Written Answers to Questions
Monday 29 January 2007
Communities and Local Government
We are planning to provide 30,000 social rented homes in 2007-08 and expect to help 160,000 households to access home ownership through private or public shared equity schemes by 2010.
The number of homes to be provided each year from 2008-09 will be subject to the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007.
Energy Performance Certificates
The cost of an energy performance certificate is expected to vary according to the location of a property as this may influence things like local energy assessor labour rates and some areas may experience greater competition than others. The eventual price of an energy performance certificate will be set by the market and not by Government.
The statutory instrument to set out requirements for energy performance certificates is scheduled to be laid before Parliament in due course and the regulatory impact assessment to support this is in preparation. Contributing to this will be the outcome of trials undertaken to assess the indicative costs of producing certificates for a range of building types, sizes and locations. The eventual price of an energy performance certificate will be set by the market and not by Government.
The Department does not arrange auctions in Blackpool, Lancashire or the north-west. Information about auctions that it may have contributed to could be found only at disproportionate cost.
The policy of the Department is to use the MOD Disposals Sales Agency to facilitate the sale and/or auctioning of any substantial amounts of surplus equipment.
Information about local authorities' actions under homelessness legislation is collected quarterly at local authority level. The constituency of Chorley covers the whole of Chorley borough council.
Information reported each quarter by local authorities about their activities under homelessness legislation includes the number of households in temporary accommodation on the last day of the quarter, and the types of temporary accommodation. The figures include both those households who have been accepted as owed the main homelessness duty, and those for which inquiries are pending.
Data are published in our quarterly statistical release on statutory homelessness, which includes a supplementary table showing the breakdown of key data, including temporary accommodation and type, by each local authority. These are published on our website each quarter (the latest—July to September 2006—can be found at the following address:
http://www.communities.gov.uk/pub/60/Supplementary tables_id1505060.xls, and the tables have also been placed in the Library of the House.
Data provided include the total number in temporary accommodation for each year, broken down between bed and breakfast, hostel, local authority/registered social landlord stock, private sector leased and other types of housing.
A summary table showing the total number of households in temporary accommodation, from 1997-98 to 2005-06, for each local authority (including Chorley) was placed in the Library in October 2006, in response to PQ 8631 (Chris Ruane)—Table B.
In January 2005 the Government set a target of halving the number of households in all forms of temporary accommodation used by local authorities to discharge their main duty under the homelessness legislation.
The budget requirement for Tamworth borough council in 2006-07 is £9.1 million.
Budget requirement is that part of the estimated net revenue expenditure, calculated in advance of each year by each local authority, to be met from formula grant and from council tax income.
Under the disability equality duty introduced by the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the public sector bodies for which I am responsible are required to publish and implement disability equality schemes. These are plans setting out how we will carry out the disability equality duty, monitor, and report on progress. In particular this includes our arrangements for gathering information on the effect of our policies and practices on the recruitment, development and retention of our disabled employees, including those with mental health conditions, and making use of that information.
The arrangements are set out in my Department's disability equality scheme with the priority given to improving and providing correct infrastructure to enable disabled staff to work effectively. The scheme also provides guidance for the Department’s managers on how to support the needs of disabled staff.
The public sector bodies sponsored by my Department that are subject to these requirements are responsible for publishing and implementing their own disability equality schemes.
I have written to the leaders of councils where unauthorised roadside advertisements remain a problem to underline the need for action to get them removed. Officials have had three meetings and corresponded with local planning authorities about removing unlawful advertisements alongside motorways and trunk roads. Officials are working with local planning authorities to set up an unlawful advertisements and fly-posting database which will record details of successful prosecutions and help local planning authorities to successfully prosecute offenders. Phase 1 is expected to be operating by 31 March.
The following table shows the average grant per unit for both low-cost home ownership and social rented homes for each region and nationally for the 2004-06 and 2006-08 Housing Corporation Affordable Housing Programmes at the time these programmes were allocated. The level of grant will be affected by the kinds of projects and units built and the extent of section 106 contributions, as well as the cost of construction.
£ 2006-08 2004-06 East Midlands 20,252 21,690 East of England 14,864 23,230 London 42,625 46,792 North East 18,725 34,517 North West 34,114 30,506 South East 18,724 26,913 South West 18,695 18,537 West Midlands 20,278 31,605 Yorkshire and Humberside 26,643 28,619 National 26,772 29,157
East of England
Yorkshire and Humberside
£ 2006-08 2004-06 East Midlands 43,986 43,753 East of England 39,571 48,215 London 101,270 100,932 North East 60,449 57,831 North West 63,580 63,841 South East 54,637 58,939 South West 43,534 41,021 West Midlands 49,705 56,248 Yorkshire and Humberside 52,901 53,093 National 62,620 58,208 Source: Housing Corporation
East of England
Yorkshire and Humberside
Source: Housing Corporation
Turner Village Hospital
[holding answer 11 January 2007]: The former Turner Village Hospital in Colchester is one of the sites included in the portfolio of 96 sites acquired by English Partnerships on 6 April 2005 from the Department of Health and forms part of the agency's Hospital Sites Programme.
English Partnerships announced on 20 December 2006 its decision to select Galliford Try Partnerships as its preferred developer for this site. We anticipate completion of the sale by the end of February 2007 with construction on site expected to begin in the autumn.
The scheme will comprise 430 homes of which 107 (25 per cent.) are designated as affordable either for sale under a shared equity scheme or for rent.
All new homes on the site will meet or exceed English Partnerships’ design and quality standards, including EcoHomes "Excellent", Secured by Design and Lifetime Homes. Additionally, as part of this redevelopment, Galliford Try Partnerships Limited will provide Essex county council with a site for a much needed 330-place primary school.
Valuation Office Agency
Code EF is available to use as a Value Significant Code (VSC) within the Valuation Office Agency's (VOA's) dwellinghouse coding system. It allows members of VOA staff to flag up that a property's value might be influenced by a functional/economic factor. An example of where a code EF has been applied is where a property or group of properties is close to an industrial area, which might affect value to an extent that it/they should be differentiated from other similar properties in the wider locality.
The Wales Office occupies one building in London, Gwydyr House, which affords 675 sq m; one room on the ground floor is used by the National Assembly for Wales. From September 2004 to June 2006 we also occupied space in Dover House of 110 sq m and during that period the National Assembly used two ground floor rooms in Gwydyr House.
HM Revenue and Customs
Open Source Software
Electoral Commission Committee
Electoral Commission Review
The Speaker's Committee supported the Committee on Standards in Public Life in undertaking this review of the role and governance of the Electoral Commission. As I told the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton on 19 January 2007, Official Report, column 1398W, the Speaker's Committee will give careful consideration to the recommendations made in the CSPL report, a number of which are specifically addressed to it. The report was, however, published only recently, and the Speaker's Committee has not yet had an opportunity to form a considered view on it.
All procurement within DFID is undertaken in line with the EC’s procurement rules and to obtain value for money for the Department. Precise records are not maintained, but taking account of seasonal variations, our caterers estimate that 60 per cent. of produce served was of British origin in both 2005 and 2006.
HIV/AIDS and TB
DFID supports country-led national AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) control programmes in a number of high HIV prevalence countries. DFID also made significant contributions to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria which supports country programmes for AIDS and TB. The UK has committed £359 million to the Fund for 2002-07, including £100 million for 2006 and the same for 2007, subject to performance. We have also made a long-term commitment to UNITAID, the new international drug purchase facility, scaling up to £40 million per year by 2010, subject to performance. These initiatives provide countries with access to increasing resources for scaling up HIV and TB interventions.
Most countries with HIV and TB co-epidemics already have national plans to address these epidemics in increasingly co-ordinated programmatic ways and many have also finalised universal access plans to dramatically scale up these responses. Scaling up access to antiretroviral therapy offers opportunities to better control TB and has been shown to decrease the incidence of TB by 70-80 per cent. in people already infected with HIV.
DFID is contributing to strengthening national health systems to scale up the delivery of basic services to the poor that include TB and HIV prevention and treatment. An example of this is the Malawi Emergency Human Resources Programme that is making more health workers available to deal with increasing numbers of patients who are infected with both HIV and TB.
DFID is also funding research working to identify better ways to deliver services tackling the co-epidemics. We are also supporting the work of WHO, for example the STOP TB programme, which is supporting countries to develop co-ordinated HIV and TB responses.
On 21 January, an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale occurred under the Molucca sea, 110 miles east of Manado, Sulawesi Island. News reports, both local and international, indicate that the earthquake did not cause serious damage. Some buildings in Manado reportedly suffered cracks. Four deaths and four injuries were reported.
DFID has been monitoring the situation, and has been prepared to respond if necessary. The Indonesian Government have not requested international assistance.
UNHCR estimate there are 15,000 Palestinians remaining in Iraq, less than half the estimated figure in 2003. We believe the majority of these are based in Baghdad. Latest reports from UNHCR estimate that there are 119 refugees in Ruwayshid camp, Jordan, 420 in Al Tanf camp, Syria and 340 in El Hol camp, Syria. UNHCR is extremely concerned by these disturbing developments and will take up the issue with the Iraqi authorities. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with UNHCR support is preparing delivery of relief items including tents, blankets, mattresses, lanterns, kitchen sets, stoves and plastic sheets. Water, kerosene and food are already available.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is providing schooling, medical services, and basic social services to the 352 Palestinian refugees in Al Tanf camp between Syria and Iraq. UNRWA is also providing some educational activities and contributing to a knitting workshop to the 319 refugees who are in the temporary camp of El Hol in the north-east of Syria. During 2006, the Department for International Development (DFID) provided more than £15 million in funding support to UNRWA's work among refugees in the Middle East and also signed a Memorandum of Understanding providing UNRWA with £76.6 million of funding over the next four years.
In addition, DFID has just announced a £4 million contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to continue to provide emergency assistance, including water, medical supplies and rehabilitation of health infrastructure. This brings our total humanitarian contribution for Iraq to over £120 million since 2003. We are also considering the UNHCR’s appeal to help refugees in neighbouring countries. Above all the first priority of the Iraqi Government must be to end the violence that is causing this situation, with the support of the international community and the region.
UNHCR estimate there are 15,000 Palestinians remaining in Iraq, less than half the estimated figure in 2003. We believe the majority of these are based in Baghdad where many face sectarian attacks and are increasingly vulnerable. UNHCR is extremely concerned by these disturbing developments and will take up the issue with the Iraqi authorities. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with UNHCR support is preparing delivery of relief items including tents, blankets, mattresses, lanterns, kitchen sets, stoves and plastic sheets. Water, kerosene and food are already available.
DFID has just announced a £4 million contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to continue to provide emergency assistance, including water, medical supplies and rehabilitation of health infrastructure. This brings our total humanitarian contribution for Iraq to over £120 million since 2003. We are also considering the UNHCR's appeal to help refugees in neighbouring countries. Above all the first priority of the Iraqi Government must be to end the violence that is causing this situation, with the support of the international community and the region.
DFID expects there to be few staff due to retire at age 65 between now and 2011. We have calculated the numbers to be less than five in each year for 2007 and 2008. DFID has not set criteria for making decisions to deny requests to work beyond age 65. To date, there has been no usage of the ‘right to request’ procedure.
DFID has recently pledged £6 million for the world food programme’s (WFP) emergency activities in Uganda during 2007. This money will be used by WFP to purchase food locally for distribution to drought affected people in Karamoja and people in northern Uganda who are internally displaced as a result of the conflict involving the Lord’s Resistance Army.
DFID has also recently committed £4.7 million towards a joint UN emergency health programme in both northern Uganda and in areas of Karamoja where high mortality rates have been reported. Just over £750,000 of this money has been allocated by the UN agencies for specific activities in the Karamoja region.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The Government support the production of biofuels as part of our overall strategy for improving sustainability and reducing the impact of climate change. We are aware of the potential for agriculture and are working closely with farmers and industry to develop markets and promote uptake.
The production and use of biofuels is incentivised by a 20 pence per litre duty rate cut for biodiesel and bioethanol, which has been extended to 2008-09. To further develop the supply of biofuels, a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) will be introduced in April 2008, which will require five per cent. of fuel sold in the UK to come from a renewable source by 2010.
A number of companies are building, or planning to build, biofuel processing plants in the UK which will use UK-grown crops such as oilseed rape, wheat and sugar beet as feedstocks. The Home-Grown Cereals Authority and the Renewable Energy Association have recently held a series of regional biofuel workshops across England aimed at helping to develop a UK biofuels industry. The workshops covered Government policy, local activities and opportunities for farmers.
Farmers can claim the Single Payment for biofuel crops grown on set-aside land or where the €45 per hectare energy aid payment is claimed for crops on non-set-aside land. The development of second generation biofuels should offer opportunities in the future to use feedstocks such as grasses and woody biomass.
Agricultural land taken out of production is termed set-aside. The European Union (EU) permits the growing of crops on set-aside for industrial uses and energy production. Between 560,000 and 800,000 hectares of land have been set-aside in the UK over the last 10 years. While this may in some cases represent some of the least productive land on farms, it is all capable of supporting arable production. In 2005, 14.5 per cent. of set-aside land was used for industrial crop production, the vast majority of which was for energy end uses. It is anticipated that this figure will grow significantly as the demand for transport biofuels increases.
Farmers growing energy crops on set-aside are entitled to receive the single farm payment. In addition, where crops are grown for energy uses on non set-aside land, growers can claim the EU’s €45 per hectare energy aid payment. From 2007, under the Rural Development Programme for England, the Government have given a commitment to support energy crops.
The development of second generation biofuels should offer greater opportunities to utilise crops such as grasses and woody biomass grown on marginal land.
Defra launched a consultation on a voluntary code of best practice for the provision of carbon offsetting to customers on 18 January.
The Government’s standard for carbon offsetting would be based on the use of certified credits from the established Kyoto market, through sources such as the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism. These credits are backed by an international framework and institutions to ensure that real emission reductions take place, as well as providing a clear audit trail.
The code of practice proposes that offset providers supply consumers with clear information and transparent prices. Defra plans to support the standard by providing guidance to consumers on offsetting, which will also help consumers to make informed decisions about their actions.
Cloned Farm Animals
The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 restricts cloning in the UK to licensed procedures and animals protected under this Act could not be used for farming purposes. Animal welfare legislation ensures the health and welfare of all livestock reared in England by both natural and artificial breeding methods.
Products derived from cloned animals (or from animals descended from clones) are subject to the provisions of the European Commission (EC) Novel Foods Regulation. Before marketing such products, an expert assessment of their safety for the food chain must be carried out and approved at European level. To date, no such applications for assessment under this regulation have been made.
At an EC working group on 12 January 2007, member states agreed that there should be a discussion at an EC Standing Committee to clarify which sections of the EC Novel Foods Regulation apply to cloned animals and their offspring. It was also agreed that the European Food Safety Authority should be consulted on the safety of products from cloned animals and their offspring. The Commission will be producing a paper on these points for discussion at a future EC Standing Committee.
The Government are currently consulting on their response to the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) report on the ‘Welfare Implications of Animal Breeding and Breeding Technologies in Commercial Agriculture’. The outcome of this consultation will inform our position on welfare aspects and contribute to the broader consideration of whether there is a need for further regulatory controls.
The Department has asked the Natural England Board to come forward with recommendations to improve access to the coast by the end of February 2007. We will then issue a consultation paper this spring setting out the facts, a range of options and the costs and benefits associated with each.
Environmental Liability Directive
The Department has consulted extensively with members of the trade and industrial associations and non-governmental organisations from 2002 (start of negotiations) to the present. A table providing the information requested has been placed in the Library of the House.
Serious Fraud Prosecutions
The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out the ways in which all prosecuting authorities weigh the relevant factors when deciding whether to initiate proceedings including the weight to be given to any factors influencing the evidence or the public interest.
While the code sets out the general principles, every case is unique and has to be considered on its own merits. Prosecuting authorities respect the rule of law by independently deciding each case in accordance with the code.
Freedom of Information
My Department has published guidance on the circumstances in which a Freedom of Information request may be considered vexatious. This guidance is available on the Department's website and in the Libraries of the House.
The Information Commissioner has also published guidance on vexatious requests, which can be found on the ICO website.
Fundamental Rights Agency
The legal base of the regulation establishing the Fundamental Rights Agency is article 308 of the treaty establishing the European Community. The existing European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) has an annual budget of €8.2 million. The Fundamental Rights Agency will have a mandate significantly wider than that of the EUMC and, for this reason, its budget has been set at €16 million in 2007 rising to €29 million in 2013.
The A21 programme is subject to the completion of all the statutory procedures and compliance with the Department's scheme appraisal requirements. The Highways Agency will publish draft compulsory purchase orders on behalf of the Secretary of State in accordance with the individual scheme requirements and programmes. We expect to take forward the A21 programme of schemes in the next five years.
British Transport Police
(2) how many (a) police officers, (b) police community support officers, (c) special constables and (d) civilian staff were employed by the British Transport Police in (i) England, (ii) Avon and Somerset and (iii) Taunton in each year since 2000;
(3) how many crimes were reported to British Transport Police in (a) England, (b) Avon and Somerset and (c) Taunton in each of the last five years; and whether the crime was reported by a member of (i) the public and (ii) rail staff in each case;
(4) how many rail enforcement officers have been recruited in (a) England and (b) Avon and Somerset in each year since 2000; and what guidance his Department has issued to promote awareness of their role among the general public.
Buses: Concessionary Travel
The draft regulatory impact assessment (RIA) for the Concessionary Bus Travel Bill was published simultaneously with the Bill, which was introduced on 27 November 2006. It will be updated as appropriate. The RIA is available on the Department for Transport’s website at:
The Government have indicated they will provide up to an extra £250 million of funding per year for the national bus travel concession. Following the introduction of the new concession, the Government will be providing approximately £1 billion a year for concessionary bus travel, and are confident that this will be sufficient to cover the total cost.
The Department for Transport, in discussions with the Department for Communities and Local Government and Her Majesty’s Treasury, is looking at a number of options for distributing the existing and future funding for providing the statutory concession.
Container Handling Capacity
In May 2006, alongside our discussion document ‘Ports Policy—your views invited’, the Department's consultants, MDS Transmodal in association with DTZ Pieda, published a container port transhipment study. This report contains an assessment of the wider economic effects of various capacity scenarios, looking ahead to 2030.
Comments were received on this study in response to the discussion document and the ports policy review, currently in progress, is considering the matter further.
Cross Country Franchise
Faster, more regular and more reliable services will be achieved on all of these routes from the commencement of the new timetable in December 2008. Regular services will be maintained from both Preston and Lancaster to London and between Scotland and Birmingham via Lancashire in the period between November 2007 and December 2008 with a similar timetable to the one which operates currently.
The Highways Agency is continuing to monitor the Active Traffic Management (ATM) project on the M42, which includes hard should running on parts of the network at certain times. If the trial results prove positive, subject to funding/budgetary considerations, we will consider implementing the ATM techniques where they will provide significant benefits. The Agency is reviewing the network to identify potential locations that might benefit.
In addition, I announced in December 2006 that we will work with the Highways Agency to develop the case for productivity TIF funding for the traffic management schemes on the Birmingham Motorway Box and the M62 (Leeds Bradford). The results of the Agency’s monitoring and evaluation of the M42 trial will be considered in finalising the design for these schemes, and in considering other possible applications.
Network Modelling Framework
(2) if he will publish the outputs from the Network Modelling Framework for the last two years.
The Network Modelling Framework is still under development and will be used to support the high level output specification, which will be published in July. No reports setting out outputs from the Network Modelling Framework have been published by my Department.
Rail Network: Overcrowding
Three parliamentary questions have been tabled in the last three months concerned with crowding. The Secretary of State has received 60 letters concerning crowding in the same period.
The Secretary of State has also received some 200 letters since November about First Great Western. Many of these have referred to crowding as well as other issues.
Zonal fares for peak single, peak return and off-peak return rail journeys wholly within London were introduced in January 2007. The zones are the same as those used for Underground and Travelcard fares. Zonal fares for rail-only season tickets will be introduced from January 2010.
No decisions have been taken as to what technologies may be suitable to support road pricing. The Secretary of State announced last May a demonstration project to test the systems and technology for time-distance-place charging. This project will include analysis of the implications of different approaches. The road pricing feasibility study found that road pricing could be introduced at no net cost to the motorist.
For the three main train operators that provide services in East Sussex, the Department has had no complaints about late arrival of trains in the last 12 months. A number of secondary operators also operate over the East Sussex route. The Department does not keep records of late trains broken down by county areas.
Vehicle Registration Databases
House of Commons Commission
Arrangements will be made for signs to be put by the recycling bins wherever possible in the communal spaces.
The toner cartridge recycling facility, as well as the other recycling facilities, will also be publicised through available and appropriate means in the future.
The amounts of (a) glass, (b) metal, (c) plastic and (d) paper recycled by the parliamentary estate in each year since 2004 are given as follows. The only plastic products being recycled at present are drinks bottles and figures are only available from April 2006 onwards.
Waste category 2004-05 2005-06 2006-071 (a) Glass 152.8 182.8 140.3 (b) Metal 6.1 77.6 31.1 (c) Plastic bottles — — 1.9 (d) Paper 265.7 401.9 297.8 (e) Other 136.6 159.1 185.2 Total Recycled 561.2 821.4 656.3 Total Waste 1,916.5 2,251.7 1,565.4 Percentage of total waste recycled 29.3 36.5 41.9 1 Nine months.
(c) Plastic bottles
Percentage of total waste recycled
1 Nine months.
As I said in my reply to the right hon. Member for Warley (Mr. Spellar) on 24 January 2007, Official Report, column 1763W:
A recent health and safety report identified the following risks.
Access to the flagpole is by ladder but there is no safe means of passing the flag up the ladder; the flag raiser needs to climb over a ventilation duct; lighting is poor and there is no emergency lighting. In addition there are heavy hatch doors with no means of preventing closure and no harness anchorage points.
The flagpole has been used only once since Portcullis House was opened when it was found to be dangerous and it has been non-operational since September 2000. Means of rectifying the health and safety risks are being looked into and when the costs are known a decision will be taken on whether to fly flags from this location. If it is decided to do so, the aim will be to complete the necessary modifications by summer 2007.
The volume of water consumed by the parliamentary estate in each year since 2004 is as follows:
Mains water Borehole water Total 2004-05 216,861 301,842 518,703 2005-06 186,663 393,859 580,522 2006-071 139,477 258,149 397,626 1 Nine months.
1 Nine months.
Borehole water is used primarily for cooling and toilet flushing in Portcullis House.
Average tour intervals, from 1997, for the Royal Marines Commando units deployed on the Helmand Task Force roulement are shown in the following table:
Unit Average tour interval (months) 42 Commando Royal Marines 14 45 Commando Royal Marines 15 Commando Logistics Regiment 32 28 Engineer Regiment 40
Average tour interval (months)
42 Commando Royal Marines
45 Commando Royal Marines
Commando Logistics Regiment
28 Engineer Regiment
28 Engineer Regiment rarely deploys as a fully formed unit. Elements of the Regiment are deployed to Helmand Province and I have informed the House on 6 November 2006, Official Report, column 793W, of the tour interval for those personnel involved.
RAF units operate differently to those of the Army or Royal Marines. While a unit might be deployed for five months, RAF personnel can rotate through the unit rather than remain with it throughout. Therefore unit and personnel tour intervals are not necessarily the same.
RAF unit Average tour interval (months) 3 Force Protection Wing 5 2 Sqn RAF Regiment 11
Average tour interval (months)
3 Force Protection Wing
2 Sqn RAF Regiment
Aircraft Carrier Demonstration Phase
Good progress is being made on the demonstration phase work, which is aimed at maturing the risks, costs and the contractual framework for building the carriers. The culmination of this work will enable us to get a robust, affordable deal negotiated and take a decision to commit to manufacture.
Armed Forces Recruitment
The Muslim intake from civilian life to UK Regular Forces in 2006, by month is as follows:
All services1 January 10 February 5 March 2— April 5 May 2— June 5 July 10 August 5 September 2— October 2— November 35 1 Due to the introduction of a new personnel administration system, RAF data on the religion of recruits are not available from 1 April 2006, and naval service data from 1 November 2006 are provisional and subject to review. 2 Denotes fewer than 5. 3 Denotes provisional. Notes: 1. All numbers are rounded to the nearest 5. 2. Due to the rounding methods used, totals may not always equal the sum of the parts.
1 Due to the introduction of a new personnel administration system, RAF data on the religion of recruits are not available from 1 April 2006, and naval service data from 1 November 2006 are provisional and subject to review.
2 Denotes fewer than 5.
3 Denotes provisional.
1. All numbers are rounded to the nearest 5.
2. Due to the rounding methods used, totals may not always equal the sum of the parts.
Figures provided are for the 11 months from 1 January 2006 to 30 November 2006. December 2006 intake from civilian life data are not yet available.
Boarding School Allowance
(2) how many officers of each of the armed services have (a) declared themselves mobile for the purpose of claiming boarding school allowance and (b) claimed boarding school allowance in each of the last five years.
All officers in the armed services are deemed to have a mobile commitment. However, continuity of education allowance (CEA) is only paid to a service person who is accompanied by their family at each location. Any service person claiming CEA must ensure that their family is, and continues to be, mobile and this is declared by the service person on each claim. In addition, the service person must be in possession of a valid ‘mobility certificate’, which is completed prior to an initial claim for the education allowance, when the child(ren) change school, at the beginning of each new posting, or if the certificate is more than three years old. This certificate states the service claimant is committed to their family moving with them when they are posted. If the family for any reason does not move with the service person, then their entitlement to claim CEA will be reviewed.
There are a few exceptions to the accompanied service eligibility criteria. On some postings it is inappropriate for the service person to be accompanied by their family and these postings are classified as ‘involuntarily separated’, i.e. they are separated from their family and cannot serve accompanied. Examples of this are when the service parent is serving on an operational deployment, or on a designated unaccompanied assignment or when exceptional authority has been granted for the service claimant to serve unaccompanied but retain eligibility to CEA. Examples of the circumstances under which such authority may be given are whilst the service claimant is awaiting allocation of service families accommodation at their new duty station, or when they are waiting, for up to six months, for the completion of a house sale/purchase. In these circumstances, the service person would be eligible to continue to claim CEA.
Given the ongoing transition to joint personnel administration, figures are not yet available of the number of officer claimants from each service for the past five years. However, the total number of officer claimants for spring term 2005 was 3,587 and for spring term 2006 3,074, as reported in the HCDC report ‘Educating Service Children’ of 11 July 2006. Detailed figures explaining the number of officer claimants from each service for the past five years are being determined.
Accredited war correspondents, photographers, cameramen and sound recordists were included in eligibility proposals for the Iraq medal made by the Ministry of Defence to the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals in November 2003. These proposals were included in the criteria when the medal was announced in February 2004 (Cm 6135). Entitled journalists were invited to apply for the medal. It has not been sent to them automatically.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 1467W about the number of medals that have been accepted or declined by journalists.
The practice of making medals available to accredited journalists deployed alongside the British armed forces goes back to at least world war one and, more recently, happened in both the Falklands conflict and the Gulf war.
No. The information requested constitutes personal data, within the terms of section 1(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998, as provision of a list of the relevant newspapers, broadcasters and news agencies is likely to permit identification of individual journalists who have been awarded the Iraq campaign medal.
The Ministry of Defence has recorded energy usage since 1990-91. The most recent year for which figures detailing the volume of departmental emissions are available is financial year 2004-05. I refer the hon. Member to the figures published on 10 October 2006, Official Report, columns 652-53W. Figures for FY 2005-06 are not yet available, but will be published in the Sustainable Development in Government Report 2005-06, a copy of which will be placed in the Library of the House.
The Department does not offset its emissions derived from energy use in buildings and facilities on the defence estate. However, MOD does support the Carbon Trust’s approach to reductions in emissions where offsetting is the final element of a plan to reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint. For MOD, reduction of energy use and increased use of energy from renewable sources will take precedence over carbon offsetting.
MOD has been collecting data on official air travel booked through the Head Office Travel Service, and has agreed to make a financial contribution to Government Carbon Offsetting Fund (GCOF) relative to the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the air travel for civilian staff and service personnel in non-operational posts. The scheme started in April 2006. In 2005-06, MOD’s estimated annual financial contribution to GCOF at £151,658.67 based on a price of 10/tC. It is estimated that MOD will offset some 15,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. This will be revised using actual data from 2006-07 to establish the GCOF contribution required for this financial year.
As at 18 January 2007, 40 Chinook HC2/2a are in service with the UK military. Of these, 25 are located in the Forward Fleet, involved in front-line and training activities, including eight which are currently deployed to Afghanistan.
I also refer the hon. Member to my answer of 8 January 2007, Official Report, column 87W and 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 76W, to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox).
Conventional Weapons: Conference
The UK and other nations made concerted efforts to achieve consensus on a draft set of recommendations on Mines Other than Anti-Personnel Mines (MOTAPM) at the 3rd Review Conference on the Convention of Certain Conventional Weapons. However, a few nations could not accept them and therefore a protocol could not be adopted. As an interim measure, 20 nations including the UK, made a declaratory statement agreeing to be politically bound by the principal commitments within the draft set of recommendations with a view to adopting a negotiating mandate for a legally binding protocol in the future.
Defence Medical Services
[holding answer 23 January 2007]: The revised Defence Medical Services (DMS) manning requirement figures were submitted for endorsement last year as part of a larger body of work, and work on the details of other parts of this submission caused a delay in the endorsement of the new figures. The revised manning requirement figures for the DMS have now been endorsed and a formal announcement will be made in the near future.
Defence Training Review
Following a robust and detailed evaluation of the bidders' proposals in response to the Defence Training Review (DTR) package one and two Invitation to Negotiate, Metrix was selected as the preferred bidder for DTR package 1 and provisional preferred bidder for DTR package 2. Their solution, examined against 65 individual requirements of response, represented the most economically advantageous outcome, providing the best combination of technical score relating to the quality, deliverability and timeliness of their proposals, their suitability as a partner and price.
The latest available estimates for aggregate MOD expenditure in the Government offices for the English regions, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole, are detailed in the following table:
Estimated total (£ million at current prices) United Kingdom 15,770 England 14,050 East 1,450 East Midlands 510 London 720 North East 310 North West 1,790 South East 4,060 South West 4,000 West Midlands 650 Yorkshire and Humberside 560 Scotland 1,150 Wales 230 Northern Ireland 340 Note: All figures are for financial year 2004-05, have been rounded to the nearest £10 million, are exclusive of VAT and expressed at current prices.
Estimated total (£ million at current prices)
Yorkshire and Humberside
All figures are for financial year 2004-05, have been rounded to the nearest £10 million, are exclusive of VAT and expressed at current prices.
It should be noted that MOD places work where it obtains best value for money and capability for our forces. Work is placed “in” a region but not necessarily “for” that region. The location of these is not a primary concern.
Departmental Fixed Assets
For 1996-97, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 20 March 2003, Official Report, column 885, to the hon. Members for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) and for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray).
For 2005-06, the information is contained in Note 10 of our annual reports and accounts (HC 1394 of 14 July 2006), copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
The figures include expenditure by MOD Ministers.
[holding answer Tuesday 23 January 2007]: Ministry of Defence staff, in common with all applicants for security vetting carried out by the Defence Vetting Agency, are given full information about the vetting process and the enquiries that will be made. The security questionnaire includes a statement on HM Government vetting policy explaining the purpose and scope of national security vetting. This is supplemented with comprehensive notes in the security questionnaire and explanatory leaflets sent to vetting subjects. In addition, MOD staff have access to the Defence Manual of Security, which explains departmental vetting requirements and practice and includes the changes made to the developed vetting standard. It will also include advice on the new baseline personnel security standard, once this is implemented.
As at 1 January 2007, the following agencies are the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence:
Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency
British Forces Post Office
Defence Analytical Service Agency
Defence Aviation Repair Agency
Defence Bills Agency
Defence Communication Services Agency
Defence Medical Education and Training Agency
Defence Procurement Agency
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
Defence Storage and Distribution Agency
Defence Transport and Movements Agency
Defence Vetting Agency
Disposal Services Agency
Duke of York’s Royal Military School
Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency
People Pay and Pensions Agency
Service Children’s Education
UK Hydrographic Office
Information on their functions and budgets can be found in the individual agencies annual report and accounts, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
The Ministry of Defence's Disposal Services Agency (DSA) has responsibility for the disposal of all surplus MOD equipment. The majority of surplus items are sold through DSA's contractors, with whom it has various marketing agreements. In the UK, only memorabilia are disposed of by public auction, through the London site of Bonhams' auction house. Details of DSA's marketing activities, including those for Bonhams and other contractors, can be found at its website:
UK force commanders have not requested additional helicopters for operations in Afghanistan since 1 September 2006.
Helicopter assets in both Afghanistan and Iraq are currently assessed by the military commanders in theatre to be sufficient to support operations successfully. We keep this under constant review.
Joint Narcotics Analysis Centre
Land Rovers and Armoured Vehicles
I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made on 24 July 2006, Official Report, columns 74-76WS. The new armoured vehicles, some of which have already been delivered to our forces, will complement, not replace, vehicles within the existing operational fleet.
The new armoured vehicles, alongside Land Rovers, which will remain appropriate for some tasks, will give commanders on the ground a wider range of options to deal with the situations and threats they face.
Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency
The Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency received the following amounts from US visiting forces for the period 2000-06:
MOD Police MOD Guard Service Total 1999-2000 4.8 Nil 4.8 2000-01 5.5 Nil 5.5 2001-02 8.0 Nil 8.0 2002-03 12.1 Nil 12.0 2003-04 11.9 Nil 11.9 2004-05 12.1 1.1 13.2 2005-06 13.9 1.2 15.1
MOD Guard Service
Non-departmental Public Bodies
Details of the remit, Government funding and gross expenditure of public bodies sponsored by the Ministry of Defence can be found in the Cabinet Office publication Public Bodies 2006, copies of which are available in the Library of the House and also on-line at:
For those bodies in respect of which no information on expenditure was provided in Public Bodies 2006, their approximate expenditure in 2005-06 was as follows:
Amount (£) Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors 0 Animal Welfare Advisory Committee 8,000 Central Advisory Committee on War Pensions and War Pensions Committees 37,300. Dartmoor Steering Group 60 Defence Nuclear Safety Committee 35,000 Defence Scientific Advisory Council 200,000 Depleted Uranium Oversight Board 554,700 Independent Board of Visitors for the Military Corrective Training Centre 1,200 National Employer Advisory Board 6,900 Nuclear Research Advisory Council 30,000
Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors
Animal Welfare Advisory Committee
Central Advisory Committee on War Pensions and War Pensions Committees
Dartmoor Steering Group
Defence Nuclear Safety Committee
Defence Scientific Advisory Council
Depleted Uranium Oversight Board
Independent Board of Visitors for the Military Corrective Training Centre
National Employer Advisory Board
Nuclear Research Advisory Council
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1898W, to my hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Ms Clark).
Neither the Secretary of State for Defence nor other departmental Ministers have had discussions with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) with regard to the delayed applications for compensation from participants in the British nuclear tests of the 1950s and 1960s. The Treasury Solicitor's Department made one telephone call to the LSC in April 2005, following a stay in the legal proceedings which had been agreed between the parties pending a public funding decision for the nuclear test veterans group action. This call was made with a view to ascertaining the likely timeframe for a public funding decision to assist in planning and progressing the proposed litigation. However, contact was not made with the LSC caseholder, no information was given about the funding position, and this initial contact was not followed up.
Compensation under the war pensions scheme is paid on a no-fault basis to former members of the armed forces for disablement causally related to service before 6 April 2005. Claims can be made at any time after service termination. At 30 September 2006, 179,000 war pensions were in payment. Centrally held statistics do not identify the number of nuclear test veterans who have received such compensation for disablement arising from exposure to ionising radiation in the course of these tests.
The UK also administers its own compensation scheme for radiation-linked diseases, but no nuclear test veteran has fulfilled the relevant criteria or therefore received an award.
The total cash equivalent transfer value (CETV) for the 12 highest paid staff in the Ministry of Defence totalled £15.64 million as at 31 March 2006. Four of these individuals are named in remuneration reports that form part of the Department's resource accounts and the cash equivalent transfer value of their public sector pensions is therefore reported annually. The remuneration reports are already in the public domain. I have reported the 12 highest paid members of staff because the 10th, 11th and 12th highest paid members of staff are on the same salary rate. The CETV figure given includes both armed forces and civilian personnel.
Royal Navy: Morale
[holding answer 19 January 2007]: The Hutton Report (HC247 of 28 January 2004) and transcripts of evidence to Lord Hutton's inquiry give details of Dr. Kelly's movements during July 2003, and meetings between Dr. Kelly and Mr. Hatfield. Both meetings between Dr. Kelly and Mr. Hatfield on 4 and 7 July 2003, took place in Mr. Hatfield’s office in London. Neither Dr. Kelly nor Mr. Hatfield stayed at any accommodation at Hockley.
Service Personnel: Medical Conditions
For all claims registered between 6 April 2005 and 31 March 2006 under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, there were less than 10 individuals assessed as being eligible for a Guaranteed Income Payment. There are individuals in each of the bands, but to preserve confidentiality the exact numbers cannot be disclosed. An evaluation report of the first year of operation of the scheme will be published shortly.
The National Statistics Code of Practice (2002)—which serves as a model for all public sector statistical work—established the principle that “final responsibility for the content, format and timing of release of national statistics” rests with the Head of Profession for Statistics in each Department. In reaching their decisions, Heads of Profession take into consideration the detailed procedural guidance given in the “National Statistics Protocol on Release Practices”.
Copies of the code and its 12 supporting protocols are available in the Library of the House and can also be accessed using the following address:
[holding answer 24 January 2007]: The following list contains all surplus HMS-named capital vessels sold on a Government-to-Government basis:
Date of the contract of sale Sold to Price (£)1 Financial year 1997-98 HMS Plover 2Philippines 37.5 million for all three (receipts to MOD alone) HMS Peacock 2— 3— HMS Starling 2— 3— Financial year 1998-99 HMS Unseen Canada 4— Financial year 1999-2000 — — Financial year 2000-01 HMS Bicester Greece 5Sold with HMS Berkeley for a combined price of 10 million HMS Orkney Trinidad and Tobago 1.5 million Financial year 2001-02 HMS Berkeley Greece 5Sold with HMS Bicester for a combined price of 10 million HMS Orwell Guyana 1.5 million Financial year 2002-03 HMS London 6Romania 7116 million for both HMS Coventry 6— 7— HMS Shetland 8Bangladesh 98.0 million for all five HMS Alderney 8— 9— HMS Anglesey 8— 9— HMS Lindisfarne 8— 9— HMS Guernsey 8— 9— HMS Sheffield Chile 27 million Financial year 2003-04 — — Financial year 2004-05 — — Financial year 2005-06 HMS Marlborough 10Chile 11134 million for all three (project ongoing) HMS Norfolk 10— 11— HMS Grafton 10— 11— Financial year 2006-07 HMS Sandown 12Estonia 1332 million for all three (project ongoing) HMS Bridport 12— 13— HMS Inverness 12— 13— 1 Where appropriate, the above figures represent the total revenue for the MOD and industry together. For those vessels sold on a Government-to-Government (G-2-G) basis in later years by the Ministry of Defence’s Disposal Services Agency (DSA), there is usually an agreement with industry for regeneration and modernisation work. Much of the information on revenue received by the MOD from the sale of each individual vessel is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Some deferred/time-related payments will still be outstanding. 4 HMS Unseen was leased to Canada with an option to purchase, which has subsequently been exercised. The lease covers four submarines, the remaining three, HMS Unicorn, HMS Ursula and HMS Upholder are still under lease until 2008. The total value of this lease is Canadian $360 million for all four submarines—future exchange rate fluctuations make it impossible to estimate a final return in sterling at this time. 5 HMS Bicester and HMS Berkeley were transferred to the Hellenic Navy. This transfer involved the vessels being sold to Vosper Thorneycroft (VT) for £5 million each. VT prepared the vessels for transfer resulting in the MOD incurring minimum transfer costs. Although not transferred directly on a G-2-G basis, they are highlighted because of the significance of the sale. The Acquisition Agreement for HMS London and HMS Coventry for Romania covered the acquisition of these ships with UK MOD procuring their regeneration and modernisation through a “back-to-back” contract. The ships were already decommissioned, no longer in operational condition and were in need of major regeneration. The value to the UK of the project is £116 million including a return for the MOD of between £1.5 million and £2 million for the hulls (£200,000) and the provision of services.
Date of the contract of sale
Financial year 1997-98
37.5 million for all three (receipts to MOD alone)
Financial year 1998-99
Financial year 1999-2000
Financial year 2000-01
5Sold with HMS Berkeley for a combined price of 10 million
Trinidad and Tobago
Financial year 2001-02
5Sold with HMS Bicester for a combined price of 10 million
Financial year 2002-03
7116 million for both
98.0 million for all five
Financial year 2003-04
Financial year 2004-05
Financial year 2005-06
11134 million for all three (project ongoing)
Financial year 2006-07
1332 million for all three (project ongoing)
1 Where appropriate, the above figures represent the total revenue for the MOD and industry together. For those vessels sold on a Government-to-Government (G-2-G) basis in later years by the Ministry of Defence’s Disposal Services Agency (DSA), there is usually an agreement with industry for regeneration and modernisation work. Much of the information on revenue received by the MOD from the sale of each individual vessel is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Some deferred/time-related payments will still be outstanding.
4 HMS Unseen was leased to Canada with an option to purchase, which has subsequently been exercised. The lease covers four submarines, the remaining three, HMS Unicorn, HMS Ursula and HMS Upholder are still under lease until 2008. The total value of this lease is Canadian $360 million for all four submarines—future exchange rate fluctuations make it impossible to estimate a final return in sterling at this time.
5 HMS Bicester and HMS Berkeley were transferred to the Hellenic Navy. This transfer involved the vessels being sold to Vosper Thorneycroft (VT) for £5 million each. VT prepared the vessels for transfer resulting in the MOD incurring minimum transfer costs. Although not transferred directly on a G-2-G basis, they are highlighted because of the significance of the sale. The Acquisition Agreement for HMS London and HMS Coventry for Romania covered the acquisition of these ships with UK MOD procuring their regeneration and modernisation through a “back-to-back” contract. The ships were already decommissioned, no longer in operational condition and were in need of major regeneration. The value to the UK of the project is £116 million including a return for the MOD of between £1.5 million and £2 million for the hulls (£200,000) and the provision of services.
No RFAs were sold on a Government-to-Government basis during this period.
[holding answer 22 January 2007]: The Ministry of Defence has insufficient information to make an accurate assessment of the number of people entitled to the HM Armed Forces Veterans Lapel Badge but estimates that the total number is around 5 million.
The Veterans Badge was administered in London between May 2004 and 17 April 2005. During this period, 82,000 badges were issued; however, detailed records of monthly application numbers were not kept.
Since 18 April 2005, the Veterans Agency has been responsible for the Badge’s administration. During this period, it has received 300,493 applications and issued 277,465 badges. The applications have been received as follows:
Application 2005 April 2,453 May 11,117 June 8,459 July 9,742 August 6,786 September 8,099 October 8,389 November 9,295 December 18,826 2006 January 19,322 February 20,762 March 18,700 April 13,378 May 13,455 June 19,091 July 20,581 August 19,132 September 15,007 October 14,345 November 23,051 December 20,503
The databases for the scheme do not have the capability to extract records of applicants by individual parliamentary constituencies.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
We support the principle of closing the refugee camps in Pakistan, in an orderly, carefully managed way that respects the rights of the refugees and international agreements. We are in close touch with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in both Geneva and Islamabad and are discussing with them their strategy for 2007. The Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan are due to meet with the UNHCR in Lahore on 6 February to discuss how they can work together to create the conditions necessary for significant returns in 2007.
The Afghan Government and the international community continue towards the benchmarks agreed in the Afghanistan compact in 2006.
African Union: Sudan
The African Union (AU) is an important partner for the UK and the wider international community on key issues that affect African development. It has a major role to play in helping to prevent and resolve conflict in conjunction with the United Nations and others.
The choice of the next AU Chairperson is a matter for AU member states. We expect the AU to ensure that whomever is chosen will be in a position to continue to build the capacity and credibility of the organisation, across the range of its activities.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) on 27 November 2006, Official Report, columns 460-461W.
The Constitution of Bangladesh gives the state wide powers under a state of emergency, which can be used to restrict freedom of speech. We nevertheless look to the caretaker Government to observe human rights standards for all citizens. A vibrant and diverse media plays an important role in democratic life in the country.
British Citizens: Convictions Abroad
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office consular assistance database—Compass—does not incorporate a function to generate statistics on the number of British nationals under custodial sentence overseas for whom it holds passport details. This is primarily because such statistics are not needed for our principal function of ensuring the welfare of British nationals in detention overseas.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 22 January 2007, Official Report, column 1448W.
At the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, held in the Philippines on 13 and 14 January, ASEAN encouraged Burma to make greater progress towards national reconciliation and called for the release of those placed under detention. I believe ASEAN can play an important role in encouraging positive change in Burma. The UK, therefore, welcomed the stance ASEAN has taken.
Our high commission in Yaoundé has not made any representations to the Cameroon authorities regarding this incident. However, they have been in contact with the National Human Rights Commission representative in Bamenda to discuss whether any human rights violations occurred. Their comprehensive report of the events is expected imminently, we will give it careful consideration and take forward any representations that are necessary.
Departmental Contracts: Iraq
ArmorGroup have been awarded three Foreign and Commonwealth Office contracts for work in Iraq.
The first was for provision of static guarding of our embassy office in Basra. It started on 1 July 2004, ran to 30 June 2006 and employed a maximum of 93 personnel. These figures varied during the course of the contract.
The second was for the provision of static guarding at our embassy in Baghdad. This contract also started on 1 July 2004 and ran to 30 June 2006. It employed a maximum of 113 personnel. Again, these figures varied during the course of the contract.
The third is to provide police mentors to work on policing projects in Baghdad and southern Iraq. This contract started on 4 June 2004 and is due to expire in June 2007. There are currently 711 people employed on this contract and the maximum employed at any time during the course of the contract has been 91.
1 The figure of 71 in this case means that there are 71 police mentors on the ground at any one time. To ensure these positions are constantly filled, extra personnel are used to provide leave cover. This means the actual number of personnel currently staffing the contract is usually 25 per cent. higher than the ‘on the ground figure’.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has one contract in Iraq which is directly related to a project funded by the Dutch Government. In August 2005 the FCO extended its contract with ArmorGroup, which provides police mentors to Iraq, to include an additional 17 mentors to carry out training and mentoring in Al-Muthanna province. This additional capacity was funded in full by the Dutch Government and lasted until February 2006.
We have not let any contracts in Iraq in relation to projects funded partly or wholly by the Japanese Government.
The contract originally awarded to ArmorGroup in June 2004 for police training and mentoring in Iraq was for an initial five months and has been extended a total of five times. The extensions were for the following periods:
November 2004-December 2004
January 2005-August 2005
September 2005-March 2006
April 2006-September 2006
October 2006-June 2007
Each extension has included a review of prices to ensure value for money. The policing work carried out by ArmorGroup is under the command and direction of a senior serving British policeman, with whom Foreign and Commonwealth Office works in raising issues relating to the performance or staffing of the ArmorGroup contract. We have also commissioned independent reviews of our policing programme to assess its effectiveness including the security sector development advisory team in May 2005, Sir Ronnie Flanagan’s assessment of the UK’s policing programme in January 2006 and chief constable Paul Kernaghan’s progress assessment visit on 4-7 October 2006.
Payment to ArmorGroup is made on a per person per day in country basis.
Indefinite detention of detainees in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, regardless of their nationality or place of former residence, is a matter of concern to us, on human rights grounds rather than for its effect on our relations with other states. As we have made clear, the detention facility should be closed. We therefore welcome President Bush’s public statements expressing a wish to close Guantanamo Bay and the US Administration’s efforts to reduce numbers at the camp. But we recognise the need for careful consideration on how numbers at the camp are reduced to ensure international security is maintained and the human rights of detainees respected.
It is long-standing policy that the Government are not in a position to provide consular assistance or diplomatic protection to foreign nationals, including those held at Guantanamo Bay, except where we have a specific agreement with another state to do so.
We discuss a range of detainee issues, including Guantanamo Bay, with the US Administration but our focus is on the situation of all detainees at Guantanamo, including those formerly resident in the UK. We have raised humanitarian issues relating to detainees who were formerly resident in the UK with the US on a number of occasions, as part of these regular exchanges.
We agreed in March 2006 to make representations to the US Government for the release of Bisher Al-Rawi from Guantanamo Bay and his return to the UK. That decision was based on the particular circumstances in his case. On 6 April 2006 my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary (Mr. Straw) wrote to the US Secretary of State to ask formally for Mr. Al-Rawi’s release and return. Detailed discussions between our Governments have continued ever since. While these are sensitive and complicated issues that take time, we are committed to securing Mr. Al-Rawi’s release from Guantanamo Bay and his return to the UK.
Hans Blix: Report
Dr. Blix handed over a copy of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission report to the Government at a meeting with officials in London on 12 June 2006. He had earlier briefed ambassadors from EU member states on 9 June 2006 in Brussels, where he had also handed over copies of the report.
There has been no official census in Iraq since 1997. The result of that census gave a population of 22,017,983, but these data were deemed unreliable by the international community at the time. The Government of Iraq are planning a fresh census when conditions allow.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office issues open advertisements for its major security service contracts. These advertisements highlight the relevant pre-qualification criteria for companies wishing to be considered to tender for those contracts. Public procurement guidelines oblige us to invite tenders from companies who meet the relevant qualification criteria, subject to certain limits on the overall number of companies who are invited to tender.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed the situation of the Palestinian community in Iraq with the UN or other agencies. However, the Government are concerned about the unacceptable number of internally displaced people and refugees in Iraq and are closely monitoring the situation.
We are working with coalition forces and international organisations to ensure that those affected are protected and that their basic needs are met, and have just announced a £4 million contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance, including water, medical supplies and rehabilitation of health infrastructure. We are also in regular contact with the Government of Iraq as they develop their response to the humanitarian situation in Iraq.
We estimate that a significant proportion of cocaine transiting Venezuela is destined for Europe and the UK. Intelligence and seizures suggest that cocaine flows through Venezuela are increasing.
It is important therefore that the UK, EU and Venezuela’s neighbours are able to co-operate closely with the Venezuelan authorities in countering the flow of narcotics through the country. Preventing the importation of cocaine into the UK from Venezuela is a top priority for the UK’s international counter-narcotics efforts. We are already working with Venezuela on counter-narcotics and are keen to increase our engagement. We welcome President Chavez’s election pledge to tackle corruption. This will be an important element in developing the counter-narcotics effort in Venezuela. I visited Venezuela recently to understand the nature and extent of the drug problems encountered in that country.
Co-operation between Venezuela and its regional neighbours is a matter for the Governments concerned.
The Department recognises that bullying in whatever form and for whatever reason, has no place in schools. The Department has taken proactive steps to tackle bullying through development and publication of guidance. Furthermore, the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 2003, which came into operation on 1 April 2003, places a duty on all grant-aided schools to have an anti-bullying policy and to draw up measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils.
In 2004 the Department in partnership with voluntary organisations, including Save the Children, established an Anti-bullying Forum to enable a collaborative and co-ordinated approach to tackling bullying in schools. The forum enables members to share models of best practice, disseminate information, to develop and co-ordinate joint initiatives and to ensure that schools and organisations working with children and young people are able to develop appropriate strategies to prevent and deal with bullying behaviours.
From early 2006 the Department has been funding a co-ordinator post attached to the NI Anti-Bullying Forum. She is currently involved in developing a regional anti-bullying strategy based on good practice here and elsewhere and in developing a support network for schools. In addition she will be researching best practice solutions to emerging problems such as cyber-bullying.
The Government set a target in the NI Sustainable Development Strategy of carbon neutrality for the Government estate by 2015.
At the end of November I announced the publication of the Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Implementation Plan, “A Positive Step”. A copy can be downloaded at:
The plan sets out the key actions for achieving carbon neutrality including: reducing the size of the Government estate through the Workplace 2010 Project; reductions in carbon emissions through investment in renewable energy sources, again through the Workplace 2010 Project; increased use of electricity generated from green sources; and investing in energy efficiency through the Central Energy Efficiency Fund.
The NIO occupies a number of buildings on agreement from the Department of Finance and Personnel. We will be working with colleagues in DFP and across the Northern Ireland Departments to ensure we play our part in achieving this target. In addition we are currently working on the installation of biomass heating and solar panels at Hillsborough Castle, the only building we occupy as owners.
The NIO is also participating in the DEFRA run Government Carbon Offsetting Fund. All central Government ministerial and official air travel is being offset from 1 April 2006. Departmental aviation emissions are calculated on an annual basis and subsequently offset through payments to a central fund. The fund purchases Certified Emissions Reductions credits from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with sustainable development benefits, located in developing countries.
Out of the 46 applicants for the post of Commissioner for Children and Young People for Northern Ireland:
(a) There were 17 male and 29 female applicants.
(b) 14 were from a Protestant community background, 24 from a Roman Catholic community background and eight other. 14 were short-listed for interview. Two candidates withdrew from the competition prior to the interviews being conducted, resulting in 12 candidates being interviewed.
Coronary Heart Disease
Official estimates of the number of people diagnosed with coronary heart disease in each year are not available. However, under the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) of the General Medical Services contract, the total number of GP-registered patients with coronary heart disease is recorded. There are two years of data available as follows.
Number of patients on QOF coronary heart disease register as at 14 February: 2005 2006 Eastern HSSB 32,018 32,180 Northern HSSB 18,840 19,052 Southern HSSB 13,102 13,534 Western HSSB 10,961 11,222 Source: Payment Calculation and Analysis System.
Number of patients on QOF coronary heart disease register as at 14 February:
Payment Calculation and Analysis System.