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Written Answers

Volume 456: debated on Thursday 1 February 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 1 February 2007

Treasury

11 Downing Street

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much 11 Downing street spent on photography in the last year for which figures are available. (112171)

Photography is not recorded as a separate category of expenditure, so the information on spending, if any, is not held.

Charity and Third Sector

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what role Rod Aldridge plays in the Office of Charity and Third Sector Finance. (115204)

Rod Aldridge does not play a role in the Charity and Third Sector Finance Unit in HM Treasury.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on buying, operating and supporting (a) all commercial software products and (b) software products produced by Microsoft in each of the last three years. (112602)

Expenditure on buying, operating and supporting all commercial software products in the last three years is as follows:

£

2003-04

570,353

2004-05

1,086,768

2005-06

765,249

Expenditure on software products produced by Microsoft is not available, as current Treasury records do not hold the information in this way.

The additional expenditure in 2004-05 resulted from the purchase of software to support the Treasury’s electronic document and records management system.

Departmental Offices

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what area of office space his Department and its agencies used in central London in (a) 2004 and (b) 2006; and if he will make a statement. (112177)

The area of office space used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Department and agencies in central London in (a) 2004 was 234,971 square metres, and in (b) 2006 was 233,400 square metres.

HMRC

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the change in the levels of tax collection resulting from the centralisation of HM Revenue and Customs' risk team. (111601)

Our initial estimates are that there could be a potential increase of 10 to 30 per cent. in cost to yield ratios.

Knowledge Economy

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he has taken to implement the recommendation of the Cross-cutting review of the Knowledge Economy that research be undertaken on the economies of pricing of Government information. (112018)

Many of the recommendations of the Review have been implemented. HM Stationery Office (now the Office of Public Sector Information) introduced an innovative Click-Use on-line Class Licence for easy application for a licence to re-use information covered by Crown copyright. In 2001, the Treasury issued guidance to Government Departments and other Crown bodies on charging for government information.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provided significant access to information while the Government’s Wider Markets Initiative and the implementation of the Re-use of Public Sector Information Directive into UK law further opened up public sector information to commercial re-use.

Given the degree of development in the public sector information market since the Cross-cutting review, the Government have no plans to undertake research into the economies of pricing of government information at this stage.

Local Enterprise Growth

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether there will be a third round of Local Enterprise Growth Initiative funding. (112286)

Sustained investment in LEGI is important. Any confirmation of a third round of LEGI funding, however, is subject to the decision process of the next spending review.

Manufacturing

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 25 January 2007, Official Report, column 1982W, on manufacturing, if he will clarify which part of the information provided indicates how many jobs there were in manufacturing in (a) 1997 and (b) 2006. (112505)

The UK economy is restructuring away from manufacturing towards services, like other advanced economies around the world. According to the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey, manufacturing jobs have fallen from 4.51 million in 1997 to 3.32 million jobs now. This has been balanced by a growth of 3.77 million jobs in other sectors.

Reviews

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 18 January 2007, Official Report, column 1344W, on reviews, how many copies of the report of each review which published a report were (a) printed and (b) distributed; which companies were involved in the design, publishing, printing and distribution of each report; what the (i) commissioning and development costs, (ii) publishing and printing costs, (iii) distribution costs and (iv) other media costs associated with each report were; and how many pages comprised the (A) interim and (B) final report of each review. (111911)

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

Smith Institute

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) Smith Institute events and (b) events hosted in conjunction with the Smith Institute have been held at No. 11 Downing street in the last 12 months. (102754)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what events have been organised by the Smith Institute and hosted by his office since May 1997. (109568)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what public funds have been given by his Department to the Smith Institute since 1997; (109987)

(2) how many events his Department and the agencies for which it is responsible have hosted with the Smith Institute since 1997;

(3) how many events hosted by the Smith Institute he has held at No. 11 Downing street in the last 12 months;

(4) what remuneration was received for the use of No. 11 Downing street from the Smith Institute or SI Events Ltd. for its seminar on positional goods held on 21 September 2006.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions the Smith Institute has (a) organised and (b) participated in the organisation of meetings in (i) his Department and (ii) No. 11 Downing street in each of the last two years. (110196)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions since December 2005 the Smith Institute has held meetings at No. 11 Downing street; and who attended each. (113338)

No. 11 Downing street is used as a venue for Government meetings, official meetings, meetings with external stakeholders and events by charities. This is fully in accordance with the Ministerial Code and long standing conventions governing the use of Downing street as operated by this and previous Governments.

Every external organisation who uses No. 11 does so on the same basis: the organisers of events at No. 11 meet all additional costs associated with holding the event. This is to ensure no public funds are used for events held by external organisations.

Since 1997, 67 separate charities have used No. 11 of which the Smith Institute is one—a list of these charities is included on the Treasury website.

The Smith Institute was set up in the memory of the late John Smith. It asked in 1997 to use the facility for seminars on a once a month basis and sometimes, when they are conducting a series of seminars, on a more regular basis. As previously reported, the Smith Institute held 27 seminars in the last 12 months. Any charities who use or want to use No. 11 Downing street can apply for more extended access if this is their wish and subject to availability.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the (a) date and (b) amount was of each payment made to (i) the Smith Institute and (ii) its subsidiary SI Events Ltd. by his Department in each of the last three years. (115930)

Neither organisation has ever received any direct payments from the Treasury.

Every external organisation who uses No. 11 does so on the same basis: the organisers of events at No. 11 meet all additional costs associated with holding the event. This is to ensure no public funds are used for events held by external organisations.

However, we have established that the independent, Government-funded Myners review of the “Governance of Life Mutuals” commissioned a number of research and other organisations including SI Events Ltd., who in November 2004 organised two seminars to inform the work of the review, neither in No.11 Downing street. The Treasury has asked Mr. Myners to provide details of these seminars, including their cost. He has written today to the Permanent Secretary and I have placed a copy of his letter in the Library of the House.

Tax: Electronic Submissions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what factors led to the increased expenditure in incentive payments for electronic filing from the initial estimate for 2004-05; and if he will make a statement. (111105)

The actual expenditure for 2004-05 filings was higher than the initial estimate for online filing incentives because substantially more small employers than anticipated filed online.

The assumption was that online filing take-up by small employers (fewer than 50 employees) for 2004-05 would be 10 per cent., which equates to a cost of £37 million. These figures reflected the hesitation and reluctance expressed by small employers over the introduction of electronic filing. In fact, 51 per cent. of small employers filed online for 2004-05 at a cost of £225 million.

Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in Hemsworth constituency owe money due to overpayments of tax credits; and if he will make a statement on the ability of low income families to pay arrears created by the system. (112248)

Estimates for 2003-04 and 2004-05 of the numbers of families with tax credits awards, including information on overpayments and underpayments, based on final family circumstances and incomes for 2003-04 and 2004-05 by constituency are published in “Child and Working Tax Credits. Finalised Awards 2003-04. Supplements on Payments in 2003-04. Geographical Analysis.” and the “Child and Working Tax Credits. Finalised Awards 2004-05. Supplements on Payments in 2004-05. Geographical Analysis”. These publications and provisional estimates for the number of in-work families with tax credit awards as at selected dates in 2005-06 are available on the HMRC website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-stats.htm

Information on the current number of outstanding overpayments is not available.

HMRC’s policy on tax credits overpayments is set out in their Code of Practice 26 “What happens if we have paid you too much tax credit?”

Tax Evasion

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many employees of (a) HM Revenue and Customs and its predecessors and (b) the Valuation Office Agency have been investigated for tax evasion in each of the last three years. (111876)

HM Revenue and Customs expects its staff to keep their tax affairs in good order and applies appropriate checks carefully to ensure that they do so. There have been no investigations into tax avoidance by the staff of HM Revenue and Customs (including the Valuation Office Agency) and its predecessors in any of the last three years.

Tourism

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tourism related jobs there are in (a) Morecambe and Lunesdale, (b) Lancashire and (c) the UK. (112640)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 1 February 2007:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question about tourism-related jobs. (112640)

In 2005 there were 3,900 tourism-related jobs in Morecambe and Lunesdale, 49,800 in Lancashire and 3,042,900 in Great Britain.

These estimates are the latest available from the Annual Business Inquiry and, as with any sample survey, they are subject to a margin of uncertainty. They have been obtained by combining figures for employee jobs in the following industries, as identified by Standard Industrial Classification 2003:

Hotels and other tourist accommodation

Restaurants, bars and canteens

Transport

Travel agencies/tour operators

Recreation services.

Valuation Office Agency

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what privacy impact assessments have been produced by the Valuation Office Agency in the last five years. (112082)

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Commission

To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what recent assessment the Speaker’s Committee has made of (a) whether the Electoral Commission is fit for purpose and (b) the Commission’s ability to manage a UK-wide referendum. (117910)

The Speaker’s Committee has a statutory obligation to satisfy itself in relation to both the Electoral Commission’s estimates and the accompanying five-year plans that, as laid before the House of Commons by the Committee, these are consistent with the economical, efficient and effective discharge by the Commission of its functions.

The Committee approved the Electoral Commission’s 2006-07 estimate and its five-year plan for 2006-07 to 2010-11 on 29 March 2006. It expects to consider proposals for the 2007-08 estimate and a five-year plan for 2007-08 to 2011-12 in the near future.

However, the statutory functions of the Speaker’s Committee do not require it to make the assessments referred to in the question, and it has therefore not done so.

House of Commons Commission

Joint Committee on Human Rights

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, how much the Joint Committee on Human Rights spent on advisers in each of the past five years. (112526)

Expenditure by the Joint Committee on Human Rights on specialist advisers' fees and expenses was met by the House of Commons until the start of financial year 2006-07, since when it has been shared between the two Houses. Figures for the expenditure, for each parliamentary Session and each financial year, are published in the House of Commons Sessional Returns.

The total expenditure on the Committee's part-time specialist advisers in each of the last five full financial years is:

£

2001-02

1,834.50

2002-03

45,251.15

2003-04

9,151.68

2004-05

3,860.93

2005-06

968.00

The Committee also has a full-time legal adviser (SCS band 2 equivalent). He is a House of Lords employee, but the House of Commons reimburses the House of Lords 50 per cent. of his salary and related costs. The Committee has also employed a full-time committee specialist (Bl) since September 2002 and a second such post will be filled from February 2007.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, what the costs to the House were of the Joint Committee on Human Rights in each of the past five years. (112529)

The costs to the House of Commons of the Joint Committee on Human Rights are published in the Sessional Returns, which give figures for each parliamentary Session and each financial year.

For the last five full financial years the figures are as follows:

£

2001-02

7,229.00

2002-03

99,038.51

2003-04

19,616.80

2004-05

46,585.74

2005-06

40,331.53

These figures include witnesses' expenses, advisers’ fees and expenses, visits (UK and overseas), work commissioned, transcription and entertainment.

These figures do not include printing (which is paid in this case by the House of Lords) and the costs of the permanent staff of the Committee or office costs and expenses, which are not attributed at the level of individual Committees. For most of this period the Committee staff from the House of Commons comprised a deputy principal clerk (SCS band 1), a committee specialist (band Bl), a committee assistant (band B2) and a committee secretary (band C).

The House of Commons also reimburses the House of Lords 50 per cent. of the salary and related costs of the Committee's legal adviser, who is a House of Lords employee (SCS band 2 equivalent).

International Development

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the level of (a) exports and (b) imports in Afghanistan in each year between 1995 and 2006. (112306)

Data on export and import levels is patchy in Afghanistan and only goes back to 2002.

Afghanistan’s exports amounted to $1.3 billion in 2002, $1.9 billion in 2003, and $1.6 billion in 2004 and 2005. In the past year it is expected to increase to $1.7 billion. Expanding the export base is one of Afghanistan’s trade policy aims and is a key part of a broader private sector development strategy.

According to best estimates, Afghanistan imported $2.5 billion worth of goods in 2002. This has been steadily increasing each year to $3.8 billion in 2003, $3.9 billion in 2004, $4.2 billion in 2005 and $4.7 billion in 2006.

Africa: Wood

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had on measures to ensure effective governance of forestry use and control of the timber trade in the rain forests of Africa. (117830)

Partnership agreements under the European Union (EU) Forest Law Enforcement and Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan aim to improve forest governance in timber-producing countries and to ensure that only legally-produced timber is traded with the EU. Discussions on agreements have been held with Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia and the Republic of Congo. Ghana has now entered into formal negotiations with the European Union. Other countries are expected to announce their wish to start negotiations in the coming months.

Climate Change

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what funding his Department has provided for research into identifying and adapting to the impact of climate change in each financial year since 2001-02; and to which organisations such funding was provided in each year; (112093)

(2) what funding his Department has allocated in each of the next three financial years for research into identifying and adapting to the impact of climate change; and to which organisations such funding has been allocated.

DFID did not provide funding for climate change research prior to 2006-07.

DFID has entered into an arrangement with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to provide funding for research into how poverty-stricken people can best adapt to climate change. IDRC has overall management of the programme which is giving research grants to African organisations and their partners. The programme went live in May 2006.

DFID is providing £24 million to the programme over the five financial years 2006-07 to 2010-11. IDRC is providing C$15 million over the same period. DFID will provide £4 million in 2006-07 and £5 million in each of the four subsequent financial years.

In line with the third White Paper commitments, we will be significantly increasing climate change research in addition to the aforementioned funding described. Consultation is being conducted at the moment as to further research programmes.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to encourage transparency over mining activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (112617)

DFID is encouraging transparency in mining activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Support to this way of improving revenue transparency is a major part DFID’s planned support in the minerals sector in DRC. The Government of DRC signed up to the EITI in March 2005. Since then important progress has been made in implementing EITI. A multi-stakeholder national EITI Committee was established by Presidential Decree in November 2005 charged with ensuring the DRC implementation process complies with EITI criteria. In February 2006, the DRC Government named members of the EITI Committee and allocated a budget for its operations from the Government’s finances. In addition, an EITI baseline study for the exploitation of copper, cobalt and diamonds is currently under way.

However, a lot more work will be needed before EITI is fully implemented in the DRC. Continued political commitment from the newly-elected DRC Government as well as capacity building and improved co-ordination within relevant DRC Government institutions will be crucial. Strong engagement from civil society, the private sector and wider international community stakeholders will also be required. When the new Government is in place, we will press them to take early action to improve transparency in natural resource management.

DFID is also developing plans for public-private partnerships with a select group of international mining companies to support local development priorities in mining areas and to encourage responsible business behaviour.

Middle East

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the operation of the Temporary International Mechanism to Deliver Assistance to the Palestinian People; and whether decisions have been made about enlarging the mechanism. (112533)

The UK Government are extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. We are committed to helping the Palestinian people through the EU-led Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) and other projects. The causes of the deteriorating humanitarian situation include the conflict with Israel and among Palestinians; an economic downturn due to movement and access restrictions and the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) fiscal crisis, which has meant it has been unable to pay salaries.

The TIM has been delivering on the ground since July 2006. DFID has pledged up to £12 million through the TIM of which £9.7 million has been disbursed: £3 million for essential health supplies; £3 million for water, sanitation and electricity; and £3.7 million for people who have suffered a severe loss in income such as teachers, hospital workers and pensioners.

The TIM has been extended by the Quartet (EU, US, Russia, UN) twice, most recently in late December for three months. Following this decision, the EU has agreed to increase the number of recipients, while maintaining the rigorous auditing procedures that have been applied so far.

Culture, Media and Sport

Committees: Ministerial Attendance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what occasions (a) she and (b) departmental Ministers have been requested to appear before committees of (i) devolved institutions and (ii) the European Parliament since 2004; on what topic in each case; how many and what proportion of such requests were accepted; and if she will make a statement. (111576)

All the information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, a DCMS Minister was invited to appear before the European Parliamentary Committee on Culture and Education on 12 July 2005 to set out the UK Presidency agenda in the field of culture. I attended the meeting on 12 July 2006 as Minister for Culture.

Cultural Heritage: European Union

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what position the Government have taken on the (a) proposal to establish an European Union Cultural Heritage Agency and (b) selection of a host nation for the agency. (117949)

I am not aware of any current proposals to establish a European Union Cultural Heritage Agency.

Engagements

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many properties (a) owned and (b) managed by English Heritage (i) the Secretary of State, (ii) the Minister for Sport, (iii) the Minister for Culture and (iv) the Minister for Media and Tourism have visited in an official capacity in the last five years. (112623)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State visited Stonehenge in 2006.

As Minister for Culture, I have visited seven properties managed by English Heritage. My predecessor, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, visited five properties managed by English Heritage between 2005 and 2003. Between 2003 and 2001, Baroness Blackstone, Minister of State for the Arts, visited four properties managed by English Heritage. Of these one is also owned by English Heritage.

The Minister for Sport and the Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism have not visited any properties owned or managed by English Heritage in their official capacities.

Heritage Lottery Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which communities will receive awards from the £150 million Heritage Lottery Fund announced in 2006 for deprived communities and town centres, broken down by region. (112644)

Between 1998 and 2006, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded over £156 million to 190 projects through its Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) programme. The programme targets local partnerships to repair and regenerate historic areas. In 2006 the HLF announced that £13 million of grants would be awarded to the following 13 THI schemes across the UK:

Recipient

Region

Pass (£)

Long Eaton, Derbyshire

East Midlands

957,000

Bedlington, Northumberland

North-east

587,000

Armley, Leeds

North-west

1,090,000

Chapeltown road, Leeds

North-west

802,000

Richhill, County Armagh

Northern Ireland

747,000

Dalkeith, Midlothian

Scotland

1,273,000

Dysart, Fife

Scotland

1,587,000

John Finnie street and Bank street, Kilmarnock

Scotland

1,990,000

The Green, Aberdeen

Scotland

1,400,000

Shepton Mallet, Somerset

South-west

250,000

Stokes Croft, Bristol

South-west

535,000

Oswestry town centre, Shropshire

West Midlands

579,000

Willenhall, west midlands

West Midlands

960,000

A further £15 million has been allocated for the next round of projects in the 2007-08 financial year.

Licensed Premises: Opening Hours

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what modifications she is considering to the current law on pub and club opening hours; and what has prompted her to consider modifications. (117971)

We are not proposing any modifications to the Licensing Act 2003 so far as it relates to hours of trading.

We are consulting on changes to the current statutory guidance to local authorities on the 2003 Act which clarify our existing policy on licensing hours, i.e. that the licensing objectives (including the prevention of crime and disorder and public nuisance) must be paramount considerations in any licensing decision.

We originally clarified these issues in September 2005 and they need to be incorporated into the terms of the guidance.

These changes were prompted by a misplaced perception among a minority of stakeholders in 2005 that the guidance includes a presumption in favour of longer opening hours.

Olympics

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to promote British culture as part of the 2012 Olympics. (111951)

The London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will offer a unique opportunity for the British people to engage with and participate in a major cultural celebration.

From the closing ceremony of the Beijing Games in 2008, the UK will commence its “Cultural Olympiad” which will contribute to an enhanced and positive image of the UK. It will be a developing four-year period of cultural activity designed to reflect the key themes of the 2012 Games—celebrating London and welcoming the world; inspiring and involving young people; and generating a positive legacy.

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is working with a range of partners to develop its plans for how the Cultural Olympiad will be delivered across the UK.

Television Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many and what proportion of television licences were (a) paid and (b) evaded in the 12 months (i) before and (ii) after the ending of the BBC contract with the Post Office for the collection of such fees. (117522)

TV licences ceased to be sold at post offices at the end of July 2006 and the comparative figures requested are not therefore available. The BBC as licensing authority recommends the use of financial year evasion figures, because of seasonal fluctuations in sales. As at 31 March 2006, of the estimated total number of premises requiring a TV licence 95.4 per cent. held a licence and 4.6. per cent did not.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 24 January 2007, Official Report, column 1771W, on television licences, what steps her Department is taking to monitor how the duty under the Royal Charter is applied. (117686)

It is not the role of Government to monitor the individual activities of the BBC or its agents. The BBC Trust is the regulator of the BBC and the Government are confident that the trust will discharge its functions properly.

Communities and Local Government

Best Value Performance Indicators

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) for what reason her Department decided to delete Best Value Performance Indicator 180, on energy consumption; (111945)

(2) how many Best Value Performance Indicators were collected in total in each year since the introduction of Best Value; and how many will be collected for 2006-07;

(3) what assessment she has made of the accuracy of Best Value Performance Indicator 202, on rough sleeping, as an indicator of the actual level of rough sleeping.

The information requested is as follows:

Best Value Performance Indicator 180

Best Value Performance Indicator 180 was deleted with effect from 1 April 2005 as a result of difficulties in the development of guidance that would enable authorities to produce robust and reliable data. However, most of the information is provided by local authorities through Property Performance Indicator 4, which is one of a number of performance indicators used to report management of local authority capital assets In the 2006 Climate Change Programme and the Local Government White Paper the Government made a commitment that the post 2008 performance framework will include an appropriate focus on climate change.

Collection of Best Value Performance Indicators

Details about the number of Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs) that have been collected since the introduction of Best Value is available on the Department’s website: http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1136106. A total of 90 BVPIs will be collected in 2006-07.

Best Value Performance Indicator 220

Local authority returns on Best Value Performance Indicator 202 (BV202) are based on the results of recent rough sleeping counts or, in areas where a count has not taken place, locally informed estimates. Local authorities are expected to submit their returns in accordance with BVPI guidance which replicates my Department’s published guidance on how and when a rough sleeping count should take place. This guidance was developed in association with the voluntary sector and independent evaluation has consistently shown it to be the most effective method for evaluating the changing levels of people sleeping rough.

Council Tax Revaluation

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the initial average draft value was of the coefficient applied to the variable for the FC dwelling house code by the Valuation Office Agency before the council tax revaluation in England was postponed. (115055)

Departmental Offices

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what area of office space her Department and its agencies used in central London in (a) 2004 and (b) 2006; and if she will make a statement. (112188)

The area of office space used by Communities and Local Government in central London in 2004 and 2006 is as follows:

Sq m

2004

2006

Floor space in buildings occupied in whole

Floor space in buildings occupied in part

Floor space in buildings occupied in whole

Floor space in buildings occupied in part

Freehold property

26 Whitehall

5,045

5,045

Total

5,045

5,045

Leasehold property

Eland House

22,650

22,650

Ashdown House

6,727

6,727

Portland House

2,163

Exchange Tower

710

710

Allington Towers

1,911

Sub total

25,523

6,727

23,360

8,638

Total

32,250

31,998

The Department’s occupation of 26 Whitehall ceased at the end of October 2006 apart from the Equalities Review Team, a body sponsored by Communities and Local Government, which remained in 26 Whitehall but the occupation is not expected to continue after the end of this financial year. Communities and Local Government is not being charged for the space occupied. In place of 26 Whitehall the Department took 1,981 sq m on two floors in Stockley House from the beginning of November. These are unoccupied but will be occupied temporarily in 2007 as decant space to enable the reorganisation of Eland House to full open plan standard. The move to open plan in Eland House is part of the Department’s plan to rationalise its central London buildings by March 2008.

These figures do not include Government Office for London which performs functions on behalf of 10 Government Departments. The only Agency in central London is the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre which has not been included in the answer as it does not function as an office.

Fire Service

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many firefighters died on duty in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available, broken down by fire authority. (112371)

Details of firefighter deaths while on operational duty (attending fires and other incidents) are as follows:

Firefighter deaths while on operational duty: England 1997-2006

Number

Fire and Rescue Service

1997

0

None

1998

0

None

1999

1

Greater Manchester

2000

1

Hampshire

2001

0

None

2002

1

Leicestershire

2003

1

Greater Manchester

2004

2

London

2005

2

Hertfordshire

2006

2

East Sussex

Source:

Fire and Rescue Service returns to Communities and Local Government

Local Authority Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) advice and (b) guidance her Department has given to local authorities on providing facilities in the local authority’s buildings to trade unions (i) free and (ii) at below market rates. (114756)

I am not aware that Communities and Local Government or any of its predecessor Departments has issued advice or guidance on this topic.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many times she has visited the constituency of Bolton South East in a Ministerial capacity in the last 12 months; and what plans she has for such visits in the future. (111948)

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has visited the constituency of Bolton South East in a ministerial capacity once in the last 12 months. There are not currently any future plans to visit the constituency in a ministerial capacity.

Parish Councils

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her policy is on increasing the number of parish council representatives on the East Midlands Regional Assembly. (111716)

It is up to the East Midlands Regional Assembly to decide its composition within the terms of relevant legislation.

I understand that currently two parish councillors serve on the East Midlands Regional Assembly.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether officials in her Department have discussed with other Departments co-ordinating responses to round robin written Parliamentary questions in the last 12 months. (112077)

The Government made clear in their response to the Third Report of Session 2003-04 from the Public Administration Select Committee, that while Government Departments may liaise with each other when they receive the same question, this co-ordination

“does not cut across the line of ministerial accountability which is that it is for individual Ministers to decide on the final content of an answer to a Parliamentary Question”.1

1 Page 3, HC 1262, Ministerial Accountability and Parliamentary Questions: Government Response to the Committee’s Third Report—First Special Report of Session 2003-04.

Regional Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department has abandoned the principles of (a) double devolution, (b) neighbourhood governance and (c) earned autonomy. (114828)

When Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) was introduced, earned autonomy was seen as a driver to improve performance. Now that over 70 per cent. of local authorities have achieved a 3 or 4* CPA rating, we can move onto presumed autonomy. The Local Government White Paper proposals devolve more power to local authorities and lift centrally imposed burdens on them. As the White Paper makes clear, Government have not changed their policies in regard to double devolution or neighbourhood governance.

Special Advisers: Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) destination and (b) total costs were of each occasion when special advisers in the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister travelled abroad in an official capacity since 2002. (111972)

All travel is undertaken in accordance with the “Ministerial Code” and the “Civil Service Management” Code. The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Trade Unions

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what legislative changes her Department has initiated which were designed to affect trade unions directly in the last three years. (112080)

Neither Communities and Local Government nor the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have initiated any legislative changes in the past three years which have been designed to directly affect trade unions.

Valuation Office Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions the Valuation Office Agency has had on the frequency of council tax revaluations. (112101)

Transport

A21: East Sussex

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to upgrade the A21 between Flimwell and Hurst Green. (117713)

The Highways Agency has no plans at present to upgrade the A21 between Flimwell and Hurst Green within its Targeted Programme of Improvements.

The A21 Flimwell to Robertsbridge Improvement has not been included by the South East region as a priority for funding within its Regional Funding Allocation for major transport schemes in the period up to 2016.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which properties he expects to be purchased under compulsory purchase orders in each area along the route of the proposed A21 upgrade in East Sussex. (117800)

It is too early to say at this time how many properties will be included in any future draft Compulsory Purchase Orders for the proposed A21 upgrade in East Sussex. Potential land and property requirements can only be identified once detailed design has been completed.

Airport Luggage Thefts

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate he has made of the number of luggage thefts at Manchester airport in each of the last five years; (114048)

(2) what recent steps he has taken to prevent theft at airports;

(3) what steps his Department has taken to co-ordinate work with police forces in order to reduce theft at airports;

(4) what recent steps he has taken to reduce incidents of luggage theft at Manchester Airport.

The prevention of theft at airports is a matter for the airport operator. Theft, regardless of where it takes place, is a criminal matter for the police to pursue.

Buses: Staffordshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents involving buses there were in Staffordshire in each of the last five years. (118011)

The number of reported personal injury road accidents involving a bus that took place in Staffordshire in each of the last five years is given in the following table:

Accidents involving a bus in Staffordshire: 2001-05

Number of accidents

2001

164

2002

167

2003

184

2004

131

2005

101

Committees: Ministerial Attendance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what occasions (a) he and (b) departmental Ministers have been requested to appear before committees of (i) devolved institutions and (ii) the European Parliament since 2004; on what topic in each case; how many and what proportion of such requests were accepted; and if he will make a statement. (111582)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, his predecessors and other departmental Ministers have not appeared before the specified committees since 2004. It is not possible to provide the more detailed information requested without incurring disproportionate cost.

Cycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what resources his Department (a) has provided in the last two years and (b) intends to provide in the next two years for the creation of a bicycle-friendly road network. (117548)

The Department provides funding for cycling through the integrated block of the Local Transport Plan (LTP) settlement. English local highway authorities outside London have informed the Department that their investment in cycle-friendly infrastructure on or around the road network for each of the last two years is £39 million in 2004-05 and £34.1 million in 2005-06. The Department does not require local authorities to provide an estimate of future spend on cycling so no data are yet available for 2006-07 and 2007-08. The integrated block element of the LTP settlement was worth £547 million in 2006-07.

The Mayor of London receives funding from the Department via a total transport grant through Transport for London (TfL) and received £2.2 billion in both 2004-05 and 2005-06. TfL estimate they have invested £8.49 million in 2004-05 and £12.1 million in 2005-06 on cycle schemes on or around the road network with the majority of expenditure coming from this source. TfL forecast spend will be £15.4 million in 2006-07 and 20.5 million in 2008-09.

In addition, the Department set up Cycling England in 2005 with a budget of £5 million for 2005-06 to fund their work to encourage more cycling of which £3.1 million was invested in cycle-friendly infrastructure. The Secretary of State has since doubled Cycling England’s budget to £10 million a year of which £5.7 million has been allocated in 2006-07 on cycle infrastructure and forecast that in 2007-08 will spend a further £3.5 million. The Department also made a one-off investment of £10 million to extend the National Cycle Network to 305 schools in 2004-05.

Driving: Mobile Phones

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to include information on the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving in its safer driving campaign; and if he will make a statement. (117550)

I refer my hon. Friend to my reply of 30 January 2007, Official Report, column 249W, to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael).

Eddington Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many officials from his Department worked on the Eddington report. (112375)

Sir Rod was supported by a team of 10 full-time civil servants; the team being made up of five people from the Department for Transport and HM Treasury respectively.

Government Auctions

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport where his Department publishes information about Government auctions (a) which it arranges and (b) to which it contributes in (i) Blackpool, (ii) Lancashire and (iii) the North West; and when the next such auction will take place in each area. (117427)

The Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency and the Highways Agency—both Executive Agencies of the Department for Transport, undertake auctions. These are publicised via various means including, but not limited to, the National Press, selected motoring press, auction catalogues and via direct marketing to customers who have asked to receive them. There is no specific regional promotional activity undertaken.

There are no auctions planned for Blackpool or in other towns in Lancashire. Auctions have taken place in, and are planned for other towns in the North West.

Government Car and Despatch Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 15 January 2007, Official Report, column 752W, on the Government Car and Despatch Agency, what charge was made by the Government Car and Despatch Agency to (a) HM Treasury and (b) the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2005-06 to recover its costs for ministerial transport; and what the estimated charge is for 2006-07. (117679)

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

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Maritime and Coastguard Agency takes to evaluate the communication levels among mixed nationality crews on UK ships. (117627)

Under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978 as amended in 1995 (STCW), foreign officers working on UK ships must obtain a Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC) from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). One of the criteria for issuing a UK CEC is that the applicant must demonstrate their command of the English language.

In addition the MCA audits all UK registered ships for compliance with the International Safety Management Code. As part of this audit process the MCA Marine Surveyor requires the ship’s crew to conduct physical operational drills to demonstrate their familiarity with equipment and their ability to communicate and cooperate with each other.

Motor Vehicles: Excise Duties

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Government are taking to provide greater purchase incentives for smaller, cleaner vehicles. (117549)

Incentives to purchase cleaner vehicles include:

Vehicle Excise Duty, which is graduated according to a car’s CO2 emissions;

Company Car Tax, which is also geared to CO2 emissions; and

the cost of fuel duty.

These incentives relate to running costs rather than purchase cost but they have a direct effect as considerations when purchasing a vehicle. The introduction last year of more informative labelling in car showrooms reinforces this message.

As differences in the size of the vehicle do not in all cases relate directly to differences in the vehicle’s emissions, incentives are based on emissions levels and not size.

Office for Disability Issues

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 14 December 2006, Official Report, column 1269W, on the Office for Disability Issues, on what dates the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has attended meetings of the Office for Disability Issues since its establishment. (114067)

Since I became responsible for the ODI agenda in my Department, there have been four meetings of the “Life Chances” Ministerial Group, of which I have attended three. Senior officials from DfT are always present. Information relating to internal discussion is not normally made public, as it could undermine the effectiveness of policy discussion and advice.

Parking

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will issue guidance to relevant authorities on the placing of signs setting out the hours of single yellow line parking restrictions. (117683)

Guidance on the placing of signs for yellow line restrictions is published in Chapter 3 of the Traffic Signs Manual.

Parking: Decriminalisation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many local authorities in (a) England and (b) Greater Manchester have decriminalised parking offences within their boundaries; and if he will make a statement. (112364)

In England at present 160 local authorities (including those in Greater Manchester) and (excluding those in London) have Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) powers. In Greater Manchester nine local authorities have DPE. The Government encourage authorities to consider adopting such powers, and believes authorities are best placed to determine whether they should do so or not.

Parkway Station: Gloucestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport at what stage the application for Government funding to build a parkway station at Elmbridge Court, Gloucestershire, between Gloucester and Cheltenham is; and if he will make a statement. (112395)

[holding answer 30 January 2007]: The scheme is currently being assessed by the Department, but we are awaiting further information from the local authority before we can take any decision.

Road Building and Improvements

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of trunk road and motorway are scheduled for widening in the next five years. (110629)

The following table provides details of motorway and trunk road schemes scheduled for widening in the next five years, subject to the satisfactory completion of statutory processes and availability of funding.

Project name

Start of works

Length of scheme (miles)

A3 Hindhead improvement

January 2007

4.04

M1 J31-J32 widening

January 2007

1.24

A595 Parton-Lillyhall improvement

January 2007

3.23

A1 Bramham-Wetherby (including Wetherby bypass)

Spring 2007

6.21

M1 J21-30 widening (Phase 1)

Summer 2007

14.60

A14 Haughley New St.-Stowmarket improvement

Summer 2007

2.49

M25 J1b-3 widening

Summer 2007

2.67

A1 Dishforth to Barton

Spring 2008

24.67

M27 J11-J12 Climbing Lanes

Spring 2008

1.99

M27 J3-J4 widening

Spring 2008

2.55

A421 Bedford to M1 J13

Autumn 2008

8.02

M1 J10-13 widening

Winter 2008

14.17

M62 J25-J27 widening

Winter 2008

7.21

M25 J16-23 widening

Winter 2009

22.12

A453 widening (M1 J24 to A52 Nottingham)

Winter 2009

7.15

M1 J39 -J42 widening

Spring 2009

6.59

M62 J27-J28 widening

Summer 2009

3.29

A14 Ellington-Fen Ditton improvement

Spring 2010

22.56

M1 J21-30 Widening (Phase 2)

Spring 2010

37.84

A21 Tonbridge to Pembury

Spring 2010

2.55

M25 J27-30 widening

Summer 2010

14.04

M1 J34-J37 widening

Winter 2011

10.00

A47 Blofield to North Burlingham Dualling

Spring 2011

2.49

A23 Handcross to Warninglid widening

Spring 2011

2.36

M1 J32-J34 widening

Spring 2011

7.39

M1 J30-J31 widening

Summer 2011

5.90

Speed Limits: Driving Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of speed awareness courses. (117865)

Speed awareness courses are regulated and operated by police forces, The Department for Transport is one of the members of a national steering group advising the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on the provision of these courses. The ACPO group is currently issuing guidance on how a national speed awareness course should be developed based on research commissioned by the Department and published in March 2006.

The current provision of speed awareness courses is confined to a few police force areas only. No assessment of the effectiveness of the courses can be made until course provision is more widespread and more consistent. The timing of any effectiveness study depends on progress made by ACPO in developing and rolling out a national course.

In expectation of the speed awareness course provision becoming national in the near future, the Department is in the process of commissioning a study collecting baseline data to be used in a future effectiveness study.

Toll Roads

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what contact has been made with the users of the Dart-Tag system as part of the consultation process on the proposed changes to the Dartford river crossing. (117722)

A consultation on charges at the Dartford crossing was launched on 16 December 2006—anyone is invited to comment.

Traffic Area Offices

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the reasons are for the delay in centralising licensing work to the Leeds Traffic Area Office; and if he will make a statement. (112422)

There has been no delay in the project to centralise the administration of operator licensing at Leeds Traffic Area Office (TAO). The intended completion date remains 31 March 2007.

Within the project, timeframes for different areas of work have been continually adjusted to meet the needs of the individual traffic areas.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects on the work of the Leeds Traffic Area Office of the delay in centralising licensing work; and if he will make a statement. (112423)

There has been no delay in the project to centralise the administration of operator licensing at Leeds Traffic Area Office (TAO). The intended completion date remains 31 March 2007.

Leeds TAO has consistently met its published standards of service throughout the licensing centralisation project. The work carried by Leeds TAO continues to be of a high standard.

Travel: Sustainable Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether there are plans to extend the Sustainable Travel Demonstration Town scheme; and if he will make a statement. (112266)

[holding answer 31 January 2007]: The Sustainable Travel Demonstration Towns project started in 2004 and we have had the first two years' results of this five-year project. The interim results so far seem encouraging with overall increases in walking, cycling and use of public transport and a fall in car use. We will look closely at whether these results are maintained before any decision is made to extend it.

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he had had with (a) Deloitte and Touche and (b) stakeholder groups on the possible outsourcing of work carried out by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency; and what the outcome has been of those discussions. (112285)

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) are currently undertaking discussions with (a) Deloitte and Touche and (b) stakeholder groups on the possible outsourcing of elements of its work. The outcome of these discussions will be presented to Ministers in spring/summer 2007.

Wales

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the expenditure by his Department on buying, operating and supporting (a) all commercial software products and (b) software products produced by Microsoft was in each of the last three years. (112594)

Since April 2004 all computer systems and software products in my Department are supplied by the Department for Constitutional Affairs under their contracts.

Figures for the Wales Office could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

Olympic Games

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on delivering the benefits of the Olympic Games to the whole of the UK with particular reference to the creation of manufacturing jobs for the production of sustainable materials in (a) Blaenau Gwent and (b) Wales. (112388)

Wales has an important contribution to make to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I meet periodically with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to review progress towards maximising the benefits to Wales.

Companies, large and small, in a range of sectors from construction to manufacturing, will be needed to deliver the Games, creating valuable procurement opportunities. The Assembly Government is setting up a Wales 2012 Innovation, Science and Technology group to identify the best of Welsh scientific and technical innovation with potential commercial applications that can be applied to the Games.

Any business can register its interest in being a supplier to the Games through the London 2012 website. As of 26 January, 533 businesses in Wales had done so.

Work and Pensions

Domestic Heating Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his Department plans to assist those people with a disability who require the setting of high temperatures in their homes to fund domestic heating costs. (115317)

Disability living allowance, together with the disability premiums in the income-related benefits and the disability-related additions in tax credits, already provide a contribution towards the extra costs, including heating, faced by disabled people. Disabled people who receive a disability premium also receive cold weather payments in periods of very cold weather. Winter fuel payments provide further help to eligible disabled people aged 60 or over. We have no plans to alter or extend these arrangements.

Health and Safety Inspections

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what meetings he has had with Commissioners of the Health and Safety Commission to discuss the frequency of inspections of places of higher education in each of the last five years. (115493)

No DWP Ministers have had meetings with members of the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) to discuss these matters during the last five years. Ministers do however meet regularly with the Chair of HSC to discuss workplace health and safety issues.

Background

1. In marshalling HSE’s inspection resource, HSE seeks to target poor performers. The key criteria in establishing the frequency of inspections are the risks presented by particular duty holders, premises or industries and the ability and willingness of duty holders to manage those risks. Where the risk is low and duty holders’ ability high, visits are less frequent than where the risk is high and duty holders are failing to manage those risks. In targeting the inspection resource in this way, HSE believes it has the greatest impact on reducing work-related deaths, injuries and ill health.

2. In 2003, HSE ceased to set targets for the number of inspection contacts. Such targets encouraged short visits to low risk places, whereas the Health and Safety Commission’s strategy for workplace health and safety 2010 sought a sharper focus on injury and ill health priorities, and more substantial contacts with a carefully selected range of duty holders. Over the last five years or so, the actual time HSE inspectors have spent interacting with and encouraging duty holders has increased by 23 per cent.

3. Important as inspection is, the frequency of inspections is not a particularly useful metric. The Health and Safety Commission’s strategy fully recognises the importance of inspection, and the threat of enforcement, as a powerful motivator for improved standards. But to be most effective, they need to sit alongside other interventions, such as encouraging partnership working, communications, and so on.

Inspection in Higher Education

1. HSE sees higher education as a mature sector. The risks are for the most part well known (including those associated with laboratory work with hazardous chemicals), well understood, well managed and there are well-established networks and institutions for their management. In line with the approach set out in the aforementioned paragraphs 1-3, HSE has therefore no general proactive inspection programme.

4. However, this year, some proactive inspection will take place examining higher education institution’s management of work-related stress—HSE inspectors will visit about 120 universities. Work-related stress is one of the priority topics identified in the Commissions strategy for workplace health and safety 2010.

5. This inspection activity follows a series of seminars in the autumn of 2006, to which all higher education institutions were invited—and which nearly 50 per cent. of all institutions attended—designed to equip institutions with knowledge and skills to tackle work-related stress through the use of HSE’s Stress Management Standards. This programme of inspection will look at whether the Management Standards (or any equivalent approach) is being used, or if it is, assist in ensuring action is maintained.

6. A second programme of inspection activity will look at the management of slipping and tripping hazards—a hazard the sector recognises as a particular issue—another of the Commission’s priority topics. These inspections will follow a series of nationwide seminars run by HSE, in partnership with the sector, which will equip attendees with the knowledge and skills to manage slips and trips.

Personal Accounts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how the figure of increased cost to employers of around 0.7 per cent. of labour costs on average set out on page 36 of the White Paper, Personal Accounts: a new way to save was reached. (113570)

The figure 0.7 per cent. is derived from expressing the estimated cost of minimum employer contributions, £2.8 billion, as a percentage of total labour costs.

These figures were estimated using the Employers Pension Provision Survey 2005, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Statistics 2005 and Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2005, as set out in paragraph 4.96 of the regulatory impact assessment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how the estimate that seven million people are under-saving referred to on page 18 of the White Paper, Personal Accounts: a new way to save, was reached; and what account was taken of the estimates made by the Pensions Commission in making that estimate. (113594)

Details on how the DWP’s estimate of seven million undersavers was derived were published in annex A to the White Paper, Security in retirement: towards a new pension system, in May 2006. The DWP estimates are based on a new data source, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), which was not available to the Pensions Commission, but the same benchmark replacement rates. ELSA collects information on pension wealth accrued to date, and is the best data source available at present.

The annex also outlines two major reasons for differences between the two estimates. The DWP estimate is based on household level data, while the Pensions Commission’s figures are based on individual level data. (This means that an individual with a low pension themselves but whose spouse has enough for both would be counted by the Pensions Commission as an undersaver but not in the DWP’s estimates.) The Pensions Commission looked just at pension wealth, while the DWP estimates include other financial assets, non-owner occupied housing wealth and business assets.

Estimates of the current level of undersaving for retirement are difficult to construct due to: difficulties identifying appropriate saving targets; uncertainties about which kinds of wealth and asset to take into account; difficulties projecting individuals’ future saving and working patterns, particularly around choice of retirement age; and reliance on a range of other uncertain assumptions, including the impact of future macro-economic developments. Consequently such estimates should be treated cautiously.

Constitutional Affairs

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much was spent by her Department on buying, operating and supporting (a) all commercial software products and (b) software products produced by Microsoft was in each of the last three years. (112604)

IT services within my Department are outsourced to external suppliers and commercial software products are provided as part of these services. The cost of software products is included within the service charges and cannot be identified separately. The Department does have an Enterprise Agreement Licence with Oracle and the costs over the last three years have been:

Costs over the last three years

2003-04 (£000)

912

2004-05 (£ million

3.65

2005-06 (£ million)

1.76

Prior to 2006-07, Microsoft products were licensed under the outsourced agreements and costs cannot be identified separately. However, the Department has now joined an Enterprise Licence Agreement under the over arching Home Office Microsoft Agreement (HOMA). The annual cost for 2006-07 is £2.691 million.

Elections: Scotland

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what estimate she has made of the potential liability arising from legal action taken by prisoners not allowed to vote in the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2007. (117889)

My Department has not made any estimate of potential liability arising from legal action taken by prisoners who cannot vote in the 2007 Scottish parliamentary elections.

However, no damages have previously been awarded to any prisoner on the basis that they are unable to vote in UK elections, and the recent judgment of the Scottish courts does not affect the Government's position on this issue, following the decision in October 2005 of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the Hirst case.

Electoral Commission

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many different performance indicators the Electoral Commission will require local authorities to provide each year; and whether these are to be integrated into the Best Value Performance Indicator regime. (117657)

I have agreed to reply as the question relates to the work of the Electoral Commission.

The Commission informs me that it is currently developing performance indicators relating to electoral administration and registration. The number of performance indicators will not be finalised until the Commission has undertaken rigorous consultation and piloting. The Commission is in discussion with the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Audit Commission about the integration of performance standards into the Best Value Performance Indicator regime.

Electoral Registration

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs which local authorities (a) used and (b) did not use doorstep canvassers to compile the 2007 electoral register. (112096)

This information is not held centrally. Section 9 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 placed a new duty on electoral registration officers to take all necessary steps to maintain the electoral register, which includes making on one or more occasions house to house inquiries. Section 67 of the Act requires the Electoral Commission to set and monitor performance standards for electoral services and this will help to provide more information about activity in this area in the future.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will assess the merits of ring fencing funds allocated to local government for registration of voters. (112098)

Provision for the registration of voters is provided through the local authority formula grant, which is not ring-fenced. Spending decisions are made by local authorities, taking into account their statutory responsibilities and local needs. Under the Electoral Administration Act, the Electoral Commission has the power to require financial information from authorities that will show the level of funding. This, coupled with the introduction of performance indicators for registration, will increase transparency in this area.

£19.9 million has been transferred to English local authorities in 2006-07 and £1.2 million will be transferred to the National Assembly for Wales in 2006-07, to cover the new burdens arising from the Electoral Administration Act 2006; notably the new duty on electoral registration officers to maximise the register. The same level of funding will be transferred in 2007-08.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much of the funding allocated to local authorities for registration for elections taking place in 2006-07 has been spent on registration. (117523)

Funding for registration activities is included in the local authority formula grant issued by central Government. Once these funds are allocated, the decision on how they are utilised is a matter for the local authorities concerned.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Supermarkets

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the environmental impact of supermarkets and the food industry. (117823)

The food industry has a major environmental impact, accounting for 14 per cent. of energy consumption by UK business and 7 million tonnes of carbon a year. I am pleased that the sector is responding positively to the Food Industry Sustainability Strategy, published last year.

Single Payment Scheme

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farmers have received incorrect payments under the 2005 single payment scheme. (117824)

Detailed analysis of all the payments made under the 2005 single payment scheme is not yet available. Once the remaining 2005 scheme payments have been completed, a decision will be taken on the level of detail that will be published.

Government's Waste Management Strategy

15. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on incineration in the Government’s waste management strategy. (117825)

Recovering energy from burning waste is significantly better in environmental terms than landfill. The UK still has high levels of landfill and low levels of recovering energy from waste. We want to see more energy recovery and less landfill.

Climate Change

16. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Indian Government on tackling climate change. (117826)

I visited New Delhi and Mumbai from 21 to 24 January 2007 where I met with Minister Raja, Minister of Environment and Forests. We discussed how to strengthen our bilateral co-operation on climate change and issues relating to future climate change agreements.

21. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in international negotiations for action on climate change after 2012; and if he will make a statement. (117833)

In December 2005, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal, negotiations started on new commitments for developed countries after 2012. The momentum initiated in Montreal was continued at Nairobi in November 2006, but 2007 will be an important year and at the December Bali Climate Change Conference we will be pressing for a decision that a post-2012 framework should be agreed by 2009 at the latest.

Low Energy Light Bulbs

17. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage the use of low energy light bulbs; and if he will make a statement. (117828)

We are taking a number of steps to encourage more use of energy efficient bulbs, including energy labelling, and promoting the most energy efficient bulbs. The Energy Efficiency Commitment and Warm Front Scheme are reducing the price consumers pay.

Since 2000 the number of low energy light bulbs used in UK homes has more than trebled.

Air Quality

18. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of air quality since 1997. (117829)

Overall, air quality has improved since 1997 and is now cleaner than at any time since before the industrial revolution.

However, we are concerned about ozone and particulates which remain a problem in some locations because of transport emissions. We are also concerned about the impact of climate change on air quality.

MSC Napoli

19. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the environmental impact on Lyme Bay on the beaching of the MSC Napoli. (117831)

Monitoring by scientists at Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, the Environment Agency and Natural England has not shown any adverse effects, although seabirds have been affected by some leaking oil.

Environmental Liability Directive

20. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the application of the polluter pays principle in the EU Environmental Liability Directive to the release of genetically modified organisms. (117832)

My right hon. Friend has regular discussions with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on a range of issues. The Government are currently consulting on its policy on implementation of the directive, which will strengthen application of the polluter pays principle in respect of a number of forms of environmental damage including potentially from activities related to the release of GMOs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the transposition of the EC Environmental Liability on the capacity of environmental protection to deliver overall benefit. (111506)

The Environmental Liability Directive is concerned with the prevention and remedying of narrowly-defined environmental damage. A consultation seeking views on options for implementing the Environmental Liability Directive was launched in December 2006. It includes a partial Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) which estimates, on the best information available, the cost benefits associated with the different options.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that the transposition of the EC Environmental Liability Directive conforms with the Government's policy that the polluter should pay. (111530)

The Environmental Liability Directive is founded on the “polluter pays” principle. The Government wishes to encourage a change in behaviours so as to bring about reductions in the risks of serious environmental damage occurring and more effective application of the “polluter pay” principle where such damage does occur. The options in the consultation document launched in December, including the Government’s preference, would reinforce the “polluter pays” principle.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

22. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the contribution of the transportation of food and food-related products to carbon dioxide emissions in the UK. (117834)

The transportation of food and food-related products and its contribution to carbon dioxide emissions in the UK was assessed in a research report commissioned by DEFRA and published in July 2005. The figures for carbon dioxide emissions due to food transportation in the UK are updated annually. Both the report and the update in 2006 are on DEFRA’s website.

Access Management Grant Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which access authorities have received funding via the Access Management Grant Scheme since 2004; and how much each received in each year. (117594)

Details of payments made under the Access Management Grant Scheme in 2004-05 and 2005-06, as well as commitments made for 2006-07, are as follows:

Payments made 2004-05

£

Bath and north-east Somerset

2,475.00

Blackburn with Darwen

5,935.63

Bradford

18,397.00

Brighton and Hove

3,997.50

Buckinghamshire

9,262.42

Calderdale

58,543.50

Cornwall

37,501.24

Cumbria

112,872.71

Devon

6,884.00

Dorset

28,938.03

Durham

80,299.74

East Riding of Yorkshire

7,408.53

East Sussex

42,270.54

Hampshire

10,566.00

Herefordshire

5,250.00

Kent

20,963.00

Kirklees

3,580.50

Lancashire

93,228.27

Lincolnshire

8,453.85

North Yorkshire

76,514.72

Northumberland

53,888.18

Oldham

2,982.50

Poole

924.31

Rochdale

1,406.00

Somerset

6,532.44

South Gloucestershire

3,900.00

Suffolk

18,750.00

West Sussex

125,708.15

Wiltshire

5,786.25

Total

853,220.01

Payments made 2005-06

£

Barnsley

11,815.30

Bath and north-east Somerset

10,891.00

Bedfordshire

25,824.00

Bolton

14,691.00

Bradford

3,051.00

Brighton and Hove

2,919.56

Buckinghamshire

30,159.66

Calderdale

53,768.25

Cambridgeshire

10,514.63

Cornwall

50,756.00

Cumbria

228,761.94

Derbyshire

2,110.50

Devon

64,082.00

Doncaster

12,845.00

Dorset

351,490.16

Durham

91,025.80

East Riding of Yorkshire

34,714.15

Essex

10,173.00

Gloucester

40,215.00

Hampshire

24,726.00

Herefordshire

2,831.00

Hertfordshire

9,660.00

Kent

25,573.50

Kirklees

24,037.05

Lancashire

70,751.75

Leeds

6,108.00

Leicestershire

34,264.80

Lincolnshire

6,786.75

Norfolk

400.00

North Lincolnshire

807.00

North Yorkshire

39,026.25

Northumberland

96,894.63

Nottinghamshire

2,190.00

Oldham

6,836.25

Oxfordshire

34,012.50

Poole

7,110.00

Rochdale

3,451.95

Shropshire

68,044.59

Somerset

21,745.50

South Gloucestershire

12,971.00

Staffordshire

12,331.50

Suffolk

120,769.90

South Downs (east Sussex)

134,721.00

Wakefield

5,248.41

West Berkshire

2,049.75

West Sussex

7,842.05

Wiltshire

11,060.00

Worcestershire

24,792.11

Total

1,866,851.19

Grant commitments made 2006-07

£

Barnsley

1,268.01

Bracknell Forest

758.00

Cornwall

4,712.00

Doncaster

23,557.50

Dorset

159,900.00

Durham

4,604.50

Lancashire

59,880.00

Leicestershire

5,000.00

Norfolk

44,076.33

North Yorkshire

33,221.00

Suffolk

6,000.00

Shropshire

27,415.00

Warwickshire

1,950.00

Total

372,342.34

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what response was made by his Department to the review of the Access Management Grant Scheme submitted to his Department by the Countryside Agency in 2006. (117595)

The Department’s response congratulated the Countryside Agency on the success of the scheme and acknowledged that the report made a good case for extending the scheme for a further year and for giving it some permanence in the longer term. It explained that future funding for the scheme would need to be provided for from Natural England’s overall budget. As such, it must be for Natural England to consider the priority that should be allocated to this work as part of the corporate planning process.

Beef Market

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the differential in market beef prices in the north of England compared to the south. (111432)

Defra do not monitor market beef prices split by the north and south of England and we have not made any such assessment.

Bio-diversity Action Plans

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to promote bio-diversity action plans; and how he plans to measure the success of their implementation. (117132)

In line with the Labour Party manifesto commitment, DEFRA published revised targets for priority habitats and species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) in November 2006. They are available from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan website. The targets are shared among members of the UK Biodiversity Partnership. In England, we have built the new targets into our refreshed biodiversity strategy: ‘Working with the grain of nature—taking it forward’, also published in November.

Reporting on the UK BAP is on a three year cycle. The results of the most recent reporting round were published in June 2006. Overall, the proportion of species and habitats showing a positive trend is greater than the proportion for which the decline is continuing or accelerating. However, trends for some species and habitats continue to be a cause for concern.

Bullfighting

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much EU financial support was available to farmers breeding bulls for bullfighting in each of the last five years; how much such support is available to farmers in 2007; and if he will make a statement. (111990)

[holding answer 26 January 2007]: Bulls kept for bullfighting are eligible for common agricultural policy (CAP) subsidy payments under the beef special premium scheme (BSPS).

The 2003 CAP reform agreement required member states to introduce the decoupled single payment scheme between 2005 and 2007. However, the agreement also provided the option to forgo some of the single payment scheme funds and use them to retain some of the old coupled premium schemes.

The three countries most likely to make payments to bulls kept for bullfighting (Spain, Portugal and France) did not take up the option to retain the BSPS and it therefore closed in those countries at the end of 2005. Only Denmark, Finland and Sweden have retained the BSPS.

Payments under the BSPS are made to eligible bulls and steers and are subject to regional ceilings in each member state. Payments are worth €210 per eligible bull and €150 per steer (on which two payments can be made). The regional ceilings applied to Spain, France and Portugal for the five years before the scheme’s closure were:

Country

Spain

Portugal

France

2001

713,999

175,075

1,754,732

2002

643,525

160,720

1,734,779

2003

643,525

160,720

1,734,779

2004

713,999

175,075

1,754,732

2005

713,999

175,075

1,754,732

If claims exceeded these ceilings then payments were scaled back to control expenditure. It is not possible, however, to identify which payments within these totals were made to bulls kept for bullfighting.

There is also an ongoing proposal, raised within discussions of the EU budget, to exclude bulls kept for bullfighting from the BSPS. The UK Government have, and will continue to, support this proposal.

In view of the above there is unlikely to be any direct support for bulls kept for bullfighting in 2007.

Committees: Ministerial Attendance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what occasions (a) he and (b) departmental Ministers have been requested to appear before committees of (i) devolved institutions and (ii) the European Parliament since 2004; on what topic in each case; how many and what proportion of such requests were accepted; and if he will make a statement. (111537)

Ministers in the Department regularly attend committees of (i) the devolved institutions and (ii) the European Parliament in the course of official business. It is not possible to provide the more detailed information requested without incurring disproportionate cost.

Common Agricultural Policy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on progress with the implementation of CAP reform in member states. (111992)

[holding answer 26 January 2007]: Member states have now largely completed the implementation of the 2003 and 2004 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms. An overview of the position with respect to direct payments is available on the DEFRA website. I shall arrange for copies of it to be placed in the House Libraries.

It is understood that subsequent reforms of the EU sugar and banana regimes are being implemented across the EU in accordance with the relevant legal requirements.

Countryside and Rights of Way Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether funding will be provided to access authorities for ongoing costs in relation to Part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 in 2008-09; (117592)

(2) what funding his Department has provided for (a) the implementation and (b) ongoing work in relation to Part I of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to each access authority in each year since 2004.

National Park authorities are access authorities in National Parks. In relation to any other land, the access authority is the local highway authority in whose area the land is situated.

The Department's funding to National Parks for the preparation and implementation of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 Act (Parts I and V) is as follows:

£

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Broads

25,000

25,000

Dartmoor

100,000

350,000

350,000

Exmoor

100,000

350,000

350,000

Lake District

400,000

450,000

450,000

New Forest

150,000

Northumberland

150,000

350,000

350,000

North York moors

300,000

450,000

450,000

Peak District

500,000

450,000

450,000

Yorkshire Dales

300,000

450,000

450,000

Total

1,850,000

2,875,000

3,025,000

Dairy Farming

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the balance of trade was in the dairy sector in the last four years; what steps he is taking to improve it; and what assessment he has made of (a) the cost of milk production and (b) the producer price paid to farmers. (111435)

Over the period January to November 2006 the value of dairy products imported to the UK was £1.6 million and the value of dairy products exported from the UK was £0.6 million, a balance of -£1.0 million.

The Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food identifies how the Government will work with the whole of the food chain to secure a sustainable future for English farming and food industries, as viable industries contributing to a better environment and healthy and prosperous communities.

The most recent published assessment of the cost of milk production was the Defra commissioned study into the economics of milk production in England and Wales in 2002-03 (published by the University of Manchester). Data on farm incomes, including dairy farms, are collected in the Farm Business Survey. The most recent data from the survey covers the year ended February 2006. Defra will be publishing incomes at UK level, by farm type, including dairy farms, on 31 January 2007. This will include forecast incomes for the year ending February 2007.

Defra collects and publishes milk producer prices on a monthly basis. Average UK prices for 2003 to November 2006 are shown in table 2.

Table 1: Value of UK trade in dairy products

£000

2003

2004

2005

January- November 2006

Imports

Butter

281,102

278,869

309,478

298,615

Buttermilk, Whey and Other Dairy Products

69,040

86,398

116,937

126,411

Cheese

743,898

810,598

853,824

801,283

Condensed Milk

17,770

22,913

33,221

37,312

Cream

16,223

19,908

19,422

17,808

Ice Cream

129,736

142,482

127,658

128,302

Whole and Skimmed Milk

13,641

13,886

16,773

23,836

Whole and Skimmed Milk Powder

44,975

52,170

65,629

58,942

Yoghurt

137,888

139,889

126,673

110,486

Total Dairy Imports

1,454,273

1,567,114

1,669,617

1 ,602,995

Exports

Butter

74,952

59,235

73,216

55,828

Buttermilk, Whey and Other Dairy Products

19,777

46,434

34,330

39,888

Cheese

179,415

201,560

219,476

204,570

Condensed Milk

15,046

10,756

6,470

7,530

Cream

119,558

81,797

72,248

72,616

Ice Cream

47,680

50,464

46,765

48,346

Whole and Skimmed Milk

48,130

58,404

100,503

90,575

Whole and Skimmed Milk Powder

212,035

219,429

115,411

97,929

Yoghurt

14,831

21,359

24,456

23,421

Total Dairy Exports

731,424

749,438

692,874

640,702

Balance of trade

Butter

-206,150

-219,634

-236,262

-242,788

Buttermilk, Whey and Other Dairy Products

-49,264

-39,964

-82,608

-86,523

Cheese

-564,483

-609,038

-634,348

-596,713

Condensed Milk

-2,724

-12,158

-26,751

-29,782

Cream

103,335

61 ,889

52,826

54,808

Ice Cream

-82,056

-92,018

-80,894

-79,956

Whole and Skimmed Milk

34,489

44,518

83,729

66,738

Whole and Skimmed Milk Powder

167,060

167,259

49,781

38,987

Yoghurt

-123,057

-118,531

-102,217

-87,065

Total Dairy Balance of Trade

-722,849

-817,676

-976,743

-962,293

Note:

2006 data are subject to amendments

Source:

HM Revenue and Customs

Data prepared by Trade statistics, Agricultural Statistics and Analysis Division, DEFRA

Table 2: UK Average milk producer prices

Average price (pence per litre)

2003

18.03

2004

18.47

2005

18.47

January to November 2006

17.90

Departmental Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to reduce carbon emissions from his Department. (110151)

Working with the Carbon Trust, DEFRA has developed a systematic approach to carbon management and is actively engaged in identifying carbon reduction opportunities through operational improvements, reduced energy costs, staff awareness and monitoring initiatives.

A system for benchmarking, monitoring and analysing utility usage across the estate has been created which highlights buildings where substantial energy savings can be made. Focusing on these sites has helped identify key projects which will return major savings on energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Among other smaller projects, three major ‘voltage optimisation’ projects which could save the department a potential 900 tonnes of carbon per year (8 per cent. of DEFRA’s total annual carbon emissions) are currently being assessed with a view to implement before the end of the financial year. The success of these pilot projects will influence the roll out of further initiatives in the new financial year.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of expenditure by his Department in each Government Office region in the most recent year for which figures are available. (116717)

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 by Government Department for 2004-05 (latest available data) is contained within table 7.19 of the 2006 edition of PESA.

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 Hospitality

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department’s expenditure was on hospitality and entertainment in 2005-06; and what his predecessor Department’s expenditure was on hospitality and entertainment in 1996-97. (114041)

In the 2005-06 fiscal year, the Department spent £626,000 on hospitality and entertainment. There are no figures provided for DEFRA’s predecessor Departments in 1996-97 as this information could be provided only by incurring disproportionate cost. The Prime Minister’s answer to the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane) of 9 February 1998, Official Report, column 17W, provides the global figure for Government expenditure on ministerial entertaining and hospitality for official purposes in 1996-97.

All expenditure of official entertainment is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in Government Accounting.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been (a) spent on and (b) allocated to bonuses for staff in his Department in financial years (i) 2006-07, (ii) 2005-06 and (iii) 2004-05; what the highest and lowest bonus paid in each year was; and what percentage of the total sum in each year was related to staff who have responsibility for departmental matters (A) in the North West, (B) in the Eddisbury constituency and (C) for single farm payments. (110266)

Payment of non-consolidated performance bonuses reflects the principle across the civil service of rewarding performance increasingly through one-off payments rather than increases to basic salary.

Core-DEFRA (covering State Veterinary Service, Pesticides Safety Directorate, Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Marine Fisheries Agency and Government Decontamination Service) operates two different performance bonus systems: in-year high performance bonuses, paid to individuals or teams below the Senior Civil Service (SCS) in recognition of one-off achievement during the year; and annual high performance bonuses, paid to both SCS and non-SCS staff for high performance sustained throughout the whole year.

For the period November 2004 to March 2005, in year-performance bonuses totalling £179,879 were awarded to staff. Information on annual performance and in-year performance bonuses before this date is available only at disproportionate cost as a result of system changes.

For the periods April 2005 to March 2006 and April 2006 to date, information on annual and in-year performance bonuses awarded was as follows:

£

Period

Total bonuses paid

Highest bonus

Lowest bonus

April 2005 to March 2006

3,364,032

34,040

50

April to November 2006

2,933,611

15,000

75

A little over 1 per cent. of paybill is allocated annually for performance related bonuses.

Information is not held centrally on the geographical areas of responsibility of staff awarded bonuses. Staff with responsibility for single farm payments work in RPA who operate separate pay and bonus arrangements.

Departmental Websites

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which websites are being closed by his Department as a result of the recent departmental review as referred to by the Chief Information Officer’s Transformational Government Annual Report 2006; how much use was made by visitors of each website being closed; and how much was spent on maintaining each in the last two years. (116916)

[holding answer 19 January 2007]: Defra fully supports the Transformational Government strategy and is taking a leading role in working with the Chief Information Officer’s Delivery Transformation Group to deliver website rationalisation. Defra is taking a pragmatic approach to this complex process and has begun to plan its delivery in a number of phases. The initial phase will review content and services of almost 50 websites for convergence on Directgov and Business Link, as recommended in the Transformational Government implementation plan. The focus will be on providing online services that meet the needs of our customers and no sites will be closed precipitously.

Some of the information requested is not readily available but I will write with a list of websites to be reviewed during the first phase, and available visitor and cost data as soon as possible.

Energy Efficiency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he expects the consultation on the third phase of the Energy Efficiency Commitment 2008-11 in spring 2007 to include a section on smart metering with two way communications systems. (112197)

The statutory consultation on the third phase of the Energy Efficiency Commitment 2008-11 (EEC3) will cover a range of measures that energy suppliers may promote in order to achieve carbon savings in the household sector.

The Government are currently consulting on energy billing and metering to take forward the measures in last year’s Energy Review and the transposition of the European Community (EC) Directive on Energy End Use Efficiency and Energy Services. This will take account of possible developments under EEC3.

Engagements

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what dates Ministers in his Department and its predecessors made official visits to the London boroughs of (a) Tower Hamlets, (b) Newham and (c) Waltham Forest in each year since 1997. (115739)