context of carbon emissions from aircraft; what other definitions he has considered; and if he will make a statement. (115621)

Forecasts set out in The Future of Air Transport White Paper assume that the UK takes responsibility for emissions from all departing flights.

Emissions from international flights do not currently count in the national inventories of greenhouse gas emissions, there being no international agreement yet on ways of allocating such emissions.

BAA

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will write to the Chairman of BAA plc requesting him to reply to the letter of 10 October 2006 from the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling. (115966)

The consideration of the right hon. Member’s letter is a matter for BAA plc. I understand that the right hon. Member will receive a reply shortly.

Departmental Annual Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) cost and (b) purpose is of the pump-priming support to which he refers on page 21 of his Department’s 2006 annual report. (115699)

£18 million has been earmarked for Transport Innovation Fund pump-priming during the period 2005-06 to 2007-08. The purpose is to support initial scheme development by local transport authorities who are actively considering innovative ways to tackle congestion.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the source is of the income provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency referred to in figure 2b of his Department's 2006 annual report. (115841)

The Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) is an executive agency of the Department for Transport and provides two main services, Government cars and Government mail, to Government and the wider public sector. Its framework document requires the agency to recover all its costs through charges to its customers. The income referred to in the Department for Transport's annual report 2006 represents the value of those charges.

Departmental Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his Department’s expenditure on foreign travel, including accommodation, was in (a) 1996-97 and (b) 2005-06. (113991)

The Department for Transport came into existence in May 2002 as a result of machinery of government changes.

Details of ministerial travel are contained in the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1808W, to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan), which refers to the published annual list of overseas visits by Cabinet Ministers and includes the overall cost of all Ministers’ overseas travel.

Three of the Department’s seven agencies (HA, VOSA, and GCDA) do not account for overseas travel by civil servants separately from other travel and associated costs. The figure for the central Department and the remaining agencies for 2005-06 is £3,429,740.

DVLA

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many names and addresses of drivers were sold by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to third parties in (a) December 2005 and (b) December 2006. (113955)

The DVLA does not sell driver information. Where the law requires information on vehicles and their keepers to be released to third parties a fee is levied to cover the costs of the transaction only so that the burden does not fall on the tax payer. The DVLA does not collate the number of such transactions.

East Coast Mainline

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many companies have submitted expressions of interest in bidding for the East Coast Mainline rail franchise; and when he expects to announce the identity of the shortlisted bidders. (116451)

Due to commercial sensitivity it is not DfT policy to provide the number of companies submitting an expression of interest. The expected announcement of who has been shortlisted will be made on 9 February 2007.

Government Car Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the estimated annual average cost to the public purse is of providing a diesel Jaguar XJ ministerial car, including associated staff and running costs. (113997)

I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 8 November 2006, Official Report, column 1574W, given to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles).

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what categories of individuals are permitted to use vehicles from the Government Car Service. (115294)

The Prime Minister’s guidance, Travel by Ministers, and the Ministerial Code, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House, set out who is permitted to have an allocated car and driver provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency.

GCDA’s short-term hire and green car services may be used by the civil service and the wider public sector. It is for each Government Department or public body to determine use.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) people were employed and (b) vehicles were owned by the Government Car Service in (i) 2001 and (ii) 2006. (115700)

Information on the number of people employed by the Government Car Service and its fleet size is available in the annual report and accounts of the Government Car and Despatch Agency, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Helicopter Noise

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the answer of 5 December 2006, Official Report, column 230W, on helicopter noise, what the conclusions were of the meeting held with representatives of the London Assembly’s Environmental Committee to discuss the recommendations in the committee’s report, “London in a spin—A review of helicopter noise”; and if he will make a statement. (116239)

I held a very constructive and productive meeting with representatives of the London Assembly’s Environment Committee. We agreed on two key priorities which were the improvement of data collection with a central database and a clear complaints procedure for the public. The Department will be taking these issues forward in dialogue with the Civil Aviation Authority, National Air Traffic Services and the Committee.

Light Dues System

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the value of the Irish subsidy component of the light dues system in (a) 2006-07 and (b) future financial years. (114217)

The contribution from the General Lighthouse Fund to the provision of aids to navigation in the Republic of Ireland is expected to outturn at around £6.8 million in 2006-07, and is forecast at £7.0 million in 2007-08. The General Lighthouse Authority’s corporate planning process does not yet provide for estimates beyond 2007-08.

Motor Scooters

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what limits he imposes on emissions from motor scooters; and if he will take action to remove from public roads the most polluting motor scooters. (116946)

Emission limits for motorcycles and mopeds are set by European Union (EU) Directive 97/24/EC, as amended by 2002/51/EC. These directives set mandatory emission limits for new motorcycles and mopeds. Three successive stages of emissions limits were introduced for motorcycles and two for mopeds. All new machines must now meet the following emissions limits:

g/km

Carbon monoxide

Hydrocarbons

Oxides of nitrogen

Motorcycles

2.0

0.8

0.15

Mopeds

1.0

11.2

1 HC+NOx

There are no plans to remove particular motorcycles or mopeds from the roads. New vehicle emissions limits combined with normal fleet turnover ensure that higher emitting vehicles are removed from the fleet over time.

Motorcycles and mopeds continue to be a very small contributor to total road transport emissions.

Oyster Card

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the answer of 13 December 2006, Official Report, columns 1068-69W, on the Oyster Card, when he expects to receive a report on the work between his Department and Transport for London. (116513)

The report on the Department’s research referred to in my previous answer will be published on the Department’s website by the end of January. Copies of the report will be placed in both House Libraries.

Discussions between the Department and Transport for London are ongoing. Transport for London is undertaking a detailed technical scoping study to identify the changes required to ensure all Oyster equipment is ITSO compliant. Publication of this report is a matter for Transport for London.

Public Finance Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) public-private partnerships and (b) private finance initiative contracts have been entered into by his Department; what assets were transferred to the private sector as part of each deal; what the value of these assets was; what the total cost is of each contract; and what estimate was made of the cost to his Department of traditional procurement over the life of each contract. (109344)

A table with estimated total capital value, estimated total unitary charges payments and the conventional public sector comparator for PFI projects overseen by the Department for Transport that have reached financial close has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

No assets were transferred to the private sector as part of these deals.

PFI capital values typically refer to the cost of constructing project assets. The cost information in the table is an estimate of these costs. They are estimated costs because it is a feature of PFI contracts that responsibility for construction risk is transferred to the contractor. The final cost is the responsibility of the contractor. The construction cost is an element of the unitary charge payment. The total unitary charge is a projection that covers payment for both the construction cost and other costs that arise from delivering the service. These typically include the cost of maintenance, managing the service, and operational activities over the duration of the contract. The estimated unitary charge may vary over the duration of a contract as it reflects changes in the indexation of payments, usage related-payments, contract deductions and service changes.

Rail Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what role his Department played in the recent major reconfiguration of the timetable introduced by First Great Western. (115587)

The detailed construction of the timetable is a matter for First Great Western working within the framework provided by the Department for Transport’s (DfT) minimum specification. Where desirable changes have been identified, the DfT has made changes to the specification if this has proved necessary to facilitate their implementation.

Road Pricing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to mitigate the effect of the cost of road pricing on low-income families; and if he will make a statement. (115779)

We are asking local authorities, in preparing proposals for road pricing schemes, to assess the impact on all groups, including those on low incomes, to inform the scheme design.

No decisions have been taken on whether to introduce a national road pricing scheme or how such a scheme should be designed.

Royal Mail

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department spent using Royal Mail in each of the last five years. (115240)

The Department was formed in May 2002. Since this date the central Department and its agencies have paid the following amounts to Royal Mail:

£ million

2002-03

13.1

2003-04

19.0

2004-05

24.9

2005-06

20.4

2006-07 (To date)

15.0

Total payments for 2002-03 and 2003-04 exclude payments made by the Department for Transport (central) London Headquarters because this information is no longer available.

Total payments for 2006-07 to date include an estimate by DVLA.

Safety Cameras

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many speed cameras there were in Plymouth on (a) 31 December 2000 and (b) 31 December 2006. (115358)

The Department only holds information regarding the number of speed camera sites operated by Safety Camera Partnerships. There may be one or more speed cameras installed within the approved site. The information is recorded by highway authority and the following table relates to the number of fixed and mobile speed camera sites recorded on local authority roads within the Plymouth city council area at the specific dates.

Number

31 December 2000

18

31 December 2006

39

Traffic Management Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to bring regulations under the Traffic Management Act 2004 into force. (116941)

The Department for Transport is currently implementing several parts of the Act to a published timetable. This is available at the address as follows.

http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_roads/documents/page/dft_roads_040926.hcsp

The implementation dates for some later aspects of the timetable have yet to be finalised.

Defence

Aerial Exercises

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what rules govern aerial exercises over urban conurbations in the UK by (a) the Royal Air Force and (b) the United States Air Force; and if he will make a statement. (106947)

[holding answer 4 December 2006]: Military low flying is not permitted over towns and built up areas with populations of more than 10,000. For this purpose low flying is deemed to be below the 1,000 feet minimum separation distance for helicopters and light fixed wing aircraft; and below the 2,000 feet minimum separation distance for all other aircraft. Above these heights urban areas may be overflown, unless other airspace restrictions apply; however, air combat training is not permitted over densely populated areas. Permission to fly lower may exceptionally be granted for ceremonial flypasts. These regulations apply to both RAF and United States Air Force aircraft.

Airspace

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the EU proposal to treat all airspace above 25,000 feet as European airspace on military aviation operations by British and US forces. (115237)

The EC initiative to establish a European upper flight information region encompassing all airspace above 28,500 feet is not expected have any impact on military aviation operations by British and US forces based in the UK.

Annual Personnel Weapons Test

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average pass rate was of the annual personnel weapons test among part-time service personnel in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (115177)

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

Armoured Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the first batch of (a) uparmoured FV430s and (b) Vector armoured vehicles to be fully operational in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan; and what his estimated timetable is for the delivery of the remaining vehicles. (114589)

The first batch of BULLDOG vehicles (up-armoured and upgraded FV430s) has arrived in Iraq and is fully operational. On current plans, delivery of the full fleet should be completed by May 2007. Currently there are no plans to deploy BULLDOG to Afghanistan.

On current plans, an initial batch of fully operational VECTOR vehicles should be delivered to Afghanistan by February 2007. Delivery of the full fleet should be completed by August 2007. There are currently no plans to deploy VECTOR to Iraq.

Defence Expenditure: Iraq/Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost has been of British involvement in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq since the start of the campaigns. (115863)

The costs of operations are calculated on a net additional basis and audited figures are published each year in the MOD's annual report and accounts. The total of the annual audited figures for the costs of operations in Iraq for the years 2002-03 to 2005-06 was £4,026 million. An estimated cost of £860 million for 2006-07 was included in the winter supplementary estimates published in November, which are available in the Library of the House. Final figures will be published in the MOD's annual report and accounts for 2006-07.

The annual audited figures for the costs of operations in Afghanistan for the years 2001-02 to 2005-06 were £844 million. An estimated cost of £540 million for 2006-07 was included in the winter supplementary estimates published in November. Final figures will be published in the MOD's annual report and accounts for 2006-07.

Energy Security Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contribution his Department makes to the (a) formulation and (b) implementation of the Government’s energy security policy. (108891)

While the DTI has lead responsibility for the Government’s energy security policy, the MOD and a number of other Government Departments contribute to its formulation and implementation. The MOD contributes through promoting conditions which enhance stability around the world, such as through its conflict prevention activities and the provision of assurance to maritime and other trade routes.

Government Security Service Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether Aegis Security Services has been invited by his Department to tender for Government security service contracts in (a) Afghanistan, (b) Iraq and (c) elsewhere. (114975)

We have no record of Aegis Security Services tendering for MOD contracts in Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other operational theatres, nor do we have any record of them being invited to do so.

Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many officers in each of the Services have rented out their family home and moved into local married quarters in each of the last five years. (115780)

The information required is not held centrally and can be made available only at disproportionate cost.

Infantry Manning Levels

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the most recent (a) current, (b) establishment and (c) requirement infantry manning levels are, broken down by (i) division and (ii) battalion. (115790)

[holding answer 17 January 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 31 October 2006, Official Report, column 333W.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the standard period of operational duty is for UK troops serving in Iraq. (114762)

The standard period of operational duty for UK troops serving in Iraq is six months. However, operational circumstances may dictate that certain individuals and/or units may serve less or more than six months.

Israeli Air Force: Gibraltar Refuelling

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether Israeli air force pilots have (a) trained and (b) refuelled in Gibraltar in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (114781)

Mental Health: Service Personnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research and modelling his Department is undertaking of future mental health outcomes for personnel deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq; what assessment he has made of the risk of these personnel developing mental health conditions; and if he will make a statement. (108874)

[holding answer 13 December 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 18 December 2006, Official Report, columns 1481-83W.

With reference to the much larger Kings College Mental Health Research study, the MOD’s Veterans Policy Unit has extended the health surveillance study that was launched to look at the physical and psychological outcomes of Op. Telic. This will now also monitor a range of physical and psychological outcomes of Op. Herrick. Data collection will commence in 2007, with results anticipated in 2008.

Additionally, the Academic Centre for Defence Mental Health (ACDMH) has been invited to run a study examining the effectiveness of pre- and post- deployment mental health briefings on the mental health of British forces personnel before, during and after deployment to Afghanistan (Op. Herrick). This study will be run between September 2007 and April 2008, with results anticipated in mid-2008.

Military Aircraft: Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the prospects for the use of biofuels for military aircraft. (113771)

At present there are no aviation fuels produced from biological sources which entirely meet the particular requirements of military aircraft. Current military turbine engines would need considerable modification to be compatible with bio-fuels and this is unlikely in the near future.

The MOD is, however, seeking to increase its use of alternative fuels and Defence Specification 91-91 allows for the incorporation of up to 50 per cent. synthetic fuel produced by the Fischer Tropsch method. At present this must come from specified sources, but we are actively seeking to extend the number of sources while maintaining the necessary high fuel quality.

Naval Bases

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of running each of the naval bases in the UK was in each of the last three years. (114132)

The running costs for HM Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde, Devonport and Portsmouth over the last three years are shown in the following table:

£ million

Financial year

HMNB Clyde

HMNB Devonport

HMNB Portsmouth

2003-04

202

179

158

2004-05

189

185

146

2005-06

183

185

151

These figures represent the general site operating costs and include utilities, rates, telephone, maintenance and manpower costs. Direct comparisons from year to year are inexact given the changes to the detailed elements which make up the totals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what job losses are planned at each naval base in the UK. (114133)

Each of the three naval bases continually reviews the level of manpower required to meet its particular outputs.

By the end of March 2008 it is anticipated that there will be 86 fewer civilian posts in HM Naval Base (HMNB) Devonport and 36 fewer service personnel. HMNB Clyde anticipates a reduction of 50.5 civilian posts by the end of 2007. Service manpower will also be reduced by some 55 occupied and 26 unoccupied posts between 2007 and 2010. No reductions are expected in HMNB Portsmouth.

The Naval Base Review, which is examining the infrastructure needed to support the Royal Navy, may give rise to further reductions. It is however too soon to say how many or where as the review is at a very early stage, and it is unlikely that the recommendations will be finalised before spring 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his timetable is for (a) the publication of the naval bases review and (b) the implementation of any recommendations; and if he will make a statement. (101443)

The Naval Base Review is ongoing and its recommendations are not expected to be finalised before spring 2007, after which they will be subject to the MOD’s internal scrutiny and approvals process. The current expectation is for an announcement before the parliamentary summer recess. It is too early to say what the implementation time scale will be as this will depend on the option chosen. Final decisions will be subject to formal trade union consultation.

Nuclear Weapons Use

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the UK would be prepared to use nuclear weapons against a (a) nuclear and (b) non-nuclear adversary; under what circumstances the UK would use nuclear weapons; and if he will make a statement. (116652)

I have nothing to add to paragraph 2-11 and section 3 of the White Paper ‘The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent’ (Cm 6994), published on 4 December 2006, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. We would only consider using nuclear weapons in self-defence and even then only in extreme circumstances.

Number 1 Independent Infantry Company

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what records have been kept by his Department in relation to the Number 1 Independent Infantry Company based in Malaya during the second world war. (113772)

The principal unit records from the second world war were unit war diaries. They are no longer held by MOD, but have been transferred to The National Archives. I can advise that The National Archives holds two files that relate to 1 Independent Infantry Company, under the references WO 172/208, entitled “1 Independent Infantry Company April-September 1941, November 1941-January 1942”; and CAB 106/36, entitled “Account of the Formation, Role, and Operations of No. 1 Independent Infantry Company in Malaya 1941-1942”.

The Department continues to hold personnel records of soldiers who served in the second world war and some are likely to cover individuals who served in 1 Independent Infantry Company. Such records are not indexed on a unit basis and it is therefore not possible to identify soldiers from the unit without incurring disproportionate cost.

Royal Marine Reserves

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) inflow and (b) outflow was of the Royal Marines Reserves in each year since 1997. (113068)

The following table provides inflow and outflow figures for Royal Marine Reservists for each complete financial year from 1999.

Total inflow

Total outflow

1999-2000

480

330

2000-01

330

240

2001-02

280

360

2002-03

310

400

2003-04

190

280

2004-05

150

320

2005-06

300

210

Data prior to 1999 are not available.

Royal Navy: Reduced Readiness

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Royal Navy ships will be placed into reduced readiness; and when this is expected to take place. (113749)

The Royal Navy routinely has vessels at varying levels of readiness. This allows necessary maintenance and refits to be carried out and training to be undertaken. Decisions on whether to make adjustments to the readiness states of warships will be taken in the MOD’s current planning round, the results of which are currently planned to be announced in the spring of this year.

Royal Navy Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the projected spending by his Department is on the Royal Navy in each of the next five years; what assessment he has made of such spending on (a) current and (b) future operational capacity; and if he will make a statement. (114138)

The defence budget is not broken down by individual service. Tables two and three of the Government’s expenditure plans for 2006-07 to 2007-08, Ministry of Defence (Cmd 6822), show the current resource and capital spending plans of the fleet top level budget in the years 2005-06 to 2007-08. This covers the main operating and personnel costs of the Royal Navy. Spending plans for future years are being reviewed in the current departmental planning round and will also be shaped by the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review, which will set the Defence budget for 2008-09 to 2010-11.

Royal Navy Frigates

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Type 22 and (b) Type 42 frigates are in operation with the Royal Navy; and how many will be in operation in 2009-10. (114326)

There are currently four Type 22 frigates and eight Type 42 destroyers in operation within the Royal Navy fleet.

On present plans there will continue to be four Type 22 frigates at the end of financial year (FY) 2009-10. Three of the Type 42 destroyers will have been withdrawn from service by the end of FY 2009-10 as these ships begin to be replaced by the new Type 45 destroyers.

Royal Navy Personnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Royal Navy personnel are currently serving aboard ship away from home; and what proportion of total naval personnel this represents. (114135)

The total number of Royal Navy personnel serving on board ships at sea on 9 January 2007 was 3,486. This figure constitutes 9.9 per cent. of the full-time trained strength.

Service Personnel: Telephone Calls

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many minutes of free telephone calls service men and women are allowed each week whilst serving on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. (110305)

[holding answer 19 December 2006]: The free welfare telephone allowance for service personnel serving on operations has recently been increased from 20 to 30 minutes per week at a cost of some £l million.

Special Air Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what systems are in place to investigate possible cases of fraud and corruption in the special air service; (114752)

(2) how many investigations into possible fraud in the special air service have been carried out in each of the last three years.

The systems in place to investigate possible cases of fraud and corruption in the special air service (SAS) are in line with those of the wider Army. Like all other members of the armed forces, SAS personnel are covered by the military criminal justice system and are subject to the service discipline Acts. Primary responsibility for investigating any allegations of fraud or corruption will lie with either the Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch or the Ministry of Defence Police Fraud Squad, depending on the nature and jurisdiction of the alleged offence. There has been one investigation into possible fraud in the SAS in the last three years and this is ongoing.

Thermal Imaging

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 5 January 2007, Official Report, column 110W, on thermal imaging, what his timetable is for the delivery of additional sights to front line troops. (115271)

An order has been placed to deliver 100 lightweight thermal imaging sights to the Army by the end of February and a further 300 sights by the end of March. The subsequent delivery of this equipment to operational theatres is a matter for military commanders.

Tour Intervals

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average tour intervals were for each unit deployed in (a) Kosovo and (b) Bosnia. (110434)

One unit now deploys into the Bosnia and Kosovo theatre and is known as the Pan Balkans Infantry Battalion. Currently this role is filled by the 1st Battalion, the Welsh Guards, who have an average tour interval of 18 months.

Type 45 Destroyers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost is of the six Type 45 destroyers to be procured by his Department; and what the estimated cost was of the eight which were originally planned to be procured. (114139)

The estimated cost for six Type 45 Destroyers as detailed in Major Project Review (MPR) 2006 is £6,110 million (including cost of capital).

Whilst the Type 45 capability requirement remains for up to eight ships, the Department only currently has an approved programme for six.

Weaponry

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 1502W, on weaponry, which of the weapons listed are capable of being physically carried by personnel in theatre on foot. (114631)

The following can be carried by personnel in theatre on foot:

General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). Calibre 7.62 mm

81 mm Medium Mortar

Javelin Anti Tank Guided Weapon

Long Range Rifle. Calibre 8.6 mm

Health

Bio Products Laboratory

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Bio Products Laboratory spent on the purchase of 24 plasma collection centres belonging to Life Resources Incorporated in the United States in the last five years; what revenue benefit to NHS Blood and Transplant these investments have produced; and what assessment she has made of the future of these facilities. (114498)

Bio Products Laboratory has not purchased 24 plasma collection centres belonging to Life Resources Incorporated.

In December 2002, the Department purchased the United States (US) plasma collector Life Resources Incorporated. This acquisition included the purchase of 24 centres collecting blood plasma from donors across the US. A press release issued on 17 December 2002 provides details of the acquisition including cost and is available at:

www.dh.gov.uk/PublicationsAndStatistics/PressReleases/PressReleasesNotices/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4026006&chk=oaRaxa

A US holding company, DCI Biologicals Inc, was established to manage the business. DCI Biologicals reports to the United Kingdom parent company, Plasma Resources UK Limited, owned by the Secretary of State for Health.

The Department is leading a review to identify and explore opportunities to improve Bio Products Laboratory business and this review includes DCI Biologicals Inc.

Cholesterol

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in reducing (a) total cholesterol and (b) low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels among patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease in England; and if she will make a statement. (114417)

Information is not available in the form requested. However, the new general medical services (GMS) contract specification encourages primary care practices to identify patients who have suffered from coronary heart disease (CHD), strokes and diabetes and to control cholesterol in those patients. The following tables show the percentage of available points achieved against these indicators across England, demonstrating that general practitioner practices are making good progress in improving control of cholesterol in patients with cardiovascular disease.

The applicable quality and outcomes framework (QOF) indicators and the overall percentages are shown as follows:

CHD 8—the percentage of patients with CHD whose last measured total cholesterol (measured in the last 15 months) is 5mmol/l or less

QOF year

Overall percentage CHD 8 for England

2004-05

72

2005-06

78

Stroke 8—the percentage of patients with TIA or stroke whose last measured total cholesterol (measured in the last 15 months) is 5mmol/l or less

QOF year

Overall percentage stroke 8 for England

2004-05

63

2005-06

72

DM 17—the percentage of patients with diabetes whose last measured total cholesterol within previous 15 months is 5mmol/or less

QOF year

Overall percentage DM 17 for England

2004-05

72

2005-06

79

Note:

Some patients may be excluded from the indicator because of exceptions and exclusions. Only patients registered with a general practice participating in QOF will be included.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will consider adopting the recommendations of the Joint British Societies guidelines on the prevention of cardiovascular disease in clinical practice in relation to (a) total cholesterol levels and (b) low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels for higher risk patients; and if she will make a statement. (114418)

Department policy on cholesterol targets is set out in the national service framework for coronary heart disease (CHD), and reflected in key drivers of practice such as the quality and outcomes framework of the general medical services contract.

The Joint British Societies guidelines are welcomed as a contribution to policy development but they do not update the Department’s policy. The principal mechanism for this is the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). NICE is currently working on guidance on lipid management, due out later this year. That guidance will set out any revisions to current policy on targets for controlling cholesterol.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received from (a) organisations and (b) members of the public on the draft National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance for treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis; how many of these representations relate to the possible effect of such guidance on children and young people; and what plans she has to ask NICE to address concerns raised about the draft guidance. (116457)

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published its draft clinical guideline on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis for consultation on 29 September 2006. Since that date the Department has received, as of 17 January, 12 written representations concerned with this guideline. Of these, 11 were from hon. Members and the remaining one was from a member of the public.

Information on whether these representations relate to the possible effect of such guidance on children and young people is not readily available.

NICE’s consultation on this guideline closed on 24 November. Comments arising from consultation will be considered by the guideline developers and posted on the NICE website after the final guideline is published.

Data Disaggregation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance she has issued to the NHS on disaggregating data by gender. (116086)

The Department has not issued specific guidance in this area, but the NHS Data Dictionary produced by Connecting for Health uses the definitions given in the United Kingdom Government data standards catalogue to identify individuals by gender.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the effective date is for annual pay awards to her Department’s staff; and what the actual implementation date was in each of the last five years. (116690)

The effective date is 1 August.

The actual dates for payment of increased salaries are as follows:

Pay year

Month in which payment made

2002

August 2002

2003

January 2004

2004

November 2004

2005

November 2005

2006

December 20061

1 Two-year deal.

Equality Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance she has issued to primary care trusts on meeting the obligations of the Equality Act 2006 on gender equality duty; (116084)

(2) what support she has made available to primary care trusts to enable them to comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2006 gender duties.

The Department has undertaken a number of activities to promote equality issues in the national health service (NHS), including the forthcoming gender equality duty, and particularly to support the NHS in meeting its responsibilities under the gender duty. The Department’s strategy for promoting gender equality in the NHS is to set action on gender issues within the overall framework for planning and delivering the Department’s and the NHS’s priorities.

The Department has worked closely with NHS organisations to prepare them for the gender duty when it comes into force in April this year. A detailed programme of work is in place to ensure the implementation of the gender duty across the whole health sector. These include:

Developing and publishing a gender equality duty guide to assist NHS organisations to meet the duties of the gender duty legislation. This will be available at the end of January.

Publishing “Promoting Equality and Human Rights in the NHS—a Guide for Board Members”, which is aimed at helping non-executive board members take forward the issues of equality and human rights with regard to patients and the workforce. The guide outlines the legislative framework and the principles that underpin equality and human rights. It demonstrates the business case for promoting and delivering equality and human rights, and includes a set of prompts for boards to take stock of how fairly their organisations treat their patients and workforce. The guide incorporates current and imminent legislation and includes all board members. This guide is available on the Department’s website.

Working with inspectorate bodies and the Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure that gender equality issues are integrated into inspection arrangements and sector- specific guidance is provided to help the health sector promote gender equality;

organising a conference for the NHS in November 2006. This was aimed at creating and enhancing awareness of the meaning of gender and its relevance to health, increasing understanding of the general and specific duties of the gender duty and providing information and guidance on the implementation of the specific duties.

The Department’s equality and human rights group is leading a project aimed at supporting the equalities agenda through the development of single equality schemes (SES) in the NHS. The project has been set up in anticipation of possible further duties in relation to age, religion and belief and sexual orientation and plans to encourage work to pull together the different equality strands without compromising any of the individual elements in a cross-cutting and coherent fashion. Project leads provide support in terms of expertise in the field of equalities legislation, facilitating partnerships and joined- up working, research, sharing of good practice and producing guidance. Project leads also provide specific guidance on the gender and disability duties. The organisations involved are committed to producing a single equality scheme and will collectively produce learning that identifies the different steps required to meet both current and likely duties which will be meaningful to the host of diverse organisations within the NHS. Development and outcomes from all the programmes outlined above will be shared and disseminated throughout the NHS.

The pacesetters programme headed by the equality and human rights group is a programme that places equality including gender equality at the heart of NHS business, organisational objectives and core values, impacting upon future health planning, performance management and delivery. The Group is working with up to five strategic health authorities to deliver equality and diversity improvements and innovations resulting in:

patient and user involvement in the design and delivery of services;

reduced health inequalities for patients and service users; and

working environments that are fair and free of discrimination.

The participating SHAs launched their local involvement in the programme in November 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance has been issued to primary care trusts on ensuring services provided for the NHS by independent contractors comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2006 gender duties. (116087)

The Department’s commercial directorate has negotiated with its contractors a requirement for all independent sector providers of services to operate in accordance with all applicable law including the Equality Act 2006.

The Department is currently developing a gender equality duty guide to assist national health service organisations meet the duties of the gender duty legislation. This guide outlines partnership working between NHS organisations, its partners and its contractors and the need to secure agreement from partners or contractors to give due regard to gender equality in relation to the work of the partnership to allow it to meet its statutory gender duty. This guide will be available at the end of January.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance she has sent to providers of NHS sexual health services about meeting the requirements of the Equality Act 2006 gender duties. (116088)

The Department's programme to improve sexual health specifically targets the populations at risk of poor sexual health and this work fits closely with the equality agenda identified in the Act. In terms of gender and sexual health, women are particularly at risk of poor sexual health through unintended pregnancies and risk of infertility from undiagnosed sexually transmitted infections.

The Department is currently developing a gender equality duty guide to assist the national health service meet the duties of the gender duty legislation and it will be published at the end of January 2007. This guide will be available to all NHS organisations and will be accessible on the Department's website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice she has sent to providers of NHS mental health services about meeting the requirements of the Equality Act 2006 gender duties. (116089)

The National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) is currently seeking to rationalise its workstreams in order to focus its efforts more effectively. Work is currently in progress to bring together the existing programmes on public mental health (including mental health promotion and suicide prevention), social inclusion and anti-stigma and discrimination into a single wellbeing and inclusion workstream.

The Department's guidance on ‘Promoting Equality and Human Rights in the NHS—a Guide for Board Members’ is aimed at helping non-executive board members take forward the issues of equality and human rights with regard to patients and the workforce. The guide outlines the legislative framework and the principles that underpin equality and human rights. It demonstrates the business case for promoting and delivering equality and human rights, and includes a set of prompts for boards to take stock of how fairly their organisations treat their patients and workforce. The guide incorporates current and imminent legislation and includes all board members. This guide is available on the Department's website.

The Department is currently developing a gender equality duty guide to assist the national health service meet the duties of the gender duty legislation and it will be published at the end of January 2007. This guide will be available to all NHS organisations and will be accessible on the Department's website.

Expatriate Medical Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was transferred to other European Union governments to cover the cost of medical care for British expatriates in each year since 2001. (114360)