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Written Answers

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 15 March 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 15 March 2007

Solicitor-General

Trafficked Women

23. To ask the Solicitor-General what guidance he has issued to the Crown Prosecution Service on the provision of witness protection for women trafficked into the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation. (127494)

Guidance issued to Crown prosecutors on how to support and protect trafficked victims at court includes applications for special measures, applying for reporting restrictions to protect victims’ identities and applying for the use of live evidence to be given from abroad.

Out of court process, where there are concerns over safety, a police risk assessment for protection can include mechanisms such as panic alarms, telephone links to the police station or re-location.

Law Officers

24. To ask the Solicitor-General what measures are in place to assess the Law Officers’ maintenance of the public interest in dispensing legal advice to the Government. (127496)

In fulfilling their role as the Government’s chief legal advisers, the Law Officers give frank, impartial advice based on their own professional judgment. The Law Officers are answerable to Parliament and the courts for their advice. It is clearly in the public interest for the Government to receive such advice in order to ensure that their actions are legally sound and in accordance with the rule of law.

Soldier Prosecutions

25. To ask the Solicitor-General on which occasions since 1997 he received correspondence from the Secretary of State for Defence on prosecution of soldiers for war crimes or serious offences while on operations. (127497)

Correspondence from the Secretary of State for Defence to this office on prosecution of soldiers for war crimes or serious offences while on operations is not centrally recorded and to retrieve this information would incur disproportionate cost.

Fraud

To ask the Solicitor-General what proposals he has for the prevention and prosecution of fraud. (127495)

The Government have today published a response to the public consultation on the Fraud Review. The review identified that in many cases fraud is a preventable offence. The National Fraud Strategic Authority will have as one of its aims to raise awareness among the public and to promote best practice in fraud detection and prevention.

The Fraud Review also made a number of recommendations designed to facilitate the prosecution of fraud offences. These included: the establishment of a financial court jurisdiction; specialist training for judges; extended sentencing powers for the Crown court; and the introduction of a framework for a plea negotiations. We will be establishing a study to consider the detailed costs and benefits of introducing a financial court jurisdiction. We are also establishing a working party to look at the issue of plea bargaining.

House of Commons Commission

Departments: Databases

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what databases are controlled by the House authorities; and what percentage of the data in each database is estimated to be inaccurate or out of date. (124042)

The Parliamentary ICT service (PICT) supports around 146 live databases across both Houses of Parliament. This includes corporate applications (in areas such as finance, HR, procurement, catering and facilities management), procedural applications (covering the legislative, scrutiny and debate functions of Parliament) and knowledge applications (covering the research and public information functions).

The number given does not include locally-based databases, simple Access databases or test, back-up and development databases. Individual Departments and offices are responsible for data quality and they put appropriate measures in place to manage the quality of data and their being kept up to date.

Portcullis House

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what progress has been made on improving signage in Portcullis House. (126936)

The Parliamentary Estates Directorate is in the process of appointing the consultant architect to carry out the next phase of work and to liaise with the architects of Portcullis House, Hopkins and Partners.

The existing signage on the 1st floor of Portcullis House has been surveyed to assess its problems and a brief has been formulated for the consultant architects to work to.

The programme of works to install new signage is scheduled to be undertaken during the 2007-08 financial year.

Leader of the House

Members’ Constituency Work

To ask the Leader of the House if he will bring forward proposals to bring hon. Members' correspondence relating to constituency case work under the ambit of Parliamentary proceedings for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. (127687)

The Government recognise the need for hon. Members’ constituency work to be able to be conducted with appropriate confidentiality. The Government are considering the case for further guidance to public authorities as to how the exemptions should be applied in the case of hon. Members’ constituency correspondence. As the hon. Member will be aware, the right hon. Member for Penrith and the Border (David Maclean) has brought forward a private Member’s bill which would amend the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to create a single exemption to cover hon. Members’ correspondence.

The Government will continue to listen to the views of hon. Members on the best way forward to ensure that constituency correspondence is given the necessary protection.

Culture, Media and Sport

Cultural Heritage: Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate her Department has made of the number of likely appeals resulting from changes in the heritage designation system. (127645)

The proposed new designation system set out in the White Paper, “Heritage Protection for the 21st Century”, will be more efficient, understandable and accessible, with improved information sharing, greater public involvement and new opportunities for consultation. We cannot give a firm estimate of the number of appeals as part of a system that has not yet been implemented. However, improved information sharing and consultation should reduce the need for appeal.

English Heritage: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate her Department has made of the resources required by English Heritage to carry out its responsibilities as proposed in the “Heritage Protection for the 21st Century” White Paper; and what resources will be provided by her Department to enable those responsibilities to be met. (127644)

English Heritage has supplied DCMS with a detailed analysis of their likely costs to undertake their responsibilities as proposed in the White Paper “Heritage Protection for the 21st Century”. Their analysis of these costs has been factored in to the DCMS submission as part of the current Spending Review process.

Historic Buildings: Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many properties represented by the Historic Houses Association (a) she, (b) the Minister for Sport, (c) the Minister for Culture and (d) the Minister for Media and Tourism visited in an official capacity in each of the last five years. (127432)

As Minister for Culture I have visited two properties represented by the Historic Houses Association (HHA) in an official capacity since I was appointed—Holkham Hall, Norfolk and Burghley House, Lincolnshire. I also attended the launch of the HHA’s education service in 2006 and spoke at the 2006 annual general meeting. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport and my hon. Friend the Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism have not yet had the opportunity to visit any HHA properties in an official capacity. We do not have data for previous Ministers for visits to these properties in the last five years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many properties (a) owned and (b) managed by the National Trust (i) she, (ii) the Minister for Sport, (iii) the Minister for Culture and (iv) the Minister for Media and Tourism visited in an official capacity in each of the last five years. (127433)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has visited the Stonehenge historic landscape, which is owned by the National Trust, in an official capacity. As Minister for Culture I have visited Tyntesfield, near Bristol, Woodchester Mansion, Stroud, where the park is owned by the Trust, and the new National Trust offices at Swindon. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport and my hon. Friend the Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism have not yet had the opportunity to make official visits to properties owned or managed by the Trust. We do not have data for previous Ministers for visits to these properties in the last five years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many properties (a) owned and (b) managed by English Heritage (i) she, (ii) the Minister for Sport, (iii) the Minister for Culture and (iv) the Minister for Media and Tourism visited in an official capacity in each of the last five years. (127434)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) on 1 February 2007, Official Report, column 4l8W.

Osborne House

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) if she will make a statement on the future of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight; (127467)

(2) what steps she is taking to seek to repeal part of the Osborne Estate Act 1902 on the convalescent wing.

We are exploring the options for repealing part of the Osborne Estate Act 1902, which will enable English Heritage to bring into use the wing previously used as a convalescent home.

Any proposals English Heritage develop will be subject to consultation with the local community, and will go through the usual planning procedures.

Sportsmatch

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what level of funding will be available to Sportsmatch over the next three years. (127696)

Sport England provided £3.675 million in funding to Sportsmatch in 2006-07, and the same amount has been allocated for 2007-08.

Subsequent years’ funding, as with all other funding allocations for my Department, are subject to the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many of the staff employed by Sportsmatch will continue to be employed under the new structure. (127697)

Under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 Sport England and the Institute for Sports Sponsorship are consulting with the seven Sportsmatch staff members with the working assumption that those seven members of staff will transfer over to Sport England on 1 April 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the future of Sportsmatch. (127698)

As announced on 13 February by Sport England, the Sportsmatch scheme will be managed by Sport England from 1 April 2007. The intention is to build on its past success, with a strengthened regional focus.

Defence

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 30 January 2007, Official Report, column 1070-1W, on Afghanistan, how many undelivered urgent operational requirements since January 2006 related to helicopters; and if he will make a statement. (124602)

Since the start of planning for deployment into southern Afghanistan 23 UORs related to theatre entry modifications to current helicopters in Afghanistan have been approved but not fully delivered to theatre. An initial operating capability has been delivered to theatre for eight of the 23. An additional 10 UORs have been approved and fully delivered. These figures are correct as at 1 March 2007.

Afghanistan: Army

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent estimate he has made of retention rates among the Afghan national army. (127156)

Since 2001, the Afghan national army (ANA) training programme under a US lead has trained approximately 32,000 soldiers. Members of the ANA are required to re-enlist after an initial three-year contract and to date approximately 42 per cent. of personnel have re-enlisted at the three-year point. The US-led training mission has already identified measures designed to improve the level of re-enlistment, including asking NATO to deliver more mentoring teams to partner the ANA, and is establishing plans to implement a more sustainable force generation cycle.

Armed Forces: Children

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2007, Official Report, column 1161W, on armed forces: children, which internal welfare agencies are available to give support and assistance to children of service personnel killed or injured while on operations; and what funding they have received from his Department in the last five years. (126197)

Each of the services is responsible for the co-ordination of its own welfare organisations such as the Navy Personnel and Families Organisations, Army Welfare Organisation and the Royal Air Force Community Support. The support offered covers a wide remit and is provided by the chain of command as well as a host of dedicated welfare providers including contracted organisations such as the SSAFA (Forces Help), WRVS and Defence Medical Welfare Services.

Over the past five years approximately £123 million of funding has been provided to fund dedicated welfare support to the three services as a whole, which of course extends well beyond the support of children of personnel killed or injured on operations.

BAE Systems

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason a security pass was issued to BAE Systems executive Julian Scopes by his Department; when the security pass was originally issued; and to which premises Mr. Scopes is given access with this security pass. (126500)

Ministry of Defence security policy allows for establishment passes to be issued to contractors who make frequent visits to specific MOD sites to meet business requirements. In accordance with this policy, Mr. Scopes was issued with a contractor pass in December 2005. This pass, which expired on 31 December 2006, allowed him access to Main Building, the Old War Office and St. George’s Court.

Bombs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cluster bombs have been stockpiled by the UK, broken down by type. (127193)

I refer the hon. Member to my answer on 10 October 2006, Official Report, column 656W, to the hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey).

Bowman Combat Radio System

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what increments are planned for the Bowman communications system once initial conversion is completed. (126184)

Following completion, currently expected in 2008, of the Bowman conversion and fielding programme, we envisage a periodic capability release programme providing both capability enhancements and maintenance. This programme will be informed by current validation work on the delivery of deferred capabilities.

Correspondence: Members

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the Minister of State for the armed forces to reply to the letter of 31 January from the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan on his constituent, Mr. N. Thom of Mintlaw. (125587)

Defence Export Services Organisation: Freedom of Information

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 23 February 2007, Official Report, column 960W, on the Defence Export Services Organisation: freedom of information, what the (a) brief fees and (b) refresher rates are for (i) Jonathan Crow QC and (ii) Kate Gallafent. (126499)

Counsel are paid an hourly rate for all their work as follows:

Jonathan Crow: £220 per hour

Kate Gallafent: £100 per hour

Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many formal complaints on the condition of military housing were made by residents in each of the last 10 years. (118943)

The figures given in the table represent all housing complaints received for the years from 2002 to 2006.

Number

2002

409

2003

327

2004

485

2005

369

2006

740

Records of complaints for years prior to 2002 have been routinely destroyed.

The increase in complaints in 2006 is thought to reflect the introduction of the Housing Prime Contract and the initial problems with the service being delivered.

Iraq: Peace Keeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether all Mastiffs delivered to the Iraqi theatre of operations will be fitted with slatted armour. (127023)

Lynx Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Mark 3 and (b) Mark 8 Lynx helicopters are (i) in service, (ii) under repair and (iii) being cannibalised for parts; and if he will make a statement. (124597)

On 1 March 2007, the details for the Royal Navy’s Lynx helicopter fleet were as follows:

Helicopter type

Departmental fleet

In service

Under repair

Other

Lynx Mk 3

37

25

6

6

Lynx Mk 8

36

27

5

4

“In Service” aircraft are those in the Forward Fleet and available to the Front Line and training units. Aircraft “Under Repair” are those in the Depth Fleet which are undergoing planned routine depth maintenance. “Other” aircraft are those accident damaged and undergoing investigation with the Flight Safety Accident Investigation Centre, undergoing trials, awaiting disposal, or in storage.

One Lynx Mk 3 in storage is currently subject to controlled cannibalisation to support depth maintenance. Carefully managed and controlled cannibalisation is also carried out in the Forward Fleet as part of normal business to ensure the required number of aircraft are available to squadrons. These cannibalised aircraft are routinely returned to service when the necessary spare parts become available.

Navy: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many warships are fully operational in the Royal Navy; and if he will make a statement. (126534)

The Royal Navy has 74 surface warships in the operating cycle, though those undergoing maintenance or refit are held at lower readiness for operations. In my letter of 6 March to the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis), I set out the readiness policy for Royal naval ships, and listed those ships that are at lower readiness. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library of the House.

Nimrod Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the safety of Nimrod aircraft. (126482)

RAF Nimrod aircraft are designed and certified to strict airworthiness and safety standards. The structural integrity of the aircraft is maintained by adherence to the procedures detailed within military airworthiness regulations. The review of airworthiness and safety of the Nimrod fleet is a routine and continual activity that is undertaken by both the Defence Logistics Organisation and the Front Line Command. It includes a comprehensive maintenance and repair process that covers routine flight servicing before and after each flight.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times the Nimrod fleet has been grounded since September 2006. (126483)

On 21 February 2007, after the discovery of dents in fuel lines, Nimrod MR2 flying was suspended as a precautionary measure. Aircraft were cleared to fly again after checks of the fuel lines proved satisfactory with the first serviceable aircraft operating on 24 February 2007.

Red Arrows

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at which air shows and other events the Red Arrows appeared in each of the last five years. (127005)

The Royal Air Force Acrobatic Team (RAFAT), popularly known as the Red Arrows, participated in the following air shows and events from 2002 to 2006:

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Akrotiri Families Day

CBF Investiture Ceremony—Cyprus

King Abdullah Airbase—Jordan

Amman Marka Airport—Jordan

Jordan 2006

Giornata Azzurra Airshow

50th Anniversary of Patrouille de France—Salon de Provence

RAF Akrotiri Families Day

RAF Akrotiri Families Day

Aire 06 Spanish Air Force Open Day at San Javier AFB (Spain)

Country Sports Show / Game Fair—Portadown

RCDS Marham Visit

70th Anniversary FAF 04—Cognac—France

Jersey—60th Anniversary of Liberation

Isle of Man TT Festival at Douglas Bay

Rochefort Airshow—France

Llandudno Regional Tri Service Recruting Town Show

205 BFJT Graduation—Linton- on-Ouse

RAF Aerobatic Team 40th Anniversary

RAF Cosford Air Show

Biggin Hill International Air Fair—Kent

Southend Airshow

Beaumaris Show

Enniskillen Airshow

British Grand Prix

Southend Airshow—Southend

RAF Lossiemouth Friends and Families Day

Blackpool Sky Show

17(R)Sqn 90th Anniversary/17(R)Sqn New Typhoon OEU

Royal Netherlands Air Force—Leeuwarden

Golden Jubilee Families Day—RAF Benson

Isle of Man TT Races—Ramsey

Southend Airshow

RAF Lossiemouth and Kinloss Combined Families and Friends Day

Margate Airshow

Peel TT Races—Isle of Man

Isle of Man TT Races—Douglas

Portrush Airshow 2004—Northern Ireland

Abbeyshrule Airshow

Kemble Classic Jets Airshow

European Air Force Academies Commandants

Isle of Man TT Races Peel

Ramsey Isle of Man TT Races

The Ulster VE Day Air Show—Newtownards—N.I.

Midnight Summer Festival Air Display—Kauhava (EFKA)—Finland

10th Anniversary of the Adjutant Generals Corps

Biggin Hill International Air Fair

Douglas Isle of Man TT Races

Llandudno 2005

The Salthill Air Show (Eire)

21st Signal Regiment Open Day

Nigel Mansell UK Youth Golf Classic—Woodbury

250th Anniversary of Royal and Ancient Golf Club

Southend Airshow 2005

Tain Gala

Cosford Airshow

Whitehaven Maritime Festival Cumbria

European Air Group Steering Group Meeting

RAF Valley Families Day/90th Anniversary 19(R)Sqn. 50th Anniversary of SAR/ 45th Anniversary 4FTS

Scottish Fair at Scone Palace—Scone Palace Perth

The Weston Park International Model Air Show

Helensburgh (Faslane) Fair

Rolls Royce Celebrations—East Midlands Airport

Faslane Fair

RAF Waddington International Air Show

Kemble Airday—Cirencester

Classic Jet Air Show Kemble

RAF Cosford

CVHT Charitable Fund Raising Concert—Dunsfold

The Nigel Mansell UK Youth Golf Classic

RAF Kinloss Family and Friends Day

Royal Netherlands 50th Anniversary—Twenthe

Dutch Open Day—Volkel Airbase

Isle of Man TT Festival

RAF Wittering 90th Anniversary Families Day

Nancey-Ochey Airshow—France

Evreux Airshow—France

Faslane Fair

Ramsey Sprint Day TT Festival

Goodwood Festival of Speed

BAE Systems Brough Families Day—Yorkshire

Fistral Beach Newquay

Kemble Air Day

FCCLA 60th VE Day Commemoration Celebrations

Blackpool Veterans/Service Awareness Week

RAF Waddington at Home Day

Air Power Zeltweg Austria

Golowan Festival Penzance—Cornwall

Isle of Man TT Races

RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day

Airborne Forces Day Yorkshire

RAF Waddington at Home Day

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Launch of Portishead Carnival

RNAS Culdrose International Air Day

Tain Gala

Tain Gala

RAF Waddington International Air Show

RAF Cosford Air Show

CFSA Reunion and RAF Cranwell Families Day

RAF Golf Championships—Trevose Golf Club Constantine Bay

Salthill Airshow—Eire

Tain Gala

Royal Netherlands Air Force Open Day—Gilze Rijen

The Royal International Air Tattoo—Flying

Newquay Seafront Display

RAF Boulmer 50th Anniversary Families Day

RAF Lyneham Station Families Day

Margate Airshow

World Youth Sailing Championships—Portland

Chichester Festivities

Central Flying School (CFS) Annual Reunion and CFS

Arbroath Seafront Spectacular

Kemble Air Day—Flying Display

RNLI Lifeboat Week—Lyme Regis

RNLAF Open Day—Gilze-Rijen/Breda

Goodwood Festival Speed

Scottish Fair—Scone Palace

Air Power 2005—Zeltweg—Austria

Sanicole International Airshow (Belgium)

Manx Festival of Aviation-Jurby

Wirral Show

The Salthill Airshow

Whitehaven Maritime Festival—Open Air Family Event

Weston-Super-Mare Seaside Airshow/Helicopter Show

Plymouth Armed Forces Show

East Fortune Festival of Flight-Scotland

C.F.S. Annual Reunion—Cranwell

Salthill Airshow Galway Bay—Eire

Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival

Inverness Highland Games

Kidwelly Carnival

Plymouth Armed Forces Show

Trafalgar 200 Portsmouth—Son and Lumiere

RAF Wyton Families Day

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Royal International Air Tattoo

East Fortune Air Show

Tain Gala

Sunderland International Airshow

East Fortune -Museum of Flight—Edinburgh

Station Civic Day—RAF Cranwell

Kidwelly Carnival Wales

Scottish Fair

Windermere Airshow and Community Festival

RNAS Culdrose Air Day

British Grand Prix

British Grand Prix

RAF Waddington International Airshow

Red Arrows Bournemouth Seafront Show

Farnborough International

JSCSC Graduation -Swindon

Royal International Air Tattoo /Battle/Entente Cordiale/D-Day

Kidwelly Carnival

RAF Cottesmore Families Day

Winter Gardens Royal Parade -Weston-Super-Mare

Sunderland International Airshow

Farnborough International Airshow

British Grand Prix

Whitby Regatta

ACSC Graduation Ceremony—JSCSC

Llanidloes Air Day

Graduation Day JSCSC—Swindon

Air Display to Commemorate VE/VJ Day—Blackpool

400th Anniversary of the First Charter of Dover

Llanidloes Air Day—Wales

Lyme Regis Lifeboat Week

Llanidloes Air Day

Central Flying School Reunion—Cranwell

Fowey Royal Regatta

RAF Shawbury Families Day

Weston-super-Mare Seafront Air Show

RNLI Lyme Regis Lifeboat Week—Dorset

RAF Wittering/RAF Cottesmore Families Day

RAF Lyneham Families Day

Sunderland International Airshow

Station Families Day—RAF Shawbury

Sunderland International Airshow

Royal International Air Tattoo

Weymouth Carnival

RAF Marham Families Day

Music in the Air Middle Wallop—Hants

Red Arrows Families Day

RNAS Culdrose International Air Day

Cromer Carnival

Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival

Windermere Community Festival

Weston-Super-Mare Seafront Airshow

JSC and SC Advanced Command and Staff Course

Dawlish Carnival Airshow

Kielder Forest Festival

Reach for the Sky-Blenheim Palace

RAF Marham Families Day

Llanidloes Air Day

Airbourne—The Eastbourne International Air Show

Music in the Air-Middle Wallop

Airbourne—The Eastbourne International Air Show

Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival

Windermere Festival—A Weekend With The RAF

Torbay Royal Regatta

European Ferrari Festival

Dawlish Carnival

RAF Shawbury Families Day

Arbroath Sea Front Spectacular

Aberystwyth Corporate Communications and Careers Information Event

Dawlish Carnival Week—Devon

Bournemouth Seafront Show

Windermere Festival

Weston-Super-Mare Seafront Show

Sidmouth Regatta

Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race Finish—Portsmouth

Sidmouth Regatta

Kielder Forest Festival

Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival

Port of Dartmouth 162nd Royal Regatta

Airbourne—The Eastbourne International Air Show

Cromer Carnival

Scandia Cowes Week

RAF Marham Families Day

Clacton Airshow

Bournemouth Seafront Show

Weymouth Carnival

Airbourne—The Eastbourne International Air Show

RAF Shawbury Families Day

Dunsfold Wings and Wheels

Barrow Festival of the Sea

Fowey Royal Regatta

Bournemouth Seafront Airshow

Sunderland Airshow

Silloth (Cumbria) Carnival

Sidmouth Regatta—Devon

Clacton Airshow

Cromer Carnival 2004—Norfolk

Bournemouth Seafront Show

Hoylake Lifeboat Station Open Day

Weymouth Carnival—Dorset

Opening Ceremony of The World Microlight Championships

Weymouth Carnival

Airbourne—The Eastbourne International Air Show

RAFAT Families Day

Clacton Air Show—Clacton

Yorkshire Airshow

Dawlish Carnival—Devon

‘Fly to the Past’—Blenheim Palace

Northern Ireland Air Spectacular—Portrush

Fowey Royal Regatta and Carnival Week

200th Anniversary of Hoylake Lifeboat and Open Day

Fowey Royal Regatta

RAF Lyneham Families Day

Southport Airshow and Military Show

Canadian International Air Show

Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta

RAF Cottesmore Families Day

Cromer Carnival

Guernsey Battle of Britain Air Display (RAFA)

Nova Scotia International Air Show

Torbay Royal Regatta

The Yorkshire Airshow—Elvington

Weymouth Carnival

Jersey International Airshow

RAFA Jersey International Airshow

RAF Marham Families Day

25th Anniversary of Red Arrows Flying Hawk/30th Anniversary of Hawk

Dawlish Seafront Airshow and Carnival

RAF Leuchars Battle of Britain At Home Day—Flying

RAFA Guernsey Airshow

Radom Air Show—Poland

Sidmouth Regatta

Sidmouth Regatta

BAE Systems (Brough) Family Day

RAF Leuchars Battle of Britain at Home Day

Station Families Day—RAF St. Mawgan

Torbay Royal Regatta

Yorkshire Air Show—Elvington

6th NATO Day in Ostrava (Czech Republic)

Morecambe Heritage Gala

Great Ormand Street Hospital/Bishopsgate Charity Clay Pigeon Shoot—Reading

The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta

RAF Cottesmore Families Day

Giornata Azzurra—Pratica di Mare—Italy

Malta International Airshow

Southport Airshow 2003

Clacton Airshow—Essex

The 160th Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta

Roland Garros de Cholet—France

Great North Run—Newcastle upon Tyne

Duxford Airshow

The Centenary Eye Show

Clacton Airshow

Great North Run

Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia

Caernarfon Airshow

The International Air Show Radom Poland

Isle of Man TT Race at Peel

Langkawi, Malaysia

RAF Leuchars Battle of Britain At Home Day

Hoylake Lifeboat Station Open Day

Hoylake Lifeboat Station Open Day

Goa, India

Bangkok, Thailand

Morecambe Heritage Gala

RAF St. Mawgan Families Day

RAF Benson Families Day

Muskat, Oman

Hindon (Delhi), India

Duxford Airshow

Biggin Hill International Air Fair

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Muscat, Oman

90th Anniversary of the Swiss Air Force -Payerne -Switzerland Battle of Britain Air Display Guernsey

45th Anniversary “Frecce Tricolori”—Italy

Bahrain, Bahrain

Dubai, UAE

RAFA Jersey International Airshow

Display Over Greek Ministry of Defence Athens and

Dharhan, Saudi Arabia

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Southport Airshow and Military Tattoo—Lancashire

Swiss Futures and Options Association Conference

Athens, Greece

Tabuk, Saudi Arabia

RAF Leuchars Battle of Britain at Home Day

RAF Leuchars Battle of Britain at Home Day

Giza, Egypt

Morecambe Heritage Gala

Southport Airshow and Military Show

Biggin Hill Battle of Britain Weekend—Kent

Morecambe Heritage Gala and Air Display

BUPA Great North Run

Jersey International Airshow

Guernsey Battle Of Britain Air Display

BUPA Great North Run

RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day

Malta International Airshow

Note:

The official display season for the RAF AT is from May to October every year. In 2002 and 2006 the Team additionally participated in out-of-season overseas tours.

Satellites

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment his Department has made of the potential cost of UK armed forces taking part in the Blue Force Tracker programme; (126182)

(2) what funding he plans to allocate to the Blue Force Tracker programme being developed by the United States military.

Free standing Blue Force tracking systems are available largely off the shelf using US based technology and are deployed on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to supplement the initial capability provided by Bowman ComBAT (Common Battlefield Application Toolset), Infrastructure and Platform Battlefield Information System Application (CIP). In the longer term we are looking mainly to more advanced versions of Bowman CIP and to Tactical Data Links to provide positional information. The joint US-UK Coalition Blue Force Situational Awareness demonstrator is helping to develop ways of exchanging data between Bowman CIP and US Blue Force tracking systems. It is too early to say what the resource implications would be.

Transport

A21: Pembury

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road traffic (a) accidents and (b) fatalities have occurred at the A21 junction with Henwood Green Road, Pembury in each year since 1997. (126043)

The following table gives the Highways Agency’s record of road traffic accidents and casualties, including fatalities that have occurred at the A21 junction with Henwood Green Road, Pembury in each year since 1997.

Number of casualties

Total number of accidents

Slight

Serious

Fatal

1997

0

0

0

0

1998

2

4

0

0

1999

1

1

0

0

2000

0

0

0

0

2001

2

5

0

0

2002

2

2

4

0

2003

3

1

2

0

2004

0

0

0

0

2005

0

0

0

0

2006

0

0

0

0

2007

1

1

0

1

Aircraft: Air Conditioning

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has received evidence of aircraft engine testing which has confirmed the presence of organophosphates in the engine bleed air. (127360)

[holding answer 14 March 2007]: No. The Department for Transport (DFT) has asked the Department of Health (DH) to undertake an independent scientific review of data submitted by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA). BALPA submitted data relating to organophosphates, the cabin air environment, ill-health in aircraft crews and the possible relationship to smoke/fume events in aircraft. Consideration continues in the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT). The next meeting of the COT is on 20 March 2007. The relevant papers can be found on the internet at:

http://www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/cotnonfood/index.htm

http://www.food.gov.uk/science/ouradvisors/toxicity/

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport by what procedures pilots should report any contaminated air events on a UK registered commercial aircraft. (127361)

[holding answer 14 March 2007]: Pilots are required to report contaminated air events to the Civil Aviation Authority, where they meet the criteria for a Mandatory Occurrence Report. The definition of a reportable occurrence is contained in Article 142 of the Air Navigation Order.

In addition, airlines have their own reporting systems for non-mandatory occurrences for their pilots to follow.

Aviation: Air Pollution

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the carbon emissions produced by international air traffic movements using UK airspace without landing in the UK. (127530)

East Coast Railway Line: Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what performance targets he has set for GNER for the East Coast Main Line franchise; and what assessment he has made of performance against those targets since December 2006. (126216)

Improving performance on the route is a key output in the current franchise, and continues to be so under the Management Agreement in place since December 2006. The key performance indicators to improving performance are reviewed and discussed at monthly Franchise Performance Meetings. GNER remains committed to improving both its reliability and punctuality on the route and is working with Network Rail to identify improvements. Other performance enhancements which are ongoing are:

re-engineering the diesel high speed train fleet

Implementation of a range of reliability improvements to its electric fleet

Motor Vehicles: Excise Duties

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport at what point after entering the UK vehicles being driven in the UK but registered abroad are required to have vehicle excise duty paid on their behalf. (125970)

Vehicles from a European Union member state may be used or kept in the UK for up to six months in any 12-month period without vehicle excise duty (VED) being due.

In accord with international rules in place since 1975, vehicles from outside the European Union may be used or kept in the UK for up to 12 months without VED being due. In order for vehicles to qualify for this exemption from paying VED, the vehicle must be properly registered and taxed in its home country.

Railways: Pennines

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what work has been undertaken to enhance capacity on Trans-Pennine rail routes since 1997. (125983)

The First Transpennine Express (TPE) franchise commenced on 1 February 2004. Since that time, the franchise has delivered capacity improvements in excess of 18 per cent. Much of this was due to an increase from three trains/hour to four trains/hour over the core Leeds—Manchester section in December 2004, but the introduction of new Class 185 trains to the route, completed in January 2007, has brought further capacity benefits.

Roads: Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accident blackspots he has identified in (a) Taunton constituency and (b) Somerset; and what steps his Department has undertaken to reduce the number of accidents in those locations. (127464)

The Department has made no assessment of accident cluster sites in either Taunton or Somerset. As the local highway authority, the duty to investigate accident cluster sites lies with Somerset county council.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road traffic accidents occurred in Taunton constituency in each year since 1996, broken down by the day of the week on which the accident occurred. (127465)

The number of reported personal injury road accidents in the parliamentary constituency of Taunton by day of the week in each year since 1996 is given in the following table:

Number of reported personal injury road accidents by day of the week : Constituency1 of Taunton 1996-2005

Day of week

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Total

1996

57

55

51

69

57

51

43

383

1997

76

63

61

65

66

53

42

426

1998

58

52

73

74

73

60

44

434

1999

68

56

43

60

60

53

42

382

2000

69

58

74

62

87

61

40

451

2001

67

73

70

72

74

58

43

457

2002

62

69

62

59

69

51

37

409

2003

50

58

64

64

56

52

43

387

2004

59

56

53

62

66

60

42

398

2005

58

69

57

71

76

42

52

425

1 Based on 2004 constituency boundaries

Roads: Cambridge

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) total number of accidents, (b) average daily traffic flow and (c) accident rate per million vehicle kilometres was for the stretch of (i) the A14 between Girton and Cambridge, (ii) the A10 between Cambridge and Ely and (iii) the A1307 between Haverhill and Cambridge in 2006; and what each has been in 2007 to date. (127395)

The information requested for 2006 will be available in summer 2007. Data for 2007 will be available in summer 2008.

Tolls: Greater London

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was paid by the Government Car and Despatch Agency in London congestion charges in each year since the scheme’s inception; and if he will make a statement. (126914)

The Government Car and Despatch Agency paid the following in London congestion charges since the scheme’s inception:

Congestion charge (£)

2002-03

22,202.00

2003-04

179,465.50

2004-05

158,508.00

2005-06

146,846.20

The continuing reduction in the congestion charge paid in 2004-05 and 2005-06 reflects the Agency’s decision to diversify its Government fleet to include Toyota Prius vehicles, which are currently exempt from the London congestion charge.

Wheelchairs: Pedestrian Areas

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what studies have been carried out on the risks associated with (a) motorised wheelchairs and (b) other pavement vehicles; what results were shown for Class 3 vehicles; and what representations have been made to his Department on this issue. (127700)

The Department has published a review of these vehicles, including research into the number of related incidents categorised by severity. The findings are available on the Department’s website. We are currently reviewing this evidence in conjunction with the representations received on general use of such vehicles, which have included some on safe usage.

Wrexham-Bidston Railway Line

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research has been carried out into the extent of the potential for modal shift away from cars of the electrification of the Wrexham-Bidston railway line. (124327)

I am aware that the Borderlands Rail Study commissioned by the Taith Consortium of North Wales local authorities, the Welsh Development Agency, Merseytravel and Cheshire county council assessed the economic case for investment in the Wrexham-Bidston line, including electrifying all or parts of it.

The benefits of reduced road congestion would be taken into account formally in the assessment which would be required from the promoters of any rail proposal seeking Government funding.

Trade and Industry

EC Energy Policy: Canada

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has made to ongoing energy discussions between the European Union and Canada; what matters of energy policy the Government plans to bring up at next month’s EU-Canada summit; and if he will make a statement. (127341)

We are in regular contact with Canadian and EU colleagues about energy and climate security in the run up to the G8 Summit in Germany in June 2007, including the prospects for a post-2012 agreement on climate change.

The EU-Canada summit will take place on 4 June. An agenda for this meeting has not yet been set. We will, however, contribute fully to the dialogue at the appropriate time.

Financial Services: Advisory Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many independent financial advice practices went into administration in each year since 1997. (127524)

The official insolvency statistics published by the Insolvency Service include total numbers of company administrations in England and Wales sourced from Companies House. However, these are not available broken down by industry sector, so it is not possible to provide the figures for independent financial advice practices.

Post Office: Magazine Press

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the cost to the Post Office was of producing the Keeping You Posted magazine in the latest period for which figures are available; and what assessment he has made of the impact of the magazine. (127638)

This is an operational matter for Post Office Ltd. Alan Cook the Managing Director has been asked to reply direct to the hon. Member.

Project Al Yamamah

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations have been received by his Department about the Al Yamamah military contract following the announcement that the Serious Fraud Office would end its investigation into the contract. (126927)

As with other Government Departments, including those with a more central role in this matter, the Department of Trade and Industry has received a number of communications about the decision of the Serious Fraud Office to discontinue its investigation in relation to the Al Yamamah programme.

Thames Water: Billing

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations he has received regarding Thames Water’s policies in respect of non-paying customers. (127238)

I have been asked to reply.

DEFRA Ministers and officials regularly meet with key water industry stakeholders and have received representations on a range of water industry issues, including Thames Water’s policy on customers in debt and non-payment of bills.

Treasury

Arms Trade: Balkans

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many (a) assault rifles and (b) machine guns were imported from (i) Bosnia and Herzegovina, (ii) Croatia and (iii) Serbia and Montenegro in each year since 2000; and if he will make a statement. (126385)

Child Trust Fund

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what activities were recently undertaken as part of Child Trust Fund week; and what the cost was of each. (118713)

As part of Child Trust Fund week, a number of activities were undertaken to help promote parents’ engagement with the Child Trust Fund accounts set up in their children’s names, and to encourage new parents to open the accounts themselves. These included a nationwide radio and parenting media advertising campaign at a cost of £234,000, the preparation and distribution of packs designed to help MPs promote the Child Trust Fund in their local regions at a cost of £30,000, and a campaign to promote editorial coverage in the national media at a cost of £31,000. All such expenditure is subject to the normal rules concerning Government communications expenditure, and is designed to ensure properly targeted communications and full value-for-money. All aforementioned costs are exclusive of VAT.

Departments: Knowledge Management

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many knowledge managers are employed by his Department; what their total remuneration is; how many vacancies for knowledge manager positions there are in his Department; what the salary range is of posts which are vacant; and if he will make a statement; (127458)

(2) how much his Department spent on knowledge management in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07; what the planned expenditure is in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement.

Knowledge management involves the improvement of organisational record-keeping, filing systems and processes, and is especially important in efficiently meeting the demands of the Freedom of Information Act and managing the transition to full electronic data storage and management. The Treasury currently employs three individuals on this type of work, one on a part-time basis, and is seeking to recruit a further two individuals. As advertised, the salary ranges for these posts are £40,039 to £48,589.

Departments: Ministerial Policy Advisors

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2007, Official Report, column 1907W, on special advisers, to which film and television company his answer referred. (126595)

The DVDs of film and television series were received from Warner Bros. Entertainment and subsequently donated to charity.

Departments: Pay

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the percentage wage increase will be for each grade of civil servant in his Department in the 2007-08 pay round. (126840)

Pay Awards for the Senior Civil Service grades will be in line with the Review Body on Senior Salaries Report No. 63.

The pay award process for the delegated grades has not yet commenced.

Economic and Monetary Union

To ask (1) the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to date has been of maintaining the Treasury Euro Resource website, www.euro.gov.uk; (126746)

(2) what the cost to the public purse was of the Treasury Euro Resource, Euro Information, in each year since its inception.

Information on the costs of starting up and maintaining the Treasury’s euro website has been given in the answer of 25 July 2006 to the hon. Member for Wealden (Charles Hendry), Official Report, column 1351W, the answer of 24 June 2004 to the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald), Official Report, column 1471W, the answer of 8 March 2004 to the hon. Member for Truro and St. Austell (Matthew Taylor), Official Report, column 1275W, and the answer of 22 October 2002 to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable), Official Report, column 220W. The direct cost of maintaining the euro website in 2006-07 was £12,000.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost has been of the euro information centres in (a) Southampton, (b) Inverness, (c) Kent and (d) Birmingham since their establishment. (126909)

I have been asked to reply.

An overall figure for the operating budgets of Euro Information Centres (EICs) since their establishment is not readily available, as they receive funding from a variety of sources, including charging for some of their services, and have been in operation for more than twenty years. To provide this information for the EICs in Southampton, Inverness, Kent and Birmingham could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Energy: Conservation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which projects on energy efficiency in the public sector and increased access to the arts and culture have received funding under the Invest to Save-Inclusive Communities Budget since 4 April 2005; and how much each project received. (126869)

I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Des Browne) on 22 March 2006, Official Report, column 23WS.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to introduce fiscal incentives to encourage households to introduce renewable energy and energy efficiency methods in their homes. (127142)

All taxes are kept under review and any changes are announced by the Chancellor as part of the Budget process.

The Government recognise the importance of household energy efficiency and renewable energy technology and since 1997 has introduced a number of measures in support of these. These include reduced VAT rates for the installation of energy saving materials such as insulation, draught-proofing, heating controls and also for micro-generation-technologies powered by renewable and sustainable energy sources. In addition, the Landlords Energy Saving Allowance (LESA) was introduced in 2004 to improve energy efficiency in the private rented sector. Pre-Budget report 2006 announced extensions to the scope of LESA as well as a stamp duty exemption for the majority of new zero-carbon homes. The pre-Budget report also announced that Finance Bill 2007 would include legislation to ensure that individual householders installing micro-generation are not subject to income tax on any payment for surplus electricity exported back to the grid.

The Government remain committed to meeting environmental challenges and continue to look for ways to promote household energy efficiency and renewable technologies through a range of tax and other policy measures.

Financial Services: EC Law

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he expects the markets in financial instruments directive to be implemented in full in the United Kingdom by the deadline of November 2007. (127333)

The UK was the only major member state to transpose the markets in financial instruments directive by 31 January 2007. This provides the maximum time available for industry and the FSA to prepare for implementation.

HM Revenue and Customs: Consultants

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what expenditure on external advice and consultancy was incurred by HM Revenue and Customs in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06; how much has been incurred in 2006-07; which consultants were engaged; and on what projects. (123358)

[holding answer 27 February 2007]: The spend from HMRC consultancy budgets for the periods requested was published by the National Audit Office in their report on Central Government’s Use of Consultants in December 2006 (HC 128). Figures for 2006-07 will be published in HMRC’s departmental report this spring.

Information on which consultants were engaged is not readily available and we would incur disproportionate costs in carrying out this analysis. However, we can make available the results of earlier analysis which we have on file, showing the top 20 (top 10 for 2004-05) spend by consultancy firm. The information is as follows:

Top 10 consultancy suppliers by spend—EX-IR and EX-CE, 2004-05

Cap Gemini Ernst and Young UK

Deloitte MCS Ltd.

PA Consulting Group

Methods Application Ltd.

Detica Ltd.

DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary UK

Accenture Ltd.

The Nesco Group

Alan Whitfield Associates

French Thornton

Top 20 consultancy suppliers by spend—HMRC, 2005-06

Deloitte and Touche

KPMG Consulting Ltd.

PA Consulting Group

Methods

DBI Consulting Ltd.

Mckinsey and Co.

Parity Resources Ltd.

Nesco

Detica Ltd.

DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary UK

Serco Ltd.

Xansa UK Ltd.

Cap Gemini Ernst and Young UK

Alan Whitfield Associates

Fujitsu Services Ltd.

Accenture Ltd.

BMRB International

Hedra Consortium

TRL Ltd.

Electronic Data Systems Ltd.

Top 20 consultancy suppliers by spend—HMRC, April 2006 to January 2007

Detica Ltd.

Fujitsu Services Ltd.

Deloitte MCS Ltd.

Parity Resourcing Ltd.

Methods Consulting Ltd.

Smartsourcing plc.

The Nesco Group

Accenture Services Ltd.

Serco Consulting

Xansa

Fujitsu Services Ltd. (Pacesetter)

PA Consulting Group

Coi-Coi Trading Fund/GNN

Language Line Ltd.

Serco Ltd.

Specialist Computer Centres

Pharmaventures

Gartner Group UK Ltd.

The Yellow Team Ltd.

Ashbourne Assessment Systems Ltd.

HM Revenue and Customs: Flights

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what total expenditure on flights by HM Revenue and Customs managers was with (a) British Airways and (b) BMI in each of the last two years. (112009)

Information relating to flights by HMRC managers cannot be disaggregated from the overall cost of flights booked through HMRC’s official travel contractors.

International Monetary Fund

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the Public Information Notice produced following the International Monetary Fund’s Article IV consultation with the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. (127306)

The UK Government strongly supports the IMF surveillance programme, and welcomes scrutiny of UK economic and financial policy.

The Public Information Notice, published alongside the Article IV Report, concluded that “macro-economic performance in the UK remains impressive”. The Treasury will publish an updated assessment of economic and fiscal developments in the 2007 Budget on 21 March.

Leeds Castle Group

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total cost has been since 2006 of attendance at the meetings of the Leeds Castle Group. (126818)

The combined cost to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs of hosting the inaugural meeting of the Leeds Castle Group in January 2006 and attending the meeting hosted by Canada in January 2007 was £37,038.

Marginal Tax Rates

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table on the lines of Table 4.2 of the Pre-Budget Report showing the number of households facing Marginal Deduction Rates of (a) 68 per cent. and over, (b) 70 per cent. and over, (c) 80 per cent. and over, (d) 90 per cent. and over and (e) 100 per cent. and over using the same assumptions as in Table 4.2. (126834)

Estimates of the numbers of families facing different marginal deduction rates will continue to be published in pre-Budget and Budget reports.

Michael Ellam

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what role Michael Ellam plays on the Treasury Board; and what day-to-day responsibilities he has. (126872)

The role of the Treasury board is set out on the Treasury website at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/about/about_treasury_board.cfm.

On day-to-day responsibilities, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave on 18 October 2006, Official Report, column 1253W.

National Trust

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met the Director-General of the National Trust; and what was discussed. (119123)

Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with a wide variety of organisations in the public and private sectors as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government’s practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Personal Equity Plans

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he intends to undertake a regulatory impact assessment prior to the merger of Personal Equity Plans (PEPs) and Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) in April 2008; and whether he has estimated likely changes to tax revenues resulting from the taxation of un-invested cash in PEPs after their conversion into ISAs. (127462)

A partial regulatory impact assessment of a package of reforms to the ISA regime, including the proposal to bring PEPs within the ISA wrapper, was published in December 2006. The Government intend to publish a full regulatory impact assessment of this package of reforms when the implementing legislation is laid in the summer. It is estimated that the application of the ISA treatment to interest earned on all un-invested cash held in former PEPs will have only a negligible effect on revenues.

Smuggling: Tobacco

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what targets his Department has set in relation to tobacco smuggling. (127682)

[holding answer 14 March 2007]: The Department's targets in relation to tobacco smuggling are set out in the HMRC Annual Report 2005-06.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much (a) smuggled tobacco produce and (b) counterfeit tobacco produce was seized in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. (127683)

The amount of seized tobacco produce can be found in HMRC's Annual Reports

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/reports.htm.

Taxation: Overpayments

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the amount of Schedule E tax which was overpaid in each financial year since April 2000. (127437)

Unpaid Taxes

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the amount of unpaid (a) Schedule D tax and (b) Capital Gains tax in each year since April 2000. (127438)

There are no reliable estimates for the amount of unpaid (a) Schedule D tax and (b) Capital Gains tax in each year since April 2000.

Welfare Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have moved into work from each New Deal programme and claimed tax credit; and what the average annual tax credit payment is to a person in each group. (127529)

The estimated number of in-work families benefiting from the 50+ element of the working tax credit, in 2004-05, is published in table 2.1 of the HMRC publication “Child and Working Tax Credit Statistics. Finalised Annual Awards, 2004-05”, which is available on the HMRC website at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-quarterly-stats.htm. The average annual tax credit entitlement for each family in this group is around £4,000.

Information regarding other new deal programmes is not available.

Written Questions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to answer question 119123, on the National Trust, tabled by the hon. Member for Salisbury on 1 February 2007. (126894)

International Development

Africa: Sexual Offences

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations he has received on sexual abuse of child refugees in the Great Lakes region of Africa; and if he will make a statement. (127681)

World Vision published on 27 February 2007 a detailed report on the sexual abuse of children in refugee and internally displaced persons camps in the Great Lakes region, which DFID is studying carefully. We have also had representations on the vulnerability of children in war zones in the Great Lakes, most recently from War Child and through the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes.

We recognise this is a very serious issue and welcome the focus these organisations bring to it. We continue to work closely with civil society groups, established churches and Governments in the region to address the issue as a matter of urgency.

European Development Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what conditions the European Development Fund places on donor recipients; and what conditions his Department places on the same recipients through bilateral agreements with those countries. (126838)

The European Development Fund (EDF) is subject to conditions at different levels, including those of a political and technical nature. At the political level, the EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement identifies a number of “essential” (human rights, democracy and the rule of law) and “fundamental” (governance) elements. A breach of the principles underpinning these elements can lead to consultations between the EU and the ACP state concerned and the imposition of measures aimed at remedying the breach. These measures must be proportional but may, as a last resort, evoke a suspension of community aid.

DFID's bilateral relationships with partner countries, including those funded by the EDF, are covered by the UK policy paper “Partnerships for poverty reduction: rethinking conditionally”. This was published jointly by DFID, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and HM Treasury in March 2005. The UK believes that an effective aid partnership is based on a shared commitment to poverty reduction, human rights and strong financial management. These are similar to those essential and fundamental elements outlined in the aforementioned paragraph. We may interrupt or stop aid if a partner Government breaches these commitments. Any conditions we use will relate to these three commitments and be drawn from our partner's own policies and plans, wherever possible.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he expects the UK to ratify the 10th European Development Fund; and by when he expects all member states to have ratified the Fund. (126839)

The Government will lay the necessary documentation before Parliament within the next few weeks. We hope it will be possible to complete ratification before the summer recess.

Other member states have indicated that they expect to conclude ratification within the agreed deadline of the end of 2007.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Abandoned Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate the Department has made of the number of abandoned vehicles in each month of the last five years, broken down by (a) region and (b) local authority area. (121008)

Data on the number of abandoned vehicles removed and destroyed by local authorities are collected from each authority on an annual basis only; a breakdown by month is not available.

The data requested, by region, is set out in the table:

Number of abandoned vehicles reported

Thousand

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

North East

3.2

6.7

6.8

4.0

3.8

North West

10.6

13.8

13.3

10.4

9.1

Yorkshire and Humberside

12.7

15.4

14.0

10.4

8.4

East Midlands

16.9

19.3

15.5

9.9

6.8

West Midlands

13.1

16.1

13.4

8.9

8.6

East

42.2

44.9

35.3

19.6

16.3

London

104.5

94.5

59.6

49.5

43.6

South East

57.5

53.4

42.3

24.4

19.8

South West

23.7

27.7

21.0

13.2

9.8

England

284.4

291.7

221.1

150.2

126.1

Note:

Totals may not add due to rounding

The table containing data broken down by each local authority area is lengthy so I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to promote the development of (a) synthetic diesel and (b) other biofuel production from waste plant material. (125929)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government supports the development and use of biofuels primarily through fuel duty incentives. We also fund research into advanced biofuel production processes, including a recent DTI-funded study into biofuel production from plant biomass (details at

http://www.dti.gov.uk/files/file35818.pdf)

and a national non-food crops centre project to determine the opportunities for producing synthetic diesel and other materials from biomass to liquids technology (further details at

http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/funding/calls.cfm ).

At EU level, the UK Government have been active in developing and defining the Seventh Framework programme for research and development, which includes significant support for research into improved and new types of biofuels for transport.

In the longer term, the Government are keen to use the renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO) to promote the development and use of those biofuels which offer the greatest environmental benefits. The use of wastes, including plant wastes, has the potential to offer significant climate change and sustainability benefits. We are seeking views on the ways in which we might incentivise the environmental benefits of biofuels as part of our consultation on the RTFO, copies of which are available in the House Libraries.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will have regard to the growing of bio-fuel crops that (a) require deforestation and (b) inhibit sustainable food policies when developing his policy on bio-fuels. (127133)

Sustainability of production is one of the Government’s key priorities for biofuel development. That is why the Government are developing environmental reporting as an integral part of the renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO). This will require all obligated companies to report on the carbon savings and wider environmental impacts of their biofuels. The reports will include details of the previous use of the land on which the biofuel feedstocks were grown, and the impacts on biodiversity of growing those feedstocks. This will encourage companies to supply biofuels which deliver the maximum carbon savings with the minimum environmental impact. It will also ensure that we can monitor the impact of both imported and domestically-sourced biofuels.

In the longer-term, the Government will be looking to move to a system that allows only biofuels which meet certain minimum sustainability standards to benefit from the RTFO. However, developing a verifiable and robust system that is compatible with World Trade Organisation requirements on preventing barriers to trade will take time.

We anticipate that biofuels in the UK will come from a mixture of home-grown and imported crops, recycled waste vegetable oils and tallow. While some biofuel crops are likely to replace UK food crops, there are significant quantities of oilseed rape and wheat that are currently exported which could be retained for domestic biofuel use, with no loss to food production. Biofuel crops can also be grown on set-aside land, that is, land which cannot be used for food crops. In the longer term, as technology improves, straw and wood could be used for biofuel production.

Birds: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department plans to implement the recommendation of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee that, before any species of bird is removed from Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, there should be random testing of a proportion of the captive-bred population to verify claims of captive breeding. (127145)

As part of the public consultation exercise for the review of the Bird Registration Scheme, my officials asked the Forensic Working Group (FWG) of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) specifically to consider the DNA forensic issues relating to registration, including those associated with hybrids. The exercise closed on 16 February 2007, and over the coming weeks we will be considering the Forensic Working Group’s contribution alongside all the other responses received. A summary of responses received will be published shortly on the DEFRA website.

Dairy Farming

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average (a) dairy and (b) beef herd size is in (i) Great Britain, (ii) England, (iii) Wales and (iv) each county. (126161)

The average size of dairy and beef herds in England at June 2006 is shown in table 1. County data can be found in table 2. Figures for the other UK countries fall under the jurisdiction of the individual devolved authorities.

Table 1—England

Number

(a) Total dairy cows

129,0231

Total holdings with dairy cows

14,772

Average herd size for dairy cows

87

(b) Total beef cows

73,9046

Total holdings with beef cows

28,293

Average herd size for beef cows

26

Notes:

1. Dairy/beef cows are any cows or heifers that have calved including cull cows. Dairy and beef herd replacements are not included nor are cattle intended for slaughter.

2. Some holdings may have both dairy and beef cows and will therefore be included in the holding counts of both categories

Source:

June Agricultural Survey

Table 2—Dairy and beef cows and holdings by county in England

(a)

(b)

County/unitary authority

Total dairy cows

Hdgs with dairy cows

Average dairy herd size

Total beef cows

Hdgs with beef cows

Average beef herd size

Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees

862

36

24

South Teesside

1,251

24

52

1,643

53

31

Darlington

1,293

15

87

1,304

55

24

Durham CC

6,973

123

57

21,358

682

31

Northumberland

7,758

102

76

46,825

882

53

Tyneside

1,223

36

34

Sunderland

0

0

0

271

10

27

North East Region

18,558

281

66

73,487

1,753

42

West Cumbria

39,870

468

85

21,509

753

29

East Cumbria

68,768

809

85

38,727

1,338

29

Halton and Warrington

344

19

18

Cheshire CC

99,665

880

113

9,055

520

17

Greater Manchester South

1,463

24

62

1,392

73

19

Greater Manchester North

5,650

87

65

3,846

210

18

Blackburn with Darwen

1,238

22

56

802

43

19

Blackpool

0

0

0

Lancashire CC

71,834

849

85

17,240

820

21

East Merseyside

566

14

40

Liverpool

0

0

0

Sefton

Wirral

1,905

15

126

210

13

16

North West Region

291,898

3,173

92

94,041

3,811

25

Kingston upon Hull, City of

East Riding of Yorkshire

5,540

87

63

10,399

351

30

North and North East Lincolnshire

2,315

100

23

York

1,180

18

67

North Yorkshire CC

73,970

965

77

51,208

1,853

28

Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham

6,879

92

74

3,978

184

22

Sheffield

2,076

34

62

2,031

74

27

Bradford

3,866

58

67

3,301

159

21

Leeds

2,263

31

73

2,657

106

25

Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield

8,633

130

66

8,724

443

20

Yorkshire and the Humber Region

104,966

1,430

73

85,857

3,325

26

Derby

East Derbyshire

4,941

96

52

2,801

156

18

South and West Derbyshire

40,277

529

76

20,634

828

25

Nottingham

0

0

0

North Nottinghamshire

5,676

62

91

4,053

172

24

South Nottinghamshire

4,378

47

93

2,060

104

20

Leicester

Leicestershire CC and Rutland

25,510

282

90

14,770

583

25

Northamptonshire

6,500

82

79

12,431

380

33

Lincolnshire

7,783

99

79

18,744

581

32

East Midlands Region

95,603

1,203

79

75,649

2,813

27

Herefordshire, County of

17,582

228

77

20,633

852

24

Worcestershire

14,100

177

80

8,553

469

18

Warwickshire

12,561

184

68

8,818

390

23

Telford and Wrekin

4,028

38

107

1,029

45

23

Shropshire CC

70,042

730

96

28,632

1,123

25

Stoke-on-Trent

818

14

57

414

14

30

Staffordshire CC

75,536

869

87

19,004

1,004

19

Birmingham

Solihull

1,487

17

87

1,054

42

25

Coventry

362

10

36

Dudley and Sandwell

185

5

40

Walsall and Wolverhampton

0

0

0

224

11

21

West Midlands Region

196,694

2,269

87

88,896

3,968

22

Peterborough

Cambridgeshire CC

1,566

29

55

5,464

196

28

Norfolk

11,137

146

76

18,587

547

34

Suffolk

4,977

91

55

7,646

329

23

Luton

0

0

0

Bedfordshire CC

1,744

25

69

2,131

114

19

Hertfordshire

2,269

38

59

3,975

150

27

Southend-on-Sea

0

0

0

0

0

0

Thurrock

579

16

37

Essex CC

4,401

56

78

5,248

235

22

Eastern Region

26,370

392

67

43,926

1,602

27

Inner London—West

0

0

0

0

0

0

Inner London—East

Outer London—East and North East

254

8

32

Outer London—South

152

10

15

Outer London—West and North West

669

7

90

219

11

20

Berkshire

5368

44

121

3,707

135

28

Milton Keynes

667

8

80

600

33

18

Buckinghamshire CC

8,841

96

92

11,015

323

34

Oxfordshire

10,799

118

92

11,239

361

31

Brighton and Hove

East Sussex CC

8,842

113

78

9,750

428

23

Surrey

7,101

77

92

5,070

211

24

West Sussex

14,508

130

112

8,191

284

29

Portsmouth

Southampton

Hampshire CC

20,221

198

102

12,420

531

23

Isle of Wight

3,546

44

80

2,275

98

23

Medway

0

0

0

558

6

93

Kent CC

10,850

120

91

11,270

479

24

South East Region (inc. London)

91,962

963

95

77,077

2,925

26

Bristol, City of

55

5

11

North and North East Somerset, South Gl

26,139

279

94

7,487

396

19

Gloucestershire

28,877

321

90

15,820

665

24

Swindon

2,781

30

92

477

28

17

Wiltshire CC

42,345

401

106

18,136

545

33

Bournemouth and Poole

73

7

11

Dorset CC

64,013

564

113

13,519

600

23

Somerset

94,487

918

103

30,346

1,205

25

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

73,919

956

77

44,497

1,829

24

Plymouth

0

0

0

298

6

50

Torbay

330

10

34

Devon CC

131,101

1,584

83

69,075

2,801

25

South West Region

464,180

5,060

92

200,112

8,096

25

England

1,290,231

14,772

87

739,046

28,293

26

Notes:

1. Dairy/beef cows are any cows or heifers that have calved including cull cows. Dairy and beef herd replacements are not included nor are cattle intended for slaughter.

2. Some holdings may have both dairy and beef cows and will therefore be included in the holding counts of both categories.

Source:

June Agricultural Survey

Departments: Equal Opportunities

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to implement the Race Equality Duty since 2000. (120633)

Following the introduction of the race duties we produced a Race Equality Scheme in draft format for public consultation in May 2002. We revised and updated our Race Equality Scheme in July 2003.

Our revised scheme, which took account of comments received during the consultation, lays out in detail how we implemented the Race Equality Duty. This includes information on how we:

assess, and consult on, the likely impact proposed policies will have on promoting race equality;

monitor policies for any adverse impact on promoting race equality;

publish the results of assessments, consultation and monitoring;

make sure the public have access to information and services; and

train staff to carry out the general duty and the specific duties.

A copy of our Race Equality Scheme is enclosed/available at www.defra.gov.uk

Key achievements include:

Race Relations Act training for staff;

launch of an Equality Impact Assessment toolkit; and

the extension of DEFRA’s successful Elevator Partnership Scheme to specifically address under-representation of minority ethnic and disabled staff at senior management levels.

Departments: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many civil servants are working on policy on anaerobic digestion, broken down by grade; and if he will make a statement. (126176)

A cross-cutting project team is co-ordinating work across DEFRA to develop policy on anaerobic digestion. This regularly involves 14 individuals across five DEFRA divisions as well as a number of others. The total level of staff resources dedicated to the work on anaerobic digestion is equivalent to just under two full-time staff, broken down by grade as follows:

Number

Grade 5

0.15

Grade 7

0.35

Senior Executive Officer

0.8

Higher Executive Officer

0.05

Executive Officer

0.2

Administrative Officer

0.25

Anaerobic digestion has the potential to make a significant contribution to a number of key Government objectives. Most notably, this includes reducing greenhouse emissions from waste management and agriculture, and improving air quality, as well as providing a source of renewable energy.

We will shortly be publishing the UK Biomass Strategy, which will include details of how we propose to work with interested parties to drive faster growth in the use of this technology. We are also currently assessing the level of staff resources that will be required to deliver the UK Biomass Strategy.

In parallel, the national Waste Strategy, which is also to be published this spring, will set out the important contribution which anaerobic digestion can make to achieving our waste management goals.

Departments: Orders and Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his most recent estimate is of the (a) one-off cost and (b) recurring costs of implementing the Animal By-Products Regulations 2003 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. (126666)

The total administrative burden cost of the Animal By-Products Regulations 2003 to business was calculated as £7.58 million. One-off/contingent costs were estimated at £41,000, and recurring costs were £7,539,000. Costs to the Department can only be provided at disproportionate cost.

A full regulatory impact assessment was published alongside the Animal By-Products Regulations 2003. Copies were made available in the Library of the House. It is also available from the DEFRA website at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/regulat/ria/2003/animal-byproducts.pdf

The successful application of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) feed controls has brought about a year on year reduction in the incidence of BSE. This, along with the Government’s other BSE controls, has enabled the Over Thirty Month scheme to be replaced, at an annual saving to the taxpayer of £300 million, and paved the way for the beef export ban to be lifted.

Departments: Paper

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans he has to increase the amount of recycled paper used in his Department; (122429)

(2) what percentage of the paper used by his office comes from recycled sources.

During the last financial year the core Department purchased 874 tonnes of recycled paper for printed publications (96 per cent.) and 235.8 tonnes of recycled paper for internal office use (100 per cent.).

DEFRA’s procurement policy requires use of recycled paper that meets the Quick Wins targets set by the Government in October 2003. These require all Departments to buy paper for printed publications using coated paper that meets or exceeds a 60 per cent. recycled target of which a minimum is 75 per cent. post consumer waste. DEFRA currently buys 75 per cent. recycled paper in this category. For office paper and publications using uncoated paper there is a 100 per cent. recycled target of which 75 per cent. should be post consumer waste.

The only exceptions to these standards are where recycled paper is not available for a specific process, e.g. security paper.

Energy: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans his Department has to encourage local planning authorities to enforce higher standards for the energy efficiency of homes. (126734)

[holding answer 14 March 2007]: Enforcement of higher standards for the energy efficiency of homes is the responsibility of Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). DEFRA has been working closely with DCLG to secure greater energy efficiency of new and existing homes through amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations. DEFRA supports the recent amendment to Part L, which will lead to an increase in the energy efficiency of new homes by approximately 20 per cent. compared with those built to the 2002 Regulations. DEFRA also supports the commitment that all new homes will be zero carbon by 2016, introduced through a timetable of phased improvements.

Environment Protection: EC Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timetable is for the introduction of the environmental liability directive; and what is required for it to have regulatory effect. (127134)

Member states are required to transpose the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) by 30 April 2007. The Government completed the first of two public consultations (on policy options for transposing) at the end of February. Following analysis of consultation responses, the way forward is currently being considered. The second consultation (on draft legislation) is planned to take place later in the year. The 30 April implementation deadline will therefore not be met. Taking account of all the required processes, implementation is expected during spring 2008. While the Government wish to implement the Directive as expeditiously as possible, it also wants to ensure optimum stakeholder engagement. We will apply section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, using the appropriate Designation Orders, as the legal base for transposing the ELD.

Executive Agencies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 October 2006, Official Report, column 1723W, on executive agencies, what the net change was in the (a) value and (b) percentage of (i) resource and (ii) capital budget levels for each of his Department's executive agencies from 2005-06 to 2006-07 in (1) cash terms and (2) real terms; and if he will make a statement. (122625)

Of the Department’s nine executive agencies, five (Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Central Science Laboratory, Pesticides Safety Directorate, Veterinary Laboratories Agency and Veterinary Medicines Directorate) are net controlled agencies and recover their full economic costs through charges to their customers which include both DEFRA and non-DEFRA clients.

Details of the net changes to budgets of the four gross controlled agencies are given in the following table.

lncrease/(reduction) in cash termsIncrease/(reduction) in real1 terms

Value (£ million)

Percentage

Value (£ million)

Percentage

Prog

Cap

Prog

Cap

Prog

Cap

Prog

Cap

GDS

2.3

0.0

2.4

0.0

2.3

0.0

2.3

0.0

MFA

3.1

0.0

0.2

0.0

2.5

0.0

0.1

0.0

RPA

(260.5)

20.5

(0.5)

2.7

(273.5)

20.3

(0.5)

2.6

SVS

8.6

7.7

0.1

3.0

6.2

7.7

0.1

2.9

1 2.68 per cent. added to the 2005-06 to restate at 2006-07 values.

Notes:

GDS Government Decontamination Service

MFA Marine Fisheries Agency

RPA Rural Payments Agency

SVS State Veterinary Service

Source:

HMT GDP Deflators

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 October 2006, Official Report, column 1723W, on executive agencies, what subsequent changes to the (a) resource and (b) capital budgets of his Department’s executive agencies have been made; and if he will make a statement. (122632)

The following subsequent changes (in value and percentage) have been made to the 2006-07 resource and capital budgets of the Department’s executive agencies listed:

Gross Control Agencies:

(i) Government Decontamination Service

Resource: £0.05 million - 1 per cent. reduction

Capital: £0 - 0 per cent.

(ii) Marine Fisheries Agency

Resource: £0 - 0 per cent.

Capital: £0 - 0 per cent.

(iii) Rural Payments Agency

Resource: £2.2 million - 1 per cent. increase

Capital: £0 - 0 per cent.

(iv) State Veterinary Service

Resource: £3 million - 3 per cent. increase

Capital: £0 - 0 per cent.

Net Control Agencies:

(v) Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

Resource: £0 - 0 per cent.

Capital: £0 - 0 per cent.

(vi) Central Science Laboratory

Resource: £0 - 0 per cent.

Capital: £0 - 0 per cent.

(vii) Pesticides Safety Directorate

Resource: £0 - 0 per cent.

Capital: £0 - 0 per cent.

(viii) Veterinary Laboratories Agency

Resource: £0 - 0 per cent.

Capital: £0 - 0 per cent.

(ix) Veterinary Medicines Directorate

Resource: £0 - 0 per cent.

Capital: £0 - 0 per cent.

Falcons: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what actions his Department (a) has taken and (b) plans to take on the status of the saker falcon following the meeting of the CITES Consultative Committee on Trade in Falcons in May 2004. (126757)

There was no recommendation from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in May 2004 to change the listing status of the saker falcon. The UK has a policy of only putting forward species for listing or amendment of their listed status where we or one of our overseas territories are a range state. This is not the case with the saker falcon and any action therefore to change its listing status would be for one of the range states. Although the saker falcon is listed by CITES as Appendix II, it is listed by the EU as Annex A (the most endangered category).

Floods: North Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who decides on the allocation of funding to flood defence projects in North Yorkshire. (126405)

DEFRA provides the Environment Agency (EA) with a budget each year for flood risk management projects. The north east region of the EA produces an annual needs-based programme of works which is approved by the Yorkshire Regional Flood Defence Committee. This programme is then considered with the other regional programmes produced by the EA and funding is allocated according to priority.

Hunting

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Hunting Act 2004 in achieving its objectives. (127037)

The Government are satisfied with the effectiveness of the Hunting Act 2004, which bans all hunting of wild mammals with dogs, apart from the tightly-drawn exemptions set out in the Act. These exemptions are recognised as effective ways of dealing with specific pest control issues.

Inland Waterways

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent discussions he has had on the Quinquennial Review of British Waterways of 2004; (126846)

(2) what progress has been made in implementing the recommendations of the Quinquennial Review of British Waterways in 2004; and if he will make a statement.

DEFRA has agreed with British Waterways and the Shareholder Executive how the recommendations of the Quinquennial Review should be taken forward. I have met the Chairman and Chief Executive of British Waterways on a number of occasions to discuss a wide range of issues in the context of British Waterways’ revised governance framework, as recommended by the Review.

Single Farm Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in making single farm payments. (126101)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made a statement to the House on 22 February 2007, Official Report, column 60WS, about progress on payments under the Single Payments Scheme. The total paid at that time represented about 59 per cent. of the estimated total fund of £1.54 billion. Further payments have been made since that date. The Rural Payments Agency publishes regular updates on payments under the Single Payments Scheme on its website.

Smith Institute

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money from the public purse (a) his Department and (b) its agencies gave to (i) the Smith Institute and (ii) its subsidiary SI Events Ltd in each year since 1997; and for what purpose each payment was made. (123089)

DEFRA came into being in June 2001. From information held centrally, the Department believes no money from the public purse has been given to the Smith Institute and its subsidiary, SI Events Ltd.

Water Supply

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to change the amount of water abstraction for the purposes of public water supply. (126326)

The Government’s approach to the management of sustainable water resources is the “twin track” approach involving the consideration of demand management alongside sustainable resource development. Each water company’s Water Resources Management Plan will identify the need for any additional abstraction for the public water supply in line with this approach. These plans will also identify the scope for additional demand management activity, to obviate or minimise the need for new abstraction.

Where additional abstraction is identified, then any applications for new abstraction licences will be made to the Environment Agency. The licensing system aims to achieve a balance between the requirements of abstractors and adequate protection of the environment against the impacts of abstraction.

Water: Consumption

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of UK water use is by (a) agriculture, (b) business excluding agriculture, (c) domestic consumers and (d) public bodies and agencies. (126922)

[holding answer 14 March 2007]: Ofwat collects data from water companies each year on water usage. These data are provided for household and non-household customers. The following table provides the most recent figures for 2005-06.

2005-06

Water use household (megalitres per day)

7,760

Water use non-household (megalitres per day)

3,683

Total

11,443

The non-household figure includes agricultural use where it is drawn from the public water supply. Many farmers tend to have their own sources of water supply (such as private boreholes) that are not part of the public supply.

Education and Skills

Youth Opportunities Fund

8. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment he has made of the administration of the Youth Opportunities Fund by local authorities. (127478)

The Youth Opportunity and Youth Capital Funds have been running since April 2006 and are worth £115 million over two years. Local authorities are required to report to Government offices on delivery of the funds on a six monthly basis. The first six monthly reports were received at the end of October 2006. The second reports are due at the end of April 2007. The reporting system is supported by independent evaluation which is being undertaken by the National Foundation for Educational Research.

Adult Education

9. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) places and (b) courses there are in the adult education sector; how many there were on 15 March 2006; and if he will make a statement. (127479)

In my previous response I was able to confirm that we have realigned funding to support our priorities, which has allowed us to achieve our interim adult Level 2 target with a million more adults in the work force with essential employability skills and more than 1.6 million learners achieving Skills for Life qualifications. Overall in the 2005/06 academic year there were nearly 4 million publicly funded adult learner places. We do not hold information on the number of adult education courses.

Skills Development

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how he plans to develop skills to make the UK a more competitive economy; and if he will make a statement. (127481)

Skills are one of the five key drivers of productivity. 1.6 million adults have gained literacy and numeracy qualifications since 2001 and since 2002 1 million more have gained essential Level 2 qualifications. Lord Leitch’s report “Prosperity for all in the global economy—world class skills” sets an ambition for the UK to be a world leader in skills by 2020, which we accept. We will create a demand-led system of skills supply, ensuring that economically valuable skills are delivered at all levels to enhance productivity, employability and social mobility.

Leitch Review

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the progress to date in implementing conclusions and recommendations of the report of the Leitch review of skills. (127482)

We welcomed the ambitions and recommendations of Lord Leitch’s report. It set a vital challenge to raise the UK’s skills to world class levels by 2020, which we cannot afford not to meet as a nation. Its key proposals include a demand-led system of skills supply, and the creation of an Employment and Skills Commission to scrutinise progress and make recommendations on further action, including legislation. We will publish an implementation plan to take forward this agenda in the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review settlement.

Sure Start

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the impact of the Sure Start programme on the early education, childcare, health and family support of disadvantaged children and their families. (127483)

In 2005 the Department published the key emerging findings from our rigorous National Sure Start Evaluation. The report highlighted that even at this early stage in the programmes’ lives there were some promising overall positive effects on parenting, and some small positive effects on child outcomes for most families. It also identified where we need to work harder to support our most disadvantaged families, and we have taken steps to address this.

Pupil Exclusions

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proposals he has to strengthen support for children and young people who are excluded from school. (127484)

From September 2007, schools and local authorities will be required to arrange suitable, full-time education for all excluded pupils from the sixth day of exclusion. This is a considerable improvement on the current expectation that local authorities do this from the 16th day of a permanent exclusion. And, by requiring schools to provide education for pupils who are excluded for a fixed period, these changes will ensure that no child misses out on their education when excluded.

Children's Centres

15. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on what basis funding for children’s centres has been allocated for 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. (127486)

Children’s centres revenue and capital funding for 2006-08 was allocated to 150 local authorities, based on a unit cost per child that took account of the numbers of children under the age of five that must be reached by 2008 and levels of disadvantage. Further amounts were added in recognition of the higher costs of delivering services to children in rural areas and London boroughs.

Denominational Schools

16. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the cost of transport for pupils attending denominational schools was in (a) Leicestershire, (b) the East Midlands and (c) England in 2005-06. (127487)

Mature Students

17. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many and what proportion of applications for university places were from mature students in the last 12 months. (127488)

The latest figures published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) last month show that 42,700 or 15 per cent. of students who had applied for full-time undergraduate courses by mid-January for entry in autumn 2007 were mature students.

Creative Partnership Programme

18. To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of the impact of the creative partnership programme on children’s learning; and if he will make a statement. (127489)