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Written Answers

Volume 458: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 14 March 2007

Leader of the House

House of Lords: Reform

To ask the Leader of the House what options he has considered for the determination of salaries to elected numbers of a reformed House of Lords. (126876)

Paragraph 9.11 of the White Paper said that the recommendations 119-124 and recommendation 126 of the Wakeham Royal Commission would be likely to be “guiding principles” for any changes to the remuneration of Members of the Lords.

Paragraph 10.35 of the White Paper explains that once there are firmer decisions on composition on whether Members of a reformed House should be salaried or receive expenses, the Government will discuss proposals with the other parties and then seek the advice of the Senior Salaries Review Body. Following the votes in the House of Lords on 14 March 2007 on composition of a reformed House, I propose to reconvene the cross-party group, which I chair, to assess the outcome of the debates in both Houses.

Legislation: Reviews

To ask the Leader of the House (1) if he will make it Government policy for the proposed departmental reviews of legislation to be published; (126949)

(2) if he will bring forward proposals to establish a new Parliamentary Joint Committee on post-legislative scrutiny;

(3) when he expects to publish the Government’s response to the Law Commission’s report on post-legislative scrutiny.

Recommendations for the establishment of a joint committee on post-legislative scrutiny, and for greater commitment from Government Departments to post-enactment reviews of legislation, are contained in the Law Commission report on Post-legislative Scrutiny (Cm 6945). These and the other recommendations in the report are under active consideration by the Government. A response to the report will be issued in due course.

Culture, Media and Sport

Film

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will list the names of those invited to her Department’s film summit on 12 March. (126819)

To inform the further development of the joint DCMS/DTI Creative Economy Programme, we are holding a number of industry summits. The issues raised at these events will inform the Green Paper we plan to publish in the summer.

The invitation list for the film summit was drawn up following discussions with the UK Film Council. The invitees are:

Invitee

Title

Vaishali Malhotra

Eros International

Stewart Till

UKFC Board

Josh Berger

Warner Bros

Laura De Castro

MD, Tartan Films Distribution

Pam Engel

Artificial Eye

Sara Frain

Metrodome

Ian George

MD, Twentieth Century Fox

Alex Hamilton

President, Icon Film Distributors

Chris Hedges

Managing Director, UIP

Simon Hewlett

Managing Director, Universal

Francois Ivernel

Managing Director, Pathe Distribution Ltd

Robert Mitchell

Buena Vista

Richard Mapper

Sony

Sam Nichols

Head of Distribution, Momentum Pictures

Danny Perkins

Marketing Director, Optimum Releasing

Andy Whittaker

MD, Dogwoof Pictures

Tristan Woods-Scawen

Film Manager, Contender Entertainment Group

Nigel Green

Joint MD, Entertainment Film Distributors

Lyn Goleby

City Screen

Sandra Hebron

London Film Festival

Ivan Dunleavy

Pinewood Studios

Mark Batey

CEO, Film Distributors’ Association Ltd

Amanda Berry

CEO, BAFTA

Fiona Clarke-Hackston

Director, British Screen Advisory Council

Grace Carley

Managing Director, AIM

Amanda Nevill

Director, British Film Institute

Martin Spence

Acting Assistant General Secretary, BECTU

John Wilkinson

CEO, Cinema Exhibitors Association

Tim Willis

PACT

Jeff Alien

Managing Director, Panavision

Mark Benson

CEO, Moving Picture Company

Michael Elson

Deputy MD, Moving Picture Company

Rebecca Hawkes

Managing Director, Schedule 2

Alex Hope

Managing Director, Double Negative

Matthew Holden

CEO, Double Negative

Steve Morris

Chief Executive, CFC Framestore

Dennis Weinreich

Managing Director, Videosonics

Parminder Vir

Ingenious Media/DCMS Board

John Akromfrah

Smoking Dog Films

Andrea Calderwood

Slate films

Nik Powell

National Film and Television School

Douglas Rae

Ecosse Films

Simon Relph

Skreba

Colin Vaines

Miramax

Graham Broadbent

Blueprint Pictures

Barbara Broccoli

Eon Productions

Jonathan Cavendish

Little Bird

Sally Hibbin

Parallax Films

Andrew MacDonald

DNA Films Ltd

Andy Paterson

Archer Street Ltd

Jeremy Thomas

Recorded Picture Company

David Thompson

BBC Films

Barnaby Thompson

Fragile Films

Peter Watson

MD, Recorded Picture Company

Stephen Woolley

Company of Wolves

Andrew Eaton

Revolution Films (UKFC Board)

Alison Owen

Ruby Films (UKFC Board)

Marc Samuelson

Samuelson Productions (UKFC Board)

Tim Bevan

Producer, Working Title

Duncan Kenworthy

Producer, DMA Films Ltd

Michael Lynton

Chairman/CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Lord David Puttnam

Producer, Enigma Productions

Eric Fellner

Working Title

Cameron McCracken

Pathe Pictures

Jane Barclay

Capitol Films

Michael Kuhn

Qwerty Films

Caroline Norbury

Chief Executive, South West Screen

Debbie Williams

Chief Executive, EM - Media

Adrian Wootton

Chief Executive, Film London

Joy Wong

The Works

Gaynor Davenport

Chief Executive, UKPost and Services

Steve Harris

Federation of Entertainment Unions

Dinah Caine

Skillset

Janine Marmot

Skillset

lan Wall

Film Education

Tessa Ross

Channel 4 Television

Colin Brown

British Film Commissioner, UKFC

Steve Knibbs

COO, Vue Entertainment

Anthony Minghella

Film Director

Rebecca O'Brien

Producer, Sixteen Films

Heather Rabbatts CBE

Chief Executive, Millwall Football Club

Iain Smith

Film Producer

David Sproxton

Producer, Aardman Animations

John Woodward

Chief Executive, UKFC

Sian Brereton

NPL

Jane Wright

Head of Rights, BBC

Isabel Begg

Head of Business, BBC

Andrew Smith

Pinewood Shepperton

Jonathan Olsberg

Olsberg SPI

Paul Trijbits

Ruby Films

Gaming Clubs

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what independent evidence on social impact was requested by the Casino Advisory Panel. (126744)

The primary consideration for the Casino Advisory Panel was to identify areas which would provide the best possible test of social impact.

The panel commissioned one piece of research work to provide background that would assist in the scoping phase of the panel’s work. This is titled “Casinos: Social Impact and Regeneration”, and is available on the panel’s website at:

www.culture.gov.uk/cap

Olympic Games: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which sites other than Woolwich have been considered as the potential venue for shooting events for the London Olympics; and if she will make a statement. (127446)

The Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich was agreed as the venue for the Olympic and Paralympic shooting events in 2012 following feedback from the International Olympic Committee to the London Bid organisers on the original venue portfolio submitted in 2004. The original proposal was for the National Shooting Centre, Bisley, but the decision was taken to move to Woolwich in order to provide a more compact games that allowed athletes to train and compete within 30 minutes travel time of the Village. The Great Britain Target Shooting Federation and International Shooting Federation (ISSF) were involved in the decisions about the venue for games shooting competitions.

Tote

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent representations she has received on the sale of the Tote; and if she will make a statement. (127516)

The Government have received and are considering a bid for the Tote from a consortium of racing interests and the staff and management of the Tote itself. The Government will announce how they intend to proceed in due course.

TV Licence

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether a person who owns a black and white television set and a digital set-top box needs to purchase a colour television licence. (101365)

[holding answer 14 December 2006]: Interpretation of television licence fee regulations is a matter for the BBC as television licensing authority. The Corporation has confirmed its view that, under the current regulations, a colour TV licence is required to install or use a digital set top box to receive television programme services, even if it is used only with a black and white television set The Government accept the Corporation’s legal interpretation on this point.

The Government believe that the option of a black and white television licence should remain available through digital switchover. The licence fee regulations laid before Parliament on 8 March 2007 and due to come into effect on 1 April, will include provisions to ensure that a digital set top box used in conjunction with a television set or monitor that can display images in black and white only can be covered by a black and white TV licence.

VisitBritain: Internet

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost was of developing Eviivo, the online booking system used by the VisitBritain website; and how many bookings were taken through this system in the first year of its operation. (126884)

VisitBritain’s websites do not operate an online booking system.

Through EnglandNet, VisitBritain offers an online referral service. This enables users of VisitBritain’s websites to check availability and pricing of accommodation through existing commercial operators, and then refers them to those operators for completion of bookings.

The technology which powers VisitBritain’s EnglandNet online referral service was built by Agilisys and they continue to provide technical services to the project. Eviivo, an associated company of Agilisys, developed the polling technology used by EnglandNet, which is licensed to VisitBritain through Agilisys.

Including the appropriate apportioned project cost elements, the total expenditure on the development of the EnglandNet online referral service has been estimated at approximately £450,000.

EnglandNet is not measured by the number of bookings. However VisitBritain has monitored referrals. Between April 2006 and the end of January 2007, 10,096 referrals were made to commercial operators, with a potential business value of £2,312,590.

House of Commons Commission

Bicycles: Parking

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2007, Official Report, column 627W, on bicycle parking, which outside security advisers were consulted; and what advice they provided. (126632)

The House of Commons does not reveal the sources of external advice it relies on for security. The advice provided was that allowing visitors to bring bicycles onto the Estate would heighten the security risk to the Parliamentary Estate.

Energy Usage

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to his answer of 30 January 2007, Official Report, column 147W, what percentage of energy used on the parliamentary estate was derived from renewable resources in each year; and what targets there are for the future use of such energy. (120473)

Since 1 October 2003, approximately 10 per cent. of electricity consumed on the parliamentary estate derived from renewable sources. 10 per cent. of the electricity consumed expressed as a percentage of total energy used on the parliamentary estate in each year since 2003 is given as follows.

Percentage

2003-04

1

2004-05

5.0

2005-06

4.8

1Purchase of electricity from renewable sources started during 2003-04

The House has instructed its supplier to provide 100 per cent. of its electricity from renewable sources from 1 April 2007.

International Development

Afghanistan: Opium

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many hectares of poppy crop in Afghanistan have been eradicated since January 2006; how many hectares have been sprayed; what aid has been paid to poppy farmers; which provinces have been covered by spraying; how many farmers have been offered an alternative crop to plant; and how many farmers have begun to plant an alternative crop. (126705)

The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) records that 15,301 hectares of poppy crop was eradicated across Afghanistan in 2006, with 95.8 per cent. of the eradication occurring after January 2006. In 2007, some 7,112 hectares of poppy have been eradicated to date. No Afghan province has been covered by spraying. The Government of Afghanistan (GoA) decided, after wide consultation and internal discussion, against the use of ground-based and aerial spraying on opium poppy crops this year.

No direct aid has been given to opium farmers who have had their fields eradicated as this would be contrary to the GoA policy. The policy of the Afghanistan Government is to target eradication on areas where alternative livelihoods already exist. Therefore only those farmers who have alternatives will experience poppy eradication. In support of the GoA’s National Drug Control Strategy (NCDS), the UK is playing a major role in supporting the development of legal livelihood opportunities in Afghanistan. DFID’s Livelihood Programme is worth £150 million over three years, the majority of which is channelled through three National Priority Programmes which address the multiple constraints that prevent farmers from moving away from poppy cultivation.

DFID’s support for the National Rural Access Programme (NRAP) is helping to build essential infrastructure such as irrigation schemes, roads and bridges. This provides much needed infrastructure for economic development and also construction jobs for Afghans at the same time. DFID gave £18 million in 2005-06 for this purpose. Nearly 9,500 km of roads have been built or repaired, as well as schools, health clinics and water schemes. So far the programme has generated over 15 million days of labour.

DFID’s support for the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) is helping local communities through elected community development councils (CDC’s) identify what development is most needed in their areas and then receive grants to undertake the work. DFID is providing £17 million to support NSP which has established over 16,000 CDCs across Afghanistan and funded over 22,000 projects in the areas of agriculture, education, health, irrigation, power supply, transport and water supply.

DFID support to the Micro-Finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA) is helping Afghans to invest in income-generating activities and increase their savings. DFID is providing £20 million over three years to help give small loans of around £100 to the poor, including farmers, who cannot get credit from banks. So far, over £90 million worth of loans have been given to over 230,000 Afghans including farmers, shopkeepers, tailors and builders.

DFID has established a £3 million Research in Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF) in Afghanistan for applied research into natural resource-based livelihoods. The programme is looking at improved forage and milk production, the introduction of legumes, vegetable crops and saffron, and the medicinal properties of mint as viable alternatives to poppy production for farmers. Mint and saffron are showing early signs of success. The export feasibility of grapes, tomatoes, mushrooms and eggplants is also being examined. This also includes natural products, and post-harvest processing and rural services.

In addition, DFID funds the Development of Sustainable Agriculture Livelihoods Project in the Eastern Hazarajat (SALEH) which provides new and innovative ways for farmers to make a living in Eastern Hazarajat e.g. honey bee keeping and potato farming.

Afghan farmers often make their living through a combination of activities. These may change throughout the year, and include agriculture (crops and livestock); employment (migrant labour); remittances (from family members working away from home); and welfare (for vulnerable groups not able to work). DFID therefore supports a wide range of activities to help farmers move away from poppy cultivation and adopt alternative forms of livelihoods.

Afghanistan: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support the UK gives to the purchase of seed and fertiliser for Afghan farmers; and if he will make a statement. (127066)

In 2005 DFID contributed £3 million towards a USAID Agriculture Inputs Supply Programme worth $25 million. This programme helped poor and vulnerable farmers across all 34 provinces of Afghanistan gain improved access to subsidised agricultural inputs in order to increase their production of legal crops. The programme has distributed 40,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser and nearly 15,000 tonnes of seed (wheat, potato, onion and carrots) to 537,000 farmers in all 34 provinces.

DFID and USAID found the programme could be made sustainable into the longer-term by supporting input supplies and offering farmers access to credit. USAID now has an input supply programme and DFID is a major donor to the Micro-Finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA). This offers small loans to poor people, including farmers, who would otherwise not have access to credit. DFID is providing £20 million to MISFA over a three year period.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much humanitarian aid was successfully delivered to Afghanistan in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (126070)

According to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the following has been contributed to the humanitarian effort in Afghanistan over the last three years.

USD $

2004

162,366,273

2005

79,906,460

2006

153,181,425

DFID’s programme in Afghanistan has gradually shifted from humanitarian assistance in the immediate post-conflict environment (£44 million in 2001) to longer-term, sustainable development support to the Government of Afghanistan. We now focus on three key areas; building effective state institutions; improving economic management and the effectiveness with which the Afghan Government uses aid; and improving the livelihoods of rural people.

This year DFID has is providing £1 million for drought mitigation, to fund NGOs working with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) on water and sanitation projects in the most affected areas. DFID has also provided £30,000 in food aid and other essential items for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Helmand. The UN has estimated that around 2,800 families have been displaced. UK officials are monitoring the situation and we are currently assured that basic needs are being met.

DFID also supports HALO’s de-mining programme in Afghanistan, worth £1.2 million in 2006-07.

Departments: Appeals

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many independent bodies existed to hear appeals on decisions made by his Department and its executive agencies in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many there have been in 2006-07 to date. (121699)

Departments: Complaints

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many complaints were received by his Department and its executive agencies in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many have been received in 2006-07 to date. (121698)

DFID operates five complaints mechanisms, available through its website. The information for each is as follows:

1. The public enquiry point deals with a wide range of enquiries. No data are held on what proportion of these are complaints.

2. Freedom of Information issues: since the Freedom of Information Act came into force in 2005, we received 26 requests for internal reviews in 2005-06 and 12 in 2006-07 to date.

3. Overseas pensions issues: we received no complaints in 2005-06 or 2006-07 to date. Data are unavailable for previous years.

4. Recruitment issues: no data are held on the number of complaints.

5. Procurement issues: no data were held prior to 2005; in 2005-06 there were three complaints and in 2006-07 to date there has been one complaint.

Developing Countries: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate he has made of the number of displaced children in developing countries. (127425)

DFID has not made such an assessment. When assessing humanitarian and development needs, we rely on data from organisations which are best placed to collect and collate them. In this case, the closest figure from available data is from UNICEF, who estimate that there are 20 million children currently displaced by armed conflict or human rights violations.

Iraq: Utilities

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the Iraqi population that has access to (a) safe and stable drinking water and (b) a stable electricity supply. (127154)

The most recent reliable data available for water supplies in Iraq come from the Iraq living conditions survey carried out in 2004 by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation and the United Nations Development Programme.

The 2004 UN survey found that in urban areas, 99 per cent. of households have access to safe drinking water (but for 33 per cent. the supply is unreliable). In rural areas, 6 per cent. of households have access to safe drinking water (but for 22 per cent. the supply is unreliable). Since 2003, donors (including DFID) have worked hard to restore supplies. As a result, the US Iraq Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO) estimates that an additional 5.4 million Iraqis have improved access to drinking water.

IRMO estimate that electricity generation since July 2006 has fluctuated between 3,000 megawatts (MW) and 5,350 MW. The average for 2006 was 4,400 MW, just above the pre-2003 level. During the week of 1-7 March, electricity availability averaged just under six hours per day in Baghdad, 12 hours in Basra and 16 hours in Nasiriyah.

Although 5,000 MW have been added to the national grid since 2003, electricity generation in Iraq is not meeting demand. This is due to several reasons: old and dilapidated infrastructure; a result of years of under-investment and mismanagement; shortage of fuel supplies; and sabotage of key facilities. Furthermore, demand has increased considerably to over 9,000 MW, with the influx of electrical goods such as refrigerators, televisions and air conditioning units.

Mauritania: Food Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of reports from the United Nations World Food Programme on the supply of food to children in Mauritania; and whether the Government plans to contribute food to Mauritania. (126684)

In 2006-07, DFID has contributed £250,000 through the World Food Programme (WFP) to support feeding activities for 50,000 malnourished children and vulnerable mothers in the badly affected agro-pastoral zone in the south east of the country.

DFID is continuing to monitor the humanitarian situation in Mauritania and the other countries in the Sahel closely, and will maintain its flexible humanitarian support to short-term emergency, recovery and mitigation needs over the coming year. Simultaneously, DFID is providing support to tackle longer-term nutritional vulnerability in the region, as well as exploring longer-term options for improving food security. We have recently agreed to provide £1.5 million through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) over the next three years to improve infant feeding practices in six Sahelian countries; Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Benin.

North Korea: Overseas Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the announcement by the North Korean Government of its decision to abandon its nuclear weapons programme has had an effect on the level of UK humanitarian assistance in North Korea. (127338)

There is no change to the UK policy on humanitarian assistance to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). We have never provided such aid bilaterally. We contribute as normal to the current EU programme of humanitarian assistance. Since 1995, around €118 million has been allocated to assist the most vulnerable groups of the population. Humanitarian assistance was provided to cover the immediate needs of flood-affected populations, to address food/nutritional problems, improve access to water as well as health care. The programme is expected to end in May 2008.

Sudan: Internally Displaced Persons

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate he has made of the number of internally displaced persons in Sudan. (122945)

In total, there are approximately four million people displaced in Sudan. Of these, over two million are in Darfur and a further two million who remain displaced as a result of the previous North-South conflict. Around 500,000 of these are expected to return to South Sudan and the Three Areas (former front-line areas) in 2007. They will join an estimated one million people who have already returned to the South since January 2004. There are also around 70,000 people displaced in the East as a result of the now-ended conflict there.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate his Department has made of the numbers of internally-displaced people in Darfur. (127150)

The UN estimates that there are currently over two million people displaced in Darfur. However, the exact number of displaced people is difficult to ascertain as many parts of Darfur are highly insecure and inaccessible. This is further compounded as some displaced people have been forced to move for a second or even a third time.

USA: Corruption

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the government of the United States on tackling corruption. (126930)

DFID staff meet regularly with their counterparts from the USA. The key contact is with staff from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) but there are also frequent meetings with staff from the United States Department of Justice and State Department.

At Head Office level, in addition to one-to-one discussions, DFID staff and American staff work closely on the Anti-Corruption Task Team of the OECD Development Assistance Committee and on the expert groups to advise on the implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption.

At a country level DFID and USAID work closely together on donor working groups on corruption and governance in countries such as Zambia and Yemen.

Defence

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the profit-sharing scheme between HM Treasury and Annington Homes for sales of former Ministry of Defence housing and land includes provisions to take account of increases in the value of land due to (a) planning zone changes and (b) private development. (121133)

The Profit Share Agreement with Annington Homes Ltd (AHL) does not define “planning zone changes”. However, the position is that even if AHL has not disposed of land by 2011, should planning permission has been granted on land, it will be assumed to have been sold and the market value will be established on that basis at the time.

There are no provisions relating specifically to private development, but any increase in the value of the land (for whatever reason) will be directly passed to the Ministry of Defence.

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to change the future rapid effect system programme; and if he will make a statement. (124987)

The Department reviewed the future rapid effect system (FRES) programme in 2006 to take account of our experience on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the light of recent developments in vehicle technology and protection systems. This review aimed to ensure we deliver the best possible vehicles able to meet the operational needs of the British Army through life.

The review also covered aspects of the procurement strategy, highlighting the need for an open systems architecture and the vital importance of UK residence for intellectual property underpinning the FRES systems. This point was praised by the House of Commons Defence Committee in their report entitled ‘The Army's requirement for armoured fighting vehicles: the FRES programme' published on 21 February 2007.

This review was completed last year. The procurement strategy has now been announced and we are now making rapid progress on the FRES programme with candidate vehicle designs undergoing proving trials this summer and the winning vehicle(s) selected by November 2007 to proceed to the next stage. It is essential to carry out this detailed assessment of the candidate vehicle designs and to drive out programme risk before the major investment decision is taken. Wednesday 14 March

Ballistic Missile Defence: USA

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he was first informed that (a) the US planned to use its Satellite Based Infra Red System (SBIRS) at Fylingdales to provide critical data for national missile defence systems and (b) SBIRS was key to the US’s ability to cue systems that would be used for active missile defence; and if he will make a statement. (126848)

There are no plans to use RAF Fylingdales as part of the Space Based Infra Red System (SBIRS). The role of SBIRS in the US ballistic missile defence system has been well understood by the UK for a number of years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which sites in the UK are being considered for the possible deployment of US missiles for the US Missile Defense system. (126934)

No sites in the UK are presently under consideration as possible locations for a ground based interceptor site.

Clyde Submarine Base: Ambulance Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the reasons are for the change in the extent of ambulance cover at HM Naval Base Clyde; (126082)

(2) what assessment he has made of the effects on health and safety of the change in the extent of ambulance cover at HM Naval Base Clyde; and if he will make a statement.

The Scottish Ambulance Service provides cover at HMNB Clyde, which is currently augmented by full time on-site cover. The provision of ambulance cover at HMNB Clyde was reviewed last year as part of a base initiative to consider how best to reduce costs without affecting outputs. The proposed changes involve a cessation of on-site cover at weekends and Bank holidays. These arrangements are consistent with national and military guidelines, which recommend that an initial response to a serious life threatening incident should be provided within eight minutes.

Courts Martial

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) correspondence and (b) instructions he issued to (i) the army prosecuting authority and (ii) unit commanders following receipt of the Attorney- General's letter on prosecutions of members of the armed forces dated 23 March 2005. (122278)

[holding answer 22 February 2007]: The Attorney-General and the Secretary of State have corresponded about issues relating to military justice.

The army prosecuting authority is an independent prosecuting authority under the general superintendence of the Attorney-General. It would have been inappropriate for there to have been correspondence between the Secretary of State and the APA concerning its responsibilities relating to particular cases referred to it under the Army Act 1955, and there has been none. Nor have any instructions been issued by or on behalf of the Secretary of State to the APA, to unit commanders, or to anyone else with responsibility for the investigation or prosecution of offences.

Defence: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the change in defence spending in (a) real and (b) actual terms was in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (124594)

This information was published in HM Treasury's Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses, CM6811, in May 2006 a copy of which is in the Library of the House and is available at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

Departments: Assets

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which fixed assets his Department sold for more than £50,000 in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06; and what the (i) sale value, (ii) purchaser and (iii) date of sale was of each asset. (120693)

I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave him on 29 January 2007, Official Report, column 27W and 20 February 2007, Official Report, column 620W for information about non-property assets.

I will place in the Library of the House a list of those sales of over £50,000, including the month of sale. I am unable to provide sale values as we are unable to assess the potential commercial interests of the large number of buyers without incurring disproportionate cost. Details of purchasers are not held centrally and could be provided at disproportionate cost only.

Ex-servicemen

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people (a) are eligible for and (b) have applied for the UK armed forces veterans lapel badge in (i) the UK and (ii) Cheadle constituency. (121027)

The Ministry of Defence has insufficient information to make an accurate assessment of the number of people entitled to HM armed forces veterans lapel badge but estimate that the total number is around five million.

Between May 2004 and 17 April 2005 some 82,000 badges were issued but detailed records of applications were not kept. Between 18 April 2005 and 9 February 2007 a further 337,387 applications have been received and 313,099 badges issued.

Information is not held on applicants' addresses by parliamentary constituency and the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. I can state that 237 badges have been sent to individuals giving Cheadle as their address.

Hyper-sonic Mass Technology

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of hyper-sonic mass technology in the Defence Industrial Strategy. (126141)

Hyper-sonic mass technology is identified briefly in section Bl1 of the Defence Industrial Strategy, published December 2005, but further clarification is contained within section B7 of the Defence Technology Strategy, published October 2006. Copies of both strategies are available in the Library of the House.

Iraq: Peace Keeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the design advantages of (a) a flat bottomed vehicle and (b) positioning the driver over a front wheel when considering the protection of British armed forces on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. (127020)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether British troops will be protected from vertically impacting indirect fire when all are accommodated at Basra air base. (127022)

There is currently a substantial level of protection against mortar and rocket fire afforded to troops at Basra air station, and which has already saved lives. The MOD is continuing to invest in further improvements.

Development of appropriate measures (equipment, vehicles and infrastructure) to best protect our troops is a dynamic and constantly evolving process to keep ahead of the threat. Improved countermeasures, tactics and intelligence are continually being developed and the MOD has invested huge amounts (over half a billion pounds across all theatres) in force protection over recent years.

It would be inappropriate to specify in detail much of this work in the interests of operational security.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many requests from Iraqi authorities have been received by British forces to re-intervene in (a) Muthanna and (b) Dhi Qar since the handover of security responsibility to the Iraqis in each of these provinces. (127157)

British Forces have not received any requests from Iraqi authorities to re-intervene in Muthanna or Dhi Qar since the handover of security responsibility to the Iraqis in these provinces.

Land: Contamination

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions have been given by Defence Estates to his Department’s agents Drivers Jonas on the disposal of contaminated sites and interpretation of Treasury advice to obtain best value. (126745)

The disposal instructions given by Defence Estates to its agents will vary from case to case, but generally require the property to be sold with the benefit of relevant marketing material, including an information pack, land quality assessment and planning position statement. In accordance with Treasury and departmental guidelines, the property will normally be sold through open competition, either through a formal tender; or informal tender or auction, unless it is required by another Government Department or public body or there are former owner (Crichel Down) considerations.

Nimrod Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average age is of Nimrod aircraft in the UK fleet. (126590)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 16 October 2006, Official Report, column 985W to the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone).

Peace Keeping Operations: Democratic Republic of Congo

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current establishment level is working with UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and what the future establishment is likely to be. (126967)

[holding answer 13 March 2007]: The UK currently has six military officers working in the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the post of chief of staff in the Eastern division in Kisangani. We have no plans to change our contribution, but would consider any requests to do so, should the UN declare a review of its commitment at some future point.

Red Arrows

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect on (a) recruitment to and (b) morale of the RAF of maintaining the Red Arrows. (127004)

No specific study has been undertaken to assess the effect on recruitment and morale of maintaining the Royal Air Force Acrobatic Team, popularly known as the Red Arrows. That said, many potential recruits mention that one of the motivating factors for their interest in joining the RAF is the Red Arrows.

Warships: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the 28 new ships referred to by the Minister for the armed forces on 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 660, as having joined the fleet since 1997, together with the dates on which each of them (a) was ordered and (b) joined the fleet. (126228)

[holding answer 12 March 2007]: Details of vessels taken into service since 1997 are as follows:

In-service date

Year ordered

Description

1997

1992

Type 23 Frigate, Sutherland

1992

Type 23 Frigate, Grafton

1995

Survey Ship, Scott

1998

1993

Landing Platform Helicopter, Ocean

1995

Sandown Class Single Role Mine Hunter, Penzance, Pembroke

1996

Inshore Patrol Vessel, Tracker, Raider

1999

1992

Vanguard Class Nuclear Submarine, Vengeance

1995

Sandown Class Single Role Mine Hunter, Grimsby

2000

1996

Type 23 Frigate, Kent

1995

Sandown Class Single Role Mine Hunter, Bangor, Ramsey

2001

1996

Type 23 Frigate, Portland

1995

Sandown Class Single Role Mine Hunter, Blyth

2002

1996

Type 23 Frigate, St Albans

1995

Sandown Class Single Role Mine Hunter, Shoreham

2003

1996

Landing Platform Dock, Albion

2001

River Class Patrol Vessel, Tyne, Severn, Mersey

2000

Survey Ship, Echo, Enterprise

1997

Auxiliary, Wave Knight, Wave Ruler

2004

None

2005

1996

Landing Platform Dock, Bulwark

2006

2000

Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary), Mounts Bay, Largs Bay, Cardigan Bay

The total number of vessels that have entered service since 1997 now stands at 29, following the acceptance into service of RFA Cardigan Bay in December 2006.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Avian Influenza: Halton

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who paid the catchers of the H5N1 infected turkeys at Halton; and what (a) briefing and (b) instructions they were given prior to undertaking that task. (126244)

The majority of catchers used at Holton were either employees of, or contracted to, Bernard Matthews. In addition to these individuals, a team of catchers directly contracted to my Department, but working under the supervision of Bernard Matthews were deployed to the site on Sunday 4 February. Their briefing and instructions covered health and safety, biosecurity and animal welfare considerations.

The State Veterinary Service (SVS) supervised the catching and culling operation.

The Health Protection Unit was fully engaged with human health risk assessments for SVS staff, farm workers and those involved in the control operation. As a precautionary measure, those involved in disease control were offered the appropriate preventive treatment with antiviral drugs (oseltamivir), seasonal flu vaccine and avian influenza personnel protective equipment, in line with established protocols.

Bovine Tuberculosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timescale is for the development of a new strategy on bovine tuberculosis. (126284)

The ‘Government strategic framework for the sustainable control of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Great Britain’ was published in March 2005 with the aim of bringing about a sustainable improvement in the control of bTB over a 10 year timeframe. In accordance with the strategic framework, the Government are working in partnership with interested organisations to reduce bTB by tailoring policies to reflect regional variation in disease risk and emerging evidence.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what change there has been in the incidence of TB in the badger population in the last 12 months; (126598)

(2) what assessment he has made of the effect of change in the incidence of TB in the badger population on the incidence of TB in cattle.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 7 March 2007, Official Report columns 2005-06W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment his Department has made of the impact of bovine tuberculosis testing on small scale sales of livestock, including auction marts; (127455)

(2) what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the cost of tuberculosis testing of farms with small numbers of livestock.

The impact of pre-movement testing on livestock markets and small herd owners was considered in a regulatory impact assessment (RIA), which is available on the DEFRA website at:

www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/pdf/prmt-regulatory.pdf

I have arranged for copies of this document to be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Options are available to obviate the need for pre-movement testing. Exempt markets and exempt finishing units provide a route for moving and marketing cattle that normally should be pre-movement tested without being tested. Herd owners can also discuss with their local Animal Health Divisional Office the possibility of utilising their routine surveillance test as pre-movement tests by moving it forward to coincide with the time of year that they make their peak cattle movements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to improve the management of private vets in their undertaking of state-funded tuberculosis testing since the DNV Consulting report on veterinary surgeons within the Meat Hygiene Service. (126237)

Staff from the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) do not carry out TB testing on live cattle. The DNV consulting report, “Review of TB Testing”, considered testing by local veterinary inspectors and staff within the State Veterinary Service (SVS) only.

A CD-rom training package is being prepared for use by all veterinary surgeons undertaking TB testing, which will be rolled out shortly. The instructions for carrying out the test have also been revised. The management of private veterinary surgeons in relation to TB testing is being reviewed as part of the “Official Veterinarian” Reform programme. The aim of this programme is to create a more formal relationship with the practitioner in terms of quality assurance etcetera. A pilot is due to start next month.

EU Emissions Trading Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of allowances under the UK national allocation plan of the EU Emissions Trading scheme he plans to be (a) auctioned, (b) sold without auction and (c) distributed free to account holders in the Emissions Trading Registry under (i) the first phase of the scheme and (ii) the second phase of the scheme; and if he will make a statement. (125286)

The EU Emissions Trading scheme directive requires 95 per cent. of allowances to be allocated for free in Phase I and 90 per cent. of allowances to be allocated for free in Phase II.

The UK’s Phase I National Allocation plan (NAP) states that we intend to sell or auction any surplus allowances remaining in the new entrant reserve (NER). The original NER consisted of 6.3 per cent. of the total allocation and most of this has now been allocated, so the UK has been able to quantify the surplus available for auction or sale. On 23 February, DEFRA announced that we would sell some surplus allowances through brokers. The exact number of allowances to be sold is market sensitive information.

The UK’s Phase II NAP states that we will auction 7 per cent. of allowances plus any surplus NER and allowances from closures. Should the total which makes up this “auctioning pot” reach more than 10 per cent. we will cancel allowances so that we don't exceed the maximum allowed in Phase II. “Auction” encompasses sale, auction and any other routes to market for charge. The route to market will be dependent on market conditions. We expect to hold the first Phase II auction early on in this phase.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls are imposed on imported food from countries where foot and mouth disease has existed in the last five years. (124983)

Before a third country is approved to export to the European Union (EU), the exporting country must have:

(i) an acceptable disease status

(ii) a recognised standard for relevant control authorities

(iii) guarantees with regard to compliance with EU import rules; and

(iv) results of European Commission missions to the country.

All meat imported from third countries must be accompanied by veterinary certification. This must confirm that the meat is derived from animals that have been subjected to a veterinary inspection during the 24 hour period prior to slaughter and showed no signs of foot and mouth disease. The meat must enter the UK at designated border inspection posts, where it is subject to veterinary inspections.

All consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments undergo physical checks by an official veterinary surgeon. These measures ensure import conditions are met and that the products remain in a satisfactory condition during transport.

Meat imported from other member states is not checked at the frontier, but is subject to random checks at the point of destination.

If there is an outbreak of disease likely to present a risk to human or animal health, Community legislation allows us to take appropriate safeguard action, which may include a ban on imports of meat from all, or parts, of that country.

National Coastwatch Institute

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department makes use of information gathered by the National Coastwatch Institute as part of its work assessing coastal shores. (126199)

I have been asked to reply.

The Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency value the contribution the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) make in informing Her Majesty’s Coastguard about any potential or actual incidents relating to safety at sea and on the coast. The Coastguard will take appropriate action in response to reports of people in difficulty received from the NCI.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs does not use information gathered by the NCI as part of its work in assessing coastal shores.

Seas and Oceans: Environment Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to protect the marine environment; and if he will make a statement. (127356)

[holding answer 13 March 2007]: The Government’s vision for the marine environment is for clean healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas. To help deliver this vision we are acting internationally, at European level and at home.

Internationally we have been instrumental in setting a timetable to end destructive high seas bottom trawling. In Europe we have engaged with new initiatives from the Commission and worked hard to see an acceptable political agreement on the Marine Strategy Directive last December. Domestically we have recently announced the licensing of several offshore windfarms which, while ensuring environmental impacts are properly taken into account, together will make a major contribution to provision of renewable energy.

The forthcoming Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, and c.) Regulations 2007 will meet the UK’s obligations to transpose the Birds and Habitats Directive in the offshore marine area. We are also preparing a new Marine Bill. This will put in place a better system for delivering sustainable development of our marine environment, addressing both the use and protection of our marine resources.

Scotland

Departments: Equal Opportunities

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps his Department is taking to implement the gender equality duty due to come into force on 6 April 2007. (120639)

The Scotland Office is part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs and I would refer the hon. Member to the replies given by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harman), on 19 February, Official Report, cols. 291 and 292W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps his Department (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to ensure that it and related bodies are in compliance with the gender equality duty in the Equality Act 2006 by the April 2007 deadline. (120987)

The Scotland Office is part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs and I would refer the hon. Member to the replies given by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harman), on 19 February, Official Report, cols. 291 and 292W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department has (a) a gender strategy and (b) a gender equality action plan in place. (125503)

[holding answer 6 March 2007]: The Scotland Office is part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs and I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies given by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harman), on 19 February, Official Report, cols. 291 and 292W.

Departments: Redunancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent on (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in (i) his Department and (ii) each agency of the Department in each year since 1997-98; how much is planned to be spent for 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (123868)

The Scotland Office was established on 1 July 1999.

The Office does not operate staff exit schemes. All staff in the Scotland Office are on loan from the Department of Constitutional Affairs or from the Scottish Executive and it is these Departments who would have operated any such schemes.

Scottish Parliament: Elections

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the use of powers in the draft Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 2007. (125230)

The Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 2007 is made under sections 12 (1) and 113 of the Scotland Act 1998. The Order makes provision for the conduct of elections for, and the return of members to, the Scottish Parliament.

Both Houses agreed the provisions of the Order in their debates on the Order on 7 March.

Education and Skills

Children: Day Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average cost is of child care for (a) school aged and (b) pre-school children in each region, including London. (122957)

The Department does not hold data on the average weekly costs of child care. However the findings of a recent survey by the Daycare Trust can be found on their website;

www.daycaretrust.org.uk

We are doing more than ever before to make good quality child care and early education accessible and affordable. We are providing substantial help (over £2 million a day) through the tax credit system to over 395,000 lower and middle income families. The free, early education entitlement gives 12.5 hours of free provision per week to all 3 and 4-year-olds.

London has higher child care costs than elsewhere and that is why we are contributing £11 million funding to a £33 million joint Greater London Authority, London Development Agency and DfES three year Childcare Affordability Pilot to provide 10,000 affordable child care places for lower income families.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many child care places are provided by (a) children’s centres, (b) daycare nurseries, (c) neighbourhood nurseries, (d) wraparound schools, (e) childminders and (f) nannies. (127036)

The available information on the number of registered child care places for children under eight is shown in the table.

Table 1 Number 1,2 of registered child care places for children under eight years of age by type of care England—Position at 31 March 2006

Type of care

Number of places

Full day care

565,700

Sessional day care

237,100

Childminders

322,200

Out of school day care

366,500

Creche day care

46,300

1 Rounded to the nearest 100 places.

2 Data Source: Ofsted

These figures include the number of child care places in Neighbourhood Nurseries and Children’s Centres which are not available separately.

Information on the number of child care places provider by nannies is not available. However, the Survey of Parents Demand for Childcare and Early Years Services suggests that 1 per cent. of families used nannies in the last week 2004/05.

The latest figures on registered child care provider and places are available on the following website:

www.ofsted.gov.uk/

Departmental Secondment

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills from which private companies staff in his Department have been seconded. (109570)

The Department currently has a total of 81 secondments, the vast majority of which are from across the wider public sector, for example, from local authorities, education providers and county councils. There are currently two secondments from the private sector, one from the Building Research Establishment and the other from the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the departmental publications printed since 1997 covering (a) gender, (b) disability and (c) minority personnel issues; how many pages each comprised; how many pages of the document each occupied; and if he will place copies of each in the Library. (107200)

Departments: Redundancy

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent on (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in (i) his Department and (ii) each agency of the Department in each year since 1997-98; how much is planned to be spent for 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (123931)

There have been no redundancies in the Department since 1997 and we remain committed to minimise recourse to compulsory redundancies. Nonetheless, there have been voluntary early releases. From the 1997-98 financial year to the end of the 2006-07 financial year the total cost to the Department, arising from the provisions of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, were as follows:

Financial year

Total cost to DfES (£ million)

1997-98

5.15

1998-99

2.73

1999-2000

4.237

2000-01

4.06

2001-02

6.142

2002-03

5.57

2003-04

2.54

2004-05

17.1

2005-06

15.1

2006-07

10.553

For the financial year 2007-08, the Department has committed £2.591 million for voluntary early releases and there is currently nothing further planned.

The Department has had no agencies since 2001 and agency information for the financial years 1997 to 2001 is not held centrally.

Education Maintenance Allowance: West Midlands

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people in (a) Coventry and (b) the West Midlands have received an educational maintenance allowance; and if he will make a statement. (119583)

This is a matter for the Learning and Skills Council, who operate education maintenance allowances (EMA) for the DfES and hold the information about take-up of the scheme. Mark Haysom, the council’s Chief Executive, has written to my hon. Friend with the information requested and a copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.

Letter from Rob Wye, dated 2 March 2007:

I write on behalf of Mark Haysom as he is currently out of the office on annual leave. In response to your Parliamentary Question 119583 that asked; “How many people in (a) Coventry and (b) the West Midlands have received a educational maintenance allowance”

By the end of January 2007, 3,579 young people in the Coventry Local Authority area had applied, enrolled and received one or more Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) payments during the 2006/07 academic year.

By the end of January 2007, 60,688 young people in the West Midlands had applied, enrolled and received one or more EMA payments during the 2006/07 academic year.

English Language

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what modifications he plans to make to his announced changes to English for Speakers of Other Languages provision; and if he will make a statement. (127631)

I have considered the impact of the proposed changes to ESOL funding as part of the Race Equality Impact Assessment (REIA) and I am minded to consider a range of new measures in addition to those the LSC previously announced on 18 October 2007 to reprioritise funding towards the most vulnerable. These are:

Re-instating eligibility for those asylum seekers who are in the UK legally and whose claims are not resolved within six months;

Re-instating eligibility for those asylum seekers who are unable to return or be returned to their country of origin for circumstances beyond their control and who are eligible for Section 4 support;

Prioritising funding at local level through the Learning and Skills Council’s Learner Hardship Support Fund towards support for spouses and individuals who may not have access to their household benefit documentation or their own funds; and

Agreeing with the Learning and Skills Council an approach to evidencing low pay for fee remission purposes which enables flexible use of a raft of evidence, including wider benefits and other evidence.

I have asked officials to work with the Learning and Skills Council and other partners to finalise the detail urgently. I will then make a statement.

Language Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which benefits individuals must receive in order to receive English for Speakers of Other Languages courses free of charge. (110928)

Changes to funding for ESOL include the withdrawal of automatic fee remission from courses, but learners who are in receipt of JobSeekers Allowance and income related benefits, including working tax credit, will still be eligible for full fee remission. This will help us to focus public funding on those learners most in need of public help and support.

Details of the benefits which learners must be receiving to qualify for full fee remission are a matter for the Learning and Skills Council. Mark Haysom, the Chief Executive, has written to my hon. Friend explaining the more detailed arrangements when they have been agreed. A copy of his reply has been placed in the House Library.

Letter from Rob Wye dated 2 March 2007:

I write on behalf of Mark Haysom as he is currently out of the office on annual leave, in response to your question to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, regarding the benefits individuals must receive in order to receive English for Speakers of Other Languages free of charge eligibility for fee remission is set out in the published LSC booklet ‘Funding Guidance for Further Education in 2006-07’ paragraph 127. This states benefits that grant fee remission to learners and includes the following:

unemployed people in receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance

those in receipt of income-based benefits, formerly known as means-tested benefits, the main income-based benefits are council tax benefit, housing benefit, income support and jobseeker's allowance (income-based)

those in receipt of working tax credit with a household income of less than £15,050

those in receipt of pension credits - guarantee credit

the unwaged dependants (as defined by Jobcentre Plus) of those listed above

Learning Disability

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to improve the detection of learning difficulties in children at an early age. (126623)

The Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice gives guidance to early years settings and primary schools on identification, assessment and making provision for all children with SEN, including those with learning difficulties. SEN Coordinators in early years settings and schools facilitate early identification and intervention for children with SEN.

The Government’s SEN strategy “Removing Barriers to Achievement” (2004) set out a long-term programme for improving identification of and provision for children with SEN, including early identification and intervention. The Government’s response to the Education and Skills Committee’s report on SEN renewed this strategy and set out a programme for building capacity in the children’s workforce to identify and meet children’s SEN.

The Government have introduced a number of measures to increase the take up of child care, meaning that more children will have access to the services and facilities required for effective early identification of a child’s needs and intervention. In addition £50 million has been allocated between 2006 and 2008 for the Transformation Fund to improve the quality of the child care workforce. One of the key aims is to provide training to help professionals identify and work with children with additional needs. Early identification and intervention is also central to the new statutory framework for children from birth to five, the Early Years Foundation Stage, which comes into force in September 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what estimate he has made of the percentage of people in England who have undertaken tests for learning difficulties. (126624)

Parents: Intimidation

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what support is available for families in which there are instances of violence towards parents by children; (126673)

(2) what discussions he has had with (a) ministerial colleagues and (b) family support groups about the needs of families that experience instances of violence towards parents by children.

The Department, via the Children, Young People and Families, Strengthening Families and Family Support grant programmes, supports 207 third sector projects that enable an increase in family and relationship support. These projects provide a range of information, advice and guidance which may include support for parents, carers and families experiencing different levels and types of family and relationship difficulties. This support might include, but is not specifically aimed at, families in which there may be instances of violence towards parents by children.

No discussions have been held with ministers or parent support groups on this specific issue.

School Meals

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what advice he received from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in response to the recommendations of the Turning the Tables report produced by the School Meals Review Panel (SMRP); what the scientific basis was of (a) the recommendations of the SMRP report and (b) the FSA advice; and what differences there are between (i) the SMRP recommendations and (ii) the FSA advice and the final standards set out in the Education (Nutritional Standards for School Lunches) Regulations 2000. (125718)

The School Meals Review Panel (SMRP) was established by DfES in May 2005 to advise on standards for school lunches. The SMRP's ‘Turning the Tables - Transforming School Food’ report, published in October 2005, set out their recommendations to Ministers.

The SMRP's report recommended that new combined 'food' and 'nutrient' based standards were needed to bring about effective changes to school lunches and should replace the previous standards introduced in 2001. The report included references to the published scientific studies that were considered during the panel's deliberations. The full report can be viewed at:

http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/documents.asp?DocCatld=1

The first phase of the changes to school lunches began with the introduction, in September, of the Education (Nutritional Standards for School Lunches) (England) Regulations 2006. Schools will need to adhere to final 'food' and 'nutrient' based lunch standards by September 2008 (primary schools) and September 2009 (secondary schools). These will be set out in later regulations that will be laid before Parliament later this year.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is an independent Government Department established to protect the public's health and consumer interests in relation to food. It advises DFES on scientific and technical aspects including food safety, nutrition and diet.

Officials from the FSA acted as observers at SMRP meetings and provided technical advice to DfES on those issues that fell within its remit. This advice was broadly supportive of those aspects of the SMRP's recommendations that were within the FSA's remit and assisted with the formulation of the 2006 Regulations. The FSA's advice was provided in line with its nutrition policy, which is informed by considerations of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and formerly the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy.

The Nutritional Standards for School Lunches introduced in September 2006 implemented all of the SMRP's 'food based' recommendations, with a minor amendment to acceptable drinks:

A reduction to the amount of added sugar in milk based drinks from no more than 10 per cent. to no more than 5 per cent.;

The addition of soya drinks enriched with calcium as an additional option.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the potential effects on (a) nutrition and (b) costs which might arise from use of new-generation steam convection ovens in school kitchens; and what advice he has received from the School Food Trust on this subject. (126062)

The Department for Education and Skills has not made an assessment of the potential nutritional benefits and savings which might arise from the use of new-generation steam convention ovens in schools. The School Food Trust has not provided advice to the Department on this subject.

Transport

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will support a mandatory 10 per cent. minimum target for use of biofuels by 2020 at the EU Spring Summit. (127183)

At the EU spring summit on 8 and 9 March member states, including the UK, agreed to set a minimum target for biofuels of 10 per cent. share of total petrol and diesel consumption to be introduced in a cost-efficient way in Europe by 2020 subject to a number of conditions. In particular, the target should be binding only if production of the biofuels is sustainable, second-generation biofuels become commercially available and the Fuel Quality Directive is amended to allow for adequate levels of blending.

These conditions are broadly consistent with the conditions the Government have proposed in relation to the future development of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) that is due to start in April 2008. A consultation on the long-term future of the RTFO is currently under way. The RTFO will require transport fuel suppliers to ensure that 5 per cent. of their total transport fuel sale comes from biofuels by 2010-11. The Government have made clear that they are committed to increasing the level of the RTFO beyond 5 per cent. provided that similar conditions around sustainability, technical feasibility and costs to consumers are met and that it represents an effective use of our biomass resources.

Motor Vehicles: Registration

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the requirements are for the registration of Class 3 vehicles with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA); what factors were taken into account in deciding those requirements; and what steps have been taken by the DVLA to convey this information to the owners of Class 3 vehicles. (127344)

All mechanically propelled vehicles, including class 3 invalid carriages, used or kept on public roads are required by law to be registered.

DVLA has been liaising with suppliers of class 3 vehicles to inform them about the registration requirements for these vehicles. Special information packs, which provide guidance on how to complete the first registration application forms, are available to suppliers and members of the public. Information about the registration requirements for class 3 vehicles is published at:

www.direct.gov.uk/motoring.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what proportion of Class 3 vehicles have been registered. (127345)

Official statistics indicate that at the end of September 2006, fewer than 100 class 3 vehicles were registered. Since then, it is estimated that the figure now exceeds 1,500.

The proportion of registered vehicles to unregistered vehicles is unknown.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the annual administration cost to his Department is of registering Class 3 vehicles, including the cost of issuing literature and advice. (127346)

The Department does not record separate administration costs for registering class 3 vehicles. The unit cost for processing registration applications for vehicles of that type is £33.61.

DVLA issues advice and literature about the registration and licensing procedures for all types of vehicles generally.

Railways: Swindon

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the status is of the proposal to redouble the line between Kemble and Swindon currently with Network Rail; and if he will make a statement. (125555)

[pursuant to the reply, 6 March 2007, Official Report, c. 1853-54W]: I understand that Network Rail has consulted industry parties on possible changes to the Kemble to Swindon line to improve performance.

Roads: Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total cost is of road schemes approved in (a) the Targeted Programme of Improvements, (b) local transport plans and (c) the Community Infrastructure Fund. (122745)

The total approved cost of road schemes currently in (a) the Targeted Programme of Improvements is £11.897 billion.

The total approved cost of major road schemes in (b) local transport plans is £1.385 billion, of which the Department’s agreed contribution is £1.128 billion. These figures exclude PFI credit funding for schemes that are being taken forward through the private finance initiative or those schemes that have already been completed.

The total cost of road schemes agreed under (c), the Community Infrastructure Fund is £82.2 million.

Trade and Industry

Businesses: Orders and Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the (a) one-off and (b) recurring cost of implementing the Electricity, Safety, Quality and Continuing (Amendment) Regulation 2006 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. (126617)

The information is as follows.

(a) The regulatory impact assessment (RIA) for the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity (Amendment) Regulations 2006 has not estimated any one-off costs to businesses or regulators.

(b) The RIA estimates the net cost to electricity companies at £16,800,000 per annum, reducing to £11,500,000 per annum by year 10 and £4,750,000 per annum by year 25. The RIA has identified audit costs to DTI of around £50,000 (every two or four years) to audit the vegetation management work of duty holders.

Combined Heat and Power

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the planned timetable for grants for small community projects with micro-generation was; what the timetable for that programme is now; and what the reasons are for the change. (124711)

From April 2006 to February 2007, small scale community projects received grant support through the Low Carbon Buildings programme Phase 1. Since February they have been signposted through Phase 2. The change is the result of high demand for grants from householders. In October 2006, we re-allocated funds from within the programme to increase funds available to householders from £6.5 million to £12.7 million. To facilitate that increase in householder funding, we also took the decision to move the majority of small scale community projects to Phase 2 of the Low Carbon Buildings programme from February 2007.

Phase 2, with a £50 million budget announced in Budget 2006, supports projects in the public and not for profit sectors with the specific aim of driving down the cost of microgeneration technologies. Phase 2 has a significant budget, which should continue to provide excellent support to small scale community projects. The plan is to commit the majority of the budget between now and March 2008, however, some projects are likely to complete over the following years.

Small scale community projects can also continue to apply to Phase 1 Stream 2 through to March 2009, although this is a competitive process more geared to larger projects.

Electricity Generation

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of energy was produced by (a) coal fired, (b) gas fired and (c) nuclear power stations in each of the last five years. (126448)

Fuel used in power stations as a percentage of total primary energy demand on a fuel input basis is as follows:

Percentage

Coal

Natural gas

Nuclear stations

2001

12.8

10.9

8.7

2002

12.3

11.7

8.6

2003

13.3

11.4

8.5

2004

12.8

11.9

7.6

2005

13.2

11.6

7.7

Source:

Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2006, tables 1.1-1.3 and table 5.6

Electricity supplied by fuel source as a percentage of total electricity supplied1 on an output basis is as follows:

Percentage

Coal

Natural gas

Nuclear stations

2001

34.1

37.8

22.6

2002

32.0

40.2

21.9

2003

34.7

38.2

21.6

2004

33.2

40.7

19.5

2005

33.6

39.1

19.6

1 Includes pumped storage

Source:

Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2006, table 5.6

Electricity: Meters

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps Ofgem are taking to ensure consistent consumer protection is afforded to electricity token meter users; and if he will make a statement. (126891)

Ofgem, which is responsible for regulating gas and electricity supply, has been in detailed discussion with suppliers about the recalibration of certain prepayment meters. Following these discussions, suppliers gave a series of commitments to improve their performance. Details of these commitments were published in Ofgem’s recent statement of good practice on token prepayment meters and debt (available from Ofgem’s website www.ofgem.gov.uk.) Ofgem will monitor suppliers’ progress and will consider if further consumer protection is required.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps Ofgem have taken to ensure that the token prepayment meter users of all electricity suppliers receive equivalent protection from the practice of backcharging; and if he will make a statement. (127242)

Ofgem, which is responsible for regulating gas and electricity supply, has been in detailed discussion with suppliers about the recalibration of certain prepayment meters. Following these discussions, suppliers gave a series of commitments to improve their performance. The commitments vary from each supplier, depending on current practice and performance. Details of these commitments were published in Ofgem’s recent statement of good practice on token prepayment meters and debt (available from Ofgem’s website www.ofgem.gov.uk). Ofgem will monitor suppliers’ progress and will consider whether further consumer protection is required.

Electronic Equipment: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the proportion of goods subject to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations which are labelled as required by the regulations; and what he estimates to be the cost to producers of meeting such requirements. (127106)

The marking requirements of Regulation 15 and 16 of the WEEE Regulations do not come into force until 1 April 2007. Information on the costs of marking electrical and electronic equipment is contained in the final Regulatory Impact Assessment which accompanied the WEEE Regulations, when they were laid before the House on 12 December 2006.

Energy: Fees and Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with Oftel on the introduction of charges for customers who do not pay their bills by direct debit; and if he will make a statement. (121578)

[holding answer 19 February 2007]: The matter raised is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Hazardous Substances: EC Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many companies manufacturing optoelectronic components responded to the consultation on the exemption of substances from the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive; and if he will make a statement. (127084)

In response to the European Commission’s most recent consultation (closed 10 January 2007), I understand that two companies which manufacture opto-electronic components have responded to the request to exempt “Cadmium in opto-electronic components” from the requirements of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive.

The European Commission has not yet put forward proposals to member states as to whether this exemption request will be granted or not.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the total value is of optoelectronic equipment containing cadmium manufactured in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (127085)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what consideration he has given to exempting equipment used for live performances from the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive; and if he will make a statement. (127086)

Any manufacturer or producer of electrical and electronic equipment that cannot comply with the requirements of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive due to technical or scientific barriers, or where the benefits of RoHS compliant alternatives are likely to be outweighed by a greater negative impact on the environment, health and/or consumer safety, can submit an application for exemption to the European Commission for consideration.

Under Article 5(1) of the Directive, a Technical Adaptation Committee (comprised of all EU member states and chaired by the European Commission), can approve such exemptions requests if they are found to be justified.

As far as I am aware, the European Commission has not received such a broad request exempting the general use of equipment for live performances.

Natural Gas: Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what changes in capacity for importing gas he expects to come onstream in 2007. (126820)

Until this winter Great Britain was able to import gas by pipe-line from Norway and Belgium, and as liquefied natural gas (LNG) through the Isle of Grain LNG import terminal. During the first half of this winter our gas import capacity increased by approximately 131 million cubic metres per day (mcm/d) through a combination of a new interconnector with the Netherlands (Balgzand Bacton Line (BBL)), an expansion of the Belgian interconnector (IUK) and a major new pipeline from Norway (Langeled). The Teesside GasPort LNG import facility, with a capacity of 11 mcm/d, commissioned last month.

Further gas import projects under development include two LNG terminals at Milford Haven. These are expected to commission in late 2007 or early 2008, and will initially have a combined maximum import capacity of 57mcm/d.

Use of gas import facilities will depend on commercial conditions, including the level of wholesale gas prices in Great Britain compared with prices in alternative markets.

Post Office Card Account

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what meetings he and his Department’s officials have had with the banking sector on a successor to the Post Office Card Account. (127233)

Ministers have not met with the banking sector to discuss the replacement card account. The tendering and contractual process for the replacement product are matters for DWP.

Renewable Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what (a) proportion and (b) wattage of total electricity production in the UK was produced from (i) hydropower, (ii) wind, (iii) biomass, (iv) solar and (v) geothermal in (A) 1996, (B) 2001 and (C) 2006; and what his estimate is of the likely production from each of those sources in 2011. (124639)

The latest available information is shown in the following table. Data for 2006 will not be available until the summer of 2007. There is no significant generation using geothermal sources. The contribution of the individual technologies to the projected total generation from renewables is for the market to determine.

1996200120052010 projection

GWh

Percentage

GWh

Percentage

GWh

Percentage

GWh

Percentage

Hydro1

3,392

1.0

4,056

1.1

4,961

1.2

Wind2

488

0.1

965

0.3

2,908

0.7

Solar photovoltaics

2

8

Biofuels3

1,805

0.5

4,526

1.2

9,042

2.3

Total generation from renewables

5,685

1.6

9,549

2.5

16,919

4.2

33,300

8.3

Total UK Electricity generation

350,867

100

384,786

100

400,525

100

400,000

100

1 Excludes electricity from pumped storage stations.

2 In 2005 includes electricity from shoreline wave but this amounts to less than 0.05 GWh.

3 Biofuel sources include landfill gas, sewage sludge digestion, the biodegradable part of municipal solid waste, biomass co-fired with fossil fuels, farm waste digestion, poultry litter combustion, meat and bone combustion, straw and energy crops.

Sources:

Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2006, Table 7.4, and Joint Energy Security of Supply Working Group (JESS) Seventh Report, December 2006

Constitutional Affairs

Criminal Proceedings

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the benefits of allowing relatives of victims to make statements at criminal trials following the recent pilot schemes. (127191)

The Victims' Advocates is being piloted in five crown courts and provides bereaved families in murder and manslaughter cases with the choice to tell the court about the impact of the crime on them. The pilot is being independently evaluated with the final report due in the autumn.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of relatives of victims making statements at criminal trials on juries and their ability to determine the facts of cases. (127192)

The Victims' Advocates pilot scheme provides bereaved relatives of murder and manslaughter victims with the choice to make a statement about the effect of the crime on their family. The statement is delivered to the court after conviction but before sentence and therefore does not impact on the role and decisions of the jury.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when she will reply to the letter of 25 January from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton with regard to Miss V. Howell. (127280)

My Right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor responded to the right hon. Member's letter on 12 March. I apologise for the delay.

Powers of Attorney

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs on how many occasions the Court of Protection intervened to suspend an individual's power of attorney over another in the most recent year for which figures are available. (127312)

Voting Rights

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs under what circumstances a Commonwealth citizen is eligible to vote in the UK. (127032)

Under the Representation of the People Act 1983, qualifying Commonwealth citizens are eligible to vote in UK elections. This means that Commonwealth citizens who have the right of abode or leave to enter or remain in the UK, and are otherwise eligible to vote, may register to vote.

Duchy of Lancaster

Training: Treasury

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster which training courses her Department or its agencies have offered to Treasury Ministers in the last 12 months; and how many such training courses were attended by Treasury Ministers. (127213)

The Government take the issue of ministerial training very seriously. I and other ministerial colleagues are working closely with the National School of Government (NSG) to further develop ministerial training. The NSG is a non-ministerial department and is the centre of excellence for learning and development in support of the strategic business priorities of government. I have asked the National School’s Principal and Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member giving further details on this issue. A copy of his reply will be placed in the Library for the reference of Members.

Northern Ireland

Police: Community Support

6. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in ensuring that people from all communities in Northern Ireland support the police. (126340)

Unprecedented progress has been made following Sinn Fein's historic decision to support policing, the courts, the rule of law and their subsequent steps to deliver this.

Police Community Support Officers

7. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the vetting procedures for the new police community support officers. (126341)

The same stringent vetting standards will apply to PCSOs as to regular officers. The regulations will cover both criminal convictions and business interests identical to those which apply to police officers.

Devolution

8. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made towards the restoration of the devolved Assembly in Northern Ireland. (126342)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Dodds).

Autism Legislation

9. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration has been given to introducing autism legislation applying to Northern Ireland. (126343)

There are no immediate plans to introduce legislation specifically in respect of autism. The Bamford team's review of legislation, which will cover learning disabilities such as autism, is due to report this summer.

Policing

10. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether it is the Government's policy to distinguish between civic and political policing in Northern Ireland. (126344)

The Government's policy is to deliver effective, impartial and accountable policing, supported by the entire community in Northern Ireland.

Bain Review

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the Bain Review of education. (126345)

The Bain Review represents an important step in improving education in Northern Ireland. The report includes recommendations for making better use of resources, improved planning of schools, and improved sharing and collaboration across schools, and highlights the educational, economic and social benefits which changes will bring. The Government have accepted all the report’s recommendations.

Historical Enquiries Team

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will increase the funding and other resources available to the Historical Enquiries Team. (126346)

The Historic Enquires Team project has been allocated £34 million over six years, this is a significant sum. Estimated expenditure to 31 March 2007 is £10.5 million. This project involves the PSNI, Police Ombudsman, Forensic Science Agency and PPS. Government are committed to ensuring that this work is adequately resourced.

Political Parties: Rule of Law

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in securing commitments from all political parties in Northern Ireland to supporting (a) the police, (b) the courts and (c) the rule of law. (126347)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given earlier to the right hon. Member for Bracknell (Mr. Mackay).

Police Ombudsman

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what response he has made to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland’s recent report. (126348)

The Government acknowledge that the Police Ombudsman’s investigation has succeeded in bringing to light serious failings of duty by a small number of police officers over the period 1991 to 2003. The Chief Constable has accepted the report’s recommendations and work on reinvestigating the cases has already begun. Where sufficient evidence can be obtained, prosecutions will be brought.

Legal Firearms

15. To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many legal firearms there were in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. (126349)

The Chief Constable has provided the following table showing the number of legal firearms in Northern Ireland at 31 March in each of the years requested.

Number of firearms held on firearm certificates

Total

31 March 2003

142,757

31 March 2004

144,647

31 March 2005

144,554

31 March 2006

138,302

7 March 2007

136,896

Computers: Theft

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 6 February 2007, Official Report, columns 556-57W, on departmental computers, whether any of the computers and laptops stolen contained information (a) which could have compromised the safety of individuals or the general public and (b) about the names, addresses and other personal data relating to individuals; and if he will make a statement. (125460)

Of the 55 laptops lost or stolen from Northern Ireland Departments in the nine-year period ending in February 2007, it is possible that one owned by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety may have contained documents which included names and addresses relating to dental referral cases.

None of the laptops in question contained information which could have compromised the safety of individuals or the general public.

English Language

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was spent by the Department for Education on the teaching of English as an additional language in each of the last five years. (127189)

The Department of Education has provided earmarked funding for the provision of teaching and teaching support for English as an additional language (EAL), through the Education and Library Boards in each financial year as follows:

£

2002-03

200,000

2003-04

400,000

2004-05

410,000

2005-06

570,000

2006-07

834,000

Since 2005-06 funding, additional to that provided through the boards, has been given direct to schools through the common funding formula, for those schools that have identified EAL pupils who require extra support. Funding for the schools by financial year was:

£

2005-06

1,687,000

2006-07

2,537,000

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the Department for Education's most recent estimate is of the number of (a) primary and (b) post-primary pupils in schools in Northern Ireland who are learning English as an additional language. (127190)

In 2006-07 there are 2,425 children in primary schools (Year one-seven classes) and 1,148 children in post-primary schools who are recorded as having English as an additional language. The numbers refer to children who have significant difficulties with the English language and require additional support.

Ethnic Groups

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what his Department's most recent estimate is of (a) the number of people from minority ethnic communities who live in Northern Ireland and (b) the proportion of the total population of Northern Ireland represented by people from those communities. (127185)

A total of 14,279 people (0.85 per cent. of all people usually resident in Northern Ireland) indicated through the 2001 Census that they belonged to a minority ethnic group.

Nurses

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many nursing vacancies there were in each health trust area in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years; and what the average length of time taken was to fill nursing vacancies in each health trust area in Northern Ireland over the same period. (127108)

Information on the number of current nursing vacancies in each Health Trust area in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years is presented in the following tables.

Information on the average length of time taken to fill nursing vacancies in each Health Trust area is not available; however the number of long-term vacancies for nursing staff (i.e. vacancies which remain vacant after three months) is given as an indication of those that were particularly difficult to fill.

The number of current qualified nursing staff vacancies has decreased from a headcount of 746 (678.45 WTE) in June 2004 to 583 (523.80 WTE) in September 2006 (although the September 2006 figure shows an increase from September 2005). The number of long-term qualified nursing staff vacancies also decreased from a headcount of 252 (232.41 WTE) in June 2004 to 203 (171.45 WTE) in September 2006.

The number of current nurse support staff vacancies has increased from a headcount of 105 (94.77 WTE) in June 2004 to 139 (119.67 WTE) in September 2006. The number of long-term nurse support staff vacancies also increased from a headcount of 22 (19.05 WTE) in June 2004 to 70 (60.41 WTE) in September 2006.

Number of current vacancies for nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff in each Health Trust as at 30 June 2004

Qualified nursing staff1

Nurse support staff

Trust

Headcount

WTE2

Headcount

WTE2

Altnagelvin Group HSS Trust

64

63.72

5

5.00

Armagh and Dungannon HSS Trust

9

7.34

1

1.00

Belfast City Hospital HSS Trust

73

71.32

5

4.80

Causeway HSS Trust

8

7.11

0

0.00

Craigavon and Banbridge Community HSS Trust

13

11.00

0

0.00

Craigavon Area Hospital Group HSS Trust

9

7.68

0

0.00

Down Lisburn HSS Trust

22

21.30

0

0.00

Foyle Community HSS Trust

8

8.00

0

0.00

Green Park Healthcare HSS Trust

40

39.60

5

4.68

Homefirst Community HSS Trust

20

n/a

4

n/a

Mater Infirmorum Hospital HSS Trust

102

100.00

9

8.40

Newry and Mourne HSS Trust

13

13.00

0

0.00

North and West Belfast HSS Trust

17

11.20

4

2.20

Royal Group of Hospitals HSS Trust

186

161.72

33

30.11

South and East Belfast HSS Trust

69

68.54

17

16.78

Sperrin/Lakeland HSS Trust

24

24.00

4

4.00

Ulster Community and Hospitals Group HSS Trust

38

32.42

10

9.80

United Hospitals Group HSS Trust

30

30.00

8

8.00

Other Agencies and Board Headquarters

1

0.50

0

0.00

Total

746

678.45

105

94.77

1 Qualified nursing staff include midwives, health visitors and district nurses.

2 Whole-time equivalent.

Note:

A current vacancy is defined as an unoccupied post which the organisation was actively trying to fill.

Source:

NI HPSS Trusts & Organisations

Number of long-term vacancies for nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff in each Health Trust as at 30 June 2004

Qualified nursing staff1

Nurse support staff

Trust

Headcount

WTE2

Headcount

WTE2

Altnagelvin Group HSS Trust

38

37.31

2

2.00

Armagh and Dungannon HSS Trust

1

1.00

0

0.00

Belfast City Hospital HSS Trust

16

15.26

0

0.00

Causeway HSS Trust

1

1.00

0

0.00

Craigavon and Banbridge Community HSS Trust

0

0.00

0

0.00

Craigavon Area Hospital Group HSS Trust

4

4.00

0

0.00

Down Lisburn HSS Trust

14

14.00

0

0.00

Foyle Community HSS Trust

6

6.00

0

0.00

Green Park Healthcare HSS Trust

1

1.00

2

1.68

Homefirst Community HSS Trust

0

0.00

0

0.00

Mater Infirmorum Hospital HSS Trust

22

21.60

7

6.17

Newry and Mourne HSS Trust

13

13.00

0

0.00

North and West Belfast HSS Trust

16

10.70

4

2