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Written Answers

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 19 March 2007

Wales

Departments: Advertising

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what his Department's total spending was on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 1997; and what the cost of each campaign was, broken down by costs relating to (a) television, (b) radio and (c) print media. (128065)

House of Commons Commission

Roof Terrace

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission when he expects the roof terrace to re-open for use of hon. Members’ staff; and if he will make a statement. (127523)

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how long the roof terrace has been closed to hon. Members; what work has been carried out; and when the roof terrace will be re-opened. (128087)

The roof terrace was closed, along with other roof areas in the parliamentary estate, on 28 September 2006 when a detailed health and safety audit indicated that there were significant risks when assessed under modern regulations. Since then priority has been given to providing safe access to those areas of the roofs where access is required to maintain the structure of the buildings. Work on the roof terrace has been limited to providing temporary fencing to prevent access to areas where people can and have put themselves at risk.

This matter is under active consideration by the Speaker.

Transport

A5

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the reasons are for (a) the delay to 2015-16 from 2010 of the completion of the A5 to M1 link and (b) the change in the expected cost of the link between September 2005 and February 2007. (127914)

The information is as follows:

(a) The East of England Regional Assembly’s advice accepted by the Secretary of State on the regional funding allocation was for the start of construction of the A5-M1 link to be delayed from 2008-09 to 2013-14. However, I have asked the Highways Agency to continue to progress the orders on a timetable that would keep open the possibilities of building M1 J11a early and accelerating the whole of the link road, should the necessary resources become available at an earlier stage.

(b) The principal reasons for the change in the expected cost of the link between September 2005, based on the outline design, and February 2007, based on the preferred route are additional inflation as a result of the later proposed construction date, and changes resulting from the choice of the northern route as the preferred route. Also, the current estimate has taken into account further work by the contractor on survey, design and buildability.

Air Traffic: Forecasts

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what financial contribution his Department made to the report by Oxford Economic Forecasting on the Economic Contribution of the Aviation Industry in the UK. (127439)

The Department's contribution was £23,500 (inclusive of VAT). The majority of the project was funded by aviation and other industry representatives.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport in relation to the survey undertaken by Oxford Economic Forecasting report quoted at paragraphs 4.14 and 4.15 of his Future of Air Transport Progress report, how many questionnaires were sent out; and what proportion were returned. (127440)

Questionnaires were sent out to around 6,000 companies and 165 replies were received. Further detail can be obtained from the Oxford Economic Forecasting report, Annexe A.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to publish details of the air traffic forecasts on which his Future of Air Transport Progress Report was based; and if he will make a statement. (127449)

The Future of Air Transport Progress Report states that a technical note on the air traffic forecasting methods and results outlined in the Progress Report will be published in 2007.

Aircraft: Air Conditioning

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the results have been of the Buildings Research Establishment's testing for tricresyl phosphate and other organophosphates in air sampling research carried out on UK commercial aircraft; and what plans he has for further air sampling research. (127945)

The Buildings Research Establishment report referred to was prepared in October 2003 for the Department of Health as part of the Aviation Health Working Group. It described a study to monitor cabin air quality aboard older aircraft types utilised in high volume short haul operations, as recommended by the House of Lords report on Air Travel and Health. The report found no obvious difference in the cabin environment between older types of aircraft and newer types and that overall, levels of measured air pollutants were always below any recommended health limits.

The report can be found on the Department for Transport website at:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/hci/hacc/bre/.

The Aviation Health Working Group will be commissioning a separate study of cabin air later in the year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the safety implications of the recent instructions by DHL Air Ltd (instruction No. INFO 010/07) advising pilots that low concentrations of fumes (a) after engine start, (b) during taxi and (c) after take-off are normal, do not need to be reported and do not warrant use of emergency oxygen; and if he will make a statement. (127960)

The DHL instruction referred to has been assessed by a CAA flight operations inspector as part of the full range of company instructions relating to smoke, fumes and air contamination. The instruction was promulgated as follow up information additional to the relevant normal, abnormal and emergency procedures. These include company guidance for the use of oxygen and masks. The inspector found the instruction acceptable in that context and the operator has taken steps to ensure in training sessions that it must not be interpreted as a dilution of the company's safety policy with regard to the reporting of incidents of this type.

Airports

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many international destinations were served by (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick and (c) Stansted airports in the last year for which figures are available. (127268)

The data requested can be found in Annex A of the "Air Transport White Paper Progress Report 2006" on the Department for Transport's website: www.dft.gov.uk.

Airports: Passengers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many passengers on international flights went through (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick and (c) Stansted airports in the most recent year for which figures are available. (127269)

Total passengers at an airport can be defined as all terminal and transit passengers. Terminal passengers include all terminating and transferring (interlining/connecting) passengers.

The number of terminal passengers on international flights is published in table 3 of "CAA Passenger Survey Report 2005".

The number of transit passengers is not available for international flights. Total transit passengers, both domestic and international, are published in table 9 of "CAA Airport Statistics 2005", CAA website: www.caa.co.uk.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of passengers on international flights transferred or transited at (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick and (c) Stansted airports in the most recent year for which figures are available. (127270)

The number of transfer passengers on international flights is published as “connect” passengers in table 3 of "CAA Passenger Survey Report 2005".

The number of transit passengers is not available for international flights. CAA website: www.caa.co.uk .

Airports: Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has carried out any survey of the public's understanding of the new security regulations regarding the transport of liquids on aircraft. (123627)

It is not currently DfT policy to conduct passenger surveys in relation to any security functions deployed at airports. However, after the events of the 10 August 2006, information informing passengers of the restrictions pertaining to liquids being taken through security control posts was disseminated through the national press and media, the Department for Transport website, and the aviation and travel industry.

Aviation: Air Pollution

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will call for an emissions trading scheme to be included in the EU-US aviation negotiations currently taking place. (127203)

The Government are taking forward their objective to include aviation in the European emissions trading scheme through negotiations on a draft directive recently produced by the European Commission.

Aviation: Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether UK airline pilots are required to report all cases of smoke or fumes in the aircraft technical log. (127366)

The European Aviation Safety Agency requirements concerning the aircraft technical log include the recording of information about each flight necessary to ensure continued flight safety. For commercial air transport flights, defects and malfunctions that affect the safe operation of the aircraft or the safety of its occupants, that are known to the commander of the aircraft, are required to be recorded in the technical log, or an alternative cabin defect log that is regarded as part of the technical log. Any occurrence of smoke or fumes in the cabin or flight deck that was considered to threaten the safety of aircraft or occupants would be required to be reported in the Technical log or cabin defect log.

Aviation: USA

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what scope there is for (a) reciprocity and (b) access to cabotage in the current aviation negotiations with the US air authorities. (126333)

Discussions have been taking place between the EU and the United States since 2003 on a comprehensive aviation treaty. Following the latest round of negotiations, a revised draft of a possible first stage agreement will be discussed at the EU Council of Transport Ministers on 22 March. The draft agreement as it stands provides a range of traffic and other rights to the airlines of both sides. A number of these would be granted on a reciprocal basis, though some limited rights would be granted to EU carriers only during the first stage. It does not include cabotage rights for the airlines of either side during the first stage.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect on the cost of flights between the UK and the US likely to arise from the draft Open Skies aviation agreement reached between the EU and the US; and if he will make a statement. (126897)

The level of air fares is a commercial matter for the airlines concerned. However, certain air fares from London Heathrow to the US are currently higher than those from equivalent hubs in other European countries which already have an open skies relationship with the US.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential effect on the level of (a) flights, (b) passengers, (c) noise pollution, (d) carbon emissions and (e) global warming of the draft Open Skies aviation agreement reached between the EU and the US; and if he will make a statement. (126898)

The Government considers that the best way to tackle the environmental impacts of aviation is through the programme of measures it is pursuing including the addition of aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme, promoting technological developments and working closely with operators to make improvements through operational changes.

This is a strategic environmental approach which is not dependent on negotiations on individual bilateral air service agreements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect of the draft Open Skies aviation agreement reached between the EU and the US on the ability of the UK and EU to develop legislation on (a) air pollution, (b) greenhouse gas emissions and (c) noise pollution; and if he will make a statement. (126900)

The proposed agreement does not affect the existing ability of the UK or the EU to take additional legislative measures to deal with the impact of aviation on the environment.

Blue Badge Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps his Department has taken to promote the Blue Badge map website; (118772)

(2) whether he plans to expand the geographical coverage of the Blue Badge map website;

(3) how much was spent administering the Blue Badge map website in the last five months.

I have been asked to reply.

DWP is responsible for the Disabled People and Carers information within the Directory website.

A range of marketing activity has been conducted to promote the new service. For example, several disability-related media outlets were approached to highlight the mapping facility and articles have appeared in leading disability publications and on a number of websites that are visited by disabled people. The facility has also been promoted at events and exhibitions, as well as through promotional leaflets and online marketing activities.

In addition, the Disabled People and Carers franchise of the Directgov website, which is hosted by the Office for Disability Issues, a unit within DWP set up to co-ordinate work on disability across Government. It contacted over 500 organisations and individuals, including local authorities, charities and organisations with an interest in disability, to draw their attention to the facility. They were encouraged to place links to the mapping facility on their own websites and to promote the service to other interested parties.

The mapping facility has been purchased under licence initially for one year and currently covers 64 towns and cities across the UK. We are currently considering whether to renew the contract which would potentially expand its geographical coverage.

The cost of administering the service cannot be disaggregated from the overall costs of maintaining and promoting the Disabled People and Carers section of the Directgov website.

Departments: Air Pollution

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent estimate has been made of the carbon footprint of his Department. (124520)

The 2005-06 estimated carbon footprint for the Department is 50,116,258 kg/CO2. This figure includes all building emissions and travel for the Department, other than the amounts for air and rail travel for the seven DfT agencies, which are not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

There is a cross-Government target for the central Government office estate to be carbon neutral by 2012, which will require Departments to offset emissions every year from 2012 in order to achieve a balance of zero net carbon emissions.

All central Government official and ministerial air travel has been captured under offsetting schemes since April 2006, and to provide the figures for what the levels of emissions were last year from departmental air travel, and the anticipated cost of offsetting those emissions through the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund (GCOF).

Departments: Regeneration

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of his Department’s spending was devoted to (a) urban and (b) rural regeneration and redevelopment in (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05 and (iii) 2005-06. (125891)

The proportion of the Department’s spending on urban and rural regeneration and redevelopment is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departments: Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles were travelled by his Department’s (a) Ministers and (b) officials on Government business by (i) air, (ii) rail and (iii) road in 2006. (124519)

It is not currently possible to separate ministerial mileage from that incurred by officials. The figures for Ministers and officials for the financial year 2005-06 are as follows: air travel 5,641,508 miles, rail travel 3,328,585 miles, road travel 3,786,021 miles. This excludes DSA, DVLA, GCDA, HA, VGA and VOSA, who do not hold the information in the format requested.

All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code, Travel by Ministers and the Civil Service Management Code.

Heathrow Airport: Night Flying

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect of night flights to and from Heathrow airport on the London economy; and if he will make a statement. (126296)

In making its decision about the restrictions to apply to night flying at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports from October 2006 to October 2012, the Government took account of the combined effects on the national economy of night flights at these airports. There has been no separate specific consideration of the impact of night flying at Heathrow on the London economy.

A regulatory impact assessment was published on 6 June 2006, when the Secretary of State announced the restrictions on night flying to apply at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports from October 2006. It makes a broad statement on the economic importance of night flying at the designated airports and discusses the economic evidence presented by consultees in response to the stage two consultation on the proposed restrictions. This document is on the internet at the following address:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/aviation/environmentalissues/nighthgs/

Heathrow Airport: Passengers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of the international routes served by Heathrow airport depend for their commercial viability on transfer or transit passengers; and for which routes this is the case. (127271)

London Underground

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total capital expenditure on London Underground (LU) was in each year since 1990 during which his Department had responsibility for LU, broken down by line. (124237)

Responsibility for London Underground passed to Transport for London and the Mayor of London on 15 July 2003. Performance since then has been an operational matter for London Underground who are best placed to answer direct. London Underground does not record investment broken down by lines. However the total figures to 2002-03 are shown in the following table. In April 2000, London Underground adopted new accounting treatment for its investment expenditure which removed the category ‘investment renewals': the majority of this expenditure was reclassified as capital, although some (£90 million) became resource expenditure. Therefore the figures before and after April 2000 are not directly comparable and are presented in two separate tables with the years 1990-91 to 1999-2000 on one consistent basis and those for a restated 1999-2000 to 2005-06 are on another. It is normal accounting practice when a change in accounting treatment occurs to restate the previous year's figures on the same basis in the accounts, so that a true comparison can be made.

Investment expenditure

£ million (outturn prices)

1990-91

1991-92

1992-93

1993-94

1994-95

1995-96

1996-97

1997-98

1998-99

1999-2000

Capital

327

225

414

320

319

210

173

133

171

134

Renewals

87

70

218

159

184

275

198

191

244

208

Total core business

414

295

632

479

503

485

371

324

415

342

Jubilee line extension

40

63

68

261

396

587

660

476

283

655

CrossRail

5

12

29

45

30

16

4

Total investment

459

370

729

785

929

1,088

1,035

800

698

997

Investment expenditure

£ million (outturn prices)

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

Capital

252

293

418

402

Total core business

252

293

418

402

Jubilee line extension

655

CrossRail

Total investment

907

293

418

402

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) track and (b) signal failures there were on the London Underground (LU) in each year since 1990 during which his Department had responsibility for LU, broken down by line. (124244)

Responsibility for London Underground passed to Transport for London and the Mayor of London on 15 July 2003. Performance since then has been an operational matter for London Underground who are best placed to answer direct. Information on the years prior to 1996 could be provided only at disproportionate time and cost. The numbers of track and signal failures that caused more than a two minute delay for the period 1996-97 to 2002-03 are:

Signals

1996-97

1997-98

1998-99

1999-00

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

Bakerloo

264

292

249

355

64

131

143

Central

644

880

308

335

274

554

495

District

303

269

278

394

246

500

454

East London1

32

52

49

Jubilee

79

110

197

338

204

354

257

Circle and Hammersmith

129

131

125

238

9

286

203

Metropolitan

209

266

194

290

267

374

353

Northern

298

323

216

317

188

357

551

Piccadilly

261

241

213

202

184

161

161

Victoria

115

166

149

131

100

308

382

Waterloo and City2

16

27

29

18

22

23

Total signals

2,3021

2;302

1,929

2,600

1,746

3,099

3,071

Track

1996-97

7997-98

7998-99

1999-00

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

Bakerloo

193

201

176

168

96

125

76

Central

203

92

65

50

82

103

63

District

74

51

69

83

162

94

143

East London1

8

8

11

Jubilee

45

38

77

146

43

77

95

Circle and Hammersmith

75

61

57

62

51

84

81

Metropolitan

105

73

83

82

108

83

74

Northern

141

165

109

105

95

115

171

Piccadilly

92

110

109

135

129

89

105

Victoria

54

80

66

66

25

41

36

Waterloo and City2

5

2

8

Total track

982

982

811

897

804

821

863

1 East London Line was included with Jubilee line until 1999-2000. 2 Waterloo and City Line included with Central Line until 1999-2000.

M6: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 9 March 2007, Official Report, column 2261W, on the M6: Repairs and Maintenance, if he will place a copy of the internal review document of safety options in the Library. (128509)

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

Motor Vehicles: Testing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many vehicles were tested at the Salisbury Vehicle Testing Station in each month of 2006, broken down by class of vehicle; and how many vehicles (a) passed and (b) failed. (127548)

Parking

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many workplace parking schemes were established in each of the last 10 years. (125975)

We do not collect or hold information centrally on the number and location of workplace parking schemes or workplace travel plans in the UK. Any information that is available would be held by local authorities. Examples of good practice can be found in the Department's publications ‘Making Travel Plans Work’ and ‘A Travel Plan Resource Pack for Employers’.

Parking: Regulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what restrictions apply to the parking of (a) large vans and (b) caravans (i) in residential streets and (ii) on private driveways. (125560)

The only national restrictions that apply to the parking of large vans or caravans in residential streets are that caravan lamps must be fully lit and not obscured when caravans are parked at night.

Parking control is generally a local issue and local authorities may make a Traffic Regulation Order regulating, restricting or prohibiting the on-street parking of different classes of vehicle, including caravans.

Operators of goods vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes are required to have an operator’s license, the conditions of which may require vehicles to be kept off the road when not in use.

There are no national restrictions that apply to the parking of large vans or caravans on private driveways.

Public Service Vehicles: Regulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the (a) one-off and (b) recurring cost of implementing the Public Service Vehicles (Conditions of Fitness, Equipment, Use and Certification) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. (125619)

There were two sets of amendments to the Public Service Vehicles (Conditions of Fitness, Equipment, Use and Certification) Regulations in 2002. The first, SI 2002 No. 335, was to bring the regulations into alignment with the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations SI 2000 No. 1970, and the second, SI 2002 No. 489 changed the fees for inspections. There were no costs associated with the former, as the amendments did not introduce new requirements in addition to SI 2000 No. 1970. A Regulatory Impact Assessment for SI 2000 No. 1970 was placed in the House Library when these regulations were made.

The fees for inspections of large passenger vehicles are normally reviewed annually, and the costs to business arising from SI 2002 No. 489 coming into force until the next fee increase (August 2003) amounted to £39,496.

The Department for Transport is committed to better regulation. We aim to introduce new regulation only where absolutely necessary, and to simplify existing regulation to reduce burdens.

Public Transport: Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) quality contracts and (b) quality partnerships were established in each of the last five years. (125974)

Since the coming into force of the Transport Act 2000, quality contracts provisions have not been used. No statutory partnership schemes are currently in force, however in January 2007 a statutory quality partnership scheme for north Sheffield was formally signed by Sheffield city council and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority and Executive. This will come into effect in July 2007.

Voluntary partnerships already exist widely across the country.

The Government's proposals, set out in ‘Putting Passengers First’ in December 2006, aim to make quality contracts a more realistic option and to increase the scope of quality partnership schemes.

Railways: Airports

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many new (a) rail and (b) light rail links to airports have been built since 1997. (125976)

Heathrow Express, a direct rail service from London Paddington to Heathrow airport, was opened in 1998. The Docklands Light Railway was extended in 2005 to provide access to London City airport. Also in 2005, the Welsh Assembly Government funded the reopening of the Vale of Glamorgan line for passenger trains in order to serve Cardiff International airport (previously the line had been suitable for freight transport only).

Railways: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding is available to assist communities in opening and running branch railways. (126181)

There is no specific fund for reopening branch lines, but such reopenings are eligible for funding through the Local Transport Plan process, the Transport Innovation Fund and the Communities Fund. The Government's community rail development strategy encourages local stakeholders to work together to support existing lines and services and the same principles can apply to reopenings.

Railways: Franchises

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 9 March 2007, Official Report, column 2262W, on railways: franchises, what the timetable is for the decision to be made on extending c2c’s franchise beyond 2011. (128189)

Shipping

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the availability of (a) British merchant seafarers and (b) British flagged merchant vessels to meet foreseeable strategic defence needs. (127929)

In 2004 the Department for Transport, jointly with Ministry of Defence, commissioned the London Metropolitan University to produce a quarterly assessment of the number of UK seafarers up to and including 2006. The Department for Transport also collate an assessment of militarily useful UK registered merchant shipping on a regular basis using an evaluation criterion provided by the MOD.

Travel: Business

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will promote the use of internet conferencing to businesses as an alternative to travel. (126629)

The Department encourages employers to develop workplace travel plans, which may include teleconferencing and teleworking, to reduce car use for the commute and during the course of work. We recognise the benefits of these and also the potential of internet conferencing in reducing the need to travel.

On 22 February 2007, we launched the National Business Travel Network to promote and support increased take-up of travel plans, particularly by the business community. Part of the work of this network is to encourage greater use of teleconferencing and teleworking. The network has so far been joined by 30 national companies as well as business groups and trade associations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of (a) internal and (b) international same-day return flights made by businesses in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (126630)

The number of international day visits by UK residents for business purposes in each of the last five years is shown in the following table.

The information requested is not available for internal visits. Information is available from the CAA Passenger Survey on domestic air travel but this survey is only carried out at a selected number of UK airports each year. Day visits abroad by UK residents for business purposes, 2001-05

Day visits (thousand)

2001

607

2002

653

2003

604

2004

651

2005

630

Source:

International Passenger Survey

Solicitor-General

Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill

To ask the Solicitor-General pursuant to the answer of 22 February 2007, Official Report, column 1944W, on the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill, when the Attorney-General last met the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to discuss the subject of On the Runs. (128082)

The answer referred to is at 22 February 2007, Official Report, column 884W.

The Attorney-General last spoke with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to discuss “On the Runs” in October 2006.

Trooper Williams

To ask the Solicitor-General what the cost was of the (a) prosecution and (b) defence of Trooper Williams in the High Court in April 2005. (128081)

Although there were no criminal hearings before the High Court in this case, I assume the reference to the High Court is to the abuse of process argument by the defence which was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice before Mrs. Justice Hallett on 21 to 23 February 2005. That defence application was dismissed. The CPS then considered the matter and at a hearing in April 2005 before the Crown court offered no evidence.

The total CPS costs in this case were £28,195.24. This breaks down as follows:

Leading Counsel, total fees (VAT inclusive)—£13,218.75;

Junior Counsel, total fees (VAT inclusive)—£12,613.62;

and a transcript of the application to dismiss abuse of process (VAT inclusive)—£2,362.87.

No witnesses were called and so no witness costs were incurred. The aforementioned figure does not include staff or running costs, which are attributable to the operation of the CPS as a whole and cannot be assessed on an individual case basis.

The costs incurred by the defence are not recorded by my Department.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agricultural Wages Board

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to review the future of the Agricultural Wages Board. (125966)

The Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales was reviewed in 1999-2000. As a non-departmental public body it is now subject to the new, light touch periodic business reviews. There are no plans for a review at present.

Agricultural Wages Board: Equal Opportunities

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why the Agricultural Wages Board did not receive an exemption from the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations. (126718)

The Government did consider a specific exemption from the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations for the agricultural minimum wage. However, we did not consider that the case made by the Agricultural Wages Board provided the necessary evidence to objectively justify such an exemption, in the context of a national social policy objective. If the Agricultural Wages Board presents further evidence to support and justify an exemption, the Government will reconsider its position.

Agriculture: Air Pollution

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on the cost of implementing the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations for individual farms. (127375)

Various representations have been received by the Department on the costs to farmers of implementing the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations. These have been in the form of parliamentary questions, public correspondence and letters from Members of both Houses.

Air Pollution: Business

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many FTSE 100 companies meet the minimum reporting guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions; (126456)

(2) if he will estimate the annual carbon dioxide emissions in each of the last five years from companies which are not meeting the minimum reporting guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions.

DEFRA’s guidelines on environmental reporting, published in January 2006, recommend that companies report their ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ emissions in line with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) protocol, an initiative set up by the World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. This protocol is also used by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which acts on behalf of 225 global investors with total assets of $31 trillion. On an annual basis, the CDP asks global companies to disclose information on greenhouse gas emissions.

83 per cent. of FTSE100 companies responded to CDP’s 2006 information request, of which 55 per cent. provided quantified emissions data and 24 per cent. provided emissions data that met the protocol's reporting requirement on ‘direct’ GHG emissions.

In the absence of a globally accepted framework for corporate GHG emissions reporting, DEFRA is currently in discussions with CDP about the opportunities provided by its role as the Secretariat to the new Climate Disclosure Standards Board. The board was launched at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos to develop and advocate a globally accepted corporate climate reporting standard.

DEFRA does not collect its own estimates of the GHG emissions of individual companies.

Biofuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much land is used for (a) biomass, (b) road use biofuel and (c) other energy crops; and what estimate he has made of the amount needed to grow enough biofuel to meet the five per cent. biofuel target for road fuel. (126410)

In 2005, the latest year for which comprehensive data are currently available, a total of around 209,000 hectares was estimated to be used in England for crops purpose-grown for use as industrial materials and bio-energy. Of this total, oilseed rape for biofuel use accounted for nearly 93,000 hectares. This figure relates only to plantings under the Energy Aid Scheme as the end-use for crops not receiving this aid is not known. Energy crops for use in the generation of heat and electricity accounted for around 600 hectares. Plantings of energy crops have increased significantly since 2005, with over 4,500 hectares now in the ground. Biomass also comes from non purpose-grown sources such as straw and woodfuel from forestry operations.

To meet the 5 per cent. transport biofuel target entirely from UK sources would require between 1 to 1.5 million hectares of crops. However, we anticipate that biofuels in the UK will come from a mixture of home-grown and imported crops, recycled vegetable oils and tallow. In the longer term, as technology improves, straw and wood could be used for bioethanol production, so reducing pressure on land.

Biofuels: Cumbria

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the area of land in Cumbria which is suitable for growing biofuel crops. (127352)

[holding answer 13 March 2007]: The main crops which can be grown in England to produce biofuels are oilseed rape, wheat and sugar beet, however we have not carried out research into the availability or suitability of land for growing these crops at county level.

In Cumbria, based on the June 2005 Agriculture and Horticulture Census for England, the Region, Counties/Unitary Authorities, approximately 471 hectares of oilseed rape and 5,855 hectares of wheat were grown. Some sugar beet was also grown, however, in order to protect the identity of individual holdings, detailed figures are not included. The survey does not provide information on end use, so it is not possible to determine what proportion of these crops may have been grown for biofuel production.

Birds: Registration

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the public consultation on the proposed changes to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Schedule 4, and the registration of rare birds kept in captivity. (127976)

The public consultation closed on 16 February 2007 and we are currently considering the responses. A summary of responses received will be published shortly on the DEFRA website.

Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) with which sectors of industry he is working on the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme; (126429)

(2) what update there has been by industry of funding under the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme;

(3) what progress has been made by the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 14 March 2007]: The Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) Programme is returning £284 million raised from the landfill tax escalator back to business between 2005 and 2008 to improve their resource efficiency and to minimise the levels of waste that are unnecessarily sent to landfill. A Steering Group, consisting of various interested organisations including businesses, advises on the development of the programme.

The Programme provides assistance to all business sectors in England. Funding must provide a potential benefit to those sectors paying landfill tax and, where possible, address those sectors most affected by landfill tax increases. However, information on the sectoral uptake of assistance by English businesses is not stored centrally.

Evaluation results for 2005-06, which are conservative, indicate that BREW saved businesses nearly £88 million and increased their sales by over £14 million. There were also reductions in water use, waste sent to landfill and the amounts of raw materials used by businesses. Many of the benefits will be seen beyond 2005-06. Work is currently under way to assess the impact of Programme spending in the current year, 2006-07.

Carbon Dioxide: Pollution Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of voluntary carbon offsetting in the UK complying with (a) the CDM Gold Standard, (b) certified emissions reductions generated by the Clean Development Mechanism, (c) emissions reductions units generated by joint implementation projects, (d) EU allowances under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, (e) his Department's proposed voluntary code of best practice for carbon offsetting and (f) uncertified voluntary emissions reductions. (125284)

[holding answer 14 March 2007]: DEFRA does not collect information on the voluntary carbon offsetting market and has not made any estimate.

The Department has published a consultation paper aimed at establishing a voluntary Code of Best Practice for the provision of carbon offsetting to UK customers. The consultation will finish on 13 April 2007 and the intention is to have the code operating by autumn 2007.

We will report on the code's uptake once it has come into operation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) supported into the effect of introducing iron sulphate into the ocean to increase phytoplankton activity and absorb quantities of carbon dioxide. (126283)

The Department has not commissioned, nor supported any research on the effect of introducing iron sulphate in the ocean to increase phytoplankton activity and absorb quantities of carbon dioxide.

The Department recognises that, although there may be value in investigating some engineering solutions to combat climate change, there are concerns about their ancillary effects on the environment, the practicalities and the costs of such solutions. The Department’s key priority remains finding ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to a level that will prevent dangerous climate change, as well as the need for national and international action.

Carbon Emissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the carbon savings in (a) households, (b) the business sector, (c) central Government and (d) local government in (i) million tonnes of carbon and (ii) million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum in each year since 2004; and what projections he has made for the years up to 2010. (124641)

Figures published by the Department show that total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 3.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents between 2004-05. CO2 emissions fell by 0.4 million tonnes during this period, that is, 0.1 million tonnes Carbon (MtC). Savings by individual end-use sectors are not yet available but DEFRA hopes to publish details later this month.

2005 was the first year of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Under the EU ETS, UK companies are able to buy emissions allowances from other EU countries. Purchase of these allowances is to be taken into account when determining whether the Kyoto target and 2010 domestic goal have been met.

UK installations covered by the scheme emitted 242 million tonnes of CO2 in 2005, which was 27 million tonnes more than their allocations for that year. The electricity supply industry emitted 36.5 million tonnes more than its allocation; other sectors emitted 9.5 million tonnes less. Adjusted for emissions trading, UK CO2 emissions in 2005 were about 527 million tonnes—approximately 11 per cent. lower than 1990 levels.

Projections of emissions, and hence savings, are not provided on a year by year basis, but at five-yearly intervals. Furthermore, projections are made only for the whole of the public sector, not for individual parts. Using the latest published figures (UK climate change programme 2006) for actual 2004 emissions and for projected emissions for 2010 (The Energy Challenge, Annex H—which updated those used in the above climate change programme), projected savings in 2010 relative to 1990 for these sectors are:

Households—22.0 MtCO2 (6.0 MtC)

Business—37.9 MtCO2 (10.35 MtC)

Public sector—7.5 MtCO2 (2.05 MtC)

DEFRA will publish an updated appraisal of the impact of policies and measures included in the 2006 climate change programme later this year. This report will look at the progress of individual policies and measures, and provide a revised projection, if necessary, of the projected saving each policy and measure will deliver in 2010, based on latest available information.

Departments: Furniture

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many items of furniture were (a) lost and (b) stolen from his Department in each year since 1997; and what the value was of those items in each year. (120710)

In 2006 a small sofa was stolen, approximate cost £350. No other items have been lost or stolen since 1997.

Departments: Official Cars

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many vehicles belonging to his Department were (a) lost and (b) stolen in each year since 1997; and what the (i) make and model and (ii) value was of each vehicle. (121371)

DEFRA came into being in June 2001. Since that time, and from information held centrally, no vehicles have been reported lost or stolen.

Departments: Official Engagements

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will list his official engagements from 1 January to 28 February 2007. (125952)

The Secretary of State had the following official engagements during January and February.

Engagement

3 January

Speech, Oxford Farming Conference

10 January

Country Landowners Association to discuss food issues

11 January

Tesco to discuss food labelling

11 January

Climate Change Task Force to discuss climate change issues

16 January

Waste Industry Stakeholders to discuss waste issues

18 January

Marks and Spencer to discuss climate change issues

20 to 24 January

Visit to Sustainable Development Summit in India

29 January

Agriculture and Fish Council, Brussels

30 January

BioRegional to discuss various issues

31 January

Global Cool to discuss climate change

31 January

Lehman Brothers to discuss climate change

1 February

Energy Savings Trust to discuss energy saving

2 February

Visit to Edinburgh on range of environmental issues

20 February

Environment Council, Brussels

21 February

Representatives from a number of supermarkets to discuss various issues

22 February

National Farmers Union to discuss various issues

22 February

GMB Union to discuss climate change

26 February

Speech, National Farmers Union Conference

27 February

Speech, Green Alliance

28 February

ENCAMS to discuss sustainable schools

In addition to the meetings disclosed, he also had a number of other internal meetings with officials.

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 cost of implementing the Detergents Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/2469) to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. (126644)

A Regulatory Impact Assessment carried out before the introduction of the Detergents Regulations 2005 estimated that the total one-off compliance costs would be between £8.4 million and £14 million based on compliance testing of 2,800 surfactants. Given the long lead in for these regulations, the costs of additional labelling requirements fell within normal business running costs which were assisted by a six month transition period after the regulations came into force.

As there is relatively little industry development of new surfactants for use in the detergents industry, recurring compliance testing costs are nominal. There are no one-off or recurring administrative costs and no costs to the regulators. These regulations ensure that detergents degrade quickly ensuring high standards of environmental protection.

DEFRA is committed to regulating better and has a target of a 25 per cent. reduction in administrative burdens. The implementation of a more risk based approach to regulation, in conjunction with tougher penalties combined with improved effectiveness via focus on outcomes, and simplification where possible, is fully consistent with this.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the (a) one-off cost and (b) ongoing costs of implementing the Genetically Modified Organisms (Traceability and Labelling) (England) Regulations 2004 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. (126659)

A full Regulatory Impact Assessment was published alongside the Genetically Modified Organisms (Traceability and Labelling) (England) Regulations 2004. 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/2004/gmolabelling.pdf

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 Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. (126665)

The most recent estimate of the costs of implementing the Water Framework Directive (WFD) were published in the Final Regulatory Impact Assessment (2004). The cost of compliance that could be quantified at that stage amounted to be between £450 million and £630 million per annum. The RIA also assessed the cost of implementation for the Environment Agency to be £7 million per annum

Benefits that could be quantified and valued appeared to be in the region of £560 million per annum. Given the range of benefits which have not been quantified this is considered to be an underestimate and represents a relatively small proportion of the estimated damages that may be avoided.

A revision of the overall RIA for WFD implementation is planned for 2007.

DEFRA is committed to regulating better and has a target of a 25 per cent. reduction in administrative burdens. The implementation of a more risk based approach to regulation, in conjunction with tougher penalties combined with improved effectiveness via focus on outcomes, and simplification where possible, is fully consistent with this.

Departments: Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many miles were travelled by his Department’s (a) Ministers and (b) officials on Government business by (i) air, (ii) rail and (iii) road in 2006. (124522)

Information held centrally on miles travelled by Ministers and officials on Government business by air, rail and road in 2006 is as follows:

Mileage by travel mode

Ministers

Officials

Car

1

1

Rail

216,263

22,015,668

Air

2135,557

22,639,751

1 Not held centrally.

2 Mileage available from 1 April to 31 December 2006, where travel is booked on departmental contracts. Data for the first quarter of the year is not available

All travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code, Travel by Ministers and the Civil Service Management Code.

Vehicle mileage is reported by financial year. DEFRA officials drove 8,930,363 miles on Government business in financial year 2005-06. Mileage collation for financial year 2006-07 will be available in June 2007.

Diesel Fuel: Agriculture

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many people were charged with using illegal red diesel in (a) England and (b) Lancashire in each of the last 10 years; (124907)

(2) how many farmers were charged with the illegal use of red diesel for non-agricultural use in (a) England and (b) Lancashire in each of the last 10 years.

I have been asked to reply.

The number of people convicted in relation to hydrocarbon oils fraud in mainland Great Britain is available in the HMRC annual report, and is shown in the following table. The 2006-07 figure will be reported in annual report later this year. The occupation of the people convicted is not reported.

Number of people convicted in Great Britain

2001-02

9

2002-03

8

2003-04

17

2004-05

12

2005-06

14

Electronic Tagging: Sheep

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on the generic animal number format for electronic identification for sheep; (127262)

(2) how many unique animal numbers for sheep will be available for the UK under plans to introduce electronic identification for sheep.

EU Council Regulation 21/2004 requires the code structure of electronic identification (EID) transponders to be compliant with International Standards Organisation (ISO) standard 11784. This provides for a 12 digit binary number (the highest number being 274,877,906,043) to be used to identify each animal. However, this range of numbers is not available for sheep alone. The ISO code structure applies to all animals which may be electronically identified so we therefore need to build a way to identify each species into the numbering sequence.

We have yet to decide on what numbering system we will adopt should EID be introduced. Discussions with the devolved Governments and interested organisations in England are ongoing.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the European Commission to publish their implementation report on electronic identification for sheep. (127266)

The Commission’s implementation report on electronic identification for sheep is expected to be available this spring.

Energy: Business

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the take-up is of the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Management Programme in each region. (127204)

The Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) Programme is returning £284 million raised from the landfill tax escalator back to business between 2005 and 2008 to improve their resource efficiency and to minimise the levels of waste that are unnecessarily sent to landfill.

A portion of the funding is delivered through the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), in order to co-ordinate delivery of the BREW Programme measures at the regional level, and to carry out regionally specific projects. In 2005-06, £5 million was awarded to the RDAs for the first purpose only, with £11.71 million provided for both purposes in 2006-07.

The majority of BREW funding is awarded to a series of national delivery bodies, including Envirowise, the Waste and Resources Action Programme, the Environment Agency, the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme and the Carbon Trust. DEFRA does not hold a breakdown of how this funding is spent at a regional level.

Exhaust Emissions: Aviation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the carbon emissions were of international flights to and from the UK in each of the last five years; (126454)

(2) what the levels of carbon dioxide emissions were from internal domestic flights in the UK in each of the last five years;

(3) what the level of carbon emissions was from the aviation industry in each of the last five years.

The following table shows emissions of carbon dioxide from domestic UK flights, international flights leaving UK airports and total emissions from all UK aviation, in million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) in each year from 2000 to 2005. Emissions from flights arriving in the UK are not estimated.

Emissions from domestic aviation

Emissions from international aviation from UK1

Total emissions from domestic and international aviation

2000

1.96

30.25

32.21

2001

2.06

29.49

31.55

2002

2.07

28.94

31.01

2003

2.11

29.64

31.76

2004

2.30

33.13

35.43

2005

2.46

35.01

37.47

1 Definition of the UK excludes UK overseas territories.

International aviation is reported as an information item in the UK greenhouse gas inventory but does not, by international agreement, count towards national totals under the Kyoto Protocol.

The impact of aviation on climate change is not limited to CO2 emissions. Although there is need for further research, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that the total climate change impact of aviation is between two and four times greater than that of its CO2 emissions alone.

Exhaust Emissions: Shipping

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the carbon emissions were of the naval shipping industry in each of the last five years. (126453)

The emissions of a particular industry can be explained only on an end user basis, not a source basis. To calculate emissions from the Naval shipping industry one would have to look at such things as the steel and other materials used, the electricity used etc. and work out what the carbon cost of those are. The UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, which is required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, does not collect emissions data on this basis.

Farms: Lancashire

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department plans to allocate to farmers in Lancashire to improve the environmental sustainability of farms. (126600)

Environmental Stewardship (ES) is the current main funding mechanism by which land managers are encouraged to deliver effective environmental management on their land. Budgets for the schemes operating under ES (Entry Level Stewardship, Organic Entry Level Stewardship and Higher Level Stewardship) are allocated by region, rather than by county. However, in Lancashire there is already a commitment to pay £2,392,757 annually to agreement holders under these schemes. The hon. Member may also wish to note that under the predecessor scheme to ES, Countryside Stewardship, the annual commitment for 2007 in Lancashire is £2,359,098.

We are unable to confirm the regional budgets for ES until we receive approval of the new Rural Development Programme for England (2007 -13) from the European Commission. Negotiations over the final funding package, including the question of voluntary modulation, are continuing. However, in advance of formal approval we are keeping ES open to new applications. Agreements entered into since 1 January 2007 are provisional and are being funded from existing indicative budgets agreed when the scheme was launched.

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many homes were assessed to be at significant risk of flooding, defined as >1.3 per cent. probability, in (a) 2003, (b) 2004, (c) 2005 and (d) 2006. (123651)

The figures for properties in England identified as being at significant risk of flooding (defined as a probability of flooding in any one year greater than 1.3 per cent. or one in 75) from the Environment Agency's national flood risk assessments are:

2003: no assessment undertaken;

2004: 315,000 properties, with subsequent analysis indicating that approximately 285,000 were residential;

2005: 517,000 properties, but the assessment did not differentiate between residential and commercial;

2006: 469,000 properties of which approximately 393,000 are residential.

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify my answer of 28 February 2007, Official Report, column 1328W, in which the figure for the 2004 assessment of properties at significant risk related to residential properties only, while all other figures related to residential and commercial properties.

It should also be noted that the differences between assessments are almost entirely due to changes in data and analysis techniques as opposed to the actual flood risk, for example the number of properties within the floodplain for which no result is available has fallen dramatically from 265,000 in 2004 to 28,000 in 2006. This represents an improvement in the analysis but leads to a commensurate increase in the number of properties in each risk band

Flood Control: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1824-5W, on flood control: finance, who decided that only certain development studies and coastal monitoring projects would receive new funding. (126406)

My letters of 20 December to the Environment Agency, Local Government Association and Association of Drainage Authorities explained that funding for new capital improvement projects and related studies in 2007-08 was severely constrained by the high level of funding commitment to ongoing projects but that I had decided to allocate £2.1 million to fund a review of Shoreline Management Plans, development of strategy plans, and coastal monitoring and other essential studies to allow strategic planning for the investment programme to be strengthened. Total funding from DEFRA to the operating authorities for flood risk management in 2007-08 will be £457 million, excluding spend on coast protection. The letters are published on the DEFRA website and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Institute for Public Policy Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding (a) his Department and (b) its predecessor provided to (i) the IPPR and (ii) IPPR Trading Ltd. in each year since May 1997; and for what purpose funding was provided. (124212)

DEFRA came into being in June 2001. From information held centrally, payments to the IPPR are as follows; we do not have a breakdown of funding between IPPR and IPPR Trading Ltd.:

Financial year

Total (£)

2001-02

0

2002-03

352.50

2003-04

1,515.75

2004-05

58.75

2005-06

161,375.14

2006-072

318,458.29

1 Includes £51,898 to meet the costs of a secondee from IPPR to Defra. 2 April to December. 3 Includes £11,408 to meet the costs of a secondee from IPPR to Defra.

Payments have been for advice on energy, climate and environmental strategy, including environmental pollution; business and strategy; business and transport; business and consumers together with a joint public seminar with DEFRA on India's sustainability challenge.

Land Drainage

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) strategy and (b) funding the Government have put in place for integrated drainage plans in urban areas (i) to address the risks of sewer flooding and (ii) to increase the storm capacity of drainage systems; and if he will make a statement. (125624)

In January 2007, as part of DEFRA’s new strategy on flood management (known as “Making space for water”), I announced the start of 15 integrated urban drainage pilot studies around the country. Further details can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/fcd/policy/strategy/ha2.htm The projects, made possible by £1.7 million of funding from DEFRA, will test new approaches to reduce the risk of urban drainage flooding, both from sewers and stormwater.

While the pilot projects will not directly fund capital improvements, they should bring greater clarity on responsibilities for funding urban drainage management between water companies, local authorities, the Environment Agency, Internal Drainage Boards and the Highways Agency. Following completion of the pilot projects in spring 2008, DEFRA will produce new guidance on effective partnership working to deliver integrated drainage solutions in high risk urban catchments and prepare a regulatory impact assessment for any proposed legislative changes.

For 2005-10, Ofwat has allowed water and sewerage companies a programme of nearly £1 billion to safeguard homes against the risk of sewer flooding. This would resolve or mitigate every known high risk problem of internal flooding from overloaded sewers where companies’ plans said action is needed by 2010.

Livestock: Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when Article 36 of the Treaty of Rome was last invoked for the export of live animals. (127624)

[holding answer 15 March 2007]: I assume that the question refers to Article 30 of the Treaty of Rome, which was Article 36 prior to the current Treaty.

I am aware of two rulings by the European Court of Justice in cases relating to the export of live animals in which Article 30 (then Article 36) was invoked. Case C-5/1994, ruled on 23 May 1996, relates to a UK ban on exporting sheep to Spain because of concerns over welfare conditions in Spanish abattoirs. Case C-1/1996, ruled on 15 July 1997, was a case brought by Compassion in World Farming on banning the export of calves destined for veal crates. In both cases, the European Court of Justice made clear that a European Union member state may not ban or limit a trade if it is subject to harmonised rules that must be complied with equally by all member states.

Veterinary Medicine

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what veterinary uses are permitted for (a) kanamycin and (b) neomycin; and how much of each medicine was used in the UK in each of the last five years. (128107)

There have been no veterinary pharmaceutical products authorised for sale on the UK market in the last five years that include kanamycin.

Neomycin is present as an active substance with antimicrobial activity in a number of veterinary medicinal products with several routes of administration including topical, oral and injectable. It is a broad spectrum antibiotic active against a number of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.

The following table details how much neomycin was sold for veterinary use on an annual basis in the UK, for the last five years for which data are available.

Tonnes of Neomycin active ingredient sold

Number of products included

2001

5.18

17

2002

5.22

20

2003

3.45

18

2004

4.51

15

2005

4.92

9

Wastes: Nuisance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate he has made of the annual clean-up and repair costs imposed on (a) local authorities and (b) businesses in respect of (i) litter, (ii) dog fouling, (iii) graffiti, (iv) fly-posting, (v) noise and (vi) fly-tipping in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. (126899)

Local authorities do not have a duty to clear fly-posting or graffiti. We do not therefore collect data on clear-up costs to local authorities or to businesses for these or for noise. Street cleansing costs (which include both litter and dog fouling) have been maintained for the last five years, and are shown in the following table1.

1 It should be noted that comparisons across years may not be valid due to changes in the method of reporting the information.

Total England net current data for street cleansing (not chargeable to highways)

Amount (£000)

2001-02

434,366

2002-03

476,592

2003-04

538,542

2004-05

594,643

2005-06

629,930

Source: Communities and Local Government Revenue Outturn (RO)

returns.

Flycapture, the national database of fly-tipping incidents, was set up in 2004 by DEFRA, the Environment Agency and the Local Government Association, to record fly-tipping incidents dealt with by the Environment Agency and local authorities. Data on fly-tipping levels and estimated clean-up costs are therefore only available from April 2004 onwards.

The cost of clearing illegally dumped waste reported by local authorities between April 2004 and March 2005 was over £44 million. For the period between April 2005 and March 2006, the cost was almost £50 million.

DEFRA does not hold data on the clear-up costs of fly-tipping to businesses. However, when the costs of clearance on private land are included, the 2005-06 clearance costs are estimated to rise to over £100 million.

Water Treatment: Reed Beds

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) Water UK, (b) water companies and (c) the Environment Agency on the use of reed-based technology. (127200)

DEFRA recognises that reed beds can usefully form part of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) and part of the process for treating foul sewage.

DEFRA is working closely with Communities and Local Government (CLG) in the development of surface water management planning as part of revised Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 25. The production of surface water management plans is being trialled by some of the partnerships within DEFRA’s Integrated Urban Drainage Pilot Projects. The 15 pilots across England, made possible by £1.7 million of funding from DEFRA, will test new approaches to reduce the risk of urban drainage flooding.

DEFRA is a key member of the National SUDS Working Group (NSWG), of which representatives of water companies, Water UK, the Local Government Association, the Environment Agency, developers and other organisations such as CABE are also members. DEFRA has a current work stream to examine options for resolving the combined issue of SUDS adoption, maintenance and funding and has recently consulted with the NSWG on this matter. We expect to carry out wider consultation in this regard later this year.

In respect of foul sewage treatment, the owner/operator of a sewage treatment plant is required to comply with the relevant discharge consent. The appropriate process and techniques for achieving compliance vary from location to location and are essentially decided by the owner/operator of the treatment works. Reed beds are acknowledged to be a suitable technology and are used in many situations, including at works managed by water companies (instead of, or in addition to other processes). As we look at making development more sustainable, by reducing carbon inputs, reed beds may be one of the techniques that facilitate this.

Whales: Conservation

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government’s policy is on fish imports from (a) Norway and (b) Iceland; and what account was taken of those countries’ policies on whaling in formulating this policy. (127038)

Fisheries agreements with third countries, including those on imports, are negotiated by the European Commission on behalf of all member sates. Neither the Council of Ministers nor the Commission exercises Community competence over whaling issues and there is no common EU line on whaling matters. Not all EU member states are even members of the International Whaling Commission. As such, negotiations with third countries on fisheries and trade matters are unaffected by those countries’ stance on whaling. While the European Commission joined the recent demarche against Iceland over its resumption of commercial whaling, it did so on its own behalf, rather than on behalf of member states.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will write to EU member states asking them to join the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in sufficient time to enable them to be eligible for voting rights at this year’s IWC meeting in May. (127039)

My right, hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Foreign Secretary have recently jointly written to a dozen EU and Accession States encouraging them to join the International Whaling Commission. A new publication, ‘Protecting Whales —A Global Responsibility’, endorsed by the Prime Minister and Sir David Attenborough has also been sent to these countries encouraging them to join the effort to protect all cetacean species. UK embassies and Ministers across Government will continue to lobby on this issue in the run-up to the next annual meeting of the IWC in Alaska in May. However, not all of those who are willing to join the IWC will be able to complete the necessary parliamentary processes in time to secure voting rights at the 2007 meeting.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support is being given to revitalise the Afghan economy as part of the UK’s counter-narcotics strategy in Afghanistan. (127070)

I have been asked to reply.

The UK is spending £270 million over three years to support the Government of Afghanistan’s (GoA) National Drug Control Strategy. We have helped the GoA create a Counter Narcotics Trust Fund to mobilise international donor support and develop Afghan counter narcotics planning and capacity. DFID plays a key role by promoting alternative, legal livelihoods to help revitalise the Afghan economy. Legal livelihoods can be regulated and taxed by the government, and form the basis for long-term, sustainable economic growth. DFID’s Livelihoods Programme, worth nearly £150 million between 2006-09, is supporting GoA National Priority Programmes to develop legal livelihood opportunities as alternatives to poppy farming. Examples include our £18 million support for the National Rural Access Programme (NRAP) and our £20 million contribution over three years to the Micro-finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA). NRAP has built essential infrastructure such as roads, bridges and irrigation schemes, and has generated over 15 million days of labour for Afghans. MISFA has so far provided small loans to over 230,000 Afghan families. This has enabled poor people who would otherwise not have access to credit to successfully invest in income-generating activities.

DFID is also contributing £9 million to the GoA to help boost legal private sector activity by reducing red tape and improving the business environment, and supporting the mining sector and encouraging foreign investment. Of this, £1 million has been channelled through a World Bank-managed Trust Fund which provides risk guarantees to attract foreign investors. In the past year, this Trust Fund has supported three projects which are expected to trigger over $26 million of investment, stimulate the cotton and pharmaceutical sector, and expand access to credit. This will help to further enhance private sector opportunities and revitalise the legal Afghan economy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many alternative livelihoods projects have been established in Helmand Province; and if she will make a statement. (127167)

I have been asked to reply.

DFID has helped to establish a range of alternative livelihoods projects in Helmand. We are providing £30 million over three years to the Helmand Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (HARDP), from 2006 to 2009. This programme is increasing alternative livelihood opportunities for the rural poor of Helmand by supporting the Government of Afghanistan's implementation of its National Priority Programmes. These include the National Solidarity Programme, National Rural Access Programme, Micro-Finance Investment and Support Facility in Afghanistan, and Water and Sanitation Programme. They are providing longer-term improvements in water and sanitation, essential small-scale rural infrastructure, and access to small loans, as well as improved roads, access to markets, agricultural inputs and training.

DFID is also funding the £3 million Research into Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF). This supports work on alternative livelihoods in Helmand, for example through the Restorative Agriculture and Rural Economy Research Project, which explores the export feasibility of numerous crops including grapes, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplants and okra. The project is evaluating different small-scale agri-processing industries, and producing case studies of value-added alternative livelihood options, for example tomato paste.

We are funding 114 Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) in Helmand. These are not all alternative livelihoods projects, but they do support a range of income-generating activities for poor people. These include furniture-making, construction, carpet-weaving and the provision of tractors for farming.

Project Al Yamamah

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been received by her Department on the Al Yamamah military contract since the announcement that the Serious Fraud Office was ending its investigation into the contract.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) on 26 February, Official Report, column 1138W.

Turkmenistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with representatives of the Government of Turkmenistan following the election of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. (127611)

Our ambassador, and other EU ambassadors resident in Ashgabat, met the Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, Rashid Meredov, on 15 February.

Also on 15 February, the EU special representative for Central Asia, Pierre Morel, met President Berdymukhamedov. The talks focussed on possible future co-operation between the EU and Turkmenistan on the areas of reform announced by President Berdymukhamedov during his inauguration speech, including healthcare, education and agriculture.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with independent observers of the presidential election in Turkmenistan held on 11 February 2007. (127612)

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights sent a technical assistance team to Turkmenistan for the presidential election. The UN also visited Turkmenistan in the period of the presidential election and discussed possible electoral reform with the Turkmen authorities. However, neither sent an observation mission to the presidential election in Turkmenistan on 11 February.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) she and (b) her Ministerial colleagues have had with (i) EU counterparts and (ii) other governments in the region of Turkmenistan, following the election of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. (127613)

We are working closely with our EU partners on how the EU can best support and assist the Government of Turkmenistan to implement democratic and human rights reforms following the presidential election on 11 February.

The EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Pierre Morel, met President Berdymukhamedov on 15 February and later that day saw the Foreign Minister, Rashid Meredov, with EU Ambassadors. The EU stands ready to co-operate with the Government of Turkmenistan to help support the implementation of the government’s reform programme, particularly in the areas of rule of law and social development, agriculture, economy, education and the environment. An EU-Turkmenistan Seminar on Social and Human Development will take place in April. This will also involve other international organisations and UN agencies.

Our Ambassadors in the region discuss regional and country specific issues with their host foreign ministries on a regular basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) she and (b) her Ministerial colleagues have had with the UN Human Rights Council on proposed visits to Turkmenistan following the election of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. (127614)

We very much welcome the suggestion that the UN Commissioner for Human Rights and the Rapporteur on Religious Freedom visit Turkmenistan. However, to date, we have had no direct discussions in the UN Human Rights Council on this issue. The timing and agenda for such visits depends on the Government of Turkmenistan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions (a) she and (b) her Ministerial colleagues have had with representatives of the government of Turkmenistan on travel restrictions and the imprisonment of dissidents. (127615)

There have been no recent discussions with the Government of Turkmenistan specifically on travel restrictions or the imprisonment of dissidents. However, during his latest visit to Turkmenistan, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Pierre Morel, raised the issue of human rights. Our Ambassador in Ashgabat also raises the issue of human rights at every appropriate opportunity and the Embassy continues to follow developments in this area, supporting individual cases.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications of the election of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov for relations between the UK and Turkmenistan. (127689)

Following the election of President Berdymukhamedov, there have been welcome signs of a new commitment to reform in Turkmenistan. The UK stands ready to work closely with our EU and international partners to support and encourage this reform, particularly in the areas of rule of law and social development, agriculture, economy, education and the environment. An EU-Turkmenistan seminar on social and human development is planned to take place in April. With possible forthcoming visits from the UN Commissioner on Human Rights and the Rapporteur on Religious Freedom, there is potential for closer relations in a number of areas than in the past.

Uzbekistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with representatives of the Uzbek government on the imprisonment of Umida Niyazova, Mutabar Tadjibaeva and Gulbakhor Turaeva; and if she will make a statement. (127616)

We remain concerned by the arrests of Umida Niyazova and Gulbakhor Turaeva. Our Embassy in Tashkent is following their situation closely, remaining in touch with human rights groups and Niyazova’s lawyer. Our Ambassador raised both cases with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 2 February. The German Embassy, as EU Presidency, has registered with the Uzbek authorities the EU’s concern at the detention of both women, in Note Verbales on 13 and 20 February.

We have followed the case of Mutabar Tadjibaeva closely since her arrest in 2005. Our Embassy was present at her trial. We are working closely with human rights groups in touch with her family. We are concerned at reports that her relatives have been refused access to her. We regularly raise Tadjibaeva’s case with the Uzbek authorities, bilaterally and through the EU.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) she and (b) her ministerial colleagues have had with representatives of the German government on Uzbekistan. (127617)

We discuss Uzbekistan with the German Government regularly. Most recently, the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council discussed Uzbekistan on 5 March.

Our ambassador in Tashkent is also in regular contact with his German and other EU colleagues. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials also maintain a regular dialogue with German officials on Uzbekistan, in London, Berlin and Brussels.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) she and (b) her ministerial colleagues have had with representatives of other Governments in Central Asia on Uzbekistan. (127618)

I discussed Uzbekistan with the Kazakh Foreign Minister during my visit to Kazakhstan in September 2006. Our ambassadors in Central Asia discuss regional and country specific issues with their host foreign ministries on a regular basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the human rights situation in Uzbekistan. (127619)

The human rights situation remains a cause for concern. The situation has deteriorated further since November 2006. There have been more arrests of respected human rights defenders, including Umida Niyazova, who worked as an interpreter for Human Rights Watch in Tashkent. The International Committee of the Red Cross have not yet been able to visit prisons, despite apparently reaching agreement with the Uzbeks in November 2006. The Uzbek authorities continue to deny access to, and information on, the whereabouts of individuals of concern to the EU, for example Zainabiddinov and Tadjibaeva. More foreign non-governmental organizations in Tashkent, such as World Vision, are facing threats of eviction from the country.

Zimbabwe

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her counterpart in South Africa on the arrest and detention of Morgan Tsvangirai by security forces in Zimbabwe on 11 March 2007; and if she will make a statement. (128635)

I raised in strong terms our concerns at the UN Human Rights Council on 13 March. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke on 15 March to her South African counterpart about the worsening situation in Zimbabwe. We will continue to press South Africa and other African states to put pressure on Mugabe to allow peaceful protests to occur and to engage with the democratic opposition and civil society to bring about a resolution to Zimbabwe's problems.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has already made a statement publicly recording her condemnation of the shooting, arrest and beatings of protestors in Harare on 11 March.

Zimbabwe: Human Rights

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans she has to discuss recent human rights abuses in Zimbabwe with EU member governments; and if she will make a statement. (128504)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed Zimbabwe with the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, on 15 March and it will be a subject for discussion with the Spanish Foreign Minister on 19 March. I raised in strong terms our concerns at the UN Human Rights Council on 13 March. We believe that the EU should show its abhorrence of state-sponsored violence on 11 March by adding key perpetrators to the EU's visa ban list. The EU will also engage southern African governments on the issue, following the visit by President Kikwete of Tanzania to Zimbabwe on 15 March.

Zimbabwe: Politics and Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of the treatment in detention of Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and other democracy activists in Zimbabwe. (128158)

From their injuries, it is clear to all that Morgan Tsvangirai and others who were detained on 11 March were subjected to treatment of the most barbaric kind. This demonstrates Mugabe and his government's total disregard for international law and the depths to which they are prepared to sink to silence their democratic opponents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her counterparts in (a) the United States, (b) China, (c) the Russian Federation and (d) France on the Zimbabwean Government's recent treatment of democracy activists at a prayer meeting in Harare. (128159)

We remain in close contact with all permanent members of the UN Security Council and encourage the UN to remain focussed on all aspects of the worsening situation in Zimbabwe. We welcomed the clear statements from the UN Secretary-General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemning the recent arrests and beatings.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of violence toward democracy activists detained by the Government of Zimbabwe following a prayer meeting in Harare; and what representations she has made to (a) her counterparts in the European Union, (b) the EU External Affairs Commissioner and (c) her counterparts in South Africa on the issue. (128160)

Our embassy in Harare is keeping us informed of events in Zimbabwe. Both my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, have made statements expressing our deep condemnation of what has happened there in recent days. I raised in strong terms our concerns at the UN Human Rights Council on 13 March. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed Zimbabwe with Nksozana Dlamini-Zuma and Carl Bildt on 15 March. We are in close contact with other EU countries and continue to discuss what needs to happen to relieve the terrible economic and humanitarian crisis facing its people.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate she has made of the number killed or seriously wounded in the recent incident at the prayer meeting at Highfield in Harare. (128161)

Reports indicate that one movement for democratic change activist named Gift Tandare was shot and killed at the save Zimbabwe campaign prayer meeting on 11 March. Many others were wounded, some very seriously. 12 of those arrested and most seriously beaten both on and after arrest, including Morgan Tsvangirai, are still recovering in hospital. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has condemned the shooting, arrest and beatings of those who were protesting peacefully.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has held with the British Ambassador to Harare on violence and intimidation towards democracy activists detained in Zimbabwe. (128172)

Our ambassador in Harare and officials from the embassy are closely following events on the ground, talking to those who were involved and reporting back on developments. At this critical time in Zimbabwe, their accurate and timely reporting is absolutely crucial.

Zimbabwe: Judiciary

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the impartiality of the judiciary in Zimbabwe. (128109)

Against the background of Zimbabwe's deepening economic and humanitarian crisis, we are increasingly concerned at the capacity of the Zimbabwean judiciary to maintain its quality of service and to resist increasing, overt political pressure. Only last month, a senior judge in Zimbabwe voiced her concerns in this regard and there are already strains beginning to show in the magistrates courts.

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he intends to deploy Challenger tanks in Afghanistan. (127026)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) suicide and (b) improvised explosive device attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan were recorded in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. (127155)

The number of attacks in Afghanistan has increased significantly from 2005 to 2006. It is estimated that, in 2005, there were approximately 500 improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, of which approximately 25 were suicide IED attacks. In 2006, it is assessed that there were approximately 1,525 IED attacks, of which approximately 150 were suicide IED attacks. These figures do not necessarily represent the complete statistics but are an estimate. The majority of attacks are against International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops or Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF); however, it is not always possible to define the specific target in any given incident.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the total numbers of troops available to the International Security Assistance Force from (a) the United States, (b) Germany, (c) France and (d) the UK are serving in Afghanistan. (126690)

Of the total international security assistance force of around 35,500 troops, provided by the United States, Germany, France and the UK, the approximate percentages are as follows:

Percentage

US

39

Germany

8

France

3

UK

15

The UK contribution will increase to approximately 21 per cent. once the force enhancements announced on 26 February have deployed fully.

Armed Forces: Prosecutions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the Army legal service are investigating legal cases related to operations in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan. (128079)

The Army legal services branch of the Adjutant General's Corps (ALS) does not investigate cases, this is the role of the Royal Military Police (RMP). The role of ALS is threefold: the provision of advice to the chain of command on, inter alia, disciplinary matters; the provision of a prosecuting authority for the Army; and the provision of a legal advice service for servicemen and their families stationed overseas.

At this time ALS has two officers serving in Iraq providing advice to the chain of command on disciplinary matters and one officer in Afghanistan providing legal assistance to soldiers deployed in theatre. Four officers from the Army Prosecuting Authority (APA) have cases in their current caseload related to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq: one case is related to operations in Afghanistan and three are related to operations in Iraq.

Armed Forces: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the long-term effects of physical training on the joints of servicemen are better understood; and if he will make a statement. (123254)

UK service personnel will characteristically take part in a wide range of physical activities during the course of their service. These will include not only supervised activities related to their training, but also many unsupervised physical activities, physical training and sport undertaken at their own volition. For this reason, it is often not possible to attribute with confidence a specific chronic overuse injury to any single, supervised, physical training activity.

However, the nature and occurrence of the most common lower limb injuries (LLI) have formed the focus for many research papers, and LLI have been shown to be common to military populations throughout NATO. When all factors have been considered, the single most commonly-cited physical activity during which the majority of overuse lower limb injuries have been reported is running.

MOD undertakes research to understand the underlying factors which may explain the relatively high incidence (compared with age and gender-matched, non-military populations) of LLIs among service personnel. Research has been conducted (both by the UK and throughout NATO) on a regular basis since the 1970s. Recent research funded by MOD’s Human Capability scientific research programme has included studies of the pathogenesis of stress fractures; bone health; musculoskeletal injuries; and a Physical Training shoe project.

Ballistic Missile Defence: USA

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether a decision on the deployment in the UK of US missiles for the US Missile Defense system will require the approval of Parliament. (126933)

There has been no request from the United States Government to base interceptor missiles anywhere in the United Kingdom. It has not been the practice of successive administrations to seek parliamentary approval for decisions of this type. The Government would in any case seek to ensure that Parliament had adequate opportunity for debate on issues relating to missile defence.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has held with (a) ministerial colleagues and (b) the United States on the UK hosting US interceptor missiles for the US missile defense system; and what the date was of the (i) first such discussion and (ii) most recent such discussion. (126956)

The UK regularly discusses with the US our contribution to their missile defense system. Discussions on possible additional support are at a early stage. There has been no request from the US Government to base missile interceptors anywhere in the UK. It is not the practice of the Government to make public details of all discussions with foreign Governments as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice international relations.

Diego Garcia: USA

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the use of Diego Garcia by the US for offensive purposes. (127994)

The UK's policy on the use of Diego Garcia by the US is based on the 1966 exchange of notes (updated in 1976 and with subsequent amendments and additions). The notes allow the US to use the base as a forward operating location for aircraft and ships and require the US to seek prior approval for any operations that they wish to undertake from Diego Garcia.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the use by hostile forces of surface to air missiles in Iraq. (126480)

All threats to UK forces in Iraq are kept under constant review. This includes the threat posed by surface to air missiles. I am withholding further details as it would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness and security of our armed forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his US counterpart on the Iranian (a) personnel, (b) explosives and (c) expertise being used in Iraq. (126603)

I hold regular discussions with the US Defense Secretary on issues of mutual interest, including the situation in Iraq.

Iran is an influential neighbour in the region and its behaviour continues to be a cause for concern. We and the US continually assess the nature of insurgency in Iraq including the influence of outside groups.

Support from within Iran, including the Quds Force, goes to groups who are attacking our forces and fuels the sectarian violence in Iraq. In our assessment some of the improvised explosive devices that are being used against our forces use technology that originates from Iran.

Iranian links to illegal armed groups either through supply of weapons, training or funding, are completely unacceptable. We have said so and so have the Iraqi Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of the (a) defence teams, (b) prosecution teams and (c) other costs related to the court martial in (i) the prosecution of the seven paratroopers for alleged crimes in Iraq in November 2005 and (ii) the prosecution of the four guardsmen for alleged crimes in Iraq in June 2006. (128083)

The costs requested were:

3 Para Trial

IG Trial

Defence costs

£3.04m

£1.283m

Prosecution costs

£0.254m

£0.193m

Other costs

£0.511m

£0.210m

Total

£3.813m

£1.686m

Mail Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will authorise the continuation of the free mail and parcel service to troops in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan. (115462)

A free packet scheme was first introduced on 17 April 2003, as a temporary measure unique to Iraq, at a time when service personnel did not have access to the welfare facilities that are now available in both Iraq and Afghanistan. A decision was taken to end the scheme on 8 April 2004 when the provision of goods and services in Iraq reached the required standard. These include welfare telephones (30 minutes free calls per person per week to anywhere in the world); unlimited free letter mail and electronic letters (where available); free e-mail and internet access; newspapers, magazines, books and board games; fitness equipment; and shopping facilities provided by the Expeditionary Forces Institute. The Department recognises that relatives will wish to send Christmas presents to those in operational theatres and a pre-Christmas free-packet scheme has therefore been a standard element of the Operational Welfare Package since 2005.

Operational welfare is a high priority for the Department and we have looked at extending the free packet scheme to become a permanent feature to all operational theatres where UK service personnel are deployed, but personnel on the ground stated a preference for improvements to welfare telephone and internet provision above free mail. On 10 October 2006, we announced improvements to the telephone and internet services, increasing the number of free telephone minutes from 20 to 30 per week.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to answer the letter of 24 January from the hon. Member for Gosport on Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham. (126968)

Red Arrows

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent progress he has made on basing options for the Red Arrows. (127630)

Work continues to identify the optimum basing solution for the Red Arrows, taking into account the team's operational requirements and the costs involved. No decision has yet been taken.