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Written Answers

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 25 January 2007

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Badgers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department expects to undertake research on the use of Polymerase Chain Reaction technology to detect M. bovis in badger setts; and if he will make a statement. (110858)

The Department, in collaboration with other researchers in the UK, is already developing procedures to detect “Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis)” from live badgers and their excretions using Polymerase Chain Reaction. The results for detection of M. bovis at setts reported by researchers at Warwick are encouraging, but the test needs to be fully validated prior to consideration for use in the field or for routine diagnosis. We are currently considering research proposals on how best to put in place the work that is needed to take this forward.

Carbon Offsetting

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage individuals to use carbon offsetting schemes. (110648)

Offsetting should be set in a hierarchy of actions. The most effective way to avoid and reduce emissions is by changing behaviour. When it is not possible to avoid or reduce emissions, consumers should consider offsetting. When carried out in this context, we support the use of offsets generated by robust and verifiable mechanisms bound by international regulation

On 18 January, DEFRA launched a consultation on a voluntary Code of Best Practice for the provision of carbon offsetting to customers. The purpose of this code is to provide clarity to customers and, thereby, confidence in a growing market.

The Government are leading by example in taking action on their own emissions, with all central Government ministerial and official air travel being captured under carbon offsetting schemes since April 2006. Around 30 Departments, agencies and bodies are participating in the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund.

Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the costs to farmers in England of implementing the integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) measures; what representations he has received on the costs; and if he will review the appropriateness of the current thresholds for the application of the IPPC measures to (a) pig and (b) poultry farmers; (117225)

(2) whether a regulatory impact assessment has been carried out on the application of the integrated pollution prevention and control regulations to (a) pig and (b) poultry farmers.

The integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) directive applies only to poultry installations with places for more than 40,000 birds and to installations with places for more than 2,000 production pigs or 750 sows. Since they are set in the directive, those thresholds cannot be changed unilaterally by the UK. Large units are those greater than 10 times the lower threshold, that is, those greater than 400,000 birds, 20,000 production pigs or 7,500 sows.

Under the Environment Agency’s (EA) scheme of charges, intensive livestock installations will be charged £3,331 for a permit application and then annual charges of £2,229 for a small installation and £2,794 for a large one. The EA is obliged to consult annually on the scheme of charges, before seeking the Secretary of State’s approval.

In England, the total capital costs of meeting the requirements of the IPPC directive were estimated by the Rural Development Service, in February 2006, to be £64.6 million with annual costs of £20.2 million. This includes permitting and improvements likely to be necessary over the next few years. However, there are significant uncertainties about these estimates.

A regulatory impact assessment was carried out on the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 prior to their making. However, this did not consider in detail each individual industry sector in terms of the transposition of the IPPC directive.

My noble Friend Lord Rooker recently met representatives of the industry to discuss permit charges and in particular how annual charges might be reduced through streamlined approaches to inspection. The EA and the National Farmers Union are currently considering options including what greater use might be made of assurance scheme visits.

Marine Fisheries Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding he allocated to the Marine Fisheries Agency for (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (110505)

The following table shows the total 2006-07 and 2007-08 DEFRA funding to the Marine Fisheries Agency. The figures are gross of funding which is expected from the EU, and are subject to periodic in year review.

£ million

2006-07

29,511

2007-08

31,891

Railway Land

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to combat litter and refuse on railway land. (110607)

Under section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, railway undertakers and operators have a duty to keep their “relevant land” clear of litter and refuse. This includes station areas to which the public have access, tracks that are within 100 m of platforms (provided that the public have access to the platforms) and tracks in urban areas. Where this duty is not complied with, local authorities (LAs) may issue a litter abatement notice on the railway undertaker or operator, requiring the clearance of the litter and refuse and prohibiting further defacement of the land. Any member of the public can also take action via the magistrates court, seeking a litter abatement order to get the litter cleared.

There is no duty on rail undertakers or operators to keep other track areas clean. However, where such land becomes defaced by litter and refuse and this is detrimental to the amenity of the area, LAs can issue a litter clearing notice on the occupier or owner (if unoccupied), requiring the clearance of the litter and, if necessary, reasonable steps to be taken to prevent future defacement. This power was introduced by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and commenced on 6 April last year.

It is an offence to fail to comply with a litter abatement notice, a litter abatement order or a litter clearing notice.

Slaughterhouses

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many slaughterhouses in England are licensed for (a) halal and (b) kosher slaughter. (116577)

This information is not routinely collected. The most recent data available for Great Britain, from the Animal Welfare Review 2003, is broken down by species as follows:

Species

Number of premises

(a) Halal

Lambs

5

Sheep

4

Goats

2

Broilers

8

Hens

5

Ducks

2

(b) Kosher

Cattle

2

Calves

1

Young Lambs

5

Broilers

5

Hens

4

Turkeys

4

Ducks

3

Water Resources

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what improvements are planned to be made to the infrastructure enabling rainwater falling during winter months to be stored for use during the summer; what expenditure is planned on that infrastructure; and if he will make a statement. (110922)

All water companies in England and Wales have water resource management plans which look ahead 25 years and include projections of current and future demands for water. The plans, which are regularly updated, show how water companies propose to meet demand for water, and will include any new water supply resources that are needed. These plans are due to become a statutory requirement in April 2007 under provisions in the Water Act 2003 and will then be subject to public consultation.

Water companies in the south have identified the need for five new and three extended reservoirs in their 25-year water resource management plans.

In their 2004 “Periodic Review of Future Water and Sewerage Charges 2005-2010”, Ofwat, the economic regulator, assumes water companies’ capital expenditure to be £1.7 billion to maintain the balance between supply and demand for water, and in some cases to enhance the security of water supply. This capital expenditure covers a range of measures including leakage reduction, upgrading water treatment processes, enhancements to water treatment and distribution, network improvements, groundwater resources and metering.

House of Commons Commission

Recruitment Agencies

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how much the House paid to recruitment agencies for the hire of temporary staff in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (117484)

The House makes use of recruitment agencies to fill some vacancies on a temporary basis. The total spent on temporary agency staff over the last four years is:

£ million

2003-04

2.29

2004-05

1.52

2005-06

1.56

2006-07 (to date)

2.43

The House does not retain information for earlier years. As a percentage of total staff costs, the cost of agency staff varies between 2.6 per cent. (2005-06) and 5.2 per cent. (current year). The increase in the current year is due mainly to the transitional arrangements for the development of the Parliamentary ICT Service (PICT) as a joint body serving both Houses. The use of agency staff is expected to moderate next year.

Roof Terrace: Noise

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many complaints about noise on the roof terrace were received in each of the last five years. (111412)

There is no record of any written complaints about noise on the roof terrace. However it is acknowledged that loud conversation can be a distraction to staff in nearby offices who have occasionally complained and this is reflected in the rules by a request to keep noise levels down.

Transport

A21

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to begin the tender process for the dualling of the A21 (a) between Tonbridge and Pembury and (b) between Kippings Cross and Lamberhurst. (111368)

I expect the joint tender process for A21 Tonbridge to Pembury Dualling and A21 Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst improvement to begin in late March 2007.

Blue Badges

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many blue badges were used fraudulently in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006. (110742)

Enforcement of the disabled persons’ parking badge scheme is a matter for local authorities. There is no legal requirement for local authorities to provide the Department with details of fraudulent use of badges nor does the Department currently ask for that information as part of its annual blue badge statistical survey of local authorities in England. The devolved Administrations are responsible for the scheme in other parts of the UK.

The issues of misuse and abuse of badges were considered as part of the review of the blue badge scheme. In concluding the review, some 47 recommendations were made to Ministers through the Disabled Persons’ Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC)—the Department’s statutory advisers on the transport needs of disabled people—including a number of enforcement measures. The Government accepted most of these and is currently taking them forward. A summary of the recommendations and the Government’s response to them was placed in the House Library on 18 December 2002.

Boatmasters

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the statement of the Minister of State for Transport of 10 January 2007, Official Report, column 97WH, what the evidential basis was for the statement that no test of local knowledge is necessary for certification of boatmasters of vessels navigating the Thames downstream of the Thames Barrier. (111413)

The criteria for determining local knowledge requirements were drawn up during consultation on the development of the new Boatmasters’ Licence. The extension of the local knowledge area downstream of the Thames Barrier was not considered necessary following an assessment of the modern day traffic density and tide and current conditions against those criteria. The assessment was carried out on behalf of the Port of London Authority.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in the (a) review and (b) implementation of the proposed Boatmaster’s Licence. (111394)

The review of the proposed Boatmaster’s Licence regime was completed in late 2006 and the regulations implementing the new regime came into force on 1 January 2007.

Civilian Flights

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether UK aviation authorities are obliged to collect personal data on all persons travelling on civilian flights that begin or end on UK territory; (117141)

(2) whether UK aviation authorities are obliged to collect personal data on all persons travelling on civilian flights that stopover in UK territory for refuelling or other purposes;

(3) what personal details are collected by aviation authorities on persons travelling on civilian flights that begin or end on UK territory; how long this information is held; which body is responsible for holding this information; and which Government Departments have access to this information;

(4) whether UK aviation authorities are obliged to collect personal data on (a) civilians, (b) military personnel and (c) diplomatic personnel travelling on (i) military aircraft and (ii) non-military aircraft registered to a sovereign Government (1) to and (2) through the UK territory.

In the United Kingdom the aviation authority is defined as the Secretary of State for Transport and, for the purpose of managing policy on airline tariffs, the Civil Aviation Authority. The UK aviation authority is not obliged to collect any personal data on people travelling to, from or via the UK.

Highways Agency: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Highways Agency spent on programme expenditure in Tunbridge Wells local authority area in the most recent year for which figures are available. (111367)

Historic Vessels

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) statutory provisions and (b) custom and practice apply to the display of port letters and numbers on historic vessels which are not fishing for profit; and if he will make a statement. (111410)

There is no statutory provision which allows historic fishing vessels to display port letters and numbers once they have been removed from the Register. Regulation 113 of The Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Regulations 1993 states that

“If a ship’s registration is terminated, whether by expiration of the registration period or otherwise, the marking prescribed under these regulations must be removed from the ship and written confirmation of that removal must be sent to the Registrar”

Ships that were previously granted Historic Registration status by the Registrar before the 1993 regulations came into force on 21 March 1994 have been allowed to retain the de-faced port letters and numbers provided they can produce the original letter and notification granting such status. New applications are not being considered given the requirement made under regulation 113.

Local Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much local transport grant was given to City of York unitary council in each year since the council's creation; and what criteria are used to assess how much each local authority receives. (111282)

The City of York council was created in 1996. Total local transport capital funding for the authority each year has been as follows:

Total funding (£ million)

1997-98

2.212

1998-99

1.148

19992000

2.095

2000-01

2.262

2001-02

5.995

2002-03

6.155

2003-04

7.881

2004-05

6.302

2005-06

6.225

2006-07

6.378

This included capital funding for major schemes (those over £5 million), maintenance and local integrated transport.

Total funding for 2007-08 is £6.31 million, which was announced as part of the 2006 local transport settlement in December. This is divided into an integrated transport block and funding for maintenance.

The funding allocations for the integrated transport block for York announced in December as part of the 2006 local transport settlement are as follows:

City of York

Allocation £ million

2007-08

4.141

2008-09

3.737

2009-10

3.374

2010-11

2.986

The 2007-08 allocation is the previously published planning guideline with an uplift of 12.5 per cent. because the council’s local transport plan for 2006- 2011 was assessed as excellent.

In addition, the total capital highway maintenance funding allocation for City of York council for 2007-08 is £1.419 million, all of which is formula funding. We have also provided £0.75 million for capital works on the detrunked sections of the A1079 and A1237. This is in addition to the maintenance allocation outlined above.

Major schemes are no longer included in the local transport settlement. We responded separately in July to the advice from the regions about their priorities for major transport projects—including those promoted by local authorities—up to 2015-16. The Yorkshire and the Humber region is getting £175 million over the next two years.

Nationally, £683 million is being provided for highways capital maintenance in 2007-08. Most (£634 million) is being distributed formulaically. The formula reflects the size and condition of local roads, bridges and street lights. Funding of £47 million is being allocated in response to bids for major maintenance and strengthening on the primary route network and for smaller authorities' exceptional maintenance schemes, and £2 million is to be allocated at a future date.

We are providing £571 million for integrated transport in 2007-08. Its distribution is influenced by three factors: a formula representing local pressures, the previous pattern of distribution and how well authorities have planned and delivered their transport objectives. Indicative allocations of £1,760 million are also being made for the three-year period from 2008-09 to 2010-11 to provide increased certainty and stability for local authorities to plan ahead. These are subject to the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how his Department assesses the quality and performance of local authorities' local transport plans; what assessment his Department has made of City of York council's plans; and if he will make a statement. (111283)

As part of the 2006 local transport settlement, each of the 82 local transport plans in England (outside London) has been assessed against benchmarks grouped into nine criteria. These criteria cover areas such as road safety and congestion as well as how the plan fits in with wider transport policy aims and reflects local priorities. They are based on the central Government and Local Government Association agreed set of shared priorities for transport.

For each of the criteria, each plan is assessed as being weak, fair, good or excellent. Plan classifications are derived from the balance of the criteria classifications.

The City of York council’s second local transport plan (for 2006-11) was assessed as “excellent”. The “excellent” classification means that the Department found evidence of a very high standard of transport planning. The plan builds on the foundations of the first plan (for 2001-06), which has delivered a wide range of benefits for local people.

These include the development of very successful park and ride systems and the new “Overground” bus network, which will evolve into a comprehensive public transport network for local users. The City of York council has already reported a growing number of people using the bus network, in addition to the increasing numbers of people making use of the improved facilities for walking and cycling.

Together with a robust parking management policy and the introduction of the urban traffic congestion management system, these improvements have delivered a significant reduction in traffic and cars parked in the city.

Motorway Cameras

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason a number of cameras on tall yellow-painted poles have been sited on the M1 motorway near to the junction with the M18 and on the M18 carriageway verge near to the M1; whether these cameras are permanent; and if he will make a statement. (110923)

The Highways Agency have erected speed cameras between Junction 31 (A57) and Junction 32 (M18) while works to construct a fourth lane of the northbound and southbound carriageway of the M1 are ongoing. The cameras have been installed to enforce a 50 mph speed limit for the safety of drivers and road workers. The cameras will be removed once the works have been completed.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of standing passengers on peak hour trains between Waterloo and (a) Fleet, (b)Winchfield, (c) Hook, (d) Liphook and (e) Bentley stations; and what projections of these figures he has made for each of the next 20 years. (110919)

[holding answer 24 January 2007]: The Department does not hold this information.

With regards to future usage, the Network Rail Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) assumed a growth of 20 per cent. over 10 years. The Department, in letting the new South Western Franchise, asked bidders to develop innovative means to manage the expected increase in capacity.

Rights of Way: Disabled Access

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what powers are available to the highways authority to ensure rights of way are accessible to disabled people. (115950)

I have been asked to reply.

Recent legislation requires provision for disabled people to be considered equally with that of other rights of way users—for example, when determining the management of access to the countryside. The most significant areas of legislation are outlined as follows:

Disability Discrimination Acts—The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 covers all functions of public bodies, not just services and, therefore, includes the provision of public footpaths and other rights of way. It requires public bodies to promote disability equality and to have had Disability Equality Schemes in place since December 2006. A Disability Equality Scheme needs to:

i. Explain how equality for disabled people will be promoted

ii. Challenge discrimination against disabled people

iii. Help remove barriers for all disabled people.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000—Under section 60 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (the CROW Act), local highway authorities are required to prepare and publish a Rights of Way Improvement Plan by November 2007. They are also required to review it not less than 10 years after publication. In developing the plan, the needs of disabled people must be taken into consideration. Further advice on what this involves is contained in the statutory guidance issued to local highway authorities by DEFRA in November 2002.

In addition, under section 69 of the CROW Act, to be commenced later this year, highway authorities must consider the needs of disabled people when authorising the erection of stiles and gates or other works on footpaths or bridleways.

Local highway authorities also have a duty to prevent, as far as possible, the stopping up or obstruction of public rights of way. Failure to do so can have a significant effect on accessibility for disabled people.

Road Building and Improvements

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of new motorway and trunk road to at least dual carriageway standard are planned. (110625)

The following table lists the trunk road and motorway schemes currently in the Targeted Programme of Improvements, which provides new or additional lengths of motorway and trunk road to at least dual carriageway standard.

These schemes will be delivered subject to the satisfactory completion of statutory processes and the availability of funding.

Scheme

Anticipated start of works date

Length of scheme (miles)

Additional lane miles

M1 J31-J32 Widening

On site 22 January 2007

1.24

2.49

A595 Ration-Lillyhall Improvement

January 2007

3.23

12.93

A1 Bramham-Wetherby (including Wetherby Bypass)

Spring 2007

6.21

14.91

M1 J21-30 Widening (Phase 1)

Summer 2007

14.60

29.21

M25 J1b-3 Widening

Summer 2007

2.67

5.59

A1 Dishforth to Leeming (A1 Dishforth to Barton)

Spring 2008

24.67

52.82

M27 J11-J12 Climbing Lanes

Spring 2008

1.99

2.30

M27 J3-J4 Widening

Spring 2008

2.55

5.16

A421 Bedford to M1 Junction 13

Autumn 2008

8.02

32.69

M1 J10-J13 Widening

Winter 2008

14.17

28.40

M62 J25-J27 Widening

Winter 2008

7.21

14.42

M25 J16-23 Widening

Winter 2009

22.12

40.39

A453 Widening (M1 J24 to A52 Nottingham)

Winter 2009

7.15

14.29

M1 J39-J42 Widening

Spring 2009

6.59

11.19

M62 J27-J28

Summer 2009

3.29

6.59

A14 Ellington-Fen Ditton Improvement

Spring 2010

22.56

121.36

M1 J21-J30 Widening (Phase 2)

Spring 2010

37.84

72.64

A21 Tonbridge to Pembury

Spring 2010

2.55

10.19

M25 J27-J30 Widening

Summer 2010

14.04

26.22

M1 J34-J37 Widening

Winter 2011

10.00

20.01

A47 Blofield to North Burlingham Dualling

Spring 2011

2.49

4.97

A23 Handcross to Warninglid Widening

Spring 2011

2.36

4.72

M1 J32-J34 Widening

Spring 2011

7.39

10.75

A21 Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst Bypass

Spring 2011

2.98

11.81

M1 J30-J31 Widening

Summer 2011

5.90

11.81

A46 Newark-Widmerpool Improvement

Spring 2012

17.09

43.50

M25 J5-J7 Widening

Autumn 2012

22.12

40.39

M25 J23-J27 Widening

Autumn 2012

17.34

30.70

M1 J37-J39 Widening

Autumn 2012

7.89

12.80

A57/A628 Mottram in Longdendale, Hollingworth and Tintwistle Bypass

Spring 2013

3.98

12.74

A11 Fiveways-Thetford Improvement

Spring 2013

9.20

18.77

M1 J31-J32 Widening

Summer 2014

3.54

11.06

A505 Dunstable Northern Bypass (A5 to M1 Link)

2013-14

2.73

10.94

Total number of miles of new road and Motorway

317.71

748.76

Sheppey Crossing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many times the Sheppey crossing has been closed since it was opened in July 2006. (111414)

The A249 Sheppey Crossing has been formally closed three times since it opened in July 2006.

In addition, on 19 December 2006 the northbound carriageway only was closed for a short period to remove a broken down lorry.

The old Kingsferry lifting bridge next to the new bridge remains open and has been used as an alternative route when the Sheppey Crossing has been closed.

Variable Speed Indicators

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average time was between a request for variable speed indicators and decision by the Secretary of State in the latest period for which figures are available. (111085)

Local traffic authorities may introduce variable speed limit signs on their roads without consent from the Secretary of State, providing those signs conform with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 and the relevant speed limit orders are in place. Local traffic authorities need to seek consent to introduce signs only if they do not conform to these regulations.

Applications for consent must provide supporting information as set out in the relevant regulations. Subject to that information being received, the Department would expect to reach a decision within five working days.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date his Department received the formal request by Essex county council for activation of variable speed indicators near Mountnessing primary school in Brentwood and Ongar; and on what date he approved their activation. (111086)

The Department initially received a formal request from Essex county council on 15 December 2005. The Department found it necessary to seek further information concerning the statutory consultation procedure before considering the application.

It is understood that this information was sent to the Department on 3 August 2006. It was not, however, received. It was not until 16 January 2007 that the Department was made aware that Essex county council had submitted this information and was still waiting for a response. The Department received a further set of the documents on 17 January 2007, and duly gave its consent on 18 January 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many requests for variable speed indicators were received in each of the last three years. (111087)

The Department received no applications from local traffic authorities for non-prescribed variable speed limit signs in 2004 and 2005 and seven applications in 2006. No applications have, as yet, been received in 2007.

Scotland

Departmental Fixed Assets

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland which fixed assets his Department sold for more than £10,000 in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06; and what the (i) sale value, (ii) purchaser and (iii) date of sale was of each asset. (110799)

The Scotland Office did not sell any fixed assets with a value of more than £10,000 in 2004-05 or 2005-06.

Public Sector Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the cash equivalent transfer value is of the public sector pensions of the 10 highest paid members of staff in his Department and its executive agencies; and if he will make a statement. (113813)

The staff in the Scotland Office are on loan from the Department for Constitutional Affairs or the Scottish Executive and the Office does not hold this information.

Culture, Media and Sport

BBC

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the revenue from the BBC licence was in each of the last 10 years; and how much of the increase in revenue is accounted for by an increase in the number of licence payers. (111205)

According to the BBC’s annual reports, the BBC’s licence fee revenue and number of licences in force in each of the last 10 years are given in the following table. The number of licences in force includes free licences issued to households in which one or more persons are over the age of 75. The BBC is reimbursed for these free licences by the Government.

Figures on the proportion of yearly revenue attributable to an increase in the number of licences are not collected. However, PKF, in their “Review of the BBC Value for Money and Efficiency Programmes” published in April 2006, estimate that over the period of the last licence fee settlement (2000-01 to 2006-07) a total of £632 million of licence fee income was attributable to household growth (HHG).

Licence fee income (£ million)

Licences in force (million)

2006

3,100.6

25

2005

2,940.3

24.7

2004

2,798.1

24.5

2003

2,658.5

24.1

2002

2,533.0

23.8

2001

2,370.8

23.4

2000

2,285.5

23.3

1999

2,179.5

22.8

1998

2,009.7

22.3

1997

1,915.2

22

Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when her Department began to measure its carbon emissions; what the volume of those emissions was in the last period for which figures are available; when her Department started to offset those emissions; what the cost is expected to be of offsetting her Department's emissions in 2006-07; and if she will make a statement. (116397)

The Department fist measured its carbon emissions for energy in 1999-2000 and transport in 2004-05. In 2005-06 the Department's emissions for energy and transport totalled 800,775 kilograms of carbon. The Department is currently supplied with 100 per cent. renewable energy. DCMS policy is to encourage its bodies to give sustainable development a high priority. The Department is developing a carbon culture scheme to promote energy efficiency and carbon trading across DCMS and its sponsored bodies.

Digital Switchover

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment she has made of the compatibility of the targeted help scheme for digital switchover with the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. (115083)

The digital switchover help scheme has been specifically designed to help elderly people and those with disabilities make the switch to digital television. It is compatible with the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. We intend to conduct an equality impact assessment shortly.

Gambling

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions she has had with gambling and gaming companies on on-line gambling addiction. (117380)

[holding answer 24 January 2007]: The Department has held a number of discussions with representatives of gambling and gaming companies during and since the passage of the Gambling Act 2005. Topics have included: ways to tackle problem gambling; implementing social responsibility measures such as age verification; our international summit on remote gambling; and research into gambling addiction.

Lottery Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was allocated to Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency by the Heritage Lottery Fund in each of the last five years. (117492)

In the last five financial years the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has allocated the following funding in the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency.

Financial year

Allocation (£)

2001-02

1,630

2002-03

12,980

2003-04

910,830

2004-05

39,043

2005-06

78,261

Total

1,042,744

Ofcom

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when Ministers in her Department last met the chief executive of Ofcom. (111103)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I last met the chief executive of Ofcom on 22 November 2006.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport about which five television programmes Ofcom received most complaints in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006. (111190)

The matters raised are the responsibility of the Office of Communications (Ofcom) as independent regulator. Accordingly, my officials have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to respond directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what basis Ofcom is refusing to respond to individual complaints made about Celebrity Big Brother. (111191)

The matters raised are the responsibility of the Office of Communications (Ofcom) as independent regulator. Accordingly, my officials have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to respond directly to my hon. Friend. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Overseas Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what overseas visits Ministers in her Department have made in an official capacity in the last 12 months; and what engagements were undertaken during the visits. (115485)

I am arranging for a list of those overseas visits undertaken by DCMS Ministers in an official capacity in the last 12 months to be placed in the Library of the House.

All travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the ministerial code and “Travel by Ministers”.

Radio Microphones

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans the Government have for the selling of the frequency allocation used by radio microphone users. (111401)

The matter raised is the responsibility of the Office of Communications (Ofcom), as independent regulator for the communications sector. Accordingly, I have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Religious Broadcasting

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions she has had with (a) the Church of England, (b) the Roman Catholic Church and (c) representatives of non-conformist churches on the decision to allow evangelists to raise money through broadcasting activities. (111143)

None. This decision was a matter for the independent regulator, Ofcom, and I understand that they held discussions with representatives of all these churches and other interested parties.

TV Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the cost of the administration of (a) issuing and (b) collecting payment for television licences in the last 12 months. (117491)

The BBC is responsible for the administration of the TV licensing system and for the collection of licence fee revenue. The corporation has said that the breakdown of costs requested is not available. Total collection costs in 2005-06 were £153.4 million, according to the BBC's annual report and accounts.

Leader of the House

Recruitment Agencies

To ask the Leader of the House how much his Office paid to recruitment agencies for the hire of temporary staff in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (117488)

The information is set out in the following table. Data for financial years 1997-98 to 2000-01 is not held electronically and only available at disproportionate cost.

Financial year

Cost (£)

2001-02

32,037.49

2002-03

0

2003-04

9,717.84

2004-05

2,665.51

2005-06

339.54

2006-07 (year to date)

0

Education and Skills

Careers Advice

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many and what percentage of children aged (a) 13, (b) 14, (c) 15, (d) 16 and (e) 17 years received careers advice at school in the last period for which figures are available. (111316)

Careers advice falls under the wider information advice and guidance (IAG) remit of the Connexions Service. Information on Connexions' interventions with young people is collected centrally, but we do not collect information specifically relating to careers advice given in schools.

E-learning Credits

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidance he has issued to schools on the appropriate use of e-learning credits. (110560)

The DfES provides schools with detailed guidance on the use of e-learning credits (eLCs).

This guidance is highlighted as part of the general funding circular to schools and displayed on the Curriculum Online website:

http://www.curriculumonline.gov.uk/Helpdesk/Helpdesk+page.htm#tobuy

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether his Department has approved for purchase with e-learning credits technologies which would facilitate the collection of biometric data. (110561)

[holding answer 22 January 2007]: The Department does not collect this specific information but only products to support the teaching of the national curriculum in England are eligible for e-learning credits (eLCs).

The DfES publishes guidelines which cover the criteria against which software products will be judged to be eligible for certification and inclusion in the Curriculum Online catalogue, and therefore eligible for eLCs.

The guidelines are at:

http://www.curriculumonline.gov.uk/SupplierCentre/compliance.htm

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what types of systems and software his Department has approved for purchase with e-learning credits. (110562)

[holding answer 22 January 2007]: The DfES publishes guidelines which cover the criteria against which software products will be judged to be eligible for certification and inclusion in the Curriculum Online catalogue, and therefore eligible for e-learning credits. The guidelines are at:

http://www.curriculumonline.gov.uk/SupplierCentre/compliance.htm

Specialised Diplomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps are being taken to assess the training needs of school and college staff before the introduction of specialised diplomas. (111343)

As part of the Diploma Gateway process, each consortia applying to deliver the diplomas completed an assessment of their requirements in terms of development for current staff and recruitment. Successful consortiums will have assessed the skills and training needs of their staff.

In addition, the Department is putting in place a support package that will provide the workforce with the tools to assess current skills. The Centre for Excellence in Leadership and the National College for School Leadership are leading a project to support leaders and managers in developing the skills necessary to implement the diplomas, including assessing and managing training needs. Additionally the Training and Development Agency for Schools and Lifelong Learning UK are producing a professional development toolkit for teachers. This will look at the specific skills and knowledge needed to teach the diplomas and use the existing teaching standards frameworks to make recommendations about development priorities.

Communities and Local Government

Business Rates

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the net yield from business rates was in England in each year since 1996-97; and what it is expected to be in 2006-07. (114582)

The figures requested are in the following table.

£ million

Net rate yields

Local lists

Central list

CILOR1

Total

1996-97

10,659

1,221

487

12,366

1997-98

11,617

1,207

469

13,293

1998-99

11,919

1,273

440

13,632

1999-2000

12,383

1,319

332

14,034

2000-01

13,698

868

9

14,575

2001-02

14,778

1,048

12

15,838

2002-03

14,478

1,044

8

15,530

2003-04

14,384

1,029

10

15,423

2004-05

14,739

1,030

10

15,779

2005-062

15,679

1,097

11

16,786

2006-072

17,172

1,000

10

18,182

1 Contribution in lieu of rates for crown properties. Most crown properties transferred to local lists with effect from 2000-01.

2 Estimates.

Source:

NNDR returns; central government information on central and crown lists.

Consultants

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which external consultancy (a) firms and (b) organisations her Department has commissioned (i) to conduct research and (ii) to provide advice in relation to (A) council tax and (B) home information packs since 2002. (103842)

Since 2002 my Department or its predecessors has commissioned no external firms or organisations to conduct research or to provide advice specifically on council tax. Research for the balance of funding review did, however, touch on council tax within a wider consideration of the financing of local government. The research commissioned may be found on my Department’s website at:

http://www.local.odpm.gov.uk/finance/balance/rsg.htm

The research is as follows:

University of Cardiff—International lessons on the balance of funding

NOP World—Deliberative public focus groups on the balance of funding

University of Plymouth—Relationship between the balance of funding and voter turnout in local government elections.

The home information pack programme is bringing about major changes to the multi-billion pound home buying and selling industry to the benefit of consumers and the environment. The work has included developing and testing the home condition report and the energy performance certificate; putting in place a quality assurance framework to protect consumers and guarantee standards; developing the necessary systems and explaining the changes to the public and industry stakeholders. This has required a wide range of technical and professional expertise to implement that the Department either does not have or does not have in sufficient quantity.

For details of the organisations and firms employed, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 8 November 2006, Official Report, columns 1568-89W.

Council Tax

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been given to local authorities about whether residents may pay for their yearly council tax bill in 10 or 12 instalments. (111962)

“The Council Tax: Practice Note 5” originally issued to local authorities by the Department of the Environment in 1992 and re-issued on 29 April 1994, makes clear that authorities may agree council tax payment arrangements with taxpayers that differ from the normal statutory minimum, often monthly, instalments. “Council Tax—a guide to your bill” published by this Department makes clear that local authorities may agree, although usually only in exceptional circumstances, to payment of council tax bills over 12 rather than 10 months.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department spent in each of the Government office regions in the most recent year for which figures are available. (116699)

Chapter 7 of the annual Treasury publication “Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses” details expenditure on services in the regions and countries of the United Kingdom.

Identifiable spending in each region of England for 2004-05 (latest available data) is contained within table 7.19 of the 2006 edition of PESA. Data relating to spending which is now the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government are shown under the heading of the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The 2006 edition of PESA is available at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/economic_data_and_tools/finance_spending_statistics/pes_publications/pespub_pesa06.cfm

Departmental Fixed Assets

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which fixed assets her Department sold for more than £10,000 in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06; and what the (i) sale value, (ii) purchaser and (iii) date of sale was of each asset. (110795)

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s predecessor department, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, sold no fixed assets for more than £10,000 in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06.

European Year of Equal Opportunities

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government are taking to support the European Year of Equal Opportunities; what activities her Department has organised to celebrate the European Year of Equal Opportunities; what funding the Government are providing for events organised as part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities; and which Ministers will be attending the Equality Summit being held by the European Parliament as part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities. (115756)

The Government will organise a series of events around the country to promote the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All. In order to maximise the impact and sustainability of these events, the Government’s intention is to link this work as far as possible to the launch of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights, which is scheduled for October of this year. The overall budget and the final plans for the year will depend on the level of co-financing from the European Commission, which is expected to be around £450,000. The Government intend to contribute a similar amount. Confirmation of the level of the European Commission’s contribution is expected in March. Activities in the UK to promote the year should start in April. My hon. Friend the Minister for Women and Equality intends to attend the Equality Summit being held by the German presidency of the EU in Berlin on 30 to 31 January.

Executive Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent by each of her Department’s Executive agencies in each of the Government office regions in the most recent year for which figures are available. (116663)

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which of the Executive agencies of her Department have regional offices outside London. (116726)

The three Executive agencies sponsored by Communities and Local Government are the Fire Service College, the Planning Inspectorate and the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.

The Fire Service College is located at Moreton in Marsh in Gloucestershire.

The Planning Inspectorate’s headquarters is in Bristol. It is also an Executive agency of the National Assembly for Wales and has an office in Cardiff.

The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre is located in Westminster.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which Executive agencies are the responsibility of her Department; what the function is of each agency; and what the budget was of each agency in the most recent year for which figures are available. (116774)

Information on the Executive agencies sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government can be found in their annual reports and accounts, copies of which are in the Library and which are also online as follows:

Fire Service College

http://www.fireservicecollege.ac.uk/About+Us/Reports+and+Plans/Annual+Report/

Planning Inspectorate

http://www.planning-inspectorate.gov.uk/pins/reports/ann_report_05_06/contents.htm

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre

http://www.qeiicc.co.uk/corporate_info/documentation

Government Office for London

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the budget was of the Government Office for London in (a) 1997 and (b) 2006, broken down by Department. (115360)

We do not hold administration budget information on Government Office for London broken down by Department for 1997-98. The overall administration budget for GOL in 1997-98 was £13,458,820. The current budget for 2006-07 is £17,955,700. This is broken down as follows:

Department

Budget (£000)

CLG

7,735.07

DfT

1,055.10

DTI

2,280.47

DfES

1,711.37

DWP

701.10

DEFRA

429.86

DCMS

64.03

Home Office

2,523.99

Other (including tariffs and non cash)

1,454.76

Government Offices for the Regions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which Government Departments contribute to the programme expenditure of each of the Government Offices for the Regions (GOR); and how much each Government Department provided to each GOR in the most recent year for which figures are available. (113729)

The following Departments contribute towards the programme expenditure of each Government Office: DEFRA, DfES, Home Office, DTI, Communities and Local Government, DWP and DfT.

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s delegated programme expenditure for 2006-07 for each GO was estimated as follows:

Government Office

Programme expenditure (£)

East

27,515,000

East Midlands

58,521,000

North East

91,453,000

North West

311,832,000

South East

38,106,000

South West

105,610,000

West Midlands

119,698,000

Yorkshire and the Humber

238,687,000

London

139,652,000

Total

1,131,074,000

The Department for Communities and Local Government does not centrally hold programme expenditure data for the other sponsor Departments to the nine Government Offices.

High Hedge Disputes

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the charges levied by individual local planning authorities for high hedge dispute applications. (111979)

The Department for Communities and Local Government has made no formal evaluation of the level or impact of fees levied by local authorities under Part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 to deal with complaints about high hedges. Information on these fees is not collected centrally. Our advice in “High Hedges Complaints: Prevention and Cure” indicates that each local authority is responsible for deciding whether, and at what level, to charge for dealing with complaints about high hedges.

We will carry out a review of this part of the 2003 Act in 2010 after it has been in operation for five years. We are aware that authorities are keeping their fees for this service under review.

Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many councils in England operate the (a) leader and cabinet, (b) mayor and cabinet, (c) mayor and manager and (d) streamlined committee systems of decision-making; and if she will make a statement. (117245)

The number of councils operating each governance model is as follows:

(a) Leader and cabinet—318

(b) Mayor and cabinet—11

(c) Mayor and council manager—1

(d) Alternative arrangements (streamlined committee system)—56

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of local authorities in England elect councillors (a) by thirds and (b) all-out. (117246)

Of the 388 principal local authorities in England, 35 per cent. (all 36 metropolitan district councils and 98 shire district councils) elect by thirds; 2 per cent. (seven shire district councils) elect by halves; and 63 per cent. (all 32 London boroughs and the City of London, all 35 county councils and 179 shire district councils and the Isles of Scilly) hold whole council elections.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of local authorities electing councillors by thirds have expressed a wish to move to all-out elections. (117247)

Following the Electoral Commission's report “The cycle of local government elections in England” which, after consultation with stakeholders, recommended a move to all-out elections for all local authorities in England, we have received inquiries about changing electoral cycles from 21 per cent. of shire district councils that currently elect by thirds. To date, three of those local authorities have made a formal request to amend their cycle. The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill provides that, in future, all councils, including metropolitan district councils that are currently barred from whole council elections, which elect by thirds can, by council resolution, move to whole council elections.

Local Government Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects (a) to receive, (b) to publish and (c) to respond to the report of the Lyons Inquiry into local government finance. (114721)

Sir Michael Lyons’s report will be published around the time of Budget 2007. His work will inform the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007. Decisions on the Government’s response will be taken in light of the report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, column 170W, on council tax, what information on (a) town and (b) parish council tax precepts her Department collects for the collation of the yearly council tax datasets published by her Department each March; (114907)

(2) how many (a) parish and (b) town councils levy a precept on council tax in England.

The Department collects, from each billing authority and for each financial year, the figure for the aggregate amount of any precepts issued by local precepting authorities, or anticipated by the billing authority. Local precepting authorities comprise parish and town councils and similar bodies, such as parish meetings and charter trustees.

Local Government Restructuring

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether a referendum is required (a) to ratify and (b) to approve a move to unitary local government from a two-tier structure. (103904)

Local Taxation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department is assessing the implications of the introduction of the discrete capital values system of local taxation and the conduct of the rates revaluation in Northern Ireland for policy making in England. (111942)

Neighbourhood Renewal Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will break down by main budget heading the programme expenditure for the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund initiative in the (a) North West, (b) London, (c) East Midlands, (d) Eastern, (e) Yorkshire and Humberside, (f) West Midlands, (g) South West and (h) North East region in the most recent year for which figures are available. (110970)

The Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) is a special unhypothecated grant paid to the 86 most deprived areas in England. NRF can be used in any way a locality wishes—as long as its use is agreed through their Local Strategic Partnership and contributes to the achievement of neighbourhood renewal outcomes in line with a local neighbourhood renewal strategy.

NRF programme expenditure in the current financial year (2006-07) for the eight1 English regions listed is set out in the following table.

1 The ninth region (South East) has a 2006-07 NRF allocation of £3.376 million.

Region

£ million

North West

143.005

London

119.000

East Midlands

30.977

East of England

3.896

Yorkshire and the Humber

78.987

West Midlands

70.017

South West

10.596

North East

65.145

New Deal

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will break down by main budget heading the programme expenditure for the New Deal for Communities initiative in the (a) Eastern, (b) east Midlands, (c) London, (d) north-east, (e) north-west and (f) south-east regions in the most recent year for which figures are available. (110731)

The 39 NDC neighbourhoods will be allocated £2 billion over 10 years (average of £52 million each). The breakdown for capital/resource expenditure for the regions specified is as follows for financial year 2005-06:

New Deal for Communities expenditure 2005-06

£000

Region

Number of NDCs

Resource spend

Capital spend

Total spend

Eastern

2

7,141.45

3,290.33

10,431.78

East midlands

3

11,206.92

4,926.85

16,133.76

London

10

38,952.60

33,238.33

72,190.92

North-east

4

20,953.08

10,682.98

31,636.06

North-west

6

21,517.63

13,982.37

35,500.00

South-east

2

7,949.99

5,222.13

13,172.12

Non-departmental Public Bodies

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which non-departmental public bodies are sponsored by her Department; what the function is of each body; and what the budget was for each body in the most recent year for which figures are available. (116757)

Details of the remit, Government funding and gross expenditure of public bodies sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government can be found in the Cabinet Office publication “Public Bodies 2006”, copies of which are in the Library and which is also available online at:

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/other/agencies/publications/pdf/public-bodies/publicbodies2006.pdf

In addition to those bodies listed in the 2006 edition under the Department for Communities and Local Government, this Department is now also responsible for the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Women’s National Commission, listed under the Department for Trade and Industry; and the Commission for Racial Equality and the Community Development Foundation listed under the Home Office.

The National Housing and Planning Advice Unit is a new Advisory NDPB and does not appear in Public Bodies 2006. It has been set up to provide independent advice and strengthen the evidence and analysis on improving housing market affordability available to the regional planning bodies throughout the planning process. Its budget for 2006-07 is £1.5 million. It is expected to be fully operational from March 2007.

ODPM Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s expenditure on foreign travel, including accommodation, was in 2005-06. (114082)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) on 16 June 2006, Official Report, column 1459W.

Pension Contributions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the employee contribution rate is to (a) the Local Government Pension Scheme and (b) the Firefighters' Pension Scheme; and if she will make a statement. (111511)

The current contribution rate for employees in the Local Government Pension Scheme is 6 per cent. of pensionable pay, with certain members retaining rights to contribute 5 per cent. Draft regulations issued on 22 December 2006 for consultation with scheme interests in England and Wales propose new arrangements, to take effect from 1 April 2008, which would mean members contributing 5.5 per cent. payable on the first £12,000 of pensionable pay and 7.5 per cent. payable on the excess. Final decisions on new contribution levels, linked to pay, will be taken once the responses to the consultation exercise have been considered.

Members of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992 pay a contribution of 11 per cent. of pensionable pay. This scheme has been closed. From 6 April 2006, firefighters joining the fire and rescue service are members of the New Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2006 and pay a contribution of 8.5 per cent. of pensionable pay.

Peterborough City Council

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much she has allocated to Peterborough city council for the future funding of environmental wardens; and if she will make a statement. (110713)

Peterborough city council has not been allocated any future funding specifically for environmental wardens.

However, Peterborough city council receives Safer and Stronger Communities funding as part of its local area agreement. It is a local decision as to how this funding is allocated.

Peterborough receives additional funding as part of its Safer and Stronger Communities funding for the Greater Dogsthorpe area. This neighbourhood element funding is worth £13,000 for 2006-07. The area will receive £516,000, plus a top-up for this year only of £65,000 for 2007-08. A further two years of funding is dependent upon the 2007 spending review.

I understand that the Greater Dogsthorpe Partnership, which includes residents and local councillors, is using part of this funding to employ an environmental enforcement officer. This officer will also work with volunteer resident “street leaders” from the area to help champion local streets and neighbourhoods and help tackle environmental issues.

Planning and Local Government Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many reviews of (a) planning policy and (b) local government finance the Government have conducted or commissioned since May 1997. (115042)

The information is as follows:

(a) Three overall reviews. But in addition a large number of individual policy areas have been updated or changed since 1997.

(b) Three. In addition, the Government, in consultation with stakeholders, have reviewed the distribution of formula grant to local authorities a number of times since 1997. Changes were introduced to the grant formulae in 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2003-04 and 2006-07.

Rats

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have engaged in sewer-baiting to curtail the rat population. (117452)

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

Safer Stronger Communities Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will break down by main budget heading programme expenditure by the Safer Stronger Communities Fund initiative in the Yorkshire and Humberside region in the most recent year for which figures are available. (110807)

In 2006-07 the funding allocated to the Safer and Stronger Communities Fund (SSCF) in the Yorkshire and Humberside region was £6,078,363.

£2,177,624 of the total was allocated for the “stronger” element, £2,930,739 for the “safer” element and £970,000 for the Cleaner Greener Safer programme.

Of the total allocated to the SSCF £4,514,117 is revenue funding and £1,564,246 is capital funds.

This funding was allocated to the areas in Yorkshire and Humberside that do not currently have a local area agreement in place; other similar funds are allocated under the local area agreement arrangements in the Safer Stronger Communities block.

Social Care Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the priority given to the level of social care funding in the forthcoming comprehensive spending review; and if she will make a statement. (110880)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government's funding of social care is being reviewed alongside all other aspects of Government expenditure in accordance with the process described in the statement set before the House on 19 July 2005. Paragraph 6.11 of the 2006 pre-Budget report (Cm 6984) provides more information on this specific area of work. The conclusions of the review will be published in the comprehensive spending review White Paper.

Special Advisers: Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) destination and (b) total cost was of each visit abroad by a special adviser in her Department in an official capacity since the creation of her Department. (111974)

All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code. No special adviser in the Department for Communities and Local Government has been on a visit abroad in an official capacity since the creation of the Department.

Sustainable Communities Plan

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many of the (a) recommendations and (b) targets in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s 2003 Sustainable Communities Plan (i) have yet to be met and (ii) are no longer being pursued. (115048)

The Sustainable Communities Plan set out a long-term programme of activity designed to achieve a step change in our policies for delivering sustainable communities for all by increasing housing supply, housing market renewal, providing more decent and affordable homes for all, ensuring the right infrastructure is provided, delivering on new growth areas and improving the countryside and local environment.

We have made considerable progress and are going further still to meet the challenges outlined in the plan. For example:

We have reduced the number of non-decent social homes by more than 1 million, and increased the proportion of vulnerable households in the private sector who have a decent home by 66 per cent. In total over £20 billion of public money has been invested in improving council housing since 1997, and over £40 billion in total will have been invested by the end of 2010.

Across the country, we are more than doubling investment in affordable housing through the Housing Corporation to £2 billion per year by 2008. By 2010 we will have helped 120,000 households into low cost home ownership through our Homebuy scheme and over 160,000 households to access home ownership through private or public shared equity schemes.

Combined with London, the four growth areas and the 29 new growth points have the potential to deliver an extra 300,000 homes above previously planned levels by 2016.

Around £400 million is to be allocated by 2008 (since 2003-04) from the Communities and Local Government’s Growth Area Fund (GAF) to support the objectives of sustainable development in the three newer growth areas and we are providing £40 million in 2007-08 for a first round of infrastructure projects and to support growth-related studies, masterplanning and capacity-building in the new growth points.

Since 2003 we have allocated £850 million to accelerate the growth of the Thames Gateway. Most of these funds are committed.

Kate Barker, in her Review of Housing Supply (published in 2004), concluded that the housing market had not responded sufficiently to meet the needs of the country’s ageing and growing population and recommended a step change in housing supply. In its response, published in December 2005, the Government set out an ambition to increase the supply of new homes to 200,000 per year by 2016. Alongside the Barker response, the Government announced a cross-cutting review of funding for infrastructure to support housing growth, and stronger measures for environmental sustainability. In December 2006 we further enhanced our commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment and tackling climate change by introducing a number of new environmental initiatives such as the Code for Sustainable Homes and PPS on climate change that aim to deliver more sustainable development.

This work continues and the Department for Communities and Local Government is tasked with delivering prosperous and cohesive communities, offering a safe, healthy and sustainable environment for all.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many of the (a) recommendations and (b) targets in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s (i) Five Year Plan—Homes For All and (ii) Five Year Plan—people, places and prosperity (A) have yet to be met and (B) are no longer being pursued. (115049)

Details of the Department’s achievements, including action to take forward the proposals set out in the Five Year Plans of the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, are set out in the 2006 annual report (Cm 6816). Copies are available in the Library of the House.

Valuation Office Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what meetings the Valuation Office Agency has had with representatives of the Hong Kong Government’s Rating Valuation Department in relation to best practice, new technology and methodologies used in the valuation of domestic properties. (116205)

Defence

Active Duty

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces are serving abroad on active duty, including reserve forces; and what their average length of duty overseas is. (114334)

Location statistics may be compiled based on posted (stationed) location or deployed location. Posted (stationed) location is where an individual is permanently based. Deployed location is where an individual is physically located at a particular point in time and is typically used for short tours of active duty.

Deployment figures are provided at high levels based on manual returns and include reserve forces. At 1 January 2007,13,660 personnel were deployed on operations abroad.

The strength of UK regular forces posted outside the UK is available in Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 6—“Global Location of UK Regular Forces”. TSP 6 does not include reserve forces.

TSP 6 is published quarterly; the most recent publication show the numbers of service personnel at 1 October 2006.

Copies of TSP 6 are available in the Library of the House and at:

www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp6/tsp6_oct06.pdf.

The average length of duty of personnel on active duty overseas is not held centrally. However, operational tours of duty are generally between four and six months.

Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 11 December 2006, Official Report, columns 907-8W, on the armed forces, what criminal offences were involved, and which cases were dealt with in (a) magistrates courts and (b) county courts. (115880)

The breakdown of information sought is not readily available in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, I attach a breakdown of offences by category since 2001. As individuals may be charged with more than one offence the total numbers in each year do not correspond with those in my answer of 11 December 2006, Official Report, columns 970-8W, which relate to individuals not offences.

Category

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Criminal damage

3

3

12

5

9

3

Assault

19

16

34

43

32

8

Theft

4

9

12

5

2

5

Sexual offences

1

1

2

3

3

1

Driving offences

258

302

371

359

218

96

Disorderly behaviour/public order

13

7

45

34

31

14

Drug offences

3

Murder

1

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for further armed forces recruitment drives aimed at the Muslim community. (117173)

[holding answer 22 January 2007]: The armed forces strive to engage ethnic minority groups, including those in the Muslim community, to raise awareness of armed forces’ careers and to improve representation of the Muslim community in the ranks. Within this effort the services undertake a wide variety of outreach initiatives specifically aimed at encouraging more young people from the Muslim community to consider a career in the armed forces. These activities are undertaken at local level by dedicated recruitment teams or by service establishments based in or near the community. Examples include:

On 20 January, the Royal Navy's (RN) Diversity Action Team invited a group of young people from the Small Heath area of Birmingham to take part in an RN Introduction Day. The Team has been working with a sub branch of the UK Islamic Mission called the Urban Development Foundation as part of a five month ethnic minority recruiting drive focusing on the Small Heath and Handsworth area of the city.

The Army’s participation in Eid celebrations in Bradford and Nottingham and a visit to an East London Muslim community and Mosque.

The RAF’s work with the Pakistani community in Leeds.

The armed forces have for the past three years sponsored an award at the annual Muslim News Awards and will again sponsor this year’s awards.

On 16 January 2007, the Chief of the Defence staff met Dr. Abdul Bari, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to discuss a series of issues relating to Muslims in the armed forces. In that same week the Second Sea Lord hosted members of the MCB and the editor of The Muslim Weekly on a visit to Plymouth.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers from Northern Ireland are serving in (a) Afghanistan and (b) Iraq. (110272)

Data on the residential location of armed forces personnel is not held centrally in databases of individual records and it is therefore not possible to give figures by place of residence.

Location statistics may be compiled based on posted location or deployed location. Posted location is where an individual is permanently based. Deployed location is where an individual is physically located at a particular point in time and is typically used for short tours of duty. Deployment data are not centrally held.

The number of regular armed forces personnel posted to Afghanistan is available in Tri Service Publication 6, “Global Location of UK Regular Forces” (TSP 6). Copies are available in the House of Commons Library and are also at:

www.dasa.mod.uk.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the expected expenditure on pay is for all army (a) officers and (b) other ranks in 2006-07. (113750)

The total expenditure, to the end of November 2006, on army pay for officers was £471 million and other ranks £1,563 million. We expect the expenditure for the remainder of the financial year to be consistent with the costs incurred to date.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 605W, on army recruitment, what the outflow was from the Regular Army for each of the last 12 months broken down by (a) rank of officer and (b) other ranks. (114632)

The following tables show the outflow to civil life of trained and untrained Regular Army officers and other ranks by rank for each of the last 12 months:

Officers

During

Major General and above

Brigadier

Colonel

1Lieutenant Colonel

Major

Captain

2Lieutenant

Officer Designate

Total

November 2005

10

30

10

10

70

December 2005

10

10

20

30

10

70

January 2006

10

10

30

20

20

90

February 2006

10

20

20

60

March 2006

10

10

10

20

10

60

April 2006

20

40

50

30

160

May 2006

10

30

40

80

June 2006

10

20

80

30

10

10

160

July 2006

10

40

40

20

110

August 2006

10

40

40

10

20

120

September 2006

10

20

40

40

20

10

130

October 2006

20

40

30

10

100

Total

10

20

50

160

410

380

70

120

1,220

1 Includes Lieutenant Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel Special List

2 Includes Lieutenant and 2nd Lieutenant

“—“ represents zero or rounded to zero.

Soldiers

During

Warrant Officer Class 1

Warrant Officer Class 2

Staff Sergeant

Sergeant

Corporal

Lance Corporal

Private

Total

November 2005

20

50

60

60

110

140

620

1,060

December 2005

20

60

40

40

70

110

550

880

January 2006

40

60

70

80

140

160

650

1,200

February 2006

20

50

50

70

120

150

660

1,130

March 2006

20

60

50

80

110

130

600

1,050

April 2006

40

60

60

<>0

110

140

680

1,160

May 2006

20

60

40

60

110

130

720

1,150

June 2006

30

50

40

60

100

160

730

1,170

July 2006

40

50

60

60

110

120

660

1,100

August 2006

30

50

60

70

100

150

650

1,120

September 2006

40

40

50

70

100

160

650

1,110

October 2006

30

50

40

60

110

120

820

1,230

Total

340

650

620

780

1,290

1,680

7,990

13,350

Notes:

Figures show all outflow from UK Regular Army Forces to Civil Life including recalled reservists on release and outflow to the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment. The figures exclude outflow of Illegal Absentees i.e. those personnel removed from the reported strength of the Army having been deemed long-term illegally absent. Therefore these figures will differ slightly from those published in some official statistics i.e. Tri Service Publication 1.

UK Regular Forces includes Nursing services and excludes Full Time Reserve Service personnel, Gurkhas, the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists. It includes trained and untrained personnel.

All data have been rounded to the nearest 10. Due to the rounding methods used, totals may not always equal the sum of the parts. Numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

Armoured Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many mine-protected armoured vehicles are on order for the Army; and how many are available for deployment. (117238)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 31 October 2006, Official Report, column 335W, to the hon. Member for Congleton (Ann Winterton). Given the small number and specialist role of these vehicles, I do not intend to give precise details on the number available for deployment for reasons of operational security.

Chorley Air Cadet Centre

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when work will commence on refurbishing the roof at Chorley Air Cadet Centre. (110577)

[holding answer 24 January 2007]: The work required to repair the roof of Chorley Air Cadet Centre was carried out on 22 January 2007.

Combat Body Armour

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research his Department has undertaken to assess the impact of newly developed combat body armour on the frequency and severity of injury to combat personnel. (116677)

[holding answer 22 January 2007]: The development of current and future types of body armour has been and continues to be supported by a wide range of research and analysis. This includes: biomedical research focusing on armour placement and coverage, as well as the medical treatment of casualties; the assessment of the protective properties of individual materials; and the use of war-gaming models to determine overall combat effectiveness of particular body armour designs. No specific data has been collated to determine scientifically the success of new designs in reducing injury and saving lives. Anecdotal evidence, however, points clearly to the effectiveness and popularity of these systems.

Departmental Vetting

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes he has initiated in departmental vetting requirements (a) between September 2001 and July 2005 and (b) since July 2005. (116682)

[holding answer 23 January 2007]: Ministry of Defence vetting requirements reflect criteria laid down by Government and set out in the Prime Minister’s Statement on vetting on 15 December 1994, Official Report, columns 764-6W. Following a Cabinet Office Review of Personnel Security that concluded in May 2004, new processes for a standard approach to Developed Vetting, across government, were introduced in April 2006. A new Baseline Personnel Security Standard replacing the current Basic Check is currently being introduced.

Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Royal Navy, (b) Royal Marine, (c) Army, (d) RAF and (e) civilian personnel in his Department are stationed abroad; and in which countries. (110394)

The information is given in the following tables:

Global location of UK regular forces at 1 October 2006

Location

Royal Navy

Royal Marines

Army

RAF1

Afghanistan

100

40

2

2

Australia

20

2

20

10

Bahrain

20

2

2

2

Balkans

20

2

2

2

Belgium

60

10

140

150

Belize

2

2

80

2

British Indian Ocean Territory (inc. Diego Garcia)

20

20

2

2

Brunei

10

2

180

10

Canada

20

2

230

30

Cyprus

40

2

1,830

1,100

Czech Republic

2

2

20

2

Denmark

2

2

2

10

Falkland Islands

60

2

240

40

France

10

2

20

10

Germany

20

10

21,270

370

Ghana

2

2

10

2

Gibraltar

200

2

50

90

Gulf

10

2

2

2

Iraq

80

30

2

2

Italy

110

10

50

80

Kenya

2

2

30

2

Kuwait

2

2

30

10

Nepal

2

2

20

2

Netherlands

30

10

100

90

Norway

20

2

10

30

Oman

20

2

40

20

Portugal

20

2

10

20

Saudi Arabia

10

2

10

50

Sierra Leone

2

2

80

2

Slovakia

2

2

10

2

South Africa

2

2

10

2

Spain

2

2

10

10

Turkey

2

2

10

30

USA

100

10

120

180

Elsewhere3

30

2

90

40

Unknown4

2

2

20

2

Grand total

1,030

180

24,760

2,420

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

2 Denotes zero or rounded to zero.

3 “Elsewhere” includes all locations where five or less service personnel are stationed.

4 “Unknown” Army personnel are those known to be abroad but who are recorded against the Y List (as such, the location of these personnel cannot be determined from centrally available databases). Personnel are assigned to the Y List when they are temporarily non effective for defined reasons including terminal leave, maternity and long term detention.

Notes:

1. UK Regular Forces includes nursing services and excludes full-time reserve service personnel, Gurkhas, the Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, mobilised reservists and Naval Activated Reservists. It includes trained and untrained personnel.

2. RAF data are situated at 1 April 2006. Due to the introduction of a new personnel administration system for RAF, location data after 1 April 2006 are unavailable.

3. Location is based on the posted location of the unit/posting which an individual is recorded against. Personnel deployed on operations to an area away from their posted unit location are shown against their posted unit location.

4. Personnel in naval parties are classed as posted to the naval party and so are shown against the location of the naval party.

5. Locations shown are those where more than five service personnel are stationed.

6. Personnel who are overseas temporarily are recorded against the location of their home port/unit.

7. Due to the rounding methods used totals may not always equal the sum of the parts. When rounding to 10, numbers ending in five have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

Source:

DASA (Tri-Service)

Global location of civilian personnel at 1 October 2006

Location at 1 October 2006

Civilian staff in full-time equivalent (FTE) terms

Afghanistan

320

Australia

10

Balkans

660

Belgium

150

Belize

170

Brunei

310

Canada

10

Cyprus

2,820

Falkland Islands

60

France

30

Germany

8,680

Ghana

30

Gibraltar

1,030

Greece

10

India

10

Iraq

1,400

Italy

50

Kenya

180

Malaysia

10

Nepal

370

Netherlands

50

Portugal

10

Saudi Arabia

30

Sierra Leone

190

Singapore

30

South Atlantic

10

Turkey

10

USA

190

Elsewhere1

330

Grand total

17,160

1 “Elsewhere” includes all locations where five or less FTE are stationed, plus 180 staff serving afloat.

Notes:

1. Figures include locally engaged civilians and UK staff posted abroad. Postings abroad include any staff recorded centrally as employed outside the United Kingdom at 1 October 2006.

2. Locations shown are those where more than five FTE are stationed.

3. Figures are shown in full-time equivalent terms i.e. part-timers are counted proportionately based on number of hours worked.

4. Due to the rounding methods used totals may not always equal the sum of the parts. When rounding to 10, numbers ending in five have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

Source:

DASA (Civilian)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in what locations British troops are (a) deployed and (b) stationed; and how many troops are deployed or stationed at each location. (110431)

Location statistics may be compiled based on posted (stationed) location or deployed location. Posted (stationed) location is where an individual is permanently based. Deployed location is where an individual is physically located at a particular point in time and is typically used for short tours of duty.

The following table shows the number of personnel deployed on operations by operation at 1 January 2007. The individual location could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Operation

Number of personnel deployed

Telic

7,020

Herrick

5,700

Oculus

630

UN operations

290

Total

13,640

The strength of UK regular forces posted outside the UK is available in Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 6—“Global Location of UK Regular Forces”. The strength of UK regular forces posted in the UK by Government office region and local authority is available in Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 10—“UK Regular Forces Distribution across UK”. Reliable data below local authority are not available centrally.

TSP 6 and 10 are published quarterly; the most recent publications show the numbers of service personnel at 1 October 2006.

Copies of TSP 6 and 10 are available in the Library of the House and at:

www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp6/tsp6_oct06.pdf

and

www.dasa.mod.uk/natstats/tsp10/tsp10tab1.html

respectively.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British forces are deployed overseas; what the cost has been of such overseas deployment in the last 12 months; and what the cost was of overseas deployments in 1996-97. (117477)

[holding answer 23 January 2007]: As at 9 January 2007 there were 14,100 military personnel deployed overseas on operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. The total cost of these operations in 2005-06 was £1,220 million. The total cost of operations in 1996-97 was £253 million.

Executive Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent by each of his Department's executive agencies in each of the Government office regions in the most recent year for which figures are available. (116666)

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

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which of the executive agencies of his Department have regional offices outside London. (116729)

All the defence agencies have offices in the UK outside London, other than Service Children's Education, which is located entirely overseas, primarily in Germany and Cyprus.

Free Newspapers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements are in place for the provision of free newspapers to UK services people serving overseas; whether he has any plans to change these arrangements; and if he will make a statement. (117366)

[holding answer 22 January 2007]: Newspapers are provided free of charge to operational theatres on the basis of one paper per 10 personnel. They are delivered, by the contracted supplier, daily to RAF Brize Norton for onward transmission. There are no plans to change these arrangements.

Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the availability of helicopters for immediate deployment. (117267)

All UK helicopters deemed fit for purpose are available for immediate deployment. They are deemed fit for purpose if they are capable of undertaking a specific role identified in a particular theatre on a given day. Helicopters are not available for tasking if they are undergoing scheduled maintenance, modification programmes or any unforeseen rectification work that can arise on a day-to-day basis. A helicopter assessed as not fit-for- purpose may be returned to the front line at very short notice to meet operational demand.

I also refer the hon. Member to my answer of 8 January 2007, Official Report, column 87W, which gives details on forward fleet and average fit-for- purpose figures.

HMS Sheffield: Board of Inquiry

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the evidential basis was for the conclusions of the HMS Sheffield Board of Inquiry that (a) (Annex A-1 para 10) neither Sea Dart nor 4.5 inch Mk 8 engaged the missile or the firing aircraft, 4.5 inch alarm procedure was not used and (b) (para 11) Weapons were neither manned nor loaded; and if he will make a statement. (115225)

The conclusions were based on information contained in Annexes H (Narrative of Attack) and J (Analysis of Attack and Response) of the BOI Report into the loss of HMS Sheffield. This information, in turn, was drawn from written and oral evidence provided to the Board by witnesses from HMS Sheffield, HMS Glasgow and HMS Coventry.

Annexes H and J of the BOI report are due to be published on the MOD website before the end of January, as part of the release of the second tranche of documents relating to the sinking of HMS Sheffield. However, as advised in my written ministerial statement on 2 November 2006, Official Report, column 24WS, we will be withholding from publication copies of the witness statements that were taken by the board, as we believe that the disclosure of this personal data would be unfair to the individuals concerned and would be contrary to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Information Infrastructure Contract

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria the Atlas Consortium is expected to meet in order to be awarded Increments (a) 2b, (b) 2c and (c) 3 of the Defence information infrastructure contract. (116466)

[holding answer 19 January 2007]: Detailed criteria for Increments 2b, 2c and 3 have not yet been decided, but will be based on normal MOD practice:

Ability to meet the requirement;

Value for money;

Reliability/robustness of provider;

Affordability.

Additional criteria will cover appropriate indicators of past performance and evidence of likely future performance in the requirement areas.

Japanese Internment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many claims for compensation for British civilians interned by the Japanese have been made by British Jews interned in Singapore; and how many have been paid. (117026)

I am aware from the Association of British Civilian Internees Far East Region that a number of Jewish internees, as other ethnic groups, who were held by the Japanese in Singapore during the second world war may fail to qualify under the Government’s ex-gratia payment scheme for former far east prisoners of war and civilian internees. However, our records do not allow us to determine the number of applicants in this category and whether they were accepted or rejected under the scheme. The underlying principle of the scheme remains that awards will be made to those who were British at the time of their internment, who can demonstrate the required close link to the UK.

Nuclear Submarines

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where each decommissioned nuclear-powered submarine is stored. (116905)

[holding answer 24 January 2007]: Fourteen nuclear powered submarines have left naval service and are stored safely afloat at the following locations:

Submarine

Location

Conqueror

HM Naval Base (HMNB) Devonport

Courageous

HMNB Devonport

Sovereign

HMNB Devonport

Spartan

HMNB Devonport

Splendid

HMNB Devonport

Valiant

HMNB Devonport

Warspite

HMNB Devonport

Churchill

Rosyth Dockyard

Dreadnought

Rosyth Dockyard

Renown (Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN))

Rosyth Dockyard

Repulse (SSBN)

Rosyth Dockyard

Resolution (SSBN)

Rosyth Dockyard

Revenge (SSBN)

Rosyth Dockyard

Swiftsure

Rosyth Dockyard

Three of the submarines (Sovereign, Spartan and Splendid) are awaiting defuel.

Officer Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many officer cadets are in training at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell; what the service personnel establishment is; what the civilian establishment is; and what the annual costs were in each of the last five years. (111416)

As at 23 January 2007 there were 320 officer cadets in training at the Officer and Aircrew Cadet Training Unit (OACTU) at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell. The service personnel establishment at OACTU is 100 and the civilian establishment is 20.

The following table gives the annual direct costs for training at the OACTU for each of the last five financial years:

Financial year

Cost (£ million)

2001-02

4.136

2002-03

5.384

2003-04

5.980

2004-05

5.892

2005-06

8.316

Notes:

1. Financial figures have been rounded to the nearest £1,000.

2. Personnel figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Operation Active Endeavour

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the UK contribution to Operation Active Endeavour; and if he will make a statement. (116907)

[holding answer 24 January 2007]: Operation Active Endeavour is a maritime focused NATO Counter Terrorism Operation in the Mediterranean. Its importance was reaffirmed at NATO’s Riga Summit in November 2006. As a committed NATO member the UK fully supports the Operation and makes a highly effective contribution. The UK provides a dedicated surface warship for between 2 to 4 months each year and, on an opportunity basis, other assets operating in the Region.

Parachute Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the adequacy of parachute training (a) facilities and (b) resources for (i) new and (ii) serving members of the airborne forces between 2008 and 2011; and if he will make a statement. (116507)

The parachute training facilities at No. 1 Parachute Training School, RAF Brize Norton and the Brigade Parachute Squadron at Wattisham Airfield, support the training of new and serving members of the airborne forces. Aircraft availability is to some extent dependent on current operational requirements but parachute training continues to be conducted to meet our requirements.

In terms of future facilities and resources, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 8 January 2007, Official Report, column 326W, to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier). The departmental planning round is yet to be completed but it remains the case that all troops deployed on operations will receive the required level of training to enable them to fulfil their military tasks.

RAF Coltishall and RAF Scampton

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of (a) RAF Coltishall and (b) RAF Scampton. (116947)

[holding answer 22 January 2007]: Former RAF Coltishall has been declared surplus to defence requirements and is currently in the process of disposal.

An element of the United Kingdom’s Air Surveillance and Control System, one of the Air Combat Service Support Units and the RAF Acrobatic Team are based at RAF Scampton. The RAF is conducting studies to consider basing options for these units and this may affect the future of RAF Scampton. No decisions have yet been taken.

Trident

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the conclusions of the naval base review will be available to the House prior to the debate on Trident replacement; and if he will make a statement. (116647)

The Government have committed to a full debate on our decision to renew the UK's independent nuclear deterrent. It is only right that Parliament has the opportunity to debate and vote on this decision. The outcome of that debate will, therefore, inform the naval base review.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the UK is dependent on the US for conducting tests on the Trident warhead. (114895)

[holding answer 15 January 2007]: There are a number of areas where the UK and US undertake joint trials programmes under the auspices of the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement as it is more cost-effective than each nation undertaking wholly independent trials programmes. For these trials, each nation is dependent on the other for the provision of agreed facilities and trials information.

UN Peacekeeping Missions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces are deployed on UN peacekeeping missions; and where they are deployed. (116542)

At 8 January 2007, some 290 service personnel were deployed on UN operations abroad.

The vast majority of those deployed were deployed in Cyprus. Other locations include Georgia, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.

Veterans Day 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total cost was to his Department of the 2006 Veterans day event. (110608)

The cost of Veterans day 2006 to the Department’s Veterans budget was £406,000. This does not include the costs associated with the deployment of bands, display teams, catering units a